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Real Bali

By: Connie Kwan-Wong

Travel with the Publisher 

to Experience the 

Photo Credits: CKW LUXE, Visual Bali Studio,
Agus Putu Pranayoga and Kadek Fitri Purnami

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Outfit: Sakdek of G&S Mode

Make up: Ayu Tresnayani; @sarimuabali

Hair: @ayuhairstylist 
Location: Kayon resort

In March of 2019, my friend Katya and I traveled to Bali for an amazing two-week holiday. It isn’t cold in Houston in March, but the days are mild and the nights are cool. It was a treat to arrive in Bali, where temperatures at that time of year are around 80 degrees, and feel the rays of the tropical sun warming our skin. The light-weight brightly colored clothing and footwear we packed were perfect for days and nights in the tropics.

Bali is an Indonesian island best known for its lush forests, rugged volcanic mountains, pristine rice paddy fields, and picture-perfect sandy beaches. It has a strong connection with yoga and meditation and a rich culture in the arts. Bali offers something for everyone: amazing shopping, local art and culture, festivals, relaxation, white-water rafting, surfing, tubing, and biking. In Bali, you can choose to chill out, sight see, or get involved in whatever is going on. It’s the place for the perfect vacation.

When planning our trip, I first consulted with Utama of Bali Utama Tour and told him all the places I was interested in visiting. He speaks fluent English and was a wonderful resource offering lots of helpful suggestions. Because of his knowledge and attention to detail, we experienced the real Bali and were treated to many local traditions. He also made each transition in our trip easy for us. The result was a memorable stay. If you are interested in getting the most out of your trip to Bali, I recommend getting in touch with Utama at

It was important to us to explore different aspects of Bali. The four locations we chose to stay at provided us with four uniquely different experiences. They were exactly what we were looking for.

Ubud at Night

Ubud at Night

Where We Went

Because our interests lay in experiencing Bali at its most authentic, our first visit was to Ubud. Since its discovery, Ubud, which is located in the Balinese uplands, has been thought of as having strong spiritual powers. Its name comes from Ubad, which means medicine, and refers to the healing properties of the large variety of plants in the area. Ubud has become a retreat for travelers looking for tranquility as well as for inspiration from its arts and culture, as it and its surrounding villages are home to a thriving arts and crafts industry. Ubud, itself, contains a treasure trove of galleries displaying rare and priceless works by Balinese masters as well as works by contemporary artists. Stepping into these cultural meccas, which often incorporate stunning architecture and gardens, visitors discover a world of carvings, paintings, textiles, and curios unlike any other.

Ubud is also a haven for fashionistas with almost never-ending shopping opportunities in the village’s daily market as well as in the individually owned shops lining its many streets. You can pick up everything from Bohemian-style clothing, handmade jewelry, and hand-woven wicker bags to homemade local food, healthy cooking ingredients, and traditional souvenirs. All are available at remarkably low prices. There are also some excellent places to eat in Ubud. If you feel like having something casual and healthy, I recommend checking out the Seeds of Life raw vegan restaurant.

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Connie at Kayon Resort

Kayon Resort Breakfast

We stayed at three different resorts while we were in Ubud. The first was the Kayon Resort. Its name means tree of life. This five-star boutique resort is absolutely gorgeous. It was designed with honeymooners, and anyone seeking rest and communing with nature, in mind. For that reason, it is an adults only haven. Perched on a hillside only ten minutes from the center of Ubud, and surrounded by lush tropical forest, Kayon provides a bird’s-eye view of the holy Petanu River. It is as beautiful as it sounds and as close to paradise as any place I’ve ever been. Designed to harmonize with nature, the façade is decorated with Ramayana (a Sanskrit epic) story relief.

We began each morning with yoga, after which, we had breakfast. The resort offers many tantalizing options for the latter. My favorites were the Balinese Breakfast Experience and the Kayon Breakfast. Each of these has various choices, which makes it possible to try something new each day. Some of my favorite selections from the Balinese Breakfast Experience were the jamu kunyit, which includes a health tonic infusion made from rice water, turmeric, lemongrass, lime juice, and honey, and a single soft-boiled free-range egg, and

Balineses Food

the bubursumsum, which is Balinese rice pudding with brown-sugar sauce and grated coconut. I also loved the loloh kayumanis, a traditional cinnamon-leaf juice, and the fresh fruit platter from the Kayon Breakfast.

The coffee is spectacular here and just the thing with which to enjoy the magnificent view.

I recommend getting a massage at the Serayu Spa, which is part of the resort. The serene setting invites you to cast off the stresses of everyday life and allow yourself to relax fully. With a broad choice of nurturing body and beauty rituals, it’s easy to completely unwind.
I also can’t say enough about the Kepitu Restaurant in the center of the resort. With its 180-degree view of the pool and surrounding vista, it provides a feast for the eyes as well as for the stomach. Its Alang-Alang grass roof adds the perfect ambience. At lunch we ate light healthy salads and fruit. I indulged in lots of fresh fruit while in Bali and especially enjoyed dragon fruit; rambutan; mangoes; jackfruit; passion fruit; papaya; and longan, which is similar to lychee. At dinner, we were treated to a mixture of Western, Asian, and signature Kepitu dishes. Once a week, the Culture Diner program offers an authentic Ubud food and culture experience and is a must do.

Dwaraka The Royal Villas,- afternoon tea

Connie and Katya Having Afternoon Tea at Dwaraka The Royal Villas

Our second resort was Dwaraka The Royal Villas, located in the center of Ubud, where we stayed for three days. It was completely different from Kayon. Inspired by the legend of Lord Krishna’s kingdom, Dwaraka Kingdom, the resort’s architecture combines fine Royal Balinese house design with luxurious modern facilities. The concept of the resort is for the visitor to follow Lord Krishna’s life journey. Surrounded by a tropical garden, the ambience here is peaceful and the perfect spot to rest before and after sight seeing.

There are 28 sumptuous suites and villas to choose from, each with stunning views of the Ubud rice field and the garden. They are decorated in exotic detail. Our villa was the Puri Taman Sukawati. It was designed to mirror an original house in size, design, and function and contained a huge courtyard. There was also lots of outdoor space. With three bedrooms, a kitchen, and many amenities, the beautifully decorated villa was a pleasure to come back to, and wake up to, each day. Each of the three bedrooms is a free-standing building with its own elegant bathroom and pretty backyard. One of the three bedrooms is reserved for the owners’ use when they return to Ubud.

Our stay here was unforgettable. As well as the elegant setting we basked in daily, a number of traditional activities were arranged for us by the resort.

Not only did we take part in yoga classes, enjoy Balinese breakfast, have a Balinese massage, and go cycling, we alsogot the chance to immerse ourselves in some of Bali’s customs.

One such was participating in a Balinese offering lesson. During the lesson, we were taught to make Canang Sari, floral spiritual offerings that adorn Balinese temples, streets, home entrances, and any where else the Balinese deem sacred. These beautiful pieces are generally made by women and usually consist of a woven coconut-leaf basket filled with flowers and topped with a stick of incense. Taking part in the ritual of making a Canang Sari was fulfilling and peaceful.

Cycling at Dwaraka the Royal Villas

Cycling at Dwaraka the Royal Villas

Dancing at Dwaraka The Royal Villas

Dancing at Dwaraka The Royal Villas