Living Without Walls

BY Lisa Lindblad

January 19, 2014

Livingdiningtomaintent-tb25-YF2G0881-EDITED2Bali is a wellspring of creativity.  It all starts with the Balinese themselves who, from childhood, are committed to adopting one art form or another.  Painting, carving, dancing, playing a musical instrument — each child is tasked with learning an artistic skill which he or she continues to practice in to adulthood.  And so it is no wonder that the island, blessed as it is with beautiful landscapes, a rich spiritual tradition, and creatively skilled locals, has always drawn to its shores creative souls from elsewhere.

Anneke van Waesberghe is one of these transplants.  Resident of Bali for the last 15 years, Anneke started Escape Nomade in 2004.

The reason for designing and manufacturing tents is to create a sustainable elegant, affordable, safe and self-sufficient mobile living space in nature, delivered by knowledgeable People and their enthusiastic family members for a fair Profit to all stakeholders. To educate and enlarge people’s environmental awareness by opening doors to remote areas that would otherwise be inaccessible; conserve both nature and culture by protecting the environment and its cultural heritage.

I went to visit Anneke in the hills.  Leave the overbuilt town of Ubud, and bump along a dirt road that leads through rice terraces and bamboo-lined gullies.  Turn left on a virtual pathway and arrive at a beautiful carved gate.  You are met with a cold, scented towel, escorted along a stone pathway to the portals of a magnificent tent, and offered a tray of assorted  melon and ginger juices.  Bali never ceases to amaze..where else in the world would you find such perfection, such style – simple and lovely – in the wilds?  Anneke is there to show us around the interior of her first tent which is composed of a living room and a bedroom.  The interiors are, of course, stunning, with furniture, linens and accessories of her own design fabricated in Indonesia or sourced from India.

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Not only does Anneke make all manner of tents – kitchen, spa, sleeping, bathroom, portable picnic tents – as well as the interiors, she ships them around the world in containers, provides Balinese staff to set them up and sends videos that assist in their maintenance.  She also receives guests at her installation in the rice terraces where she provides a delicious high tea or even a celebratory dinner.

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We spent our last night in Bali at the Oberoi, one of the oldest hotels on the island and still one of the loveliest.  Who would have known a quarter of a century ago that beachfront, rice fields and gardens would become the invaluable scarce resources they are today.  The Oberoi may look a bit old fashioned now, but sunset from its beach is still one of the loveliest ways to start an evening of fun.  The fun here on Thursday nights is an hour's production of the Ramayana, complete with a gamelan orchestra and beautifully costumed dancers, performed in the outdoor amphitheatre.   We saw this twenty years ago in the same spot, and it retains today the same fun and charm that we remembered.

photo[4]Another lovely hotel is Como Shambhala and its sister property, Uma Ubud. Both are located in the hills, Shambhala on one of the most gorgeous sites I know on the island.  I remember picnicking on this spot all those years ago with the man who had purchased it and was about to start building a hotel that became Begawan Giri.  Spread over rolling hills, plunging down to the river and an extensive series of healing pools, and facing rice terraces across the way, Como Shambhala, as it is now known, is renowned as a wellness center.  On my way to visit it, we passed a huge funeral party heading to the nearby cemetery.  This is the Bali I remember, the one of ritual purpose, although, in this case, brought smartly up to date with a young man carrying a hoe in one hand and his iphone in the other.

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So what did we find in our all too brief week?  Here are a few thoughts:

Hotels:  Amankila and Amanusa; Villa Manggis and Villa Idanna; Como Shambhala; Room 11 or 40 of Uma Ubud; The Oberoi; and up north, Puri Ganesha

Restaurants: Sari Organic; Sarong; Mama-san;

Gallery: Warisan, Bruce Carpenter and all the instant antique warehouses across the island and, particularly, near Ubud

Rice Terraces and Tents: Anneke of Escape Nomade

Great Bamboo:  Green School

Best Guide to the whole area:  Lawrence Blair

Clothes: Biasa; Paul Ropp; Lily Jean

Best Sunset:  Oberoi beach

Best Excursion:  Alila Purnama to Raja Ampat, Ambon or Komodo

Combine Bali with Java and Amanjiwo in Borobudur or Oberoi or AmanResort's hotels in Lombok

4.5 hours from Hong Kong; 5.5 from Sydney; 4.5 from Bangkok


It was fun, albeit challenging to crutch along the sidewalks of Seminyak!

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Goodbye to Bali