Having spent five days in Seminyak enjoying the beach, food, pool and shopping, we decided to head inland and expose the children to some Balinese culture. Instead of staying in Ubud, we wanted to get off the beaten track and experience somewhere a bit more remote but not too far from Ubud.  We chose a private villa, Puncak Bukit, set in the luscious ricefields, in the village of Mas, about 15 minutes from Ubud.  The whole journey took about 1½ hours from Seminyak which was very manageable with the kids. My husband and I were mesmerised as we wound our way through the rice fields and the the tiny villages. Even the kids managed to look up from their electronic gadgets and remark on how beautiful the drive was.  

 

Eventually our driver stopped in the middle of nowhere near a small walking track and announced that we had arrived.  I must admit I was a bit apprehensive as I couldn’t see the villa from the road.  My worries quickly dissipated as the manager and his sons appeared precisely at the moment we disembarked from our van.  They immediately made us feel welcome and after many introductions (it takes time to get through all six of us) carried our bags into the villa.  As we followed them on a narrow path, we were all speechless.  The setting was absolutely perfect.  The luscious ricefields which were in full bloom, stretched endlessly into the horizon and contrasted vividly with the deep blue sky.  It was truly a spectacular site.

 

 

As we approached the villa, I was taken aback by this beautiful structure, a large stone villa in prime position, overlooking the ricefields.  The first thing I noticed was the vast verandah.  It reminded me of the sweeping verandahs in Gone With the Wind. With daybeds for reading and relaxing, all I could think of was my chance to be Scarlatt Ohara for a few days.  Needless to say, the kids didn’t waste anytime admiring the scenery but raced to claim their rooms.  This 3 bedroom villa with separate ensuites and outdoor shower is a classic beauty.  It is simple but beautifully decorated with traditional Balinese furniture.  The large swimming pool is set in luscious tropical gardens. The kitchen and dining area are separate from the main villa and are used by the hosts for cooking. But we were free to use the kitchen if we so chose. Not me however, as I was determined not to set foot in the kitchen. 

 

We were served cold drinks and made to feel very welcome by the onsite manager and his family. They loved the children and were happy to interact with them, even teach them some Balinese. We were also informed that they could cook us traditional Balinese food or western food.  As we had just spent five days eating restaurant meals, we were keen on eating in.  The dinners were beautiful, fresh, tasty with plenty of food for growing kids. They even made a separate meal for my fussy six year old who had eaten enough Balinese food and just wanted chicken nuggets. The breakfasts were delicious served with an enormous fruit platter of mango, papaya, watermelon and other local fruits. The papaya was the biggest surprise for all of us, including the kids.  We had never tasted anything so sweet and delicious.  I am proud to say that our love affair with papaya has continued in Australia.  

At first glance, this property appears to be a bit isolated, but it is not a problem in the slightest. The manager is able to organise all transportation whether it be a taxi, tour guide, or van.  We hired a van and driver for the day and took a tour to the volcano, Mount Batur, stopping off at a traditional Balinese dance and a silversmith. (I bought some lovely silver earrings and a necklace) We spent another day in Ubud visiting the Monkey Forest, the markets and watching a stunning cultural performance.  Whenever we went out, our driver was always waiting for us at the designated time we agreed upon.  We also spent time swimming in the emerald pool, playing board games on the verandah and surprisingly very little electronic time despite the free wii-fii.  Of course, I fulfilled by fantasy of being Scarlatt O'Hara and enjoyed reading, sleeping and relaxing on the gorgeous daybeds.

 

 

We spent one day wandering around the local village of Mas, interacting with the locals and visiting some wood carving shops. I bought a beautiful hand-carved wooden statue of Ganesha, the Hindu Goddess of Wealth. The people in Mas were incredibly friendly and wanting to interact with the kids. As it was school holidays in Bali, some young boys were playing soccer in a small field and my boys joined them for a short time.  The children enjoyed themselves immensely and we loved watching them. Although we really didn’t do that much, I felt like this was probably our most memorable day in Bali and one that the kids still remember and talk about.

So if you want to do something a bit different, stay somewhere a bit unique and experience the real Bali, I suggest getting away from the coast and going inland.  Travelling is always more meaningful when you can experience the culture and meet the locals.  Puncak Bukit gives you the opportunity to do just that.  It is truly spectacular and not to be missed. I can't wait to go back with my family. Sandyx