An Australian native tells us about her new island home
For travel writer and editor Samantha Chalker, Bali has always held a sort of promise. “From the stories I would hear from friends and the memories I had of visiting as a child, I was always quite seduced by the idea of living in Bali,” she said. Eventually Samantha was able to move to the island, only to return to native Australia. It was there, interestingly, that the ‘promise’ of old unfolded to fulfilment: “I found myself working freelance back home in Australia and in a weird strike of fate – when I wasn’t even looking for it – I landed a client in Bali. That seemed like a pretty good excuse to come back and give it another shot.” Now managing the web platform inBali.org, Samantha is constantly getting to know the island paradise, as a home as well as a travel destination.
K: What are visitors still surprised to discover when they get to Bali?
S: I think that first-time visitors are surprised to see the strength of local culture. Even in the Westernized areas like Seminyak and Legian, you will still see a traditionally clothed woman waving a stick of incense over a blessing of flowers. For me it’s the juxtaposition of worlds that make this place so enticing.
One thing I have discovered that many people don’t seem to know about is West Bali National Park. It’s a secluded pocket of the island with free roaming deer, perfect diving off Menjangan Island and a luxurious eco-retreat called The Menjangan. The island has so much to offer beyond the tourist hot spots and I think if people explored more, there would be plenty of surprises!
Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do in Bali, but have yet to try?
I haven’t climbed a volcano yet!
- Anywhere in Canggu; it’s out of the hustle and bustle of Seminyak and the epitome of relaxing
- Nusa Lembongan Island. It’s an absolute paradise and a really easy weekender
- LacaLaca, a Mexican restaurant in Seminyak with incredible tofu tacos and Bloody Mary’s
- Anything from the chocolate cabinet of Alchemy in Ubud – my personal favorite is the Bounty
- Carob brownies at Earth Café on Oberoi in Seminyak
- Sarinbuana Eco-Lodge at Mount Batukara. I’m not sure if anything pampers the soul quite like bathing in a private swimming hole in the middle of the jungle!
- Fivelements retreat in Ubud – a great place to stay for a bit of spiritual healing
- If you don’t want to venture out of South Bali, Olop Arpipi in Seminyak offers great yoga classes in a tranquil setting followed by communal teatime, Spa Bali on Jalan Caplak Tanduk has the art of pampering down pat.
Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published as a Klook Connoisseur feature of inBali.org Editor, Samantha Chalker.