After a really long and tiring Journey, the fever and my nausea had gotten the better of me by then, but it didn’t dampen any of our spirits though, we reached Den Pasar airport at Bali after a brief transit at Kuala Lumpur International airport. Santi Mandela Villa & Spa, a peaceful resort which was an hours’ drive from the airport was our first stop at Bali. Sudha had done pretty good homework before choosing this resort and had amply educated us girls about the geography of Bali.
|A panoramic view of Santi Mandela - From one of the cottage balconies to the other|
Our Cohort met Kevin, who would be our friendly guide for the entire trip, as soon as we disembarked. I remember Kevin introducing himself in his traditional Bali name, it must have been the look on our faces, that he insisted, we all call him Kevin. Apparently that happens to be his sons name. Fourth son. Kevin is a young man with a ready smile, extremely helpful, knows when to intrude and when to stop his banter, and makes real good effort to speak in English. In fact, he pauses quite a bit during his speech in an attempt to be clear and effective in his communication. Every single day, pretty early in the morning, Kevin would show up punctually and we know our day is going to be fine.
The best part was that, Kevin came dressed in traditional Balinese costume on all the days of our trip. Traditional Balinese dresses are colorful and aesthetically pleasing. Large portion of the population, at least the places we went to, chose to wear the traditional clothing like our guide Kevin. Kevin’s costume was mostly collared half sleeved shirt with floral motifs and it was paired with Sarong which is just a layer of dark colored cloth tied around the waist. Kevin wore two sarongs, the regular sarong on the inside, and a shorter sarong called "Saput" on the outside, so the regular sarong shows underneath. We girls, much to his embarrassment, asked him the details, and Kevin told us all about it with a shy smile. We even tried touching his clothes and we saw him go pink in the cheeks. He also wore a head band, which is called Destar. Balinese women we saw were pretty, petite and wore more colorful clothes along with an innocent coy smile. The girls at the resort too wore Sarongs and paired it with lace tops. Unlike men they did not wear any head gears.
|The cohort with Kevin, our Guide, dressed in traditional Balinese costume|
Santi Mandela is set in some 4 hectares of hillside garden, on the outskirts of a scenic village called Ubud. The entire resort is set in a calm, serene and pristine surrounding, we felt the peace of Bali even during the night that we landed there. Panaraga Giri river, flows right through the resort and the sound of the flowing water had a calming effect on us, the girls from the bustling metros. We really couldn’t get enough of the river, and loved to watch it flow. And there was no escaping it – The Boga Mandala restaurant and the swimming pool overlooks the river. There is a little river dam across this river within the resort, that can be seen from many places in the resort and it was such a pleasant sight.
|another view of the river|
In fact, when we reached the resort, it was quite late in the evening and from the entrance we were transported by a buggie. It was pretty dark and we had to cross the river dam and that’s when we heard the sound of the raging waters of the river first.
Imagine a serene, tranquil place with a mild drizzle and sound of water flowing interrupted mercilessly by the constant shrill sounds of cicada’s. That’s when all of us fell in love with Bali, with Santi Mandala and within few hours of setting foot om the shores of Bali.
|The little river dam that we need to cross to reach the resort's lobby from the entrance|
The tropical flora and fauna, reminded me so much about Gods own country to which somehow all four of us were connected. Our cottages were nestled in a lush green rain forest, surrounded by water sources and we had booked honeymoon suites for ourselves. :-) After all it was an all girls trip. The rooms were quite spacious made of wood and the roof of the cottage was covered with some kind of hay like stuff, the typical Bali roofs and we all loved the open to sky showering spaces with huge bathtubs. We all laughed and giggled about the bathtubs and how we need to be careful in them. We had large balconies where we usually had our late night get-together's, dancing and huddling before we went off to sleep and we also did some early morning photo shoots.
|The interiors of our cottages - The peacock shaped setting of the Towels,|
bathtub, open to sky showering spaces
|multiple shades of green in a fancy plant |
that grew on a concrete wall
Green is always a soothing and peaceful colour. A million shades of green could be spotted in this resort ranging from the luxurious Emerald green to the dark matte Shamrock and the springtime Mint green to the striking loud parakeet green and we reveled in its natural beauty, Santi Mandala was love at first sight for all of us and on the days we stayed there, we were looking forward so much to get back to the resort in the evenings.
|The Panaraga Giri River with the temple within the resort in the background|
This place also had a little waterfall, a temple, a space for teaching cookery classes, a great Spa, and multiple cottages in different nooks and corners with the traditional Balinese architecture. The entire resort had well manicured bright verdant lawns all around with air so pure that we could feel its freshness in every breath and it completely rejuvenated us.
Santi Mandala was the perfect quiet hideaway for us girls at Bali and just the right retreat away from the crowds.
P.S: Just figured out that this looks like a review for Santi Mandela, but it is not. And I am not being paid for this.
And finally here we are, "the babes" at Santi Mandela, Bali
|posing at the Swimming pool - part of our early morning photo shoot - Jay. Sudha, Rosy and Moi :-)|
|The babes again|
|A couple of swans that didn't seem to move|
from that spot throughout our stay
Phew !!! that was one long post with an overload of photos!