On the west side of the peninsula that extends from the southern tip of Bali, you will find a town peppered with rice paddies and custom teak furniture makers right on the beach called Canggu (pronounced Changu).
We were actually here on a mission. One of the ladies that my husband works with had the most fantastic earrings, which she had gotten in a little shop in Canggu. So, that’s where we decided to stay for our last two nights. I mean really, when you’re in Bali, why not use great earrings as criteria for a place to stay?
As with the rest of our trip, we had no plan and no reservation so we got on bookings.com and found the best deal in the coolest place we could find.
We discovered Ngeluwungan Boutique Villa.
I feel like I should warn you – I am about to write a blog about a place I stayed. Not the town, region, country place – I mean the HOTEL WE STAYED IN. But stick with me, because this place was beyond our wildest dreams in every way possible.
What you have to first understand is the Balinese people. They are so kind. They are the sweetest people I have ever met. So every place we stayed, they were welcoming and helpful. But this place somehow managed to take it to another level entirely.
We were met at the gate by Agus. We were early for check-in so they took our bags and stowed them and then took us to the patio by the pool for a fresh squeezed juice. He gave us a tour and then offered us options for the afternoon until our room was available. We decided to walk down to the beach. It’s an easy stroll down a quiet road. The beach itself was black sand – volcanic rock I assume. It was high tide and a big swell – not a great day for just hanging out. So we snapped a couple of pictures and decided to head into town instead.
They gave us a lift into town and dropped us off by a french bakery. We walked down the street admiring the little shops as we went. Some had the usual cheap trinkets, but many of the shops had beautiful artwork and clothing. And we found the earrings! Mission complete! I could go home happy.
Now you have to understand when navigating Bali, it is not always easy to find a ride.
Case in point, when we were ready to head home (after we had tried the french bakery and deemed it delish), we called Agus on the cell phone he had provided us with to ask for a pick up. But we were disappointed to find out that he was not allowed to pick us up if we were in town because that was the taxis domain. Whaaaat???
Side note: this wasn’t the first time we had run into an issue. We had almost gotten into an altercation with a harbor worker because we had called a cab for pickup and cabs aren’t allowed to pick up from the docks. Only the harbor workers. But they have trucks with benches, no doors, no seat belts, and almost no horsepower… so, no.
We got a taxi, returned to the hotel and found our room ready and waiting. We walked across a small bridge over a koi pond into our (thankfully) air-conditioned and very clean and spacious room. After roaming around in the heat all afternoon we, like any good tourist, decided it was time for a drink in the pool.
It’s a salt water pool and although it’s warm, it felt soooooo good. And this is when we met Syahrul. He’s young, friendly, outgoing, and makes the best drinks in Bali. It’s not easy to find a great cocktail. But he can do it. (Am I making my case yet for how great this place is? There’s more.)
We stayed by the pool for a couple of drinks and then decided dinner was in order. So we moseyed up to the bar to see what our options were. And there was Syahrul. He greeted us by name, after only one introduction. (We noticed all of them did this. Even though that had several guests, they remembered everyone’s names.) He told us his specialty was chicken curry. We ordered two bowls. This was the BEST curry I’ve ever tasted.
He cooked each one separately on a wok right in front of us in the open-air kitchen. He picked herbs from the herb garden ten steps away. I was mesmerized. My tastebuds were tantalized. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. It was a huge serving but we ate every bite.
While we watched Syahrul cook, he told us more about the Villa and himself. He’s been working at the villa for several years, even before it was purchased by its present owner, an Australian man and his American wife.
They decided to create a resort, a place for people to come and stay, that was built on community and family values, respect, and taking care of one another. They implemented livable wage with the option to save, healthy and nutritious meals, healthy living environment, education, health benefits, work insurance, self-help programs and most importantly, respect. They were each given a cell phone and a scooter. They eat what the guests eat. And maybe when you’re coming from America this does not seem like a big deal. But Bali is a poor country. Most people work seven days a week to scrape together a meager living of about $7.00 per day. There is no extra. But at Ngeluwungan, these things that we take for granted help create an atmosphere of peace and harmony, a community of people that take care of their guests and each other, and then pass it on to their community.
Every Saturday the staff visits the local orphanage. They take a percentage of their tips that they earned (which are always split and shared equally among all) to give to the orphanage, and then they cook them one of their delicious meals. And here’s the REALLY cool part – guests can go to! I was so disappointed that we were not there on Saturday and that I would miss out on this opportunity. What a gift, to be able to cook for others and share time with children. It made my heart swell to see what these people were doing for others around them. (So are you convinced NOW that this is the coolest place on Earth?)
They can customize any outing for you but they have one in particular that they created. A full day’s hike to the water fall. Sadly, we did not have time for this, but apparently it is magical. It is on my list for next time. When I go back and host a yoga retreat. I’ll keep you posted.
And just one more reason to really, really love Ngeluwungan…
Breakfast. The best cappuccino I’ve had outside of one I had in Donauworth Germany. It’s a tie between those two.
So if you find yourself in Bali, please please make it a point to visit my friends Agus, Syahrul, and the rest of the family at Ngeluwungan. Which in Balinese means
“change for the better, all the time.”
You can find them on the web at: Ngeluwungan Boutique Villa
And a few more pictures for you to enjoy.
Thank you for reading.