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Exploring the spiritual in Lombok and Bali

As a first-time visitor to Lombok and Bali, Susannah Jaffer was looking forward to finally joining the club of those who’ve experienced what these verdant Indonesian isles have to offer. However, she didn’t expect a trip filled with magical and spiritual experiences that would make a lasting impression.

Despite their reputations for natural beauty and for being prime spots for self-discovery, I’d never made a trip to Lombok or Bali, even though both are situated only a few hours from Singapore.

My stay was with Sudamala Resorts, which has properties in both locations, and after a pleasant flight from Changi to Lombok International Airport, I was picked up promptly by Sudamala’s private car and host, for the start of my adventure.

Traditional artisans

On the way to the resort we stopped at a traditional weaving village called Sukarara. Weaving cloth is one of the most traditional forms of art in Lombok, and women in this village are required to learn the skill from an early age to honour and upkeep the custom and livelihood.

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Trying my hand at weaving – no mean feat!

Beach at your doorstep

We soon arrived at stunning Sudamala Senggigi, which is comprised of Balinese-style villa suites with private balconies or terraces. The surroundings are lush, green and hilly, with a cool breeze blowing in from the seafront.

I stayed in a beach front Narmada Sunset View suite, an expansive room with its own outdoor shower and a traditional sunken stone bathtub so huge that it took nearly half an hour to fill!

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Waking up to a sea view every morning is a real treat

A traditional feast

Dinner at the hotel’s Olah Olah restaurant consisted of begibung, a Lombok-style feast based on the traditional Balinese megibung, which simply means that food is served communally, and is meant for sharing. We devoured small bowls of skewered meats, seafood, spicy vegetables and various curries with coconut rice scooped up from the middle of the platter – all delicious and filling.

A day of snorkelling
Various day trips can be arranged by the Sudamala team; one is a trip to the Gili Islands for an active day of snorkelling. The charming Gilis are fringed with white sandy beaches, and surrounded by clear waters full of colourful fish, and it’s easy enough to hop from one island to another by boat.

Lombok to Bali
It took around an hour to get from the boat dock in Bali to the village of Sanur. Stepping into Sudamala Sanur resort, my first impression was how, despite its position only slightly set back from the street front, it still felt like such a welcome retreat.

hotel room, travel, holiday
One of the spacious rooms at Sudamala Sanur

Situated on the other side of the entrance is a beautiful courtyard, with walkways to each suite. Following that, an arch opens out onto the ample facilities – a large spa, swimming pool and café area.

An unusual blessing
One of the highlights of my Bali stay was visiting Pura Tirta Sudamala (which means “purifying water” in ancient Sanskrit), a traditional temple surrounded by water from a spring, located in an area called Bangli where the Balinese come to cleanse and purify body and mind.

prayer, temple, Lombok
Saying a prayer before we start the ritual

At the base of the temple, there are underwater coves in different areas, as well as eleven showers of differing heights and pressures, which, according to the ritual, you need to bathe and shower yourself under in a specific order. It was such a privilege to experience this enchanting and tranquil place of prayer and spirituality, and I came away feeling more at peace.

Magic in art
Our final stop was to an art workshop, owned by local artist Wayan Suklu, well known in the region for his work on canvas in various media. He took us on a tour of his workshop and property, full of artwork, installations and sculptures in various stages of completion.

Culture, tradition, art
Wayan Suklu talking us through our scribbles

As you can imagine, my last day in Bali gave me a lot to think about. I returned to Singapore the next day feeling invigorated and, as philosophical as it sounds, with a renewed sense of wonder about life – which is just what I needed.

For bookings and more information about the properties in Lombok and Bali, visit sudamalaresorts.com

This is an extract from an article that first appeared in the September 2016 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy for the full article, or Subscribe now so you never miss an issue!

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