The last in my Bali trilogy is to share all the best bits of our stay in Canggu and Seminyak.
Where we stayed
I could quite happily have stayed on in Ubud for our whole trip, however I felt I should explore slightly further afield. I started to research hotels in the Seminyak and Canggu area once we were settled in Ubud, however my planning got waylaid with the more immediate problem of sorting our Ubud accommodation.
Over the same couple of days that I was dealing with the first failed attempt (anyone following my Insta stories would have witnessed the anguished, tear-stained meltdown I was having!!), one of my Insta followers – Justine – got in touch.
She said: “Lorraine my family have a beautiful place in Kaba Kabi Bali… It’s called Villa Eden and it’s a little bit of paradise. You are welcome to stay if you are still there with Lexi. It’s safe and a little bit of heaven. It looks like you and Lexi need a beautiful place to be… Why it touches my heart is Lorraine I wish I had been as brave and fearless when my first boy was 1.”
Needless to say, I was beyond touched at Justine’s incredibly kind message and the offer to stay at her family’s place. We struck up a conversation on Instagram and via email, and she sent me a link to the villa.
OH MY SWEET GOD!!
It had me immediately in raptures – the setting right in Nature, the expansive rooms, divine décor, its own infinity pool…. To make it even more fabulous, the villa had a full staff – a butler, cook, and even a driver so we could come and go as much as we wanted to. You can see for yourself here.
I had no idea if the dates would work out – however they did, and quite beautifully too. My mum and sister were arriving a couple of weeks later, so they would stay with me in Ubud at the Green Field for five days, then four days with us at the villa.
The driver Wayan came to pick us up at the Green Field and we drove for about an hour with him. The busy streets of Ubud turned into quiet roads, and then finally, a tiny village. We turned down a narrow country lane and pulled up outside the villa.
The photos on the link Justine sent me were stunning, and I didn’t think it would be possible for the villa itself to be even more beautiful IRL (In Real Life). We climbed the stone stairs and entered an enormous open-plan lounge/dining area with an equally enormous deck opening out on to the infinity pool.
The household team greeted us warmly with cold flannels and mini pineapples with the centres carved out, whizzed up and put back into the pineapple for us to sip through straws.
We quite literally squealed like school kids as we were shown around. The villa is the creation of Justine’s mum Rhonda, who has worked for the last six years to upgrade the villa – from putting in the landscaped gardens, to improving the villa structure and devising the most beautiful interiors.
The heart of the villa is the lounge/dining area, then the kitchen opens off that. There are two bedrooms on this level, as well as a media room. Upstairs has another bedroom with a large verandah with sofas, tables and chairs and a daybed. There is also a second self-contained treehouse, which is accessed via wooden stairs. The shower there looks right over the rainforest and waterfall.
Our bedrooms were HUGE, and Lexi and mine had a beautiful stone-flagged outdoor toilet/bath/shower.
The villa overlooks a small rice paddy and water temple, and – probably my favourite part of the gardens – IT HAS ITS OWN WATERFALL, which you can hear cascading from the villa. There’s a pavilion right next to the rice paddy where I practised yoga.
We had never stayed in a staffed villa before, so we had a little getting used to to do to settle into how it all worked.
We ate extremely well while we were there…
Each morning, the cook Komang would prepare little plates of tropical fruit and take our requests for breakfast (usually we had eggs however I also put in a special request for Dadar, pandan pancakes stuffed with coconut and palm sugar = insanely delicious).
We would make a plan for our meals with her and the butler Ketut at breakfast-time. Meals can be chosen from a menu the team has, which has Indonesian and Western options. We went fully Indonesian with our orders – mostly curries and vegetable dishes. The meals are served “family style” rather than as individual a la carte choices.
The team would estimate the cost of the food we needed and ask us for cash each morning – then they would give us back any change less a small mark-up for their time to get it.
I also put in some special requests to Komang, which she delivered on bigtime. I asked for some grilled fish and salad one day for lunch, and what emerged was an extravaganza of a whole snapper that had been marinated, then panfried till it was super crispy. I swear I’ll be thinking of that meal for years to come… We also asked Komang to swap out the standard white rice for the yummy, nutty (and lower GI) red rice.
Rather than having the team waiting around until dinnertime, what we did was asked Komang to prepare our dinner during the day; then we would reheat it ourselves that night. The portions were enormous – and we had ample leftovers for another full meal every time.
I would also ask Komang to prepare smoothies – she would load up the Nutribullet jars with fruit, veg and fresh coconut water, and I would take them out of the fridge and whizz them up for Lexi and I as we wanted them.
The driver Wayan was on hand to take us out and about as much as we needed to, so we would let him know the day before what our plans were for the next day. The villa is about 20 minutes from Canggu and 40 minutes from Seminyak. After being right in the middle of the action in Ubud, we were ready for some serenity – however having Wayan on hand meant that we never felt isolated.
Rhonda and Justine shared their little black book of experts with us, so we had Sumi come to the village for massages (and she does lots of other treatments too apparently). She set up her massage bed on the deck next to the waterfall, and if there is a more heavenly place to have a massage, I have yet to find it.
I booked Lily to come do yoga a couple of times with me in the pavilion overlooking the rice paddy and loved her hatha style of teaching. Being taught one-on-one also meant that she could assist me in getting right into each pose – making me realise how much further I could go with a little help in the right direction
I must admit I was apprehensive about being in the villa on my own when my mum and sister left. The loungeroom is completely open onto the garden and I was nervous for the first couple of evenings after the staff left at 5/6pm.
The security guard would arrive like clockwork at 6pm and sit just outside the villa all night. After I went to bed, I would hear him tidying away the outdoor cushions and putting down the blinds in the loungeroom – it was reassuring to know that he was there.
Lexi’s nanny from Ubud – Asty – came to look after Lexi at the villa and the staff made her feel very welcome. I also asked Ketut and Komang to watch her a couple of times outside of Asty’s days so I could run into town to do a yoga class, or have a massage at the villa.
It was very, very odd having this huge beautiful villa and full compliment of staff for just Lexi and I after my mum and sister went home – however we quite quickly found ourselves a little daily routine. I would wake to the distant chanting at the village temple just before 6am, and slip outside to do my Miracle Morning on the deck next to the pool.
We would have breakfast at 8am, and then we’d go about our day – me going out for yoga or shopping and leaving Lexi with Asty, or me staying at the villa and doing some mentoring calls.
In the evenings, we’d have our fruit snack by the pool and then we would curl up together on a sunlounger (her naked as the day, me in my bikini) for her dinner as the sun set. She’d haver her bath or a shower with me, then she popped off to sleep at 6.30pm – when I would have my dinner, then read or watch a movie before heading to bed at around 9pm.
They were simple, serene days and I know I’ll remember them forever.
I can’t wait to go back to Villa Eden already. As soon as I arrived, I knew I would hold a retreat there (watch this space for November 2018!!). I want to go back more people to really make the most of the place. I can see cocktails by the pool before long dinners passing lots of different dishes up and down the table, all to the soundtrack of the intensely beautiful sounds of Nature all around us… It’s also got several different living/hang out areas so everyone could have there own space to read, think or chat without disturbing others.
It is the perfect place to go to soak up the magical energy of Bali; it literally pulses with it. If you want to be right in the middle of the action, it’s probably not for you – however if you (like us) wanted to be able to “opt in” to restaurants, shopping and nightlife, then it’s perfect.
If you’d like to enquire about booking Villa Eden, you can find all the information on this website. Please let me know if you stay there as I’d love to hear about it!!
In the interest of full transparency, we stayed at Villa Eden mostly as a very generous gift from Rhonda. We contributed an amount per head each night to cover the cost of the staff and laundry.
WHERE WE ATE
You’ll notice that there are a lot less restaurant recommendations than my Ubud guide – as we ate mostly at our magnificent villa. Plus I didn’t find Canggu as baby-friendly, so we were limited to the places that had high chairs on hand. If you’re travelling with a baby, I suggest you ask before sitting down if the restaurant has high chairs – or bring your pram for Baby.
This was a recommendation from one of my Mastermind group, Janine – and it turned out to be our favourite place to eat in Canggu; we had lunch here at least five times during our stay. There were plenty of high chairs and the staff made Lexi feel super welcome. The menu is mostly made up of health food and drinks – you can even order a flight of mini elixr shots!
Of the meals I had there, the Health Bowl, the Summer Salad and the fish tacos were my favourites. There is also the most insanely delicious chocolate cake – it’s gluten free as it’s made from cassava flour – I have it as a major life goal to crack that recipe at home…
This is probably the prettiest place we visited in Canggu! It’s an Instagrammer’s dream and we counted at least three people taking candid selfies simulteneously while we were there. The menu is filled with smoothie bowls and salads. We only ate here once (for lunch) and I may not have ordered fabulously – but I wasn’t crazy impressed with the place. Next time I’d stick to a smoothie bowl.
I first visited with my mum, sister and Lexi for lunch and our meals were pretty average. Lexi won the toss with the lovely staff making her a baby fruit bowl – even removing the pips from the mandarin segments for her! I went back again solo to do some writing and had a fantastic smoothie bowl and turmeric latte. There are a lot of laptop warriors here, and they’ve set it up to be easy to work from there with wifi and lots of power points in the communal table upstairs.
Tip: they do have a highchair, however it’s one you strap onto a bench, which didn’t feel super secure to me – so we held onto Lexi as well.
I tried not once, not twice, not three times, but FOUR TIMES to get in here. The first two times there were no tables, and on my third attempt the one highchair was taken. I finally made it back on my last day in Canggu and got what the fuss was about. Again – super healthy menu with ample smoothie bowls, salads and Aussie-style brunch dishes. The seating is mostly outside in a leafy courtyard and it’s away from the busy main street, so it’s one of the quieter places to eat in Canggu.
I would pop into this cute little organic/wholefoods store to pick up fruit, meat and veg for Lexi, and little treats like toasted coconut butter (which I got utterly obsessed with while I was there – it’s a straight-from-the-jar kind of situation), buckwheat pancake mix and little handmade chocolates that the staff make themselves. They also have clever little cubes of pureed fruit and veg for baby food – which would have been super handy if we were still in the puree stage. You can also order online for delivery to your villa, which I would have done if most of our food wasn’t already sorted.
This supermarket was about ten minutes from the villa, so we could pop in there to get any essentials we needed. I was taken aback at the prices – they’re similar to back home in Australia. It’s very much geared at an international/tourist shopper, so that makes sense.
I didn’t go here, but Wayan said that it was where the locals shopped and the prices were more reasonable that Pepito.
I met the founder of Muka, Iris, at the Samadi Markets and fell in love with her range. Her philosophy is called “intuitive herbology” and the products are mostly made up of wholefood ingredients that you would find in any wholefood-lover’s pantry. I’m talking honey, cacao, coffee, turmeric, and many more. She mentioned that they also did facials, and seeing as I hadn’t had a facial yet in Bali, I booked in for the next day.
Iris is in the midst of building her store/treatment area, so when I turned up, I found a temporary hut-like structure where she was working her magic making the products, and a small treatment room next to it where her facialist works from.
Tip: There was a building noise during my treatment, which stopped for the remainder of my treatment after my facialist had a quick word with the builders. If you visit, the structure might already been in place – however if there’s still building going on, I would ask for some quiet time so you can float away and enjoy your facial.
The facial used almost all of the products in the range – I especially loved the three stages of scrub and the facial massage. This was the first time ever that the facialist donned gloves and massaged the muscles inside my mouth. My face felt like had had a workout afterwards! I bought the coffee scrub, turmeric mask and nutmeg oil and have been using them almost every day since I got back. I feel I’ve retained some of the Bali glow and that’s thanks to the products I think!
I wanted to get myself zhooshed up to fly back to Oz, so I booked in here for lashes and a mani/pedi on my last day in Canggu. The place is enormous – with a café downstairs (lots of people working here as well I noticed) and an entire wall of nail colours to choose from. There were a few women having their hair steamed while having their nails done, which I’d be interested to try next time. For me, the place was a bit too big and felt almost like a production line. However I was super happy with my nails and lashes, and they lasted for ages back in Oz.
Next time, I want to try Maria Curau – whose vegan pedicure got rave reviews from my friend Camilla.
If you’ve read my Ubud guide, you’ll know that I was a one-studio kinda girl and only practised at The Yoga Barn. In Canggu, I wanted to try a few different places and ended up visiting three different studios.
First up, I went to The Practice – having had many people tell me it was a must-visit. And it was! The best way to describe it is a five-star yoga studio. The interior is stunning, there’s complimentary herbal tea in the lobby and there are yoga-butlers on hand to take your mat from you as you leave your class. The yoga style here is tantric hatha, which I hadn’t experienced before. There is the option of Sun, Fire or Moon yoga (as well as other classes). I did a Sun class, and next time I’d do Fire for more challenge.
I did a couple of classes here and it was more my kind of studio vibe: simple and stripped back. The two classes I did were pretty tough and I felt like I’d done a solid workout afterwards. There’s a small restaurant/café attached to it – where I ate lunch one day as well and it was excellent. On Sundays, Samadi hosts a market as well.
I only visited Serenity on my last day in Canggu – if I had known about it earlier, I would have done more classes here. It’s an eco guesthouse, yoga school and restaurant and a lot of people seem to be on organised retreats there. I did an excellent flow class here.
Tip: if you’re going here for a class, allow extra time to find your studio as they’re not super easy to find. I was running late for my class and was in a panic running up and down stairs trying to find it!
WHERE WE SHOPPED
We went to these markets the two Sundays that we were in Canggu. They’re quite small, but perfectly formed. There are stalls selling organic fruit and veg, honey and wholefood treats. I spent up at the stand with essential oils – I stocked up on super cheap natural incense sticks and also found this brilliant silver clove ointment that I’ve been using to ease sore muscles. There are also vendors selling clothes, bikinis and homewares – and of course Iris is there with her Muka Skincare stall!
Love Anchor Markets
These markets are also on a Sunday and are right in the middle of the Canggu action. Go here for jewelry, clothes and the various souvenir-type stuff you might want to bring back from Bali. There are no food stalls, but there are plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby (including Vida and The Loft).
Tip: I visited Seminyak on a couple of days for shopping and had high hopes for the Seminyak markets after the incredible ones in Ubud. They were extremely average in comparison, and I found the vendors pushy. I came away empty-handed and wished I’d capitalised more in Ubud!
I was on a mission to find some funky new yoga threads when I first arrived in Bali – however the options in Ubud just weren’t ticking the box for me. They seemed to be either too bland or made of too-thin lycra material that wasn’t super flattering and I didn’t think would last beyond a couple of months.
I had first visited Dare2Wear on a retreat to Bali three years ago, so had a stop-off en route to Seminyak from Canggu one day. It was heaven!!! The clothes are fresh, bright and sexy – and incredibly longlasting (the fact that I was still wearing my purchases from three years ago was a testament to that).
I got to meet the founder, Trudi, when I was there this time. She’s Norwegian living in Bali, and exports the clothes all over the world – but not Australia, sadly for us. She is absolutely stunning – check out their Instagram feed. She was in the process of opening up a store in Canggu when I was speaking to her, so if you’re headed that way check it out. I bought two full outfits and an extra pair of tights – all of which I am loving wearing back home in Oz.
I had loved my session with Tunjung in Ubud, and I was keen to explore some more healing while I was in Canggu/Seminyak.
My friend Tenielle had told me that her visit to Jimmy a couple of years ago was “life-changing”, so of course I had to see this man! Myself, my mum and my sister booked in for consecutive appointments and travelled to Seminyak for the day. As Jimmy himself said, he doesn’t see himself as a healer. Instead he describes himself as a “facilitator” to help you heal yourself. He subscribes to Louise Hay’s approach – in that every illness/symptom is linked back to something happening on an emotional level.
My session with him started with a conversation around where I was at, and he picked up on some emotional and physical things that were going on for me before he’d even laid hands on me. Then I undressed and he performed what you could loosely describe as massage.
He seemed to be drawn to the tightest, sorest spots in body and would start to work on that spot. In tandem, he would give me a specific affirmation to say that was related to that area. As I said the affirmation, the pain would lessen until it was gone altogether. This fascinated me – as Jimmy was actually increasing the pressure on that spot as I was speaking!
I have had neck pain on waking every day for years, and for the few days after seeing Jimmy I woke up pain-free. I felt lighter, clearer and more validated in who I am as a person after the hour with him and I will definitely be seeing him again on future visits.
My mum and sister also got a huge amount out of their time with Jimmy – my mum felt like he’d “seen into her soul”.
He doesn’t have a website, so your best best is to email him on email@example.com.
This was a tip from Justine. Papa Sirkus is a local village healer, who lives in a family compound filled with birds. He performs healings most days from 9am until he has seen everyone (you’d want to check first as I’m not sure of his exact days), and the trick is to get there early as he doesn’t do appointments. We arrived at 9am and there were already ten people ahead of us (note to self: get there earlier!). The crowd was 75% Westerners and 25% locals.
Papa works in full view of everyone waiting, so I started to get quite apprehensive at all the squeals and grunts of pain I was hearing as he made adjustments on people! We waited for three hours under shade on one of the verandahs and as it got too hot and Lexi got too tired, she and I moved out to the aircon of the car so she could have a nap while Wayan waited in line for us.
We came back in when we were almost next, and I stepped up onto the verandah for my turn…
Papa started with my toes, which it seems align with different parts of the body. A couple sang out in pain as he tweaked them, which I think gave him the direction he needed. Then he worked his way up my body, clicking and twisting as he went. It was no worse than a standard chiro treatment. At the end, he tweaked each of my toes again and there was zero pain. I also asked him to look at Lexi’s foot, which she injured a couple of months before. He smoothed over the little bump that remained, and advised me to massage it regularly.
Payment is by donation, which I left at the temple altar (the guide is 100,000 rupiah per person). I loved my visit to Papa Sirkus as a cultural experience – it was absolutely fascinating. However my back was not happy the next day and I felt it undid the amazing work that Jimmy had done a few days beforehand. This could very much have been about having too much work in too short a space of time; the fact that he is so highly regarded by tourists and locals alike tells me that he’s extraordinarily talented.
Auntie (AKA Massage Lady)
Ketut – the villa’s butler – told me about this woman as she was seeing her herself for treatments. I was intrigued (and still sore after my Papa visit) so I asked Ketut if she could hook me up.
The lady arrived at the villa at couple of days later. I say the lady as I don’t actually know her name, and neither did Ketut – she simply called her by the Balinese equivalent of “auntie” to denote the respect due to her as an elder.
I was excited about my relaxing, pampering, two-hour massage… which turned out not to be the case at all. Instead, I had 120 minutes of agony ahead of me. And I’m really not being dramatic. I was doing my birthing breathing for the entire thing, and burst into tears several times.
Auntie had a way of finding the deepest, sorest, most tightly-coiled spots and took to relieving them with vigorous massage. I carry my tension in my jaw and neck, and it felt like each muscle in those areas was screaming out to finally be released from the stress it was under. The tears I believe were 20% from pain and 80% from the long overdue release of emotional tension.
I felt exhausted afterwards, however strangely peaceful. I had extreme bruising the next day (including on my face!!), some of which lasted for a good two weeks. Auntie had explained that this would be all the toxins she released bubbling up to the surface, which made sense. I would love to have had another couple of sessions with her, and will make this a priority on my next visit to the area. I’ll also have a stiff drink waiting for me afterwards…
I don’t have any contact details for her, and she speaks no English (we communicated via sign language and Ketut interpreting) – however if you stay at Villa Eden, Ketut can arrange for you to visit her.
And that’s my Canggu wrap! If you visit any of these places, please do come back and let me know how you found it. And please leave any tips YOU have on the comments below so I’ve got some fresh ideas for my next visit to Canggu and Seminyak… Oh and stay tuned for the Remarkability Retreat (can you tell I’m excited?!)…