In my everyday life I’m a big-time planner. I like to research decisions, read reviews, and weigh my options before committing.
You’d think I’d be traveling with a binder full of post-it notes, maps and itineraries. But…I didn’t actually open a guidebook in preparation for this grand adventure. I just found the idea of researching six countries and making plans for over a hundred days on the road far too overwhelming. So, I’ve been taking it a couple of days at time. Looking up options on the internet, asking friends for suggestions and sometimes just stumbling upon great opportunities.
In Bali, I made three delightful discoveries that I just had to share with all of you in case one day your find yourself on the tarmac in Denpasar.
The first is Big Tree Farms Bamboo Chocolate Factory. Many of you have enjoyed the incredible ingredients created by Big Tree Farms without even knowing it. They supply most of the raw food companies in North America with cacao products, cashews and palm sugar.
Recently, they constructed the world’s largest functioning bamboo factory. Here they will process the chocolate products they receive from the 9000 farms in their network. When I arrived they were a week away from actual production but I was able to get a quick tour and purchase some fantastic raw food. I was greeted with such enthusiasm by their staff that it felt like such a treat to just walk around the building listening to them describe the future.
They plan to have regular tours open to the public so I suggest adding a visit to your Bali agenda. Buy some cashew clusters to snack on for an afternoon rice field hike.
I picked up some raw cacao (not quite this much – since I have a luggage limit).
Having raw cacao in my bag means that creations like this are in my future. What sweet potential!
The second special spot I visited on Bali was the Green School.
I have been interested in this initiative for a number of months after hearing about it through Tedtalks. Since I was there just before Christmas, classes were on holiday hiatus but it was amazing to wander through the bamboo structures and hear all about the philosophy that instigated the birth of this phenomenal venture.
Can you imagine being sent to the principal’s bamboo hut? or sipping on coconut water during recess at your own juice bar?
The school welcomes students from all over the world. The curriculum is designed to focus on eco-education and allows for hands-on learning about sustainability. Currently, the school has enrolment from pre-kindergarten to grade 11. Most children live off-campus with their parents but on-site accommodations are starting to fill up with students who have travelled to study at the Green School.
It is a pretty magical place. I can only imagine the energy when it is full of students engaged in learning and enthusiastic play.
The school was designed by architects from all over the world. The public is welcome to tour on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3:00 pm. Wandering the grounds and admiring the amazing bamboo structures is quite an experience.
My final discovery was much more of a surprise. On my last day in Seminyak, I went out in search of lunch with a handy list of options from HappyCow
. Tasty Vegan
was situated on the street I planned to wander so I focused on finding it. I didn’t read the fact that it was a delivery service so I landed on the doorstep instead. What I walked into was a family birthday party and a New Years celebration. Wishnu, the restaurant owner welcomed me with open arms. The restaurant wasn’t officially open but that didn’t seem to matter. I was presented with a beautiful platter of vegan nasi campur, an overflowing plate of vegan cookies and fresh papaya juice.
The huge gathering of Wishnu’s family celebrated my arrival. I was delighted to see them all parade in wearing different vegan message t-shirts! It was such a special moment for me to be sitting at the restaurant’s single table, in a back alley in Seminyak, surrounded by an exhuberant group of Balinese vegans. If you’re looking to experience the local cuisine as a vegan I strongly suggest you give Wishnu a call. He’ll deliver it to your doorstep.
After two months of traveling, I would advocate spending a little time researching your destinations so you don’t leave full of regret that you missed out on a really special experience. But, make sure you leave space in your agenda to discover and explore options that present themselves once you arrive.
Many of my best moments on this trip have been sensational surprises.