If there’s one person we know we can count on for an “off-the-map” Bali experience, it’s Electra Gillies. As the founder and editor in chief of The Eco Gypsy, Electra unearths “ecoescapes” around the world that preserve and protect the native environment and community. The quarterly online magazine aims to promote sustainable tourism and is a definitive guide and resource for the mindful traveller. As a freelance travel journalist who has lived in Bali for 10 years, Electra is superbly acquainted with the lay of the land. She takes us through her regular haunts and even a few of Bali’s least-explored places.

Electra Gillies on Bali | Insider's Guide | Travelshopa

Bali’s vibe…

Bali is best described as an oxymoron. There are rice fields and temples right next to huge concrete developments and strong Balinese culture existing next to a neo colonial wave of suburbia. I live in an area that thankfully has been protected from the main brunt of development so it still feels very local here.

The thing that sets Bali apart…

Its culture. Being a mainly Hindu island, the daily offerings (canang sari), ceremonies and happily philosophical Balinese form the essence of Bali.

Favourite thing about Bali…

My house, especially our new little guesthouse, Rumah Lokan. It is an oasis of calm amidst the chaos, where I can write and create in peace by the river. I also find myself in awe of the incredible artisanal skills that still exist all over the island. It amazes me how skilled the workmanship is here. This weekend I watched the making of ikat and hand painted tiles and woodcarvers in tiny villages just on a quick night away.

Least favourite thing about Bali…

The rampant, uncontrolled development that is slowly destroying the island. The complete lack of consideration towards developing sustainably, solving the rubbish problem and preserving the environment. Hopefully there will be a Balinese backlash geared towards preserving the island – there are already many groups against the new land reclamation developments like Bali Tolak Reklamasi & environmental groups like WALHI doing great things.

Fun fact about the locals…

‘Tomorrow’ never means tomorrow. Time is pretty irrelevant here. I never know what day it is when I am here.

Best time to visit…

I love October. It is hot with cool breezes, dry and pretty quiet on the tourist front.

A local phrase one should know…

Obviously you should know ‘apa kabar?’ (how are you?). ‘Baik’ (fine) is the response and ‘berapa’ (how much) is pretty helpful as long as you understand the response! And ‘Tidak apa apa’ (no problem).

What to pack…

Not too much, there are some wonderful local designers and markets here and Eco Gypsy ethical beachwear of course!

Electra Gillies on Bali | Insider's Guide | Travelshopa

Bali Black Book

See:

Tirta Empul – People from all over Bali travel to Tirta Empul (the Temple of the Holy Water) periodically to cleanse, contemplate and be blessed.

Uluwatu Temple – Perched on a cliff’s edge, the Uluwatu Temple boasts magnificent views of the horizon.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces – Breathtakingly beautiful, and they are now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Stay:

Como Shambhala Estate, Ubud – A holistic wellness retreat that will leave you in a state of bliss.

Eat:

Grass & Grain on Jalan Batu Belig – Delicious, healthy and freshly made food that’s easy on the wallet.
Tiger Palm – This outfit by Will Meyrick dishes out Malaysian flavours and Nyonya Cusine. It is my favourite as my mother is from Penang.

Mama San – I always eat well at Will Meyrick’s Mama San.

The Straw Hut in Seminyak or Lacalita in Canggu for supper or a late night tipple.

Shop:

Rugu, Ubud
Haze & Glory, Canggu
Carga, Petittenget
The markets and Seminyak

You can’t leave Bali without…

A sarong.

Best time to visit…

I love October. It is hot with cool breezes, dry and pretty quiet on the tourist front.

Fun fact about the locals…

‘Tomorrow’ never means tomorrow. Time is pretty irrelevant here. I never know what day it is when I am here.

Least favourite thing about Bali…

The rampant, uncontrolled development that is slowly destroying the island. The complete lack of consideration towards developing sustainably, solving the rubbish problem and preserving the environment. Hopefully there will be a Balinese backlash geared towards preserving the island – there are already many groups against the new land reclamation developments like Bali Tolak Reklamasi & environmental groups like WALHI doing great things.

Electra Gillies on Bali | Insider's Guide | Travelshopa

Images courtesy of Electra Gillies and Como Shambala.

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