Escape from the urban jungle into the wide, open expanse of Bali’s rich rainforest preserves. Seemingly carved into the lush surrounding landscape, the Alila Ubud hotel is a modern retreat perched high on the edge of the Ayung River valley. Enveloped by dense jungle canopy, the profuseness of nature is almost overwhelming to the senses.
The resort is a mere 15 minutes away from Bali’s artistic centre of Ubud and some of the area’s best shopping, yet sufficiently removed so you feel as if you’ve found your personal slice of heaven on earth. Traditional Balinese architecture is fused with contemporary design, where raw, rustic furnishings meet modern geometry.
The resort’s rooms are propped up on stilts and raised above the slopes of the valley, a modern–day village complex of thatched roof pavilions, communal courtyards and luxurious private suites. Spacious terraces open out to panoramic views of the jungle whilst private gardens offer intimate spaces for fresh air and conversation. It’s easy to see why the Alila Ubud holds a reputation for having one of world’s best hotel swimming pools – the infinity pool sits on a horizontal plane that juts out into the mist before dropping off into nothingness (just an illusion of course). Even if you don’t exactly take to swimming like a duck takes to water, this is one instance you just have to get in the pool.
Desa Melinggih Kelod, Payangan, Kec. Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia 80572
There’s just no overstating how much Singaporeans love their food. Eating is a way of life unto itself, judging by the traffic at 24-hour hawker centres and food joints that seem to be everywhere on the island. Even more telling, is how easily words like “shiok”, “rojak” or “chope” that originate from hawker culture have slipped into the local vernacular. In fact, some might say the absence of a homogenous Singaporean identity has manifested in a shared passion for food.
Of all the flavours of Singapore, Peranakan cuisine stands out as one of the most special. And if you’re after something truly spectacular, you’ll have to try Babi Pongteh. A classic nyonya delicacy, Babi Pongteh is a non-spicy dish of braised pork flavoured with fermented soya beans (tau cheo) that is customarily served at all Peranakan formal celebrations. From a tender age, Nyonya girls learn how to cook this dish from their mothers. It becomes part of their own legacies and passed on to the next willing student.
You won’t face any such pressure but by all means, try it out for yourself with this recipe by Peranakan food doyenne, Violet Oon. Luscious chunks of pork belly are slow-braised in the fermented soya bean paste and dark soy sauce till meltingly soft and tender. The result is equal parts sweet and savoury; an unctuous stew permeated with umami flavour and subtle spice. Mop up any remaining gravy with slices of French baguette or slather over steamed rice for a comforting meal that will fill you with warmth. Why, it’s sure to be a fast favourite on the family dinner table!
In the heart of bustling Seminyak sits a resort bathed in whitewashed colonial splendour. We’re talking about The Colony Hotel, a quaint boutique hotel offering a tinge of nostalgia along with the natural luxurious comforts of Bali. Hidden beyond a high-walled garden flourishing with bougainvillea shrubs and orchids, The Colony Hotel offers an oasis of calm amidst the harried activity of the neighbourhood’s many star attractions.
Those looking for a quiet, grown-up getaway will find it in the The Colony Hotel, which boasts 20 elegant rooms and suites overlooking a glassy turquoise lap pool. The property stands out for its colonial-inspired design, which extends from all-white exteriors with whitewashed columns and balconies to floor-length French windows and wrought-iron lanterns. With its bar on any guests under the age of 16, The Colony offers an atmosphere of cool and calm that most can appreciate. Interiors too, allude to a colonial style, with dark wood furnishings and black and white wall portraits.
The hotel is also the perfect base from which to explore Seminyak’s main draws. Revel in uninterrupted views of the sunset at the famed Petitenget Beach, just 5 minutes away on foot or enjoy its close proximity to local institutions like La Lucciola, Sea Circus and Potato Head.
Jalan Laksmana 22, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia The Colony Hotel Bali
One of the few places you’ll get an eyeful of green in Singapore is the Henderson Waves. At 36 metres above ground, the Henderson Waves is Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge. It traverses the hills of Telok Blangah Hill Park and Mount Faber Park, undulating across the forest canopies like the curved vertebrae of a snake. This illusion is created by a series of steel arches and curved ‘ribs’ that alternate above and under the deck. The ’curved ribs’ are essentially slats of Balau wood, a dense hardwood that is found only in Southeast Asia. Its undulating pattern creates hidden recesses and conch-like niches where pedestrians can sit and watch the day turn into night.
Standing atop the Henderson Waves bridge yields dramatic vistas of Singapore’s Western coast and offshore Southern islands, and wide-eyed watchers are often rewarded with sightings of a rich variety of tropical flora and fauna. By dusk, the bridge is illuminated by LED lighting, bathing the structure in a warm incandescent glow.
The best way to explore the bridge is as part of the Southern Ridges Walk, a five kilometre hiking trail that takes you through Kent Ridge Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Mount Faber Park.
Henderson Road, Mount Faber Park, Singapore 099203
By Bus: Take bus service numbers 131, 145, 176 or 648 and alight at the bus stop along Henderson Road before taking the staircase up to Mount Faber Park.
Parking is available at Mount Faber Carpark D (17 lots) and Telok Blangah Hill Park Carpark 1 (17 lots) & Carpark 2 ( 39 lots)
To access the Henderson Waves via the Marang Trail. Take Exit D from Harbourfront MRT to the start of the trail on Marang Road.
You’ve heard enough SG50 chatter by now to know that this year is a special one for Singapore. As the nation celebrates its 50th year of independence, the little red dot will be lit from within – ignited by a thunderous rave of festivities and special celebratory events. Naturally, all this flag-waving euphoria has us in the mood for some merrymaking of our own, so we thought we’d reveal the #So-Singaporean experiences we have wrapped up our sleeves.
We’re all too familiar with the common refrain: “There’s nothing to do in Singapore”. Hogwash. We’re here to dispel that gargantuan myth with 50 Truly Singaporean Experiences that the nation can jointly be proud of. Free from your average guidebook farces, we’ve included mainstream musts and off-the-beaten-track activities that locals approve of and tourists deign to discover.
Grab your camera and your walking shoes; it’s time to experience Singapore with brand new eyes.
You may have hit the hippest restaurants around town but a visit to Jakarta is not complete till you get a taste of the authentic Indonesian cuisine. Many local dishes in Jakarta are favoured by foodies around the globe. One of which is its famous Nasi Goreng.
Dubbed as Indonesia’s national dish, Nasi Goreng, literally meaning fried rice, is an unassuming dish celebrated by locals and tourists. The dish is typically flavoured with a sweet soy sauce (kecap manis), shallots, garlic, tamarind and chilli, accompanied by egg, chicken or prawns. Now for the best part, Nasi Goreng can be varied with different flavours and ingredients – perfect for leftover dinners!
If we’ve teased your taste buds, why not have a go at this scrumptious dish? This recipe by food blogger, Julia from Vikalinka, is easy to recreate and only takes 20 minutes. Fragrant basmati rice is stir-fried with a fusion of aromatic spices, spicy chillies and spring onions, topped with a glorious sunny side up and crunchy peanuts. One word: Yum! Or as the Jakartans say it, Enak!