Sophie Digby heads east to the beachfront enclave Jasri Bay.
IT was when I recently came back from a trip to Europe that I suffered massive culture shock – it was strange that it had not been the other way round. This time the culture shock was not bending to Bali’s favour. A first for me! Without going into the emotional details of my first week back from Europe, with its wide streets, ample pavements, museums, architecture and gorgeous affordable wine, I realized I had had a hard landing! As I mentioned, a first ever. However gently edging back into Bali life, I slowly re-found that which makes us stay; the unequivocal energy that permeates; the scent of incense and sounds of gamelan, the priest on a random corner releasing a trapped spirit creating mayhem and those sunsets. The very real joys of being in Bali.
Those of us who have been here nigh on three decades reminisce on previous times, and there is no better way to stop reminiscing on the past than to bring it into the present by traveling a mere couple of hours eastwards. So to Jasri Bay we have come, stopping along the way for an hour or so of modern-day decompression, spent at the elegant Alila Manggis, before racing the few miles up the road to the hideaway. Jasri Bay Hideaway. Yes, we got lost. Google is not that great up this end of town. Actually, it’s possibly not that the American giant that fails, but the signal that lags…LOL
Good news, yesteryear is still right here, thankfully so. Beachfront enclave, unfortunate access (thankfully, as that way Insta-peeps might not dare tread its path) crashing waves and a chocolate factory. I mean, really? What more could you ask for? I know I am in the right place at the right time when they tell me that the gorgeous blonde at the reception is also called Sophie. She is a golden lab mix and of course we hit it off as namesakes usually do!
So let’s explore. Two cottages and two Suites – all made from fabulous wood, all fronting the sea. First off and half-raised on Mayan-style, pebble plinths, Kelapa Cottage. One large, open-plan covered space complete with four-poster bed and mosquito nets, sitting and dining area leads onto an outdoor wrap around balcony with cushioned seating. A covered outdoor bathroom (with vast marble bathtub for two – top and tailing, rain shower and on theme seashell resin sinks) leads off the bedroom. To one side, an antique opium, highly carved, wooden, cushioned day bed and a swimming pool. And in sync with the style of yesteryear there is that iconic yin yang mosaic design on the bottom of the free form pool!
Next door, but not that close, is Pandan Cottage. This is the two-bedroom option, and since it is on two floors with a massive, open-sided entertaining space on the ground floor with the two bedrooms, bathrooms, balcony and wrap around terrace on the top floor, it is not exactly a cottage, more of a tropical, pioneer-style house. Pandan has an extensive lawn edging the private promenade that links the dwellings, and hosts a very and I mean very, large sunbed. Balinese umbul2 (flags) flap in the breeze as the waves thump onto the shore as we visit the third overnight option, the Neptune Suite, with which Pandan shares the pool.
This wooden two-story pavilion has an enclosed downstairs living area and a singe bedroom above. Similar in style as the other cottages it is just slightly smaller and the marble bathtub is but for one person, still large by normal bath sizing standards.
Lastly, and this cottage is usually occupied by a long-term Bali resident, we discover the Mandala Suite, tucked away at one end of this spacious seafront property, and at the time of going to press it was not listed on the website. But do connect with the charming Agung who manages this divine hideaway you never know your luck, We know it is there because we saw it.
I briefly mentioned the quaint, village-style chocolate factory next door (that makes the luscious dark chocolate of the Sorga brand which also creates some delightful ice creams), a tour of which is a fun and educational way to spend an hour away from the sea and pool. So lastly I should mention the food. All food is brought to your cottage so it really is up to you to choose where you would like to enjoy what the Jasri Bay kitchens have created for you. The menu is very comprehensive and dives between vegetarian, pescatarian and even vegan. Meat is also on the menu as well as salads, curries and rice dishes. I am quite impressed, being so far off the beaten track, not only how good the food is and how delicious but also how beautifully served it, we are definitely spoilt for choice.
Thankfully, I am now back in Bali and it is just as it should be…