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Anywhere, Anytime

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Were travel, art, architecture, fashion, food and adventure meet. Founder and global adventurer Geren Lockhart was "Born Packed" when she started traveling at a young age and never stopped. This site follows along on her journey. 

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Filtering by Tag: Indonesia

CONSTRUCTION IN CANGGU

Geren Lockhart

THE EDGE OF THE PLANET AND TOP OF THE WORLD WITH BIRGITTE RABENS.


This cool building is the brainchild of Birgitte Rabens, who is the force behind Rabens Saloner, a women’s fashion lifestyle brand. Birgitte migrates around the world working and playing when she’s not camping out in Copenhagen.  She’s got a diverse itinerary which makes for a diverse collection, Italy for lots of stuff, Northern Thailand and Portugal for cotton, Nepal for cashmere and a yearly migration to her residence in Bali for a good part of the wares both clothing and house that make the up the brand DNA. 

Introduced by a mutual friend Birgitte generously met me moments after I arrived and whirled me away to a much needed perfect breakfast. On a scooter no less. My first glimpses of Bali were thru the eyes of an ex-pat who’s spent a good span of time here creating over the past decade. It couldn’t have been more perfect. 

Birgitte has impeccable taste combined with the exploration genes that I think all Danes have which had her taking on a few “creative projects” that weren’t about making goods to export; these were building projects. Construction in other countries is always fascinating. How materials are decided on and used. How the architects, builders, and contractors work together. I remember the first time I saw a 20+ story building in Hong Kong surrounded in bamboo scaffolding with people crawling all over it. I gasped, I was shocked, and then I got used to it. It works there. 

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The house pictured was being built to sell. It’s in Canggu, North Kuta where tons of ex-pats are are migrating. It’s a beautiful part of the island where there is good surf, good food, good fun and it's less chaotic than Seminyak. During my time with Birgitte, I wanted to explore her creative process and the reality of making things, including buildings in Bali. After a day of checking on production stuff for Rabens Saloner, we scootered out to the site to check up on the progress and say hello to the security guard who lives on site. 

We darted thru roads and paths that I wouldn’t want to try to figure out how to get building materials down for any amount of compensation. To ensure a successful outcome so much has to align everyday local know-how, new ideas and a great deal of human capital are just the beginning. It was a substantial building and when we saw it. It didn't look measurably different than some others we had seen at this stage, but it felt different. It was going to be different because of the unique collision of Brigitte's creative force, her knowledge of having lived on the island for so long and her passion for collaborating with the local artisans and maximizing even challenging the local know how. It is a physical manifestation of her focused lens on the island; it is all the learning from both sides coming together to create a unique collaboration that allows everyone to contribute. It is a pile of metal, wood and cement but it’s also magic. 

The house was just a framework when I saw it. But it was beautiful; it was straightforward and robust and organic but industrial, and I can’t wait to see what it ended up looking like when I’m back in Bali. 

More on my adventures with Birgitte soon. 


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THE ALILA HOTEL IN UBUD, BALI

Geren Lockhart

AN OASIS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BALI JUNGLE. THIS HOTEL IS A GREAT SPOT TO RELAX AND EASE INTO THE CULTURE OF UBUD.

The Alila Hotel in Ubud, Bali is a unique and calming world where design meets jungle. From Denpasar airport, the property is an exciting and sometimes shockingly beautiful ninety min drive up into the mountains. We spent our first night in Bali here and would recommend it to anyone visiting for a longer stay as a great entry point. Waking up to the sunrise and the jungle monkeys roaming around was a lovely entry to a new world.  The food throughout our stay was a highlight, somewhat expected since it’s a program that was framed out by Elke and Ray from Locavore in downtown Ubud. Locavore is one of our favorite spots to experience food on the planet. Elke and Ray are visionaries and magicians who practice their art through the idea of integrating European technique with only local ingredients. These ideals are still in place at the Alila, putting their best foot forward when the restaurant is serving it’s decadent must have breakfast every day. This is NOT a lukewarm hotel buffet set-up. There was a multitude of beverage options and tons of small plates to try. The menu changes daily and you are encouraged to order 3 or 4 things, and if you’re sharing you can go even crazier, the portions are manageable and are meant to give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the food of Bali, to immerse yourself in the place. 

The grounds are lush, and the all of the spaces are well designed and still Balinese enough that you don’t feel like an urban alien dropped into the middle of an ancient civilization. Rooms are comfortable and chic if not ultra luxurious. The personal products through the property, room and spa are all from the locally produced namesake brand, and they’re great! Enough so that we not only squirreled away the ones from our room but went a bit crazy in the spa store stocking up since we didn't have an idea of when we might return. 

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The highlight of our stay was the pool. An "infinity-ish" moment set near the edge of a cliff and perfectly laid out so you can enjoy laying in the pool as much as relaxing beside it. Save a day for this. A full mid morning to sunset to immerse fully in the experience. Lunch in the lower-level grand scale lounge area, dip in and out of the pool, the sun, and the very comfortable beds as you wish. 

Relaxation is pretty much guaranteed here and as with most properties in Bali the rates are a great value for the level of the stay. 

 Alila Ubud


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TULSI INDIAN WARUNG

Geren Lockhart

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TULSI WAS ONE OF OUR GO-TO SPOTS IN BALI. CHIC, CHEAP & DELICIOUS.

Tulsi is a Warung in Ubud, Bali. By definition a warung is a simple local restaurant. It is simple. Housed in a small quickly put together structure, serving straightforward Indian food from a menu that has only two entree options adding sides that are from what is fresh at the local farms and markets that day, choosing from dosa or roti for a set price that is a steal.  Add on a beverage from homemade Indian favorites like lassi or chai, and if you are smart, you will save room for the homemade Kulfi.

However just like most things that are simple yet truly well done when you take a deeper look you find there is more to the story. You are seated in a room that’s spacious and well designed, using local materials and modern details. The owners son who is responsible has an eye for design thus Tulsi's interior is superior to most warungs on the island. The room is anchored by an open kitchen peering out at you through shelves of neatly organized supplies. Details shine, from unique and creative tile moments to the use of recycled wine bottles as lighting fixtures you are left knowing that it’s all very considered.

Rani is the owner of Tulsi and is Indian by birth. She has called Australia home for the last few decades and in 2015, she made the full-time move to Ubud where she brought with her generations-old family recipes and a deep well of know-how when it comes to the foods of her homeland. Since Indian food isn’t a widespread option in Bali and spices are the most crucial component of the cuisine she’s often adventuring to Singapore’s Little India and the epic mega source Mustafa Center to gather the must have components. These dishes and condiments are not just slapped together quickly. Cooking is an all the time endeavor at Tulsi. It will be the many days of work that you taste when you have the food. You feel the choices to do it right. The selection of ingredients combined with doing things as they are done in India. It is not just good Indian for Bali; it is good Indian for anywhere.  

The food is where Tulsi shines. High quality dishes with just the right amount of complexity while remaining authentically Indian. Your meal is served on a metal tray cafeteria style. Despite the utilitarian delivery the dishes and condiments will have you oohing from the first bite to the last. It's comfort food and If you are anything like us you will be begging for a little more of this or that depending on the days offering. We loved Tulsi so much that we stole away from packing on our last day in Bali to make sure we got to have the experience one more time. After six weeks and countless wonderful meals, it speaks volumes that this was our last stop on the island.

Tulsi Warung Nyuh Kuning


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LOCAVORE FAMILY MEAL

Geren Lockhart


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Locavore is my favorite restaurant on earth. The great news is that I've been many times. The not so great news is that it's in the hills an hour and a half from the nearest airport more than a day of flying from where I live. It's hidden away up in the mountains of Ubud, Bali. My introduction to Locavore comes from a list of recommendations generously gifted to me by a hotel manager that had spent a few years living in Bali. The note said, Locavore comes highly recommended, but I haven't been yet. I was not in Ubud town proper except one afternoon this trip. Just long enough to meet a couple of new ex-pat friends for lunch when they happened to be in Ubud the same day. 

We were wandering the streets looking for one of three spots I had pulled from the list for lunch. Brigitte looks up and says "Wait isn't that the spot you mentioned?" It's two o'clock and Locavore isn't a restaurant you just walk into and get a table. Not because it is too fancy because it is too good, it's too small, and it just doesn't happen. I'm really happy I didn't know that. They were through a good portion of the lunch service, and there were open tables. Maybe it was my American enthusiasm or my addiction to the role that serendipity plays in this adventure that has become my life. Either way I went for it and the gentle and soulful manager who I will come to know as Adi welcomed us to a late lunch seating for what was a life changing meal. 

Some clarity on that meal. We didn't have the tasting menu; we only ordered vegetable dishes, and we decided to share. All things you don't do if you know what you're in for and what you'll be missing. None of this mattered. The wine pairings are perfection. The extra courses, pallet cleansers, bread and much more mean that with one dish or ten you are in for a meal where there will be more "oohs" and "oh my god's" than actual conversation. We were all high and floating from the amazing, unexpected experience as we wound down the meal with the three courses of dessert that come when you pass on the idea altogether. I just couldn't walk out the door without getting the story of Locavore. As any food drunk new superfan would I found Adi and inquired. He told me that Eelke and Ray were the chef's and that the three of them were partners in the business. They had all worked together funny enough at the hotel I was staying at where they were given freedom in partnership with the general manager at the time to explore their passion. Local ingredients, European technique and getting to play. Once I hear this, it explains the quality of the food at the hotel. The Alila Ubud. While it is not the same level as Locavore, it is some of the best hotel food I have ever had. They respectfully continue the story that Eelke, Ray and Adi started.  

I have a few more stories about Locavore underway. Lots and lots of photos of beautiful food and drink to come but this tale is actually about a special experience I got to have earlier this year during my return visit to Ubud. This time, I was in town for a month. I had been corresponding with Eelke since I left about seeing them when I returned so I could tell their story in a bigger way. About a week before I am leaving to return home I get to spend a very special afternoon and evening with Eelke, Ray, Adi and the entire family at Locavore

Eelke invited me to have family meal with the staff; they do this every day. Sometimes it is the sous chefs who prepare, sometimes it is Adi's mom, sometimes it is the chefs. Today it's the sous chefs. I arrive just after the end of lunch service as the crew is breaking down the kitchen which they completely turn over every day between lunch and dinner services. It is a bit like a kooky symphony. Eelke introduces me to the general manager who was their long ago collaborator at The Alila Ubud. He happened to be visiting at the same time I was. I learn that he is Dutch and doesn't live in Bali anymore but Oman and that an unfortunate accident and his recovery had unexpectedly delayed his departure by a few days. There goes that serendipity again. We walk with Eelke to the cafe and expanded kitchen they are just weeks away from opening up the street. They need more room to prep the main kitchens needs and want to explore easier access to their food, range of sauces, and new ideas. I want to cry because it won't be open before I head home, and I won't get to take back massive quantities of the green sauce given to you with the bread. When you go, and you have it, you will know what I mean. You'll be willing to eat a second loaf just for the sauce. You will not even think about watching how much bread you eat as it does not matter when this sauce is involved. 

We make our way back to Locavore and family meal is almost ready. We all sit-down, we eat our way through elevated complex versions of more traditional Indonesian fare. It's divine. It is like no food I will have during the rest of my time in Bali. Traditional dishes, local produce, spices and proteins that are new and changed and informed by the risk taking and technique that Eelke and Ray have taught their crew. We drink great wine. They breath before service and I take way to many photos. It is a meal I will always remember. 

Just as the pre-service family meal is winding down the most wonderful Japanese couple walk in the door. Eelke gets up and greets them as everyone else is still seated and eating. The couple is very polite as they are inquiring about the possibility of a table.  The couple is lucky. They are early, and there is time for them to sit immediately and be done before they need the table for a later reservation. The woman squeals in the most delicate way. I know exactly how she feels. I was that lucky once. 

Reserve. I'm not encouraging you to bum rush the restaurant because that will lead to disappointment. With their growing popularity, I doubt that this is even possible anymore. Don't risk it. More about Locavore very soon.  

Locavore

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SETIA POTTERY - JAPANESE BALINESE

Geren Lockhart

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Pottery and ceramics hold a special place in my heart. I love the way the art form completely represents a place. Whenever possible I try actually to meet the people that create this art since they are working directly with their hands and the earth they know the place well. The works at Setia in Ubud are by a Japanese-born potter working in Bali for the last two decades. The integration of the raw materials and resources of Bali with the workmanship of a Japanese artisan make for pieces that are unique, organic, simple, and thoughtful. There is a small gallery in Ubud proper where you can easily pop in and for prices that seem like sealing head home with a piece or five. Take it a step further and make your way from the gallery to the studio up in the hills just above the main drag where the open air layout and organized chaos is inspiring. The day that I visited the studio there was a meeting on for a new restaurant concept in Singapore where Setia would be creating the tableware. Very normal to witness at a factory, yet, in this case, it wasn't in a conference room or an office. This meeting for a massive project was happening at a work table in the middle of the studio open to the jungle with racks of works in progress surrounding you. Being this close to the person making the pottery with the raw materials surrounding you make anything seem possible. I started to daydream about ways to come up with an excuse to make products with them, an excuse to come back to Ubud for work someday. Still dreaming from afar at this point and loving the time I spend with the works I've brought home.

Setia Pottery

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