As the car turns left from some joint on the main road in the Tabanan Regency of Bali, we derive a feeling of entering a best-kept secret land which is actually nearby. A Balinese village atmosphere beams right in front of us. The temporary stupas (temple towers) in front of the temples stand tall and elongated made of thatch leaves.
Entrance gatesto houses have an attached divinity to them, modelled after the structure of Balinese Hindu temples. A couple of convenience stores are juxtaposed between temples and houses. The empty road lies ahead, thus barring a vendor woman who carries a basketful of food on her balancing head and a tiny boy on his tricycle precariously riding on the asphalt.
We have crossed a few kilometres as the left and the right sides open up. No more houses and no more temples. Lush paddy fields, randomly cultivated banana trees, and lined up coconut trees on the alleys between the fields become our stock scenery for the next fifteen to twenty minutes.
It’s around 9 am in the morning. The strengthening sunlight spreads its gleam on the green fields brightly that we can monitor the tiny birds looting the humans’ hard-earned crop. Not far from the birds, the ladies in the fields do not mind the looters’ daylight ravaging. We only see the ladies’ conical shaped hats as they lean down, busy collecting the crops.
Our destination is the acres-long property of Alila Villas Soori which lies on the verge of the Indian Ocean and at the end of this calm and peaceful village. But what we are passing by at the moment makes us skeptical and feel like gullible little children. More sights of paddy fields and lonesome arecanut trees pull a question out of us: are we being taken for a ride?
The driver holds the steering wheel very professionally; he might have been here a hundred times. But much to our surprise, he brakes, at a Frostian diverging of two roads. Without the bother to ask us, he takes out his mobile phone and makes a call, probably to our villa. Speaking in a very soft voice to ensure he got his vista right.
We resume our journey, along the fields and the trees. The distant farmers, specks on the green fields, have probably started accumulating beads of sweat on their bodies. We had not in our mind one of those off-the-beaten-path expeditions where travellers usually hope to get lost and fumble into serendipitous moments.
All we had been waiting for was to dip into the private pool, laze in the heavenly bedroom and spread our wearied bodies in the bubble-floating bath-tub of our million-dollar valued villa. Then, to fulfill the dream of walking on the black sand beach which we had been savouring from the glossy pictures on a brochure.
The car takes several turns in quick succession and every turn gives a slideshow of the same sights we have been passing by. We are tempted to ask the driver.
“Do we need to ask some locals here?”
“No need. It’s another few kilometres”, he assures us without turning back.
We reach a cul-de-sac with a wall in front jutting out into the street. We see the name Alila written in the same font as on their website. Our skepticism gives way to impatience. We long to check in and be three-day residents in a regal villa.
Once inside Alila’s courtyard, we forget the path we took. The sarong-clad ladies escort us to our beach-pool villa. On our walk, we pass by a garden, an infinity pool and a soothing view of the ocean in the background. This is the very place we wanted to be in to be kept away from files, deadlines and desks.
We jump into our private pool and the splash of the water affects our moods salubriously. The jasmine flowers from the adjacent plants keep falling on the pool intermittently. They deck the water’s edges and float in the ripples from our gliding movements.
We feel being on a vantage point from where we could charm ourselves with the endless sight of the ocean on one side and the green fields and the mountains on the other. Each morning, we take a stroll, either among the fields or on the black sand beach which leads to a temple on a clifftop.
The tranquility ambiance is a gift that you are not able to buy elsewhere. How peaceful the villas are! They are luxurious, yet aim to entice people by avoiding the boast of glitters associated with sheer luxury. At last we relish the evenings with the barbecues, savouring the best of steaks, and ogling the deep red horizon that is ours.
Written by Pramod Kanakath