Our experience of Java + Bawah Private Island in Indonesia
The islands of Java + Bawah are two very different but equally amazing places in Indonesia. Here, our client Roland Rosner describes his experiences in this incredible part of the world
Our trip to Indonesia with cazenove+loyd was one of the best holidays which my partner, Denise, and I have ever had. It certainly exceeded our expectations. Thanks to cazenove+loyd, the schedule was a good balance between planned activities and plenty of time for relaxation.
We were met at the airport by the charming and super-efficient Valen (as he preferred to be called) and our expert driver. The visit to the Prambanan temples was superb and a brilliant idea for breaking up the long car journey from the airport. The location, accommodation, amenities, food and hospitality at the Plataran were all first-rate and the itinerary was a good combination of relaxation to get over travel weariness with activities exploring the richness of the temples and countryside. The view from our hotel to the top layers of the Borobudur Temple in the distance was spectacular.
Borobudur itself was, of course, awe-inspiring – we did well to avoid the crush by visiting in the afternoon on cazenove+loyd’s advice. We very much enjoyed the ascent to the Selogriyo Temple and the expansive vistas of the paddy fields. Although a long drive, the journey to the Dieng Plateau was very worthwhile to see the temple area there, the sulphurous lakes and the steaming craters and boiling lakes of the volcano. Valen was a conscientious guide, responding flexibly to what he felt would interest us. We also stopped off at a batik gallery with a huge variety of beautiful artwork, a silverware showroom and a massive market in a bustling town near Selogriyo, with row after row of smallholder stalls with beautifully displayed foodstuffs.
We were amazed at the number of motorcycles in Java, some of them carrying seemingly impossible loads – such as mothers with two small children – on often rather rough road surfaces.
We flew from Yogyakarta to Singapore, where we stayed at the unusual Six Senses Duxton. Within walking distance, we visited the impressive Buddha Tooth Temple and ate at two of the 40 or so foodstalls in the nearby Maxwell Food Centre. From Singapore, we took the ferry to Batam, from where we got a private seaplane to Bawah Private Island.
Well, what can we say?! The warmth of the reception by the staff at the jetty was not simply a show for incoming guests but lasted for the whole of our stay. We were always greeted by smiles and often addressed by our first names: Bopak Roland and Ibu Denise. Our villa (number 25) was superb, 30 metres from the sea, wonderfully secluded by the surrounding luxurious vegetation and generously distant from neighbours.
The food was excellent, with a respectable menu always supplemented by specials of the day depending on what fish the locals had caught. We took advantage of the rich programme of activities, which ensured that we had no lazy lie-ins. Yoga and the spa were part of our daily routine. We also snorkelled a few times – Denise was already experienced and the Boat House staff helped me to overcome my inhibitions. Denise also took a one-to-one lesson on Indonesian cooking and we both learnt how to make Jamu, an Indonesian turmeric-and-ginger health tonic.
During our kayak trip to Eland Island, our guide took us round the ambitious new developments in progress and we marvelled at the quality of the design, the materials and the craftsmanship, as well as the superb views and the dramatic stairways to the sea. Later, we had a most interesting session with architect Jason who generously gave up his time to outline the objectives and challenges of the Bawah concept. We chose brunch for our picnic outing, which took us to heavenly Coconut Beach, where we found our four-poster bed, sun-brollied table laid with a regal feast and a heart-shaped sandcastle complete with a welcoming message stamped in Bawah house style, not to mention the two flags – one blue (meaning ‘do not disturb’) and the other white (ahelp’ in an emergency).
The permaculture tour around Bawah village helped us to understand how the project’s mission of sustainability, self-sufficiency, economic stimulation and education is being realised. It was a privilege that we, as guests, were encouraged to go behind the scenes here. Wherever we went, we felt that the staff living and working there were keen to see us. The vision of Bawah, to stimulate sustainable economic growth and education in the region, in collaboration with the administration of the Anambas Archipelago, chimes well with the human welfare ethos of Green Templeton College of which Denise is the Principal.
Throughout our stay, we got the impression that the staff took great pride in belonging to a team dedicated to and communicating with their guests without feeling subservient. We particularly appreciated their enthusiasm, for example, in their dancing at the Wednesday barbecue dinner. Bawah Private Island makes for a wonderful Indonesian escape.