Eat, Pray, and Relax in Bali

Why we need to eat seafood and take a nap in Bali

Would you rather eat seafood than red meat? Let’s go to Bali. In need of the ultimate nap? Let’s go to Bali. Here’s the reasons why;

Eating seafood in Jimbaran may be a popular thing to do, but it is very much understandable. We recently visited the Kedonganan fish market in Badung regency where most fish and seafood served in Jimbaran is bought.

Kedonganan market boasts freshly caught fish and seafood brought in every morning from the Indian Ocean and coastal waters of Java, Sulawesi and other nearby regions. The seafood is then displayed in the relatively clean wet market. Among the fish available are barracuda, seabass and rabbit fish alongside lobsters, squid, oysters, clams and many other varieties.

We visited Jimbaran together with other media outlets at the invitation of Four Seasons Bali, and was privileged to be shown around the market by head chef Kristya Yudha, affectionately known as Chef Kris, who helms the resort’s Jala Cooking Academy.

Chef Kris navigated us through the wet market nonchalantly, saying hello to the vendors, making small talk with them, and still managing to share insights with us, his guests.

“This is baby red snapper, the best seller at seafood restaurants [in Jimbaran],” Kris told us.

“Let me tell you how to choose the best baby red snapper [or any other fish]. First the fish scales must still be shiny, its eyes still clear and if you press its body, it has to be firm. If those three criteria are met, there is no need to check its gills anymore,” said Chef Kris.

He added that people came to Jimbaran to eat baby red snapper, served with sambal matah, which he said was the best sambal (spicy chili sauce) on the island.

Chef Kris then led us to the stalls where fish descaling and grilling services are offered, perfect for those who crave freshly caught fish and seafood, grilled on the spot. We ended the visit by strolling along the beach where colorful jukung (traditional Balinese fishing boats) were parked on the sand, while other boats could be seen floating in the shallow waters fishing for sardines.

The beach, just like the inside of the market, is almost totally trash free and there is no disturbing foul smell.

The market visit was just the beginning of at least three hours of fun at the cooking academy. But no, we did not buy any fish or seafood at the market, as all the ingredients had already been prepared in Chef Kris’ immaculate kitchen.

His cooking classes are famous worldwide, including among Hollywood actors who frequent the resort, with classes conducted from Monday to Saturday. Each day is marked by a specific culinary theme, such as Balinese cooking on Monday, Sumatran cooking on Tuesday, Javanese cooking on Wednesday and so on, featuring widely known dishes from each region such as rendang (beef cooked in coconut milk) from Sumatra and chicken rica from Sulawesi (every Thursday).

We took a cooking class on a Thursday, but instead of learning to cook Sulawesi cuisine, Chef Kris specially arranged a Jimbaran seafood cooking class that we were very much excited about following the visit to the fish market.

Sup ulam segara (Balinese fish soup with thousand spices) was the first dish we cooked, with snapper fillet the star ingredient. When we were told to chop the shallots and garlic, Chef Kris quickly identified that we are amateur cooks, and gave us some tips on how to hold the knife and cut like a pro.

As we moved on to grilled fish, prawn and squid and long bean lawar salad, Chef Kris cooked up some yellow rice. An appetizing aroma soon wafted around the kitchen.

The dishes, served with three different kinds of sambal, were all ready for us to enjoy by lunchtime.

All the food, cooked in front of our eyes with (a little) help from us, tasted the way you would expect from a professional chef. Everything was well balanced, with the fresh ingredients taking center stage, and the seasoning and spices providing subtle complements.

As we dug pleasantly into our lunch, we were completely unaware that four hours had passed with Chef Kris. The saying that time flies when you’re having fun could not be truer.

Time for a sacred nap in Sayan

Moving up to Four Seasons Bali in Sayan, a village near Ubud, what we looked forward to the most was the Sacred Nap. Lying in a pure silk hammock suspended from the ceiling, as a wellness mentor called Ibu Fera told the life story of the Buddha, we drifted into sleep.

This relaxing activity was enjoyed at Dharma Shanti Bale, a raised bamboo platform under a thatched roof overlooking rice fields and the lush Sayan valley.

Ibu Fera, an Indonesian woman who was once a Buddhist monk in Myanmar, instantly made us feel very welcome. We soon found ourselves literally cocooned inside our hammocks, while Ibu Fera walked around telling us to relax, making sounds from a singing bowl, and gently massaging our head and rocking our hammocks.

We napped for 45 minutes, just the right amount of time, as we woke up by ourselves.

The Sacred Nap is a relaxation activity created by Ibu Fera as the wellness mentor of Four Seasons Bali at Sayan. Her idea initially came from the experience of being a mother for the first time. She saw how content her baby seemed, sleeping in a hammock, so she started developing the Sacred Nap from there.

Still sitting and rocking inside the hammocks, we entered the Life Talk series session, still with Ibu Fera. Not knowing exactly what to talk about, the conversation went toward the subject of the stresses commonly shared by urbanites.

Ibu Fera said living in Bali, in the middle of a rice field and lush green valley, was very peaceful. She did not, however, try to inspire us to move to Bali, but simply suggested that taking a break once in a while to be in nature would be beneficial for our health. We couldn’t have agreed more.

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