10 Reasons This Indonesian Island Is The New Maldives


10,000 years old, 100 staff, and 1 guest. Me. This is how I spent last week, ensconced on a luxury eco resort in Indonesia, half way between Malaysia and Borneo. So exotic is this location, it was part of the Sunda Land which linked up Peninsula Malaysia, Cambodia, Java and Sumatra, during the last Ice Age. Now, you’ll find the newly-opened and breathtakingly beautiful Bawah Island, just three hours from Singapore. Yes, last week I died and went to heaven…and the angels were serving cold Bintang on the beach.

Here’s 10 reasons Bawah Island is the new Maldives for Aussies…at only half the travel time.

1. It has luscious lagoons
Sporting not one, but three lagoons, Bawah Island is plonked in Indonesia’s Anambas group of islands. Bawah, which means “lower” or “southern”, denotes its position and because of its remote (yet accessible) location, you can expect unspoilt, crystal-clear waters. Spend your days snorkelling or diving the aqua ocean, or sailing, paddle-boarding and kayaking. The passionate Paulo, an enthusiastic Italian who runs these activities, will happily be your snorkelling buddy, provide you with gear, and introduce you to Bawah’s underwater wonders.

2. Life is sweet in your overwater suite
They don’t call these bungalows here, but suites, as this is luxe plus. Saunter along a walkway which splits into your own private jetty, where your name is etched in sand on a timber board (which you get to keep). Perched over the lagoon, your suite comes replete with a huge deck and stairs which lead directly into the water. Inside, the bed is draped evocatively in fabric and the bedroom is air-conditioned. The bathroom is all louvres and Indonesian timber, with a gorgeous copper bath and separate shower. There’s also a walk-in robe and separate toilet. This island boasts 21 beach, 11 overwater, and three garden suites.

3. The food is five-star
Apart from breakfast, where you can choose from the likes of coconut scrambled eggs from the a-la-carte menu, dining here is akin to having your own private chef, with menus based on the fresh produce produced on the island and your personal tastes. Before each meal, the chef will discuss your preferences before disappearing to craft creative plates. For fine dining, head to Treetops restaurant, 88 stairs to the top. The Jules Verne Bar is up here too, up a timber and rope spiral staircase. The Grouper Bar, at the end of the jetty, is an ideal place for a casual drink while The Boat House is perfect for feet-in-the-sand barbecues. Want to learn how to cook amazing Indonesian fare? You can do that here too.

4. The service is superior
Want something? Just ask. This travel writer has a habit of drinking the local beer wherever she goes. (Hey, I like to assimilate). When the island informed her there was no Bintang left for lunch (you are remote, remember that) but there were plenty of other beers, wines and cocktails from which to choose, by dinner, two cold cartons of the local brew had magically arrived. Yes, the staff had disappeared in their speedboat, 45 minutes each way to a neighbouring island, to bring back this liquid gold. Now, that’s service.

5. You can enjoy your own private beach
There’s 13 beaches here, and with only a maximum of 70 guests at any one time, chances are, you won’t be bumping into anyone else anytime soon. Staff will happily pack an esky and deposit you, and your picnic, at an exclusive enclave. And if there’s anything an Aussie loves, it’s being left alone on a beach. Think along the likes of beaches such as Coconut, Lizard and Turtle, christened after their flora and fauna inhabitants. Sipping champagne in the warm waters? Oh, OK, if I must.

6. Mother Nature sparkles
Fling open the curtains of your overwater suite, laze back in bed and watch the sun rise over a neighbouring island (there’s 5 in this group). At sunset, head to the Jules Verne Bar for a cheeky cocktail. And if you’re lucky, just after dawn, witness the harmless black-tipped reef sharks circle the shallows. There’s plenty of butterflies, birds and giant monitor lizards on this island too. Walk one of the three marked trails for great views of the island. And on a clear night, look up. There’s more stars here than at the Oscars.

7. It’s eco-friendly
The island’s Permaculturalist Joe Semo, who calls himself “the green pirate of Bawah” is working on making the island so self-sufficient that it grows around 80 per cent of its own vegetables and 60 per cent of its own fruit. Where possible, the island trades seeds for food with neighbouring villages. Water is a coveted resource here and comes from three sources: rain, wells and a reverse osmosis system. And you won’t find any plastic bottles, guests are supplied with endless glass bottles of sparkling or still water.

8. It embraces the local community
The island has established the Bawah Anambas Foundation (BAF) which focuses on initiatives to make above (the rainforest), below (the ocean) and beyond (local communities) more sustainable and ethical. The big issues throughout all of Indonesia have been over-fishing and waste disposal and through BAF, local communities are being engaged and encouraged to look at alternatives that will not only address these issues, but ensure long-term employment for future generations. Around 45 per cent of staff on Bawah hail from local villages.

9. The spa is sublime
In the name of research for this story, I took one for the team and experienced a treatment every day. At Bawah’s wellness centre, Aura, you’ll find a spa and yoga pavilion. Select from a magical menu of mind and body treatments. I started my week with a 60-minute Garden of Deep Calm, continued the next day with a 60 Minute Aura Lost Treasure, followed by 60 Minutes of Facial Yoga and finished with 60 Minutes of Foot Mapping, or reflexology, by the pool.

10. You can mix with the staff
Bawah has captured Indonesia’s laid-back vibe that Aussies love so much, and paired it perfectly with five-star service. Unlike other luxury resorts, guests are invited and encouraged to tour back-of-house where you can witness how this property maximises its resources and see where its workers live. A highlight of my week was dining in the staff canteen as well as attending an English class for employees.

HOW TO GET THERE
FLY
Start your journey to this exotic locale in style, flying with Singapore Airlines Business Class. This award-winning carrier, which is renowned for its superior service, has just introduced its Book the Cook service from Brisbane for its Business and Premium Economy Class customers. Under Book the Cook, customers can pre-order a main meal from a selection of options, with creations inspired by the Airline’s International Culinary Panel of chefs, including Australian celebrity chef Matt Moran.
http://www.singaporeair.com/en_UK/au/home
STOPOVER
Due to airline connections, you may need to stopover in Singapore either before or after your Bawah adventure, or both, as was the case for me. On this journey, I experienced the Royal Plaza on Scotts – a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts https://preferredhotels.com – which has just been awarded its 10th win as Asia Pacific’s Best Independent Hotel. Inside, enjoy Singapore’s first 100 per cent smoke-free hotel, outside you are mere metres from Orchard Road.
http://www.royalplazagroup.com.sg
TRANSFER
Bawah will arrange for a limousine to collect you from your Singapore hotel and transfer you to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal where you will board the Majestic Ferry to Batam Centre in Indonesia. From there, you will be met by Bawah staff for VIP fast-track through Indonesian Immigration and Customs, and driven to the airport where you will board a seaplane and taken to the island.
http://www.bawahisland.com
The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Bawah Island; Singapore Airlines Business Class; and Royal Plaza on Scotts Singapore.

Postcard from Paradise


I’M on assignment this week on beautiful Bawah Island, a luxury eco-resort three hours from Singapore via ferry and private seaplane. I’ll be back shortly with more photographs and I’m certain, an evocative travel tale or two, to share with you, my lovely reader. Sending you warm island vibes. The Global Goddess. x

The Global Goddess is travelling as a guest of Bawah Island https://bawahisland.com

Ten eco-friendly ways to find a fella

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INSPIRED by a friend and fellow travel writer’s blog – No Impact Girl – in which Lou Southerden is trying to reduce her impact on the planet, I’ve decided to devote a blog to environmentally friendly ways to find men.

Here are my Top 10 suggestions:

1. Hide in the recycling bin and wait until Tuesday morning, around 5am, when the garbo comes around. While waiting, and if you’ve been sorting through your rubbish properly, you’ll have plenty of newspapers to read to keep you company and very few cabbage leaves attached to your head. When your hear the roar of the truck, jump up like a jack-in-the-box and say “surprise”. Don’t forget to accept the compliment when the garbo points out you are not trash.

2. Go to an airport. But don’t fly. Anywhere. Flying = bad carbon pollution. Sitting on one’s bum = moderate visual pollution. Spend the entire day in the departure lounge with your recycled water and banana (the skin will later become compost) and strike up conversations with handsome strangers looking like they are going somewhere interesting. Try not to look disappointed when he says he has to rush to catch the red eye to Bangkok. You know there is no red eye to Bangkok.

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3. Visit your local library. Among all those recycled books which have been read by hundreds before you, you’re bound to find someone lurking between the shelves. So what if he’s 90 and thumbing through the 1970s Playboy collection? At least he can read. Unless he’s 90 and hanging around the children’s books. Move on. Fast. And call the police.

4. A nudist/eco retreat. What could go wrong? There can be no lies, no subterfuge, just let your body do the talking. If he’s a hard-core Greenie, you don’t even have to wax! There will be no surprises when you get your man home, you already know how his extremities cope with cold water.

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5. The beach. Take a frisbee (made out of bamboo, rather than plastic) and start throwing it. Men seem to love playing frisbee at the beach. Once they realise you have no one to throw it back to you, they’re bound to join you. Unless a mangy dog gets there first in which case try to act cool and pretend the dog is yours.

6. Walk. Everywhere. Doesn’t matter how far you have to walk, just keep walking. Afterall, you’re not going to meet anyone sitting inside the confines of your air-con car singing Celine Dion now, are you? If you can’t walk, cycling is also a great option, however I fear whizzing past someone at speed is not conducive to snappy pick-up lines. Go back to walking.

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7.  Funerals. Not your own. Not even someone you know. Complete strangers. What could be more environmentally friendly than watching someone go back from whence they came? Don’t pick a cremation. All that smoke ash cannot be good for the environment. Because you are not emotionally involved with the deceased, you’ll be in a much better position than any other single woman at the funeral to make your move on any vulnerable men. And who on earth is going to question your attendance at a funeral?

8.  An environmental rally. Nothing screams sexy more than angry protestors. Imagine the testosterone. You may have to wait for your knight in shining hemp to be released on bail should he be arrested, but he’ll be worth the wait. He loves the planet and all her foibles. Imagine how much he will love you.

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9. The Great Southern Ocean. If you can hang in there with the whales, eventually a group of hunky eco warriors will come down and save you all from the evil spear guns of the Japanese whalers. Don’t, whatever you do, wear a black wet suit. It might, however, get a little chilly. Take a cardigan.

10. Not on the computer. Who ever met someone on the computer? How many trees and brain cells are we killing sitting on these things for hours on end? Get out there. Hug a tree. You never know who might be hugging the other side. OK, so he’s a deranged escaped mental health patient. Go to the next tree.

 While The Global Goddess may have her tongue planted firmly in her cheek about environmentally-friendly ways to find a fella, she takes the issue of the planet, and what we’re doing to it, seriously. We need to learn to love Mother Earth. Check out No Impact Girl at www.noimpactgirl.blogspot.com for some serious ways to do your bit.

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