A Balinese bamboo hideaway
Why is there no road rage in Bali? This is the thought racing through my mind as we speed through village roads and rice paddies on our way from the beachy hustle and bustle of Seminyak to the jungle-clad interior of Ubud. It’s one of those beautiful contrasts that travel has a way of showing you, with less “order” and “structure” on the roads here compared to somewhere supposedly more developed, but also far less shouting and swearing. Perhaps our expensive roads and highway codes aren’t quite as important as something simple, like just being nice to each other.
That sense of calm or even tranquility is precisely what we find as we head further and further away from the hipster paradise we left behind, with vegan smoothie bowls and chalkboard menus slowly giving way to road-wandering chickens and dusty bric-a-brac shops. It’s not to say we don’t like the comfort and familiarity of a properly smashed avocado and Ed Sheeran on repeat, in fact travelling with two young children requires it from time to time. But there is definitely something that happens to us inside when we step away from that space and head into the more remote. After all, if it all feels, looks and tastes like Shoreditch, is there really any point in being anywhere else?
“Changing places can be as painless as reloading a website. You might not even realize you’re not where you started.” - Kyle Chayka, from his brilliant article on “Airspace”
Now if you’re familiar with Bali, you’re probably shaking your head at the apparent contradiction being spun here. Ubud is just as frenetic and homogenized as Seminyak you might say, and you’d be right. Which is precisely why we headed here instead. Green Village is a series of bamboo structures seemingly growing out of the hillside above the Ayung river, a good 30 minutes outside of Ubud. The roads here are quieter, the signs here are in Indonesian, and Ed Sheeran has not yet made it here.
Being hand-built almost entirely out of bamboo gives the home an ethereal quality. Without the rigid lines and familiar angles of steel beams and concrete walls, the bamboo structures feel more like giant living creatures roaming the jungle instead of luxury hotels clinging to the hillside. This is no accident of course, with the design intending for the minimum of disturbance to the existing farmland and apparently even allowing for the land to be returned to its original setting should the whole structure be removed one day.
To achieve something so impressive design-wise, whilst not intruding too greatly on the original space requires great skill of course, but also great height. With 2,800 square feet of private living space at its disposal, the plot exists on a series of ever descending levels, with plenty of steps connecting the way. You get a sense of this as you wander the various nooks and crannies that have been so thoughtfully built into the place, like the room perched on the very top of the highest structure, replete with Robinson Crusoe style hammock and sweeping views of Balinese kites flying above the thick green forest. Or the turtle-shaped children’s den above the kitchen, the perfect reading spot on a hot day in the jungle. Or the private pool towards the bottom of these levels, which whilst small, manages to convey the sense of scale of the place with its waterfall trickling gently through the upper sections and down into the deep, turquoise waters below. Perhaps it's the sound of the jungle playing in surround all around you, or maybe the echo of distant Balinese gongs ringing out in the distance, but even a dip in this pool feels like a swim in some mystical lagoon.
As the sun begins to set on this hidden gem of a place, you realise that the only thing more beautiful than the bamboo architecture itself is this home’s ability to coax out of you the feeling of complete and utter immersion in this jungle paradise escape that you find yourself. If I lived here, I think I’d be less prone to road rage too.
Words by Ben. Photography by Viv.
Green Village, Jalan Tanah Ayu, Sibang Gede, Abiansemal, Bedung 80352 Bali, Indonesia