"Where are you off to this time?" I was asked.
"I'm going to Bali!' I said.
"Can you bring me home a Balinese door?" She was quick to ask.
Bubble thought: Sure, I can hand carry that.
A double panel door in teak wood has become synonymous to Bali, if you're on the home decorating front, that is. It's what usually pops in mind when the Indonesian island destination's name is mentioned, just as it's the waves to the surfers and sarongs to the beachcombers.
But beyond the Balinese doors, the island craftsmen offer more.
With the steadily rising influx of local and international visitors again after the unfortunate 2002 Kuta incident, Bali tourism is on the high once more. Along with the ride is, of course, commercialism.
Space and competition in Kuta and Seminyak is getting tighter for hotels, bars, restaurants and retail shops. The main thoroughfares and side streets are lined with commercial businesses. Side by side, shops selling decors, clothing and accessories are battling out for customer's attention. The pieces come not only from the island but from all over Indonesia, too.
In Kerobokan, there is so much more than the penal institution to see. Strawy far from the touristy areas and make your way to this district where roads are filled with shops that sell furniture and ornamentation, pieces that can turn your home to look worthy enough of a magazine feature. All you need is the eye, the taste, and more importantly, the self-control.
Knowing what you want before hunting is an advantage or else you'll feel like a kid in a candy store wanting everything you see and loving only a couple of treats from the pile of acquisitions.
Geger Handicraft is a warehouse filled with hand woven vine baskets from Lombok. From a trinket boxes to clothes hampers, food trays to chests, baskets come in all shapes and sizes. (Warning: kid in a candy store moment in here. Know what you need).
Didi Artshop has a showroom in Ubud but its factory is in this district. It makes life sized (almost) replicas of animals in driftwood. You'll catch sight of sheep, reindeers, elephants, giraffes along the road. For sure, it's a magnet for a photo opportunity, if you're not buying.
If you're on the hunt for floor mats and window screens made of natural materials, there are several along this road. You just have to be a bit OC and do check on the quality of the products.
Vintage shops must be the most interesting feature of the area. Here, you'd most likely be taking a nostalgic trip to the past. Alarm clocks, transistor radios, lamps, and chandeliers can remind you of your past, and are awaiting resurrection.
The way to Ubud is a revelation. Hire a private van for a day, the driver will surely know where to take you if your décor hunting. Opting for a tour bus will limit your time.
East to Ubud is Batu Bulan, a stone carving village. Volcanic rocks are masterfully turned into Hindu deities and other folkloric characters from 10 inches to more than 6 feet in height. If you find one you like that is impossible to hand carry, the shops can assist you in shipping it to your address.
Nearing Ubud is a woodcarving village that makes wall decors to the famed Balinese doors. Furniture shops that make stools to a full living rooms set, screen panels included. Shops that sell birdcages come aplenty, too.
Be sure to check out the junk shops where salvaged wooden house posts, beams and others are stacked. Here, the owners breathe new life into old wood. This is where I found an old Chinese bed component that I redesigned to a headboard. You need to be creative.
Next time you visit Bali and want to go on a home décor shopping adventure, make sure you know what you want and aim for it. Although I am pretty sure you'll be buying more than what you planned for. Maybe a basket and that Balinese door.
For more photos about this story & other travel & lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/