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Our experience at Bidadari

From the moment we stepped off the plane, we were welcomed with a capturing, smiling face – Rana.

Rana immediately took us under his wing as though we were his long lost children.  We felt safe.

The whole time we have been at Bidadari I have felt like an Angel.  Rana has a natural rapport about him which made me feel at ease and always safe. Rana’s staff are always attentive, happy and warming.

One of the phrases we love about our four days at Bidadari and the village is that time is elastic, Balinese time is very flexible as is the Balinese culture.  If only we Australians could take light from that and share this way of thinking, if even just a little more than we do.

A few of the little things that made our experience memorable is having flowers placed on the driveway every day, having the staff come and greet us every time we go to town and every time we return.  Being involved with the staff meeting and having the pleasure of being able to produce Employee of the month with his award.  Flowers being placed in sweet little places while we are out, the leaf on the bed at night wishing us a good night.  The little treats of food left for us when we least expect it.  The staff being with us whenever we went out to the village.  Being able to choose when to go into town and when to be collected.  Water being replenished at no cost to us but most of all the time that Rana and his staff spend with us, knowing the perfect time to arrive and the perfect time to leave us to our own devices.

Now to describe our experience with Rana and Bidadari is virtually impossible as words, photos, descriptions cannot replace the feelings and the visual aspects of our stay.  This is unfortunate as I can understand that you would be trying to get Bidadari well known as a luxury villa and experience to enable Bidadari to be constantly booked  and prosperous.

The trouble is that when I was looking for a place to stay with Mamma and Michelle,I did not know that I was looking for the experience we had at Bidadari. I thought, when I was booking, that I was looking for a beautiful Villa, in the middle of a forest with a pool.  That was about it.  I think a lot of people when looking for their holiday accommodation don’t know exactly what it is that they are wanting and, or, needing to make their break special.

That is what is so special about Rana.  He has a skill where he can read the people who are visiting Bidadari and make the choice of how they need to be treated.  For some, it will be complete exclusion and privacy, for others,it will be a learning experience and for others it will be a pampering experience and so on.  Rana is very good at providing a warmth that enables the visitor to just come straight out and say what they feel, knowing that Rana will understand and be flexible.  Rana and his staff are there to make this the best experience you can ever have and he is very good at that.

I have never said thank you so much and genuinely meant it .
I have never smiled so much and genuinely felt that flutter in my heart.
I have never heard the words “your welcome” and known that it is a true – always.

Oh,now the guided walk with Mangku (Rana could you please give Mangku my email address and ask him to email me so I can send him some photos – thank you) …this is something that was exceptional.  Mangku is the local priest who is a man of all trades.  He lives in the village with his family and the villagers know him and are always happy to see him.  The previous day Rana went and brought some new shoes to join us on our walk through the village.  We were very lucky to have stayed at Bidadari for long enough to fit this in, I feel it is essential to completely understand  the village and it can greatly benefit your stay at Bidadari.

Mangku carried some cool towels and water for us which was a blessing.  It is all these little things that make Bidadari special, Rana thinking of little special offerings, without us having to ask.  Mangku introduced us to the locals and explained everything from the culture to the natural surroundings along the way.  We were taken into a home and had explained to us, the design of the buildings.

We were taken to a rice producing area where we were shown how the rice was dried and treated for eating.  We were taken through vast countryside and continued  along a river.  We took many photos and learnt so much.  We had fun lifting heavy coconuts and felt exhausted but refreshed upon our return.

The best part of the whole walk was we were taken into the school where we met the school children and the teachers.  We were shown artwork and had the educational system explained to us.  We video taped the children (on my phone – i-phone which Rana should have so he can take lots of photos) and they gathered around and watched themselves on our phones.  We watched their innocence as they played in the playground and always, always smiled.  We met Mangku’s children, we looked into the deep happy eyes of all the children and understood how lucky we were to have such an interaction.

That afternoon Rana arranged for us to have sarongs and bands around our waist.  We were taken into the village and we walked with the procession towards the temple.  The friendly faces of some of the villagers made us feel so comfortable and spiritual.  We went into the temple and watched the praying.  We played and spoke with the children and with our new family and friends.  To be able to be given an opportunity like this was rare and inspiring.

On our second last night we had Ayam Betutu, a special Balinese whole duck smoked in rice husks for eight hours, which Rana had arranged for us.  This night was extremely fun.  Rana came down to join us as did the other staff.  We chatted and danced, Arik is a very good dancer, we laughed and ate and then Michelle surprised everyone by jumping into the pool – fully clothed!.  The laughter filled the trees.  I cannot remember a time in my life that I have ever had so much fun and felt so at ease with my sister and Mamma.  There is something about Bidadari that helps us feel more at ease with each other.

On our last night Rana arranged for a surprise evening.  This is one of the things we love about Bidadari so much is that if you can let go of your normal life and leave your days and nights in the hands of Rana, you are sure to be happily surprised.

Thelast night of our stay was the Village Ceremony.  Some of the staff visited the ceremony.  We were going to visit however we came back from town a little late and being involved in the procession the night before was a very special memory in itself.  We had a few drinks upstairs in our living room and could hear gentle but busy noises downstairs.  We peeked over the balcony and Arik and ….. were spreading candles all over the gardens and around the pool, they knew that we all love candles so much, and tables were being setup.  Large orange cones where placed on some tables made of flowers and local produce.

We then saw a friend of Arik’s arrive with two instruments.  That is one of the feelings we love about Bidadari is that all of the villagers feel like friends to us that we did not know we had.

The staff set up the instruments that were something we have never seen before.  We then heard some tapping of the instruments and the magical music began.  We came downstairs to find the whole outdoor dining area and pool area decorated just the way we like it.  Each candle had a flower beside it and the candles were vastly spread around the Villa.  The music playing was soothing and yet at the same time uplifting.  The boys at all times had beautiful smiles in their faces.

We sat and had our drinks around the table and watched the music being played. As we all love to be involved with our new friends and experience the experiences they do, Michelle sat down and also tried to play some music, not quite as peaceful as the boys however different which made us all giggle.

Rana came down to the Villa and was dressed so elegantly as were all the staff.  The effort they had put in to make our night special was impressive.  Rana looked like a prince and the staff were very proud in their clothing.  The looked stunning.  We certainly felt like we were surrounded by beauty, not just the scenery but our new family.

Beauty is a word that gets used too much, and I could sit here and try to come up with other descriptions about our unforgettable experience but beauty is still a description that is right to use.

The staff arrived and bought out our soups, Sop Gedang.  We had a seafood soup as Michelle is vegetarian.  The taste was light and fresh.  We then watched a procession of food be brought by Chef and staff and placed on the tables with the flower decorations.  It was like a buffet although with the crispness and cleanliness of Bali style.

We were invited to serve ourselves which we did and then all the staff also got their plates and we shared the most wonderful evening of eating, laughing,understanding, learning and happiness with each other.  We sat on the ground like our family and I attempted to eat with my fingers as do the Balinese.  It was a fun experience.

Mamma,Michelle and I all feel very special to our new family as they are to us.

After we had all eaten and it was cleaned up we were brought the invoice for ourstay.  We were very surprised to understand that this night, which was unbelievably special was at no cost to us.  We are not the wealthiest of people who come to visit Rana and Bidadari,  so this gift to us was unexpected and happily received.

We are not sure why we have a special bond to Rana and his staff however feel blessed for the experience we have had over the last four days.  For me, they have been life changing, which seems like a cliché for people that come to visit Bali however I have seen nothing else of Bali and will endeavour to hold on to the values I have learnt from Rana, the Balinese culture, our villagers, our staff and the experience.

I am writing this on the  morning of our departure.  I slept like a baby last night, feeling like I was  wrapped in my mother’s arms however it was not my mother wrapping herself around me, it was Rana, our whole new family and Bidadari.

Thank you.

Note: This was written on the morning of our first departure, the service after our departure is far more extraordinary.

When we arrived in Seminyak we were so disappointed (to say the least) about everything but most of all our lodgings.  Being in a foreign country we had no idea who to turn to other than our Balinese Family.  Within a very short time Rana had arranged for us to be able to be returned to Bidadari the following morning.  We felt so relieved and happy.  For Rana to come and collect us on a Sunday was a call well beyond his duty.  At no time was he bothered by the inconvenience, he was just happy and warming to us. When we returned to our home, Bidadari, we were welcomed (again) by our family– the staff of Bidadari.

Rana and the staff arranged for us to have outfits made for the ceremony that night,Michelle, Mamma and myself were blown away by the ceremony.  We truly feel part of the village and the people of the village.

We all thought that our visit to Bali would be a “one off” however thanks to Rana and the Bidadari staff we can say with confidence, we will all be returning to Bali, however straight to Bidadari and not venturing any further than Ubud.

Thankyou … again!

Love Belinda Sheppard (Bel)