Cultural Christmas for Children and Families

Last column I shared some Bali sources for holiday gifts from local designers and retailers of fine crafts, and gave you the skinny on Sagilik Saguluk art fair near Taman Bebek in Sayan (Oct 26 – Nov 2).  Hot-hot-hot is the all-day annual BIWA Bazaar at Lotte Mart on Sunday, November 3 and the annual festival market at the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival on Jalan Raya Sanggingan in Ubud, October 23 – 27.  These diverse markets are free to browse, and please seek out sellers representing NGO’s and yayasans. 

Now, some kid-oriented holiday ideas. Look to the BIWA Bazaar for children’s items.  Last year, beautifully built wooden doll houses were being sold at discounted prices there.

If young ones want to shop, BIWA bazaar’s sellers’ tables often feature bargain baskets of low priced items like wildly patterned pollution masks for motorcycle riders (great for cold weather travel, too), stickers, bubble kits, garden seedlings, all being the sorts of things that little shoppers with little budgets can buy for their friends and family.  

Keep Ubud’s Smile Shop, benefitting Yayasan Senyum, on your shopping circuit. In a new location, so google map it or call ahead to 082123496245. Used goods at very low prices means children can often find items like beaded necklaces, fabric, and mirrors to upcycle into their own craft projects.  Denpasar’s Bali Art e Media on Jl Imam Bonjol, 0361485248, has a good selection of supplies for young and old crafters who need the right string or glue or paint for such projects.  Now in several new locations.

Got a very young architect or builder?  Jl Teuku Umar’s CushCush Gallery’s gift shop sells nifty wooden construction sets for experimenting with 3D building and design.  Call Nike on 089664772657 for location and hours.

Here’s a Five Star cultural activity which you can give to any family (supervisory adult participation required, no dumping your kids while you go diving or boozing, please) and which can never be thrown away.  It’s “A Day in the Life of a Balinese Lady,” a half day immersion in marketing, food prep, cooking, and dining on the results (always Balinese  or Indonesian) at east Bali’s Bali Asli restaurant, 082236909215.  Set before a jaw-dropping view across paddyfields to the nearby majesty of Gunung Agung, this is not your ordinary Balinese restaurant.

Family-friendly and knife-free, this immersive experience rapidly gives everyone cultural understanding and appreciation. Those joining will bring home a certificate of participation suitable for framing.

“A Day in the Life” classes go 8 am to 2 pm.  Adults Rp1,150,000 including tax.  Children under 12 years old are Rp500,000 including tax.  Advance booking only, via email: 50% deposit ensures your space. Gift vouchers available. 

Another great east Bali activity for families is a visit to the chocolate places not far from Bali Asli.  Sorga chocolate has on-site manufacturing, good guidance and explanations through the chocolate making process for visitors, and a pleasantly chilled store featuring the full line of natural chocolate products.  I mean, really, why not make your holiday chocolate the very best? 

Quirky and fun is Jasri village’s Charly’s Chocolate, home of Narkabo chocolate products and Island Mystik coconut oil soaps. A pleasant spot to pause and enjoy an espresso or chocolate milk by the sea, kids can explore the 3-level wooden ship play structure.  Site of Bali’s oldest swing attraction, not for the squeamish, as users fly between coconut palms out towards a seasonal surf break that is not quite the closely guarded secret it once was.

Maybe your family wants to give back to Bali?  Ganesha Bookshop in Ubud, 0361970320, regularly donates books to village libraries all over the island, in the Books For Bali Project.  Easily found on social media, here’s the fun way to contribute.  Youngsters can visit a local book shop (my personal choice would be Gramedia in Mal Bali Galleria) and pick out an Indonesian language book such as a dictionary or Young Adult fiction work, or how-to books for any age, and bring them to the clerks inside the Ganesha shop as a Books for Bali donation. Nice way to give something that’s really needed.


The 2019 Art+Design Guide is here!  Find this free purple booklet in 70 places around the island, like Bali Artemedia, MASH Denpasar, UMA Seminyak, and The Slow.  Most Oct-Dec art happenings are listed, plus maps to galleries, collectives, studios, workshops, and exhibitions. 

Art Bali 2019, Speculative Memories, our local entry in the global map of art tourism, is on now through January 13, right next to the Bali Collection mall in Nusa Dua.  Curated by Rifky Efendy, this superb exhibition of 32 artists’ works plugs you into the best of what’s being produced right now by artists in and around Bali.  Look for the big bamboo installation at its front entrance.

By Renee Melchert Thorpe

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