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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Goodbye, Banjar Hills Retreat

A nightly view from Banjar Hills' terrace restaurant towards the lit-up coastline far below


I discovered Banjar Hills Retreat in the foothills of northern Bali in 2006, and I've visited it ever since. Often I was the only guest staying in one of its four beautiful bungalows. Just me and a few good books and fine food and drinks in total peace and privacy!


Click here for a look at Banjar Hills Retreat on GOOGLE Map


The retreat had changed hands a couple of times and was bought by a bunch of Australians from Canberra at about the time I discovered it. They were absentee owners who found it difficult to make the place pay its way, so when in early 2014 a German couple offered to lease it from them for two years, with an option to buy, they quickly accepted.



The German couple, all starry-eyed, explained on their since-gone-off-the-air website how they had always wanted to turn their back on Germany and how they had immediately fallen in love with Bali and Banjar Hills Retreat and how they wanted to stay forever (I saved the German text here).



Nothing is forever because less than two years later, in early 2016, they handed back the keys and returned to Germany. Their farewell message, written in German, read something like this, "The time has come to say goodbye to Banjar Hills Retreat. It's been two years and a beautiful experience. Beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, beautiful fresh seafood, friendly, smiling people - in short, everything Germany is not. And yet, we were surprised how fast our initial holiday mood was replaced by the monotony of everyday life as we had to deal with utility bills, traffic police, and government bureaucracy ..."


Click here for more photos


And they continued, "... We wouldn't have missed this experience for the world but have to admit that there are many things that still tie us to Germany: its culture, excellent health care, stable social and legal system, boundless opportunities - to mention just a few. What we have learned from our Bali experience is that people the world over want the same: happiness for themselves and their children, a fair chance to get ahead, and a safe place they can call home. We also learnt that even a simple life can bring happiness, and that a sense of family and helping each other and meeting even strangers with a friendly smile are more important than material possessions. We've learned all this in Bali and we hope we won't forget it. Nothing is forever, not even Bali, but no one can take away our wonderful memories. Thank you, Bali, and goodbye!"



The Australian owners have since decided to close it down which comes as a bit of a personal loss to me. After having serendipitously found it all those years ago, I had come to regard it as my own piece of Bali.


Just reading books, looking at the sky, listening to the song of birds ...

... taking a swim at any hour of the day or night in the pool
(or in the ocean which is a short, death-defying bejak-ride away)...

... or enjoying an hour-long massage by my favourite masseuse, Ketut Anggreni (for the equivalent of a minibar Coca-Cola). Leisure with a capital L - a slob's holiday!


Arriving finally at the peace and quiet of Banjar Hills made the five hours on a bus from Riverbend to Sydney, the ten-hour-wait at Sydney airport, the eight hours sitting in a metal tube breathing recycled air, the fight through the hell of Denpasar airport and the bone-shaking drive over the mountains to the north of Bali all worthwhile.

No tourists, no television, no a la carte meals, no regulated swimming pool hours, no minibar which transmogrifies a can of Coca-Cola sold for 3000 rupiah at the local 'warung' into a ludicrous $4.50 (plus service charge).

Goodbye, Banjar Hills Retreat, and thanks for the memories!

P.S. The place is for sale at - last time I asked - around AUS$270,000. Email me if you're interested and I put you in touch!

Screen shots from GOOGLE Map