Bali – this small island contains so much! The smiles of people, the green of the rice-paddies, the spicy scent in the air, palm trees and oily tourists beneath getting a massage…
Written by Uleshka
I absolutely fell in love with this island about 12 years ago, but coming back this year made me realize a few things gone wrong. The shopping streets in Ubud seem like a never-ending repetition of sarong shops, wood carving and more sarong shops. Giraffe shaped CD racks are literally piling up on the side of the road, pouring out of the two shop next to that pile and also at the shop on the other side of the street. Tons of similar products all along this road – and all over the island.
I felt pretty miserable thinking that people spend so much time, energy and resources making these products, which nobody seems to need anymore.
The number of shops simply exploded over the years, but there are less tourists buying due to the bomb attacks. Another issue is, that the products they sell today are the same they sold years back. Do rich tourists who traveled the world really need another carved giraffe? Maybe, but it is much more likely that they prefer something they can actually use at home.
What they want is a crafted design product with a local taste.
napkin rings – various designs
simple and elegant wooden tools with a local flavor
Half broken-hearted about this trap local shop owners and crafters seem to be in, I already imagined design education projects for Bali’s local crafters combined with fair trade, … when my feet just beat me, it got dark and I stopped. To my big surprise I found myself standing in front of something, which was already very close to what I was just hoping for to happen more on Bali…
Restaurant & “select shop” Kedai is located in the heart of Candidasa (East Bali) overlooking the ocean. A beautifully un-cut thatched roof acts as a restaurant with a perfect menu, while the other little hut next door has a great selection of Balinese handcrafted products.
the impressive bamboo structure as seen from inside the restaurant
un-cut thatched roof for restaurant, shop and ‘relaxing platform’ as seen all over Bali
The people behind this different shop are American Tara Murff married to Balinese Odeck. They obviously have a good feeling for a contemporary Balinese style picking up the best of the simplest products available on the island.
You might have seen some of Kedai’s products around when spending time on Bali, but this limited selection in a spacious, calming shop actually allows the objects to breathe and unfold their beauty.
I very much liked this very simple soap dish made of stone. Keeping the natural curves of the heavy stone gives it an earthy organic feel and yet it acts as a beautiful, simple object that suits every designer bath.
Kedai’s products are a litte more pricy than the items you find at a souvenir stand, but the difference lies in their quality and – if the staff’s English was reliable – fair trade.
prices a bit higher
Besides the truly friendly staff and the nice products in the shop, the restaurant is worth a visit! Enjoying delicious food while resting in this open space, you immediately get all energy back from a long day walking. A romantic view over the sea, a cool breeze and cicadas singing next to you make it a perfect holiday experience.
Balinese appetizers – a chicken satay with a lime and peanut dip. Yummy!
sweet flowers everywhere
While doing a little research, I found out that Tara and Odeck have a couple of very beautiful buildings and projects on Bali, so they seem to be doing well. I very much hope that they collaborate respectfully with their crafters (looks like it from what you see on their website) and create more chances for local crafters to work on a contemporary Balinese style, that cherishes its roots.
If you happen to be on Bali, jump in a taxi or take a transport to Kedai – the shop in Candidasa: Jalan Raya Candidasa, Bali 80851, Telepone +62 363 42020.
I don’t really know how to help local crafters and/or shop keepers (and I am certainly no expert in this field anyway)… I am simply worrying about where it will go if they keep doing what they are doing, producing the same souvenirs over and over again.
I also don’t know enough about Kedai to promote it as the ultimate solution, but putting more emphasis on a limited but diversified selection of products and giving tourists (like me) the feeling, that they pay an appropriate price for something while the actual craftsman gets his share, might be something that works better… I hope!
What do you think?
Love and respect to everyone on this beautiful island.