When you think of Bali you think… beaches… spirituality… soul searching… villas… paradise… relaxation.
Bali is really, truly magical once you get away from all the heavy tourist areas.
Well that image came crashing down when we actually showed up to Bali and found it packed with people, rubbish, cars, motorbikes, and bad air quality. People holding up automobile traffic and foot traffic to take the perfect pic.
Thankfully, this is not EVERYWHERE in Bali – only major tourist spots. And thaaaankfully, we stayed about an hour away from all the chaos in a sleepy dive town called Amed.
But those few visits to the tourist spots (Taman Ujung Water Palace and Tirrta Gangga – we didn’t go there because the line was SO LONG) were like, soul-draining especially with kids. See InstaWrecked.
We craved authentic Bali… not tourism Bali… we wanted human connection and culture.
We found this small business on FACEBOOK and saw it had a few 5-star reviews on trip advisor.
Lo, and behold! Side By Side Organic Farm.
This place is *PERFECT* for families. We were traveling with four young, adventurous kids (18 months, 2 years old, 3 years old, and 7 years old). We made sure to call/WhatsApp ahead so they were anticipating our arrival.
We came right from The Water Palace, so it was a short drive!
We parked on the side of a local side road. Apprehensive, we met some kids that told us they would take us to Side By Side Organic Farm. some. kids. 😳
I’m gonna be honest, it was nerve-wrecking being at a farm. in the middle of nowhere. in a place you have never been. with your family and small children. I’ve seen way too many horror movies and listened to WAY TOO MANY podcasts to be putting myself in this situation, ya know!?
Paranoia pushed aside – we walked through the rice fields, went down some stairs, and turned the corner to these *GORGEOUS* elevated Balinese Huts.
Audible gasps from my kids as they saw beautiful trees, draped linens, paper ornaments, and tables with cushions instead of chairs.
Behind the dining area there were huts for accommodation and one elevated common area with beds, tables, and couches above a large pond full of fish and shrimp! The beds were comfy and colorful and each one had ornate draping which I’m assuming was for mosquitos.
the comfy colorful common area
After walking around a bit, we sat down at the tables and met with Ketut, the farm manager. He spoke very good English and immediately made us feel very welcome.
He told us that lunch would not be ready for at least an hour and a half and asked us if we had any dietary restrictions and asked us what the kids like. He didn’t give us a menu to choose food from so if you’re a picky eater, this is your warning!
I’m assuming there was no menu because you don't know how much of what would grow when – which totally makes sense!
He quickly came back with freshly squeezed watermelon-lime juice, smashed avocado, and some crisps. After we inhaled that snack he toured us around the area.
“Everything you will eat was grown here” said Ketut. Since Indonesia has approx. 208743 volcanoes, the soil in Bali (everywhere in Indonesia, really) is incredibly fertile and perfect for farming.
We saw huge papaya trees, different types of bamboo, cinnamon plants, coconut trees, rice paddies on ride paddies, chilies, lemon grass, avocado trees, eggplant trees, different herbs, and pineapple bushes. Side note – my mind was blown to find out that avocados were grown on trees (I throught it was a bush), eggplants were grown on trees (I thought this was a bush too), and PINEAPPLES WERE GROWN IN BUSHES (I never really thought how pineapples would grow, TBH. Now I think about it, pineapple trees sound ridiculous LOL).
He told the kids to take different leaves and rub them and asked what they smelled and how it felt. It was the coolest, most engaging Science Lesson ever.
best science lesson EVER! - you can see Ketut fishing with the bamboo pole
Then we went fishing WITH A BAMBOO STICK. The kids were pumped. We caught a huge fish (dunno what kind) and Ketut gave us the option to eat it. We didn’t because it would’ve had way too much food.
We met a kid (like 22 years old) from London who came to Bali to learn about agriculture and sustainability. He was staying at Side By Side Organic Farm in the dreamy-drapey elevated hut. He described sleeping here as “cool if you’re into ASMR” because of all the nature sounds. He said it only gets hot during the day but even then, unless you’re in the field, everything is pretty shaded and significantly cooler!
Our food came shortly after. He explained everything we ate. I don’t remember the name of all the food but there was chicken satay, something spicy, a curry, some fried veggies, rice, more fried veggies, tempeh, and a soup! It was MORE THAN enough food for our party of 9 and we were more than full with lots of left overs! We had fruit for dessert.
LOOK AT ALL THIS COLORFUL, FRESH, ORGANIC FOOD. YUM.
After we settled our bill, we waddled up the stairs, walked through the fields, and the kids asked to feed the cows. This was literally the best moment of their lives. After the 160cm/5 foot heap of grass, leaves, and plants were all fed to the cows, we said our goodbyes.
On the way back, we talked about how refreshing visiting Side By Side Farm was. We also laughed about how we learned more about Bali in the few hours we were at Side by Side than we did visiting any tourist spots. Learning about farming, the island of Bali, and the Balinese hospitality and way of life from Ketut was a definite highlight! And the food?! OMG THE FOOOOOOD.
Bali banned the use of single use plastic so we drank out juice out of a small, fresh, bamboo stick! the juice was good. we chewed the stick afterwards. it tasted like plant. juice? would recommend. straw? would not recommend eating.
If you’re desperate for a recharge and some yummy food after walking around the temples and waiting in line for hours and hours for a picture, definitely visit Side By Side Organic Farm! Make sure to call ahead!
Terima Kasih! (thank you)