Build a Life of Harmony in Bali

CONTRIBUTED BY KADEK ANIS

Anis lost her father at the age of four, was abandoned by her mother from age 10-14, and became widowed by the age of 30. Despite being left financially destitute after her husband’s losing battle with cancer, Anis has chosen to fight back against her suffering. With help from the bank, she has built her own special garden of harmony in Bali to share with others.

View of my restaurant from my garden

View of my restaurant from my garden

My passion is healthy food and getting back to nature. I built Harmony, my garden, restaurant and holiday villas in the remote seaside town of Amed, North Bali, to bring harmony and happiness back into my life. I now smile every day and I love to inspire my guests to also love nature and healthy food the way I do.

What is Harmony?

Harmony is my open-air restaurant and villas nestled beside my large organic garden of tropical fruit and vegetables, just across the road from the sea.

Looking from my restaurant to my garden

Looking from my restaurant to my garden

I grow organic food that you can see growing right beside your dining table. Everyday I pick seasonal food fresh from my garden and combine it with freshly caught seafood from the ocean across the road. The result is healthy, vibrant, organic food that is a real taste experience and thoroughly nourishing for the body.

I have seen too many people die and I know it’s often related to the food they eat. My ancestors never ate fast food, ice cream, or preservatives. They ate seasonally from the land and they lived long, healthy lives. I want to show others how tasty and exciting this kind of food can be. I want to encourage and inspire others to get back to nature and to be careful about what food they choose to eat.

I only use top quality, fresh, and mostly organic ingredients in all of the food I prepare

I only use top quality, fresh, and mostly organic ingredients in all of my food

When I was a Child

I was born in September 1979 in the North of Bali. I have one brother and one sister. Our father died when I was four years old and then when I turned ten, my mother abandoned me. I had to live in a Christian home for a long time – from the age of 10 to 14 – and hated it! There were many rules that made my life frustrating!

My mother returned one day to collect me. I try to have a good relationship with her now but I think I’m still very angry with her. Also, my relationship with my brother and sister almost doesn’t exist anymore because I married a Balinese man after I lost my first husband. They had been used to my life before and the joys of being married to a foreigner. Their life was now changing as a result and they too found it frustrating.

My First Husband

For eleven years I was married to a German man whom I loved very much. We had an export business together in Ubud, the arts centre of Bali. We used to export local products from here to Europe; mostly we exported masks and jewelry to Italy.

In the time we were married, we travelled a lot to Europe together. We even lived near Munich, Germany for three years. Because of this lifestyle, I might look like a Balinese woman, but I have a very European mind and I struggle daily to balance the two cultural identities inside myself.

Me preparing fresh breakfast papaya for my interviewers

Me preparing fresh breakfast papaya from my garden

My husband was both a wonderful man and, sadly, an alcoholic. He died of liver cancer five years ago and his medical bills absorbed everything we had worked hard to save. I was left with almost nothing.

Getting Back on My Feet

Luckily, my husband taught me important things about money, and those lessons have helped me to cope. He taught me that when you buy something, you must always ask yourself if you need it or not. He told me that even if you have big money, you must always ask yourself if you need it. If you buy what you don’t need, it’s waste.

Other than our export business, we also owned OnlYou Villas in Amed, which is where we were living. I continued to run this myself after he was gone, but I really needed a business partner to help with finances because of the enormous financial hit I had taken.

My herb and spice grinding table

My herb and spice grinding table

It took a couple of years of talking to every guest who arrived, but eventually I found a business partner. He invested 80,000 euros and now we own it 50/50. As part of the agreement, I had to move off the land. I was able to do it with the income from selling half of the business so I bought a little piece of land and built a little house nearby.

We continue to jointly manage the business.

Then One Day…

It was March 5, 2012. I was driving from the government tax office to OnlYou Villas with one of my trainee staff; she had only been training with me for four months as a waitress. I remember it well. It was a Monday.

For many years, even when my husband was alive, I had always driven past a particular plot of land and wished it could be mine. I told her that I needed to find out who owned it. Much to my surprise, she told me it belonged to her father! I asked her if she could ask her father how much money he wanted for it.

One part of my garden

One part of my garden

Making the Deal

The next day, her father and mother came to OnlYou to talk with me about the land. He wanted to sell the whole thing and told me I could pay credit. It was just way too much money. I couldn’t afford it, even with credit, so I asked if there was any other option.

They suggested I could lease it, maybe for 20 years. But I thought that was too short so I asked about leasing it for 40 years. They said they’d be open to that.

I didn’t have much money to pay them up front since the only money I had was from the partnership deal with OnlYou. They agreed that I could pay until 2015 so now I pay them twice a year and will stop paying them in 2015.

Crushing fresh herbs and spices to accompany the fish

Crushing fresh herbs and spices to accompany the fish

The cost to rent this land for 20 years is 50,000 euros, or about 600,000,000 rupiah. In 20 years I will pay another lump sum of money; I will pay 75,000 euros to lease the land for another 20 years. So, in total, it will cost me 125,000 euros to lease the land for 40 years.

It’s a lot of money, but it’s very cheap compared to buying the land. In order to buy it, I would have to pay 85,000,000 rupiah (8,500 euros) for only one ARE, which is ten square metres. The size of the land I’m leasing is 3600 square metres, or 360 ARE, so you can see that it would be impossible to buy it. It would cost over 3,000,000 euros to buy!

Inside my villas

Inside my villas

After the 40 years, I’ll be 73 so I won’t want to work anymore, so it’s OK. I won’t get to keep any of the buildings I put on the land, but I will be able to keep anything else. Also, if I build ‘joglos,’ which are traditional Balinese wooden houses, then they can be dismantled and moved off the land. I will also be able to move many of my plants but the large trees will have to stay.

Deciding What To Do With the Land

This was the easy part. I’ve suffered enough sadness in my life. I just wanted to do what I loved. That was it.

Passionfruit in bloom

Passionfruit in bloom

I love to garden and I love healthy food. I decided that I would plant a huge garden with most of the land and grow everything I wanted. I would also build a little restaurant that would serve fresh seasonal food picked fresh each day from my garden, the garden you can see or wander through from the table where you’re eating. And that’s what I did!

I grew up in the small village of Pelapuan in the North of Bali, near Singaraja. My mother still has a coffee and cocoa plantation there. She also grows many spices and coconut, which I use in my restaurant.

I have many papaya trees in my garden

I have many papaya trees in my garden

We had a big garden when I was growing up and I was always happy in it.  We also had chickens and pigs. It might seem odd to hear, but I was very happy when the chickens would run after the motorbikes. I was hoping it would mean that I would get a fresh chicken curry for dinner that night!

Roosters and chickens roam freely in my garden - they're not for eating. :-)

Roosters and chickens roam freely in my garden – but they’re not for eating. 🙂

Building My Restaurant

Everything was done on credit. Thanks to my long relationship with the bank and my 50% ownership in OnlYou Villas, I was able to get 100,000 euros of credit at 0.8% per month, or 10.3% annually.

I made a design for what I wanted and hired local labour and friends. The same people who built my house also built my restaurant, so I knew them well and trusted them.

The standard daily labour rate in Bali is 8 euros per day, which is a fair labour wage in Bali, and is what I paid. Some lesser skilled labourers will get just 5 euros a day though. They all bring their own lunch with them and sometimes I would pay for extra things for them if they needed it.

Fresh ginger tea with lemongrass stir stick - all fresh from my garden

Fresh ginger tea with lemongrass stir stick – all fresh from my garden

It took 3.5 months and cost 45,000 euros to build. That cost included all tables, chairs, stoves, dishes, kitchen accessories, attached bar house, BBQ grill house, and landscaping of the front garden. It included everything except the planting of my large vegetable garden and the building of my three villas.

The most expensive part was the alang alang roof, which is a traditional Balinese thatched roof.  It will last maybe 10 years and needs to be repaired periodically to keep it in good condition.

My Garden 

I grow everything I can, given our growing conditions.

All fresh from my garden

All fresh from my garden

I still need to buy some things from the market, but all of these ingredients come directly from my garden, which is right beside the dining tables:

  • Pomelo / Starfruit / Passionfruit / King passionfruit / Mango / Banana
  • Soursop / Custard apple / Sugar apple / Jackfruit / Bilimbi / Lime
  • Coconut / Pumpkin / Durian / Rambutan / Giant Granadilla / Guava
  • Black Guava / Pomegranate / Malay Apple / Tamarind / Lemongrass
  • Ginger / Tumeric / Onion / Eggplant / Balinese basil / Papaya / Lemon
  • Tapioca / Chili / Balinese potato / Sweet potato / Sugarcane / Aloe Vera

Anything I can’t grow because it’s too hot, I ask my mother to grow in the hills where she lives as it’s cooler.

Spices my mother grows for me in the hills

Spices my mother grows for me in the hills

Opening Day

It was January 14, 2013. I had no sign at first and I was SO nervous! I invited family, friends and any tourists I knew, and their friends.

My sign today

My sign today

I made a huge fire for grilling the fish and had a nice big boat of ice with fish laid out on top. The smell of the fire and attractiveness of the boat of fish drew people in and we had full tables! I made 2,800,000 rupias on my opening day (280 euros).

Even in low season (mid-Jan until end-April), we have customers every single day. May is the start of the busy season, which goes until September, when mid-season starts. In high season, we regularly have to turn guests away. I tried adding more tables scattered in the garden itself but decided to stop because I don’t want guests waiting too long for their food and I want to ensure I always offer very high quality food.

Freshly ground herb sauces to accompany your meal

Freshly ground herb sauces to accompany your meal

I didn’t know about this, but I later found out that some guests went onto Trip Advisor and added me to the list of restaurants in Amed. I’m now rated #5 out of 32 restaurants here! I’m so pleased!

Adding Villas to my Garden

After only a month of operating my restaurant, I went back to the bank and asked for more credit so that I could add villas to my garden; I wanted to give tourists a tranquil, harmonious place to enjoy Bali.

The bank gave me 200,000,000 rupiah (20,000 euros) of credit, but this time at a higher interest rate: 1.3% per month (15.6% per year). With that money, I was able to build three villas.

My villas are nestled in my garden

My villas are nestled in my garden

Each villa cost 7,800,000 rupiah (7,800 euros) to build. Each one normally rents in high season for $45 per night, or for $30 per night in low season. They all have aircon. I don’t have a website for them (or my restaurant) yet, but I know I’m going to have to make one.

I now have six staff, which I pay 700,000 rupiah (70 euros) per month, which is the standard wage here in Bali. I manage all of my finances myself and have managed everything very conservatively, doing the numbers based on the worst month I could probably have.

Each villa has a patio that looks onto my garden

Each villa has a patio that looks onto my garden

Successes and Difficulties

My restaurant is only 8 months old and already we are #5 in Amed. That makes me very happy! I always look at the plates of my diners when they are collected in after the meal. Is there still food on the plate? If the plate is empty I feel I’ve made someone happy.

Noodle dish

Noodle dish

For me, finding the right staff and working together with them takes time and can be very challenging sometimes. In Amed it’s hard to find people who know what tourists want, so I have to spend a lot of time training them how to do things properly. They often come straight from the jungle and have no training. When they see a new business has opened, they ask if there is work and you take it from there.

I did have to fire one boy who worked for me for 7 months. The way I am forced to see it is that it’s better that they are sorry before I am sorry. I am the owner and I do more work than the staff; sometimes I even do work for the staff.  Because I have to work with the bank, I have to make tough decisions like this sometimes. If my business fails, they all lose their jobs and I lose everything – so I have to be tough sometimes, even though I hate to have to do it.

Advice to Others

Me, living in harmony - finally!

Me, living in harmony – finally!

Life is short. There is a lot in life that can make us very unhappy so we have to sometimes fight hard to do what makes us happy – even if that means working a lot with the bank! Sometimes credit is the only way to get something done when you’re destitute. Don’t let lack of finances stop you from pursuing your dream. There is always a solution.

FURTHER DETAILS

  • Contributed by:  Kadek Anis (personal interview in Bali)
  • Written, formatted and edited by:  Krista Beauvais
  • Photos:  all photos are courtesy of Krista Beauvais
  • Name of her business:  Amed Harmony Café and Bungalows
  • Location of Harmony:  Amed, Bali (NE coast)

CONTACT ANIS

  • Email:  amedharmony [at] gmail [dot] com
  • See contact details on Harmony’s Trip Advisor listing
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