Whilst browsing our website, or visiting our store you may have realized that many of our products and all of our jewellery are handmade in Bali. This is because Jo Arbuthnot, the owner of Flamingo Boutique, also owns Suzie Blue Canada, a wholesale jewellery business that imports and sells handmade and ethically sourced fashion jewellery and clothing from Bali. We sell much of this jewellery and clothing in Flamingo Boutique and while on her wholesale buying trips to Bali, Jo also orders some unique pieces to sell in the boutique.
Last year, I was lucky enough to go on the buying trip too and it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had, so I thought I’d share a bit of insight into what Bali and these buying trips are like.
Firstly, I feel like I need to mention the travel because while being in Bali is obviously brilliant, a lot of people seem to forget about the 32 hour journey it takes to get there. As a person that hates flying, this was pretty rough, although not as bad as I thought it would be (to be fair I had very low expectations). That said, the trip was totally worth it and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
One of my favourite things about Bali were the restaurants. Honestly, I think some of the best food I’ve had and the coolest restaurants I’ve been to were in Bali - absolutely all of the food was amazing and all of the restaurants were super trendy. Some of my personal favourites were; a pastel, Pinterest-inspired pizzeria, a beachside restaurant with the best cloud-like gnocchi ever, a seafood restaurant overlooking the paddy fields and a suspended restaurant with the most stunning view of a tropical jungle. We went to restaurants that served all types of cuisine from Greek, to Indian, to Italian to Indonesian, and I really enjoyed trying traditional Balinese dishes.
I’d have to say that the strangest food I encountered was when Shania, my Balinese friend, ordered what loosely translates to mixed fruit soup. Basically, it was bright pink, sweetened milk with chopped dragon fruit, watermelon, papaya mango and avocado. It didn’t even taste bad, it was just very sweet and kind of confusing. Shania also took me to buy snacks from a Balinese grocery store, where I was completely out of my depth. I followed her around like a lost puppy as she filled my arms with an abundance of different Indonesian snacks. The fry chips with mini chilli dips were a win, but the sweet cheese crackers (with cheese flavoured frosting), not so much. Some things are so wrong that they’re right, but these cheese crackers were just plain wrong.
When we weren’t eating, we spent a lot of the time buying, which I found very interesting. I liked that we were out of the really touristy parts and we got a glimpse into what life is actually like in Bali. All of the artisans were lovely and it was fun to be a part of choosing the jewellery and helping to design it. I also loved seeing where so many of the products we have in store came from, like the metal animals, glass vases and rope dogs. That said, I did not enjoy standing in the small stores in humid, 35 degree weather with no air conditioning. As you can probably imagine, it was quite hard to focus on choosing knitwear pieces for the winter!
We also had the chance to do some more touristy things on our visit. We visited the stunning temples, where I was shown how to make baskets for offerings - it turned out to be quite tricky - and we hiked to see a massive waterfall. We also visited the monkey forest, which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ubud. It’s a nature preserve and a Hindu temple in which monkeys roam free and people are able to walk through. The monkeys were very comfortable around people, often attempting to get into their backpacks. I even saw a monkey come up to a couple that were sitting on a bench and cuddle them - it was adorable! One of my favourite things to do was to walk along the streets and look at all the stores and coffee shops. I absolutely loved the Luwak cafe. Kopi Luwak is one of Bali’s most famous exports and it’s coffee beans that are eaten by Luwak (possum/cat-like creature), pooped out and made into coffee. There are some issues as sometimes the animals are held in cages and treated poorly, however the Luwak in the cafe were free to roam and socialize with customers. I absolutely loved watching them and petting them, so I made sure we went back there several more times!
I absolutely loved Bali and I can’t wait to get back there soon!
Check out our made in Bali gifts here: https://flamingoboutique.ca/collections/gifts/gifts_made-in-bali-gifts
Check out our jewellery which is handmade in Bali here: https://flamingoboutique.ca/collections/jewellery