To create Bali dream home, woman ships $8,000 house across Indonesia

(CNN) – Bali first won Kayti Denham’s heart when she came to the Indonesian island for her honeymoon in the 1980s.

“When the plane door opened on the tarmac, the intoxicating tropical aroma promised what the United Kingdom did not do,” he recalls. “The possibility of being annoyed and bathed in the sun.”

Keep this memory close and return to the island now and again to reconnect. The marriage did not last, but Denham says she fell more deeply in love with Bali than she ever had with a man.

After 25 years in the UK, Denham moved to Byron Bay, Australia, where she launched a range of aromatherapy skincare products with a friend. Later in Sydney he worked with a local production company as a screenwriter.

Fast forward to 2004, when Denham left Australia for a teaching job in Bali, which led to a number of positions with international schools on the island. He continued to take on writing assignments on the side, including a writing for Scottish chef Will Meyrick, founder of Sarong and Mamasan, two of the island’s most famous restaurants.

Robi Supriyanto: Musician, environmental activist and positive coffee farmer.

Kayti Denham

A lifelong lover of live music, Denam crossed paths with Robi Supriyanto, star of the popular Balinese rock band Navicula. In Indonesia, Supriyanto is known not only for his energetic grunge-inspired performance, but for his involvement in sustainable agriculture and his efforts to encourage pride in farm life, the passions that Denham shared through her work with Meyrick and studies with permaculture guru Bill Mollison in Australia.

“If you want to learn Balinese culture, just open the traditional Balinese diary,” Supriyanto told CNN in 2018. “It’s all about agriculture. If you want to preserve Balinese culture, you have to preserve agriculture.”

Denam discussed such ideas with Supriano, who lives in Ubud, Bali, with his American wife and child.

“We talked about how nice it would be to set up a domestic farm where one could practice over-farming and grow organic produce,” he says. “For me, it probably comes from fantasies I had when I read Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a child.”

“I had to work with trust and people trust me”

Bali’s Tabanan Regency is known for its terraces.

Bali’s Tabanan Regency is known for its terraces.

SONNY TUMBELAKA / AFP / AFP via Getty Images

Supriyanto helped her find a semi-agricultural property in the Tabanan district, often referred to as “the real Bali”, where the rice paddies follow the natural outlines of the earth with the Batukaru volcano in the background.

Stone-walled family associations use subak, the Bali community-based irrigation control system, for their farms.

Here Denam could make her dream come true. He formed a partnership with Supriyanto to secure the land in 2015, and through a lawyer drafted contracts designating Denham and her daughters Kepsibel and Severen, both living in Australia, as legal tenants.

“I did not have a lot of money to invest, just my monthly tuition,” says Denham. “I had to work with confidence and people trust me. The phrase I repeated to myself over and over again was “It will work”.

The 1.2-acre property adjoins the National Conservation Forest near Desa Sanda, a village that, as Denham puts it, “lives with seasons and ceremonies, market days and motorcycles.”

Kayti's Bali Home -7

Denam rents a plot of land surrounded by durian and mango orchards in a village that “lives with seasons and ceremonies.”

Kayti Denham

Surrounded by durian and mango orchards, the plot is flanked by foggy wooded hills in a valley and through a coffee farm he inherited as part of the market, before ending in a natural spring. Spring flows into the Bali River, sacred among Bali because 16th-century sage Java Javan Dang Hiang Nirarta put his staff in the river, giving him the power to heal the sick. The river empties into the Indian Ocean at Balian Beach, famous for its ugly surfing scene, 40 minutes by car.

“I can not see the ocean from the earth, but it is colder in the hills,” says Denham. “Beautiful clouds roll in the afternoon, and at night the skies are often clear and bright.”

Finding the right distance

Two years after acquiring the land, Denham and Supriyanto traveled to central Java to find a limasan, a traditional wooden house with a millennium-old history in Java and South Sumatra.

The high roofs collect hot air that rises during the day, keeping the lower living room cool. They are popular nowadays with developers turning them into luxury villas or boutique hotels, but the natives of Java are less enthusiastic about preserving old structures and are willing to sell them wall to wall.

Kayti's Bali Home Bare bone shot_2

Denam’s reassembled T-shaped house.

Kayti Denham

Denham found an empty harbor in the former royal capital of Surakarta, commonly known as Solo these days, and after negotiating a price – $ 7,000 – hired craftsmen to dismantle the house, load it into a truck and deliver it on from 600 km to Bali, which cost about $ 650.

The Java crew arrived in shorts and T-shirts, and the cool mountain air of Taban .n surprised them.

“I went to earth shortly after they had to reassemble the limasan to find them trembling around a fire,” says Denham. “I rounded blankets, sweaters and jackets, and we built a sleeping shelter. But apart from not going in mountain weather, there was tension between them and the Bali locals.”

Eventually the Javanese returned to Solo and Denam finished the house with the help of Ketut, a Balinese craftsman who had worked at the house he rented in Kerobokan.

She continued to teach how to maintain funds to build her dream. Whenever possible he drove from Kerobokan to Desa Santa with Ketut builder to monitor progress.

When finished, the reassembled and enlarged T-shaped house was measured 11 to 10 meters in the front and 22 to 5 meters in the rear. An indoor toilet was added and Denham began moving to furniture, bookshelves and antiques.

The interior began to take shape, starting with a huge kitchen in the center of a large table 12.

“I had another leg up in the expatriate international school world, but I started to get closer to the Sanda community and listen to their desire to make the village an eco-tourism destination,” says Denham. “On the way home, there is an organic bakery, which makes fresh bread and cakes to sell in cafes in the south. I also found locals making organic jams, handmade soaps and shampoos. “

Kayti's Bali Home -2

A local mold-maker proves bedek (traditional rattan roof).

Kayti Denham

To grow the land around the house, a group of locals and expatriates, including some former Denham international students, organized a “Permablitz”, a kind of rapid attack permaculture. They built bamboo warehouses with large toilets and started working in an organic vegetable garden, while camping and playing music with the locals at night.

Seeing the property filled with coffee, cocoa, durian, mangosteen and avocado, all organically grown, Denham felt her dreams merge effortlessly with those of the community.

It is moving away from the pandemic

In July 2018, Denham flew to Australia to get a teaching job in a remote desert town, returning to Bali during the school holidays to work further at home. She spent most of her Christmas vacation in 2019 transporting the rest of her worldly goods from Kerobokan, where her lease had ended, to Sanda.

She decided that instead of unpacking, she would store everything safely and give her the opportunity to immerse herself in the atmosphere of her beautiful home, with its old wooden living room, spacious kitchen and spare storage where she stores her material life.

“It was raining, the leaves were dripping, the birds were calling, the cigarettes were climbing and nothing happened, except for one night when a hunter came out of the rain and gave me a little fear. But these last few days at home have been nothing less than Paradise. “

She flew back to Australia after Christmas to start teaching again, telling her friends in Bali, “See you in April!”

When April 2020 came, unexpected pandemic travel protocols left Denham in Australia. It has been more than a year since she went to her home in Bali. At this point, Dennam says “I live on WhatsApp messages. I send pictures of my beautiful home in the vast forest, empty and waiting for my return.”

A local family takes care of the house in case of her absence. Some time ago, Robi’s band recorded a live music video in the garden. The cafe produces organic, sustainable robusta.

“Someone from the cafe came to my doorstep last week,” Dennam said. “Every time I make a cup, it takes me to a place I have not yet lived, but which I have been dreaming of for years.”

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