There’s one small spot in Batangas – a province in the Philippines – that they say is like a small piece of the Indonesian paradise called Bali. I have never been to Bali myself, but what I know of it is that it’s a place so unlike the rest of Indonesia. The majority of Balinese are Hindu – it is the only Indonesian island among thousands where Islam is not the predominant religion. With that, I could imagine Bali to probably be somewhat of a cross between India – the world’s largest Hindu nation, and Boracay – the Philippines’ own island paradise,…..a place where the gods, white sand beaches and pristine waters meet.
This small spot in Batangas is called Cintai, a privately owned resort deep in the town of Balete. A little bit off the beaten path (the place is not near a major highway), Cintai is like a large, quiet garden that is – as they say – “Balinese inspired”. They got pavilions that look like Balinese buildings, I guess, plus a few Hindu-inspired gates and statues…and curiously enough, a large face of the Buddha – a bit out of place culturally, but it kinda blends in with the resort’s environment well.
The resort’s sprawling, tree covered grounds is a good place for strolling around as the vegetation keeps the place cool even on a hot day, and you could really feel the fresh air in your lungs. For urbanites who are not fond to let go of creature comforts, this might be as close as you can get to the experience of walking under a forest. Not quite the same, but you get what I mean. Unlike Bali though, Cintai does not have a beach – in fact it’s nowhere near the coast, but there are a couple of swimming pools that look absolutely inviting.
Like any good resort, visitors can choose to spend the night in one of their villas, of just stay for the day under their cabanas. I myself haven’t tried staying overnight, but staying for a day already gives enough of a quiet time – no tv, no wi-fi signal and no mobile internet (there was no 3G from either Globe or Smart – the country’s mobile networks – while we were there), so it’s just you, the trees, the occasional chirp of a bird, and a large dose of serenity. And the place is less than a couple of hours from Manila, through the South Luzon Expressway and Star Tollway, so travelling back and forth in a day is not too much of a big deal.
So…do you get to see a piece of Bali here? Uhmm, not really to be honest, but that’s not what you should come here for. Overall, it is definitely one good option if you’d like to have a little bit of a “retreat” without giving up too much of your time . It is quiet enough, isolated enough and beautiful enough for a nice and comfy weekend, and it’s not far enough to make travel time a concern.
* Cintai can be reached through the SLEX and Star Tollway. For directions, go to this website: http://coritosgarden.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/coritos_map.png
* Photos taken Feb 2013 using Olympus E420 with Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8-3.5.