• Other

A Greener Education in Bali

2 minute read
Cynthia Rosenfeld

School is the last place most kids would want to spend a Bali holiday but grown-ups will enjoy the lessons at Green School, www.greenschool.org. The Indonesian island’s latest attraction is a private international primary and soon-to-be-high school, established to give an education steeped in environmental awareness. To that end, Green School is constructed almost entirely of bamboo and mud — nary a nail holds up its beautiful buildings in Sibang Kaja, a 15-minute drive from Ubud in central Bali. School tours, held Mondays and Wednesdays at 3 p.m., are so popular with tourists that they require advance booking.

Aromatic lemongrass permeates the air as you stroll down gravel paths that lead toward a 140-ft. (42 m) bamboo bridge. It spans the Ayung River to link two sides of a 20-acre (eight hectare) campus set among rice terraces. As you traverse the whooshing rapids, you can take in a spring-fed infinity pool, a favorite after-school haunt of students like Chiara and Carina Hardy, the daughters of jeweler John Hardy, who, together with his wife Cynthia, founded Green School with profits from the 2007 sale of his eponymous Bali-based jewelry firm.

The tour winds past the school’s five water buffaloes. Their dung, as all 100-plus students already know, goes to a biogas system that extracts methane; the leftover waste gets fed to worms, creating a rich compost that goes back into the school’s fields and gardens, which students tend. Other sustainable-energy solutions on campus include micro-hydropower and solar power.

Visitors who make a minimum $50 donation to the school will have their names carved — like recent visitor Donna Karan’s — on one of 2,630 bamboo poles used to construct Heart of School, a central library and meeting facility. At 60 ft. tall (18 m), it will be one of the world’s largest all-bamboo buildings when completed in March.

Tours coinciding with the first night of a full moon culminate in Mepantigan, a performance created by taekwondo champion Putu Witsen Widjaya that integrates martial arts with Balinese folklore, shadow puppetry and fire-eating. It’s highly entertaining, but Green School doesn’t need to go to such lengths to impress. The thoughtful design is diversion enough.

See 10 things to do in Singapore.

Got an awful travel gripe? The Avenger may be able to sort it out for you. Click here to tell us your problem.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com