Warung Putu

Trip Start Oct 23, 2006
Trip End May 08, 2007

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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My ride from Kuta to Lovina took me through the very center of the island. As I ascended to higher elevations in the mountains, it began to rain. Not what I was hoping for...
I stopped at a small warung (restaurant) and ate while waiting for the rain to stop. It didn't, so I put on the rain jacket I was smart enough to buy in Singapore and continued on. About three feet after descending the mountain, I found myself in the blazing equatorial sun again. The jacket was unbearably hot. This would be the weather pattern for my entire week in Lovina; afternoon rain with all else being pure sunshine.
To get to Lovina, I had to route through the larger town of Singaraja. The road took an abrupt turn while going through the city center, so I stopped to consult the mapof Bali I'd bought. Before I could unfold it, another motorbike pulled up next to me. It was a Balinese guy. He just happened to work at a group of Bungalows in Lovina and could take me straight there. How convenient! I bet this never happens to anyone here! (That's right, I've decided to italicize my sarcasm). But regardless of the set-up, I decided to follow him and see what the rooms were like. I was impressed, and after some price negotiation, I had myself a place to stay for the week.
The next morning, my first full day in Lovina, was early. I had allowed myself to be talked into another sunrise activity. I'm not sure how. After the employees at my bungalows begged me, I signed up to see wild dolphins hunting fish at sunrise. Any one who has kept tally will see that this was the 3rd sunrise I'd see that week. I was also the 3rd time I'd see dolphins in as many countries. But they kept dropping the price and threw in snorkeling for free, so why not?
The sunrise that morning was the most beautiful one I've seen all trip. Maybe not quite as impressive overall as sunrise at Angkor Wat, but as far as light, color, and clouds are concerned... left me breathless. The dolphins were alright. Nothing terribly new. And the snorkeling was sort of boring by myself, so I cut it to only 45 minutes.
I returned to my bungalows' attached restaurant for my complimentary breakfast. While eating I met an Australian guy named Deavon who went on an unsuccessful fishing trip even earlier than my dolphin watching. As we talked and ate, one of the bungalow employees named 'Frank' came up to our table. You want to see cock fight? I looked at Frank like I hadn't heard him right, but I had. And before I could respond I saw Deavon shrug and say sure, so what the hell?
The cock fight was held in someone's backyard in a nearby village. Cock fighting is illegal here, although I didn't learn that specifically until several days later. The process is far more complicated than I ever expected. Some people raise the chickens but they're usually not the fight owners. Members of the crowd can either bet on a fight already set up, or they can buy their own cock and try to find an equal combatant. When Deavon and I arrived with Frank, a match had already been made. True to rumors, each bird had a large, razor-sharp blade elaborately tied to one leg. One man handled each bird; twisting its head, plucking feathers, making it lunge at the other bird, anything to get the bird angry and in fight mode. But this wasn't the fight itself. After a couple minutes of testing and teasing, the birds were separated. This warm up was purely to give people and idea of each bird's capability in order to increase betting. Once all the money had been collected, the fight was on.
The birds lept at each other, fluttering and pecking. Meanwhile, we in the crowd kept on our toes to run in case the birds got too close. I had a flashback to a certain night in Bangkok with a certain dart. I realized that I didn't have the best of luck in these situations. Oh well.
The birds did break through the crowd, but not in my direction. They were set back up in the center, and round two commenced. But round two was low-spirited, so they put both birds underneath a small wicker basket for a third round cage-match. After a full minute with the two cocks not regarding each other in the least, the fight was over. It was a draw. I didn't know cock fights could end in a draw. You learn something new every day.
Deavon and I pretty much knew how it all worked now. I knew I wasn't gambling, but the Aussie wanted the full experience. He kept trying to put money on a beefy-looking white, yellow, and black bird. They wouldn't let him. No one technically owned the bird yet, so it couldn't fight. Also, the only bird close to it in size had an owner that was extremely resistant to the idea. Starting to feel bored and restless, Deavon bought the bird and had Frank talk the other guy into fighting his darker bird. The guy agreed. Long story short, Deavon's bird won with ease. Deavon was supposed to get double the money he paid for the cock, a percentage of all the bets on his bird, and both cocks in the fight. Of course, since he's a Westerner, he didn't see a single rupiah. They did, however, send him back with both birds. Deavon didn't know what the hell to do with either his live, victorious cock or the dead one clutched in his other hand. He gave them to Frank who invited us back for chicken soup later that day. I declined.
Somehow, from sunrise to dolphins to snorkeling to cockfight, it was still before noon. I ended up taking a nap, and when I woke up, T.K. was at the same bungalows. I'd sent him an email about where I was staying. He'd gotten bored in Kuta and decided to come up.
The next day, T.K. and I had an itinerary of sights to see. We started out on the road on our motorbikes. Actually, I started out while T.K.'s bike died. We spent about an hour getting it working again, and once it was, we made our way to the Git Git waterfalls.
The Git Git falls were incredible. I've seen more waterfalls on this trip than I can count (I know you feel me on that, Buddy) but Git Git was unquestionably the best for two simple words: 'rope' and 'swing'. The upper falls at Git Git were twin falls that had dug a deep pool into the rock below. A blue ropeswing hung from the cliffs above. T.K. and I did the math and spent over an hour swinging off different rocks and flopping into the cold, fresh water.
Not wanting to kill the entire day in one spot, we hiked downstream to another ropeswing. This second one wasn't nearly as good, and the target pool was way too small. After two tries each, we continued downstream to the main falls. I was impressed by the sight of it, but the main falls really could have used a ropeswing. Some good-sized cliffs surrounded the pool at the base of the main falls. I was tempted to jump in, but I could see there was absolutely no way to get back out without floating downstream and hiking back the long way. To do that would take over a half hour, and I'd have to leave my camera behind the whole time. No thanks.
After Git Git, we headed for a lakeside temple. We never found it, but the roads we found were incredible. We were having so much fun zipping around on them, T.K. managed to lose his board shorts. (They were tucked on the back of his motorbike to dry, he wasn't wearing them). We went back and searched to no avail.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the north end of the island. Most of the roads were gorgeous. We stopped by some rice paddies for a photo session. Looking on the map for where to head next, we saw there was a Buddhist temple. Like the board shorts, we never found it. Then the rain came. Yup, it was mid-afternoon. Right on time. So ended our exploration for the day.
That night was the last I saw of T.K. He had the same sunrise/dolphins/snorkeling the next morning as I'd had that day. And before he'd return from that, I was leaving for scuba diving.
I'd signed up for scuba when I first arrived, but they told me I'd have to wait until someone else signed up to come with me. It isn't worth the cost to send out just one diver, but that's exactly what ended up happening. They set me up on a boat with a half dozen snorkelers and another diver from another company with his own guide. I had a great time joking with everyone on the boat, and the dives were incredible. I wish I had found a way to rent an underwater camera. The water was pure liquid sapphire, warmer than bathwater, and contained expanses of bright coral.
My first dive was a refresher since I hadn't donned a tank and regulator in almost 5 years. My guide kept it slow and easy and pointed out fish, anemonies, and all the other standard fare. When everyone returned to the boat, we ate lunch and then puttered to our next dive-site.
The second divewas unlike any other I've ever done. We descended and then traversed our way above the coral until the shelf which surrounds Bali fell away to abyss. We then sunk deeper so that we were below the level of the shelf with all the life and staring at a wall of dense sealife. A strong current whips around the shelf, so for over 45 minutes we sat motionless and neutrally buoyant as the current swept us past an endless panarama of strange color and form. We even saw one white-tipped reef shark. I surfaced smiling; elated that my casual decision to go scuba diving had turned out to be so magnificent.
The van from the scuba company dropped me back on the street leading to my bungalows. I walked down the sidewalk thinking of where I might eat that night. As if in answer to my internal monologue, a man's voice called over to me. His name was Putu, and he owned a restaurant just across the way from my bungalows' driveway. I agreed to stop in that night.
As promised, I showed up to Warung Putu and found myself inundated with an endless, delicious meal. The prices were a tad high, but Putu was good company and he never stopped offering additional helpings.
I proceeded to eat dinner at Putu's every night for the next 5 nights. Several times, I came early and helped Putu cook. Jon and I had always planned on taking Thai cooking classes in Chiang Mai, but it never made it into our schedule. Warung Putu made up for that. Not to mention that after 6+ months of only eating at restaurants, it felt good to help cook for myself.
At the end of my stay in Lovina, Putu came with me to the Buddhist temple that T.K. and I had unsuccessfully sought earlier in the week. It was a gorgeous temple that looked deceptively small from the street. Putu and I could see all the way to the ocean from its terraced grounds. We both examined it curiously as neither one of us is Buddhist. Putu (who is Hindu) had never been in a Buddhist temple before. I felt like Putu was a trace of family far from home. And I'm sure now that that's exactly how he wanted me to feel. Before I left Lovina, Putu layed a huge guilt trip on me about his financial hardships. He appealed to me to start sending him money every month as soon as I got home. He even gave me his checking account number and information on how to reliably deposit money to help support him. Prick. Most hustlers in Asia have the decency to make it obvious and move on as soon as you're not interested. Putu was manipulative. But the food was good while it lasted.
I strapped down all my gear onto my motorbike and rode East along the northern coast with no particular aim. All I knew is that I was done with Lovina, Putu, and investing time with anyone in my last 2 weeks.
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