I see rice and smell bacon

Trip Start Jan 12, 2013
Trip End Feb 27, 2013

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Monday, February 25, 2013

You know when you haven't seen another tourist for over an hour as you're buzzing along on your motorbike, then you must be doing something right. :) I took the advice of the suspected beach gigalo and my hotel's motorbike guard and took off to a town called Jati Luwih today. According to Google Maps, it was just over 50 km (33) miles away. Predicted travel time was 2 hrs. Not making this up. The directions list, with step by step driving directions, revealed that I would stay on no road longer than 5 km (3 mi). Yeah, just process that for a second. I have to go 50 km the longest I go without making a turn of some sort is 5 km. !!! Seriously folks, your roads here are just nutty batty. Even if I were to try and follow that directions list without wrecking or pulling over every 15 seconds, it would be impossible because there are no road signs indicating what street we're intersecting with. Thankfully, before large, destination changing intersections, there is a green highway sign (sometimes obscured with leafy overhangs and whatnot) with arrows and towns on it. This was how I managed to make my way into the heart of Bali. Just keep following the arrows to destinations on the way to my destination (of course if you only knew your final destination's name and none of the cities in between, you'd be SOL fo sho!).
Once out of the city, the drive was beautiful. Little Balinese towns with what appeared to be mostly praying going on. I am not sure what was going on today, but everyone was in their Sunday--well Monday's--best for church going. I've driven around before and this wasn't happening so I don't know if today or just Monday's are important for some reason. I love the genuine friendliness you see in people as you pass...they always give you a real smile if you smile at them. The children away from the tourist areas were quite a bit more precocious as well, but still nothing compared to the Cambodian children.
The town of Jatu Liweh is at the base of Mount Batukaru and is home to some arrestingly beautiful rice terraces. The verdant, lush terraces are framed by the life-giving moutains which provide the water for these crops. The mountains are topped with sometimes ominous and othertimes purely fluffy clouds and provide a breathtaking contrast to the vibrant green of the growing rice. The terraces were like a work of art, undulating with the sides of the mountains and shimmering from the water resting among the stalks of rice. The wind was quite fierce and it blew the rice similiar to the wheat on the Palouse area of Washington State. I think that if you grew up in such a place, it would be very difficult to ever leave or find a place to compete with it. It was just so singularly unique (I know that's kind of redundant, but too bad). I tried to find a local place to eat away from the tourist overlook, but ended up on some broken down road headed into the mountains somewhere. Figured I ought to turn around, but then I saw an old man squatting by the side of a home entrance so I stopped to ask him about restaurants. I think he was partly deaf, but he was definitely partly blind. The cataracts in his eyes were so bad, his eyes were almost completely opaque. I have seen scores of older people with cataracts. Is that just a feature of old age or would the intensity of the sun play into it at all? There is obviously no eye wear for sun protection here....people are using jackhammers with flip flops on for pete's sake.
On my way back down from Jatiluweh, I may have ended up in a pig barn. Again, I'll just let that soak in. Totally not my fault. I was driving and happend to pass a pick up truck on the side of the road with pigs in the back in the weirdest crates I've ever seen. Of course I had to turn around and go investigate. Turns out that the family was sending a load of hogs off to slaughter today and they were loading them up...by hand...in these large tomato-plant corrals looking crates. I knew I been smelling pigs periodically on my drive, but I never saw them. That's because the barns were down in the valleys beside the road. These guys had to go down very steep, narrow concrete steps to the barns, load the pig up by running a pole through the crate and putting a man at either end of the pole. Shouldering their load, they would carry the pig out of the barn and up these steps...one pig at a time. I looked at the data sheet; these pigs were running between 255 and 308 lbs. I am so used to never seeing humans doing hard physical labor anymore that these things astound me. Watching the rice paddy workers bent over at a 90 degree angle doing whatever the heck it is they're doing or the guy going row by row with a hoe. I know people harvest our crops by hand still; I just never see it. I don't see the ditches being dug by hand; I see a machine doing it. These people are digging gravel in flip flops with a wheelbarrow (I'm not saying I can't relate---mom...). Hauling pigs up the side of a damn hill...I'm telling you, I think I'd be figuring a better way after my day of work...some sort of platform with pulley system to put the crated pigs on. That walking up the stairs bit is just out of control. The guys thought it was hilarious that I wanted to take pictures of the pigs. I think they thought I wasn't too smart. I couldn't relay to them the fact that we don't have small scale pig farming really anymore in which someone would take their dozen or so pigs to slaughter in a pick up truck. But, they did like that I was interested so they invited me inside the pig barn...so of course I went. Pretty nice setup actually---with the exception of the complete lack of forethought on how someone would actually remove these 250 lb beasts to take to market. lol. That about sums it up: white girl in dress in pig barn in Indonesia...you know, typical Monday activity. My father would be so proud. Lol. After viewing the pigs, I wanted to show that I can laugh at myself so I jumped on the scale that they were using to weigh the pigs. The matriarch started removing the weights and got it balanced. Then everyone went, "Ooohhh!" and laughed at how heavy I was. I laughed too and made the buddha belly motion. I enjoyed seeing the surprise on their faces, especially because as a general rule Indonesian people are much slighter of frame and shorter so coupled with the fact that I'm much taller and simply a dense person, it was pretty funny. Finally, I had to leave the pig farm behind.
All in all a great day. Really glad I made the trip. Of course it didn't rain on me this time. That is because I was prepared with my recently purchased poncho. Once back in town, I needed to eat so I went around the tourist area and got a chocolate brownie and a coffee to go. Nothing interesting there except that for the ever-loving life of me, I cannot find a pastry that is actually sweet. Even more perplexing is that I can't figure out if it is that they are not putting enough sugar in the mix or enough chocolate in the mix. I believe I have concluded that since both those ingredients are quite expensive, they are not putting much of either so that my brownie/cake/chocolate muffin/etc. simply tastes like slightly sweetened brown-colored bread. The sweetest thing I can find (and mind you, I don't have a sweet tooth per se) is Coke. Yep, good ole can of Coca-Cola never tasted so right--I look like those commercials where their head is tossed back in apparent ecstasy.
Another peculiarity to note is the grade of plastic. The plastic cups in all of the countries I've been in so far is so flimsy that you cannot hold the cup without deforming the sides. And, as we all know, if you squish the sides, guess what pops off? Yep, the top. It makes me feel like I've He-Maning this beverage with my mighty grip, but really, I'm just overcoming the forces of gravity so that I can bring the drink up to my mouth to have a drink. Did no one product test this plastic?? I guess they figure you'll make do, but let me tell you, it's a hassle. Damn things basically trying to squirm out of your grip the whole time.
Speaking of squirming, this next little tidbit might make some people squirm, but it's interesting so I'm gonna tell it. From all the walking around in flip-flops (the subpar replacements for my poor stolen ones), I have developed blisters and callouses between my toes. Well, one foot is still a blister...and it has sand in it. Yes, sand. I have no idea how a blister can form with sand inside, but the thing is chock-full of it. I ripped a small hole in it today to try and wash the sand out and was about 70% successful. So odd.
I've rambled long enough.

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Lee on

Another great set of photos! Thanks Jasmine!

alan on

nice :)

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