Feb. 18, 2007
We have stayed in the homes of many people on this trip, but nothing so far could compare with the experience of with Luhur's family in the tiny village of Soka. The families we stayed with in New Zealand and Australia have western cultures like our own. This time we were in a traditional Balinese family in the middle of Bali. This was not a commercial "homestay"; although we did agree to pay Gede for driving us around, because that is his business
. We would not have had this opportunity if we had not met Luhur and Yanti, and had they not invited us. When we told this story at the Secrete Garden Bar other tourist asked how we are able to meet this people. We are just lucky and of course you have to put yourself out a bit to meet the locals and not just hang out at the tourist spots. This was definitely one of the great experiences of our trip so far. Words and even photos cannot convey the feeling of being among a place and people whose customs and way of life are so different from ours. Arvid could not wait to get up this morning to walk the village street as the sun rose. But you can't walk around here alone if you are a stranger in town. Not because it isn't safe; far from that, we've never felt safer anywhere. It's because some one will always join you while you walk. It was a great morning walk. Gede showed up (he had been up all night at the temple festivities) and guided Arvid to his family compound which is a very nice one. His family's livestock and fields are conveniently located nearby their homes, while Luhur's family has to walk a ways out of town to get to theirs. Gede and he's uncle took Arvid out to their fields where the uncle cut some grass for the two cows and pointed out the various fruit and vegetables. Later Luhur walked with us out of town to show us his rice fields and cows. Then it was time for breakfast.
After breakfast Luhur, Yanti and their kids all piled in one vehicile and the rest of us got back in with Gede and took off for a day of family sight seeing in the Danau Bratan area
. Our first stop is the Kebun Raya Eya Karya Bali Botanical Gardens near Candikuning [GPS 08 16.284S 115 09.387E]. This was a great place for a family outing and the mothers had both packed things for everyone to eat so after seeing a lot of flowers we had a picnic. The entry fee for all of us was only 45,000Rp.
Next we made a circuit of the three lakes in the crater of Danau Bratan: 1. Lake Bratan 2. Lake Buyan, 3. Lake Tamblingan. On the shores of Lake Bratan is an exquisite example of a Balinese Temple, Pura Ulun Danau [GPS 08 16.289S 115 09.387E]. The family did a little more picnicking there. Lake Buyan was a bit of a disappointment because it was covered from our view by clouds. We got one peek at it from Sukasaa Village [GPS 08 14.196S 115 08.039E] when the clouds parted. We stopped for some pop there and when we started driving off again, Luhur's three year old daughter reenacted a scene from the Exorcist while sitting on Irina's lap. But everyone took it in stride. Undaunted we continued on to the last lake after everyone in the back seat did what they could to clean up. Lake Tamblingan also has - you guessed it - a temple.
After the last temple Luhur and his family headed home on their own while we continued on with Gede, Made and baby Dadis. We make two more stops on our way back to Kuta. The first was the market at Bedugal where there is an Aussie bar called Crackers
. It advertises "western style toilets" for 5,000Rp. [GPS 08 16.987S 115 09.676E] As if the day and weekend hadn't been long enough Arvid wanted to find some palm wine. This time the real stuff not the arak. This took on a detour to Gede's brother's house where someone knew where to find some. After a bit of sitting around on mats drinking a spiced Balinese grape wine, a plastic bag with a thin milky white liquid arrived. The host poured it into a glass pitcher. We drink a couple glasses each of it and thought it was pretty good. But had a hard time getting anyone else to join in. So we put the rest of it in an empty water bottle and took it back to the hotel with us. We were warned that palm wine does not get better with age. It takes a day or so of fermentation to get some alcohol content, but 2 days after that it starts turning sour like vinegar. That evening when we took our bottle of palm wine to the Secret Garden Bar to share with the Belgians, Danny and Daniel (yes, they are still here in Bali), it had started to turn sour. Then that we understood why it was so hard for us to find real palm wine; the stuff is too ephemeral.