Asia | South East Asia | Indonesia | Nusa Tenggara | Bali – A trip North
In spite of the amazing amount of ground covered, I was unimpressed with days touring (Danau Bratan being the exception – that’s stunning). Covered a lot of spots that are highly recommended but I wish I’d gone to Jembrana and Rambut Siwi instead.
Krisna couldn’t drive for the day so he sent another driver, named Ketut (!) in his stead. This Ketut is an 8th-born child, not the 4th. The names repeat as the parents are more (re)productive.
Started the day at 8 a.m. There wasn’t as much in the way of religious processions today. First stop: Danau (lake) Bratan. I was pretty much the only person there. It’s got a Hindu/Buddhist temple on the grounds. A very peaceful site on a lake. You can take boats out if you wish. Ketut explained to me the Balinese equivalent of the Romeo & Juliet story that takes place in a northwest graveyard. Through his accent I think I got only half the story. Ketut pointed out a lot of things on our drive with heavy explication.
The drive though the mountains between Banjar and Git Git was breathtaking. We had to go slow due to how steep and narrow the roads are. Less impovershed villages. Mid-afternoon mist creeping through the mountains added to the atmosphere. Drove through Lovina – didn’t think it was anything special. So glad I’d done an overnight in Tulamben instead.
One thing you see a lot of in Northern Bali is a focus on Bali-grown spices. You see signs selling them on the road and in the markets.
Went to Git Git waterfall. The parking lot for the waterfall is nowhere near the waterfall. You pass streets and streets of vendors but even worse, is all the little girls (aged 4-7) selling necklaces. It’s quite a hike to the falls and very strenuous and the falls are nothing to rave about, imho. Then there’s another long vendor gauntlet to get back up.This was very disappointing after all I’d heard on some bali travel forums.
As we drove to Lovina the sun came out. Went through Singaraja – seemed very modern.
Ketut told me about his family, about how his 3rd child was unexpected and by the time he realized it was too late (since they don’t do abortions past 3 months on Bali). Plus his wife refused. She can’t wrap her mind around the concept of controlling family size. If the ovaries are jumping, is it not nature’s will? He’s stressed out about having more than 2 kids to raise and after #3 his wife had a tubal ligation. I was curious to know that since the gov’t is now declaring two kids are enough, what is being done to provide info how family plan. It took several times to make this question understood. Apparently no question is too nosy on Bali. Ketut said there are pills and shots for this. But his wife didn’t understand why to use them or didn’t want to. I’m curious if Balinese consumers are charged for their birth control or if it’s free to encourage use. I’d also love to know if women give birth at home or in clinics. As developing as Bali is, we passed more clinics and doctors’ offices than I’d expected to see. Not a lot, but more than I expected.
Ketut suggested stopping at the markets in Candikuning. This market is popular for its selection of fruits, nuts and spices but I wasn’t interested in that stuff. I did buy two sarong skirts. Before going into the market Ketut helped me with my bargaining strategy. He said to offer half of whatever the vendor said, which is common practice. However, the vendors were starting at very high prices for me. With Jo they start way low since she was born on Surabaya and knows what she’s doing. I’ve noticed that when you buy 1 or 2 things at a store you’re encroached on to buy more stuff from the same vendor or others. Like the guy who thought I’d need a ‘rolex’ with my new sarongs.
After this Ketut wanted to stop at his house with me. In the morning he’d mentioned we could do so if there was time. This isn’t uncommon, bringing tourists into one’s home. What made it awkward for me was all the staring and no talking since no one in the house speaks english and it was like ‘point and watch the american lady drink soda’. Not self-conscious at all. nope.
Ketut has a nice house, a large spread, but not so much plant life inside the enclave. I got the sense there are like 30 people living there. (extended family). Most of the family was playing cards when we arrived. I’m not good in these situations that require you to grab a stranger’s children and play with them. Ketut’s wife generates a lot of warmth personality-wise and she seemed very happy to have a tourist visit, but she spoke no English. I met Ketut’s oldest son, and his adorable neice. His youngest son wears a square amulet around his neck that I asked about. Ketuts says it contains the kid’s umbilical cord and is used to ward off illness. He had it made because some of the neighborhood kids were falling ill so he did this to ward off the illness. And, his so didn’t get sick so it works. I was curious to know if he’d seen a doctor but Ketut said that both medicine and charms are simply a matter of karma anyway so it doesn’t matter which approach you take. We sat with sodas on the tile floor of a bungalow still under construction. The floor was absolutely spotless white tile in a dusty courtyard with little running water, and like I said, ongoing construction. That’s some impressive housekeeping. There were photos of his sons during various milestone ceremonies. The oldest son has a foot injury that’s resulted in the foot frozen into 1 position (and if I understand the whole story correctly, is the result of a snake or insect bite). He said the son was bitten (?) but didn’t say anything about it at the time. Then a week later he couldn’t move his foot and the doctor couldn’t do anything at this point.
After this home visit he dropped me back at my hotel. It was 4:30. I headed to Made’s for their killer sate and then to the pool. Had some laundry done by a local lady. It came back so fresh and starchy.
Taht night for dinner I went with my Kiwi buddies to Bamboo Bar on the beach. They have live music and a giant screen featuring Mr. Bean eps on this night. I had a gorgeous crab curry which was 2 giant crabs that looked like they’d crawled from the sea into the pot, that fresh. After dinner had a nightcap at Col & Jo’s. Discussed going to Ulu Watu Saturday night for the Kecak dance.