How do you sightsee in Bali when the heat and humidity is oppressive? Hire a driver. Thankfully we met I Wayan Suta on Saturday, when he rescued Ed and me from our unsuccessful foot-tour of Ubud in the raging heat.
The tour Wayan laid out for us via email was action packed: Mas art village of wood, Tohpati village of batik, Celuk village of jewelry, Batun village of painting. Then see rice terrace, Holy Spring Temple, organic plantation, volcano panorama, etc.
Where’s lunch, I wondered as I read the email to Ed? We might have to edit, Ed replied.
Wayan’s air-conditioned Toyota on Tuesday was cool, clean and comfortable. He entertained us with Bali tidbits and world politics. Wayan, we learned, means first-born son. Sons are important in Balinese tradition. They care for parents in the family compound. Compounds can grow large—depending on the number of sons living there with their wives and children. Compounds have temples. My friend, Christine, told me she visited Bali once because Bali has more temples than any place in the world. I’ve not fact-checked this, but imagine it’s true. Temples are everywhere.
Our first stop: Tunjung Mas Galeri Batik. I soon learned that shopkeepers hover. Their intention is to help, Ed whispered to me as I freaked out from the invasion of my personal space and humidity. You have to buy something, he continued. Why? So we don’t have to spend the rest of the day shopping for batiks.
I choose a silk scarf and Balinese runner made in the region of Baliaga, and Ed bought a shirt. Next stop!
A quadriptych of black ink figures hangs in our hotel room and I’ve wondered if we might find something similar on our tour—so off to Batun painting village, an artist consortium housed in a wonderful sprawling building with grounds I would have liked to photograph. But alas!
No pictures allowed, except for the entry. And alas, alas, nothing we liked inside. Next Stop!
Wayan drove us swiftly through traffic to Mas art village of wood. Can you say overwhelming? Three stories of carved wooden statues. Statues ranging from Tantra poses, penises, Jesus, elephants, Buddha, Hindu Gods… It was 10 am and the heat and humidity index soaring. I noticed my wrist beginning to develop a new form of carpel tunnel pain from the flutter of my fan. We have to go, Ed said to Wayan. I’m going to expire, I added desperate for an Advil to ward off the encroaching migraine. I can’t shop anymore, I whispered to Ed. Onward!
Plan B! Head to volcano in Kintamani, where Wayan assured us the air was cooler. Stop along the way—famous rice paddy’s of Desa Pekraman Tegallalang.
Photographed all the time, Wayan told us. As we alighted from the car, I was swarmed by a gaggle of girls pushing packets of postcards in my face. Buy me, 40,000 Rupiah. 40,000 Rupiah. Buy me. No, no, I said, shooing them away. We crossed the street, managed to get some photos before they swarmed again. This time the girls descended upon Ed. Buy me. Buy me. A smart little one offered Ed 20,000 Rupiah. The tall girl who’d first approached me was incensed.
Wayan smirked. You promise me, the girl whined looking me straight in the eye. In the end, Ed bought one from the smart little girl, and I from the tall girl even though another girl lowered her price to 15,000. I am honoring you because you asked first, I said sternly handing her the 20,000 Rupiah. Honor—would the idea of honor that stick? Nah, probably not. Next!
We stopped briefly at the lovely Holy Spring Temple. But it was too hot in the temple garb Wayan had tied around our wastes. We quickly walked around following the shade. Suddenly Ed called out. Look, there’s a badminton court on the temple pavilion. Odd.
We laughed and high-tailed it to Wayan’s air-conditioned SUV.
Up, up Wayan’s Toyota climbed, on what could have been twisty nail-biter roads. Thankfully, I gave up paying attention to drivers here in Bali as it’s better for my blood pressure and nails.
At a restaurant overlooking Mt Batur, an active volcano in Kintamani, Wayan secured us a railing table outside.
The air was cool as promised. The delicious buffet consisted of fried meets and fish, veggies, and fried beans, my new favorite food. And black rice and condensed milk for dessert, washed down with a cup of Bali’s fantastic instant coffee! We are talking high octane. Love it.
Our final destination: Satria Agrowisata, home of Golden Poop. Coffee, Wayan fondly refers to as golden poop. Seriously, a little animal called a luwak eats or swallows hole coffee beans.
There might be a more scientific process to it, but I haven’t taken the time to read about it. The pooped beans are a delicacy; pleasant to the palette!
Suffice it to say that Satria Agrowisata, a roadside coffee and spice plantation in Kintamani, was the highlight of our day.