Day 4 (February 3, 2004)

A big day today.

Up at about 7am for an early breakfast before being picked up for our trip around the island for the day with Perama Tours.

Our driver for the day was Assa, really friendly and helpful.

First stop was the Sars Wisata Budaya Barong & Kris dance, not the sort of thing I usually do, a bit too touristy, but I can handle it for a while. The performance ranged from weird to clownish. Great costumes, and the music (which was performed by what must have been at least 10 drummers) was seriously cool.

The end of the performance was ruined by a bunch of Chinese tour guides completely fucking the whole thing up by jumping up on the stage and bringing the whole thing to a screeching halt so the Chinese tourists could get their photos taken with the bemused, but patient & extremely polite performers.

Next up was a visit to the highly cool floating templte (aka. Taman Ayan) where we were allowed to visit the two outer areas, but prohibited from entering the inner courtyard – only worshippers are allowed to enter, and the only worshipping I’m likely to be found doing is at the feet of my girl.

The temple, which was built in 1634, is encircled entirely by a very large moat, and the grounds feature numerous large walls, towers, and… Dragonflies. Oh, and a dog. πŸ™‚

Preiests move about the grounds, leaving offerings at varioush alters (which were promptly gobbled up by the aforementioned semi (or entirely, it’s hard to tell) feral dog.

It seemed to me like a lot of the temple was a lot newer than the claimed 1634, so I’d say there have been a lot of hafts and heads replaced on the family axe. Not a big surprise, everything seems to decay pretty fast in the steamy climate.

I’m not sure how it fits in with worshipping their gods, but the grounds feature a large cock fighting ring, with tiered seating and all. Unfortunately for me, but lucky for the cocks, cock fighting is illegal outside of special festivals, so I didn’t get to watch a match.

Driving away from the temple, it came up that I’d never eaten durian (I was going on, practically from the beginning of the trip, about wanting to eat snake, dragonfly, sago grub, etc) so Assa made an unscheduled stop at a roadside fruit stall, where we got a durian, had it sliced open, and tried some, if you haven’t ever seen durian, it’s very large, beige coloured and covered with a tough skin, oh, and it stinks. If you haven’t ever tasted durian, don’t. The taste is like onions, crossed with mustard, and a hint of something sweet. All wrapped up in a pretty horrible texture.

Infinitely more enoyable was the jackfruit, rambutan, and snakeskin fruit. Yum yum. Also got some bananas for later.

The stallkeeper had a bunch of children hanging around, some or all of which may have been her own, but definitely all were naughty little monkeys, repeatedly grabbing the bum of one of our female travelling companies, and the crotch of another. I took a quick video, so you can see just how naughty they are. When I showed it to them on the back of the camera, they all went crazy with delight, and one of the tried to snatch the camera from me, so I called game over and headed back to the air conditioned comfort of the van.

Next stop, the markets of Candi Kuming, this place was great, just what I think of when I think cool markets. Lots of cool stuff, crazy packaging, and bright colours. Stalls full of fruits and vegetables, spices, kits, fabrics, carved this and that, live birds, etc etc.

Claire got some things, and we grabbed a bag of nuts (for the same later the bananas are for).

Next stop, my favourite moment of the day – and time to get the bananas and nuts out – it’s time to hand feed some wild monkeys! w00t!

They live alongside a road that runs through forest overlooking Lake Buyan, and they provided me with such an amazingly cool time, hand feeding these little gentlement was great, they reach out with their tiny little hands and quite delicately (but very quickly) grab a handful of nuts or banana. One even managed to snatch a banana out of the air when I threw it to him, I didn’t expect that they’d be able to catch, but there you go, primates will always surprise the unwary.

We took loads of photos and videos. But the memory is what I’ll really treasure.

Onwards to Munduk, and the most remote part of Bali we’ll reach on our trip, right up the island, nearly at the northern coast (we’re staying right down at the south west coast).

The attraction here is a mighty waterfall, just a short hike into a tropical forest, the pathway lined with Balinese coffee trees, cacao, and even avocado.

The waterfal was big, the best part, for me, was dipping my poor hot feet in the cool refreshing water.

Not much you can say about a waterfal. The water sure was falling. w00p.

Grabbed a bottle of coke from a stall (the only one anywhere near the place), and headed south, stopping at Lake Beratan for a late lunch.

Very weird experience here, got Bakmi Goreng Ayam, which was super delicious, but also ordered fried bananas, which were dry and boring, so I asked for some cream to go with them & was presented with a tin of sweetened condensed milk with a couple of puncture holes in the top.

The Balinese don’t really do dairy.

Spotted some guys with a couple of huge snakes on the way back to the van, wanted to get a photo with one of them, but couldn’t find the time, as we had to rush off to Tanah Lot, one of the temples Claire has been wanting to visit.

Ir’s a wonderful place, with the temple carved (partially, at least) into the rocks of a small island just off shore.

I earn some super bonus points by spotting a guy with a snake, now everyone says ‘it really didn’t feel how I expected’, I’m here to tell you that it REALLY DIDN’T FEEL HOW I EXPECTED, it felt like a loose rubber sock full of muscles. I’m sure it wanted to kill me, but sucked in snake, someone has tape up your mouth. Har har. I wrapped it around my neck and got Claire to take some photos.

Next up – home to the Nathan. We arrived at the hotel some 2 hours late, about 6.30pm, and felt like getting some dinner pretty quickly, so after a brief rest we headed out again, grabbed another million from the bank, and hit a nice little place close to the hotel called Shinta’s Warung. Great place, great service, great food. I had a tuna steak with rice, Claire had some sort of Nasi Goreng.

There was a TV on in the place playing bad old Steven Segal action flick, marked for death or out for the kill or something awful like that. An amusing choice for such an otherwise quiet and lovely little place but a dreadlocked surfer boy seemed to be really enjoying it.

Dinner was done with quite quickly, so we went for a walk and stumbled into one of the many dodgey DVD shops and grabbed a few movies.

More offers of drugs come my way, of course, including one not very discrete dealer shouting across a noisy street.

That’s all for today, looks like we might be heading up to Ubud tomorrow, but we’ll see, we’ve been pretty active so far, it might be time to just spend a day by the pool.

Later…

Assa, our driver yesterday, was, as I mentioned, really interesting, friendly, and easy going. And as I also mentioned, I’d been talking about eating snake and other similar things, he said I probably wouldn’t be able to as it was quite a rare dish (though he did know people who had made satays of a snake they’d caught), I asked him if there was anything that would be strange to a westerner that I could eat, and he suggested dog. Apparently he loved eating dog satays, and that his village specialised in dog, and that ‘suckling dog’ especially, was really delicious.

I asked if he’d ever killed, or skinned a dog, and he said no, he’d only ever seen it when it was ready for cooking.

I don’t think I could eat dog, but it was interesting talking to Assa about it.

And I spoke to a number of other people during our trip about dog, most of them really like eating dog.

They’re doing well not promoting this too much.

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