Evidently Wife and I could only take so much rest and relaxation because we've been going at it again. I have lots and lots of pictures to post but I'm going to have to put them up in separate entries.
On Friday we did a whirlwind tour of Central Bali. It was supposed to rain again. We started out and climbing up we were soon in the clouds. We made a brief stop at a traditional bamboo weaving operation that makes all kinds of building and household materials. Then as we climbed up we were finally able to get views of the various valleys, lakes and volcanoes. As we are in the middle of a season of important festivals, we passed a number of small processions. Then we visited the Jatiluwih rice terraces, a Unesco Heritage Site. These are most fascinating and to learn more about them here is a link to a very informative article.
Next was lunch, one of our better culinary experiences of this trip. #1 and I were quite keen to try Babi Guling, roast suckling pig. This is real Balinese local food. As you drive through the country you will find roads that have one after another of places specializing in Babi Guling. The pig is roasted in an oven or on a spit. Then it is broken down. There is a counter that has trays of various parts, the meat, the very crispy belly/bacon, innards, the crispy skin. They put rice which has been flavored with chopped green chiles on the plate, pile the kinds of meat you want on the rice, give you a bowl of a soup like sauce made from pork, along with a small amount of sambal (chile paste). You take some of the soup/sauce and drizzle it over your rice. The pork was rubbed with a spice mix and has some heat. There are the green chiles in the rice. The soup/sauce has its own heat. And there is the sambal. Four different kinds of heat, each with its own flavor. Yet it all mixes and nothing is overpowering. The meat is yummy. Four of us eat, with drinks for $10.
You absolutely earn your street cred with Babi Guling. We were in a museum restaurant later in the day for a coffee. The young waitress asked if we wanted to eat. I told her that we had had lunch and we'd had Babi Guling. Her face lit up. She asked excitedly if we'd liked it. I told we loved it and she went off with a big smile. This was true of others we told. Seems that if you do Babi Guling you show you are not just a pure tourist.
Then we went to the major town of Ubud. This is supposed to be the 'Hindu Spiritual Hub' according to Lonely Planet. More like the Tourist Spiritual Hub. The place was crawling with them and you could just feel the different vibe of the tired tourism industry workers. Such a difference from where we are staying. We did go to a good museum, the Don Antonio Blanco Museum, a guy called the Bali Dali. I liked the art work though #1 and Wife claimed it was too 'boob' oriented. Then we went to a temple called one of the top in Bali but we were not as impressed as others we've seen. Finally we went to the Ubud Market that is just a massive tourist trap. Didn't see one thing that didn't look like it came in off a container from China. It was a 2.5 hour drive back to Lovina. We'd left at 830 AM and got back at 7:00 PM.
On Saturday, we chilled a bit. #1 left at 10 AM to go back home. Wife and I both had massages again. We had a late lunch of grilled fish and worked on our pictures the rest of the day.
This led to today. I on a whim asked our chief guide and driver Bob if he could arrange a cooking class on short notice. He could. At 7:00 AM I was in the car with Bob going to a local Warung (relaxed restaurant that would be frequented by both locals and tourists). We did shopping at the market. I could have skipped that because I've been to a billion markets. I then had 2 hours to kill (Wife decided to sit this one out). I wandered down to the beach front. I ended up at another local Warung, had coffee, fruit and fried banana. Chatting with the owner he asked what we'd been doing. I told him. I mentioned we'd been disappointed that we'd missed out on seeing some local dancers. The owner mentioned he played the bamboo gamelan with a group. He said if we'd come back in the afternoon he'd demonstrate.
I went on and encountered a local craftsman who made jewelry. Compared to the stuff we saw in Ubud, this was clearly handmade and pretty nice. I bought a bunch for my various women folk in the family. Then it was on to the cooking class. We made five dishes. Balinese cooking has so many of the flavor elements you find in the other Southeast Asian countries I've had cooking classes. Yet there are variations of amounts, combinations, and technique that make it come out very different than the others. I like it a lot and am glad I had the opportunity to do this.
Wife was picked up by Bob and brought down to have lunch with me. We then had time to kill and walked around, making our way back to the Warung with the musician. He was running late (turns out he was teaching a class for youngsters). It started to rain so we were glad to be under cover and having a drink. Two friends of the owner's wife who had a stall with clothing next door started to promote their stuff. I went over as I wanted to get things for the menfolk in the family. We then underwent a long, rather fun filled negotiation back and forth. I doubt if I got the 'best price' but I didn't pay anything like US prices and had a good time.
Back to the Warung where the owner musician still wasn't there. But now a guy I'd seen earlier walking his dog was having a drink and he said he'd seen me buying the jewelry and he did the same thing. So he starts showing his stuff and we negotiate and Wife gets some things she likes better than what I had picked out. Musician owner finally shows up. He fires up the gamelan. We're enjoying him, kibitzing with the two lady shop owners, the jewelry guy, the owner's wife and having a gay old time. The musician has Gloria come over and start learning how to play.
Then it is time for us to get back. We do some packing and hit the pool. Tomorrow will be a long travel day. It was a great way to finish up our time on Bali.