The night at Nusa Dua was peaceful. All of us got more than our usual hours of sleep and that set the mood for the long day ahead. After a quick breakfast we were headed on our way out early since we had a long drive before we reached our first destination.
The first treat of the day was an hour long Barong and Keris dance performance by a local Balinese theatrical group. A group of 8 people enacted a little known scene from the Mahabarat, the moral of the performance being the victory of good over evil. The elaborate costumes and traditional music made it worthwhile even though we did not really understand the entire plot summary of the performance.
Wira continued to enthusiastically share plenty of tidbits about Bali. First off, he showed us a tiny bamboo basket with colorful flowers and some green palm leaves in them and told us that it was called Canang Sari and was an offering made to Hindu Gods before the start of anything new. Like today, it was offered to the Gods to make sure our trip today will go hassle free.
Our next stop was a Batik village. Wira, like every other tourist guide gets a cut from any sale he causes, so I empathized with his enthusiasm that we bought something! Thankfully for Wira, we did decide to make some purchases.We also stopped at a silver jewelry making outfit at another village called Celuk and Wira’s commissions just grew and grew!
Wira turned out to be a wealth of information on anything I asked about Bali. How else would I have found out that Rooster fights were the biggest source of gambling in Bali ? The act is illegal and is punishable with a 3 month sentence in jail!
Since Wira was in a chatty mood and we had a long drive ahead of us before we reached the beautiful Mt. Batur, I engaged him in plenty of conversation. I asked him about the Local festivals (did you know Diwali is celebrated for three days, with each day designated for one activity and the last day designated to apologize to the family for all the wrong doings in your life?), the Balinese weddings (Can be classified based on the levels of elaborateness as Nista, Madya and Uttama), the Balinese calendar (has 12 months but 35 days per month) the vehicle registrations (all Balinese vehicles have DK on the number plate and plenty of other details), the traditional martial arts form (Pencak Silat )
We stopped at a spice garden on our way to the volcanic Mt. Batur. We saw huge cocoa beans, ripe coffee beans and cinnamon bark here. I also found out about Kopi Luwak.
This gourmet coffee is made from the bean taken from the poo of the civet cat that eats the red coffee bean skin and excretes the undigested bean in it’s poo. The coffee producers then grab them back and process them for this specialty coffee!
The spice garden also had two pet flying foxes, that were hanging upside down from two bare bush trunks like it was the most normal thing to do ( have you seen the wing span of a bat?)
We finally reached Mt. Batur. I was already feeling refreshed with the content of the conversation with Wira yet the scenic mountain was something else! Wira had wisely planned a lunch break right atop of Kintamani, which is the district of Mt.Batur and we sat on a patio overlooking the volcanic mountain and it’s lava debris from the eruption 50 years back.
Our last stop as per schedule was the Goa Gajah,a 11th century temple ruin with a small cave that used to serve as a meditation hall for Buddhist monks and Hindu holy men.
Move on to the next post to find out what else I did and discovered on Day 3!