On February 4th, 2010, we joined the notable eco tour, “The Touch”!
First of all, they officially say, “We don’t have scheduled route!” and that’s the most interesting point of the tour. We can create our original tour depend on situation on the day, meeting people, and view. This is not really the sightseeing tour, but visiting eastern Bali as a back-packer. I report “The Touch” in February 4th. ♪
Go ahead to the east by Touch! Our trip starts from Gelgel Temple
The Touch’s feature, Touch!!
We left at 8:00 am from our office in Jimbaran, and get together with other applicants for today at Bali Club office in Sanur. They came from Saitama, Japan, and all 4 of them are college students!! Young, powerful…
I cannot stare at them because they are really young. Aiko and T-Manager is getting excited among young people, and the open-car, Touch leaves!!
Today’s passengers are 4 applicants, Aiko, T-Manager, Japanese staff Aki, 3 guide (include trainees) and the driver, 11 of us!
For 40 min. leaving from the office, we arrive at Gelgel Temple where the starting place of Touch. Guide, John explains about temples of Bali.
I wear sarung (waist sash), and I’m ready to go into the temple! It’s hot to just wear one layer of cloth.
It’s my first visiting to Gelgel Temple… The precincts are broad and covered by green-grass, like a park.
Banyan Tree of right hand side has mysterious atmosphere. We learn about Hindu temples and take pictures in front of Candi Bentar. We go into the inside with slow pace.
Gelgel Temple is not famous as the sightseeing place, but it is the important temple that influence to Balinese traditional culture! (I didn’t know that.) Everybody sit down and it’s study time! We listen to Aki and guide, Suarta.
The background of diffusing Hinduism in Bali, fighting against the Netherlands force, and the reason of keeping Balinese tradition, etc… He explains kindly with map, so I can understand even though I’m not good at history study. Maybe, I could understand the reason that the origin of Bali comes from the eastern Bali.
After we left Gelgel Temple, John said, “We visit the temple near from here is preparing for the festival, so let’s go!” Wow, when did you get the information?! We come to the temple just walk for a few minute. Usually, sightseeing tour doesn’t offer a chance to walk in such a rural village!
The entrance of the village temple. This checked cloth means Balinese world view of virtue and evil; white represents good and black represents bad. In the temple, decorations are all over!
There are many decorations of yellow and red color clothes and ornaments.
Throughout the year, Bali has many many festivals. The festival that they are preparing now is the birthday of this temple according to the Balinese calendar of 210 days round.
In the temple, some men wearing safari (Balinese dress for men) are chatting. They welcome us to take pictures with them.
On the way of back from the temple to Touch, we passed warung that a happy woman worked. She is baking Sate Ayam (Balinese chicken sticks). I thought I want to eat… then, guide said, “We’ll try!” and buy one for us. Lucky!
I often eat Sate, so I think, “This Sate is not spicy at all. Taste good!” However, the student who is sitting next to me says, “…ohhh, spicy!!” T-Manager and I was surprised. We are living in Bali for 2 years, so our taste must be changed…
Visiting Kamasan Drawing Artist, Mr. Mandora!
For 10 min. from Gelgel Temple by Touch, we arrived at the famous artist, Mr. Mandora’s house and gallery! Kamasan village is the original place of Kamasan style which is the oldest traditional Balinese drawing. The style was improved due to the loyal drawings of Majapahit Dynasty that exile from Java to Bali because of fighting against the force of Islam.
Enter the gate, there are the studio and the drawing exhibitions on the right side, and on the left side, there is Mr. Mandra’s gallery. We could meet Mr. Mandra who was drawing new art! On the bottom left side picture is thin man, Mr. Mandra who is drawing the draft silently. According to guides,
“He is bad mood sometimes, but today looks really good mood!”
These drawings on the table are arts of his pupils. You can purchase the small drawings from Rp.50,000 ～each!
I was interested in Balinese Birthday Fortune-telling. Checking the birthday on the book, and Mr. Mandra tells us which type we are categorized in. My type is the bird picture on the left picture. It says, “You love chatting and have many friends.” Is it true??
I asked, “When can I get married?!” and he answered, “There is no information in here.”
This is the gallery of Mr. Mandra. His drawing is famous as the former Indonesian president seeked to purchase.
The price is $1000 or more for each…! It’s free to just see them. Break time for WC. Here is the ordinary Balinese house, so it’s Indonesian style WC, but there was tissue.
Visiting Balinese local brew, Arak!
From Kamasan village through Semarapura to Sidemen. We move big villages to small villages, and through farms; we are going into the wild nature and into higher land.
On the way, Aki said, “Okay, let’s take off windows!” Yes, Bali Club’s special Touch has sheets roof and windows and they are easy to remove!! The left picture shows removing the outside layer of the roof. Sun shine doesn’t come into but wind blow throughout the car, cool!!
We stopped and got down from the car at the rice field place. As it is, we can see what we are interested in on the way. That’s the sales point of Touch! If you find something, you can just go to closer to them! That’s the key of enjoy this tour!!！
Around 11:20 am, we arrived at the village where is famous of Arak. We walk on promenade surrounded by palm forest. It starts rain, so we bring the big umbrella from Touch.
Sometimes, we have chance to walk in nature, we shouldn’t wear fashionable shoes or sandals with heels. By the way, I wear Rp.10,000 beach sandals.
In this village, all families make Arak. Visiting different house time by time, but today, we visit the nearest house. Can you see the orange bucket on top of palm tree? Arak made from palm sap, so they collect palm sap in the bucket, and father of this house climbs up to the tree and get the sap every morning! Oh, but, he have to climb up over 10 m high!!?？
We see fermentation of Arak, then, we can try to taste! At first, we taste the rare first brew! Pure first brew is high percentage of alcohol, 44 to 55 %.
Next, the second brew. This is only 25 to 35 % of alcohol. Arak is often called “the clear liquor of Bali” and the taste is like shochu (Japanese alcohol)! My face is like, weird… because I don’t get used to drink it.
Moreover, we get the second brew Arak as souvenir!! One pet-bottle of Arak for each. We are really happy about that. Arak can be drink as straight, rock, watered, and mixed with juice, and anything okay, so I will try at my home.
Traditional Fabrics, Songket
After we left Arak village, Touch drove for 5 min. to north. We arrive at Songket factory and shop.
What is Songket? Yeah, I didn’t know that by the day! Sonlet is…
It’s the traditional Indonesian fabric; for background of cloth, use silk strings, and putting needlework by gold, silver, red, and yellow, etc strings.
Songket has variety in each area, and in Sidemen, the silver needlework is famous.
Behind the shop, there is the simple exhibition and factory of songket. Guide explained us how to draw design and how to dye the cloth.
In the factory, there are wooden weaving machines, and there are lady weavers needling with serious faces. It’s really sensitive work… Songket tradition is kept by Sidemen women.
If the shop is open, we can buy something there. But, unfortunately, it was closed today.
Lunch in Great View!
I’m getting hungry, and now is the lunch time! The rain starts again, and we meet children who come back from school. They are curious about the car, and they are friendly; say “hello” to us and wave their hands. One child uses a big leaf as an umbrella, and I thought that it’s really like-Bali. I like rural area! Children’s smile is cute all over the world!
We arrive at the quiet villa surrounded by rice field, PONDOK SORIA MORIA. In front of Balinese thatched roof, there is the green garden and the broad rice field over the garden… It is especially beautiful green after rain. It’s really nice place!! The rice terrace in the northern Ubud is also beautiful, but here is located farther rural area! There is no people ask to buy souvenir. There is really nothing and just quiet, so I’m healed just sitting there…
Lunch menus are changed day by day. Today’s menu is here! ・Peanut
・Sate Ayam (chicken stick)
・Balinese Vegetable Stir Fry
・Boiled Egg with Spicy Sauce
・Pepes Ikan (Pasted Fish Steamed Bake）
・Pineapple and Banana Juice
・Choose Soft Drink or Beer
Dishes are enough portion, maybe, men can be full. Tastes are all light and I prefer to put more sambal, but accompanies say, “It’s good because it’s not too spicy!” I realized that resident’s taste is not accurate.
Anyways, it’s really nice that we can choose beer in the drink menu!
Stone Carving and Bali Dance
We stayed at the restaurant for over 1 hour, looking around villa, enjoying view, and taking pictures. We leave the healing restaurant and ahead from Sidemen, Iseh, to Selat.
It’s changed to nice weather and we are happy in Touch!
It’s time to open the roof! We take off the roof sheet and stand up on the seat…
We can see different view from sitting down! This is the great view of nature Sidemen.
If we try it in different country, we get in a trouble, but it’s okay in Bali!!
We frisk like children and take pictures!♪
Now, we are in Selat village! This village locates in the base of Mount Agung, and it’s famous for the stone carving by erupted lava stones. The lava stones are black and solid, but the craftsman uses many edged tools and carves detailed parts in a small stone. This is the special industry in this village!
Touch moved to the mountain village, Putung village. In the village, the famous dance teacher, Mrs. Puspa is living. When we visit her house, many girls gather there. We watch her daughter’s dance.
She is genius of dance, and she won a victory of Bali dance in Karangasem! She receives special education and talent from her mom.
I watch Bali Dance in many times for my job, but she is really good!!
Position of the waist, detailed movement through fingers, she is really the champion in Karangasem!!
After we were impressed by the great dance, we learn posing… Including guides, all of us try!! Teacher and her daughter give us advice, “Down position of waist!” and “Bend your arms more!” by using body language, but it is really hard!!
Is it kind of training in club activity?
I was so tired to keep the pose for a few minutes. I admire dancers who dance with light step.
Organic Handmade Aroma
Leaving Mrs. Puspa’s house, Touch goes slowly down slope in the mountain. On the way, guide suggested, “Do you want to stop at the handmade soap shop?” We are interested in!
So, we come to “Alam Zempol Natural Bath & Aroma Product” in Manggis!♪
It is the small shop so we just pass in front, but in the shop, there are varieties of soaps, bath goods, and aroma goods. Moreover, many people visit the shop in such a rural area!
When I saw those products, I realized that I already used the soap and aroma goods of this shop. My friend gave me them as presents! Actually, I really like them, so I’m excited to buy them in here. The fragrance sheet to put in closets （Rp.8,000）, and cheap mini soaps （Rp.6,000）, etc. I enjoy shopping! It’s nice shop. I want to visit here for cover!
Touch goes to Kusamba Village
It’s already evening… Touch goes south from Manggis, and we arrive at the last destination, Kusamba village. Kusamba village is famous for natural salt industry in Bali. The salt is big grain and sweet, and it is exported to abroad. This picture is not taken in dark but the sands are black! Pouring salt water on this black sands many times, filtering the sands contained lots of salt, and refining pure salt.
In the slender container, putting salt water containing lots of salt. The containers are lined as weak density thick density, and just before finished product. We can taste the salt which is just finished.
The salt is big grain and taste not really salty. Surprisingly, aftertaste is sweet even it’s salt… I like it!! I wanted to eat Japanese rice ball with this salt. I wish I could eat Japanese rice with sea weed and this salt… it must be delicious! I want to eat… Oh, I miss Japanese food!!
And then, they give us one pack of salt for each as souvenir. I’m happy to get lots of souvenir; Arak, soap, and salt♪
Today’s The Touch was over in Kusamba village. I’m full of good feeling about today’s tour! It was rain on the way, but it doesn’t big matter. Accompanies, university students, also looked enjoying the tour, so I’m sure this tour became good memory in their life. Thank you very much, everybody!
“The Touch” is the travel without scenario. We cannot visit the eastern Bali in normal package tours, but this tour offer great chance to touch real Bali. I live in Bali for 2 years, but still, I could find many new surprise and findings through this tour.
At first, I didn’t know that the eastern Bali is the origin of Bali Hinduism and the Bali culture. However, I understood the eastern Bali’s traditions through the lecture from guide and visiting Gelgel Temple in Gelgel village and Kamasan Drawing in Kamasan village. I like “things only in Bali, and original Bali staffs,” so I was really curious about making Arak houses, songket weaving, and salt industry in Kusamba village!!
When all is said and done, Touch is fun! Taking off roof and windows, cool wind blow into the car. Moreover, driving in nature of Sidemen, all view is great! I fall in love with simple and magnificent nature of Bali again. On the way, we met sudden rain, and WC was not water-flushed… some parts are rough tour, but overall, I thought it’s great tour to experience real Bali.
I’m not satisfied with normal tour such as visiting only souvenir shops and sightseeing places! I come to Bali, so I want to know and touch real Bali!!
If you think so, why don’t you join the Touch and leave the real travel to eastern Bali!! ♪
※This report was written based on the information when the time of visiting. Course menu and schedule might be changed without notice. In addition, the report contains individual opinion and impression, however, these are not applied for all people. Please read it just for your reference. Thank you.