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Published: September 15th 2013
Arriving in Bali by ferry from Ketapang in Java we were given the feeling of entering a completely different country. Wide paved roads (mostly) and fewer motorcycles; noisy mosques replaced (hoorah!) by ornate temples or 'puras' and shrines at every turn. Eve commented that there was colour everywhere, in the bright cloths wrapped around the temple statues, in her favourite flowering frangipani trees and the elegantly dressed women (and men!) carrying offerings on their heads. Balian Beach
The Lonely Planet guide needs to be updated to record the growing number of guesthouses and restaurants appearing and still being built here, to cater for the surfing crowd. For the time being though it is still a quiet and friendly village to stay, with stunning sea views and sunsets. Our bungalow was in typical balinese style, with bamboo roof and outdoor shower, its own shrine tucked in the corner and surrounded by frangipani trees. The beach was everything that the typical tropical beach is not, but yet an awesome sight: miles and miles of black sand, pounding waves, and mostly deserted.
After a quick (and expensive) trip to Singapore to renew our visas, we headed to Ubud for a few
days, only to make a quick exit soon after. In contrast to the west coast of Bali, Ubud has become a foreigners' town, swarming with package tours and backpackers, hotels and restaurants, endless souvenir shops and of course the inevitable touts. Our hotel was well chosen in the quieter outskirts, in fact we enjoyed the entire first floor of an enormous stone villa complete with indoor statues, stone bath and huge balcony, and even breakfast delivered to our balcony every morning. Our own little shrine which was visited and decorated each morning with offerings, only to be spoilt shortly after by scavenging monkeys. We were quite glad to escape Ubud and to head for the quieter hills. Mount Batukaru
From Ubud we hired a car with ambitious plans to drive to the northwest coastal town of Permuteran via the 'scenic' route in one day. Scenic it certainly was, as we wound our way through the ancient rice terraces at Jatuliwah, recognised by Unesco for their traditional irrigation system involving an elaborate network of bamboo pipes and channels. We also visited Pura Luhur Batukaru high on the misty slopes of Gunung Batukaru; one of the most spiritual temples in
Bali considered to protect the island from evil spirits. Here we happened across a Full Moon ceremony and the complex was filled with beautifully dressed villagers taking offerings of food, fruit and flowers to the temple to be blessed by the priest. We lingered here too long savouring the misty but colourful atmosphere and only realised our mistake as we set off for the north west, when the road deteriorated to grit and potholes and our speed was reduced to a crawl. It turned out to be a rather scary climb up and down the mountain pass in the dark to reach our hotel. Bali Eco Stay, Mount Batukaru
Hard to believe that it is still possible to get off the beaten path on Bali. Yet Bali Ecostay is truly hidden away amongst cocoa and coffee plantations on the higher slopes of Mount Batukaru, accessible only by a gruelling uphill climb over 2 hours of gravelled roads with potholes the size of our tiny hire car, which amazingly survived the journey. Besides being in a gorgeous setting this resort of only 5 bungalows lives up to its name, using only locally grown or sourced food and environment friendly
products and recycling everything including car tyres into chairs. Local ingredients such as palm sugar, unusual fruits and tasty herbs were used to make fabulous meals. We were all happy as we relaxed on the veranda of our simple wooden bungalow- me with my binoculars to hand, Rob enjoying the cool mountain air and Eve behind the bungalow on a swing fixed between two coconut palms! Our stay here was one of the highlights of our journey around Bali. My favourite memories of Bali, by Eve
I learnt how to weave bamboo leaves into little baskets for putting offerings in. We only used natural materials, such as flowers , leaves and rice, but I have also seen many offerings with sweets in them. I learnt that it is important to separate the different coloured flowers. There are many different kinds of offerings but they all have the same purpose: to keep the gods happy. There are also many different gods in Bali: temple gods, village gods and nature gods, for example: earth gods, mountain gods and sea gods. An offering must have a container which may be in silver or gold but is usually made of bamboo leaves.
Daily temple offering, Balian Beach
This lady came to our homestay every morning to make an offering in front of the shrine
'Banten' means offerings in Balinese language and they form an important part of daily life in Bali.
In a small workshop in Bali I learnt how to make a traditional kite from scratch. The frame was made out of bamboo which our instructor cut up and put together without tape or nails. The fabric was made out of an old parachute. I designed and painted a butterfly pattern then helped to attach the fabric to the frame. Everywhere people love flying kites in Bali, it is a very popular hobby.
One day we were collected at 7.30 to have breakfast on the crater rim of Gunung Batur. This volcano last erupted in 200 and you could still see the black lava down the side of the mountain. We cycled for 25 km down through small villages, stopping at an enormous sacred banyan tree and a traditional village compound where we learned how brothers and sisters all live together with their families sharing the same kitchen. We visited a cacao plantation and saw (and tasted, YUM!) cacao beans being processed to a chocolate paste. The bike ride was lots of fun and children waved and shouted hello to us.
Batukau village How to make chocolate from cacao beans - by Eve Ingredients
This lady was laying out cacao beans to dry in the sun
440g of raw cacao beans
1/2 cup of sugar
additional flavouring of choice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
650 ml of milk Steps:
• Roast the raw cacao beans for about 30 minutes in a 300 degree oven. Let the beans cool and take the husks off.
• Break up the beans and mash until it has turned into a brown mush.
• Heat a large pan of water until it is hot but not boiling. Transfer the paste to a smaller pan.
• Add the sugar and the milk and any flavouring. Mix carefully.
• Pour into moulds and place in the fridge to harden.
• Enjoy your chocolate !
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