One day in Bali, while staying at the AYANA Resort, we rented a hotel car, equipped with a driver to take us around the island for the day. The total cost for driver and car was around $100. Our first stop as the ATM, where we took out the maximum amount of cash we could, 1,200,000 Indonesian Rupia, which was about $125 US at the time (the exchange rate was around Rp 9,000 to $1 US and is still close to this currently). We were a little surprised we couldn’t take more out until our driver informed us this was close to one month’s salary for most Balinese families.
From the ATM our driver took us to see a traditional Balinese house. Balinese homes are set up more like a small compound surrounded by a very ornate fence. There was a small shrine area for worship and offerings, a building where all food is prepared, a sleeping area, and a bathing area, all open air set amongst gardens. After walking around and seeing all of the areas and having our driver explain the significance of it all, we asked if this was his family compound. He told us that it was not, just a good example of a traditional compound. We were a little uncomfortable at that point, knowing we had just walked unannounced through someone’s home, until he explained that the people of the island were all very close and that they were very proud of their history so they were happy to allow us to see their home. Our driver indicated that if we could leave a $2 tip, that would more than compensate for allowing us to wander around their home for an hour.
Our next stop was at the rice paddies at Tegallalang river valley. These rice paddies were like nothing we had ever seen before. Steps are cut into the side of a mountain and then planted with rice and flooded to get the amount of water required to grow the rice. Our pictures do not come close to doing justice to this amazing site. It was so green and beautiful it seemed as though it was unreal, even looking at it.
Next, our driver took us to a small local temple where preparations were being made for an upcoming offering. We were able to catch a glimpse of local life where the women spend the days prior to the religious holidays making very ornate floral offerings to be offered to the Gods in an upcoming ceremony. Most of the women making the offerings were older and did not speak English. Despite the language barrier they were very gracious and showed us how to make the offerings and gave us flowers, then insisted on taking pictures with us. It was a very neat experience and allowed us to catch a glimpse of local life.
After the temple we drove to the area of Ubud. This is an area in the interior of Bali surrounded by rain forest and is a collection of many small villages. This is a great part of the island to buy handcrafted items. There is a village for woodcarvings, one for furniture, one for rock sculptures, and so on, all handmade. This part of the island was very interesting to see all of the handcrafted items and the beauty surrounding these villages. We stopped off at a shop where we could buy all of these items in one stop, as we were limited on time.
Once we made it back to the hotel we gave our driver a $20 tip, 20% of the bill to rent the driver and vehicle. We felt it was an average tip for taking us out for an entire day, but knew that it would be more than adequate for the area. Our driver literally started crying, he couldn’t say thank you enough. We realized that it was close to one week’s pay. It was a very neat experience; one we will never forget.
|Gate to traditional Balinese home|
|Balinese rock carvings|
|Balinese rock carvings|
|Katie making offerings|
|Scott and Katie making offerings|
|Terraced rice fields near Ubud|
|Katie at terraced rice field near Ubud|
|Scott and Katie at terraced rice field|
|Scott and Katie at Four Seasons Ubud|