04 Feb 2016 5 Comments
If you want to get the most out of travel, it is a good idea to know what landmarks and sightseeing opportunities lie between where you are and where you are going. My Ashland, Oregon, friend Judy and I did just that on a recent journey between Ubud and Pemuteran, a little town on the northwest edge of Bali.
I set out with my driver to pick up Judy early in the morning. Our first stop was at what I thought was a little “coffee break” but turned out to be a coffee bean plantation! We were treated to a private tour of the tiny plantation, then sat and enjoyed over a dozen flavors of teas and coffees for free. (This is the region that is famous for the coffee beans pooped out of a civet cat before being roasted. We saw the civet and the poop. That coffee was not free. We passed.)
Our next stop was the famous, incredible, vast Jatiluwih rice fields . They span the width and height of the valley for as far as the eye can see.
Judy and I spent a good hour walking among the rice fields. They truly are intriguing, and all the farming is done by hand and oxen.
Next we headed to Bali Botanic Gardens, high in the interior hills. The gardens lie across expansive grounds dotted with detailed statues of various Hindu gods enacting famous stories. We enjoyed our walk around the grounds, but not much was in bloom.
The iconic Ulun Danu temple was our next stop. This visually stunning temple located at the edge of Lake Bratan is a bit of a tourist trap, but because we were here in the off season, there were not many people around. The temple is fantastic, its multiple tiered levels towering into the sky.
As we strolled the open lawn next to the temple, we heard the unmistakable sounds of the gamalon approaching. Then we saw them: a whole village of people coming to a private part of the temple grounds for a major ceremony. (We think it was a full moon ceremony.) The procession was led by the priests, followed by girls and women dressed in beautiful traditional Balinese costume, then flag bearers, a group of men carrying a huge white cloth between them, and the gamalon group. Bringing up the rear were dozens of villagers, all dressed in their finest and carrying huge offerings on their heads, some of them towering four feet high. They came right past us as we oohed and ahhed at the sight. We stood and enjoyed the parade. It was remarkable.
We finally arrived in Pemuteran after a full day. Judy and Yan De dropped me off at my room and headed the three hours back to Ubud. I settled into my new room, looking forward to the adventures awaiting me in this sleepy little village.
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