Fields of Green & a Loo With a View

East Bali. Pic by Grant.
East Bali. Pic by Grant.

OK, this post comes with a possibly one too many bintangs and just a little too much sun warning…is there such a thing as too many bintangs or too much sun?…actually, the answer to the question is obviously a responsible “yes”- moderation and sunscreen being the keys to life, of course.

Anyways, if you are after an astro post, check out now. No astro in sight. The Sun is in Capricorn (here is the link to a previous post), it is the summer/winter solstice (depending on where you are) and the Moon is at the stingy end of Scorpio.- or, depending on this flakey connectivity, be well into Sagittarius by the time it gets posted!

This is unashamedly a travel blog…and probably will be for the next week, with maybe a bit of planetary stuff thrown in so that you don’t feel cheated for having come here.

To back track, I am in Bali with my family- and will be until after Christmas. Yesterday was a big sight seeing day. I could say that it was because the Moon was moving through Scorpio and activating my 9th house and we wanted to get to the truth of the Bali lying beyond the covers of Kuta and Legian…actually that would be right… It would also be that I stumbled across this amazing restaurant in the East of Bali after finding it accidentally on Twitter. More on that later…

Taman Tirta Gangga, pic by me
Taman Tirta Gangga, pic by me

Taman Tirta Gangga. Yep, I’ve checked the spelling.  Just out of Amplura, this is the work of Amplura’s water loving Rajah who had a go (apparently this was his second shot) at building the water palace of his dreams. The triple Pisces in me gets that.

This place has koi and lotus blossoms and water lillies and gargoyles and bridges and is a water temple fantasy. Way too many children swimming there for me to ever be tempted. The French had it right when they call a pool “la piscine”.

The 11 tiered fountain is pretty cool (see my photo), the hawkers outside are not.

Taman Tirta Gangga, Pic by me
Taman Tirta Gangga, Pic by me

Hubby and TTM (Taller Than me) did the hop a long stepping stones in the water maze thing. I did not. A gargoyle attacked hubby. It’s teeth were pointy, apparently.

OK, onto Tenganan and a step back in time. In any other country this place would be a cult like place, but Tenganan, home of the Bali Aga people (said to be the descendants of the original people of Bali), about 300 families to be semi exact (is there such a thing) is more of a semi closed community.

According to the Lonely Planet Guide, these guys are apparently conservative and resistant to change- but not to the tourist dollar. Whilst that comment might seem a little cynical, this place is not. Nor is it a creation for the tourists- it is the real deal. It is also extremely photogenic.

Tenganan, pic by me
Tenganan, pic by me

Cars are not allowed, but the ubiquitous motorcycle sneaks in. Inhabitants have to marry within the community or be banished forever. Our driver said the men here are very lucky because the women of Tenganan are uncommonly beautiful because they do a lot of weaving inside. Go figure.

Tenganan, pic by me
Tenganan, pic by me

The place has an amazing charm and an even more amazing low key sales technique. The specialties from a shopping viewpoint are scarves, painted eggs (with the number of chooks running around, eggs would be in plentiful supply) and intricately painted palm leaves called lontan.

framed lontans. pic by me.
framed lontans. pic by me.

The words and pictures are inscribed using a super sharp blade and then ink is smudged over- the technique is very similar to that of a tattoo. I was tempted, but Scorpio hubby was very ‘and where will you put that one Darlin?’ The voice of reason.

Tenganan. Pic by me
Tenganan. Pic by me

The menu at Bali Asli was “printed” using this technique. Very cool.

Backtracking before lunch was a stop at Semarapura, commonly known as Klung Kung- try saying that very fast after an arak attack..

This place was once the centre of Balis’ most important kingdom and also the scene of the last sacrifice to the blood when the King and his followers chose to march out to certain death from Dutch gunfire rather than an ignominious surrender.

Anyways, it is impressive and well preserved. The Hall of Justice is decorated with a series of karmic lessons- quite apt for what was in essence a supreme court for village life.

karmic lessons at Klung Kung. pic by me.
karmic lessons at Klung Kung. pic by me.

The road from here through to Sideman and then onto Duda is a green haze of, well, green-ness. Rice fields, corn fields, soy beans abound, and then sheet after sheet of rice and cloves drying in the sun. Tucked in amongst all of this we tasted some arak from a home distillery. Made from coconut, the only description is rocket fuel.

East Bali. pic by me
East Bali. pic by me

It is also the alcohol that was used as the base for the cocktails we had at Bali Asli, although I suspect the source of that arak was perhaps more legal than the substance we tried in the village.

Bali Asli defies adjectives. Breathtaking views, awesome food, a sublime experience. A lunch that will go into the memory banks as memorable, when we drag out, as we do, our memorable meal experiences.

Bali Asli. Pic by me
Bali Asli. Pic by me

The creation of Aussie chef Penelope Williams, Bali Asli sets out to provide visitors with real Bali flavours- not the watered down version. The menu changes daily- depending on what is fresh at the markets, fresh from the sea, or fresh from someones’ garden (yesterdays long beans came from Wayans’ garden, the fern tips for the remarkable fern tip salad came from Pak Dewas’ garden, and the black beans in the soup were from Dewis’ garden).

The cooking is simple and immaculate, as is the kitchen. All dishes need to be able to be completed in traditional ways- which was fortunate given that we arrived during a power cut.

This meant that the restaurant was whisper quiet- just the soothing sounds of running water and the repletion of the gamelan (the Indonesian instrument thing- sort of like a big xylophone).

crackers & sambal. Pic by me.
crackers & sambal. Pic by me.

We ordered the Bali Asli Megibung, which is sort of like a tasting plate and something unique to the regency of Kerangasem. Yesterdays had on it:

Jukut Mangka mis undis- a vegie soup of young jackfruit with Balinese spices & black beans

Sate tuskuk besiap- chicken satay sticks

Pindang goring sambal tomat- fried local tuna with a zesty tomato sauce

Pesan Telengis- grilled banana leaf parcels filled with coconut and Balinese spices and fresh locally caught ocean fish

Pelecing Kacang Panjang- steamed long beans shredded and mixed with a zesty tomato sambal & fried peanut

Urab Paku/ Kacang barak- salad of young fern tips with red beans, shredded coconut, bali lime and shallots.

Bali Asli's Megibung. Pic by me.
Bali Asli's Megibung. Pic by me.

TTM was horrified when she went to use the loo and was confronted with no wall- just an unimpeded view- absolute open-ness out across the rice fields to the foothills of Mount Agung.  As is typical of this time of the year, the great volcano was shrouded in clouds and mist, but was no less spectacular for that.

loo with a view. pic by me
loo with a view. pic by me

Bali Asli- a taste of the real Bali…and what could be more Scorpio Moon than that?

views from Bali asli
views from Bali asli

On that note, I’m about to pretend to get some exercise and walk up the beach to Seminyak to find a bar to watch the sunset from.

Until next time…

Pic by Grant
Pic by Grant