Posted by: adventuressetravels | March 29, 2013

Carnivorous Deer and Murderous Monkeys

rice paddysAt every stop the World ARC  organized tours of the area, a snapshot of local culture and scenery.   Just a taste – enough to get the yachties out of the marina.  Still, even though it was just cursory glance at the countryside from a tour bus, and often the tour would often make strategic stops at tourist-priced shops, it was nice to see a little of the countries.

Bali: the exotic island paradise, I didn’t know a whole lot about it, but the whispers I’d heard all made it sound fascinating.  It was a spiritual place, gorgeous scenery; sure it was reputedly touristy, but hopefully not too terribly well-traveled.

The little bus rolled down the road past half-finished building, after building, like warts in the lush greenery of the breathtaking jungled-hills.  You really couldn’t tell that tourist dollars pouring into the country.  The entire place seemed to be a work-in progress.

Feathers on arched poles decorations penjor – long slender bamboo poles topped with woven coconut leaves bending their coconut fronds artistically on either side of the roadway.  The guide told us that these were Hindu religious offerings erected for the Nusa Dua  festival which had just finished.

Craft Villages

goldfish fountainOur first stops on the “tour” were as much marketing as tourism.  We visited Batubulan Stone carving village where we learned about the traditional Balinese stone carving,  Mas wood-carving village which carved intricate masks and dragons.  Finally we stopped off at Celuk jewelry-making village where we saw confections of silver and gold hammered into elaborate necklaces, earrings, or rings.

Though the stops were interesting, the craftsmen in the posh shops we visited were clearly putting on a show.  We did get to see how the wares were made, but the artisans knew they were selling to wealthy foreigners and priced their wares accordingly.

Obyek Wisata Gunung Kawi Sebatu Tegallalang Temple

steve and sarong statueOur next stop was a traditional temple.  Looking out the window, the verdant jungle vegetation suddenly parted to reveal  crumbling stone architecture an ancient stone temple.   Surrounded by lush vegetation, looking down on the temple was like stepping into an Indiana Jones movie.

The temple required that patrons cover their legs for decency.  In the sweltering tropical heat almost everyone on the ARC tour had shorts or short skirts.  In this egalitarian men and women alike were given sarong skirts to be decent in the holy place.  Even the statues wore sarong skirts.

We walked down stone steps to explore the temple grounds.  At each turn there was something new and startling.  Balinese  workers carried tubs of what appeared to be gravel balanced on their heads, men sat in the shade weaving  palm fronds, women created flower-shaped sweet offering to the gods.  In one cage stood 5 deer, each no larger than a golden retriever.  On closer inspection each animal had a dagger-sharp set of  canines protruding from its mouth.  Carnivorous deer?

fanged deerWell, the Chinese Water Deer, also known as the vampire deer is not actually carnivorous.  But I’m still not sure, I’ve seen the little fangs.   Despite the slightly unsettling cage of fanged deer to one side, the Hindu temple had an overwhelming sense of peace and harmony.  Coy swam languidly in fountains and ponds, as the yachties strolled the grounds examining intricately carved stone statues

Before I knew it our time at the temple was up.  I was not the only who grumbled that we could have stood for less time at the craft shops and more at the temple.

The World’s Most Expensive Coffee

LuwakOne of Bali’s most famous products is luwak coffee, and of course the tour took us to a luwak coffee farm.  The luwak, also known as the Asian palm civet  eats coffee fruit.  When the fruit has been digested, workers collect the little animals’ feces, thoroughly wash the beans, and make what is the most expensive coffee in the world.

I passed on trying a pricy cup of luwak coffee.  The animals looked miserable, huddled in little metal cages.  I don’t want to know how  luwak coffee was first discovered.  I can understand why it is so expensive:  you couldn’t pay me enough to be the guy who picks the digested beans out of the luwak poo.

Padangtegal Mandala Wisuta Wenara Wana Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

“The monkey of this forest “Kera” or “Macaques” are free and wild animals, please refrain from touching or playing with them as they may react in an unpredictable manner.  Do not provide peanuts for the monkey as they are potential health risk…” read the sign at the entrance to the Monkey Sanctuary.

00000787_02The monkeys were wild.  The monkeys were disease-ridden.  Large warning signs at the entrance to the sanctuary stated in capital letters.  But did tourists listen?  Not a chance.  The monkeys seemed cute and friendly.  I watched aghast as veiled Balinese tourists and ARC members alike were holding monkeys.

The guide failed to mention that on the previous day’s tour one of the ARC skippers had been attacked and bitten twice before escaping the monkeys’ capricious wrath.  I, kept my distance from the animals,  which were too smart by half.  As much as I love animals being bitten by a monkey is not on my to-do list.

Though Bali is touristy and the locals have come to capitalize on this, tourism is a booming industry for good reason.  It is a stunning country rich in culture and tradition.  Thankfully tourism has not yet overwhelmed the island and  there is still wilderness in Bali.  Though far from untouched, the breathtaking mountains, active volcano of Mount Batur, ancient temples, and the yellow rice paddies are stunning and it remains a lovely place to visit.

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Responses

  1. Vivid with good advice. Civet flavored coffee is new to me, and thanks to your expose, will remain so.


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