Day 42, Grand Asia 2017
Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 – Benoa, Bali, Indonesia
I’m adding Bali to Vietnam on the list of countries I’m visiting that merit a land vacation someday. We traveled about an hour away from the port of Benoa, just south of the provincial capital of Denpasar, to find a beautiful country full of smiling people.
Joyce, Lisa and I set off with our driver on an arts and crafts tour pre-arranged by Joyce. And of course, where they make things, they sell things. I was pleased that our stops weren’t junky souvenir stores. We started out at a batik factory, but they were using a loom today instead of using wax to dye batik. The store had a large inventory of shirts, sundresses, sarongs, scarves and ties.
I was the only one who resisted getting something, but I would make up for it with earrings and a pendant in the silver shop. Joyce and Lisa also found things to buy at the woodcarving stop just after lunch. The work was beautiful and intricate. The carver holds the work with his feet.
In actuality, I don’t think the wares in any of the shops were made on site. Each generally had three or four artisans working on projects to show us their procedures, but at too slow a pace to stock the shelves. We didn’t mind, though. We saw the process and enjoyed browsing.
When we stopped at the Balinese Hindu Desa temple in the Bataun village, we donned sarongs before we entered. Motifs decorated the many buildings in the open courtyards.
At late morning, we stopped in a small coffee shop surrounded by a few coffee plants and a cage with two luwaks, or Asian Palm Civits. They served a sampler of a dozen coffees and teas, and we each bought a few small bags of our favorites. I liked the red ginger, but Joyce had already bought the last bag. I settled for the mangosteel peel tea, which was delicious and “prevents cancer,” according to the menu. Hey, it can’t hurt!
The highlight was the Luwak coffee. These small weasel-looking animals eat the prime coffee cherries, which ferment as they move through their digestive tracks. The beans emerge with their shells or skins intact, which are then removed, applying “standard sanitation and hygiene,” according to the brochure. We threw caution to the wind and gave it a try, and it was good.
We had a wonderful Indonesian lunch in an open pavilion overlooking a rice field, made all the better by the local Bintang beer. A Hindu statue marked the entrance.
One of our last stops was in a local home, where residents welcome this tour company’s stop. Our guide explained the four small main buildings around a courtyard: the north room is for the children, the west for the parents, the south is the kitchen and the east is an open air platform with a bed that is mostly used for ceremonies. In the northeast corner is a temple area, with shrines for ancestors. Our visit came on the last day of the two-week Kuningan festival, and all the shrines were decorated with offerings of flowers and food.
Our guide explained that any local home compound would have the same buildings at the same points of the compass. This compound also had an additional building or two, including a raised building for storing rice, in the back for the expanding family, as well as cages of pet doves and a concrete enclosure with a pig.
We finished with a popular waterfall, and I happened to catch a picture of a Balinese woman doing her wash in a stream.
While we were away from the ship in Bali today and in Semarang two days ago, more than a thousand visitors came aboard the Amsterdam. They were the wives, children, parents and other family members of many of our Indonesian crew. In many cases, it is the first time in months that crewmembers have seen their families.
On each day we were docked in Indonesia, cabin doors up and down the hallways had handwritten notes telling cabin stewards to skip cleaning our rooms and instead spend more time with their families. I certainly didn’t mind making my own bed.