Our first morning waking up in Bali today. Waking up in a foreign country is always an experience altogether in itself, I’d say. New scents and new sounds greeting your awakening senses. Breakfast was nice.
We had planned a day tour with the hotel’s driver/guide the day before so we set off at 0915 as planned. Our first stop was a cultural dance which was dismal as feared. After that was a Batik factory which was mildly interesting. It was sobering to know that the women could work on one piece for up to two weeks. Talk about man hours. From there we went on to a painting / woodcraft / souvenir shop where more shameless bargaining took place. We did manage to find a few interesting things to buy though, and I found things to buy for friends at home.
Lunch was taken at a scenic spot, though that probably understates it. We had a nice buffet lunch with a view of a dormant volcano to the side. The view was breathtaking and the weather cool for once. It was a nice place to be at. However what really marked this experience apart from the other stops were the insistent peddlers around the place. We were clung on to by these two women who were selling us T-shirts. Their desperation was almost heartbreaking instead of annoying. Looking into their eyes as they pleaded for us to buy their wares, first at 30 000 then 25 000, and then 20 000, was something that was too much for me. I ended up buying one half out of compassion. The most poignant image that remains with me was the young girl – she couldn’t be more than 9 – who was selling bracelets. I can remember her chant by heart:
“Want some bangles? Four-fifty thousand… Got many colours.”
Her eyes were wide and pleading. I wondered how old she was and how long she had been doing this.
The coffee plantation thereafter was a good choice. It was particularly curious to learn that their special coffee bean is made by feeding a possum-like animal (the name eludes my memory) and retrieving the still-intact bean in… yes, its excrement. Oh well. Didn’t stop us from trying the coffee. They showed us the coffee-making process too and it was really amazing to find out that they do everything manually; from plucking the beans, to drying and cleaning them, removing their husks, roasting them for an hour and grinding them for two hours.
The visit to the paddy field was fun, the Elephant Cave Temple after that wasn’t. The whole thing was pretty well-paced though. I didn’t feel it was to draggy or too rushed, and just as I felt tired it ended.