Aug 13, 2011

Magical Bali

In effect, we rented a covered wagon who’s horses couldn’t go up a hill. In reality it was a Suzuki Samurai with a bad fuel filter.

Driving along the coast of Bali was hot, noisy, and very crowded. So much so that Amanda and I decided to abandon our initial plans which had us on the main roads for three days, in favor of some back-road adventures.

We drove to a place called Jatiluwih (Jatalouie) known for its world class rice fields. They were absolutely magical. The hills were blanketed in beautifully constructed two-hundred-year-old steps. Each step organically followed the shape of the mountain into which it was carved. An impressive array of canals, channels, bamboo tubes and ingenuity carried water from one step to the next and across the entire valley. Never has the generosity of gravity been so grandly exploited. As we looked out from above, we saw just the right number of palm trees and exotic plants to remind us that nature is alive and well in this beautifully manipulated man-made wonder of the earth.

As one might imagine, the region is not without hills and inclines. Our rental car, sick throughout our three day adventure, finally decided to die on the way out of the valley. We were able to get it started again for its last hurrah as we gunned it half a mile up to the only hotel in the area. By no fault of our own we were forced to stay in a beautiful Balinese style bungalow overlooking the rice fields. We were lulled to sleep by the sound of the frogs. The dozen or so waterfalls behind our room fed the river which quenched the thirst of the water-loving rice plants.

We woke early morning and took a long walk through the fields. The retaining walls make for excellent walking paths. It was a walk back in time where buffalo tilled the fields, the women carried their supplies on buckets balanced on their heads, and the men planted each plant by hand in the mud.

The car was given a new fuel filter overnight and ran great on the way home. What was at first a huge pain in the ass was transformed into a wonderful memory thanks to the magical powers of Bali.

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