Today was our first long tour, so my friend could see something of Bali. Our driver was ‘Diana’s Lovely Nyoman’. I did tell you we have to differentiate between them somehow. In the absence of our departed Nyoman, we hired a driver recommended by a friend.
I had recommended my favourite two tours, and this one is known as the Kintamani Tour. It goes to various places , but culminates at a village called Kintamani which runs along the edge of the caldera of Mount Batur, and overlooks the crater lake, Lake Batur.
Our first stop on the trip was Goa Gajah, the elephant cave. I have been there a number of times before, so I didn’t go down, because I am not doing steps so well at the moment. Steps in Bali are mostly high, and each one is a different height. Not easy at the best of times. So I just chatted to the sellers around the car park and found a cotton dress for a friend. I had canvassed what my friends wanted before I set off.
Next stop is Tirta Empul, the holy springs. Very picturesque. Again, I have been many times, but my friend had not. As you leave you have to run the gauntlet of sellers to get back to the car park. I remember them as being ferocious in their efforts to sell, but this time they seemed more subdued. Everyone says it is quiet and they are doing it tough, so I am not sure why that was.
Finally up to Kintamani. You stop up at the top and there is a view of the crater lake, with the cone of Mt Batur rising on the left. From the road, the landscape falls away before rising to the cone, and people live down in that area. I always like to eat satay up at Kintamani. Somehow it is just more delicious up there. Sometimes they have tiny slivers of crispy fried onion in the peanut sauce. Anyway it is GOOD. Nyoman dropped us at the Mutiara restaurant and I ordered the satay and started my sketch.
I roughed it in with a blue-grey watercolour pencil. Then I sloshed on the paint. I had to work fast, because the rain was coming and the mountain would be obscured by the cloud. I ate my beautiful chicken satay while the paint dried. Eight sticks. I gave my friend one to try. Then quickly i sharpened my pencil over the drop from the restaurant verandah, and restated the lines in the blue-grey pencil. Then we headed back to Ubud just ahead of the rain, down the leafy back road with woodcarvers.
Our last stop was Tegallalang, a place not far from Ubud, famous for spectacular views of the rice terraces. Ruined now, really, because of cars, buses, restaurants everywhere. I remember it when there were just maybe three of four stalls with vivid Balinese batik bedspreads displayed with the stunning rice terraces for a background. But the rice terraces are still there, and regardless of the traffic chaos, still look wonderful.
On the way home we asked the driver to detour via Peliatan to visit one of the florist shops there. I wanted some sedap malam (queen of the night……tuberose). It smells like heaven. I wanted some for our room. Instead of just buying a number of stalks, I bought a big floral arrangement, I guess you’d call it. These flowers are not often available at home and so expensive. So I lashed out the whole fifteen dollars,
For dinner, we got the hotel driver to drop us off at Cafe Nomad, an old favourite of mine for more than 20 years. Like many of the cafès here it has gone a bit upmarket, but still good and not at all expensive. After my huge satay lunch, I wasn’t very hungry of I had an entree of Japanese dumplings, and green pancakes with coconut and palm sugar. I love any of these green Indonesian desserts with the pandan flavour.