Sidemen Countryside

The view from the veranda outside my bungalow at Samanvaya Lodge is one of the reasons I came to Bali. There are mountains in the distance, terraced rice fields in the foreground, an infinity pool just steps away, and a clean, aesthetically-pleasing cottage as allies aiding my recovery from Ubud’s cacophony. A lovely, cooling wind comes up the valley and gently rattles the bamboo and palm leaves, flutters the mosquito net over the bed, and makes me feel soulfully relieved. Doves coo in the distance, white egrets stalk flooded paddies for frogs, and not a rooster to be heard anywhere. But then it is 3:30 in the afternoon and perhaps they are just taking a break.

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The ride here from Ubud, where I was expertly picked up by a driver who spoke very little English, went well until we stopped at a spot hawking locally-grown coffee, chocolate, and other tropical delicacies. They had a garden path where plants were labeled and I was given a sniff of cinnamon, coffee, and other plants I can’t recall. I tried lemon grass, ginseng, and another herbal tea, then Balinese coffee and finally hot chocolate that was bitter as hell…and shared my Ubud lunch w/ my driver and the woman running the place. The ploy was to get me to buy very expensive (over $10) coffee, and so I sighed and got a small one as a present for the Jesuit scholar who is hosting me in Yogjakarta next week.

Then it was back on the road in the new Suzuki van, one lane roads through little clusters of village houses. Disturbingly, the roadside in most places was strewn with trash and was persistent much of the way. Everywhere were people doing very little (noontime lull? Sunday go-slow?) but enjoying each other’s company. How long until modern technology pulls them away into their smart phones, tvs, and computers?

After a swim, a nap, and general go-slow, I took a walk back down the road leading to Samanvaya. The highlight of this 45 min. stroll was the bridge over the river, water coming down from the slopes of a distant volcano (Mount Agung… home to one of Bali’s most sacred temples and discussed in the previous post).

But back to the river. Many large boulders were scattered about and provided places to jump, lounge, or have picnics. Children were mostly naked save for girls entering puberty…who wore their underwear bottoms. Somewhat under the bridge (sort of) a couple women were scrubbing down, one quite pregnant w/ enormous breasts. I took a photo quickly, as any photographer documenting cultural moments would do.

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On the way back, while standing by the road framing a rice field & volcano photo, a motorbike zoomed by and I got a medium shove. A stronger one and I’d have plunged into an irrigation ditch, so I tried to take it in stride. The presence of foreigners in this mountain village must still be jarring to many, although the little kid that pushed me, riding behind the scooter driver, seemed too young to care and was probably acting on a dare.

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2 thoughts on “Sidemen Countryside

  1. I was worried about Bali being overcrowded, over stimulating, and suppressively hot but this part of town looks amazing; a real tropical paradise cooled by grey waters and misty mountains. Enjoy!

    1. Actually, the Sidemen area is about 90 minutes from Ubud, so it officially qualifies as “country.”
      You’d like the plants and agriculture for sure, though I don’t know how a Vermonster girl would do w/ the heat.

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