Monday, September 21, 2009

Lihat Sawah, Sideman, Bali

Compared to where we’ve stayed previously to Lihat Sawah you would think that this would not be a favorite spot. The power went out on a number of occasions. There was no air conditioning. The bathroom, although serviceable, was small and anything but romantic. And when the power went out so did the water and plumbing. The food wasn’t great (although it was good enough). And it was in a very quiet place with “little to do”. But in spite of that and maybe because of that, this little spot in the hills of Bali is one of my very favorite memories of Bali.

We arrived on a gray day with spots of rain (in fact it rained off and on for the entire stay). When we first arrived it seemed they weren’t expecting us, but communications soon cleared and we were happily shown to our room on the second floor of a “villa” overlooking the rice fields and chili plant fields. For westerners the concept of villa conjures up some pretty grandiose ideas, so you can stop right there. Everything was pretty basic but what we did have was space and a fabulous view and quiet. We had a large covered veranda as large as the bedroom with a chaise, and table and chairs, and a view to the hills. We had a lovely 4 poster bed with mosquito netting and large doors and open windows with white curtains that blew in the almost ever present breeze. There were two big ceiling fans and decent lights. A soft, warm, creaky teak floor and a very basic “all in one bathroom” which was clean and when the power was on it had decent water pressure with good hot water.

I then proceeded to be sick having caught jerry’s cold that he was just getting over. It went straight to my throat and chest and I felt pretty darn bad. We managed a short trip into Klungkung to see the market, a traditional painter and a silver smith and then we limped home up the hills to hide out in our treetop bedroom. What a wonderful place to be sick. From the bed there were views out all the windows with the sound of rain on the roof and birds in the papaya, kiwi, lychee, and starfruit trees. There was good food and hot tea from the owners which was brought to our veranda for every meal (except breakfast when I managed to make an appearance).

We listened to the roosters crow ALL day from all across the valley. We watched a flock of swallows descend on the chili plant fields when heavy rains came. I don’t know if the rain forced insects down out of the air or up off of the plants, but when it rained the swallow/swift population quadrupled at least flying low over the chili plant fields. And on our last night there we listened to the drums and chanting celebrating the end of the month of Ramadan observed by the small yet visible Muslim population on Bali

One night we had a bird spend the night with us. A small brown bird flew into the eaves under the veranda roof. He seemed disoriented like he had lost his way to his tree before dark. Many birds are blind at night, so I guess he was attracted to our light. So there he sat occasionally disturbed by my movements, but generally just hanging out. When we retired to our bedroom, he came in through the open grating above the door and flew around above us until he found a place to settle down for the night. When dawn came, he stirred and started chirping before he figure the way out by the light of dawn and flew home with quite a story for the flock.

When the sun was out, I could lay on the veranda chaise and read or nap. Jerry and I played gin rummy with a pack of cards we bought in Ubud. We played scrabble on his Iphone. We read. And I slept. I slept a lot. But between the medication and the inhaler I brought from the US and all the healthy food we’ve been eating with heavy emphasis on fresh fruit and good tea, l recovered in amazing time. Thankfully.

Before we left we took a walk down into the valley along a quiet road that wound through the rice, chili plant, and corn fields. We crossed several rivers on old wooden bridges. We passed a mechanic shop with gasoline sold by the liter out of plastic water bottles. We saw women carrying offerings to temple on their heads. We passed men and women working in the rice fields: harvesting, weeding, shoring up old terrace walls. It was a lovely walk under a gray sky, one that gave us a sense of the rhythm of life for people in this valley region.

We paid 550,000 rupiah (or roughly 55 US dollars) per night for the villa room including dinner and breakfast (drinks and lunch were extra). I also had a great massage for 80,000 (yes, 8 US dollars) in my room.

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