Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Waka Land Cruise

Went on assignment Sunday for Bali Style, to do an article on the Waka Land Cruise. Generally, I'm not wild about 'cruises' of any kind, whether land or sea, but, honestly, this wasn't too bad. Although  the trip lasted for some 9 hours, the time actually seemed shorter, likely because of the various stops along the way.

I, Louis, our friend, Ari, and two of Ari's friends, were picked up in Sanur by one of the Waka Land Rovers, equipped, as the brochure says, with picnic baskets and refreshments. But not equipped with an air-conditioning, sadly. This could have been deadly if the day had been as hot as the last two have been, but, luckily for us, it was fairly mild. Additionally, the cruise quickly heads for the higher inland mountain slopes, where the temperatures are generally cooler.

First stop was a volcanic quarry, where workers have, for generations, carted stones on their heads from the bottom of the ravine to the top of the hill,  where they are hand cut and fashioned into bricks. We met a 62 year old lady doing just this. Hard life, that. But, of course, people regularly want to take photos of her, for which she willingly collects small amounts of money.

More interesting was the next stop -- a traditional community, carved into the jungle some 80 years ago, with some houses still standing and occupied. The walls are made of mud. There is, of course, no electricity. On the grounds, a plethora of natural plants grow -- mangosteen, coffee, coconut, bananas and many more. The community here is composed of 20 families -- parents, children, grandchildren and so on. And Ben, the dog, who has a knack for inserting himself into every photograph. There is a small kitchen with an open-fire stove, still in daily use, as well as a stone structure on the lower grounds for offerings made to the forest spirits to whom the land initially belonged. It was necessary for the human beings to request permission to reside here, to which the spirits ultimately agreed. Moreover, they contracted at the same time to watch over and protect the community of man in perpetuity. Nice. Daily offerings are made to these spirits. Everyone keeps his part of the bargain.

Upward still, we arrive at last at the very top of the rice terraces -- affording a truly stunning view of these seemingly endless green tiers as they tumble down the mountain toward the sea.

Lunch was then served at a little restaurant devoted to the Waka tours -- genuine Balinese cuisine, with all its exotic spices and textures. A real treat. The restaurant itself it approached via a grassy little one lane track beneath a beautiful canopy of jungle greenery, and there is really no obtrusive sound (a rare thing in Bali) other than the sounds that ought to be there -- of birds, breeze, insects and flowing water from deep below in the ravine.

The last stop is at one of the main temples in Bali (there are six of them). I'm not real big on temples. They seem stuffy and hot, to me. But anyway, Ari enjoyed it (being a Hindu).

From there, it's back to Sanur, by the quickest route possible (the non-scenic route, of course), but the trip  home is not so bad. The main roads, once you reach them, as smooth most of the way, and you can sit back and close your eyes for a rest.

So, I give the whole thing a B+.

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