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Finding the Other, Cheaper Side of Bali

It was about five miles from the Kudesa Homestay guesthouse in Kemenuh village to the Gianyar Night Market, on the Indonesian island of Bali. So I asked my host, Mangku, whether I could make it on the bike he had available for rent. No problem, he said, he knew people who do it all the time.

在印度尼西亚的海岛巴厘岛上,从位于克美奴(Kemenuh)村庄的库德萨民宿(Kudesa Homestay)到吉安雅夜市(Gianyar Night Market)的距离,仅有5英里。于是我问我的房东——大家都叫他“师傅”(Mangku)——我能不能骑辆他提供租借的车去那里。他说没问题,他认识很多人一直都是这么去的。

It was a miscommunication. I was asking about the bicycle, but he meant the motorbike, which made sense since motorcycles and scooters are the main form of transportation on Bali, the fourth, final, and by far most touristy stop on my Indonesia tour.


Alas, I don’t know how to ride them. Still, he reluctantly let me take the tough-looking red hybrid bicycle, warning me to stay out of the heavy traffic. I took his instructions literally, sticking just off the road in what I would call the anti-bike lane.


That meant bouncing over pebbly dirt shoulders and narrow sidewalks often blocked by parked cars and market stalls, edging onto the road only when there was a lull in the nearly constant scooter buzz.


It was worth it, for two reasons. First, it gave me easy access to the unadulterated Balinese food sold at market stalls — a spicy jumble of mixed vegetables called serombotan, a luscious goat satay (no beef, since the vast majority of Bali, unlike the rest of Indonesia, is Hindu).


And, on the way back, drenched in sweat, I stopped to see a group of men scorching the hair off two slaughtered pigs and ended up with an invitation to spend the festival of Galungan with a new friend.


Three days and four nights is a ridiculously short stay for one’s first time on Bali. Ideally, I knew, getting away from the tourist crowd meant heading away from southern Bali’s two tourist epicenters: Kuta, which has a reputation as a depraved Cancun for young Australians; and Ubud, for those seeking the more spiritual Bali described in Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” without straying too far from a Starbucks.

三天四夜的旅程,对于首次巴厘岛之旅而言,实在短得可笑。我知道,在理论上,远离熙攘的游客,就意味着要离开巴厘岛南部的两处游客聚集地。一处是库塔海滩(Kuta),在年轻的澳大利亚人当中被视作生活颓废的坎昆(Cancun);至于那些想要寻求伊丽莎白·吉尔伯特(Elizabeth Gilbert)在《一辈子做女孩》(Eat, Pray, Love)中所描绘的巴厘岛风情,但又不想离星巴克(Starbucks)太远的人,必去的地方则是乌布(Ubud)。

Instead, I stayed outside Ubud in the village of Kemenuh, which travelers visit for its woodcarving shops but not much else. Mangku himself was a retired woodcarver who became a village priest, which is what “Mangku” means.


His family still runs a shop nearby, Sembahyang Wood Carvers, that ships its intricate, mesmerizing woodwork around the world, with the prices for some of the larger mahogany pieces stretching into tens of thousands of dollars.

他的家人仍在附近经营着一家商店“崇拜木雕”(Sembahyang Wood Carvers),将店内那些工艺复杂的精美木雕运往世界各地,其中部分体型较大的红木制品的价格,甚至能够冲到数万美元。

The guesthouse is a complex of elegant buildings in traditional Balinese orange brick and adorned with carved sandstone as elegant as the sculptures, with one big difference between the two family businesses: the price. My room cost 125,000 rupiah, or $9.41 at 13,279 rupiah to the dollar.


But I had moved there only after spending a day in Ubud. On my first trip I had to at least see what the hype was about. (I did completely skip Kuta, with no regrets.)


So, arriving after midnight on an indirect flight from Papua, I checked into the very pleasant Odah Ayu Guest House, just off Ubud’s main strip, where a tasteful room cost me 400,000 rupiah.

于是,我从巴布亚省(Papua)出发,经过转机,在午夜过后抵达巴厘岛,住进了环境宜人的鸥达阿玉宾馆(Odah Ayu Guest House),就在乌布的主要商业区对面,一间布置雅致的房间价格花了我40万卢比。

The next day was packed full of attractions. First, the Puri Lukisan Museum (85,000 rupiah), which offers an introduction to Balinese art on lush grounds. Many paintings depicted scenes from Hindu epics I knew nothing about; I struggled to understand them but still found their elegant floral style absorbing.

我在第二天的行程里,排满了各式各样的旅游景点。首先是画宫博物馆(Puri Lukisan Museum)(门票售价8.5万卢比),在一片绿意盎然的土地上初步了解了一下巴厘岛的艺术。许多油画作品中所描绘的风景,都出自我一无所知的印度教史诗,我极尽所能去理解当中的内涵,但还是觉得优雅的花草造型最为迷人。

I paused at “Just Punishments in hell,” an intricately detailed depiction of “all the different kinds of punishments suffered by the dead that fit the misdeeds of their lives.” Characters were impaled on trees or partly submerged in a pool of flames; others were being pushed into dragons’ mouths or had their genitals set on fire.

我在《地狱里的公正处罚》(Just Punishments in hell)前驻足片刻,这幅作品用十分复杂的细节,描绘了“亡者因自身生前罪行所遭受的各种不同类型的相应处罚”。画中的角色有的被钉在树上,有的被半埋在火盆里,还有的正被送往巨龙的口中,或者正被灼烧着他们的生殖器。

Then it was on to Ibu Oka, renowned (as in, featured by Anthony Bourdain) for babi guleng, or roast suckling pig, for a 55,000-rupiah plate with meat so moist I’d call it swampy, doused with a peppery sauce and much ballyhooed pork skin that I found a bit too chewy. (I prefer my crackling a bit more, um, crackling.)

然后我去了Ibu Oka,这间小店专以babi guleng也就是烤乳猪闻名(美国大厨安东尼·波登(Anthony Bourdain)也对其盛赞有加),一盘售价5.5万卢比,里面的猪肉松软多汁,被我戏称为“沼泽”,浇上胡椒酱,配搭很大程度上宣传过度、在我看来有点太过难嚼的猪肉皮。(我更喜欢更脆一些的肉皮,嗯,脆脆的那种。)

Then there was the famed Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, which is on lovely temple grounds and certainly worth the 30,000 rupiah fee, especially if you’ve never before had monkeys eat bananas out of your hands.

接着则是大名鼎鼎的圣猴森林避难所(Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary),它坐落在一片风景迷人的神庙之中,3万卢比的票价绝对物有所值,尤其是你从来没有喂过猴子吃你手里的香蕉的话。

And I was intrigued by online raves about the Sari Organik Warung Bodag Maliah, depicted as an organic restaurant in a pristine location amid rice fields. It wasn’t quite as pristine as promised: A pedestrian (and motorbike) path ran through it, dotted with souvenir shops and cafes. I’d call them not so much rice fields as “Rice Fields,” framed as a destination for travelers. Few agricultural features I’ve seen have signs directing you toward them.

我也对网上众人追捧的餐厅Sari Organik Warung Bodag Maliah兴趣浓厚,据说这家有机餐厅位于稻田中的一处质朴之地。那里其实并没有宣传所说的那么质朴:一条步行道(也是摩托车道)从中穿过,路边点缀着几家纪念品商店和咖啡馆。要我说,这里的稻田并没有多到可以被称作“稻田”,最多就是一处面向游客的旅游景点罢了。而我很少看到哪些农业特色地点会有明确的标识引导你抵达目的地。

I get the appeal, but a week earlier, I had clambered over rice fields on Sulawesi for miles and miles, without a tourist in sight. In Papua, I had hiked hours to villages without seeing a single sign, let alone one directing you to the local sweet potato plantations.


Still, the cafe was lovely. My salad was so fresh it tasted as if I were picking it directly from the earth, and with some surprising ingredients, with greens like leaves of both guava and soursop. At 48,000 rupiah, it was a bargain.


As was my day in Ubud, which cost me, astonishingly, something like $20. But halfway through the day I paused and went to Booking.com, the site I turn to for lodging not listed elsewhere, and found Kudesa. (I didn’t even find it on TripAdvisor.)


During my stay at Odah Ayu, I had met Komang, a member of the family that owns it; as I checked out, he offered to drive me to Kudesa. Thirty minutes later, we passed through a lavish carved gate and entered what looked like a palace or temple: buildings made of that orange brick, their doors shrouded in ornate sandstone carving. Komang was impressed. “This is maybe rich family,” he said.


Perhaps, but one that charges less than $10 for a single. The place had undergone an expansion recently, and now included a handful of fancy-looking rooms along a reverse infinity pool. (That’s my new term for when the infinity edge points in the wrong direction — to the rooms themselves).


I never got to see my single; the place was nearly empty, so I was upgraded to one of the older doubles (regular price, 180,000 rupiah.) It was a no-nonsense room, with a single sheet and blanket on the bed, an air-conditioner that leaked, and acoustics that allowed me to diagnose sleep apnea in the guest next door. Considering the elegant surroundings (and the dinner they served me by the pool the next night, no charge), it was still a deal.


That dinner was lovely, a standard plate of rice, meat and spicy homemade sambal, but did not compare to that first night I ate at the market, after parking my bike among dozens of scooters.


No taxis wait at the market, making it difficult for travelers to get there on their own, and English is a rarity, so those not willing to get on two wheels may wish to consider a tour offered by the Casa Luna cooking school for 400,000 rupiah to tame the chaos and choose the right dishes.

集市附近没有候客的出租车,很不方便游客自己前往,会讲英语的人也很少,因此那些无意自己骑车出行的游客,不妨考虑参加烹饪学校Casa Luna举办的美食游,收费40万卢比,帮你抚平所有混乱,选择万无一失的佳肴。

纽约时报中英文网 www.qqenglish.com

I tried a more D.I.Y. solution. On the ride over from Ubud, I asked Komang to list a few Balinese dishes I should try. He gave me three: serombotan, betutu and sate langwan. I jotted them down (having no idea what they were) then asked him how to say “Where is the most delicious _________?” in Indonesian. “Di mana ________ yang enak?” was his suggestion. He also gave me the phrase in Balinese, just in case.

我则尝试了一种更为自力更生的办法。在驾车前往乌布的路上,我让克曼为我推荐几道必尝佳肴。他对我说了三道:serombotan、betutu和sate langwan。我用笔记了下来(但对于这些到底是什么东西毫无头绪),然后问他“哪里有最好吃的_________?”用印尼语怎么说。他教导我说:“Di mana ________ yang enak?”他还教了我一句巴厘语,以防我万一有用得着的时候。

It worked brilliantly. First, I tried asking for the serombotan, and was pointed to a woman standing at a no-name cart behind an array of plates and bowls loaded with vegetables, bean sprouts, soybeans and more. She piled them all together for me, dashed on a combustible sauce and charged me 5,000 rupiah, a delicious, crunchy, tongue-numbing bargain.


Next, two other women argued before sending me to Warung Carmayani for betutu, slow-roasted poultry (chicken, in this case) with rice, for 22,000 rupiah. Nice, but rather bland.

接着,另外两位女士在送我前往Warung Carmayani品尝betutu前争论了一番,这道美食是用家禽(这里用的是鸡)慢慢烤制而成,配上米饭,一客要价2.2万卢比。味道不错,但还是平淡无奇了些。

Finally, sate langwan (which turned out to be a fish satay) was sold out. So I compromised at a stand labeled Sate Kambing Juprianto, which specialized in goat satay. A man tossed 10 two-bite sticks of meat over glowing coals and whipped together a rich, surprisingly savory peanut sauce for me on the spot for 20,000 rupiah. I finished it off with some es campur, shaved ice and crazily colorful gelatins, fruit and coconut milk for an additional 6,000 rupiah.

最后是sate langwan(似乎就是一种鱼肉沙爹),但是店里卖完了。于是我做出了妥协,改去了一间标着“Sate Kambing Juprianto”,专卖山羊肉沙爹的小摊。一个男人当场将10块两口大小的肉块丢到灼热的木炭上方,然后与一种厚重粘稠但风味极佳的花生酱搅拌在一起,总共收了我2万卢比。最后,我又另外花了6,000卢比,点了一份es campur,这是一种浇有一堆五颜六色的明胶啫哩、水果切块和椰奶的刨冰。

On the way back, in Blahbatuh, the village before Kemenuh, I saw a group gathered around the slaughtered pigs and pulled over.


“Where are you from?” boomed a voice.


I immediately took a liking to Widi, perhaps in part because he reminded me, in both looks and boisterously welcoming manner, of a friend in New York. He explained that he and a few others had killed two pigs to divide among his extended family, to be used in dishes for Galungan, during which ancestral spirits are believed to visit.


He invited me over the next morning for a breakfast of lawar, made of minced pork and vegetables and grated coconut, jumbled together with a spicy sambal.


I had planned a tour of island temples and other attractions with Mank Jay, a driver and guide who was Mangku’s nephew, so I stopped by early and met Widi’s family, who lived in a traditionally structured family compound.

我已经计划好,要与师傅的外甥,司机兼导游曼克·杰(Mank Jay),结伴游览岛上的神庙与其他景点,于是我早早拜访,见到了威迪一家,一个拥有着传统家族结构的大家庭。

I had read that every Hindu family in Bali had its own temple, or sanggah, but I hadn’t imagined an entire section devoted to shrines representing different manifestations of the gods and the family’s ancestors. Offerings of rice and flowers had been laid in front of each; Widi himself prays there three times a day when he can, two times when he is working as a bus driver.


I was invited back to spend the first day of Galungan with Widi’s family (more on that next week). But that day I still had my tour with Jay, for which he charged 600,000 rupiah, including gas. You may find others willing to do it for 400,000 or 500,000, but it’s worth extra for a guide you like, and I recommend Jay (62-812-3739-8422).


We motored around to numerous temples and historic spots, the highlight of which was Kerta Gosa, a partly restored complex that had served as a royal home and hall of justice for the Balinese king. Two elegant, typically Balinese buildings remain, one set dramatically in the middle of a pond, as if it were a ship connected to the shore by a sculpture-lined gangplank.

我们开着汽车,参观了大量的帝庙与古迹,其中值得一提的是司法亭(Kerta Gosa),这座经过部分修缮的建造原本是一处皇家住宅,也是巴厘岛国王主持公义的审判大厅。这里还保留着两栋造型优雅、典型的巴厘岛风格建筑,一栋引人注目地矗立在池塘中央,有如一艘轮船停泊在此,靠一块边缘雕刻着花纹的跳板,与池岸相连。

Inside, the ceilings are painted with mesmerizing depictions of the Hindu epics, most notably the Bhima Swarga story, in which a man enters the underworld to rescue his parents. In a scene now familiar to me, sinners were depicted being punished in hell — in this version, for example, hanging from trees over a pit of fire as rats gnawed on the ropes.

建筑内部,天花板上描绘着引人入胜的印度教史诗画卷,最值得注意的是怖军天堂(Bhima Swarga)的故事,讲述了一个男人进入冥界营救自己父母。这个场景我倒有些熟悉,描绘的就是罪人们在地狱中受罚的情景——譬如在这里,就是被绳索吊在树上,下方是一个火坑,上面则有老鼠在啃噬着绳索。

“We believe in karma,” Jay said. “When you do a bad thing in your life, and the gods call you, your time is up. And then you see what they’re going to do to you.”


I had asked Jay if there was a traditional rural village we could visit to get away from the temples and monuments. So he took me to Penglipuran, a beautiful village with an odd twist.


Along its main street of beautifully laid-out stone, families live in homes that date back centuries to pre-Hindu Bali. One catch: You pay 15,000 rupiah at the ticket booth to enter, where you are handed a scrap of paper with a number, referring to the house you have been assigned to visit.


The houses and people were lovely, but it felt as if I had entered a human zoo that was an apt metaphor for the island as a whole, particularly the more touristed parts: traditional families living traditional ways, as travelers pay to wander through their lives.




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