Balinese Adventure Part 25
Michael Taylor’s Balinese Adventure has ended in real time, but it continues in Cyberspace. Today he reminisces about a simple meal he has in Candidasa while staying at Alila Manggis in Eastern Bali
After spending a morning in the rice paddies and an afternoon at my computer on the balcony of my room at Alila Manggis, a 4 star resort hotel in Eastern Bali, I decide to head into the nearby town of Candidasa, where I am hoping to have dinner.
I catch the hotel shuttle, along with a few other hotel guests. About 10 minutes later, I disembark on Jalan Raya, the town’s main drag.
After surveying several possibilities I decide on an unpretentious little restaurant called Cafe Wayan. If you know anything about Balinese nomenclature, you will know that there must be hundreds of eateries with this name in Bali.
The reason is simple. Almost everyone in Bali has one of a small handful of names.
Most first born children in Bali are called Putu, Gede, or Wayan. Second borns are named Made (pronounced mah-DAY) or Kadek, Third borns called Nyoman or Komang. And fourth borns are called Ketut.
If there are 5 or more children, they start all over again with Putu, Gede, or Wayan.
Wayan, who I assume is the owner of the eponymous Cafe Wayan, is a man on a mission. He wants me to eat at his eatery. He’s friendly enough so I go inside.
There is a stage with the promise of entertainment, but Wayan tells me there won’t be a show tonight. I get the idea that business hasn’t been good.
The menu runs from pizza, pasta and seafood to Western dishes targeted at children and traditional Balinese cuisine.
I opt for a chicken curry with rice – and a beer.
Wayan disappears into the kitchen. A few minutes later, he returns with a tray, but it’s not my dinner. It is, rather, some offerings and holy water.
First, Wayan scatters the offerings. Then he sprinkles the holy water. As he passes my table, he sprinkles some holy water in my direction.
I ask him how often he needs to do this, and he says once a day. I ask him when he has to do this, and he says it doesn’t matter – as long as he does it once a day.
Perhaps he waits until unsuspecting tourists like me is present so tey can watch. The Balinese seem very proud of their customs and enjoy showing them off to outsiders.
After a lengthy wait, a beautiful Balinese woman – I’m not sure if it’s his wife or his daughter – emerges from the kitchen with my dinner balanced on a tray.
It’s rather basic, nothing to write home about – maybe I should have tried the Cordon Bleu. But I get the idea that this might be a very typical Balinese dish – the type of food that people would eat at home, food that hasn’t been ‘dressed up’ for tourists.
I’m about to pay my bill and catch the hotel shuttle back to my hotel when an Australian man arrives and orders a beer. We quickly strike up a conversation. He tells that he has been coming to Candidasa for years.
“This is the real Bali,” he says.
“That’s why I like it. You don’t find many tourists here, and the scuba diving is great.”
I notice that he doesn’t order anything to eat, but he does buy Wayan a beer.
“The food here is nothing special, but Wayan is a nice guy,” he says.
“I always stop by to have a chat.”
When Wayan learns that I’m a travel writer, he asks if I’ll review his restaurant to ‘send some business my way’. He gives me his card and says that in exchange he will have his driver take me back to my hotel – gratis!
I know from experience that most eateries like this will drive you back to your hotel without charge. But I accept his offer, skip the hotel shuttle, and order another beer.
Click for to see more pictures of the restaurant: Cafe Wayan
Cafe Wayan, Jalan Raya, Candidasa, Bali. Telephone: +62 363-41138.