Travelogue: West Bali, Where Time Has Almost Stood Still

 

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Rice fields of West Bali. Photo Credit: Soori Field.

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Part 12 – On the first morning of Michael Taylor’s 48-hour stay in West Bali, a concierge at the hotel  arranges an eye opening tour of the villages of Kerambitan and Tabanan. And he passes beautiful scenery along the way.

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Kerambitan and Tabanan

Soori Bali is situated in the West of Bali in an area known as Kerambitan, which is short on foreign tourists but long on local craftsmen.

One of the reasons for the high aesthetic standards of the products produced in this part of Bali is that Kerambitan and nearby Tabanan were once the seats of some of the Bali’s most important Royal Families.

And these families were powerful patrons of the arts. For example, they commissioned intricate pieces to adorn royal palaces and temples.

Highly Skilled Craftsman

As a result of this Royal Patronage, villagers in this part of Bali became highly skilled craftsmen. And they also developed a highly refined aesthetic sense. However, the situation changed during the Dutch Colonial Era, when Balinese Royalty was stripped of much of their power and wealth.

Following independence, Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, carried out land reforms. And this dealt a further blow to the centuries old system of Royal Patronage.

Because the area had been all but untouched by tourism, however, craftsman had no choice but to continue practising their trade. But they started to produce objects of a more utilitarian nature.

Guided Tour

My charming concierge at Soori Bali arranged a tour of Kerambitan and Tabanan on my first morning at the resort. Firstly, I was taken by some rice paddies, And we stopped to observe some rice farmers planting rice.

Then we continued on to a workshop making roof tiles that are sold all over Bali. Next, we visited a workshop producing terra cotta pottery. Finally, we visited a Royal Temple, where descendants of Balinese Royalty continue to reside to this very day.

In the afternoon, I was taken to see the last of the salt makers on Kelating Beach. But more on that tomorrow.

You won’t find any beach clubs, clothing boutiques, or night clubs in this part of Bali.

But you will get the chance to catch of glimpse of hard working Balinese craftsman that continue to take tremendous pride in producing things as they have been produced for centuries – with a few modern improvisations.

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