Travelogue: West Bali, Where Time Has Almost Stood Still

Bali Part 14

Michael Taylor is currently in Bali, Indonesia. Following eight nights in three of the island’s key travel destinations – Nusa Dua, Kuta Beach, and Seminyak – he heads off the beaten tourism track to West Bali, a part of the island largely undiscovered by foreign tourists.

The concierge at the Alila Villas Soori Bali arranges an eye opening tour of the villages of Kerambitan and Tabanan on the first morning of Michael’s 48 hour stay.

Kerambitan and Tabanan

Alila Villas 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 they were powerful patrons of the arts, commissioning 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. They also developed a highly refined aesthetic sense. The situation changed during the Dutch Colonial Era, when Balinese Royalty was stripped of much of its power and wealth.

Following independence, Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, carried out land reforms, which 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, supplying, mostly, local demand for objects of a more utilitarian nature.

Guided Tour

My charming concierge at Alila Villas Soori Bali arranged a tour of Kerambitan and Tabanan on my first morning at the resort. I was taken by some rice paddies, where 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, a workshop producing terra cotta pottery, and 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 – 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.

To Be Continued


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: