You know where you are? You're in the jungle baby, hope you're not gonna die.
Then I hear it; gamelan from the distance. I have heard that Tengannan was known for the rare Galeman Selunding but was not expecting since there was no ceremony or occasion that'll involve music. But maybe they're practicing for an upcoming one, I HAVE to check where it is coming from.
"Are you guys practicing Gamelan?"
"Oh no, just the speakers."
Turns our they are playing recordings from a pair of bigass speakers they set up in their hut, while the whole family is chillin. A lanky guy offers me their house brew saying "the best in Karangasem," but I had just heard that people die from drinking house-brewed Arak so I decline and leave. Well it was exciting for a moment. Also, this is where they actually live; away from the front and the facade by the entrance, deep into the rain forest with no pavement or signs. I hear kids playing, people cutting trees and random conversations, sounding from somewhere in the woods that I cannot see, or from the valleys or streams that look dried up. And on the dirt road I've been walking are opened plastic packages of instant ramen and roti bread, empty pet bottles etc. Okay, I need to take a shit. Enough adventure for today.
OR NOT. Instead of going straight back to the oasis with hot water and Indonesian MTV, I decide to get my rental fees keep exploring. There's gotta be a beach that's not blocked out by any resort where locals hang, let's turn this corner and see what I end up with. And I end up with this.
Then I hear engines roar behind; looks to be 6 or 7 local teens staring at my sepeda motor. Then one of them finds me - everytime I am spotted by locals the questions are the same; where you're from/where you're going. I tell him I'm from Sukawati lol which sounds less touristy than Chandidasa or so I thought, and that I'm going to LEAVE. He goes "there's a beautiful white sand beach, 5 minutes from here - you should go." Sure - I know you want me out of YOUR beach ;) Totes okay. Lemme be on the move. Then he goes, with underlying hostility and menace,
"It's gonna cost you 100k."
Ah, THAT'S what you want. Okay then, I'll just head back. "To Sukawati?" Yes, an hour and half away. "Are you sure?" Yes, I'm pretty tired sitting on your beautiful black sand beach. It's time for mandi (shower) "Okay, well, let us escort you" which he does not say, but he and his gang ride along my ass till the main road, out of "their" territory. I must say, that was the least intimidating extortion I've ever seen, or the most hostile tour guide. I had a dude that would not let me leave before I pay 100k for a ray-ban knock off at Sukawati market (which a convenience store one block down sells for 25k) while two other squeezing in their products like mardi gras beads and model trains, but this was just weird.
Well, I also know that on the other side of mountains is another beach called Amed, where a lot of snorkelers and scuba divers have moved from Candidasa after the development in the nearby area destroyed coral reefs there; a tragedy which seems to happen almost everywhere there are corals. The bali that Maria remembers from 1987 is no more; the back road that used to host magnificent views of nothing but rice patties are now featuring villas and yoga retreat centres, or the construction sites for either. As much as I love Sukawati, the air quality has not been the best due to all the exhaust gas and people burning shit on the roadside (what they're burning I don't wanna know) but largely from construction dust. But I digress. Only an hour away, let's just stretch and see what I see.
I dropped my clothes to jump into shower - the water never got hotter than semi-lukewarm.