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Monday, 25 April 2011

Searching for Cows in Bali - Page 2

Written by Melanie Jae Martin
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Kalimantan And November 237The path wound up from one gorgeous viewpoint to another, looking out on the small, rocky islands, and the expanse of Nusa Penida across the water. Travelers sometimes took a boat to that sparsely populated island for the day (I’d heard it offered no rooms for tourists, though I suspected a fortunate traveler might be invited to stay with a local). We stopped to look at one of the Gili islands that appeared through the mist, and even the aloof and barely visible Lombok, far away and barely visible. Below, the steep sweep of the valley plummeted to the next abrupt slope where villagers had once formed terraces into the land that were now eroding away, being absorbed into the hills once more. The still presence of trees with their gently shimmering leaves seemed to hold the spirit of the mountain in their intertwined roots, grounding it in the damp reality of soil. 

We moved higher still, the soaring green mountains shrouding us in stillness. I heard the lazy clanking of a bell, and knew she was just through the bushes. We’d seen a few up on the hillside, staring down at us in wonder, like children in a remote village seeing a white person for the first time.

Kalimantan And November 223

“Shhh,” said Han, creeping slowly ahead and gesturing to our left. We crept out of the trees, and into the open expanse of the hilltop. All the world swept around us in a breathtaking panorama of sea, sky, and soaring green hills, but I gazed only at her, and the cows. She’d found them, a small group of those beautiful doe-eyed creatures with delicate, rich brown faces and bodies. Two more were walking toward the woman, as the others grazed serenely around her. Her face still held that gentle, serene glow that seemed to express the beauty she felt in her daily task of keeping the cows. Watching her, and the gentle creatures grazing around her, I said a silent thank you to them for letting me into this moment, sensing and feeling more than any conversation could have told me, or even body language could express. It was a moment beyond words, a poem written long ago in a language only the spirit can understand.

Getting There

Candidasa was easy to get to; I booked a shuttle ticket from Ubud. The bus made a brief stopover at a warung, a small restaurant, and then my fellow passengers and I boarded two separate shuttles taking us to our different locations. All together the trip took almost two hours, and before long I was sitting by the lush garden at my hotel watching the surf. In November, finding a place to stay was easy; few tourists were around. The friendly fisherman on the sandy beach below immediately began to pitch their snorkeling excursions, which visitors during the low tourist season should expect. Many people here, like elsewhere in Bali, speak a reasonable amount of English, though speaking even a little Indonesian is usually appreciated.


Finding a tour guide is usually easy in villages like Candidasa, especially during the low season when most of the men and teenage boys seem to be looking for work as taxi drivers or tour guides. This typically means taking you to the white sand beach a few kilometers away, or to the Bali Aga village. You could also rent your own motor scooter, if you prefer. If you’re looking to learn about the culture, of course you’ll want to talk to your guide first to find out how much he knows. This goes for guides from agencies as well as guides you’ve met on the street. If booking a tour through one of the many agencies you’ll find in cities and villages around Bali, ask if the guides know a lot about your area of interest, like nature or cultural history.

If you want to stay in a really laid-back village, though, head further up the east coast to Amed, a more remote fishing village. You’ll find bungalows and restaurants, but not a lot. There’s more of a beach here than at Candidasa, too, and for $10 (in the low season, anyway) you can find a decent room right on the beach, with a shaded porch looking out on the ocean.

You’ll be able to ask lots of locals about any questions you have. As you walk down the street, people will ask you where you’re going and what you want to do, and offer you a ride.

©Melanie Jae Martin

Her blog is The Story Grove:

(Page 2 of 2)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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