Is it Better to be Clueless or Have a Plan?

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by Tim Burdick on 04 December, 2014

On Sunday morning, we met Denni, our Balinese tour guide, who smiled and said, “So, what you want to do? Culture? You like nature? I want you to experience Bali. We don’t drive and stop, drive and stop. We go to the places and see local culture. We avoid the crowds.”

So, for the next 15 minutes, we explained that we wanted to see the Mt. Batur and Agung, the village of Besakih and our ultimate goal, the water palace of Tirta Gangga.

He tried to change our minds. “It wasn’t possible. Too much. Not enough time.” We discussed our plans with him before we agreed on the first spot which was a compromise.

Should we have a local to guide us? Or should we do what we want despite the fact that our guide disagreed with us? We rented the car/ and his driving skills for 8 hours to see the highlights in Eastern Bali. But, in the end, it was our choice and our guide respected our decision. He didn’t overcharge us. He worked hard to make us happy and told us information about places that we passed.

The first view of the mountain and the lake Batur was magnificent. The second village Baesakih was full of aggressive locals, demanding money for sarongs, entrance to the temple, local guides, post cards, and finally parking. To be fair, our guide had warned us about the villagers behavior. It was a complete turn off.

In the end, we did Tirta Gangga which was worth the extra distance.

As we drove along, Denni explained, “Bali has only tradition and tourism. It is a circle. They feed each other. People come to see our tradition. In my village, we used to prepare our own offerings. We gave the gods: fruit, flower, coconut, and food. And in the past, we made everything ourselves in our gardens. My neighbor grew the flower and I got it from him. But, now he moved because he got a job in a hotel. So if I want to buy flowers, I have to pay tourist prices at the market. So, each feeds off the other.”

As we approached Ubud, we stopped at Denni’s recommended sights: a coffee plantation and silversmith. At our first stop, we got to sample seven different types of coffee or tea and they expected us to buy something, and in the next place, we got to see how they make silver jewelry. Then, they took us into the shop and offered us amazing prices for necklaces.

After all it is only business.

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