Millions of Australians visit Bali every year, but not many of them get the opportunity to visit a family home and see how the locals live.
The Bloke and I recently took ourselves off for a well-deserved break in Bali. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we’ve had a stressful start to the year and decided we needed some TLC. After my too, too brief visit to the Bali Four Seasons Resort Sayan, in Ubud, I couldn’t think of anywhere better to shake off the cares of the last few months and was thrilled to get back there again.
While I had planned quite a bit of lolling about, I’d also been offered a couple of wonderful opportunities by the staff and management of the Four Seasons.
The first of these was an experience available to very few visitors to Bali – a visit to a local family home. In this instance it was to watch the production of the hand-made, organic coconut oil used by Four Seasons executive chef Liam Nealon in the Sayan resort’s kitchens.
The oil is made by the family of sous chef Wayan Ariana, who generously opened his family home to myself, The Bloke and Liam, who hadn’t seen it produced before.
Piling into a car, we headed twenty minutes up the road to Ariana’s home. Balinese families traditionally live in small villages in a compound arrangement, where the extended family share resources, but maintain some separate living areas.
Ariana’s gorgeous aunt, Ni Kledet, had been recruited to demonstrate the process for making the oil and cheerfully walked us through the steps. It’s not a particularly difficult process, but it does take a little time.
The oil is made twice a week, to maintain the freshest possible product, and the family use it in their cooking as well as supplying the resort.
Ariana lives with his own family, a wife and two children, and 14 extended family members. Each family has their own sleeping, cooking and eating quarters, but share communal living space, a family temple – the Balinese are devout and practise a range of daily rituals – and also the responsibility for livestock.
Once the oil making had been sorted, the family was keen to show us around their compound. In order to supplement the communal income, the family raise and sell pigs – a common practise in Bali. They have a surprisingly large amount of pigs, approximately 20, in spotlessly clean pens at the rear of the compound.
We were also introduced to their very handsome alarm clock, who had been corralled into a cage for our visit, but usually wanders the grounds. He was bright-eyed and alert, and thankfully not at all as fiercely agitated as some of the fighting birds I’ve met in Bali in the past.