There is something my brother Stephen said over two years ago when we were living in Bali at the same time that I found memorable. He said he would often purposely take wrong turns into parts of the city he didn’t know and get himself lost in order to discover new parts of Bali and learn how to navigate his way around without GPS. I found this quite ballsy considering getting lost, especially in a strange country, is one of my big fears. But my brother, being the intrepid traveller that he is found it fun.
Deliberate “Wrong Turns”
Yesterday, after coming back from a surf trip in the Bukit (south Bali) , I settled into a large, late lunch in order to recharge. On the way home after lunch, I had some free time and decided to take a route home that I had never taken before into a part of town I was unfamiliar with. Taking this deliberate “wrong turn” immediately plunged me into open roads through a vast expanse of rice fields that were kissed golden by the setting sun. I then happened upon a dirt road but had second thoughts about continuing. I feared getting chased out by stray dogs or scolded by the owner of the property for trespassing. But I figured the consequences were minimal and drove my motorbike in at a slow, pensive crawl. I then saw a man walking a very strange animal on leash. It was wiry, and squirmy like a mongoose, and had an intelligent awareness in its eyes. The owner and I exchanged amused glances and I asked him if I could take a video. He said sure, and told me he had many more pets if I was interested in meeting them. Understanding the welcoming nature of Balinese people, I was happy to accept.
It turned out the property the man lived on was a huge villa called Anyar Sari that rented rooms to the higher end tourist market here in Bali. One very unique aspect of the villa was its huge collection of rare animals. A staff member greeted me with an enormous white/yellow python. The strange animal the man was walking earlier turned out to be a civet cat, or a luwak as known here in Indonesia – it eats coffee beans which it eventually poops out whole and is turned into coffee by the Balinese people. I was also a shown a pure white albino peacock, a couple of other exotic pythons and some baby Komodo dragons. The owner, Iwan, and the staff were super friendly. It was obvious they were passionate about the animals and shared them with a playful glee. They wanted to take a bunch of photos with me for the villa Instagram account and hoped that I would visit again soon. This sort of openness, and wholehearted friendliness without ulterior motive is something I treasure about the Balinese people, and I take every opportunity to enjoy it.
What started as an average afternoon turned out to be one of my most memorable experiences of my trip, and all it took it was one deliberate “wrong turn”.