Ji at Bale Sutra
The latest step in this adventure begins with Hotel Tugu in Bali, Indonesia. I started working here to help with an amazing establishment project, shortly after the unforgettable experience at Nihiwatu. The name of this project is Ji at Bale Sutra, which houses an original Kang Xi period temple from 1706. The temple was almost demolished in Java in the 1990's, but it was dismantled, transported, and reconstructed in its entirety at Hotel Tugu in Bali. It was just a historical monument until recently, and I came at the perfect time with the opportunity to help turn it into a bar and restaurant called "Ji", with a majestic influence of old Japanese, Chinese, and Balinese cultures.
'Pa' means game, and 'sola' means spear. This traditional Sumbanese game of spears is so ancient its date of origin is uncertain. It's played by men with great skill in horse riding and spear throwing, who are divided by their ancestral tribe or region. The game has symbolic meaning, where the aim is to hit the opponent and draw blood. According to legend it's necessary for blood to be spilt in order to ensure successful harvest and fertility for the whole of Sumba. A long time ago the spears were sharpened but are now dulled, as its underlying purpose is to be a medium for maintaining peace and settling disputes. For onlookers it's also an event for socializing and making friends.
I thought that attending this event and watching from the sidelines wouldn't be dangerous. I was proven wrong the very moment the Pasola finished. The horses were being taken off the field, and I was still taking photos. I was focused on the camera, but in my peripherals I see everyone disbursing and running, fast. That's when I saw the rocks flying overhead, coming from opposing crowds from both sides of the field. A riot had started. I was frozen, and my heart was racing. I only started moving when I heard the rocks landing nearby. Seconds after running to shelter tear gas was shot into the crowd by the police, who were also firing their guns up in the air. Even under shelter, people were holding their hands above their heads as the rocks were crashing on the roof.
The riot ended minutes after the police intervened. Thankfully I'm okay, not a scratch. I've never witnessed anything like this before, and the adrenaline rush was such a high it shrouded my fear. Weirdly enough I was more excited than scared, especially knowing that it was quickly controlled. Apparently it's common for the rival crowds to get nasty, so they bring rocks to the Pasola. I was wondering why people showed up wearing helmets. The final Pasola of the year could be any day the first week of March, so I'll just wear a helmet this time. Stay tuned!
Today was a very productive and rewarding day. In terms of all three projects, everything is set in motion. The tomato rain roof is being built, with its bamboo foundation already elevated and filled with concrete. The barrel in the compost tumbler will be made from an old water tank that used to hold 5,000 liters. It's currently being worked on, I'll soon post pictures on the progress. The mushroom box is also getting started in the Engineering department and needs guidance on the right dimensions. It's hopefully going to look like a rectangular bamboo box with a hinged door, and a horizontal shelf throughout the middle for maximum space utilization.
My first day was a tour around the entire hotel, which is a lot bigger than I expected. There's so many behind-the-scenes departments that are running this world-class resort, I can't even fit them all on this post. However my favorite department is Engineering, where there's a massive backup generator and a giant reverse osmosis tank for purifying water. Not only that but everything in need of fixing gets sent there, wether it's a broken water dispenser or a broken boat engine.
Sight For Sore Eyes
The last day in Bali I took off like Superman. I wasn't anxious to leave, I was just dirt-biking Mt. Batur (Inactive Volcano) and flipped over my bike with two full seconds of flight. Maybe it wasn't a good idea to speed downhill into a volcanic fishbowl that's near impossible to get out of? It's all okay, I waved the white flag and Pak Kadex (Dirt-biking Guide, who happens to be the champion Enduro-Racer of Indonesia) helped me get out. I was shocked to see he wasn't mad about damaging the clutch on one of his prized Husqvarna motorcycles. In the moment he was dying of laughter. He captured a photo of me crashing, and the potential worry was non-existent.
Luckily, the only thing broken was my daredevil spirit. But let's just say "sore" is the basic term for what I felt the next morning, the day of my flight to Sumba.
Before University of Colorado at Boulder I lived in Bali, Indonesia for two years and studied sustainable business at the Green School. I decided to leave Colorado in pursuit of another adventure, one that deserves to be documented every step of the way.