Sidemen is well known for its traditional hand weaving of endek and songket. Songket gold is the emblem of kings as representatives of the sun. Endek is most widely produced cloth in Bali, it is a form of the single Ikat process in which the pattern is made by resist dying the threads of the warp or the weft. Endek is a weft ikat technique. Sidemen was also a base for Swiss Ethnologist Urs Ramseyer, and besides that a German artist Walter Spies lived in the 1930s. Later, a Swiss painter Theo Meier nearly as famous as Spies for his influence in the Balinese art also lived in the same area.
The natural beauty of this village is having a spectacular background of the great volcano Mount Agung, which is the most sacred volcano to the Balinese, and Lovely Mountain change around where there is various local vegetation grows. In a good weather, we can enjoy the spectacular view of mount Agung that seems to be so close to the eyes. It is truly another hidden beauty of Bali to be explored and appreciated by those who love nature and admiring God's creation.
There are two different hikes that I want to share with you around this village and both are different in type of trails and beauty.
Puri Duangga Mountain hike
We start our walk from the market of Sidemen where the local people are selling their home grown crops such as coconut, coffee, clove, and various kind of local fruits. Walking up the steep hill path behind the village through the local farming land where they grow coffee, vanilla, snake fruit, clove, bananas and other local vegetation. The rich soil is so obviously seen from how the corps growing well, and it is because of the great volcano that looks so magnificent from the top of the Duangga's mountain. The great eruption of mount Agung in the 1963 must had given lots of fertility for the soil apart from the terrible damages to the island. We made a few stops along the way while enjoying the spectacular view over the great volcano, green rice paddies, the local villages and the great Indian Ocean. As we were walking through the snake fruit farm which gets lots of sharp thorn all over the tree, we were very cautious and sometimes had to bend down to avoid our body being scratched by the torn.
We got to a little shrine and our local friend was putting a little offering to pray for safety of our hike to the top as it is considered to be a sacred mountain by the local. We were resting there a bit where suddenly our friend pointed us a group of monkeys that were jumping over the bush on the other side of the hill. They are believed to be the guard of the holy temple on the summit of the mountain. Unfortunately we can not be close to them like the one at the Monkey forest where we can even feed them.
Our hike continued through the snake fruit farm to get to the top of Duangga Hill and rest again by a small temple on its summit while enjoying the great panorama over the ocean. The Mount Rinjani in Lombok was hugged by the white clouds like pure white cotton and the island of Nusa Penida was clearly seen in a distance. We took a rest for about 15 minutes before continuing our hike to the other top of the mountain where we could view Candidasa beach and Mount Agung clearly. We rest around the temple for another 15 minutes and then continuing our hike down the northern side of the mountain thorough the local farmhouses. We met local farmer where we bought some snake fruit right from the tree, it was really fresh and giving us some more energy to follow the dirt track down. The local people were easily walking up and down the tracks with burden on the head and what a great balance and strength that they have. Their great balance to carry stuff on the head following a very steep hill path amazed my clients. Along the way we saw women were patching water from the hillside mountain spring for drinking and cooking water. We reached to the bamboo forest and walking through it for about 20 minutes before we got to the main road of Iseh village where our driver was waiting for us. The village of Iseh once was chosen as a place to live by the German painter "Walter Spies" in the 1930s. It is a beautiful village with spectacular rice terrace view, river, and Mount Agung. We sat under the bamboo forest and enjoying our cold drink. It was fantastic hike even it was a bit taking up our energy and we have no complaining about it.
Luah village hike
We start our hike from Luah Village, a small village sits under a mountainside and by vast rice paddies where Mount Agung was the background view on the other side. We were walking through the village dirt road before following the trail along the irrigation tunnel, along the dike of the rice paddies. Along the way we saw the local farmers busy working on the field, taking care their farm but still got a chance to say hello to us. We walk down to the Unda River where water was very nice but it was not deep enough for a swim. We sat on a huge volcanic rock and enjoying the panorama around us. We then continued our trip through the rice paddies and reach a small village where we saw a bunch of school kids was very excited to be photographed. They were very happy and making their various action for the picture. We followed the village road that goes through the rice paddies in a very beautiful valley with the big river in a distance. We saw some farmers were harvesting the vegetable and carrying them to a guy that was waiting with his truck on the side of the road. We watched them for a while trying to observe what they were doing. We have seen that they were not that happy as this guy who was a middle guy paid cheaply for their vegetable. It seems that it was not fair with the amount of the work that they have to spend to grow the vegetable, but what can they do. The middle guy was scaling those vegetables and putting some kind of tag on every bundle with the weight. After getting the payment, each farmer was leaving the place and walking back to their farm.
We continued our walk and met a guy who led their cows to the stream and gave them a bath. The cows look very happy to be given a bath and really enjoying the fresh mountain water. They are very well taken care as they are considered to be a holy animal here in Bali. The farmers are using them for plaughing the paddy field, and they are given a special ceremony on a holy day called Tumpek Kandang. It is a ceremony specially carried out for the domestic animals like Pig, chicken, cow, etc. It is more like a birthday ceremony for them. We have our Balinese birthday every 210 days according to the Balinese calendar, which is called Otonan ceremony.
Walking up hill we got to a village of Sangkan Gunung that lies on the top of the little mountain and the view was very gorgeous over the great valley and we could see the tracks that we walked before. It was a wonderful view of the sea, river valley and over the green rice paddies. Along the way I was sharing a little bit of the local vegetation that grows around the village. They grow lots of Clove trees, Coffee, Snake fruits, and many other fruit trees. We also saw some pigs on the backyards of the people compound, free running chickens, fighting roosters along the side of the road in cute cages and of course all the dogs that were hanging around along the village road. We walk along with some women from the village who were going to patch water from the local spring and they all were carrying a big bucket for the water and of course a bundle of laundry, too. We stopped at a public bath that was on the side of the road but not to be rude to watch them having a bath but there were some village's kids there who were trying to practice their English. It was seemed okay to be there and watch them doing their laundry and even while they were bathing in the natural fountain.
We said good bye to those village kids and continuing our walk to the next village where we were very fortunate to see a big ceremony there. Men and Women and Kids were dressed nicely for the temple. Women were carrying beautiful towering offerings on their head and gracefully walking to the village temple. It was a very festive moment for the village and all looked very happy with their wonderful smile. Kids were saying " Hello, hello…." And waving hand to us. We sat around for a while and observing the activities before getting into the car that bring us back to our nice accommodation that set amongst the rice paddies. What a perfect day to be ended with a cup of coffee while enjoying the view of the green rice paddies.