Having joined Dojo in April this year, I had the opportunity to join a trip to the Jembrana Regency of West Bali. The trip was organised by Dojo Bali and Five Pillar Foundation. While working at Dojo I quickly learned Five Pillar Foundation is a non-profit organisation and one of the partners of the Dojo Cogiving program. Their aim is to develop the potential of communities in the Jembrana Regency, through the five pillars of economic, social, environment, educational, and cultural development.
On Saturday morning we gathered at Dojo co working space with our backpacks, fully charged cameras and coffees to go! Once we met the co-ordinators of Five Pillar Foundation and the other Dojo members we set off!
Everyone chatted amongst themselves on the bus, eagerly anticipating the experience that lay ahead. The bus came to a stop at our first destination in the Tabanan Regency.
We jumped off the bus and huddled together in the shade, avoiding the sun of the day in Soka Village. While standing next to a healthy rice crop, Wira, the community leader at Five Pillar Foundation, explained the Balinese traditional philosophy, Tri Hita Karana. Tri Hita Karana translates to ‘the three reasons for prosperity’. The 3 causes for prosperity refer to; harmony among people, harmony with nature and harmony with God. Wira went on to explain the Subak irrigation system, which is the term given to the management of water for the paddy fields which is shared collectively between the farmers.
Once the group soaked up the majestic surroundings, and our collection of videos, pictures and insta stories were complied it was time to make our way back to the bus!
After a beautiful traditional Balinese lunch, the bus driver drove down the meandering roads through the jungle. Everyone was in awe of the spectacular views and the realisation that we were experiencing “real Bali”.
Wira and his team introduced us to a number of inspiring entrepreneurs Five Pillar Foundation work with. First up was Pak Gede and his family, who have a cocoa plantation. While we enjoyed the fruits of his labour, literally, Pak Gede explained the process of harvesting the cocoa pods and extracting the cocoa beans for fermentation. Later we were lead to the building where fermentation and the chocolate making process took place! Of course we sampled the delicious Cho- Jaensan chocolate! Jaensan in Indonesian means delicious!
Next up was the oyster mushroom farm. Pak Putu guided us through the fascinating steps involved in farming organic oyster mushrooms. Pak Putu’s inspirational story fascinated each and everyone of us. Pak Putu self thought through reading books, trial and testing methods and building the necessary machinery from recycled materials. The farmer’s latest creation is an oil composed of many herbs from his farm. The oil is used on the soles of the feet and on the body’s 7 chakras.
Having dealt with illness since a child, Pak Putu explained how he believes the plants have the power to heal the body. With his extraordinary spiritual belief and determination to heal himself, he also invented a clay water filter made out of soils from nine different areas in Bali. These nine spots were chosen based on the nine directions of the compass which is sacred to the Balinese. The water is filtered through the clay and the PH level of the water increases from PH 7 to PH 9. Pak Putu explained by increasing the alkalinity of water, it’s properties could boost the body’s immune system and restore the body to good health when ill and often cure some diseases.
Wira translated that Pak Putu was called the “crazy man” by people in his village and at the same time many of them came to drink his water! We all drank the water and filled up our bottles for our onward journey!
And the final outing for the day was meeting Pak Nyoman at his organic fish farm in the middle of the jungle! Lead down a winding path, everyone stopped to admire the breath taking views; a dense tropical jungle with coconut trees as far as the eye could see! We walked up on to a deck where we continued to drink in the stunning views and observed the 3 man made ponds below. Pak Nyoman demonstrated and explained the model approach to organic fish farming. It was a wonderful experience, not to mention the delicious meal we shared in their ‘Warung’ while the sun began to set.
The bus driver pulled up outside Tiger Surf Camp on Saturday evening. As I walked to my bamboo hut I felt we were walking through Bali 20 years ago! No hustle and bustle, just peace and tranquility. The only sounds were the Indian Ocean, the bells on the cows in the field next to us. Oh and the opening of a bottle of Bintang!
The next morning I witnessed a beautiful sunrise while walking along Medewi Beach, followed by a tasty traditional Balinese breakfast and fresh Papaya juice. And copious amounts of Balinese coffee!
The Dojo group were on the move by 9am! Five Pillar Foundation invited us to their house in Negara, the capital of Jembrana Regency. Here we had an amazing experience meeting some of the youths from Jembrana Regency. We chatted to each individual; they practised their English, we practised our Indonesian and Balinese, some of us learnt traditional Balinese dance while others chatted about their favourite hobbies and football players! The ladies at Five Pillar Foundation made beautiful coconut, rice and fruit treats wrapped in banana leaves. I can’t recall the different names of the desserts but they were all delightful!
We waved goodbye to our new friends headed for the snake farm. I mean snake fruit farm! As we walked down the lane, the farmer explained the different flavours of the snake fruit depending on their size. We devoured the delicious fruit as we broke the “snake skin” and chewed on the white flesh in the centre.
More tasty fruits were passed around including cassava smothered in coconut sugar, sweet coconut sap and ‘coconut wine’.
As our wonderful experience drew to a close, we dined on the banks of the Bilukpoh river for lunch. Cooling off in the river’s clear water was a more extraordinary experience when we were in the middle of thousands of coconuts being harvested down the river by 3 farmers. The farmers caught the coconuts in large nets and removed them from the river while we enjoyed tasty Nasi Goreng.
As we sat on the bus back to Canggu we chatted about our amazing weekend in West Bali.
It was fascinating to witness the opportunity Five Pillar Foundation have given communities in West Bali and opportunity it gave us. I truly enjoyed the invaluable experience having learned so much about the Balinese culture and traditions, the breath taking views and of course the warm welcome and endearing Balinese smiles from everyone we met. It’s a weekend I’ll never forget!