Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku: Legendary Chicken Rice from Ubud, Bali

Ubud is famous for Monkey Forest, Ubud Market, The Royal Palace as well as shops, restaurants and cafes along the way that are often quite pricey and touristy. Well, suppose you step away a little bit from the crowds to Kedewatan Village in the outskirt of Ubud, that takes about 20 minutes, you’ll find a rather ordinary house façade saying “Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku”, translated as Mrs. Mangku’s Kedewatan Chiken Rice, on both neon box and engraved limestone.

nasi ayam kedewatan
the facade

Mrs. Mangku started selling her signature chicken rice back in 1960’s on a flea market around Kedewatan Village. Before she succeeds, she moved from one place to another until she has many regular customers and settles at the present location.

Once I arrived at the restaurant, I didn’t quickly take a seat in an ordinary dining room in front of me. Instead, I walked further to find the beautiful Balinese house hidden behind it. The 6-pavilion house is the residence of Mrs. Mangku family and one of them is the kitchen to produce the signature chicken mix rice. The atmosphere is very homey rather than a commercial place and peaceful with soft background of Balinese keroncong music. The scenery is fantastic and the combination of red brick, engraved wood, gold and red color make the house look earthy and elegant at the same time.

nasi ayam kedewatan
the pond

The seatings are situated on the side of each pavilion and some on stage, like the ones near the pond and the rice barn. Most of them are performed with lesehan style, meaning that you will dine using a very short table and seat on a carpet, that somehow similar to a traditional Japanese dining style. Since the house is spacious and the distance from 1 seating to another is a bit far, it is very suitable for those who love privacy and tranquility. Take some to walk around the house, the greenery and serenity are completely relaxing your mind and refreshing your eyesight.

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modified rice barn into seating

nasi ayam kedewatan

Although the signature menu is called nasi ayam (chicken rice), probably it is more suitable to call it nasi campur ayam (chicken-based mix rice) because unlike the Chinese food Hainan Chicken Rice, it is a mixture of different kind of chicken-based dishes, from sate lilit ayam (minced chicken satay), boiled egg, crispy chicken skin, ayam betutu (Balinese style chicken), lawar (mixed vegetables) and peanuts.

nasi ayam kedewatan
privacy and serenity

nasi ayam kedewatan

nasi ayam kedewatan
after work

Bear in mind that don’t do what I did by asking, “Is there any other menus other than chicken rice?”, because they only have 1 menu for many years and there haven’t been any new ones ever since. Therefore the waiter asked me if it was my first visit to the restaurant. Certainly, it was!

The only variety is how it’s served, either all contents in one plate including rice and poured chicken soup on the rice or in different plates, where rice and soup are served separately. Nonetheless, it’s the same food. The chicken-based mix rice in one plate costs Rp. 25.000 ($ 2) and the separate one costs Rp. 35.000n ($ 3) because it has a bigger portion of rice and soup. I was hungry, so I took the Rp. 35.000 dish.

nasi ayam kedewatan
chicken-based mix rice

All I can say is I got more than I paid. It was very delicious with all the rich spices penetrated into the chicken dishes and the soup tasted so heavenly. I struggled with the burning hot soup, to be honest, since I’m usually not a spicy food eater, but it was all worth it.

nasi ayam kedewatan
Yes, I sat here!

Fresh juices are sold starting from Rp. 7000 ($ .50) to Rp. 20.000 ($ 1.6). There are some varieties of chips, crackers as well starting from Rp. 1000 ($ .10) for a thumb size package of snack you can get in front of the cashier and the price range for the rest is about Rp. 5000 to Rp. 10.000 ($ .30 to $ .80).

nasi ayam kedewatan
fountain and snacks behind it

temple inside the house

No wonder why the business lasts for over 60 years, how cool is that! I was lucky that I could choose the seat very easily since I came around 2 pm on weekdays where lunch time was over.

My experience tells me (and you) that this is not a tourist trap and nothing scammy about it. You definitely don’t need to empty your wallet for dining in an authentic and instagrammable place and satisfy your appetite with great food.

Nasi Ayam Kedewatan Ibu Mangku

Address: Jl. Raya Kedewatan No.18, Ubud, Bali
Phone: 0361 974795
Opening hours: 6.30 am – 8 pm

monkey

How Safe and Wise to Feed Monkeys in Buleleng, Bali?

As we all know, monkeys are intelligent animals in many ways, even considered the closest relatives to human beings. Nonetheless, when it comes to interacting with people, there are pros and cons. Some say they are cute and lovely, some say they are nasty and dangerous. Which one do you think is right?

For me, they are just unpredictable. So I stay safe when I face them. Don’t wear accessories, from earrings, a hat to sunglasses. Don’t feed them. Don’t touch them. When they climb on me, keep calm until they go down themselves. The only thing I dare to is to look at them and take pictures, but trying my best not too close to the subjects.

But a single shot experience in Buleleng may change my perception about monkeys. FYI, Buleleng is a regency situated in the north side of Bali, whose capital city is Singaraja. Suppose you’ve been to Kuta and Denpasar in south Bali, it takes about 2 hours drive from the south to the north. It is said that the monkeys in Buleleng are nice and don’t steal stuff.

ARE THESE MONKEYS THAT NICE?

When I was on my way up to Wanagiri Village, passing the hilly road in Buleleng, my dad asked the driver to pull over and stop the car on the side of the street full of long-tailed monkeys.

“Here?” I asked with disbelieve.

I’d always thought that the location would be either a park, a sanctuary or a zoo. Forget about a place like Monkey Forest in Ubud. It’s actually located on the side of the busy street, facing the beautiful lake Buyan and Tamblingan. No entrance fee needed to see these monkeys. They were just everywhere, especially in the forest where they reside across the street. I could even see them from the car window.

When I got off from the car, I saw a lady leaving the hut nearby, bringing a basket of peanuts and bananas, and started feeding a fat monkey with peanuts. However, he hissed, showing his small yet sharp teeth and eyes wide open. I was a bit shocked.

time to feed the monkeys
monkey
Jack being busy with banana

“That’s all right. He just wants bananas, not peanuts.” She tried to calm me down, convincing that feeding monkeys in the area is safe. I didn’t know monkeys could be so demanding.

Having changed the bait into a banana, the fat monkey, let’s call him Jack, quickly grabbed and enjoyed it for himself.

Next, she fed the smaller monkey, let’s call him Chad, on top of the roof. Later on, she gave me a turn to feed the perpetually hungry monkeys, passing me the basket. Since I know it wouldn’t be for free, I asked her how much it is.

“Twenty thousand.”

Rp. 20.000 ($1.5) for a basket filled with 7 pieces of banana and a handful of peanuts is not too expensive compared to buying banana for Rp. 10.000  ($ 0.80) per piece in Monkey Forest. You can bring your own food, but I wasn’t ready. Anyways, she or anyone else in charge for the monkeys would be much happier if you get a basket of food from her or him.

I started giving a piece of banana to Chad, yet he unexpectedly move a few steps behind. The lady suggested me to move my hand further toward the monkey, therefore he could reach the food more easily. Well, I was just being cautious no matter how tame they are, that’s all.

However, in seconds, I noticed that real the reason why Chad couldn’t grab the peanuts from my hand was because he didn’t dare to step further. He could have done that, but Jack was standing in front of the hut while staring at the rooftop. It turned out that Chad was intimidated by Jack’s presence.

That also happened to other monkeys whose body size were just like Chad. I fed all of them equally, interchangeably between peanuts and bananas. However, when Jack was near them, they kept the distance from him, even ran away until the situation is “safe”.

Jack was indeed territorial as if he ran the world. He only wanted the food for himself, not really pleased when other smaller monkeys accepted it from men’s hands. He even chased those monkeys, including Chad, trying to scare them off. I did my best to give all the content in the basket for those poor monkeys, rather than Jack. Although I still spare some for Jack.

monkey
grabbing peanuts

Despite Jack’s domination and the poor monkeys, it is true that they are more “polite” than those in other areas. They only approach you when there’s food in your hands meant for them. Nothing more. They don’t grab sunglasses, hats or accessories. They don’t climb on you. They don’t bite. In one condition: as long as you don’t touch them.

A few days later, we passed the same street, going down to the airport. I spotted some tourists holding a camera feeding the same monkeys I fed last time. Due to the development of tourism in north Bali, the cuteness of the monkeys is getting more popular. Feeding them is indeed a fun activity for many.

FUN, YET NOT WISE 

Nonetheless, weeks after returning home, I accidentally stumbled upon on Mongabay, an environment news site, mentioning that actually it is unwise to feed them because nowadays the monkeys are 3 times fatter than how it should be. Overfeeding does not only have an impact on their health, but also changes their surviving behaviour in the wild and increase their aggressiveness on searching for food.

If I knew it from the start, I wouldn’t have done what I did.

In that case, local government should educate its people on side effects of offering monkey feeding activities for tourists to earn money, although it’s not a quick scheme to get the expected results to protect the future of  long-tailed monkeys population.

 

Pringga’s Grill Restaurant, Ubud: Terrible Service and Inverted Racism

The night was still young. Although my sis, my brother-in-law and I were not about to party all night long till the morning light, we were not ready to sleep like a baby at 8 pm either. After all, night life in Bali is something everyone should experience, at least once.

The intensity of crowds at night in Ubud is much less than that in Legian, including the main street of Monkey Forest. Ubud is more famous for art galleries, artsy stores, yoga centers, and the Monkey Forest itself, than pubs and discotheques. As these places are closed at night, the whole street looks partially dark.

pringga's ubud bali
dining rooms

Nonetheless, no worries. Walk further, passing all the (closed) stores, and the more vivid part of the street appears, thanks to the lighting from hotels, hostels, restaurants, pubs and mini markets, including Pondok Pundi Village Inn where we stayed.

pringga's ubud bali
the bar

Within 5 minutes walking distance from the inn, we finally found a very cozy place and not too crowded to hang out: Pringga’s Grill Ubud.

The open air space, homey feeling and traditional atmosphere, enhanced by barong statues, engravings and Balinese gamelan music background, managed to drag us to sit on one of their big sofas to get lazy and have some booze despite the emphasis of “grill” in the name of this cafe restaurant.

fibra ubud bali
to the bungalow entrance

My brother in-law ordered a glass of cocktail for himself (I forget what he had), while my sis and I got a grenadine-based cocktail for sharing. My sis is not a huge fan of cocktails, after all, but wanted to have some zips of sweetness.

fibra garden hotel ubud

At a glance, I noticed something pretty behind Pringga’s Grill, especially the building is adjacent with Wibawa Spa and Fibra Inn Bungalow, a Balinese Garden Hotel. While waiting for the drinks, I took a self-walking tour to the hotel and spa area.

hindu shrine ubud
shrines

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Balinese traditional house is clearly the main inspiration of the property, something that I found beautiful and serene. The use of secluded building to separate one room to another is one of the signature styles of Balinese houses because of the application of Hindu dharma principle, where objects must be properly located, aligned with the universe to create harmony.

fibra ubud bali

 

Probably, it is formerly a family residence transformed into a business area. I noticed several additional rooms in modern architecture. Besides, I believe that Pringga’s Grill was built later to cater the needs of guests and maximize the potential to earn more.

fibra ubud bali
the pond

Anyways, this was a great place to kill the time before my drink arrived.

Returning to our seat 15 minutes later, the cocktails had not arrived yet. I was expecting they would be on the table by the time I got back.

fibra hotel ubud bali

I looked at our surroundings. It wasn’t a very busy day. The occupation of seats were less than half of the room. If our orders were grilled food, I could understand that it may take longer. But for heaven’s sake, ours were just 2 glasses of cocktails!

We all agreed that something was not right and called the staff to remind that our orders were still pending after a while. She nodded and walked to the bar area.

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Another 10 minutes went by. My sister noticed that those who were served first were foreigners, that happened to have Caucasian look. The only local guests in the room was my sister and I. My brother-in-law is not even an Indonesian, but a Chinese-Fijian nationality. However, as he joined us, he looked just like any Chinese-Indonesian people.

I felt the same. I observed approximately 4 small groups of (Caucasian-look) guests arriving later than us and they all got their drinks first.

We could have scolded the staffs or left our spot without their knowledge. But we came to this place to relax, not to argue and lecture them about service excellence. We called the staff once again, asking for our drinks.

They finally arrived, nearly 40 minutes the orders were made. Great. First come, last served!

There was no problem about the taste of the cocktails. The grenadine cocktail was a bit too sweet, but it was still okay and enjoyable.

ubud bali

Well, I believe that the real issue behind the terribly slow service was not about operational mismanagement. Blame it on inverted racism attitude or valuing other races more than your own (www.urbandictionary.com).

Unfortunately, there are some Indonesian people who still consider that foreigners (Caucasian-look people so-called bule, to be exact) have higher social status than locals (Indonesians). Literally means “pale”, bule, is an Indonesian slang for fair-skinned people.

Since the bules tend to spend more freely when they come to Indonesia, they look rich. So, these inverted racists have a stereotype that “all” bules are rich. And spendy.

I mean no offense about this. But in fact, not all bules are rich for real in their hometown, although some of them are. They generally become rich by conversion rate. Say, they can get more stuffs in Indonesia for $50 (about Rp. 400.000) than in their own country. So, they take a chance to be splendor travellers while visiting cheaper countries (by currency), which is something normal to do.

On the other hand, not all locals are poor. And not all of then are rich either. These inverted racists, who undoubtedly are narrow-minded, are not able or refuse to see this.

No one should judge the book by its cover. All guests deserve an equally good service regardless social status, outlook, skin colour, religion etc. As you have heard before: customers are kings. Customers are the real boss of your business.

First come, first served!

I actually don’t care what the staffs thought about us, but service discrimination is totally unacceptable. I was am totally pissed off about it until now. And there’s no way I will return to that place again, ever!

Nonetheless, deep inside my heart, I feel sorry for them. They don’t only look down their own people, but also themselves. It gradually crushes their self-esteem and that’s pathetic.

It’s been 2 years and I hope that this inverted racism is no longer part of the company culture. Especially a new chapter of life has begun, marked by the arrival of year 2017.

I wish you all brighter days this year. Happy new year 2017!

 

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

Who’s the Real Object?

no pictures, please!

Is he posing for Aqua, the famous Indonesian mineral water brand, or he’s protecting himself from “paparazzi?” No matter what he’s doing, I ask him once more to face the camera and smile. Let’s try this in a different location. May be he’s more comfortable and finally will make up his mind.

And here’s the result……

again, no pictures, please!

He insists on hiding his face with the Aqua bottle. I give up. He’s too shy for the camera.

The Aqua bottle wins. It’s the real object. Full stop.

Gods Bless Us Everyday and Everywhere

No matter where you go in Bali, I believe you notice the presence of woven trays filled with shredded leaves, colourful flowers, a pinch of rice and some man-made delicacies, such as a Mentos candy and mini Ritz biscuits, or even a cigarette stick and coins.

The artistic home decoration look-alike demonstrates the simplest and the most staple way of Balinese Hindu people to thank God, or Sang Hyang Widhi, by creating a daily offering called canang sari. The word canang sari derives from ca means beautiful, nang means aim, and sari means essence. In other words, an offering should be created aesthetically with full of sincerity and attention to details.

I am particularly interested in chronological aspects of canang sari, from weaving the trays, placing the offering until what happens next after being abandoned in public. Its contents and locations presented indicate the recent adaptation of an ancient faith practice.

After several visits, I finally succeeded gathering series of canang sari images in several places all over the island.

WEAVING TRAYS

Weaving, Ubud

Square trays symbolize the power of moon, made of woven young coconut leaf called janur. Due to the extremely wide use of coconut leaf in the offerings, Bali needs more supply from Java island to keep the tradition alive. Some local women are dedicated to create the trays. Unless you have time for this, fear not. There are suppliers providing ready-made ones, whose clients include major hotels and resorts.

PLACING OFFERINGS

Daily Dose, Ubud

Although it’s called a daily offering, you may hear different opinions about how often it is presented. An official from Pertiwi Resort, with whom I spoke, said that placing an offering once a day is enough. However, some intense devotees place it three times a day, while on the other hand some non-intense ones only do it once to three times a week. Is it a matter of a different interpretation of the word “daily”?

Say It with a Prayer, Ubud

The main contents of the tray are pink, yellow, red, purple, blue flowers, shredded pandan leaves, coins and some home cooking food purposely set aside for the offering. Pink flower is heading to the east, blue or purple to the north, yellow to the west, and red to the south.

Unless you have time for this? Make time! Filling the tray themselves is a symbol of sacrifice. No catering service to replace the activity, unfortunately!

Bless Our Home, Tenganan Village

Balinese Hindu people place the offerings in temples, shrines, in front of the entrance door, stairs, on top of store merchandise, cash desk and everywhere else where they need protection, safety, prosperity and blessings.

Have A Smoke, Legian

“What’s the cigarette for? Is it part of the offering?” I asked.

The lady from a store in Legian replied, “Well, most of the spirits here are old people who like smoking. So yeah, we give them cigarettes.”

Safe Ride, Ubud

For More Fortune and Prosperity, Tegallalang Village

Tegallalang Village is famous for the rice terrace field blessed with splendid beauty and fertility, attracting millions of tourists every year. Local government reinforces business owners to cover metal-roofed restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops with hay to retain traditional atmosphere. Nonetheless, the hay seem to have a bit too short supply to obey the rule….

To Bless a Man at Work, Tenganan Village

“Which one do you praise?”, A Restaurant across Krisna Souvenir Shop

I’m not sure what’s going on with this one. Is the owner a Buddhist doing a Hindu ritual?

Starbucks Goes Traditional, Ngurah Rai Airport

“It is a matter of time for KFC’s fried chicken, McDonald’s burger, and Coca-Cola to be part of the offering to Gods.”(Kompas, April 28, 2013)

Sounds so true to me. Starbucks presents a cup of espresso and a piece of espresso brownie to replace rice. It doesn’t serve rice anyway, does it?

Rice Colouring, Menega Seafood Restaurant, Jimbaran

Besides canang sari, there are colourful rice offerings called segehan, as a symbol of strength and unity. White rice to the east, red rice to the south, yellow to the west, and black rice to the north. Only natural food colouring is allowed, while artificial colouring signifies deception.

AFTER A WHILE….

Scattered, Sanur Beach

No one can guarantee that the offerings remain intact after being left unattended. Kicking or stepping on the trays is a sign of disrespect. However, I admit that it’s pretty hard to remind them not to do so as they are often in the middle of pedestrian areas. Offering destruction is acceptable when natural causes occur, such as wind, animal occupations, and many more.

Great Spot for Nesting, Segarra Resort, Sanur

Yummy, Tenganan Village

The Treat, Tenganan Village

Would End Up This Way Eventually, Tegallalang Village

I hope Bali will remain home for the Gods and their worshipers will never stop praising their Gods, regardless modern exposure from floods of tourists and investors from time to time. But some say modernity and foreign influence actually unite Balinese people to maintain their rituals to lure their visitors worldwide.

I certainly hope so…..

Weekly Photo Challenge: In The Background

fishing in Kutuh Village offshore, Bali

Taken from Timbis Hill, Bali, about 800 metres above sea level, deep blue sea withdraws the attention from the initial subject: Kutuh Village people fishing in a seaweed plantation site. The offshore holds one of the biggest seaweed exporters in Bali to China, giving more prosperity of its inhabitants. It’s up to the eyes of the beholders how to interpret the message or from which angle they view the  image: the sea, the “dots” (people) in the coastline, the green-brown thing (seaweed) situated before the sea, or the calm wave.