Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Cottage is Alive and Well

Day 291
I was up before my alarm went off and went to grab my free breakfast. It was a bit odd as it was an omelet with rice inside of it. There was one tour that my hotel offered that I didn't think was over priced, a bike tour of local cottage industries. I wasn't alone for once and was joined by an Austrian couple. I was really worried that I would fall quite a bit behind because of how rarely I go bike riding, but it was the Austrian woman who had the most trouble.

The first place that we stopped at was a leather puppet factory. Apparently master puppeteers will give 8 hour shows solo and never once take a bathroom break. Before we got much further down the road the chain on my bike broke. Luckily we were still in town and it only took about 10 minutes to find someone to fix it before we were on our way again.

After crossing a thin river on a very flimsy looking boat we went to a place that made tofu. Oddly, most of the soy beans are imported from the states. They put the beans in a machine and it liquefies them. The liquid is then poured into molds. When it hardens it is cut and then put into water to stay fresh. No one was wearing masks or anything so it was kinda gross. Next up was the gong maker. This was pretty cool to watch. They would put the gong in the fire and then pull it out for a minute or two and about 3 guys would bang it into shape for about a minute before repeating the process. None of the guys were wearing shoes or even protective glasses. It was really pretty shocking.

Next up was an illegal moonshine place. This rice based liqueur was distilled twice to make it extra potent. I tried a sip but didn't like it at all. The Austrians said that it tasted a bit like schnapps. After photographing more livestock we went to an organic tofu maker. The soy beans were covered in a fungus that looked like spider webs and then wrapped in banana leaves and left to ferment over night. After watching how tofu is made I don't think that I will ever eat it again.

We stopped for a bit at a restaurant to rehydrate and cool off. The rain was coming though so we couldn't stay long. Right before getting back in town we went to a rice chip making place. I have been eating these like crazy but will do so no more. The rice patties have to dry out in the sun and are places on sheets. There were chickens running over them! We used to say in my family that chickens make lousy house pets, I think they just make lousy pets all together!

Our last stop was down some really tight alleys and I managed to ride right into a wall. Sometimes I really think that I should be living in a padded bubble. I was a bit annoyed to see more batik stuff but there was a group of school kids learning how to make it and they were cute, drawing Hello Kitty and other cartoons instead of the typical native patterns. They were all doing a much better job than I could have ever done.

The bike tour had be great and we made it back just as the rain started, what great timing . After eating and cleaning up I worked on the blog for some time. While I was on the way to dinner I ran into my guide for the next day. He asked if I would mind if there was another person in my group and if we went by car instead of motorbike. I said that I didn't mind that as long as the price was the same. He told me that it would be double, I told him I couldn't do that and that I didn't really think it was fair for him to change the contract like that. He didn't press the issue and I was left just a little irritated.

For dinner I had some nasi gudeg, a coconut based dish with jackfruit. It was fabulous. It's so strange, when I was in Singapore I couldn't find anything that I wanted to eat and now I love it all! When I was done dinner I headed back to my hotel and wrote in my journal before calling it a night.

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