At the top of a mountain ridge, as we passed monkeys crouched by the side of the road, our driver leaned back and motioned for us to hand him the map in our Lonely Planet guidebook. He held the book in front of his nose with one hand while he navigated hairpin turns on the soaked road with the other hand. After looking down the steep valley on our left and noting that there was no curb, no guardrail, just pavement turning to mud turning to cliff, I closed my eyes tight and prayed he’d stay on the narrow road.
Our driver kept looking back at us and saying emphatically “So far away, yeah?”. It was clear he both thought we were crazy to be headed off to this middle of nowhere and was angling to be paid more than we’d already agreed to.
The next day we hired a driver to take us back to the southern coast, but asked him to detour through Jaitiluwih along the way. We drove through 18 km of terraced rice fields that are centuries old and have been nominated for UNESCO status. We also stopped to see the hindu temple of Pura Taman Ayun, an incredibly peaceful and atmospheric complex that looks like the jungle and spiders will take it over tomorrow when no one's looking.