There are the guides you hire to accomplish A, B, and C, and they do that for you. Then, there are the guides who engage with you, listen to conversations you are having, hear what you love, and enhance your travel experience even further. These guys truly go above and beyond. Edy was that person for us. He was our 1.5-day driver/guide in Bali, and he certainly did not disappoint. Hearing that we wanted to try as much local food as possible, he not only took me to the babi guling spot I wanted to try in Ubud, but he attempted to take us to a chicken spot he loved serving the local loved ayam betutu (Balinese style grilled chicken). While they were already closed, as they are only open for lunch and it was past 6pm at the time he drove us, it was the effort that counted.
And when he heard that I loved durian and jackfruit, he searched far and wide on the roads to see if any roadside vendors were selling it. In the light rain, it was challenging, as many roadside fruit vendors stop selling during rain and do not want to get wet, but he persevered and found us a vendor that sold BOTH fruits, and both were superbly fresh, delicious, and reasonably priced! The durian he got us was likely one of the sweetest, creamiest durians I’d ever eaten. It was a pain to find a place to eat it (and film eating it) once back in Kuta, but we made it work by finding an empty bench in front of a closed tattoo shop.
And if that were not enough, on our way back from lunch today, we passed yet another durian vendor who sold us a durian 10,000 IDR cheaper than the one yesterday, and it was also super sweet and creamy with a similar amount of fruit. I was sitting on the side of a road, swatting away flies and getting bitten by mosquitoes on my arms and legs, yet I was happily eating my durian. I felt quite at bliss at the moment even though I was hot, sticky, and itchy from the bug bites.
These are the things I love about travel – eating delicious, local foods in their local environments the way the locals would eat it. As we sat and ate on the road side, other locals joined us to buy their durians, have them cut open, and sat right by us. We exchanged smiles, and it was simply understood: what unites us is our humanity and our desire for tasty and delicious food. We are joined in that.