For some time I had been thinking that it would be a good idea to build another Guest house at the bottom of the garden, near the little river.
So it was a typical moment of Balinese serendipity when, one day, driving through the mountain village of Asah Panji that I saw a Joglo – a traditional rice-barn. Despite being full of cob-webs and rather neglected, I instantly fell in love with the red and gold carved doors and windows, the balcony and attractive tiled rooof.
While I was away leading my yearly month of May Bali Java Journey group, arrangements were made to transport the Joglo to my village. It was dismantled, loaded onto two trucks and taken to Penestanan to be off- loaded beside the temple. It was too difficult to transport everything along the usual path so the village women head-loaded every piece down the gorge, up the valley, over the river and into the garden. When I returned, the foundations were in and the frame already in place.
During the next few months it was a labour of love to line the walls, polish the floor, add a bathroom and furnish it. Specially carved sections were added to walls and ceiling and the transformation was complete.
Below, we retained the traditional sitting platform and added bamboo seats and a hammock to catch all the cool breezes. We surrounded the Joglo with a fish pond and although it has its own steps, we built a walkway from the upper terrace for easy access.
Every building in Bali must have three ceremonies before it can be slept in. We duly consulted the village priest and an auspicious day was chosen. The village women made masses of offerings which filled the room. Evening fell as we waited for the priest. Friends and villagers gathered to light the candles. The priest arrived, dressed in his white robes and began to chant to the accompaniment of his little tinkling bell. Just at that moment, a full golden moon rose above the rice paddies, creating an extraordinarily beautiful scene and magical atmosphere.
The three ceremonies start with the “mecaru”, to thank the spirits of the wood and materials used in the building. The ritual chicken is buried in the foundations and at this point, prepared bamboo sections piled up in the fireplace are set alight. They explode loudly in the flames and every explosion is counted. We scored a high seven which delighted everyone. The idea is to banish all the evil spirits and I am sure they were well and truly banished.
The “melaspas” follows which keeps the building holy and clean and lastly the “memakuh” invites all the good spirits to come and stay. A little wooden shrine is fixed near the door on which offerings are placed every day.
After the ceremonies, we all adjourned to the Villa where the staff had prepared the feast.
The Joglo has brought much happiness to many people from all over the world. The garden has grown up around it, embracing it, so that it looks as if it has always been there, and is happy.
Honeymoon couples especially love it.