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Learn to Cook

Learn Balinese basics at the Alila Resort with Chef Penny Williams. This cooking class (www.alilahotels.com/manggis; US$85 for half-day, US$95 seafood school, other specialty packages available; peak season incurs additional surcharge; daily) offers visitors a hands-on introduction to Balinese and Indonesian cooking. By the end each student makes, among other things, their own perfect wok-cooked nasi goreng. Delicious? Well, that's the plan, anyway.

Hire a jukung (local fishing boat) from the Alila hotel and hook your own fish. Once back on land you will learn to cook a variety of tasty seafood dishes, which include a local fish and prawn curry or fish wrapped in banana leaves.

Get a Massage

At the Alila spa (www.alilahotels.com/manggis; single treatment US$30-US$80, packages US$25-US$125; AE, MC, V; daily 9am-9pm), the Balinese traditional beauty recipes use local ingredients, such as indigenous plants, fruits, herbs, and spices. The virgin coconut oil is sourced from the local villages. A signature treatment, the "Decleor Relax with frankincense resin," is superb for jet lag and costs a reasonable US$80 for 2 hours.

Visit Tenganan Village

About 3km (2 miles) inland from the main road just south of Candidasa, is a traditional village inhabited by the Bali Aga people, Bali's original inhabitants who have lived here since well before the arrival of the Javanese. Their culture is thought to date back to just before the Majapahit Empire (1294-1478). They do not fraternize outside of their walled community and work and live in a communal society. Do not be fooled by their basic living conditions, the community owns large amounts of paddy fields that are leased to other farmers from nearby villages. With rice prices at an ultimate high, Tenganan villagers are among the wealthiest on Bali.

Tenganan is also well known for its double ikat weaving better known as kamben gringsing -- one of only three or four places in the world who still retain this skill. The others include various spots in Japan and Gujarat in India. Excellent samples can fetch up to several thousand dollars; most heirloom pieces are not for sale at any price. Just outside the walled village are a number of small shops selling a fabulous array of hand- and machine-woven textiles and baskets. Visitors are welcome to enter the village on payment of a small donation. The best time to visit is mid-year when very traditional pre-Hindu festivities keep the village busy for weeks on end.

Festivals in & Around Tenganan

Plenty of wonderful festivals take place within Tenganan and the surrounding villages. In fact, this region celebrates over 200 ceremonies annually. Go to www.karangasemtourism.com for details; dates vary year to year. The following two events happen during Usaba Samah, a month-long festival held during the fifth month of the Balinese calendar (May or June).

Maling-Malingan -- Every country and society has their own way of dealing with thieves. Some cultures imprison thieves for their crimes; others use harsh punishment such as amputation. In Tenganan, they have maling-malingan.

Preparations start early in the morning with the village elders hanging pieces of meat and bones from the ceiling of the Bale Agung (great pavilion). At 9am, two young boys steal the meat and are chased by the community through the village. The thieves are dragged back to the Bale Agung to face their punishment: They are dressed in banana leaves, necklaces, and bracelets of meat and bones, and their faces and bodies are painted white and red. Once they are made up, the thieves are paraded around the village to their embarrassment. The moral of the story is that anyone who steals will not be welcome in the village.

Mckare Kare -- The symbolic Mekare Kare is a warrior dance between two men, armed with two pieces of thorny pandanous leaves and a tamiang, a shield of plaited rattan. There is no jury just a select group of men who supervise the fight, called tukang belas. Both warriors agree not to hit the face of their opponent, and, although there is no punishment for breaking the agreements, most men endeavor not to, for fear of losing their reputation and social prestige. The duel has no time limit and the tukang belas will only stop the fight when they see any sign of anger on the competitors' faces. This is not a real game as there are no winners or losers. Instead, the emphasis is on the dancing techniques.

The whole event ends with a performance of the abwang dance by the bachelors and maidens of village of Subak Daha. At the end of the Mekare Kare is a megibung, a communal eating ritual, where the dancers/fighters eat together in the wantilan or public hall. The meal is intended to wash away any bad feeling produced by the fight.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.