Travel data shows that tourists heading to Bali want to do more than relax at the beach.
While hanging out in the Bali sunshine is a perfectly honorable way to spend a vacation, there are so many opportunities for tourists to really connect with the local culture and natural landscapes. One particular workshop is a truly cutting-edge experience.
In Gubug Village, just a 20-minute drive from the world-famous Tanah Lot Temple lives a man by the name of Pande Ketut Margita, who is more affectionally known as Margi Keris. Have you heard of a Keris before?
The Balinese Keris is a traditional dagger that actually has protected status from UNSECO.
The Keris, most famous in Bali and Java but found throughout Indonesia and South East Asia, is an asymmetrical dagger that is traditionally used both as a weapon and as a spiritual tool.
Traditionally, both men and women wear keris in ceremonies, and each dagger has a deeply spiritual and mythological story to tell.
Margi Keris is a traditional keris craftsman, a blacksmith, and he has opened his doors to the public to tell the story of the keris to the world and guide tourists in making a keris of their own.
A traditional blacksmith, or bladesmith, is known as an Empu. In Indonesian culture, Empu are held in high regard for their deep knowledge of history, ritual, literature, and the arts. Across cultures in Indonesia, keris are held as sacred objects with magical powers.
Margi Keris has been teaching international tourists how to make keris since 1995, but since the tourism boom in 2005, there has been an ever-increasing interest in his work.
Margi Keris told reporters, “Every week someone comes, 3-4 people; even before Covid-19, they served 10 people a week.”
Though Margi Keris has a lifetime of craftsmanship under his belt, he says that tourists can pick up the basic skills required to make their own dagger in just a few hours.
He said, “It’s not difficult to teach forging if you already have forging skills. The average tourist enjoys it.”
Margi Keris offers one hour of mentorship for IDR 300,000 and recommends tourists spend a 6-8 hour day with him to make a keris from start to finish.
Alternatively, tourists can drop by his workshop for an hour or so to learn more about the tradition and purchase a keris he has made.
He explained, “Keris made by tourists are usually bought directly. But some just want to enjoy the experience of making it, and then the photo is immortalized. But if you want to buy, I welcome you to buy keris, starting at IDR 4 million per piece.”
Margi Keris can be found on Instagram at @MargiKeris.Offical
Taking to social media, it is clear that the demand for experiential travel in Bali is growing. Earlier this year, Agung Silver in Sidemen Village gathered heaps of attention online.
Agung Silver offers tourists silversmithing workshops where they can use traditional tools to make their own silver rings, bracelet, or necklace.
There are many silver shops in Ubud and other popular resorts offering similar experiences, but Agung Silver went viral on TikTok.
Sidemen Village, located an hour east of the arts and cultural capital of Bali, Ubud, is the perfect place for culture lovers to take a day trip.
Tourists planning their trips to Bali are being encouraged to step outside their comfort zones and explore more of what the island has to offer.
From temples to food to crafts to music, local leaders in Bali want to see more promotion of cultural heritage in the tourism sector.
This is great news for tourists. Not only will visitors to the island be afforded the same kind of hospitality that the Island of the Gods is so famous for, but are not be given a chance to connect with the island on a deeper level.
That being said, as tourists engage in more culture-based tourism, leaders are keen to ensure visitors understand and respect the way of life on the island.
This is why the provincial government has issued a series of do’s and don’t for tourists during their visit.
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