You never know where our guide, Surya, will take us. Today, on a three-mile hike through the rice fields of Bugbug Village, we happened upon a little table covered with a dozen implements with wooden handles, the top part wrapped in newspaper and twine. What were they and why were they here?
It ends up this was the Ace Hardware of Bali.
Surya explained that this was the “shop” of the local knife seller. A husband and wife who are members of the ironsmith clan. As children in school uniforms peeked around the corner yelling, “Pagi!” (morning—short for Good Morning) and “Hallo!” the seller began carefully unwrapping her knives, one at time. There were specialty knives designed for chopping in the kitchen, those for cutting weeds, rice cultivation and even a special knife just for cutting coconut.
Surya, who I know from personal experience is a master Balinese chef, took a plant and began to demonstrate his very fine chopping technique on the side of her table. Mincing tiny pieces of green just millimeters from his fingers which kept moving backwards at exactly the right speed not to lose a digit.
The couple forges these knives in the alley around the corner and a moment later, the woman invited us to see their forge. Take a look at these images and be sure to read the captions. They tell more of this amazing story…all on our way to reach the rice fields.
The Ace Hardware of Bali
The knife seller
Surya demonstrating his fine chopping technique, honed over 30 years as a terrific cook. Men do most of the cooking and Bali.
The man with the knife.
Mugging for the camera.
Surya bought this knife for dealing with the weeds on his property. He said it cost 100,000 Ruppia here and 250,000 rupiah in Denpasar. So this is a real bargain.
This is the fire where the knives are forged.
The knives are made from used metal. Surya said the best are made from old shock absorbers and old farm equipment.
This is where the knives are hammered out.
This altar, on top of the forge, gets daily offerings to the God of fire.