27 December, 2017

Murni, A Legend in Bali, and My Friend

Jim and Murni in the 70s
 My Balinese friend Murni is a legend. Not only for owning the famous restaurant Murni’s Warung, but also for being the first Balinese woman to drive a car in Bali. Murni married her husband Pat from Kansas at a time when marrying a westerner was frowned upon in Bali.

When I first visited Bali, Murni had already been a hostess for about 50 years. In 1974 she established a small restaurant just off the bridge at the north end of town in Ubud. It was the only restaurant in Ubud and became a meeting place for westerners who lived there.

My family lived up the hill from Murni’s Warung, and we would often go down for a late night snack or dessert. I remember walking down the dark roads where fireflies filled the sky, and the distant sound of flowing rivers or a gamelan orchestra accompanied us.

During durian season (a particularly interestingly smelling fruit) Murni and I would search town for the very best durian for a feast. We would take walks across the island from Ubud, walking to the monkey forest in Sangeh. On these walks, Murni would explain Balinese life to me. Being in her presence and basking in the beauty of her radiant smile was a treat.

Those were simpler days in Bali when all the tourists in town knew each other. Murni’s daughter, Morni, and my daughter, Gitana, became playmates, and Murni would visit our house in the hills for tea or enjoy one of the health treatment I was practicing at the time.

Jim & Murni in 2016

Murni is a gracious lady, and legend in Bali, but more importantly, she is my friend, and forever part of a fantastic, beautiful memory.

Jim Cramer

Spirit Tours

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