Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Anyone who’s been to Ubud must have at least driven past Murni’s Warung. Anyone who hasn’t, most probably have at least skimmed through it on the What To Eat section in Lonely Planet guide book. If none of the above applies to you, well then..in what traveling universe are you living in?? Nah..just kidding! Let me introduce you to Murni’s Warung through my afternoon talk with its owner and founder herself, Ibu Murni.
It was Indohoy’s new wonderful friend Roy aka Ubudian who recommended me to meet Ibu Murni, rather than just going there as a regular guest. I’ve heard quite a lot of interesting stories from my friends about this restaurant, so I thought, yeah I’ll go for it!
Then came the hard part: finding Ibu Murni’s time to meet and chat with me. I tell ya folks, she is one heck of a busy lady. With social and religious ceremonies to attend, lots of guests to meet from in or outside of Indonesia, and some business to run including this Warung, she always tries to manage to meet anyone. From this and other facts I’ve encountered so far, I can say that being there for or at least care enough to meet as many people as we can is one of the keys to success.
So, on the appointed day, I got at Murni’s Warung on time after my visit to Roy and his wife Eri’s house. I had an hour before Ibu Murni had to go meet other guests somewhere else. We sat at the 2nd level and she had a hot orange served for me. For the next hour, I was in for a treat of an inspiring story.
Ibu Murni told me the A to Z about how her Warung came to be and became this successful. It was mostly hard work, determination, passion, and optimism, which you wouldn’t probably associate to from the way Ibu Murni talks and looks at you. She talks softly, gently, so politely, seems so motherly, and doesn’t look like someone who’d be strong enough to carry gallons of water down from the river at the early stage of her Warung.
The Warung was initially built out of an accident. One day, she was taking a break from the cloth shop she ran, and had lunch with her late husband, when some foreign tourists came by and asked for the same menu they were having, thinking that it was a small café. From then on, they decided to add tables one by one, and they were occupied almost all the time. Business was terrific, it out-succeeded the cloth shop big time.
Though busy with business and ceremonies, Ibu Murni never abandons her family and tradition. She never had time doing nothing, even when watching TV her hands would be busy making banten or offerings for ceremonies. And now, with 5 children and 12 grandchildren, time is even more precious, that she finds difficult to gather all the family. Big ceremonies are usually what gather them all together in one table.
Warung has actually become a restaurant, Murni’s Warung gets more and more acknowledgement known, not only around Ubud. But one thing she never forgets is another passion that got her start the whole business thing: textile. She loves it, and you can see various kinds of cloth in the shop next to the pastry section of the Warung. The textile (and gifts) sold at the store is not exclusively Balinese. When I mentioned that I grew up in Lampung, her eyes lit up, I guess with a mental picture of Lampung’s tapis cloth and went on about how diverse and rich Indonesia textiles are in general. And I second that.
She’s done a project with Jonathan, resulting in a published book called Secrets of Bali where she acted as the consultant (great book!). And their next book project will be something involving textiles. I’m not gonna take the surprise and amazement out of you, so this is where I’ll stop talking about the project. And this is where I’ll stop talking about the whole meeting experience and start to be more proactive, determined, and optimistic about my own passion and goal. Who knows, Indohoy might have ‘4 stories’ lurking down to a wonderful river one day, or maybe even ocean. Until then, do drop by at Murni’s when you’re in Ubud and take delight in the fruit of Ibu Murni’s (and everyone who’s been with her the whole time) hard work and passion. I have a feeling that you won’t ever regret it.