Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cat Poop Coffee

When I started this blog, I thought my post on squattie training would be the most vulgar of my posts.  As soon as I heard about a drink called Kopi Luwak, I knew that this would change.   Before I continue, I would like to apologize to my Mother for the embarrassment that is about to come.  She really did raise me to have manners, I just feel obligated to educate my readers about what has been called the most expensive coffee in the world.

I first learned of Luwak coffee while relaxing with some new Aussie friends in the resort pool.  My new friend asked me,
“So what do you plan ta see while you’re in Bali?”
“I think we are going to take a day to see some temples and maybe some rice paddies.  Is there anything you would suggest that we see?” I replied.
“Are you going ta go see the cat shit coffee?” She asked.
“Excuse me?”
“Yeah, you need ta go see the cat shit coffee.”  She insisted.  “It’s about a four hour ride away but it is worth it."
My inner 10 year old was quite curious as to how this process worked, so I asked Chris if he was interested in seeing the process. 
“Um, no.” he stated emphatically.  We figured we could spend our time doing other fun activities.  I figured he was completely grossed out by the concept so I dropped the subject.

While Chris and I were on the way to lunch in Bali, our driver asked if we were interested in seeing how coffee was made. 
“Is this the cat poop coffee plantation?” I questioned.
“Why yes!” he responded. “It’s very close to the rice paddies.”
“Okay, let’s go…but I’m not drinking the coffee.” Chris replied.

So after our yummy lunch, we visited Bali Pulina Coffee Plantation to see how the world’s most expensive coffee is made. 

The Kopi Luwak, or Luwak Coffee is made from these beautiful coffee berries.  
The Civet cats eat the coffee berries.  The cats look like a cat/ferret hybrid. I expected them to look more like house cats.  If visiting the plantation, don't try to pet the cats.  They are a little feisty.
The civet cat then eats and digests the coffee berries.  According to the plantation workers, the beans are fermented by the cats' digestive juices.  The result is a coffee bean that has a lower caffeine content and distinctive flavor.  
After the civet cat poops the beans, plantation workers clean them.
Then the beans are dried.

After 2 weeks or so, workers peel the beans.
Workers then brown the beans over an open flame,
then grind them the old fashioned way.
The end product is Luwak Coffee!
            After our quick tour of the production line, we were served a complementary coffee/ tea flight. While sampling the goods, Mr. "I'm Not Drinking That" decided to pay the $5.50 to taste the cat poop coffee. 
This was our view from the plantation cafe. 
Chris was underwhelmed by the coffee.  He claimed it wasn't as tasty as Starbucks and there really wasn't a distinct flavor. I'm not a coffee drinker, so I passed on the experience.

He said it was okay to the last drop. 
For the remainder of the vacation, I would look at Chris and giggle,
"Hee hee drank cat poop coffee." 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Exploring Bali

After a couple of days relaxing at the resort, Chris and I decided to hire a driver and explore Bali.  Unlike previous trips, we had no set itinerary for the day so we let our tour guide show us some island highlights.

Stop One: Bali Bird Park

While driving to our first temple, I saw a sign for Bali Bird Park.  Since the park was on the way to the temple, we decided to stop and check out the birds!

The bird park had over 1000 birds! I was glad we made the stop to meet some new feathered friends.
This guy had a great time perched on Chris' head.
This little girl loved to be pet behind her head.  Chris approached her and she assumed the position. 
This bird was walking around with a stone in his mouth.  When I held out my hand to accept his gift, he jumped on my hand.  These birds were extremely friendly! 
After posing with me, this Cockatoo tried to steal Chris' sunglasses. 
The birds didn't fear humans at all.  These peacocks decided to play with us by blocking a bridge. 
If you are a bird lover, I highly recommend visiting this park.
Stop Two: Home Sweet Bali

After an hour with the birds, we were ready to keep exploring.  For our next stop, our driver took us to a traditional Balinese home. 

Each house in Bali has a plaque that states the family name and the number of occupants.  I believe this house had five residents.
This is the kitchen.  The family still uses a wood burning stove to cook. 
This was the bedroom.  All of the family members slept in the same room. 
This was the bed where dead bodies are kept until it is time for them to be buried. 
Many Balinese houses have their own temples.  This Hindu temple was located in the back of the family home.
Cock fighting is extremely popular among Hindus in Bali.  The father of the family was quite proud of his fighters.
The family well is located in the center of the home.  
The family also had three pet porcupines.  Why?  According to our tour guide, they are fun pets.

Here is a picture of the shower and laundry area.  
The grandfather prepares food for lunch.
This little cutie also lived in the home.

Stop Three: Batuan Temple

After our home visit, Chris and I really wanted to see a temple while in Bali, so we headed to the Batuan Temple.

Hindu temples require that all visitors be dressed appropriately, so we had to dress in sarongs before we entered the temple. 
The Hindu temple had all kinds of rules which we obeyed.
Many visitors were encouraged to make offerings to the gods.
I was impressed with the temple carvings.  The original temple was built in 1022, and was restored in 1992.
The temple details were fantastic. 
Stop Four: Lunch in Ubud

All of this exploring was making us hungry, so we took a ride to Ubud, Bali to eat lunch facing the rice paddies.

In Ubud, the streets were lined with all kinds of Balinese crafts.  I picked up a blanket similar to the one in this picture for $20 USD. 
We finally ate lunch at a scenic little cafe.  It felt wonderful to dine on the floor with our shoes off!

For our first course, we ate fried cheese samosas!  Yum! 
Then we ate some chicken fried noodles.  If there is one word to describe Balinese food, it would be salty.  It is important eat salt in the hot climate so people can retain water.
For desert...banana, pineapple, and coconut crepes!  So yummy! 
This was our view from the table.

After lunch, we took a trip to a place I never expected to visit…more to come!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Eat, Play, Love: Bali

After our chilly trip to Harbin, Chris and I needed a little time to thaw.  Fortunately he had a five-day business trip to Jakarta, Indonesia so we decided to extend his trip with a winter holiday in Bali. 
Bali is a beautiful place to warm up in the middle of winter!
While in Bali, we stayed at the Grand Mirage Hotel in Nusa Dua.  After being apart for a few days, we wanted a place where we could defrost and reconnect.  The Grand Mirage provided that and much more!

Our airport transfers were included with our all inclusive package.  It was nice to be greeted a the airport!
After I checked in with a cocktail, I was shown to my Romantic Ocean View Room.  
The view from our balcony took my breath away.
The resort had beautiful bowls of tropical flowers around the hallways.
Some of the flowers ended up on our bed. :) 
I am happy to say we spent much of our time relaxing around the pool.  The attentive staff met all our needs. This was the kind of vacation I was seeking.
After a day of relaxing by the pool, we decided to explore some of the other activities that came with our all-inclusive stay.   One of the highlights of our stay was a Seawalker tour.

The Seawalker tour was fun and very easy!  We wore pressurized diving helmets and took a stroll at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. 
While the trip was free, the company offered multiple add ons. For $5 USD, we fed the fish!
The Seawalker program also has a sea turtle and seahorse release program where divers can release baby animals into the ocean for a small donation.  Unfortunately, the sea turtles and seahorses were too small to release so I freed an anemone.  He was happy in his new ocean home! 
We wanted to stay longer under the sea, but there was much more fun to be had.
Nighttime at the resort was also very low key, however we were never bored.  We had a great time enjoying the resort restaurants and shows. 

There was a wide variety of food at the four different resort restaurants.  
Unfortunately we didn't have time to sample all of the restaurants. 
We had a lovely time dining at both a Balinese and Australian dinner theater buffet.  
While waiting for the entertainment to start, kids were invited to the stage to make flowers from palm leaves and plumeria.
During the Balinese dinner, dancers performed a traditional Kecak dance.  The Kecak dance brought the Ramayana to life. 

During our Australian buffet, musicians and dancers performed five different Legong dances.  At the end of the performance, guests were invited to dance with the performers. 
On Sunday evening we enjoyed a delicious four course dinner on the beach.  
The dinner was not included in the package, but it was worth the extra $30 per person. 

I could have stayed another week in Bali, however we needed to return to Shanghai to prepare for the return of Pat and Rich to Shanghai.  

Six days of sunshine was exactly what we needed!

Stay tuned for more Balinese adventures!