Bali, Indonesia – January 2011
We hopped an AirAsia flight from Bangkok to Bali (Bangkok we’ll be back!). After reading some discussion online about how crowded, tacky and expensive the main tourist areas around Denpasar and Kuta are, we opted for a more laid-back atmosphere at the Legong Keraton Beach Hotel about 25 min shuttle from all the action.
Our hotel was simple, but clean. The views from the lawn of the pounding surf was fantastic, although the beaches in the area were narrow and a little cluttered with dead sea life (probably from the rough seas). Also, as we would come to realize during the course of our stay, Bali has been a tourist destination for so long that they definitely have learned how to price up local prices accordingly for tourists! Our hotel wasn’t cheap for SE Asia averages. Like anywhere else, if we had stayed longer we could probably have found a much better deal.
We found out a few months ago that Mayne’s friend Gene and his girlfriend Mariko (from Tokyo, Japan) would be in Bali for at least one day that we were there. Therefore, on our second day we got the chance to meetup for dinner, drinks and relaxation in form of massages. The girls got pedicures too for a very reasonable price.
On another day, we hired a taxi tour guide (these are popular in the area) to take us through the sites inland. We saw several ancient temples and interesting rice paddies. The service was excellent – we just told our driver where we wanted to go, or he’d give us recommendations based on logistics, and then we were off! We spent the whole day in his car and I think it was around $70 USD.
The most interesting site on our tour was a stop at a coffee plantation where they sell Kopi Luwak, aka Civet-cat poop coffee. They make it by “harvesting” the poop of a little monkey like critter called a Civet, which sits in the coffee tree and eats the green beans. It can’t digest the hard seed and poops it out. The workers then harvest the feces from the ground where it falls and clean the beans of any extra stuff (*hopefully*) before roasting and serving like any other coffee. The taste was definitely smoother than normal coffee, similar to peaberry, but I wouldn’t say its a luxury that’s worth going out of your way more than once for! In hindsight too, based on reading about the potential for animal cruelty in the practice here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak, I think I will stay away in the future.
The second half of our Bali stay was in Ubud, central to the island in the hilly, jungle filled highlands. Here we visited a waterfall and the monkey forest, which was literally crawling with Resus monkeys. It was actually a bit nerve racking because the monkeys are always on the hunt for free food and shiny objects, and can be quite aggressive – even biting naive tourists in their quest for food! I still maintain, however, that adding monkeys would make almost any outdoor site more enjoyable!