Sunday, August 30, 2009

Farewell to Bali

A few last things that we wanted to share from Bali before we return to posting in Korea. The first of these is our trip to the coffee plantation. They raise cocoa, coffee, coconuts, pineapple, spices, and many other tropical treats.

These are cocoa beans.

Coffee Beans.The animal which makes the special coffee: Poop coffee

"The Luwak is a picky eater." As a web source so eloquently puts it: "It is the indigenous animal who plays an "active" role in the harvesting of the raw coffee cherries. The Luwak feasts on ripe, red coffee cherries seeking out the sweet taste of the cherry itself, wanting little to do with the parchment of the coffee. Once the Luwak eats the cherry, the parchment covered coffee beans are passed out of the Luwak, with the parchment cover still protecting the green coffee beans. The local natives gather up the limited amount of the Luwak processed parchment coffee, remove the parchment shell, wash and clean, roast and grind." -The Coffee Critic

The coffee is not cheap either. It can go for as much as $300 per pound.

Baskets of roasted and unraosted coffee and cocoa. In the foreground are vanilla beans which we bought a heap of. They are much more affordable there than they are at home.We definitely felt like tourists as we took seats and tried out the coffee, hot cocoa, and the teas. They did not offer us any of the "special" coffee.

There were a plethora of spices for sale. Chelsie really enjoyed looking at all of the choices.

The next stop was a dot on the map which we were told would have a market with just about everything. Sukawati was the name of the town. We hired a driver.

I wish I could hype this part of the story up, but it was a tourist market. It was wild though. I don't think that I have ever seen so many t-shirts in one place before. It blew every surf shop that I had visited in Florida out of the water in the t-shirt quantity contest. There was also lots of jewelery, paintings, and sarongs for sale.

Isles and isles. It was pretty overwhelming. It seemed that the supply was far greater than the demand.
We stayed at a cozy location that was recommended by the Lonely Planet Guidebook. It was called Flashbacks and simply had 6 bungalows behind the restaurant. Once again the breakfasts were a treat and the service excellent. We love the open air feeling that is common to many of the houses, restaurants, and shops here.

We took our driver out that day for a great Balinese meal.

There were some very nice beaches in Sanur. Although they were not ideal for swimming in the waves, we thoroughly enjoyed the sand and the sun.
In the evening we found a great restaurant at one of the resorts which we ended up frequenting the 3 evenings that we were there. We loved the food and the service, but the scenery and the setting was the seller. It was a tent on the beach. Each evening the moon rose over the ocean as we ate. Fantastic.

The breeze blew in and really set the mood.
The live musicians made their way around the tables and when they made it to us, Mike requested, "The Lady in Red". We enjoyed them much better than the original 1986 version by Chris de Burgh. It was more mariachi and less 80's.
On our return trip home we went through Taiwan again. This is where bubble tea originated from. We have both enjoyed drinking the tea in the past with the large tapioca pearls at the bottom. We definitely look like we are in route in this picture.
The airport in Taiwan had a unique section in it dedicated to sharing the culture. We stamped our lunar calendar animals and painted our names while learning the calligraphic technique. We were also given tokens for the electronic massage chairs which were awesome.

A safe trip without any calamity. God blessed us with excellent sun, fun, and friends all along the way.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tegalalang and the Elephant Temple

Hey there everyone. We have actually been home for about two weeks now, which is hard to believe, but we still wanted to share the rest of our trip with you. Besides, now that we are back, it doesn't seem quite as exciting here as our trip was for some reason.

One afternoon we hired a driver to take us on a trip up to the Tegalalang rice paddies. It was about a 30 minute drive, and we went about half an hour before sunset. It had been a full day and we really enjoyed the scenery along the way.
As the road carved through the jungle and along rivers and smaller rice patties we admired the piles of coconuts, counted how many people could fit on a scooter, and waved to kids along the side of the road. Before we knew it we were driving next this deep valley with rice terraces.
Chelsie and I really enjoyed having our friends Mike and Alissa around to hang out and travel with. They are really layed back and love to have fun.
The majority of the paddies were not planted as they had just been harvested.

It was a sight to see. The terraces stacked and stacked. They meandered down the valley as far as one could see.
Our driver warned us and we encountered the aggressive local salesmen who didn't take no for an answer. They pleaded, pushed, and begged. It was a little unnerving. We also encountered kids selling post cards. Their bartering skills were well tuned, so we caved to this one young lady.
We got a cute picture and some post cards in exchange for two dollars.

A stop that we made the following day, and were glad that we did, was the Elephant Cave.
Which was home to a small rock elephant statue. When we got there a local tagged along with us for a while giving us a "tour" and was actually taking pictures for us. At first I thought that he worked at the temple, and then I remembered reading in the guide books that the locals would first give you the tour, and then try and charge you afterward. After about five minutes this all clicked, and I brought it up. We had started the $20 tour according to him, and so I very kindly explained that we were not planing on taking a tour nor did we want to continue to be taken on a tour. He argued, I was persistent, he finally went away.
In the jungle near the cave were many enormous trees.
This was a mean burial cave that had its entrance carved in stone with a gaping mouth for a door.

We ventured inside. It was cool, damp, and creepy. There were vaults carved into the stone through out the interior.
Back out in the fresh air there was a bathing spring that was believed to contain holy water healing powers. We dipped our feet, but we didn't drink.

Exploring is exciting. At times we are amazed, at times disappointed. Its all part of the adventure, and that is what is most fun.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ubud- The Utmost of Art and Culture

Welcome to Ubud. A unique town where the arts have flourished for centuries. We were told that there is not a word for "art" in the Balinese culture. Everyone is and artist, everyone has a talent or a craft in which they have been trained. In researching prior to going to Bali, we learned that their agricultural knowledge and expertise in rice farming was so adept that they were able to devote more time to the arts that most third world cultures. We stayed in a homestay called Narasoma. It was a very simple accommodation with only the necessities. It was very affordable coming to about $15 per night. The host was excellent and full of good tips and information concerning the area.
The nicest part of the stay was the views from the back and front porches. One overlooked the jungle and the other the city.
Click on the photos to enlarge them.
In the mornings we could see the distant Mt.Agung, the holy mountain/ volcano.A highly recommended destination is the Ubud market. A mixture of tourist trinkets and Balinese lifestyle, the market was interesting but in some places slightly foreboding. Some of the vendors could become very pushy and at times begged for you to buy.

The items for sale were limitless. With every turn you saw different items and with every turn you moved deeper into the overwhelming atmosphere. Enough pictures could not be taken. It was sensory overload. The smells, the sounds, and the sights; fascinating.
Spices, Sunglasses, Sarongs.
Foods, Fabrics, Furniture,...
Fruits, Fish, and Feathers.
Petals, Purses, Paintings, and Plates.
Statues, Silver, Shirts.
Idol and Incense. Jewelery and Jimbay.
Baskets, Bracelets, Bowls, Banners
All was to be seen and sold in the market. It was all very inexpensive.

The Monkey Forest is also a Ubud favorite. Once again bananas for sale at the gates were highly coveted by the monkeys inside. The forest/jungle had an Indiana Jones feel to it, as all the limestone carvings were green with moss and the dense vegetation draped overhead.
Pura Dalem Agung- Temple of the dead. There were stone carvings of gargoyles eating children. Pretty wild.
The monkeys were terrific! Cute and funny but ferocious when you flashed bananas about.

Another one of many temples which are scattered throughout Ubud.

All over wherever we went while we were in Bali were daily offerings scattered about. They were often on the sidewalk or entrances of buildings. They were also piled high at temples and sacred spots. Each individual puts out multiple of them every day. Some ornate, some more simple. They were made from banana leaves and they things such as rice, spices, flower petals, cigarettes, coins, bananas, and a stick of incense. All biodegradable.

Adventures are like smoke in the breeze. The aroma of the present lingers for a moment and then dissipates leaving pleasant memories and a desire for more.