Monday, May 2, 2011

My 4D3N Holiday in Bali - Day 1 part 1

Please note that I wasn't able to take pictures for some of the events during my Bali trip so some of these were sourced via Google.

It was 27 April 2011, and I was dreading this day. Yeah, my trip to Bali was all planned up by my wife (she's really meticulous there) and despite my reluctance, I decided why not. The trip means so much to her. And here's the best part - we only managed to pack the night before, so I was a little concerned about leaving something important behind. Of course I was also reluctant to go cause there was always that question if I could access the net from over there.

Guess I'll worry about all that when I'm there. The trip to the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) airport was smooth and I was still really sleepy as I had slept in late.

We boarded our plane, an's Boeing 737-300 (image below is of a similar model) at around 11:30am and the first thing I noticed was that the flight steward and stewardess spoke fluent Indonesian (a Malay language variant) so I guessed they were Indonesians. The plane was only half full so we had our row of seats to ourselves, which was pretty neat seeing how compact the seats already were.

And I really enjoyed the flight as we were seated just ahead of the wing, literally next to the engine. I could feel the power of the Rolls Royce engine and even sense when the Captain powers up or throttles down. The only thing I didn't enjoy were the air turbulence. Yeah, nearly spilled my hot coffee.

The flight lasted almost three hours but it didn't feel like 3 hours ... OK, I fell asleep midway only to be awaken by a rough nudge when we were almost there (didn't help I was snoring too). Touchdown was fun. I was looking out the window when the plane was descending and the first thing I noticed was .... there's no land. I didn't see any ground on the left or right side of the plane. It was still the ocean.

The plane got lower and lower and lower ... and just as I was about to hit the panic button, I saw land, then within a few milliseconds the plane's wheels touched the ground. Figures, exotic land equals exotic airport landscape. The runaway literally extends out toward the sea. Neat idea if you really think about it.

We disembarked via a ramp from the plane through the terminal so I didn't really noticed the view until we were on the long corridor leading toward customs when I saw the seaside, and the waves. I was instantly captivated. Them waves are HUGE!

After clearing customs, we made our way out to the reception area only to find ourselves surrounded by a huge crowd carrying placards with names on them. We saw Sika holding one with my wife's name on it, signaled him and were cordially introduced. He immediately carried our luggage to the waiting MPV where we met our driver.

As we were leaving the airport, Sika was explaining our itinerary to us when we came across this magnificent statue located on the middle ground of a street's runabout.

Apparently we were scheduled to begin our tour the moment we touched down, and was only going to check in to our hotel on the last leg of the day's tour. Something different here since I was so used to checking into our hotels first. Also another first was having our private Tour Guide and Driver. There's no hassle of waiting on others to hold you back.

Our first stop was to visit Bali's famous Coffee Producer and distributor, famed for its Kopi Luwak (Luwak Coffee), the Golden Kirrin Coffee House. For those who have never heard of this coffee, it is the world's most expensive coffee, usually priced around USD 125 per espresso cup and selling around USD 100-600 per pound. Its an acquired taste thingy which I will explain later. And for those who love coffee, this is a "must see" place to visit.

The first guide from the coffee house could only speak Mandarin so he asked another attendant, William, to attend to us in English (sorry, we no speak Mandarin). William kept apologising to us as he was just recuperating from a nasty cold.

First he introduced us to the various types of coffee. We found out from there that those 3 in 1s sachet pacts that we love so much from Nescafe were the lowest standard of coffee made available for consumption, heavily diluted with lots of preservatives added. Don't really care since I still love those 3 in 1s. They taste great with milk added in.

Good coffee basically comes in two shapes, the Kopi Jantan and Kopi Betina (male and female coffee), both differentiated by the number of beans on them (male has one bean while female comes with two).

This is where the coffee beans get roasted - quality assured in a controlled environment.

Of course you can't drink from the beans themselves. They need to be grounded first. This is where the beans get crushed, grounded and packed.

We were then led to their courtyard where there were "tasting rooms" located on each side, fully air conditioned with comfortable table and chairs. Guest were able to sample the different types of coffee for free (except for kopi luwak since that is more scarce and expensive) with no obligation to buy.

Well, I am a coffee lover, and I definitely need a cup of coffee to start my day everyday. Moreover, I was also very interested in the Luwak Coffee after hearing so much about them. If you have not heard of the Luwak Coffee, then allow me to enlighten you so you can understand why this coffee is an acquired taste item and cost so much.

Luwak coffee is processed in a ... erm ... unique manner. The beans are first eaten by Civet Cats (Musang) and the droppings are then cleaned and harvested. Not many wants to try it cause they say its like drinking cat's crap. I wanted to try a cup first before I say anything.

After sampling the Flat bean coffee (these have a somewhat bitter aroma) and Peaberry bean coffee (sweet after taste), I was ready for the Luwak. And I was impressed with the sample we had. The taste was unlike cat's crap at all (myth busted - coast is clear for you to try), in fact, if I was to describe it, its almost aromatic with a long lasting mild after taste effect. And the coffee is also complex with more body to it with a somewhat pleasant fruity caramel aroma - almost therapeutic. The uniqueness of this coffee is that its only available from Indonesia, and the Luwak Coffee distinctively taste different according to which region they were produced. 
No wonder there are people willing to pay so much for this coffee. The high cost is not so much due to its exotic properties, but more so for its rarity. The Civet Cat's population is dwindling due to developments and the source for their "beans" (I'm being polite here) are fast becoming scarce. Wild Civet Cats produces questionable quality beans as no one an tell if these animals are healthy, hence most of these beans are "harvested" through captive Civet Cats, where their health are constantly monitored.

I decided to purchase the Luwak Coffee with the intentions of sharing it with my family, but the last time I checked with them, I got the "Looks" (as in "You seriously think I'm going to try that????"). Oh well, more for me then.

I also purchased a bag of Peaberry beans as gifts. The image below is before the beans were sent to be grounded.

There was a promotion on so I got these on an offer price, plus an additional pack of Peaberry coffee beans. The Luwak Cofffee even came in its own box case with a certificate of authentication, and a sample of the Civet Cat's poop encased in Crystal - souvenir of sort.

Well, at least I finally got to taste the famous Luwak Coffee (taken from my own purchase). Guess until you try it, there really isn't any other way to convince those that are apprehensive to see if they would change their mind. This coffee was also a topic at the Oprah Winfrey Show, if anyone remembers that episode.

Next - Part 2 of Day 1. Visit to the Uluwatu Temple - located on top a cliff against a picturesque ocean view.

No comments:

Post a Comment