Just returned from a week in Bali. It was a very experiential trip I felt.
The highlight of my trip was a massage Sophie and I got atop a mango tree on a hilltop. Surrounding us were dark green forests and stunning lime green paddy fields. Down below was a gushing river. The cool breeze, the sweet scents of massage oils, the sound of the tumbling water. I started to drift off to sleep for a while. And then the masseuse massaged my nipples, and the sirens went off. Unlike most other men who would have found that arousing, any caress in that area sends me into a ticklish fit. I think the next time I go for a massage I should use a black marker and draw a periphery around my nips, sort of a no fly zone marking.
The other cool thing we tried in Bali was Kopi Luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee. Kopi Luwak retails on the world market at US$500 a pound, and is priced as such because of the process it has to undergo to make it what it is – coffee beans are ingested by these furry mongoose-like animals called Luwaks, and eventually passed out. The coffee beans are dug out of their droppings, and made into Kopi Luwak. The enzymes from the digestive tract of the animal act on the coffee beans, lending it its special flavour. Gross I know, but isn’t that the coolest thing you’ve heard of.
Our itinerary was as follows. Arrived and stayed a night in Seminyak, close to the capital. We stayed the next 2 days in the cultural village of Ubud, and then it was back to the capital till we left. We visited quite a number of temples. All picturesque, but it’s something you’ve got to see with your own eyes so I won’t bore anyone with the details.
This trip was a delightful gastronomic experience for me. Unfortunately my stomach did not hold up too well on this trip. I always ended up eating something wrong the night before, and suffered all of the next day. At day’s end, when the storm in my belly subsided, I started getting adventurous again and I could not help but put my stomach to the test again, sampling all kinds of weird chillis and whatchamacallits. And I went through the same ordeal for the six days we were there.
I grew quite close to a couple of the tour guides on our trip, Pak Ketut and Darta. Pak Ketut was the owner of the house we stayed at in Ubud. He spoke only Indonesian and drove us North to where they produced Kopi Luwak. He also accompanied us furniture shopping, and recommended us all the best places for food.
Darta was the tour guide assigned to us by the tour agency who made the arrangements for us. Darta had a huge interest in the English language and took up this profession so that he could meet Westerners to improve his English.
In the few days we had with Darta, I asked him so many questions, he thought I was a writer. By the trip’s end, I learned about all the different types of temples in Bali, the story of the Ramayana, the different status that got bestowed on a place based o the materials used for a building roof. I learned that the people of Bali had their birthday every 210 days, meaning that their birthday was on a different day each year if they used our calendar. I even learned of the layout of Darta’s house, where his brother slept, where the kitchen was placed, where they raised their pigs.
This trip was very different from my first to Bali. But the essence of it was quite the same. Both served as an eye opener to the graceful and peaceful culture of Bali, a way of life that has captured my intrigue till today.