Bali

I stepped my foot on the Island of Gods again, after 4 years of my first visit. There is something about Bali. It’s a captivating island. The first time I was in Bali, I was totally blown away by its people, culture, food and lifestyle. This time around, I thought I had enough time to explore other parts of Bali, but I was being too optimistic with the amount of time I had. That’s probably why it will be another good reason to travel to Bali again, one day.

What makes it pretty different this time was our 2 nights stay at Bali Eco Stay, which is on the southern slopes of Moutn Batukaru, Tabanan. It took us quite a while to get there as the road was really bumpy and narrow. It didn’t help when there wasn’t a single street light. It was pitch black; the only source of light was from the 4×4 headlights.

This place is really in the middle of the nature and surrounded by rice terraces. As the night fell, the jungle became so alive with all types of sounds made by insects and other creatures, as if they were having party!

The sound of cascading water could be heard so clearly as if it was flowing in my ears. I opened my eyes lazily and walked towards the opened living room, drew the blind and was welcomed with a view that is priceless! I felt a sudden of happiness, being able to live in a nature with such pretty view. Breakfast for me was Balinese Bubur (Balinese Congee), a great simple start for the day.

As a city person, I was asking myself if I could ever live like this forever? Don’t get me wrong, I totally love the eco aspect of it but getting myself so close to the nature as the bungalow adopted a very open-space design. So, having to share the same roof with a gecko isn’t very funny cos it seemed to loud noises in the middle of the night that totally freaked me out! The humidity was very high which has caused the bed, sheets and the blanket humid all the time and not really pleasant to sleep in.

One of the most amazing activities though was the walk. We explored the area, saw a lot of different trees, met some local people and had admired the best view of paddy fields and the ocean. Our guide has great knowledge of the area and he did a great job – he spent 4 hours with us, showed us all the different trees and explained them to us.

Oh, that coffee tree. It’s just a normal coffee tree but somehow, after some ‘processes’, it becomes one of the world’s expensive coffee. It is called Kopi Luwak or Civet Coffee. Why? Read on:

(Wikipedia) It is made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet and other related civets, then passed through its digestive tract. A civet eats the berries for their fleshy pulp. In its stomach, proteolytic enzymes seep into the beans, making shorter peptides and more free amino acids. Passing through a civet’s intestines the beans are then defecated, keeping their shape. After gathering, thorough washing, sun drying, light roasting and brewing, these beans yield an aromatic coffee with much less bitterness. This coffee is widely noted as the most expensive coffee in the world with prices reaching $160 per pound.

Coffee anyone?

We reached a point where we had the best view from the top – the green terraces of paddy fields and far away where the ocean lies. It was just breathtaking!

On the way back to where we stayed, we walked pass a village. Someone was grilling something, somewhere. The smell got stronger as we walked nearer to a house. From far, I saw a few men busy preparing stuff, I couldn’t see what they were doing. Until I walked closer – they were making sausages!

Just a few steps away from them, where the smoke was getting thicker and more visible; so as the sense of smell – a pig was being grilled over hot charcoal; that’s babi ruling (Balinese suckling pig)! It was being done in such a manual and traditional way. Oh wow, what a scene, I was so excited! Apparently, a ceremony was scheduled for the next day, that’s the reason for the babi guling. The pig had to be grilled for at least 6 hours or more until the skin is crispy and the fat is cooked off.

Seminyak was where we were based for the rest of our holidays. This time around, we rented a villa with a swimming pool, great to relax and laze by the pool and get some tan!

Ubud is a nice place. It is about 1 hour from Seminyak, located in central of Bali. It is a cultural town – famous as an arts and crafts hub, and much of the town and nearby villages seems to consist of artists’ workshops and galleries. When we were at Ubud Palace, I started to a portrait of a Balinese man dressed very traditionally. Funnily enough, after I took a close-up picture of him, he then posed for me to take more of his photos!

Of course, I didn’t miss it this time – I made it to Ibu Oka’s Babi Guling in Ubud. I guess that was one of the reasons why I was keen for the day trip to Ubud. A lot of people blogged about it; travel sites mentioned about it and it was in the travel book – so, they get pretty good media coverage. I ordered 2 portions for 3 of us to share. I wanted to know what’s so big deal about it as in why Ibu Oka’s Babi Guling and not other stalls that I saw along the small roads on the way to Ubud? It didn’t wow me instantly. It fact, it was a normal dish – steamed rice, drizzled with some of the cooked marinate from the pork, served with some vegetables, roast pork pieces and pork crackling. Having said that, the meat was really juicy, tender and flavoursome, which I absolutely love! The pork crackling is probably another star of the dish.

When we got back to Seminyak, I had nasi campur (literally means mixed rice) at Made’s Warung. It was probably my favourite of all that I ate! The rice was served with a few sides that were nicely arranged around the steamed rice. There were crispy Tempeh with sambal, fish, tofu, beef rendang and etc. I mixed everything up and ate, yummy!

For Balinese Hindus, prayer is an obligation. They give ritual offerings that are called Banten. It usually consists of leaves, flowers and fruits. Some other items like food are included too.

Water signifies purity.  To purify the body and soul, a lot of people queued while waiting for their turn to pray and give their offerings

 

Badung Market is the largest and oldest market in Bali that sells anything from fruits to spices. For those who want to experience the real Balinese market scenes, it is a must to check this market out. It opens until late. All you need is time, walk around and check what they have to offer. Ira mentioned that the Balinese people give their offerings 3 times a day, morning, afternoon and night. They are very devoted. Now, I can understand why there are so many offerings can be seen almost everywhere.

Sunset in Bali is pretty! In fact, it is so beautiful that we rushed to the beach to take some photos! The light during that moment was just amazing! What other best way to enjoy your life, while strolling on the beach; approach a sweetcorn vendor and indulge yourself with a grilled corn with some spicy chilli sauce. Life always seems to be better when food comes into picture! :)