We get up early and walk to the market to wait for the tour-minivan to pick us up. There is no proper guide for the tours from the official tourist center, more some kind of an organized ride, with a driver hired for it. There are two girls from the Netherlands also going with us today. So we are just 4 people. The van doesn’t get that crowded as I expected at fist.
Sangeh Monkey Forest –
Our first stop is at the Sangeh Monkey Forest. The other 2 girls don’t seem that excited about visiting the apes, so they decide to stay in the car. Well then… If you compare this forest here to the Monkey Forest directly at Ubud, it is way less visited and the monkeys seem to be quite chill – you can easily feed them with sweet potatos, peanuts and bananas. As “thanks” you’ll get deloused . It is quite interesting, that the guide following us (yet giving us lots of free space) seems to know every monkey, the hierarchical position and the kind of personatily they have .
Kopi Luwak Plantaation –
Next stop: Cocoa and coffee plantation. It is included in the “tour package”, so it can be good, or not. Here it is “okayish”, we could also have skipped it. (In comparison, the coffee plantation visit in Panama was really interesting). The famous Kopi Luwak coffee is produced here by having civet cats (asian palm civet) eat the coffee fruits and the “beans” inside get infused with more free amino acids by enzymes in their body, so this somehow gives the coffee a richer flavor. Of course we get also offered some coffee, but I couldn’t make out much difference to “normal” coffee. So for me, I don’t think I’ll ever pay more for coffee because it left a cat’s behind. We are also allowed to see the civet cats, but the little raccoon-like furry balls don’t seem exactly happy. All kept in isolation and in small cages, with some water and bowls full of coffee berries. They seem to rather like to sleep during the day, since they are night animals. Unfortunately, one of the plantation workers notices my interest for the cats and starts to poke them until they wake up. “Come on … let them sleep “ I initially thought that the plantation was just surrounded by a fence keeping the animals inside… leaving them some space, but I was probably way too too naive… Hmm… although were are given some cocoa seeds from a freshly cut cocoa fruit (the fruit pulp in the middle is creamy-white with a fibrous-slimy consistency and a mango-like taste) as a kind of candy, the picture of the penned in cats doesn’t leave a pleasant feeling in my stomach as we leave the plantation.
Ulun Danu Bratan –
One of Bali’s most famous landmarks is probably this temple – as it is also on the 50000 IDR (3.74 USD) bill. After a 50-60km drive we arrive – unfortunately, we got some cloudy weather with a little drizzle, but the temperature here is more pleasant than in the quite hot and humid Ubud. The complex in which the temple is located is quite large and has a nice cultured garden. There seem to be quite some tourists here, yet, it doesn’t really feel crowded, as a lot of visitors rent pedal boats to see the temple from the lake side and relax.
As we return to the car, our driver tells us our next destination: “Eating in the rice fields”… Hmm. Since should visit Jatiluwih next, this could probably be a sponsored restaurant of some sort ( ? ). I ask the 2 Danish girls what they think about eating at a Warung instead, since this whole thing kinda sounds like a tourist trap (also the food in Warungs tends to be better anyways). No luck here, “eating in the rice fields” sounds too tempting, so they are rather against it. Ok…
Unfortunately my assumption is true. The restaurant is built right at the street next to a valley on stilts, from which you have a nice view on some rice terraces. But this is not Jatiluwih. Whatever – I’m hungry now anyways, so we sit down – you cannot “order” something here (except for beverages), since there is apparently only buffet. For Indonesian conditions, the prices are considerable (175000 IDR (13.10 USD)), you definitely also have to pay for the view. On top of that, the food is compared to all other other restaurants we visited here till now rather aweful. Somehow I cannot spot the 2 Dutch girls – have they taken a table on the other side of the room? We hurry up eating and meet our driver and the 2 girls out there. They had decided to rather not eat anything as they saw the prices. I simply cannot suppress my “Are you fucking kidding me?” facial expression. Our driver is in a hurry, as we are to make it to Tanah Lot before sunset. “Tanah Lot? I thought next stop is Jatiluwih?”. “This was Jatiluwih! Next is Tanah Lot.”… and the day started so nicely relaxed with the monkeys… now I’m pissed. After some argument (and I really tried to be friendly), he suggests that we could go to Jatiluwih, but then we would be too late for Tanah Lot. Since the girls also wanted to rather visit Jatiluwih (They’ll be back in Kuta tomorrow and can get to the temple easily), we are off to the rice fields. “Me happy when you happy”. Right .
The (legitimate) grumble is worth it. Yes, you can see lots of rice fields in Bali, but Jatiluwih is not world heritage without reason. Green fields to the horizon. Crazy. The sky starts to get a bit dark, but this doesn’t stop us to have a walk. We get quite soaked as it starts raining, but it is rather refreshing and the sky clears quickly after that. As we return at the minivan we are completely dry again.
In the evening we give our laundry to wash – and are told that we can already pick it up again tomorrow in the morning. Wow… they are quite fast.
Though getting comfortably driven to every destination, i think renting a scooter and planing for yourself is way better…