Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Winter 2019 - 13. Coffee in Bali - Luwak

13.  Coffee in Bali - Luwak 

We had a visit to a coffee plantation but it was not a place like we saw in Costa Rica, for example or in Columbia. It was very, very different here in Bali. 
Luwak Plantation

First of all we went for a walk through the jungle. Plants grew everywhere and you needed to be a botanist to know these plants. Our guide showed us ginger and pointed at it…sure enough, looking closer, seeing the roots, it was what I know as ginger. I saw ginseng, turmeric and other spices that grew ‘wild’ all over the place but the harvesting was done by a ‘specialist’ I guess. 

And then, the guide showed me coffee trees (bushes?) full of beans but they were mostly green. Not yet ripe enough for picking. Well here in Bali,
Coffee Beans Not Yet Ripe
people do not pick those beans, an animal eats those beans. This animal is a nocturnal cat-like animal named civet cat or Luwak. It is plentiful on Bali and Indonesia and the function of this cat is to eat ripe coffee beans. It eats them at night and somehow this cat knows when a coffee bean is at its absolute best and then eats it. The outer husk of the bean is what this cat lives on and when digested, it passes the actual center of the bean, the part we use to grind coffee, through its digestive system. Yes, this cat poops coffee beans and those coffee beans make what some experts say is the best coffee in the world, Luwak Coffee. In the market, 1
Civet Cat
kg. of these poop beans cost around US $700 in 2019. The actual coffee bean, after roasting and processing comes close to US $500 per lbs. The actual roasting of the poop beans takes about 30 minutes, the beans you see in the pictures of the link turn almost totally black after roasting.

Our guide called the Luwak bean coffee:   Cat-poo-chino

Funny guy, this guide!

So you see, early in the morning on this
plantation, people walk through the jungle and collect cat poop. They collect the Palm Civet
Digested Coffee Beans
Cat’s poop to then process it further. I spoke with one of the
Washed and Hulled Beans
collectors and he told me it’s a nice walk in the jungle in the early morning, he knows where the animals live, he knows which bush (tree?) they live in and he just picks up what they drop during the night. It’s a good paying job he said.
Roasting Coffee Beans With a Little Help

Carol and I each had a cup of this famous brew and I don’t really care for it. We bought instead some teas and flavored coffees we could enjoy in the afternoon.
I much prefer the spice teas we bought. Rosella Pandanus  and I think, Spice Tea were our choices.

We also bought 3 coffee mixes like:  Mocha, Coconut and Vanilla. Yum!
The Helper and the Roaster

Luwak Coffee tasted bitter and had some aftertaste I cannot describe. Yuk!

It Was Fun to Sample All the Teas

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Winter 2019 - 12. Tirta Empul

12.  Tirta Empul

We were supposed to visit another temple, way down a ravine with 360 plus steps without railings. The name of this spot was called Gunung Kawi Temple (the Stone Relief Temple).
Again, this is a spot where water is the main reason for the location. Local folk believe and tell me that an old king and his whole entourage were buried here. Stupas, temples and pavilions abound covering the mainly flat ground, but the walls of this ravine are carved out with tomb-like shrines. These carvings go back to the years right after the installation of Subak.
Entrance to the Temple

But because of the many steps, we passed on this site and visited the Tirta Empul Temple instead. The Tirta Empul Temple complex was built about 962 AD.
Tirta Empul Temple Priest

Not only did we visit Tirta Empul (meaning Holy Water Spring), we participated in the ritual in the pool of the temple, the water purification. It is said that those waters have healing powers, based on an old oral history of a king who healed his troops here, using these waters. The king’s troops were previously poisoned by the god Indra, the god of war,  and only these healing waters helped. Some already dead soldiers even came back to life by just by being touched by the water.
You Must Go to Each Water Spout in Order
Water is spewed out of 13 faucets and it is good luck for you to be here. Wash yourself with the first 11 and all illnesses will go away. The last 2 faucets are only for relatives of ‘dead’ people or if you are diagnosed with imminent death… then use fountains 12 and 13, but only if you are severely ill.

Carol and I changed into our bathing suits in a nearby bathhouse, but we had to wear a sarong brought by Agung. Carol’s sarong had to cover her upper body also. Then we stepped into the cool mountain spring. With instructions from Agung and in front of the first
And the Ritual Begins
faucet, we put our hands in a praying position and made a wish. We then let the water run over our clasped hands and splashed the water first over our faces, then over our heads, then arms and body. This ritual is repeated at the next 10 downspouts, supposedly washing away all aches, pains and lingering or growing illnesses, all while standing up to your naval in this pool of cold water.  Carol thought the water temperature was refreshing on this hot day; I call it cold, though.

Stones on the Bottom of the Pool and a Koi Fish on the Right
The bottom of the pool was strewn with many lemon-sized, rounded stones. Not a nice way to walk from faucet to faucet, but we did it. It would have been easier had we had bathing shoes. And no, we did not use 12 and 13; we are not near death yet. Koi fish swam in the pool, too.  
Moving Along to Each Faucet
I felt a bit awkward in my Buddha looking body, flabby flesh hanging off my sides but Agung was very serious, this is a most important religious ritual. He truly believed he gave us health by making us enter this cold water, this water from the earth. The belief system in Bali when it comes to water is deep-seated and still very much ingrained.

We visited the Temple Tirta Empul the day after a full moon and were told that yesterday; the day of a full moon, the waiting line to get into this pool of water, under those downspouts was at least 3 hours. Lucky for us we came a day later.
Behind Each Curtain is a Small Change Room

We found out later that E. coli has sometimes been reported after many people use this pool. So we, Carol and I, used the pool after all the masses from yesterday?  Well, miracle of miracles… we are fine… the healing must have worked. We did not get sick. We are still fine, today.

Hindu believers are urged to visit this temple at least once a year and perform the water ritual to stay sound and healthy.  The preferred time of a visit is on a Full Moon when the water has the most power.

Running the Gauntlet of the Schlock Shops

Winter 2019 - 11. General Info Learned from Agung

11.  General Info Learned from Agung 

Hans and Our Guide, Agung
Agung, our driver, is a very astute man; he is married and has children. His English is excellent, we learned a lot from him while he drove us throughout Bali. His disposition and attitude is gentle. A smile comes easily to him. I like him. He is a smart man in his 30s.

We asked him life questions and as an example we asked how much a blue collar worker living in Bali makes per month and his replay was: A normal salary is about 2.5 million Rupiah a month (US $175).  I read later it’s a bit more, like $200 or so.

Basic schooling is given in Elementary School for a standard time period of 7 years…but you must pay for it, it’s NOT free.

Rice fields are harvested 3 times a year.  Bali could feed itself years ago, but today rice needs to be imported to feed the people (more people, fewer rice fields).
Very Wet Rice Fields
Gasoline is 7650 Rupiah a liter (US $ .53 liter) = US $1.89/gallon. The Indonesian Government substitutes the rest of the money on purchases of gasoline. So the Government pays half your transportation, let’s say.

The colored ribbons on top of a temple Red, White, and Black have the following meanings:
Red = Fire
White = Air
Black – Water

Electricity is the most expensive part of a family’s monthly budget. Agung pays 1.5 million Rupiah per month for electricity (about US $100).

Making Her Offering Outside Her Home
Nyepi Day. This is a day of total silence. Every 420 days this day happens. Please read the article to learn more. Most people stay inside their living space during Nyepi.
Offerings to the gods are made daily. A reflective moment is given to YOUR god each day. Full moons are special days in Bali. Houses, shops and buildings receive blessings during the full moon.

New born babies will be kept off the ground for about 3 months. The reason: when a person is born they come from the ‘other’ realm, the space in between. (Hindu Religions believe in re-incarnation and when a baby is born it is an ancient being that has returned). To place them on the ground where all the demons live would be very bad. The ‘soul’ will only settle into the baby after a while, so do not put a baby on the floor, give it some time until the soul has settled back into the baby.  Give the baby a chance to let the old soul settle down into it. (I understand that the soul settles into the brain through the anterior cranial fossa (opening) which is wide open with a new baby). New age ways of looking at a baby:  Cranial exercise.