Why Bali is worth a Revisit - Part 2

Perhaps many of you have visited Bali and places like Seminyak, Kuta, Jimbaran and Nusa Dua strikes a familiar chord with you. However, Bali is simply more than just these places and the beaches it offers. More than often, those around me will say “I don’t like Bali that much because all you get is beaches and temples” which I can empathy but will definitely disagree. How many of you have taken the path least trodden in Bali to discover its diversity and charm? I am not talking about Tanah Lot, Uluwatu or Discovery Mall but a little something that you will likely not find in any tour package or review.

Have anyone of you tried the famous Bali coffee? I believe you would have but do you know which brand is the more preferred brand? Its ‘Bola Dunia’ brand of coffee both powdered and bean form. Wouldn’t you want to know whether there are any coffee plantations on the island or better still to visit one of these plantations? I have and I will say that it’s a refreshing experience as compared to the beach activities offered all over the island. You will get to see how it was grown and roasted. To top it off, you get to sample all the coffee brews right from the plantation itself. If you have heard of ‘Kopi Luwak’ or more widely known as the Civet Coffee, you can find it here and you may also see the civet itself at the plantation. For the uninitiated, Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world due to its out-of-the-world aroma and taste that is strong but does not leave a strong after taste. But what made this coffee so expensive is due to the low supply of the beans as these beans are harvested only after the civet has picked and eaten the best ripe coffee beans and passed out the digested beans from its rear. Yeah, so the next time when someone tells you that his or her coffee tasted like shit, probably it does!

The famed civet where you get your Kopi Luwak beans from.



Fancy the Balinese food you tasted in this Isle of Gods? If you do, why not learn how they are prepared and wow your dinner guests the next time you invite them over to your house? While the price may not be dirt cheap (Not expensive either), it is definitely an activity that will allow you to see and learn more about the local culture to appreciate them even more. My wife and I took up a cooking class in Ubud which started from 8am to 12noon. The program includes:

1) Pick up service from your hotel/villa;

2) Visit to the local market and introduction of local ingredients and produce;
3) Visit to the local paddy field and introduction of the history, significance and culture of the Balinese paddy field;

4) Proceed to the lesson venue i.e. a local Balinese house and a brief introduction on the architectural significance of the house and Balinese domestic way of life;

5) Culinary lesson which includes demonstration and hands-on experience for each and every students (7 dishes altogether);

6) All the food prepared will be shared for lunch (So much that it is impossible to finish them all); and

7) A stringed booklet containing all the recipes will be given to each participant to take home.
 The local wet market in Ubud centre. Fruits and vegetables are mostly grown in the island.

         Some of the locally grown vegetables     
         offered at the Ubud market
Rice is an important product to the Balinese, but even more so is the
paddy field. These land can only be sold after the owner has
obtained approval from the family, village council,
Bali Municipal and finally , the federal authorities.

 The kitchen where the cooking class was conducted 

 A shot of all the ingredients that was used for the cooking class. The white blocks are not
cheese but fermented soy bean cakes which is a staple for most part of Indonesia.

This is how the Balinese make coconut oil from coconut milk.
The coconut flesh is first grated finely and mixed with fresh water.
The coconut is then extracted by passing the mixture through
a muslin bag. Then the liquid is poured into the wok and
heat is applied till the water is evaporated. Voila! Fresh coconut oil!

My joy pounding the spices to make a special Balinese
paste called 'Bumbu'. Bumbu is used in a variety of
Balinese recipes, much like how the Thais uses fish sauce
and the Italians uses olive oil.
One of the participant of the cooking class
preparing the 'Bumbu' by sweating it.      

Tuna dressed w 'Bumbu' wrapped in banana leave
with some tomatoes and basil.
Sate lilit: Marinated fish paste skewer grilled
over charcoal, simply marvelous! This is a must eat if you are in Bali!

Ibu Paon serving us all the food that we have prepared
 for lunch. The lil girl's expression says it all!

For foodies, there are plenty of places to eat and in this post I will suggest 2 places. Many of you knew about Jimbaran where you get to feast on a barbecued seafood dinner for 2 while watching the famous Bali sunset. If you do, perhaps you will also have the opinion that the food wasn’t really that great, prices are steep, touting is rampant and if it is not because of the sunset view, you will not revisit the place. Let me introduce you to another location (If you have not already knew) which is located a little up north from Jimbaran, which also means barbecued seafood on the beach with the beautiful Bali sunset view but at a cheaper price and touting is almost non-existent. That place is Kedongangan. Although it sounds like the perfect place, there is one small catch viz the location of the restaurant is within the fishing village itself. For the ‘glass is half full’ people, it means that the seafood are fresh and for the ‘glass is half full’ people, there is a likelihood that you will get a free sample of the wet market smell depending on the wind direction. So if you are the latter, you can choose to come to this location first to have a whiff of the air and check the wind direction. If it doesn’t work for you, you can always go to Jimbaran again (Oh, I’ve forgotten to mention that Jimbaran dining area seen from Kedongangan is shrouded in thick barbecue smoke due to the many restaurants there as compared to Kedongangan which only has a couple of restaurants).

The second place to eat is not in a famous location and may be a little out of the way but hey, if the food is good, it’s worth a try. The restaurant name is ‘Natrabu’ which serves ‘Nasi Padang’ and if you have been reading my previous Bali posts you would have known that ‘Nasi Padang’ literally meant Field Rice. To start with, Nasi Padang is not a Balinese dish but instead a Javanese culture that was brought in by the migrant Javanese to seek employment in the island but was soon adapted into their culture. You will not need to order what to eat, you just walk in and tell the waiter how many person is eating and you will be promptly ushered to a suitable sized table to be seated and not long after that you will be thronged by plates upon plates of dishes! Don’t be alarmed, you will not be forced to pay for all the dishes instead you will only pay for the items that you have eaten. The dishes are usually served in countable portion e.g. 3 meat balls, 2 chicken thigh curry etc. (There must be a system to their calculation which I have not deciphered, perhaps I will ask the next time I visited them again). So instead of ordering many dishes while having to pay even though you can’t finish all the food, Nasi Padang allows you to try many dishes but only pay for items that you ate and a little more. Oh, and please, use the common spoon to spoon the dishes and not the spoon you placed in your mouth.

There you go, restaurant name complete with contact number and address 

The final bill works out around IDR130,000 for all 6 of us plus 2 of our local drivers, which
works out to be around USD1.80 per pax. How's that for a good lunch!

Finally, it will not be complete without at least mentioning one temple to visit and that is Pura Ulun Danu Bratan (PUDB) or the Lake Bratan Temple. The journey to this temple will bring you pass a number of interesting places with the coffee plantation being one of them plus the strawberry plantation and the GitGit waterfalls, which requires some diversion from the main course. PUDB is situated beside the B(e)ratan Lake (Some argued that it is ON the lake, perhaps during raining season where the lake level increase), which is really a volcanic crater that was formed long ago that has since became inactive and captured rain water in it. The temperature is slightly lower due to the altitude of its location and will be a refreshing change from the scorching sun at the beaches. This temple is so iconic that you will find it pictured at the back of the country’s IDR20,000 currency note.

One of the resort that you will pass by while making your way to PUDB. Its a shame
that construction work has stopped so near to the resort's completion. It now lay wasted.

We are fortunate that when we visited PUDB, there was a 
temple progression and we were able to get some good shots

 The famous Pura Ulun Danu Bratan (or PUBD, which is loosely translated as The Temple on Bratan Lake) 
in the background. The temple is surrounded by beautiful gardens too. 

So who says Bali is only about beaches? I have been to Bali many times since and each time found something that fascinates me to the point of hypnosis, resulting in the longing to be back to this beautiful Isle of Gods. I hope you too will find similar enjoyment and relaxation in this island if not more.

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