Friday, November 29, 2013

Indo din

This morning, the 4 of us (Aaron and Dee, Jordan and I) woke to the sounds of rushing traffic, roosters crowing, and the very bad recorded noise of the Muslims' "call to prayer". Welcome to Pemuteran Village (Indonesia)!

After being served an unpalatable brekkie, we cut up more of our own fruit and then drove in our rented van to the jetty at Labuhun Lalang (2 hours west of Lovina where we had stayed last night). This place is located in Bali's only National Park, West Bali National Park (aka Taman Nasional Bali Barat). As we drove in, we were greeted by the mellifluous sounds from the countless number of birds and the mischievous wild macaque monkeys - same as the ones we saw in Ubud Monkey Sanctuary on November 26th.

We tried to barter a better price for a snorkelling boat but no deal. All we could get was free masks and fins for Jordan and I (Aaron and Dee had brought their own). So off we went in a wooden longboat with a 40-HP motor to Menjangan Island, aka Deer Island (yes, there were many deer on the Island).

Snorkelling was great, swimming deep down a wall among hundreds of fish. For a 43-second YouTube video, refer to the link at right called "Snorkelling in Bali". Among our many sights was a rare leaf scorpion fish, below...

Can you spot the elusive leaf scorpion fish? (courtesy of Dee)

We saw a lot of first-time-seen fish, good coral, and quite a few razorfish. Just before boarding to return to shore, this amusing clown fish was spotted, flitting in and out a sea anemone, his hiding place.

We can see you! (courtesy of Dee)

This dive spot was at the end of the road for us, so to speak, so after a freshwater shower, we started backtracking. Always a thrilling sight were the rice paddies in their many stages of growth. Some with growing rice sticking out of the water, some with water but no rice visible, and some with no water but just mud.

Rice paddy

Then after a short way, an alternate return route took us up, up, up, winding higher and higher past quaint little villages and verdant scenery. This is also coffee country and when 1 coffee plantation displayed "Civet Cat Coffee" we had to stop and try it.

In case you didn't know, the most expensive coffee known is from the civet cat. This coffee can sell for up to $100 per cup! Now this might sound icky to some, but it is made from beans that come from the poop of the wild civet cats after they have eaten them.

Handlers collect the civet poop that is full of coffee beans that the cat has eaten. When the pooped coffee beans have dried out, they are removed from the poop, cleaned, and processed.

1. Coffee beans in poop 2. Beans removed from poop

We are into recycling, it was a bargain at only $5 per cup, and we are always looking for a story for the we thought why not. (Jordan was a little reluctant.) The verdict? It had a uniquely exotic bitter taste and in the interest of wanting to try almost anything at least once, we were okay with it. Although once is enough. Another first!

We stopped for the night at Munduk, a sleepy little village perched on a ridge overlooking fields of rice paddies below and distant countryside vistas. Our mountain retreat (Puri Alam Bali Bungalows) not only offered us this same vista but also a 1-hour massage complete with the hot stone treatment. How soothing, especially after trekking down the long steep hill to explore the town of Munduk!

Expansive view

To get to the restaurant from our rooms required walking up about 80 steps to another magnificent view.

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