Day 8 - Drive, James!

Bali Travel Blog

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Asri and James in the Kintamani area of Bali with the volcano behind us.

Monday was moving day…we were leaving the Mercure in Sanur to check in at the Best Western Condotel on Dreamland Beach in what is called the “New Kuta” development. Since we would have to be driving and couldn’t check into the hotel until later in the day, we rented a car and driver for the day and planned to visit some sights of Bali. Renting a car/driver is the way to go in Bali. It cost us 30USD for the entire day, and whenever we stopped somewhere (however long it took), the driver would wait on us. (Isn't the driver's name supposed to be James???)

We checked out of the Mercure sometime around 10AM and began our drive to the northern part of the island; our first stop was the sacred monkey forest in Ubud, otherwise known as Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana.

This monkey sanctuary houses around 300 Balinese macaques. Tickets to get in is like 1.50USD, so it’s definitely worth it to visit if you are here. The monkeys are well fed by the tourists, so they really don’t bother you at all, despite being warned about them snatching your personal belongings.

After the monkey forest we traveled to Kintamani to view Mount Batur crater and Batur Lake. We only stayed on the main road and didn’t do any hiking, but the view was well worth the trip. We took some pictures from the roadside, and from the same exact spot where Asri had her previous profile picture taken a couple years earlier. Cars with tourists are charged a very small fee. Other fees may include cigarette money! We were stopped twice on the highway by local police.

The driver gave them a dollar and Asri explained to me that they just wanted cigarette money. Well, it’s only a dollar, so who’s going to argue with them?!?!?!

Next, we were off to the Bas Coffee plantation where they are famous for their Luwak coffee, the most expensive coffee in the world. Why is it the most expensive? Because the Luwak has to eat the beans first and then the beans have to be hand-picked from their deposits! I was curious about this animal, so here’s a brief history:

The luwak (or civet), is a relative of the mongoose and is slightly larger than the average household cat. There are a number of different types of luwaks, which can be found right throughout the tropics, however the particular species that produces Luwak Coffee is concentrated in south east Asia. Luwak are nocturnal by nature and steal through the coffee plantations wreaking havoc on the crop of the unfortunate coffee farmer. Because of this habit they are often shot and in some areas they are becoming scarce.

Luwak are quite tolerant of humans and if allowed to live unmolested can be found everywhere from deep jungles to villages and even cities.

In Bali they are often seen (and even more often heard) climbing around in the roof and along walls of houses and hotels in many popular tourist areas. Luwak are largely arboreal (tree dwelling) and spend much of their time sniffing around in the trees for their favorite foods which includes most tropical fruit.

So why Luwak coffee??? The Luwak consume the red coffee cherries, when available, containing the fruit and seed, and they tend to pick the ripest and sweetest fruit. Thus there is a natural selection for the ripest coffee beans. The inner bean of the berry is not digested, but a unique combination of enzymes in the stomach of the civet add to the coffee's flavor by breaking down the proteins that give coffee its bitter taste.

The beans are defecated, still covered in some inner layers of the berry. The beans are washed, and given only a light roast so as to not destroy the complex flavors that develop through the process.

Well, I am a coffee lover, but I didn’t try the Luwak coffee. We did, however, sample several of their coffees and teas. I also bought a supply of Bali coffee beans and ginseng coffee to take back home.

Our next destination was to the Hu’u restaurant and bar where we were to meet Rini ( and her husband, Santo.

We arrived first, and since the four of us were just meeting for drinks, Asri and I went ahead and also had a late lunch. We spent the better part of the afternoon at the Hu’u chatting with the “newlyweds” who were here on their honeymoon. The Hu'u is a very nice place, with entertaining bartenders and luxurious restrooms! The drinks were overpriced, but I suppose we were paying for the atmosphere, too.

Our last stop was the Best Western! We were more than ready to get checked in after a long day of traveling and sightseeing. It was already dark when we arrived, so we were just basically interested in getting to the room and kicking off our shoes.

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Asri and James in the Kintamani ar…
Asri and James in the Kintamani a…
photo by: mr_shanet