Our last day in Bali was a busy one. We set off at 9am so we could pack in three must-see places, north and south of Ubud.
First stop: Satria Coffee Plantation
Though the name might imply differently, the place was a tourist shop selling coffee and other exotic products. Visitors get to see some coffee trees beforearriving at a processing station. A woman manned that spot, showing us how to roast beans while the guide told us about the difference between male and female beans.
The same guide later took Ian and me to a fruit and herb garden. It was an add-on to the coffee tour, but they wouldn't need anything else to convince me. I was sold the minute I saw this laden papaya tree.
It was the first time I saw the plants which make my much-loved spices. While black pepper, turmeric, ginger and even cacao powder are so common and used often in my kitchen, the plants were unknown to me.
Could you guess what comes out from the hanging fruits? Which part of the leafy plants on the lower right corner looks like turmeric to you?
After seeing all the plants and fruit trees, we got to taste 12 different types of coffee, including the infamous Luwak. You might have heard of it as squirrel or poo coffee. I found the novelty unsettling, considering the poor condition of the cage where they kept the animals. It is similar to Foie Gras, I reckon 😕
Second stop: Tirta Empul Temple.
Feeling hyper after trying 10 little cups of coffee, we set off for some holy water.
At the gate, they gave us each a sarong to cover our bare legs. Ian walked around like a colourful Scottish man, one who has lost his bagpipes on the road.
The temple was a big compound with impressive stone structures but we mainly wanted the holy spring. Many locals came here to get washed and feel clean again. The tourists came with the curiosity for an otherworldly tradition.
The water looked lush and felt rather cold in my hand. I didn’t get in but could see the joy on the face of ones who emerged themselves. A man and a woman were burning incense in an interesting-looking ceremony. The smoke and its smell weaved around, entangling both humans and holy spirits.
The spring has curative and purifying effects, so they say. Incidentally, Ian did look refreshing after his bath. He would rather stay much longer to go under every single tap but our schedule was tight. We had to move on swiftly, Ian purified and I sinful as always 😈
After Tirta Empul Temple, we drove south to look for the world’s largest commercial bamboo structure which happened to be a chocolate factory. A cooler one than Willy Wonka’s, as their website claims.
We took a quick break at a tiny warung for its divine nasi campur. Throughout Java and Bali, you are likely to get different dishes when you order a nasi campur. They vary largely in taste and spiciness, but always include steam rice, chilli paste, some vegetables and some meat. If you are lucky, you get prawn crackers or even pork cracklings.
I generally preferred Javanese food but this warung, which was not at all on Foursquare, offered the best nasi campur. The food was so good that Ian felt that it was his responsibility to add the warung to Foursquare.
Last Stop: Big Tree Farm
Spiced and stuffed, we headed to the Big Tree Farm for another educational tour: how to make chocolate. It was fascinating. I had to admit my ignorance as I had never questioned how it gets from a cocoa fruit to a melty sweet chocolate bar. Before that morning, I didn’t even know how a cocoa tree looked like.
Crazy about chocolate or not, I found the knowledge mind blowing. It's not just about making chocolate but creating food in general. Humans have learned to enrich our diet, inheriting what nature gives us and adding adroit touches. Of course, there are countless examples of bad food made by us, but I highly appreciate the good ones. That's definitely one reason for us to be on the road again.
Read the first part of our Bali's bike journal here
If you enjoy what you've read and rather reading the next one in your inbox, subscribe below.