Bali, Day 1

Thursday, November 3, 2011
So here's a little tidbit of info: Sometimes airlines sell more tickets than they have seats available. There are always a percentage of people who don't make their flights, and things usually even out by departure time.

But not always.

Sometimes enough people show up that they don't have seats for everybody. If you're lucky enough to have this happen to you, you can volunteer to give away your seat in exchange for some vouchers for a future flight (plus a seat on the next flight).

We managed to rack up $1600 in vouchers on a trip to Los Angeles back in March. If you have $1600 in vouchers laying around, what do you do? Go on vacation, of course!

We chose Bali as our destination. Bali is smack dab in the middle of Indonesia, directly north of Australia. We booked tickets there, flying via Tokyo and Singapore.

We hired a driver for the first four days of the trip to take us around the island and let us get a feel for it.

The first day started with a trip to Tegalalang, toward the center of Bali. There are some beautiful rice paddies there, and you are welcome to walk among them!

Just up the road from Tegalalang is an organic farm that grows a variety of fruits, vegetables, and spices. More interesting though, is that they produce Kopi Luwak, which is the most expensive coffee in the world! Why is it so expensive? The production process:

1) The fruit of the coffee plant is eaten by an Asian Palm Civet, a small native animal that seems to be a cross between a cat and a rodent.
2) The stomach acids of the civet interact with the fruit.
3) The fruit is pooped out.
4) Yes, you guessed it: The Coffee Crap(tm) is gathered up, washed and dried, roasted, then shelled and ground up into coffee!

There are two layers of actual shells that are removed before exposing the coffee bean inside, so you don't need to worry TOO much about eating actual poop. Maybe.

Kopi Luwak coffee beans set out to dry

From there we traveled onward to Gunung Kawi, a temple built in the 11th century. It features 10 shrines cut into the cliffs surrounding the Pakrisan river, each shrine being over 20 feet tall!

The day we went there they were preparing plates of food to make as an offering. They also had a duck wrapped up in a palm leaf. He seemed blissfully unaware of his fate that would be arriving a few hours later.

Just a few miles away from Gunung Kawi is Tirtha Empul, which is one of the oldest sites in Bali. Sometimes known as Temple of the Holy Spring, Balinese travel from all over the island to bathe in the natural spring waters here.

We stopped for a late lunch overlooking Batur volcano.

It was now time to head back for the day, but with one more stop along the way: Goa Gajah, or the Elephant Cave Temple.

The rest of the photos from Day 1 can be found here.