Bali: Volcanoes, Coffee, and More

A volcano on Bali

A volcano on Bali

With ten days to celebrate Chinese New Year, I did what any sane foreigner looking for new experiences would do. I drank poop coffee in Bali, Indonesia. And I liked it.

Bali is often seen as a stopping point for Aussie drunken shenanigans, but offers lush landscapes, monkey friends, friendly locals, not to mention delicious eats.

We flew from Guangzhou for about 5,000 RMB return, (non-CNY prices are around 3,000) not too bad for those needing a break from Dongguan.

There were many great moments, but being adventurous we were fascinated by Kopi Luwak coffee, or poop coffee as we called it. KL coffee comes from coffee beans, that are swallowed by cat-like animals called Lumaks and “released.” Excreted beans are collected, washed (thank god), and brewed into one of the most expensive coffees of the world: a cool $35-$100 per cup.

On a tour of the plantation, we were shown the finer details of the process. Staring into the eyes of the Lumak, knowing I was about to drink something that had temporarily inhabited him, was an interesting exchange, but neither one of us appeared embarrassed. I had my role and he had his. At the plantation, each cup of Kopi Luwak was offered at a very reasonable price, $4 a cup. How did it taste? Like someone washed those beans real well, a smooth tasty finish.

Later that week, we high-tailed it to the smaller isle of Gili Trawangan, one of a group of three small islands off Bali, each with a different character: Gili Trawagan or “Gili T” is a place to party; Gili Air offers a peek into local life; and Gili Meno is simply a place to get away from it all. These islands are reached by plane or boat. Those suffering from seasickness beware, a few of our group were very close to puking indeed. We landed on Gili T after two hours, to an absolute downpour and had to lug our suitcases from the boat, over the beach to tiny horse carts. Yes, horse carts! With no motorized vehicles on Gili T, four people and their luggage filled each tiny cart, pulled by a dainty horses no taller than a donkey. Once the carts were full, our horse champions were off in the direction of what we hoped were our villas.

Whether you prefer your coffee from a Lumak’s ass or straight from the volcano, don’t worry, Bali’s got you covered.

The somewhat smooth roads soon turned into pits of potential disaster, our tiny carts suddenly leaning almost horizontal then jolting upright the next second. It was nutty, wet, and just a tiny bit scary but we loved every minute. The ride lasted just fifteen mins but it set the tone of our adventure: things could only get better. The moment we walked into our villa, we dumped our bags, jumped in the pool and were handed drinks. Seasickness, downpour, sketchy transportation, no problem!

Another part of Bali that stands out is the volcanos. They often entail an early start though. The morning we went, I ran from room to room at 1:30am to cajole awake our sleepiest members to hike a volcano. We stumbled into vans and were off… only to be in transit for another hour and a half. When we arrived in pitch black, I could barely make out our guide, who simply handed me a hiking stick, and with no time to lose we headed off into the black of night.

An icy chill welcomed us as we entered the forest and started our walk. I followed the guide mostly in silence but could hear friends laughing and chatting about the day. Lack of sleep and fuel made it hard for me to focus on happiness. This was supposed to be fun, right? My body felt weak and I started to feel nauseous early on. During breaks, our guides would cheerily ask if we were ok, “all body good?”, a catchphrase if ever there was one, and our responses amounted to little more than assorted grunts and head nods.The forest turned into mountain of steeper inclines of soft dirt interspersed with smooth lava rock formations. It’s clear now why they had handed us weak mortals the walking sticks. ‘Head down, keep moving’ became my mantra.

Reaching the summit in all its glory, what could we see? Nothing. Sigh. It was still dark, but we were given fresh coffee made from the hot steam straight off the volcano. Amazing! The sky started to slowly lighten and I could barely make out the outlines of the other sister mountains nearby. More colors greeted us as the sun rose and the landscape of Bali welcomed us. And what a day it was! Whether you prefer your coffee from a Lumak’s ass or straight from the volcano, don’t worry, Bali’s got you covered. This is all but some of the fun offered on beautiful Bali, all serving as a wonderful escape from the concrete jungle that is Dongguan.