Kiwi Lyn and her friend Chris the yoga instructor invited me to join them on a bike tour today with Bali on Bike, and what a brilliant day we had!
We piled into a van this morning and drove to a coffee plantation, not any old coffee plantation mind you – this is where they produce the most expensive coffee in the world, ‘Kopi Luwak’. You might recall Jack Nicolson’s character waxing lyrical about this special coffee in the movie The Bucket List. So what makes it so special? Well….
There is a small cat-like animal in Bali called the Luwak. The Luwak likes eating coffee berries, but it is very fussy and only likes to eat the very best quality coffee berries. The coffee bean which is inside the berry, passes through the digestive system of the animal and out the other end. Somewhere along the line someone thought it might be a good idea to clean the poo off these coffee beans and turn them into coffee. Really?!!
So here I am drinking coffee made of beans that have been through a cute little Luwak.
I’m not a coffee drinker so I can’t really compare but it was strong, not as bitter as I was expecting, and there was a thick muddy sediment on the bottom of the cup. We also tried several other coffees and teas including ginseng coffee, rosella tea, and red rice tea. I wonder if they draw straws to see who collects the beans each morning.
A bit further up the road we jump on our bikes and head off on an easy 35km ride which takes us through scenery straight out of the tourist brochures. Field after field of bright green rice paddies stretch out before us. We cycle down beautiful little lanes that wind their way through the rural heart of Bali where rice and coffee beans are still picked by hand and dried in the sun, and ducks and chickens roam freely.
We stop to visit a traditional family compound where an 80 year old man and his young grandchildren welcome us into their home. We are proudly shown their rice storage area, the pigs and the cows. No power or running water, mud floors, bare feet, this is how many people still live here in Bali. I can’t help but wonder what grandma must think as Lyn shows the children some pictures on her iphone.
At the end of our magical ride we are treated to a cold beer, a lovely homemade lunch and an informative talk on Balinese customs by our tour guide Moon. I have enjoyed myself so much I would happily do the tour again, I feel like I have been honoured with a glimpse of the real Bali.
If you are coming to Bali you should put this Bali on Bike tour at the top of your list.
Two thumbs up
Note: Post bike tour I have read on Google that in some countries Luwak are kept in cages battery hen style. I will email Bali on Bike and the coffee plantation to flag this concern. Bali is certainly highlighting the stark pros and cons of tourism. I want my travel to be ‘good for me, good for the local people, good for the planet’.