While not part of the official itinerary, our driver accommodated a stop for some coffee – specifically Luwak Coffee. Hailed as the most expensive coffee in the world, its price is influenced by the method of processing these specific coffee beans. The fruit is consumed by an Asian palm civet and pooped out whole. The fermentation that occurs during the digestion process is heralded as the key distinguishing feature of this coffee. It is sorted, cleaned and roasted off as any other coffee bean would. Since the process only yields a small supply and the demand of this specialized brew is high, it results in an inflated price. I’m no connoisseur of coffee since I don’t ever drink it so I left the tasting to my sister who was very intrigued. We were able to see the animals and the roasting process. Then we sat down for a tasting flight of coffees and teas, along with a special brew of the luwak coffee. My favourite was the mangosteen tea which was fruity and floral. I do believe my sister enjoyed all the varieties and the luwak cofee itself. There were only a few other guests around and we did not feel pressured to purchase anything after our tasting (we would have liked to but honestly had no spare cash for it). It was a quiet stop to relax before heading to one of the main highlights of the tour.
The main attraction for the day was visiting the Uluwatu Temple, the panoramic oceanfront views and the Kecak fire dance at sunset. There were many tourists and locals at the Uluwatu grounds, all eagerily awaiting the sunset I’m sure as it is prized for its view. Before we even got out of the car, our driver specifically warned us that there were hoards of monkeys around waiting to pick pocket and create mischief. We made sure to empty our pockets and keep all accessories safely tucked in our bags if not in use. As we made our way to the entrance, we definitely saw some of the monkey grabs and steered clear entirely. We toured the Uluwatu Temple grounds, taking in the breathtaking coastlines. The warm golden light laying over everything it could reach just added to the magic. Our driver again was on hand to answer any of our questions and lead us through the path, taking our photos along the way.
Eventually he lead us to the performance area for the fire dance which was set to start around sunset. He ensured that we got in, gave us instructions to meet later and left us to enjoy the show. At the amphitheater we are shown to our seats (first come, first serve sort of deal). The Kecak fire dance is one of the more iconic performances in Bali and popular amongst tourists. It’s a traditional Balinese ritual but was actually created by a German man in the 1930s and based on the famous epic Hindu story of the Ramayana.
The pamphlet given at the entrance described in detail the history and all the elements that went into the fire dance. Once everyone has been seated, a hoard of men begin the performance with a hypnotic chant. The story begins and in essence depicts a love story of a princess stolen away and in need of rescue. The artistry behind their garments, the rhythm for the dance provided by the chants of the men and the wow factor of the fire make for a wonderful show. Only moments after the performance ends, the skies open up and a thunderstorm begins to pour down on us. As we rushed out of the area, we were fortunate enough to quickly find out driver who lead us back to the car.
As we escaped the Uluwatu Temple, our driver raced off to take us to our last destination – dinner at Jimbaran Bay. The thunderstorm was relentless and there was a moment in the car where my sister and I looked at each other and wondered if it were going to come out of this in one piece. The added sound effects from the rain, the many bumps on the road, the side streets and shortcuts he took, all factored into our concern for safety. Realistically we were likely never in any real danger, just tired, hungry and lost without the daylight to help enhance our understanding of our surroundings. Eventually we did finally arrive at our dinner location. Sadly due to the rain we were forced to have our meal indoors with a gloomy dark view to block any sighting of the way – totally disappointing. We weren’t even sure we were hungry, longing instead for our beds and the quietness of our room. But before us was laid our a huge seafood feast and soon our sadness melted away in the butter, spice and utter deliciousness. My sister and I agreed that this was the star meal of our entire stay in Bali. We reminisce on it even long after our travels on how surprising and satisfying this way. Everything was glazed in this addictive spice and butter and the quantity was astounding. A perfect ending to that amazing day. Our driver took us home where we happily paid for our awesome tour. Officially broke at this point, we hid away in our rooms and waited for our Bali trip to be over.