After filling our tummies with the delicious babi guling at Ibu Oka’s, we continued our photography journey. Our next stop was Tegallalang. It is situated to the north of Ubud. It is a market town known for its wood carvings as well as temples and surrounding land terraces planted with rice. While we were there, we passed by a multitude of craft shops. Also, Boby told us he too is a wood carver. Fantastic isn’t it? Such a talented driver we had.
As we approach nearer to Tegallalang, we could see some tourist buses. It wasn’t a very crowded spot. Everyone is here to enjoy the magnificent vista of cascading rice terraces. Unfortunately, Bali has not been raining lately and the crops seem to be awfully dry. There were also a stretch of shops along the road opposite the rice terraces. The shop owners will come pestering us to buy something while we are shooting our photos. Well, they are after all making a living, so a courteous ‘no’ to them is as good and they will be happy to pester the other tourists around.
We walked a few steps down the rice fields and we saw an old uncle holding some crops. He was a happy uncle. He stayed and had me shoot some photos of him. After we thanked him, he asked for some money, so we handed him a small tip. At least he didn’t forced us to pay, unlike the porters at the Denpasar airport.
Besides the coconut trees that surround the rice terraces, there were also little huts around. Fann & I walked further down to check out what these huts were. To our amazement, these were huts where you can indulge in a nice meal or a drink while enjoying the beautiful rice fields.
As we were halfway shooting, a little girl approached us and offered to bring us nearer to the rice terraces with a fee at IDR200,000. As the weather was getting rather hot, I was reluctant at the enormous price tag offered. I smile and said no to the girl, then she offered a half price discount. I continued to say no, while she keeps offering lower and lower prices. As I began to notice that she’s actually starting to simply mumble prices at me. Fann & I quickly left the scene. I didn’t like to be bothered when I’m taking photos and so I didn’t manage to check out the rice fields properly. It distracted me and I also didn’t get to shoot any nice angles. But looking on the bright side, I guess that’s one good reason to go to Bali again.
Boby told us that he would be taking us to a coffee plantation next. The both of us weren’t such a big coffee fan, but since he insisted we go, it wouldn’t harm to give it a try. Afterall, it’s a coffee plantation, it’s gonna be ‘as fun as a petting zoo for plants. We came to this place called Bali Pulina Agro Tourism. We were greeted by a nice lady guide at the plantation and she introduced the things around the plantations. According to her, Indonesia is famous for it’s Kopi Luwak (Civet Cat Coffee) and this place is one of the plantations for the Luwak. This coffee is also known as the world’s most expensive coffee.
The Kopi Luwak is expensive due to it’s smelly process. In short, the civet cats will choose the highest grade of coffee beans and eat them. After going through their highly evolved coffee filter intestines, they will poop it out again. The workers will then take the poop and wash it thoroughly (as they have claimed). After that, they will dry the beans and grind them into powder form for us to enjoy. I was skeptical by this kind of mumbo-jumbo. But I kid you not, as our guide asked us to smell the kopi luwak powder, the aroma of the coffee is EXTRAORDINARY! The aromatic coffee smells absolutely heavenly. It’s the total opposite of what you would imagine poop coffee would smell like.
After the tour, the guide presented us with a free tasting of all of their coffee products. However, if we wanted to try the kopi luwak, then it came with a humongous price tag of IDR50,000. Well, we didn’t try the kopi luwak, because we were short on cash, but we tried the other coffees. I seem to have regretted for not trying the Luwak Coffee. By the way, it came with delicious tapioca chips. Yummy! While we enjoyed large choice of free coffee, we too had a spectacular view of beautiful rice terraces on the right side. It was a fantastic place to taste these coffee. My favourite was the Vanilla Coffee & Pure Cocoa. As I told Fann, the vanilla coffee tasted like Latte, only better. The pure cocoa required some sugar to be added because it’s not sweet but smells exactly like chocolate. I loved it.
After we finished our coffee, the guide brought us to the shop where they sell all their choices of coffee in powder form. We bought the pure cocoa powder because I thought that it was really special and would love to enjoy it on a rainy afternoon at home. The plantation is a must go for coffee lovers. I wasn’t all amazed by it when Boby brought us there, but I was wrong. It’s a great experience and I totally enjoyed it. I would recommend everyone to go there once. Please also bring along more cash to enjoy the kopi luwak.
Our next stop is the Tirta Empul Temple, or also known as the Temple of the Holy Water. It is located in Tampak Siring, somewhere in the middle between Ubud and Kintamani. This temple is regarded as one of six most important temples in Bali, apart from the usual suspects like Besakih Temple and Luhur Uluwatu Temple. Similar to other Balinese temples, everyone is encouraged to wear a sarung before entering the temple in the form of respect. So, we borrowed ourselves the sarungs from the counter and walked into the temple to enjoy the marvellous architecture.
The temple is set in a serene and tranquil surrounding with green hillocks on one side, trees around the compound and also a pool of spring water. When you enter the complex, there is a Temple in Bali Hindhu design and a big pond of many well tended gold fish. Tirta Empul is divided into 3 courtyards. At the first courtyard is also a pool for public bathing place. There is a total of 30 shrines there, with later ones added by the locals who are responsible for the upkeep of the temple. Like most Balinese temples, an odalan ceremony is performed every 210 days.
This has got to be one of the most active temples I’ve seen so far. There were many locals cleansing themselves and there lays 12 fountains pouring the holy spring water into the pool.The waters there are believed to have magic curative powers. Every year people journey from all over Bali to purify themselves in the clear pools. After leaving a small offering to the deity of the spring, men and women go either side to bathe. According to the locals, they believe that bathing here helps to cleans their karmic burden and it’s also an anti-dote for black magic.
Furthermore, the tourists flock to the other side of the pool. Everyone was queuing up to touch the holy water. I think it brings good luck to them. What amazes me in this temple is that it was built in 926 A.D. during the Warmadewa dynasty (from the 10th to 14th centuries), at a site where there was a large water spring. I absolutely adored their architecture.
Lastly, as we were preparing to leave and we saw a big rock carving of the temple’s name and descriptions. As we exited the complex, there was the same scene again. Lots of little souvenir shops around the temple to attract tourist to buy stuff. Boby was waiting for us outside the temple and I told Fann that this was going to be my favourite spot of all. She said wait til you see what’s coming next.