Another day in Ubud

July 1

Today with the help of our guide Made (Maddy) we drove out to see rice paddies, a coffee plantation, and to see local wood carvers at work.
At the coffee plantation we were able to taste many different coffees and teas. My favourite tea is ginger tea.

Luwak coffee beans

One interesting coffee with the local name ‘Luwak’ is coffee made from beans found in cat poo! Yes, that’s right! Cat poo coffee.

The civit cat that eats the coffee beans

The cat is a civit cat with the long name Paradoxurus. Living in the forest coffee plantations, the cat’s favourite food is the ripe, red cherries of the coffee tree. Inside the cat’s stomach, chemicals change the berries in a process called fermentation. Workers collects the cat poo to find the changed beans which are still intact in the cats’ droppings. The droppings are washed to clean the beans which are then sun dried for a week or two. After this, like other coffee beans, they are roasted and ground.


July 2

Today we visited the Scared Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. The monkeys here are Balinese long-tailed macaques. About 300 monkeys live in the forest and visitors can wander among them. The monkeys can be fed bananas, papyaya and cucumbers. The monkeys will approach and take food from visitors, but watch out! They will bite. When I sat for a rest, one monkey jumped onto my lap and started to climb onto my shoulder. At the same time, another monkey began tugging at a bag I was carrying on my shoulder. As I tried to remove the first monkey, the second one grabbed my hand and bit into my wrist. Ouch! Treatment at a first-aid station made sure the bite didn’t become infected. The monkeys are a feature of Balinese dances, sculpture and folk tales.

There are three holy temples in the forest

You can read more about the monkey forest here

Last day in Bali

July 8th, 2011
Our last day in Bali was the same day as the beginning of the Bali festival of Galungan. This is the most important Balinese holiday and is about the battle between good and evil. It happens once every 210 days and lasts for 10 days. Houses and other buildings are decorated with a ‘penjor’, a tall bamboo pole decorated with woven coconut leaves, which is placed on the right hand side of the entrance. People wear their finest clothes and jewels on this day. They visit the temple with offerings to God and to the family ancestors who have come back to rest at the temple. People from all over Bali return home to visit their families.

kidcyber has some information about Hinduism in Indonesia which you can see here. http://www.kidcyber.com.au/topics/tripIndhindu.htm

Komodo Island

Monday, 4th July

After sleeping onboard, we watched the sunrise over the mountains of the islands. Then sailed to Komodo island, the largest of the 22 islands in Komodo National Park. More than 1200 dragons live on the island, spread out over the 30 kilometre long island. Trekking to look for them we saw wild pigs and deer.(dragon food!) A small dragon, about 2 metres long crossed our path. Other much bigger ones were closer to the rangers’ houses. The dragons come there, lured by the smell of food cooking!
We did see a large male on the ridge of a hill too. He must have been very big for us to be able to see him from so far away. We have been lucky to see so many dragons because sometimes, we have been told, there are none to be seen. And because it is now the mating season, the dragons are often roaming far away from the trekking area looking for a mate.
The kidcyber page about Komodo dragons will be updated next week after I get home with some new information and photos.

The harbour at Flores

During the 3 hour boat ride back to Flores, a sea turtle swam beside the boat for a short time and we had a good view of it until it lifted it’s head out of the water, saw the boat, and dived quickly out of sight.

In dragon land!

Sunday 3 July

Rinca Island: Komodo National Park

The flight from Bali to the western region of Flores island took 1 hour. The people here make their living from fishing, growing rice and coffee, and by mining silicon. (Silicon is a mineral used in building materials and for making computer chips)
We travelled by small boat for 2 hours to the island of Rinca, one of just three islands where the Komodo dragons live. Rinca and Komodo are the biggest islands in a group of 22 that make up the Komodo National Park where the wildlife is protected. On the way we saw dolphins swimming and diving through the green-blue water.

Mangroves surrounding the islands are home to monkeys and bats

Mangroves surrounding the islands are home to flying foxes (fruit bats) and long-tailed macaques.(monkeys)

Small villages could be seen at places along the shoreline of some of the islands. In the villages a typical family farm house is built of wood, on stilts and with roof thatched with palm leaves. The family’s goats and chickens are kept safe inside a fenced area, protected from dragons, crocodiles and sea eagles which prey on the farm animals.

Komodo dragons use their tongues to collect smells

On the trek through forest (tamarind trees, palms, and jarak trees) to find the dragons we also saw a troop of monkeys, buffalo and wild chickens. These are all prey (food) for the dragons. To catch a monkey, the dragon lies in wait, camouflaged in the scrub, then when the monkey is close, the dragon used it’s tail to stun the monkey before biting it.

Keeping a safe distance away, we followed a large male along a track for awhile. When it began to run, (away from us!) it moved quickly for such a large animal.

Village on the island shoreline

Sailing to a calm part of the sea for an overnight stop we passed fishing boats, saw schools of fish and more dolphins.
As it got dark, thousands of fruit bats left the mangroves, where they roost  during the day, flying out  to feed on fruit trees on the islands.

kidcyber recommends Dara Nusa Tours & Travel.
This very reliable company arranged our successful trip 
to Flores and the Komodo National Park in 2011.
Contact: http://www.daranusa.com/

To Ubud

June 30
The trip to Komodo won’t happen now until July 3,so we have come to the town of Ubud.

Rice farmer working in a paddy

Ubud is a town in the middle of the island of Bali. The town is surrounded by rice paddies and steep forested hills. It is a cooler part of Bali. Ubud is the centre for the Balinese arts: music, dance, painting and sculpture. There’s a big art museum in town with many galleries to visit. One of the I paintings I enjoyed was of farmers catching mice that were eating their rice. Another was of the battle over food between locusts and red ants. Many of the paintings told folk stories about foolish kings, and other Balinese folk tales. There were paintings about Hinduism, the main religion of Bali.

Offerings of rice and flowers are left on the pavement

We noticed as we were walking around, small woven baskets of fruit, rice, and flowers that are left outside buildings as an offering to the Hindu god.
Later in the trip we will visit the Monkey Forest.
kidcyber has some information about rice farming which you can see here. http://www.kidcyber.com.au/topics/tripIndrice.htm

June 29
Waiting for the trip to Komodo to begin. There is some problem with the airline so we cannot go for a few days. Some delay with the tickets for the plane.
Walked through the main street of Sanur. There are many places where wood carvers work, creating furniture, as well as beautifully carved doors. Kites are for sale everywhere.

Kites like these are flown at the kite festival

Traditional Balinese kites can be up to 10 meters long. Teams from villages around Bali come to compete in the International kite festival, held each year in July.

Carved masks and painted wooden eggs were on sale too. These are popular souvenirs bought by tourists.

We ate a traditional Balinese dish today, Naai Campur Bali. It’s a dish of steamed rice, pieces of grilled fish on skewers, other steamed fish, vegetables and grated coconut. Spicy and delicious! Fruit drinks with coconut milk are delicious too.
Weather is warm and sunny, but some of the Balinese say it is cold because it is their ‘winter’ or dry season.