KOPI LUWAK: JUST PASSING THROUGH

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LAST DAYS IN PARADISE:   PART IV

 I’M WONDERING IF THAT GROWLING NOISE is Made S’s stomach or mine. It’s been a number of hours since we last pillaged a well-hung banana plant, or were offered a chunk of a stranger’s coconut.

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Made S and I turn at the temple gates on either side of the road in Kintamani, and head south toward Ubud. It is late afternoon, the sun is now a gold dabloon sliding down a deep blue blanket of sky to the west. Pure white cumulus hover above the horizon. No sign of rain now.

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Rice field in the pre-planting stage.

I’m remembering the last time I was on this road—something like three years earlier, and driving in the opposite direction. I had ridden north out of Legian Beach on my motorbike, passed through Seminyak, found my way through the horrid congestion surrounding Denpasar, and headed toward Kintamani. There are few hard rules of the road in Bali for numerous reasons: sheer volume of traffic, a gazillion motorbikes, narrow roads, poorly maintained roads, roaming animals, people walking in the road, children playing in the road, dogs lying in the road, spiritual parades in the road, funeral processions with giant floats in the road, tipsy tourists in the road, wandering sacred cows. But there are two main rules of the road here.

Rule One: the guy with the biggest tires has the right of way.

Rule Two: “do what you have to do to get where you’re going and survive the    getting there.

There was a time not long ago when you could legally ride your motorbike in Bali without wearing a helmet. But, so many tourists were renting bikes for the first time in their lives and pretending they were Hells Angels (or simply wasted on too many Bintang beers or the much harder arrack, distilled palm flowers) and dying, or plowing into cows or sacred processions. So now, the rule is you have to wear a helmet. You can still get away without wearing one in some places, like smaller villages and back roads. But in general, when you pass a policeman—like where they station themselves to direct traffic at the main intersections in Ubud —you’re better off wearing one. And out on the highway to Kintamani where police lurk waiting for some tourist to cruise by without a helmet, or without an international driving permit. The police will ticket you. Then, you’ve got a real hassle on your hands: red tape in Bali is a deep, dark, murky shade of red that you simply will not relish. And don’t expect “your” logic to match logic here.

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I do not desire to waste your time, nor more than a line or two, on the inane concept of international driving permits. But the concept annoys me and has for years, and not only because I’ve had to spend time and money to renew mine every year for the last 20 years. And I’m figuring if you’ll read paragraphs on gecko poop and cloacas, international driving permits lie in about the same category of crap, so to speak. Does anyone see the value of an IDP? I mean, you take your regular driving license into some place like AAA in the States, or something similar elsewhere, you pay your 15 or 25 bucks, and WHAM! magically, you are qualified to drive in foreign lands.

You are not required to study an international drivers handbook. You are not required to take an international driving test. You don’t have to know anything about driving in other countries, or practice driving on the other side of the road, or shifting gears with your other hand, or driving in traffic that looks less like traffic and more like the chaos after a football-match-gone-bad in Nigeria or England, not to mention sacred cows, or knowing what road signs in foreign countries designate. I mean, just what are you supposed to do when you come upon a road sign with a platypus on it?

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Photo: australiagift.com

So why does a country—a country that makes no money from selling the permit—demand you carry one? I don’t get it. But I don’t get a lot of things that simply are and always have been and always will be. Like say for instance, in some places, it’s not criminals, but the police you should avoid if you want to avoid danger or unpleasantness, or getting mugged. Or shot.

Bali is not one of those places, but it might feel similar at times if you’re a tourist riding a motorcycle. First, you better be wearing a helmet. And second, you better be carrying your newly-purchased-without-taking-a-test-and-worthless International Driving Permit. If you are riding around Kuta Beach without a helmet, the police won’t bother you. But out on main roads, like from Ubud to Kintamani, you will sooner or later happen upon a police officer lurking beside the road in his patrol car. He is waiting for you to arrive without that helmet, or without that IDP. He may stop you even if you are wearing a helmet, to check if you have a permit. If you do, fine, you are back on your way to Kintamani, no hassles, no red tape, and he won’t mug you. Or shoot you. The Balinese are not Colombians. Nor Americans.

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The gates at the country club near Bedugul were impressively enormous and spanned the road. These are actual temple gates, also quite impressive.

Three years earlier on that trip out of Legian to Kintamani on my bike, I realized, maybe thirty minutes out of Legian that I had forgotten my International Driving Permit. I’m pretty sure I hissed a few words the gods and demons may have noticed, and I slowed the bike to turn around and retrieve it. But then I happened upon a beautiful rice paddy. I stopped to take photographs because the sun was beginning to rise behind the rice, creating the photographic effect of backlighting, so the rice appeared vibrant and luminescent, an almost shimmering green while the ground of the paddy was dark in shadow. I got back on the bike an hour later, and headed off toward Kintamani, hoping my good karma would continue, or luck would will the day into a positive manifest destiny, and that I would not encounter the local fuzz… erm… polisi.

But I did. So much for karma and manifest destiny sanctioning the day. Luckily, I saw the patrol car up ahead soon enough to slow down, so I could put on my helmet before I got to the cruiser.

Hint du jour: do not try this at home, kids. Do not ever try to put a helmet on while riding a motorcycle. It’s more dangerous and more stupid than texting while driving. People here die doing this, trying to outwit the police, more often than you might imagine. Just wear your damn helmet. Do as I say, not as I do…is all I’m saying.

The officer was not fooled, he stops me. I smile. I remember Rule Two: “do what you have to do to get where you’re going and survive the getting there.” I plead my case with good humor. I act dumb. I act jovial. I banter with my finest traveler’s good nature. This might be one of those times you wish you’d been born female and had a rich and shallow boyfriend who bought you breast implants, and you wore skimpy tops to flaunt them while flirting.

I try to hide my anger with myself for forgetting, and try to hide my angst—ever since the 60’s, I’ve harbored a slight trepidation of police (just sayin’). I try to convince the officer I did have an IDP, but had inadvertently left it in the villa. I say “villa” to achieve a little credibility, not a man trying to save the price of an IDP. He says he believes me, he can see in my passport that I have visited Bali many times in the recent past. He believes I know, and would follow, the rules. I’m no teenager or shoestring backpacker, I’m a law-abiding geezer who shaves his beard while on vacation in his villa. He understands my mishap. But sadly, he has a job to do. So, what to do, he says. His brow wrinkles, his sad eyes peer directly into mine. The officer says he is obligated to write a ticket. He shrugs his shoulders, which are topped with epaulets and brass buttons. I’m wondering if he’s wondering if I know the unwritten rule of the road here.

He tells me how much the ticket will cost, some outrageous amount in the millions of rupiah, and that I “might” need to go to the police station in Denpasar to pay. But he hesitates writing the ticket. He just sort of stands there, fidgeting, waiting. And talks. With sad eyes. Wrinkling his brow. And I wait. With sad heart. And talk. Feeling disoriented, a badfish out of water—yet once again. Then, I figure: his stalling is some kind of message from the gods and demons—do what you have to do to get where you’re going, doofus.

I ask if I can simply pay the ticket here, rather than go to Denpasar. The officer looks to the side, he thinks about it. For about three seconds. Then nods. I ask how much. His sad eyes begin to burn with something close to disdain. He glances away, searches the horizon, squinting. He cocks his head to the side. His mouth tightens into a thin line, his lips disappear. His shoulders rise into a slight shrug. I do not wait for an answer that will not come. I pull 500,000 rupiahs out of my pocket—slightly high at $34, I think, but a few million rupiah shy of the original fine he’d mentioned, and maybe one of those unwritten rules is “don’t insult the cop.” I palm the wad of 100,000-rupiah notes (the way suave guys in movies do) and reach for the policeman’s hand. The 500,000 rupiahs crinkle between our palms as we shake hands. The policeman smiles, saunters toward his patrol car, slides his hand into his pocket. The teak handle on his revolver sways from side to side as he walks away.

I hop back on the bike—inexplicably feeling like Castro raising his arms after the coup, even though I’ve just lost a wad of cash, but escaped that dark red tape—and I ride off toward Kintamani. Later, that day when I return, the cop is still there, busy with another hapless tourist on a bike. The officer is about to wave me over, then recognizes me and waves me on, and I ride past. I used to believe teaching people to surf or Legong dancer were the best jobs in Bali. I now believe being a policeman is the best job in Bali—you command respect, you get paid well, you get a free car, you get to wear a gun, women with shallow boyfriends and manufactured cleavage expectantly flaunt it for you.

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Today, as Made S and I finally make our way back toward Ubud, white clouds begin to veil the sun above the mountains to the west. The sky is turning 20 shades of amber. Gold and silver beams radiate behind white cumulus. The sea is far away in the distance beyond those mountains, so you can’t see it from here. We pull into a coffee plantation that produces kopi luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee. Kopi luwak is arguably the coffee with the world’s weirdest (read here: most disgusting) method of coffee production.

The coffee plantation that Made S and I are visiting is set up as an “agro tourism” business. Meaning they grow and process coffee, as well as rice and other agricultural commodities, and entertain tourists who want to see mangoes and pineapples and coconuts growing while they sip extravagant Bali coffee and eat nasi goreng while watching the sun go down over a valley of rice paddies trimmed with bamboo trees and mangosteens.

The reason most people come to this plantation is because it processes and sells kopi luwak, and is well known for their high quality. You can buy bags of coffee with “kopi luwak” written on the bags in stores or cafés all over Bali, but the bags may contain only ½ kopi luwak, or 1/3, or none at all. Bali is a paradise, but businessmen are businessmen everywhere in the world, and as they say in movies, suckers are still being born every minute.

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I once knew the name of this flower. Any flower lovers out there know?

Made S and I walk through a gate and into a grand garden of flowers and trees. We are met by a young woman who will be our guide. You are NOT going to believe this—or you’ve already guessed it—our guide’s name is Made. Made the guide begins showing us around the acreage, pointing out the various plants they cultivate, like coconuts, rambutans, snake fruit, cacao, jackfruit, durian.

The Kintamani area, high on the slopes of ancient volcanoes, with rich volcanic soil and perfect growing conditions (shade, rainfall, altitude), is one of Bali’s—and perhaps the world’s—finest coffee-growing regions. Both Robusta and Arabica beans thrive here. Arabica beans are usually preferred by coffee connoisseurs because they yield a milder, smoother-tasting coffee. Robusta beans offer a more bitter, stronger-tasting coffee: the reason for that is Robusta beans harbor remarkably more caffeine than Arabica, and it’s the caffeine in coffee that gives you a bitter taste.

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Poop question du jour:   Why does coffee make you poop? Apparently, it does not make everyone poop. If it makes you poop, you are one of the one-in-three people it does. I am one of those one-in-three people. Every morning, it’s clockwork: one or two cups of coffee, then high tail it to the head. Previously, people believed that it was merely the caffeine that made you poop. But decaffeinated coffee makes people poop, too. So, they don’t know precisely what all in coffee stimulates the muscles in your colon, which then promotes peristalsis, which then makes you poop.

At the coffee plantation, we discover a number of other interesting facts regarding coffee. Robusta beans contain more of something they call chlorogenic acid. On the one hand, this stuff helps caffeine create the bitter taste. On the other hand, it helps lower blood sugar levels, helps prevent diabetes, and helps you lose weight. As we like to say here at the Badfish and Chips Café: there is good and bad in everything.

If you put the beans side by side, you’ll notice Arabica beans are slightly larger and have an elliptical shape. The Robustas are smaller and more round. Because of the different levels of caffeine and chlorogenic acid and lots of other chemical stuff, the beans will roast differently under the same processing conditions, as you can see in the photo. These beans were roasted together by the boys at Sekumpul, and both beans came in the blend-not-labeled-a-blend coffee I purchased at the Falls.

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Arabica beans contain almost twice the sugars as Robusta, which may also affect the flavor, and bitterness. Arabica beans contain maybe 50% more lipids. I googled “lipids” and honestly, I don’t understand them at all. Lipids appear to be many things. The wax in your ear and in bee hives is lipids, along with that oil floating on the surface of your coffee. Vitamins A, D, and E are lipids. Estrogen and testosterone are lipids. So, for the most part, maybe we can assume drinking coffee is good for you?

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Here’s another interesting difference between the beans: Arabica trees pollinate themselves. Robusta trees need the birds and the bees doing their thing. And, this detail seems particularly odd: Robusta beans possess half the chromosomes of Arabica.

Question du jour: If chimpanzees have like 99% of the same chromosomes (and genes) as humans, does that mean chimpanzees are more like humans than Arabica beans are to Robusta?

Some say the best way to get the most flavor out of coffee is to brew the bean whole. That way none of the flavoring materials are leached from inside the bean. The obvious drawback is that it might take hours to brew whole beans. When you grind the beans, you obviously create more particles, so it takes less time to brew. However, you start losing some of those flavoring elements when you grind beans and expose them to air. That’s why some people like to grind their beans just before brewing. I grind mine every two or three days, or so. It might be easy for someone to go a little OCD on something like this. I prefer the middle road, a path of moderation in (most) things. However, life does have a way of fabricating itself into a balance of excesses some times in my world.

Fact du jour: if you drink 99.5 cups of coffee in one sitting, you will OD on caffeine, and die. Because that much caffeine—something like 2.5 teaspoons, or 10 grams—will kill you.

Kopi Luwak is so expensive, you probably won’t be tempted to commit suicide by overdosing on the stuff. In some places in the States, it sells for 200 to 400 dollars a kilo, or 90 to 180 bucks a pound. In the US, a whole pound of a Starbucks regular coffee or blend will generally run you around 11 or 12 bucks. One pound weighs a bit less than half a kilo. In Bali, 100 grams (1/10th of a kilo or a little less than ¼ pound) of Kopi Luwak will run you 400,000 rupiah ($27). You can buy 100 grams of regular Bali coffee for 12,000 rupiah (92 cents). You getting a picture of the size of things here?

But get this: If you really want to go overboard, you can spend US$10,910 (not a typo, it’s ten freakin’ thousand) on Terra Nera Kopi Luwak, which comes in a 24-carat gold-plated bag with your name engraved on the sack. If you are not that rich—or stupid—you can spend $1100 a kilo on Black Ivory Coffee, which is made from beans eaten and passed through elephants in Thailand.

Possible rationalization du jour: if you are thinking of trying kopi luwak, you may need to come up with some rationalization for why you might want to sip something through your lips that has been eaten and swallowed whole by a fairly unsavory wild animal, has passed through that animal’s alimentary canal, has egressed through his anal sphincter, then lain in the dirt for days covered in poop. And flies.

Remember what I said earlier about “your” logic being logical in Bali? Think a minute about the first guy who happened upon a pile of poop with coffee beans in it. What possible scenario could we come up with for his thought process, his logic? Something like: “Look Made, that pile of shit looks just like coffee beans. Hey, it is coffee beans. How cool…we won’t have to bother climbing the dang ladder to pick ‘em. We can just grab this pile of shit, drop it in the pot and boil us up some…” See what I mean about logic?

Vocabulary du jour: Coprophagiathe consumption of feces. Flies do it. Blue butterflies do it. Pot-bellied pigs do it. Coprophagiacs do it. If there is a word for it, maybe it makes it a little more palatable for you to drink kopi luwak? Or does knowing this, and now thinking about it and knowing people do this, just make things worse?

BIG QUESTION: why has my blog gone off in this scatological direction? And just stayed there? In person, I assure you, I am not obsessed with dung. In person, I do not think about it. In person, I do not talk about it. I drink my morning coffee, then poop…end of topic for the day. But here in my posts, we seem to careen back to piles and piles of the stuff from geckos to elephants.

EARLY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION: After this one, no more posts about poop.

Made the guide says they have some luwaks we can see. Luwak, or Asian Palm Civet, sightings are rare in Bali for a couple of reasons: they are nocturnal animals, arboreal, and they are becoming endangered because they have lost so much of their natural habitat to agriculture and because they were considered a pest to plantations, and slaughtered when sighted, until kopi luwak became popular.

Wild palm civets spend most of their lives in trees. They are territorial animals. They are not very sociable, spend most of their time alone, and generally hunt and feed in complete darkness. Civets are a small animal, about the size of a large cat, weighing maybe 5-10 pounds, with long tails. Their bodies are long and slender, with rather short legs. Their hair is fairly course, and either gray or tan, with three black stripes (or strips of dots) running along either side of its body. They have powerful claws that allow them to climb easily, or slice open your skin. Both males and females have anal scent glands, and are capable of spraying a noxious scent, like skunks. Their eyes are dark red and are quite disturbing looking. Palm civets get their name from their fondness for palm sap, which the Balinese use to make arrack, a potent palm liquor. So we could assume that if there were an animal that might need drug counseling, it would be luwaks. Civets are actually friends to the coffee trees, as they drop the coffee seeds far away from where they eat them, which allows new trees to germinate, and spread into surrounding areas.

I’m excited. I’ve never seen a luwak. One of the things I love most about traveling to foreign lands is viewing their natural beauty: trees, rivers, volcanoes, lakes, flowers, animals (and apparently, entrances to country clubs). I try to imagine what a civet looks like. We walk to where the luwaks are. Almost immediately, I see Mister Disappointment making his grand entrance, stage left. My heart sinks. The plantation has luwaks penned up in cages. Fairly small cages for a wild animal. I don’t go to zoos much at all. I prefer not seeing animals in cages, or even held in marvelous large enclosures. A camel roaming the sand dunes outside Dubai quickens my blood, but seeing a dog on a leash bothers me.

Coffee growers everywhere in this part of the world hold luwaks captive unnaturally close to other luwaks, several to a cage, which causes them stress. They are forced to eat more coffee beans than normal. They are forced to be active during the day. Growers tell us the price of kopi luwak is so high because of its rarity and the way it’s gathered by hand in the plantations. This is a load of crap. Most kopi luwak sold today comes from caged animals like these. And it is not rare, there is a shitload of the stuff (I’m getting the scat verbage out of my system!).

So now, besides rationalizing the idea of poop in your coffee beans, you might need to consider whether or not you desire to support this kind of treatment to animals.

The captive luwaks have a piece of a tree to climb, and a bit of space to walk around. The luwaks pace in their cage, like wild animals. They are wild, they have wild eyes, but they just do not stop moving. At first, I believe it is simply their nature, high strung maybe, or they are frightened. Or they’d rather be sleeping? It may be all of these.

Then I notice the floor of the cage is scattered with fresh coffee beans for them to eat. They are all Robusta beans, Made the guide informs us, and some are not even red. This must be a major disappointment for the luwaks because in the wild, they prefer to eat only Arabica, and only when precisely ripe. Animals are not dumb. The luwaks must be fairly high on caffeine I would imagine. If you ate coffee beans all day in a cell with three people you hated, you’d be pacing your cage, too, perhaps. The luwaks’ expression, and their eyes, look very similar to the Sekumpul xylophone player’s eyes. So…one more side effect of coffee, we might presume?

The world’s most disgusting coffee production begins benignly with the coffee growing on the tree.

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Unripe coffee beans in situ
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Caged luwaks on coffee plantation

When the beans ripen in the wild, luwaks chow down at their 1 o’clock-in-the-morning dinner, downing beans almost whole, apparently without much chewing. One important factor is that when in the wild, luwaks know precisely when the coffee bean is ripe, the perfect time for harvesting. Human field workers can see if a bean is red or not, but it may not be the “perfect” ripeness.

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The beans, along with whatever else the luwaks eat—insects, small animals, fruit—transits the alimentary canal and emerges from the animal’s digestive tract, completely intact. The stomach’s fermentation process cures the beans, giving them their unique flavor.

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A pile of luwak crap in the raw…………. Photo credit: Beanstalker.com

One good reason to be grateful: luwaks have no cloaca.

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The beans after luwak processing and curing and egressing. And washing.

Disappointment du jour: I’ve just realized that Made the guide did not show us at the plantation how they collected the beans, nor how they cleaned the beans. What do we imagine happens? Maybe someone gathers the poop-encrusted beans with a scooper or tongs, then what…hoses them down?

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The outer shell is removed, which for me anyway helps alleviate some unsavory notion I might conjure about sipping the brew.

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Then, the beans are roasted by hand over a wood fire. Lovely aroma.

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I’m not rich…but you can act rich in Bali. You can rent a house and call it a villa, complete with a maid. You can dine at fine restaurants with views of mountains and ravines, lakes and oceans. And one fairly small cup of kopi luwak will cost you 50,000 rupiah ($3.44), a pretty steep price for Bali, cheap for Harrods.

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Traditional method of grinding, using a large stone mortar and teak pestal.

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Made S has previously brought numerous guests to this place, but he has never tasted kopi luwak before, so I buy him a cup. We sit at a wooden table on the rim of the ravine and peruse the valley below. We sip kopi luwak. We are both very rich at this moment. Rich people do not discuss animal dung at times like this.

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We sip and watch the sun slip behind the mountain on the other side of the wide valley of the agro tourism plantation.

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Coconuts are also grown on the acreage. When in Bali, I usually drink the juice of a coconut every day. Somebody has to do it.

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When they print “powder” on a bag of coffee in Bali, they literally mean powder. The Balinese grind their coffee beans to a fine powder. Then they simply add the powder to hot water, allow the powder to sink to the bottom of their cup, and drink their coffee with the fine grinds settled in their cups. After a while, you get used to drinking it like this if you have a maid who makes you breakfast every day, or if you break the glass on your French press. You might even begin to prefer your coffee like this.

If you are wondering just what kopi luwak tastes like, let me quote Nixon and “say this about that”: it’s remarkably good. Okay, I’ll use a word I try to never use: kopi luwak is awesome. Mellow, smooth, mild. Almost creamy texture. No aftertaste. Not bitter at all. I don’t like “bitter.” I like sweet. I like hot…chili hot. But not bitter. I don’t even like, nor ever use, salt. When I drink regular coffee, I use sugar, lots. These days, I’m using Stevia powder that a friend mails me in care packages from the States because sugar will kill you. She mails it to me because the stevia you find where I live says “100% stevia” on the box. But the teensy writing on the label (you need a magnifying glass to read it) informs you that 3% of the “stuff” in the box is pure stevia and the other 97% is some chemical with a name you can’t pronounce. Businessmen and suckers abound.

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When the waitress brings Made S and I our coffee, I want to experience unadulterated kopi luwak. I want to know what the fuss is all about. I want to know if it’s worth the price, so I take a sip with no sugar. I am amazed; it tastes so smooth, rich, and creamy, I drink the whole cup without adding any sugar. And I buy a 100-gram bag of their powder for the (not-so) bargain price of 400,000 rupiahs. I decide I’ll return later to the plantation on one of my trips and buy a couple bags of the whole beans to take home.

Yeah, it’s good stuff. But let me also say this about that: don’t waste your $180 (or ten grand) on a baggie of the stuff. Like Steppenwolf says: “god damn the pusher man.” Kopi luwak is addictive. Kopi luwak is like any drug: a fun experience to try…maybe once…in Bali…with a Made or two. But nothing you want to get yourself strung-out on. Unless you’re, say, Jack Nicholson in The Bucket List.

QUESTION: who do you think first brewed a cup of kopi luwak…what was their story? Traveler, poor, lazy, psycho, closet Coprophagiac, other?

You can find previous Parts of story here:

Last Days Part I       Last Days Part II         Last Days Part III

You can find more entries to DP Photo Challenge here: Grid

You can find more entries to Lucile’s photo challenge here: Photo Rehab

You can find more entries to WP Daily Prompt here: Night and Day

136 comments

  1. You are one fine storyteller BF! Like all good stories, this one kind of weaves around on a journey to the destination … which in this case is a mighty fine cup of coffee. Which brings me to your opening photo – cool reflection in the cup of coffee. I wouldn’t have thought it possible in the murky depths of coffee 🙂

    Memo to Self – get an International Driver’s License if I ever go to Bali.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joanne, Thanks so much. But how could you possibly see that reflection in the cup…did you blow the thing up or is your computer super bright, or what? I had to stand over the coffee to keep the light from disturbing the image, so I got in the photo.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Badfish, I’ll keep it short and sweet. You just get better and better. You really do need to gather all this into a book. You really do need to make two posts a week, to keep your Chippies happy, and laughing all the way to… the cloaca house. Ahem. Surely you’ve got some more Bali stuff hidden away there in your memory to keep us all entertained? Pretty please……. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • DebChips, are you feeling OK? Keep it short? That’s not like you. You want an aspirin?
      And, yeah, I would hope all this stuff just gathers itself into a book…and that some publisher comes along out of the sky and says, he here’s a billion bucks for that bad boy. You realize of course, the last four posts were only ONE day! I have the second day, a motorbike ride, post coming up! I didn’t want the book to be only about Bali, but I seem to be posting a bunch about it. Are you doing one on China?

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      • Badfish, you have to self publish first. then when it becomes a best seller, the big dudes will come knocking at your door. All that in one day, and there’s MORE? Great. we are WAITING….. if you are adding other countries… where? as for books, i have a couple of laptops full of half finished ones….. were to begin? how to prioritise? i don’t procrastinate, i just blog. lol. as for the aspirin, no thanks, i’ll just have another cup of tea. at least i can be sure the tealeaves havent past through the internal organs of some obscure animal. btw, the cantonese variety of the civet cat was held responsible for the outbreak of one of those sars-like diseases a while back.

        Okay this is longer than the first comment, am I off the hook? am I forgiven? And have you thought of naming your forthcoming book Cloaca? and that saucer-eyed dude…. did you have a conversation with him or not?
        …..<>>> …

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        • Debbie…you are just bad to the bone aren’t you? Other countries…well, one of my ideas was a travel-like book, like these posts, about various places. Now, I’ve done so much about Bali, Bali is taking over. So the other countries…you mean which ones, or you mean where do I put them?
          And yeah…plenty of half-finished stuff on this dang computer.
          Sars…really. Well, it makes more sense than some bird, doesn’t it?
          Length…forgiveness is not necessary…I just thought you might not be feeling well! Or busy??
          The dude with eyes did not speak English, or possibly at all.
          FYI–I just read a post by a guy who inserted some of his readers’ comments regarding one of his posts that (btw) got Freshly Pressed. I am thinking of publishing a post with random comments! Some are hilarious! A slightly different take on Badfish and Chips Cafe…

          Liked by 1 person

          • Aw -you were seriously concerned!!! That is soo sweeeet….. yes, WHICH countries? just wondering…
            waiting for your random comment Chips post…
            fyi the Teahouse is nearly ready…. so you will see what i mean!!! damn.. now i have to go do it…. later.. its still warm outisde… off i go into the wild wild world…..

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    • Sally, thanks so much for hanging out here, and welcome to the trip. I always wonder if my humor is apparent…or if it might seem unseemly to some. So thanks for getting it!

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  3. I’ve been curious about this coffee ever since I first heard about it years ago – thanks for the tour! Great coffee is like great wine – the more you drink, the better quality you crave and then, well, you find your bank account drained in the quest for sensual satisfaction….or at least I have. And I love the label on the bag – I see “agro tourism” and giggle…is “agro” international slang? around here it means “quick to anger, uptight” So I imagine all those tourists drinking coffee and getting all worked up…anyway…Love love love your posts!

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    • You are sooo right. No sense getting sent off to the poor house for drinking coffee. Or champagne. Or is there…hmmmm?
      Agro…that’s funny, how words mean different things in different places. Thanks for hanging out here!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This part of the trip and the way you described it, was fascinating.
    Do you think that maybe you were affected by food UD (underdosis) by starving together with Made 1, and most likely something happened to your senses (all of them)?
    Apparently your perception expanded , diversified, and expanded again into deep layers, which gave us this incredible narrative. It went from hunger, helmets, red tape, bribe, international driving license (thanks for the tip), poop (old trauma resolved with an early NY resolution), coffee (thanks also for the information) and animals’ protection, to end up beaten, and finally surrender to the best pooped-coffee ever.
    Or who knows if Made 3 (who is the girlfriend of a rich man, who financed her silicone addiction) added a magic and seducing portion to your coffee!? 😉
    Amazing day. And like you, I dare to use the word today: AWESOME.
    Stop grading students and keep writing!

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    • Whoa, Lucile. It took me days to write this, and you pretty much paraphrased it in WAY less time. And thanks for doing that, because I don’t actually consider what I’m writing or go back and analyze it after. I’m stunned that you would take the time to think that much about it. And then write it here!
      Made 3…hmmm, interesting notion. Now you’ve got me thinking?? I was feeling pretty good.
      Student papers: I just got a batch of late papers. And next Thursday, I’ll get another batch. It never ends. Problem is, I’m not good at managing time. And I like watching Downton Abbey. Thanks so much for your support, I feel honored. OK, now back to grading…

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      • Perhaps, just perhaps, if you were my teacher, but because you hate me, you’d give me A+++ for critical and analytical thinking.
        So this speaks more about my mind works than your pace.
        Read my other comment about grading and change your methodology. They will love and you’ll be free to watch Downtown Abbey!
        And you’re most welcome. Thank, you. I love what you do! Bring more.
        Cheers!

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        • I think for you we’d have to invent a totally new score that incorporated the concept of “Doing.” But yeah, for the others…just give everyone an A. Fine, I agree! And I’m always honored you read and like my stuff here.

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          • You know what, you’ve succeeded in convincing me to go to an ashram for one month to focus on being instead of doing…
            And although you made me go through excruciating self-reflection, I still love your blog.

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          • Yes, of course, you can be DOING!!! It’s what we love about you. AND it causes other stuff…like awe, and jealousy. So you must deal with it!

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          • Lucile : Badfish is right! You ARE enlightened, just the way you are!! stay away from shrinks and ashrams, okay? … this conversation is just a joke, right?…. like th Elvis conversation….. hey wait a minute… the Elvis convo was real? now i’m confused……

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          • Apologies, Baddie… I think I did see you down in the Jungle Room next to the pretty little thing waiting for the King last night ( its a song lyric)…. were you the guy with saucer eyes in the sandals who got invited over to Elvis’ table?
            Many apologies for your confusion – blame it on – well – something.
            I’m waiting to hear about your 65 countries – will the tales all be as humourous as the Bali ones? I hope so!

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          • One of my favorite songs…for some unknowable reason–Walking In Memphis. And yeah, the guy with the saucer eyes in sandals at his table. Elvis tells good jokes.
            My original idea was to tell the stories of my travels. Started my blog while I was in Bali, and I keep going back. But the bad part is this: most of my photos of those other places—places further back in time than, say, 8 or 9 years—are all on slide film, and I can’t find a place here to make them digital…with good quality. But I do have some funny tales, like the time I took the ferry to Sumatra dragging my Smith-Corona journalist typewriter!!! Or the time we hiked the jungle and everyone but me had eaten shrooms.
            NOTE: there is such a thing as a contact high.

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          • hey Deb…do you know how I copy these remarks, so I can post them? I can copy and paste, but only get the words, not the photo/gravatar. I want the gravatar, too?

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          • Was it pouring rain when you touched down in the land of the Delta Blues? My feet were barely touching the ground… I thought you’d know the song, but then i thought, hey’ better spell it out just in case, wouldnt’ want to offend you and all…..
            you dont need the photos, you write so entertainingly. just tell it like it is, man. or was.
            Im looking forward to hearing about smith corona typewriters as i only know the other kind of coronas, and i missed the reference to contact high?? anyhow….

            hey, mister, can this really be the end, to be stuck inside of Ubud with those Bali blues again?

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          • Yeah, my original idea was to simply show one photo at the beginning of each “episode” but I do like showing more.
            The “end”…what do you mean. Only tell Bali stories? Or be stuck in Bali? Dang what a bummer. Actually, I probably could do a whole book-length gig on Bali. The last four posts were one day remember!! I haven’t even gotten on the motorbike yet, or gone to the ocean, or eaten at Hard Rock.

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          • copy and paste remarks and get gravatars? you mean you really are opening your Cafe? Can you get Elvis to do your opening night gig? seriously though ( pardon me for a bit) ive got the Teahouse ready with the comments i just have to do the links…. i think the gravatars….. dunno…… im also gonna link to the original blogs ( too nice for my own good) so maybe i should just finish it if i could ever get my head out of study books and replying to fishy type blogs.

            But Baddie I am very disappointed in you. the Hey Mister reference was also a song lyric with Ubud and Bali taking the place of Mobile and Memphis. Do you get it now? No other meaning but random substituting of random song lyrics with a Memphis connection.

            Stick to the bali blog then, i mean you know what they say about if it aint broke. as for the 65 countries, they could be the book because you aint got photographs. i love the blog mix of photos and text – i do the same – but for books – colour printing is too expensive. so there you have it.

            And you never did tell me if it was raining in Memphis when you touched down, and if it’s easier to see ghosts in the rain.

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          • Well, I can’t wait for the teahouse to open…wondering just what you’ve done??? Is it a blog, or a place to comment and sip? Sounds like you’re posting comments already made? THAT idea, I like. A post with comments. I can see that. Opening another blog and dealing with two blogs…I just couldn’t see that happening.
            Elvis will be joining us.
            Yeah, no…I missed the Memphis song reference. I’m only so good.
            I’ll do Bali for as long as I have good Bali stuff, I guess. I do keep going back, and I was there already a bunch—three times in the last year. But I do have photos of all the other places, I just need to transfer slides to digital (at some point, in some city that still does that…with quality). My post on Jordan was done with slides-to-digital photos, and I did not like the way they looked at all, and they weren’t cheap here to transfer. Soooooo…..
            It was pouring down rain in Memphis but I was walking 10 feet off the ground….now I’m California dreamin’

            Liked by 1 person

          • Something weird just happened…I thought I was replying to this comment, but turns out, I was replying on your other comment. How does that happen is what I want to know?
            I don’t want to do two blogs, but I thought of doing a post of cool comments…don’t know quite what the connection…what would hold it all together, to make it more than just a bunch of comments on different topics.

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          • HI there — tada tada — http://spaceshipchina.com/conversations-at-the-teahouse/

            TEAHOUSE on SPACESHIPCHINA is now open!

            Actually, Badfish, I had the idea becuase of your blog, you know that…. you have so many interesting, funny, ecletic comments from your many funny, interestting and eclectic posts that remember way back when I suggested you make a post or page or blog with them all?… then i got sick of waiting for your Cafe to open….

            so i opened the Teahouse. I put it on a Page rather than a Post ( not that i really know what the difference is) and the hope is that it will inspire more conversations and allow people to visit or revist posts….. and hang out…. and suggest other areas they might like to start a conversation or have a post on….

            but I am not taking polls on where and how I should spend my holidays… 🙂

            anyhow, pop over and have a cuppa! i might even be able to rustle up some coffee for you 🙂

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  5. Oh, Mr. Badfish, you are so full of….. HA!! What a great story full of interest and beautiful pictures. Thank you for not glossing over how the luwaks are treated…and in answer to your question, it was most likely some poor genius during a coffee bean shortage that saw it on the ground and thought what the hell, lets give it a go, those beans are perfectly good! You know, back in the day nothing ever went to waste…

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    • Finally…someone who gets how full of….
      And yeah, how could you gloss over the story of the luwaks? Bad form is bad form. You may be right about the first guys/gals? who tried it, maybe it was so far back in time that it was just a natural thing, nothing that seemed disgusting to them, just another natural thing? Still…it makes you ponder.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am thinking that the first person to drink poop coffee was a dirty, tired, hungover backpacker. I also think you way overpaid on the bribe. I bet 100,000 would have easily worked. My friend who lives in Bangkok has had this happen a few times and he learned not to pay more than 100 Baht.

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    • Jeff…I’m thinking you are most likely right about the overpaying the (let’s not call it a bribe). I find it hard to calculate exchange rates with all those zeros on the bills…really. And you can’t very well pull out your calculator in front of a cop. But I think you may have it wrong with that tired backpacker coffee drinker. We may never know!

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  7. Another wonderful trip through the deep recesses of your mind Mr Badfish. Always a pleasure. Special thanks for the lesson in ‘poop to table to poop’ process with illustrative pictures…but thank goodness not every part of the process was visually documented (such as your ‘regular’ post coffee poop). The Luwaks are very cute. Sorry to see them in cages. I also enjoyed the beautiful images of the tiered rice fields and the woman sporting a basket on her head. Marvelous. Glad you kept yourself out of Bali jail (although I wonder what blogging inspiration you would have found there)
    Is the flower in the photo above a ‘Peace Lily’?

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    • Lisa, Glad you weren’t put off with all the poop to table to poop nonsense! And right…some photos need a bit of discretion, nobody wants to see “regularity” some times. Yeah, I felt bad for the luwaks. Truly. And I simply love taking photos of rice fields, I’m addicted to them. Jail–no, I do not want to discover what kind of inspiration I might discover in a third world jail, though I would not have gone to jail, just the red tape and hassle of paying a fine. You know, I reckon I just don’t know what kind of flower that is??? Wait, I just googled it. YES, peace lily it is!! Thanks so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You should write a book, really, I enjoy reading this post so much! 🙂
    My Dutch driving instructor told me – when I was thinking to get international driving license after passing my driving exam – the international driving license is only a translation version of my driving license, so practically if I am going to Indonesia with Dutch driving license then should be accepted especially Dutch driving license card has English explanation as well. But yeah, more rules, more cards, more extra money could be earned 😀 – There is a funny documentary by a Dutch reporter, he got caught by an Indonesian traffic police in Bali because he did not wear helmet. He was released after paid 200,000 Rupiahs, then the police invited him to drink beer together 😀 – just check in youtube “corruption police in Bali, Indonesia” by Remon777 (this video then, of course became news in Indonesia)..

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  9. Getting back to the road sign, it means; stop your car, motorcycle, truck, lorry, jeep, skateboard, snowmobile, trike, dragster, hang glider, etc., in the middle of the road and take a picture of the sign. The back of the IDL explains it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Fascinating. You made me grab another cup with utmost joy over the fact that it was made in one of those other coffee-making ways (or was it??). My coffee (Barcaffe) is the first thing I packed when I moved from Slovenia to Italy. Italians will never get over it. It’s a Balkans thing. When a Bosnian visit, he brings his own brand as a present. When Macedonian does, the same. I’ve got quite a selection.

    Hm… that makes me wonder… do you do house calls? 😀

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  11. OH! Now I get it…”Just Passing Through.” Isn’t that also a song by Ella Fitzgerald? Didn’t she sing a little scat in it? Anyway, I love reading your adventures, though I always feel a little pooped afterward, but I never let a single word go to waste because it’s great fertilizer for the imagination. ;^) :^P

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  12. Wow, so many philosophical points and nuggets of information, I don’t know where to start my comment! First of all, great post and photos! Second, I’m really hoping the guy who discovered this (no way it was a woman!) did so by accident, for example made a cup of coffee in the dark and didn’t notice he added poop. Until it tasted so great… You were brave for trying it! Now, what I’m really left pondering, after reading your post, is whether “chimpanzees are more like humans than Arabica beans are to Robusta”… I’ll really have to think about that!! 🙂

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    • Yeah, I’d been wanting to try it for years, but didn’t want to spend the money and maybe not actually be drinking kopi luwak. So I waited until I was actually at the place where they make it. Thanks for hanging out here!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Ha, ha, ha!! Heard about this coffee and how expensive it is in some countries. Well you can’t judge till you try it! The luwaks sound interesting enough. Who can say their poo is as valuable. Awesome awesome post and great read with the morning coffee!

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    • I’m not sure anything is worth that kind of price. I mean, is a Rolls Royce really worth what you pay for one? Or is it hype? Thanks again for hanging out here.

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  14. *lugs a trunk to the train, taking me to the plane which might get me back home* Do you want to know what’s in the trunk? Your post. The whole kit and caboodle. I went to Bali, so I could chill in a chair looking out over a rice paddy, and I read, and read, and read, and then I thought: I can’t remember all the things I wanted to comment on, so I pulled up a notepad, and went back over it again. Thing is, I’m not finished commenting. So… yes, I’ll be back ( said just like The Terminator)…

    Just know, I think you’re brilliant. I get lost in your words, which spin stories like Orb Weavers. You may think Kopi Luwak is addictive. But you’ve never sat here, or in the places of those who read you, and want only to remain hooked up to contraptions like the movie “Brainwave” presented. It’s the combination of words and pictures which mesmerize us, keep us immersed in your story so that our families call for an intervention.

    Does that paint the picture I’m living in here?

    See the Terminator quote above. 😉

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    • Hahahahaha! Maybe it’s more like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix??? You think reality is one thing, but no…it’s something else. It’s a sad tale when you hear of someone in need of a Badfish fix…and their family intervenes!! Sad, sad tale.

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  15. Highly entertaining, and also informative, Badfish! The kopi luwak coffee tale was certainly well worth the wait! I still don’t know that I’d try it though – other than for ethical reasons (I do hate seeing animals in cages); and also the fact that the coffee passed through an animals digestive system before being processed (pooped) into a cup of java. You probably did pay too much for your traffic violation, but then could quite easily have been stopped on the way back, and have had to pay again. I have no idea who decided that luwak’s coffee flavoured poop would sell for millions, nor do I know who decided to make paper from elephant dung.
    So, when’s the next adventure?

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    • Yeah, it’s hard not to imagine where that coffee has been when you’re making it. But once you’re drinking, it all goes away. At least it’s gluten free! But still, who knows if you’d be allergic to luwak stuff? Next adventure coming right up. Stay tuned.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. What a delightful piece. Love the pictures of course and since I am a coffee afficionada, I truly appreciated the lesson. I have always chosen Arabica coffees just like everyone else who considers themselves in the know on such matters. I spent a lot of time in Brazil where coffee is an obsession but my favorite coffee has always been from Sumatra, so this post was particularly interesting to me. Whoever commented above that you are getting better and better, was right! But I would just say, your posts and pictures have always been stellar. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beth…glad you liked it and learned something (even if offensive!) from the post. I’ve chosen Arabica also, but only because someone said it was the best. I never knew why…that it tastes smoother because it has less caffeine. So I learned something, too!
      And, I started drinking coffee late in life, well, about 36. And when I went to buy my first bag, I looked at the offerings, and Sumatra Mandehling popped out, and I drank it solely for years. I still drink it, but also others.

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  17. Wow what a tale. I will never ever drink coffee again without all those, rather unusual details popping into my head. Now I’ve found you I am looking forward to following along with your mad adventures…

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  18. Love your style Badfish, and your pure unadulterated honesty. “Real”writing is important, and sharing your true experience of a place, good or bad, weird or awful or sensational, is what makes it fascinating to readers. I could learn a lot from you. Stay on the wild side! Oh, and thanks for liking/commenting on my post: Wild Monkeys Jumping On Our Boat.

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    • Thanks for hanging out here, and commenting with such insight. I appreciate that. And I did LOVE your wild monkey post!! Monkeys are scary sometimes. And smart.

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  19. Badfish, thanks for the wild, educational trip across Bali. You have a way of telling a story that has the reader right there on the spot which you. I stepped off to the side while you were paying your fine. I never ever dreamed there was such a variety of coffee beans, the harvesting and processing is amazing. Tomorrow morning when I have my coffee I will probably check the next room for an elephant. We have our own brand of civet, stinky little critters. My grandmother liked to have them living under her chicken house because they ate rats. Not like the mongoose that was brought to Hawaii to kill rats and slept all night. I will have to keep reading your work, I believe there’s a fair chance that it could prolong my geezer hood. Keep up the good work, thanks

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    • Oh My Goddess Badfish, now you have people attributing your blog to living longer. Add that to your list of complements – its one that’s pretty hard to beat. I had no intentions of coming here right now, too much else to do, but how could I resist pointing out the remarkable nature of Ighoelson’s comments?
      Ighoelson, at least the mongoose slept! We had canetoads brought from south america to get the rats in the canefields in north queensland ( australia) but it never worked, and now the canetoads are the biggest pests this side of the black stump.

      Badfish, you really should start collecting your complements together in one space. Would come in handy when you are approaching publishers for the book that will eventually manifest. I’m very glad to know that if i visit Badfish outa Water regularly my lifespan will be exteneded. That gives me another excuse to drop by and annoy you. 🙂

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