Day 2 - Mount Batur, Coffee Plantation and Volcanic Holy Springs

After a much better sleep than the night before, I was up in time for the morning yoga session today.
Morning yoga here is great, its still very warm but nowhere near as hot as during the afternoon, which made these sessions a really great way to start the day.
Today at breakfast we spoke about going on a tour, so we booked a couple vans to pick us up from the hotel later that day.

Mount Batur

Bali has three popular volcanoes: Mount Batur, Mount Bratan and Mount Agung.
Mount Batur is not very far from Ubud, so we had our tour guides take us to that one to allow us time to see a few more sites along the way.
We drove to a viewing point that had some small shops along the side of the roads. In fact, just about every possible tourist location had some sort of shop nearby - by the sounds of it, tourism is fueling not only Bali's economy but most of Indonesia. Our driver told us that even the petrol is subsidised by the government in Bali more than any other region to support tourism!
As you walk past the shops and up to the edge, there is a beautiful panoramic view of the volcano with a lake off to the side. The photo's really don't do it justice.

One of my objectives for this trip was to eat lots of fresh produce! The fruits and vegetables in Asia are normally really good due to the tropical climate and fact that a lot of places don't freeze food for later or use quite as many chemicals as our standard produce does - everything just tastes so fresh here!
One of my favourite Asian fruits are Rambutan, which are closely related to the Lychee, so I wanted to make sure I get some while I was here and luckily some of the shops on the street were just selling the local produce instead of the usual T-shirts and wooden toys.

They were really juicy and sweet, but a little tough to get a good amount of fruit off the pip in the middle.
Later on I found out that there are two main varieties: The Balinese and the Sumatra.
Apparently the Balinese ones are a bit tougher and normally a bit more sour, while the Sumatran ones are sweeter and come off the pip better, so I'm not sure which variety I had!

After looking around and taking a big group selfie, we loaded up into our vans and headed to out next destination, the coffee plantation.

Coffee and Cocoa Plantation

When we arrived, we had a guide walk us through a small path with different varieties of trees behind barriers.
There were mostly coffee and cocoa trees around with some of the berries and beans laid out to show what they look like inside.
As we continued through the plantation, there was also a cage of "Asian palm civets" - also known as "Toddy cats".
These animals are famous for the production of "Kopi Luwak".
The basic concept is that the animal would be let out at night to roam around the plantation and eat the coffee berries. They tend to pick the berries with the best beans to eat and then once they have gone through the animals digestive system, the beans are left in tact and farmers would collect the beans from the animals faeces to brew - this is also known as "cat-poo-chino". The digestive process is meant to enhance the taste of the coffee.
Unfortunately, because of the high price tag of this coffee, these animals are under threat due to farms like this. This farm has a fairly large cage for the animals and it is allowed to roam free around the plantation at night, but some farms keep the animals in tiny cages and are force fed coffee beans, which is not only incredibly cruel but also does not have the same effect on the coffee as a wild animal.

Our guide showed us around the plantation where there were workers harvesting the produce and roasting the coffee beans, they also had all sorts of other produce for sale, including vanilla, cinnamon, chilli, cocoa, various teas and of course coffee.

After this, they took us around the back and let us sample a variety of different teas and coffees. This was all included in the tour, but the "Kopi Luwak" cost extra.
I don't drink coffee, but others in the group tried them, including "Kopi Luwak". I think the best response from the "Kopi Luwak" was along lines of "interesting tasting".

Volcanic Holy Springs

From here we headed to the volcanic springs which was turned into a very religious place known as "blessing springs" by the king at the time.
While most of Bali are of the Hindu beliefs, these springs welcome people of all religions.
The front of the springs had a couple of large pools with water outlets and the back was where the water actually came from.
It was pretty cool to see all the different colors as the water came out of the ground and pushed the seaweed away.

There were some guides walking around offering information about the springs and advice on the proper rituals. Some of the people in our group gave it a go, but while I didn't actually participate, from what I can tell the ritual is something like this:
The first step is to get into more traditional clothing, you can't actually enter the area without wearing a shawl (both men and women), they let you borrow these free of charge at the gate.
From there you must provide an offering and pray, so you find a spot to sit and close your eyes, hold the offering and pray to your god and your ancestors.
Once you have done this, you may enter the water and approach the first water outlet, pray, put some of the water on your head, then drink some water and move onto the next outlet. There are a lot of outlets!

Those of us who did not participate in the ritual (or were already finished) decided to take one of the two vans back to the hotel, but the timing wasn't too good as we caught rush hour and were stuck in traffic for quite a long time!
After finally getting home, I had a quick swim and headed up to the yoga room for our afternoon session. It was so hot that I even did the session in my wet board shorts and it was quite refreshing!

Farewell Dinner

Today was the last official day of the yoga retreat before everyone parted ways.
Some people were off to the Gilli Islands, others were off to Sanur, some were heading back to Melbourne and Suzie and I were staying on until Sunday.
To celebrate the end of the retreat, we all headed to a restaurant called "Indus" for our farewell dinner.
The group had been here before and got to try a lot of the meals already and had loved it - it was yet another very nice restaurant with a great view!

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