Friday, May 28, 2016
-Rice paddies bike ride
-Mama's cooking class
This is Robbie again! Today's am-venture was pretty sweet! We biked 28 km through villages and rice paddies, stopping to learn more about the Balinese way of life, culture, and Hindu religion.
We started near the top of a volcano, Mt Batur, and rode mostly downhill, which was awesome because we were exhausted from the last couple days of walking everywhere. The bikes were awful, but that didn't matter much since most of the time all we needed were wheels and brakes. Only my front brakes worked though, so I had to ease into them each time or I would've flipped over my bars. Angie's gears wouldn't shift and made the loudest clanking noise as she peddled. So after the first couple minutes of learning the quirks of our bikes we were able to enjoy the scenery. We saw the most amazing stretches of tiered rice paddies, dotted with workers carrying sickles harvesting bunches of rice.
So the bike riding was awesome. Definitely a welcome change from walking everywhere. While we were riding through the villages, kids would materialize out of nowhere and either wave at us or stick out their hands to give us high fives as we rode past. Dang adorable.
Speaking of villages, we made a couple stops along our biking to experience Balinese life. The first stop was at a village which grew, harvested, and processed cocoa and coffee beans. It was cool to see the cocoa stages from growing on the trees to harvesting and finally to roasting.
We were able to sample roasted cocoa beans and, dang they were bitter! While the cocoa part was cool, the coffee section blew our minds. Have any of you heard of Luwak coffee? Well, we hadn't. Luwak coffee is made possible by this furry animal, the Luwak, or Civet Cat.
So the Luwak eats the best coffee beans right off the tree, digests them (the digestive enzymes give more sweetness to the beans), and poops them out in bunches. Those poo-bunches are gathered, washed, roasted, and ground into the world's most expensive and sought after coffee... What the what?!?!? Anyway, they lovingly call their Luwak coffee "cat-poo-ccino." Waaa waaaah.
Because of the tedious processes involved in each step of creating the Luwak coffee (they just scrounge the forest grounds for the poop, the Lewaks are not in captivity nor are they potty trained) it is the most expensive coffee in the world. How crazy is that? The only people daring enough to try it (and pay for it) were two Dutch people in our group, who we became good friends with, they're awesome. Anyway, they said it was good but not worth the money! Insane.
The next stop we made was in a village where we were able to see the traditional Balinese Hindu family compound and temple. Every Balinese family compound consists of 3 sections: a family temple in one corner where daily offerings are made to the three main gods and then any other specific god they have a connection to (like a farmer would give a separate daily offering to the god over rain and crops), a birth, marriage, and death ceremonial building where important rituals are performed for the big events in life, and then the actual homes + separate kitchens. Multiple generations live in one compound, so the oldest living family gets the nicest home, then the rest get the smaller, more standard homes.
After seeing the compound we rode to one of the village temples (each family has a temple, each village has at least 3 temples, and then there are big ones all around Bali that serve the whole island), and it was so inspiring. Each temple is very much connected with nature around it. That's what is so cool about the Balinese Hindu faith, its strong ties to nature. The offerings they give every day are banana leaves with flowers, rice, cakes--things they grow and make--and their food is so clean and fresh... It makes me think about how removed I am from nature most of the time.
-This temple was dedicated to Ganesh, the remover of obstacles.
Another cool thing we learned was about the offerings themselves. Most offerings are made in the temples, but we have seen offerings on the front stoops of stores and even in the middle of street intersections! People put them there and offer them to the devil to please him so that he won't disturb them or the customers. They are in the intersections because they believe that even the directions (north, south, east, and west) represent some of the main gods, so by placing them in the middle of the intersections they are covering all the bases. Pretty neat.
Anyway, that was the bike ride! Way fun.
Next was our cooking class with a lady we fell in love with. But let's back up a bit. Yesterday we had dinner at a place called Mama's Warung. It was delicious food and the owner of the warung had an incredible story. Her parents passed away when she was young and she had this feeling that she should drop out of middle school and take care of her huge family. She cooked, cleaned, sold saris on the street to bring in money, and basically became the mom and dad to her older and younger siblings and cousins. She did so and through that experience she became an amazing cook, opened up a small warung in Ubud, and it has picked up momentum and now she has this amazing reputation and created this opportunity for her family to succeed in life. She's our hero. Anyway, while we were eating at her warung she was chatting with us about us, life, and how she learned to cook so well when we asked her if she knew of any good cooking classes around town. She said "Oh mama do it! Mama teach you to cook! Mama have cooking class." This didn't come as much of a surprise because most hosts in Ubud have a million connections and bend over backwards to keep their guests happy. So we booked a cooking class with mama for the following night (tonight) and it did not disappoint!
We showed up, not knowing what to expect, and adorable mama was waiting for us. She shooed us into the kitchen where she had already gotten all the ingredients ready for dinner. Stuff for pineapple chicken soup, green coconut curry, chicken satay with peanut sauce, and dada guling (these amazing coconut cane sugar crepe rolls). One of us would make the dish while she would explain how to make it while the other would write stuff down so we wouldn't forget how to make this amazing food.
This food guys. This food. This fooooooooood! Unreal. We talked while we cooked and ate, and one thing I don't want to forget is how she sounds (which I can't show you, though we did take video but our blogger app doesn't let us post video). She has this way of talking that is so sweet and fun. She always refers to herself in the third person and laughs at the end of almost everything she says. For example, at the end she said that we should come back and also give her a high rating on trip advisor. She said (as she points to a little trip advisor sticker on the window to her kitchen) "I have green sticker, okay, because mama already good! Okay? Haha!" She was awesome.
We were sweating our brains out while we cooked, which is not unusual because we have been constantly been sweating since we got here, but mama and her little staff cooks were dry as a bone. I don't get it. One of them even told Angie that it looked like she was in a sauna. Haha! Anyway, it was a sweet night that I hope I never forget.
-The rest of the food and mama
Tonight we are going to bed early because we gotta wake up at 2 am to hike a volcano! Peace.