In 2018, L and I were in Canggu enjoying an espresso at Hungry Bird Coffee and chit-chatting with the owner who was kind enough to show us his roasting process. L, being Italian, has a fascination with all things coffee.
So fast forward one year and we find ourselves in a van winding up rocky roads to meet the man who supplies Hungry Bird beans all the way in Kintamani, Bali.
Arca greeted us in front of his plantation with a large grin and handshake and sat us down before jumping into the history of his family’s coffee business, Bali’s growing number of baristas and the magic of the bean.
While the two coffee fanatics continued their banter, I slowed behind to take in the humble surroundings. This is where your morning cup of coffee starts – with local farmers whose know-how feeds back into the land, the community and crosses borders.
The plantation belonged to Arca’s father before it was passed to him. He explained because his father didn’t know how to grow great tasting beans, and the demand wasn’t high, the bulk of the business came from planted orange trees. Today, they are scattered around the plantation providing crucial shade for the coffee plants.
During our hour long conversation, we learned about the drying process, peeked into his collection of stingless beehives and of course, tasted coffee.
“It’s good coffee culture is becoming more popular in Bali, people work more and sleep less!”
Arca, owner of Desa Ulian, Kintamani Coffee Plantation
Bali makes it easy and almost natural to look for local produce and enjoy its wholesomeness. (Restaurants I recommend: Mosaic and Watercress Ubud).
I can’t wait to be back.
Also, stay tuned in June 2019, we will be offering Arca’s fruit infused coffee beans!
It’s easy for outsiders looking in to confuse Thailand with Bangkok and Pattaya.
But there’s more to one of the most visited countries in the world than Khao San Road, ladyboys, ping pong shows and flashy bars. Really.
A good friend of mine once said it perfectly: “Expats complain all the time they’re bored, well it’s because they don’t think further than the alcohol and parties – Thailand has so much more to offer.”
And thanks to him and few other explorers, I’ve been able to visit a dewy city located on the border of Burma and Thailand: Pilok, swim in Petchaburi, kayak in Khao Sook, drink champagne in Chet Sao Noi, hike in the Phraya Nakhon Cave, and stay overnight in one of my favourite towns, Kanchanaburi.
Sharing some photos from a few weekends ago:
Feasted on grilled fish, som tam (Thai papaya salad), grilled chicken and sticky rice. Grabbed some drinks, plastic cups and lazed around in the sun.
The waterfall we visited is nearby the famous Erawan Waterfalls and just as majestic but without the throngs of tourists. We were pretty much by ourselves.
The destination took a three to four hours drive – plenty of gas station and washroom breaks. We spent a day and a half in fresh clear water and stuffed ourselves with snacks and wine before returning to the city completely refreshed.
Take advantage of Thailand’s road infrastructure and be amazed by the elements.
The entrance fee to national parks in Thailand has a foreigner and local fee – usually 10X difference (please don’t complain as foreigners tend to make much more than locals). Foreigner price: around 300 – 350 THB
Apologies, don’t remember the name of the accommodation as my friend booked it but can share on a map
The canteen food at the waterfall is terrible, which is not something I say often about Thai food, so eat beforehand
They don’t let you take food or drinks to the waterfalls
Alone as in there can be crowds of people around you, but you’re not talking to them, engaging in conversation or even sharing eye contact. You’re plugged into your own thoughts, ideas and paranoia.
The city, no matter how big, becomes too familiar, too concrete and claustrophobic. It’s not rare if my bag is stuffed with a swimsuit and a plane ticket, ready to hit the waves at every given opportunity.
So last month, I made a short trip to Phuket to meet L for a long weekend, almost one year since we were last in the south of Thailand.
The first day was strictly for myself. I caught up with reading, listened to multiple podcasts (ask me about online dating, satanism, or the Great Pyramids), took a midnight dip outside my hotel room and even squeezed in a morning work out at 6:30am.
Good food, the ocean and my own company is good for the soul. Solitary relaxation from time to time is almost absolutely necessary for me to function as a human being. Here’s my trip in a few snapshots:
My taxi was around 800 THB from airport to the hotel and took approximately 1.5 hours, whereas Grab would have cost me well over 1,000 THB
I don’t usually splurge on hotels, especially in Thailand where budget is quite comfortable, but this weekend was dedicated to optimum relaxation and the hotel was well worth it
Walk around Old Phuket, eat to your heart’s content, forget calories
Rent a car to get around if you are staying in the south of the island
Bali. Famously infamous for its beaches, rice paddies, yoga retreats and Australian tourists.
My first trip to the island was not what I had expected – rowdy backpackers, cat-calling, and an indecent local man exposing himself to us (do not stay in New Seminyak) – but L encouraged me to give it another shot.
A three day weekend turned out to be exactly what I needed to cure my travel bug. Sharing my experience at Canggu’s restaurants, our villa, diving, coffee and some seriously good food.
Diving in Bali
We woke up on 5:30am on Saturday morning to head to the dive shop.
Three dives at three different sites were well worth it: Nusa Penida; Manta Point; Crystal Bay
First and foremost, be kind to the environment, respect the culture and the people because you are a guest
Rent a motorbike to get around (only if you can drive one, sounds obvious but bears repeating)
Indulge in the ‘clean food’ and yoga classes
Art in Bali is fantastic, so prepare your eyes and wallets
Transportation: Grab (Uber of SEA) is present in Bali so avoid the taxi scams at the airport
Support the local produce such as coffee and don’t check emails!
Past the rubble, the copious amounts of litter and poverty, as a visitor, there is a contagious spirit found in the streets, homes, clothing, food and smiles of the Indians.
I would say this feeling is best represented by the women’s brightly coloured saris against the country’s constantly crowded and chattering backdrop.
This isn’t meant to be a “how to travel through India” type of post, this photo diary is meant to inspire exploration, unearth new ways of life and peak curiosity in a country usually overlooked or misrepresented. Delhi first.
Christmas Eve, December 24; 9:00AM – a full day of sightseeing
Some details that you may find helpful:
Method of travel in Delhi: driver & car, should cost around $60USD a day. They may bring you to shops or restaurants to get a commission so be very firm with where you want to go
Popular dishes we tried:
aloo gobi (vegetarian dish, cauliflower, potatoes, Indian spices)
palak paneer (pureed spinach and cottage cheese, non-spicy)
chicken tikka masala (spicy curry chicken), malai kofta (cottage cheese dumping in gravy, non spicy)
Most attractions open at 10:00am, entrance fee for foreigners is usually 500₹, bringing in a professional camera is an additional small fee
The line to enter the Lotus Temple was almost 4 hours (we didn’t bother)
Pay attention to the architecture, shadows and
Delhi has the worst pollution in the world – this is not hyperbole – buy a mask if you plan to be out for a long time or take a Tuk Tuk