Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Death of Terunyans - Lake Batur, Bali, Indonesia

Human skulls lined on higher ground
We hired our boat from the counter at this jetty
The Terunyan village is one of the oldest village located on the edge of Lake Batur, Kintamani. Teruyans are the original Bali descendants. What attract tourists to this village is the way they treat dead bodies.  We hired a private boat for 600,000 Rupiah to Terunyan Village to see how dead bodies are treated. It took about 15 to 20 minutes to reach there. We could hire a shared boat but considering we might not want to stay that long, we decided to take a private boat and our guide Eduardo came along. 
Our boatman waiting for us

As our boat approaches the rustic jetty, the ambiance was spooky. We alighted and was guided by the man who is a Terunyan himself to the 'Cemetry located slightly up the hill.  Eduardo had told us, "Don't be surprise, the corpses have no smell." We were wondering if that is possible! Surprisingly the dead bodies were not buried but placed on the roots of the huge Tarumenyan tree and the tree absorbed the smell of the corpses  perfectly that we smell nothing.
The entrance of the graveyard

Not every Terunyan can be placed on this ground, only those who are "purified", married and young are chosen to be here.  Each time only 11 corpses can occupy the space and with some of their personal items used during their life time, they are laid on the foot of the Tarumenyan tree to rest. After the corpses perished, their skulls are arranged on higher grounds. From the conical bamboo casing we could see that some of the bodies were rotting but amazingly, there was no smell.  Looking at the condition of the body, we felt eerie and decided to leave the cemetery.
Tarumenyan Tree
Tarumenyan Tree
The bodies are placed on the burial grounds 
Their personal items are laid with them
Their personal items includes cooking utensils, plates and cups
The rotting body in the bamboo cage
The teeth of the corpse was visible
Another dead body
Closer look at the dead body
Picture of the deceased
The cemetry
Lines of conical bamboo cage filled with dead bodies
Visitors scattered coins on the graveyard
Just before we left a group of visitors came

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Exotic Luwak Coffee - Bali, Indonesia

The excretion of the Asian Palm Civet before the cleaning process
Coffee fruits on the tree
On the way to Lake Batur, we stopped over at one of the many Luwak Coffee Plantation to see how the most expensive coffee (USD $100 - $600 per pound)  in the world is being produced.  I've heard of Luwak Coffee but never experience drinking it. The coffee is produced mainly in Sumatra, Bali and Java. Our guide, Eduardo, insisted that we should taste the coffee and he told us that the fatwa from Indonesian Islamic Scholars is that the product is halal for Muslims. I was interested to see the process but not tasting it.  

The coffee beans after cleaning
 This is how the process of producing Luwak Coffee goes.  Acres of coffee plantation are left for the wild civets to consume and it is believed that the civets will select to consume only the best coffee beans. The civets eat berries, pulpy fruits, insects and seeds. After about a day the beans are in their stomach, the civets then defecated the beans in clumps on the plantation ground.  Every morning the plantation workers will walk around the farm collecting the  civets droppings. 

Roasting the coffee beans 
We were then showed the coffee beans before and after cleaning. The process of producing Luwak Coffee is manually done by the workers and they demonstrated the process to the visitors to educate them. After cleaning the beans, they are roasted, ground, sieved and finally the coffee powder is ready for packaging.  The last session of the visit to this plantation is the tasting of several herbs and drinks produced by them. Tasting for all products are free except for a cup of Luwak Coffee  which cost us 100,000 rupiah (USD $10 or MYR 35). 

Grinding the coffee manually
I declined to taste the coffee but my husband was dragged into it. According to him, the taste is very mild and not bitter. Perhaps he is so used to the strong caffeinated coffee that he did not like the Luwak coffee.  I suppose whether you like it or not, is a matter of preference. Just before leaving the plantation, we had a close look of a civet in the cage.

It was a nice experience visiting the coffee plantation and learning about the most expensive coffee in the world. We left the plantation and continued our journey to Lake Batur.

Sieving the grounded coffee
A Cup of Luwak Coffee (MYR 35)
Sampling of the plantation products
Plantation products on sale
The guy who served us
We tasted the herbal drink and cocoa drink

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Morning in Pecangan - Jepara, Central Java, Indonesia

The lady selling vegetables in the village of Pecangan market
It was about 2am by the time we arrived in Jepara. Jepara is only about 180km from Yogyakarta but due to the road condition and heavy traffic the journey takes more that 5 hours. There are no highway and most of the roads have only two small lanes. Java is the most densely populated island and hardly did we see any jungle along the road. Every space is occupied with human being, padi field or little shops and restaurants.

Busy morning in the Pecangan Market
In the home of Nyoirah, I tried to get two hours of sleep so that I'll stay awake the whole day. The day for a typical Indonesian villager probably starts as early as 4 am, and fajar (morning) prayer is about 4.30 am. About 95% of the locals are Muslims. By 5 am, business in the busy street of Pecangan market is in its full swing. I am delighted to be in this little village. It is amazing to see the petty traders with their happy faces calling for customers.

My appearance in the market was obvious and I could feel their eyes on me. We exchanged smiles and the next thing, they were just ready for the camera. Everything is cheap in the market. But my concern is the level of hygiene, especially most of the cooked food and cakes are placed in the tray so close to the feet of the people passing by. With a hardcore poverty population of 29 million in Indonesia, the hard life of the locals are observable.

Pecangan Market, Jepara
Sweet Potatoes 
Tapioca is the popular food in Java
Fried food at your feet
Chicken intestines sate
Grilled Squids
Smiling broadly for the camera
Local cakes and delicacies for breakfast
Busy day in the market
Walking with loads on their back