18 May 2010

yup, we drank coffee that had been through the digestive system of an animal [luwak coffee]

one of the unexpected & fun events during our recent trip to bali was a visit to a balinese coffee plantation & the opportunity to try some luwak coffee.

luwak coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world (from $50-$600/pound!). it is a delicacy because it is first eaten by a weasel like cat animal (the Asian Palm Civet, to be precise). these guys only like the tastiest & most delicate coffee berries. when they've digested them, they poop out the coffee seeds & somewhere along the line of history, someone figured out that these coffee beans make one delicious cup of coffee!

luwak coffee

the review? it was a good cup of coffee (actually we shared it among four people because $3.50 for a sampler size seemed steep!), smooth & flavourful. but if you had served it to me in your kitchen, i wouldn't have identified it as the most expensive coffee in the world.

in the end, its for the best, though, because there probably isn't room in my budget for a luwak coffee addiction anyway...

8 May 2010

one week in paradise [bali]

last month's Khmer New Year is the biggest holiday in Cambodia & gave us some time off for a holiday in Bali (not necessarily a much needed holiday, since there are so many in Camobida, but a much enjoyed holiday, nonetheless). last august we found amazing flight deals & bought them with some friends, so we'd been looking forward to this excursion to beautiful bali for a long while.

& bali definitely lived up to all of our expectations! the country is unbelievably green & lush & the mountains are breathtakingly beautiful.


highlights included boogie boarding in the biggest & more powerful waves i've ever seen, snorkeling among bright, dreamlike tropical fish & an old japanese shipwreck, visiting an island temple, bicycling through rice terraces, eating peanut sauce & chicken satay at every opportunity, tasting the infamous luwak coffee (more on that later) & the chance to harvest rice with some balinese farmers.

while daniel & i were biking around ubud, in central bali, we came upon these rice farmers who showed us the ropes & had a good time smiling & laughing with us. here is a brief video clip of daniel. my favorite part in the great peals of laughter coming from the women.

6 May 2010

chi phat (craig & anny visit cambodia )

so far 2010 has been a year blessed with visitors for us. last month we had the great pleasure of hosting our good friends, craig & anny. craig & daniel grew up together in northern BC & we've enjoyed getting to know anny, craig's finance over the past few years. when we go home this summer, we are really excited to attend their wedding, where daniel will be a groomsmen.

anny + craig + amanda + daniel

it was quite a memorable visit, probably most notably because craig & anny braved cambodia during the hottest part of the hottest season! one of the coolest things we did was visit the community of chi phat, in koh kong province, about four hours east of phnom penh.

[cute kids in chi phat]

several years ago the villagers at chi phat made their livelihoods partly through illegal logging & poaching. in order to promote conservation, an organization called The Wildlife Alliance started a eco-tourism project in the community & trained the villagers to be guides, guest house owners, cooks, etc. The result is a really great tourism experience (hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, etc) + sustainable community development. Its a pretty inspiring project & it was great to visit it in person.

chi phat turned out to be a great adventure for the four of us. when we arrived we decided to do an all day mountain bike ride the following day. in our excitement, we didn't take into full account just how hot the weather was...turns out biking 30k in +40 degree weather (+104 in farenheit) + pretty steep & rocky mountain bike trails isn't the best combination. our guide, "Lucky" was great, but kept telling us our waterfall destination was "just one more kilometer", "just 10 more minutes". in the end he told us he didn't want to discourage us & told us it was close so we would "have more power".

when we got to the waterfall, we were tired & happy & decided to do a bit of swimming before we headed back to chi phat. however, when anny jumped into the lake, she dislocated her shoulder!

it was a pretty nerve-wracking situation - the lake was very deep & surrounded by steep rocks & we were really in the middle of nowhere. so we had to float anny across & try to re-align her shoulder while still in the water. you could see her shoulder bone separated from her arm bone - yikes! all of us had taken first-aid, but somehow none of us could remember exactly how to re-align a shoulder. our guide didn't understand "dislocated" vs. "broken" & kept trying to put her arm into a homemade splint with a tree branch. finally, craig was able to push/pull her arm back into place & with a loud yelp of pain, the shoulder was re-located!

in the end, Lucky rode to the closest village & anny & i (amanda) hired a banana farmer to take us back to chi phat on his moto. daniel, craig & lucky had to ride the 13k back to chi phat with our bikes strapped to the back of theirs.

what an adventure!

5 May 2010

one day in kuala lumpur [towering towers]

on our recent trip to bali, we got to spend a one-night layover in kuala lumpur, malaysia. it was a good time of wandering the streets, eating late night street food, riding the sky train, checking out the famous petronas towers, the chinatown market & indulging in a delicious starbucks coffee.

Petronas Towers

the trip was so brief that i can't say i was struck with anything much besides noting how stylish & beautiful the women in head scarves were & how disorienting it is to get on a plane in one very poor asian country, fly for an hour and a half, & then disembark in a different, highly developed & wealthy asian country.

3 May 2010

makin' it to the top [stealth mode]

[our friends, steve & amie posted this on their blog a few months ago & i thought the adventure was worthy of another posting]