Alive! Around the World: Turkey, Japan, and Bali


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“Cappadocia in Turkey.”

Jose Guitron, LADWP


“The deer at Nara Park are very friendly, so I tried reading to them. They were hungry for more.”

Andrew Ko, LAFD

Andrew, get out of there while you’re still … Alive! Hilarious! – Ed.

Letter From Bali, Pt. 2  
Sunsets and Exotic Coffee

Tegengan Waterfall

Legian Village, a luxury five-star Padma Hotel beach resort on Bali’s tropical coastline, is like Honolulu resorts with white beaches, stunning sunsets, restaurants and bars; it is also a popular honeymoon destination. Fortunately for Honolulu, that city does not have Legian’s narrow streets crowded with hundreds of tourists on motorbikes, often causing total chaos.

The Padma Hotel’s beach resort with manicured tropical gardens, a striking deep blue pool with a sunken bar serving icy cold adult beverages and an in-house restaurant, Tenkai, provides unique dishes. It’s the perfect base to explore the surrounding countryside. (I’m too old to backpack anymore!).

Opposite the resort is a free public beach, which, unfortunately, due to all the coconut and alcohol vendors, has become a little trashy. But just a mile and a half away is Kuta, famous with surfers who host world-class surfing competitions or for dancing the night away at the Hard Rock Cafe after dining at one of the many fine restaurants like the English chef Jamie Oliver’s. Many tourist bars serve Western comfort foods, but be daring and try the local Indonesian dishes, like traditional banana pancakes for breakfast or chicken satay and nasi goreng (fried rice with sweet, thick soy sauce and Acer, pickled cucumber, and carrots). 

In Legian, practically every third building in its maze of narrow streets is a tattoo or affordable massage parlor, which is a perfect way to unwind after a day of shopping or sightseeing with lots of little old ladies appearing from nowhere with amazing fingers massaging your shoulders while you relax. A few bucks well spent!

Most visiting Europeans, regardless of sex or age, seemed to be tattooed and wearing clothing that’s too tight and short for their figures. People-watching is entertaining; a favorite spot was the Posers Bar, adjacent to the Padma and opposite a small motorbike parking area. Watching slightly overweight middle-aged people trying to mount a motorcycle gracefully was hilarious and very revealing.

Nearly all tourist attractions on the island do not have car parking lots, so hiring a driver for the day is the most practical way to enjoy the countryside and not worry about parking. The drive-through lush green rice paddies to the Tegenungan Waterfall near the Village of Kemenuh were perfect. Hidden in a beautiful rice-terraced valley, its crystal-clear water cascades into a pool by the D’tukad River Club, ideal for swimming. For the bold and adventurous, high up on the valley sides are many swings attached to very tall palm trees; the fantastic view from the top of the swing over the jungle valley below and the adrenaline rush is spectacular. Tickets can be bought at the entrance, so there is no need to purchase them ahead of time or through a tourist company.

Aside from the Bali swing, visiting the Alas Harum Bali tea/coffee tasting facility is very interesting, if somewhat unusual. Years ago, Dutch colonists started coffee plantations with beans from Yemen. Local farmers brew and drink coffee from excreted beans collected on their plantations from Civet Cats (Kaya Kopi Luwak). The cats have swallowed these coffee beans, whose digestive enzymes free some of the bean’s amino acids before being excreted. It sounds gross, but the bean’s outer layer is removed before being roasted. Kopi Luwak coffee can sell for more than $1,500 a pound, making it the world’s second most expensive coffee after Black Ivory coffee, produced similarly but with elephants. I could not tell the difference; it tasted like coffee without milk and sugar. But if it’s not your cup of tea (excuse the pun), try the organic tea selection; they are delicious and said to have healing qualities.

Tip: While driving around the island, look for villages specializing in making various handmade crafts, such as wood carvings, paintings, rattan bags, spices, oils, lace, ceramics and silverworks. These are all for sale at reasonable prices, and the quality is good.

You are never too old to travel and never too young to start.


The Captain