As the tide went out on the beach in Nusa Dua, it provided access to the life below. Our first sight was this urchin.

Urchins are usually nasty black things and very painful. We easily steered clear of many in the shallow water, but through the seaweed I saw this fellow. I have never seen anything like it and if colour indicated a warning, this must be a very dangerous urchin.


Never seen anything like it. Having a 70-200m lens on meant that I didn’t have to get too close.


One more shot, distorted by the sun cutting the water. As I got closer with the lens it moved to protect the center.


I have no idea what this is .. but it looks like a cucumber or perhaps some sort of worm.


This millipede was BIG (and fast). He disappeared in seconds.


A lot of legs …


He/she/it was right beside the crabs. Spot the 3 crabs.


Finishing off with a few beautiful color shots, peaking out from under the water.


Amazing natural colors of this anemone, an inch under the water.



It was really hard to get shots of these corals as they were in shallow water and it kept ebbing and flowing.


A moment later I caught the water coming in.


How can I not finish with a starfish.


It was fun to explore the shore.


We stayed at the Westin in Nusa Dua in Bali and you look out on quite a nice ocean view.


While eating lunch I saw this fellow wading out into the surf. I happened to have my 70-200mm lens on the 5D so I took a walk to down to observe. 3 shots …



Love the hat.


At the beach the tide slow recedes through the day revealing that which you were swimming over.


You can walk for 100’s of meters to the edge and the reef. It was fun to see what lurked below … and surprising. (Next post).


Mark your calendar. I am saving up for this day (actually, from Bali)


In Hong Kong they build buildings with bamboo scaffolds. In Canada, you climb up the sides of a scaffold. In Japan .. it as one would expect.


Amazing how this product looks suspiciously similar to the Dyson innovation. By Toto Japan. Mitsubishi has one too.


As seen in a Japanese parking lot. I have been warned, in a rather contradictory manner.



In the middle of the country, in a little town with a name I did not know. Just another town along the road and another breathtaking temple, built by locals over hundreds of years. Famous? No. Breathtaking? Yes.


A lot of the gates had lions. I wonder why?



The owner of this scooter was no where to be seen. Because it was about to rain again … hard.


This shot gives you a sense of this rural Balinese village temple. It is huge and multi-sectioned .. and yes, about to rain.


Deity carvings were everywhere.



And many of the carvings were decorated.


The intricacies of this door are remarkable.


It was the entrance on this kori agung gate (roofed) with a candi bentar gate beside it (right).


And the detail across the temple caught the eye at every turn.



They had not gotten out all of the decorations yet, but were starting.



Truly amazing. So much care and beauty .. in a remote location. One of a thousand temples, that will never be famous.


Glad we stopped. And thanks for stopping by.


As mentioned, Bali is filled with temples. It is a Hindu province in a predominantly Muslim Indonesia. The notion of the Balinese temple is very different than the traditional Christian North American or European geography, where there is a church in a small village. In Bali, temples are every few meters.

There are large temples, small temples, village temples, temples near bridges, temples in the middle of the jungle, temples in homes. They are everywhere. We had selected Gunung Kawi as the temple we would visit.

It was getting later in the day and as we approached it started to rain. Hope was high that it would pass. Our driver explained what to do; you must acquire a sarong which can be rented at the temple for a dollar or buy one. We made our way to the entrance and were accosted by some very motivated sellers. $15 later we had 4 very nice sarongs. There are very strict on this cultural tradition. Configuration: Canon 5D Mark III and 28-70mm f/2.8.


Alas, the weather was not cooperating. It rained harder.


We made our way down to the temple (275 steps) … and then after a wait, headed back. It was not lifting. We were at the end of the day and began our trek home. After 30 minutes the rain lifted and we stopped as a “temple” was on the to-do list. This time the bathing temple, 9th century Goa Gajah:

At the façade of the cave is a relief of various menacing creatures and demons carved right into the rock at the cave entrance. The primary figure was once thought to be an elephant, hence the nickname Elephant Cave. The site is mentioned in the Javanese poem Desawarnana written in 1365. An extensive bathing place on the site was not excavated until the 1950s.[2] These appear to have been built to ward off evil spirits.

The weather cooperated.


As a Canadian I always marvel at the age of things. This temple is very old.


A step down to the water.



The mouth to the elephant cave, a sanctuary.



We did not linger. The storm had caught up …….


As I mentioned in a previous post, driving in Bali is different than in South American countries. In Bali every meter has some form of life jammed into it. I don’t know how to describe the press of humanity, at every corner and every meter. We just stared out the window and watched as scene after scene passed by. A few observations ….

You would see bottles of Vodka or other large glass alcohol containers at the front of many stores. It is not Vodka, it is petrol. I saw very few gas stations except in the more modern towns. Correction, these are the gas stations.

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As in most 3rd world countries, their use of the scooter was impressive.

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And helmets were discretionary, as were the number of passengers.


Surprised to see a little bit of Canada, on a remote road. Life insurance anyone?


The shops are visually fascinating with ornate carvings, huge pieces of wood for tables and the most amazing doors.

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We were feeling extra safe at our hotel (Westin Nusa Dua) as there was a big conference going on. There were military and police everywhere.


I understand that a few different Presidents were in town, with impressive motorcades.


One morning we took a walk outside of the tourist campus (As you can see above, very clean and well manicured). The economic collapse has hit Bali also.


I stopped at this abandoned shopping complex to take a few shots.



Things are tough all over.



As we drove through the countryside of Bali we watched the people preparing for the Hindu festival of Galungan. Our driver explained that this festival is as important to the Hindu’s as Christmas is to Christians.

Galungan marks the beginning of the most important recurring religious ceremonies. The spirits of deceased relatives who have died and been cremated return to visit their former homes, and the current inhabitants have a responsibility to be hospitable through prayers and offerings. The most obvious sign of the celebrations are the penjor – bamboo poles weighed down by offerings suspended at the end. These can be seen by the side of roads. A number of days around the Kuningan day itself have special names, with particular activities being organized.[2]

Driving through Bali is very different than in South/Central America. It seems like every meter along the road was filled with homes, villages and shops; all preparing for the big festival.


All along the roads were these ornate decorations, lining the way while hundreds of people laboured in front of their homes to make them.

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This temple was across from the coffee plantation.

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When I looked at this temple I thought “wow, it must be a special place”. But my perception was wrong, it was no more special than thousands of other Hindu temples that are scattered everywhere.

The Balinese take their temples seriously, spending copious amounts on building temples everywhere; on roads, attached to villages, in the centre of villages, randomly located in a remote jungle location or in their homes, as the quality of the temple in your home is a statement of wealth.

This spectacular and ornate temple was no different than the others.

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And it was unlocked, welcoming any visitors. Too bad it was raining or I would have gone in.

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A few days before we had arrived at the Elephant Safari Park, a baby was born. She was shy.


I had to wait around for 5 minutes before she finally sneaked out for a few minutes from her mother’s protective care. She walked with a wobble (smile).


Took one look and trotted back to her mom.


There are two types of parks in Bali, the larger zoo-like park and the more remote Elephant Safari Park.

We chose the second. The notion of elephants in captivity is a tough one, but the facility covers their conservation focus throughout their brochures and website.  For animals that would love to be free but are facing extinction and an ever shrinking habitat, this becomes a second best choice.

The facility is beautiful, clean and they clearly take good care of the elephants.





As with everything in this country, the North American notions of “behind the glass” and “at a safe distance” are not in play. At the restaurant you stand behind a waist high fence and get the opportunity to greet the elephants.

It was a moving experience to stand at the foot of such a huge, and majestic animal.


This shot pretty much say it all. I was in awe.


What a truly unique place. To stand beside such a beautiful creature is a true privilege.


Is it the best coffee?

The prices would indicate that it needs to be. At the plantation 200g of coffee is $100USD. In town, 50g of beans is $150USD.

It is a great experience on the farm, starting with a full tasting of their coffees, tea and cocoa. There is a pineapple coffee, and a host of others topped off with amazing cocoa.

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They then ask if you would like to buy a cup of Civet coffee for $5USD a glass. It struck me as humorous that people pay $5 multi-times a day for a simple Starbucks. We ordered 3. They bring out a “made in Japan” coffee brewing system, that looks intriguing to me.

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The water slowly moves up into the container above and then filters back down.

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The pour.

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I normally drink my coffee with a little cream and honey.

In this case, it seemed heresy to try it with something in it, so I drank the Civet coffee straight up. It was smooth, bold and surprisingly, without any bitter aftertaste.

Is it the best coffee in the world? It might just be.

I am curious what others think .. have you had it? Do you consider it the world’s best coffee bean? If not .. what is?

Thanks for dropping in.


One of our stops in Bali was a coffee plantation that serves Civet coffee, or Kopi Luwak coffee.

The coffee is made from coffee berries that have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet, excreted and processed.

Producers of the coffee beans argue that the process may improve coffee through two mechanisms, selection and digestion. Selection occurs if the civets choose to eat coffee cherries containing better beans. Digestive mechanisms may improve the flavour profile of the coffee beans that have been eaten. The civet eats the berries for the beans’ fleshy pulp, then in the digestive tract, fermentation occurs. The civet’s proteolytic enzymes seep into the beans, making shorter peptides and more free amino acids.[2] Passing through a civet’s intestines the beans are then defecated with other fecal matter and collected.

I love coffee. I am on my 2nd Jura and I start each day by making cappuccinos for myself and Narda. On Saturday and Sundays I usually follow that up with an espresso.

We arrived at Luwak Civet Coffee Farm in the rain. It really isn’t a farm, it is retail establishment with a tour, coffee tasting and the opportunity to buy Civet coffee. I had my Canon 5D Mark III with the 28-70mm for the tour.

The grounds are beautiful. Coffee berries enjoying the rain.

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Oh durian, you sweet smelling fruit … and acquired taste. They clearly enjoy it on the plantation.

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There were a couple of these around the farm; they are bee hives made of animal hair.

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Looking out on the jungle, I was amazed at how thick it is. My son hypothesized that the lack of farmable land was a key contributor to the economic differentiation between Europe/NA and countries such as Bali … The AP history class is going well.

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The plantation had displays of the coffee as it progresses through the processing stages. I did not see the Civet excrement separation stage.

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Is it the world’s best coffee? Next post …. And thanks for dropping by!


We had to see the birds in Bali, therefore the Bali Bird Park was on our “to-do” list.

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Like the other wildlife, you get to interact with the birds and they are very close. A few shots to enjoy. This outings configuration was the Canon 5D Mark III with the 70-200mm f/2.8.

I love the colors of tropical birds, like these Wreathed Hornbills.

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This Australian fellow is a bit homely. Sorry buddy.


Lots of water birds.





This bird can kill you. Dead. Meet the Cassowary.


He/she (I cannot tell) was unimpressed by my camera.


I found the red .. intestine looking markings on the back of their necks rather disturbing.


At the entrance to the park are a few parrots. I was watching this fellow and it is almost like he looked at me and decided to show off. He slowly maneuvered upside down and then flipped his legs into this position. This is not a natural parrot position.


And of course, a tourist experience isn’t complete without a “birds hanging on me” photo. The bright red parrot pooped on my shoulder (smile).


Worth visiting. Thanks for dropping by.


Meet one of the most highly debated fruits. Is it good? Is it awful? Does it smell? (no contest).

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For those outside of Asia … Durian:

Regarded by many people in southeast Asia as the “king of fruits”, the durian is distinctive for its large size, strong odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk. The fruit can grow as large as 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 15 centimetres (6 in) in diameter, and it typically weighs one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lb). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale yellow to red, depending on the species.

The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour that is strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as pleasantly fragrant; others find the aroma overpowering and revolting. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as almonds, rotten onions, turpentine, raw sewage, and gym socks. The persistence of its odour has led to the fruit’s banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia.

Before we started our rice field hike we stopped at a little restaurant at the top. They cracked a few fresh coconuts, cut up some pineapple and offered durian. We had to try it.

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This fruit is so smelly that in Singapore they have signs on public transit that say “No hazardous chemicals, explosives, food or durian”. I have been told that if you bring a durian into a government building there is a $5,000 fine.

I have also been told that the “pungency” varies highly between countries and that if left to ferment, it makes a strong alcohol drink. We had to try it.


Verdict: I didn’t spit it up.

It tasted keroseney to me (is that a word?). Not a favourite, but I can mark it off the list .. tried. I do think that it is one of the coolest looking fruits, and it may even look like “the King of the fruits”.


Bali is a lush and beautiful country and one of the “must do’s” is to stop at a small town with the rice fields new Ubud. You look out on the river flowing through the terraced fields .. and all you see is green. As viewed through a Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 28-70mm f/2.8, mostly shot in handheld HDR.



You hike down one side, cross a bridge and hike back up to the other side. Along the way there are a few farmers collecting “donations” .. donation 1 was at the bridge.


It is quite steep.




Row upon row of rice, with carefully crafted ledges around each terrace to keep the water in.



And a simple mode of getting the water from level A to level B.


What is at the top of the hill?


Nothing but a great view of this spider, who is almost impossible to spot .. even after I edited the photo to bring out highlights and confirm that she/he was the focus point.


A great hike.


We stopped at an Art shop while touring in Bali. We bought a piece (a rice field), and I am sure that we overpaid. You always leave wondering how much should I have paid? But  we loved the piece so such is life. The price of art is all relative.

The good thing is that we were first in and their culture is all about making sure that the first people buy as they believe that it influences the day. If you buy, they will have a good day. If you don’t buy, it will be a bad day.

As I bought, he let me take a few photos of the shop. As Galungan was quickly approaching, they we decorating everything.

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A distinctly Balinese form of art (that we did not buy, but was interesting to look at) below. Reminds me of a “where is Waldo?”

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In Bali, temples are everywhere and people who have the wealth, invest in family temples within their homes. At the art shop, they were decorating their temple for the festival.

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Parasols are a common decoration.

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The Balinese go all out.

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A wonderful time of the year.


For the Mt. Batur part of our Bali trip we did not hike the volcano (another time), but we had lunch at the base. It is a beautiful sight.

The view from the restaurant.

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Glad we didn’t hike it. We would have gotten soaked. A storm was on the way in.




The rain hit just was we stopped for fruit at this stand.

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The colors were spectacular, even under a very grey and growing black sky.

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If you are in Bali, make sure that you try all of the different fruits. Some will surprise you and you probably won’t see them again.



It is hard to plan a trip to a country that you have never been to when you live in a country where no one speaks English. We asked questions, read reviews and researched through Tripadvisor and Lonely Planet  .. with a final itinerary as follows …

We booked a car with Sila Tours (Highly recommended. They are not tour guides, but $55 a day for a new van and a driver is fantastic) and set out a rough goal of seeing these things:

  • Mt. Batur, the volcano.
  • Rice fields
  • Bird Sanctuary near Ubud
  • The Monkey Forest
  • A few temples, with Gung Kawi and the Water Palace being the two options
  • An Elephant reserve

This is more than we normally do as we definitely do not subscribe to the “as much as you can” philosophy. We like to do less, but really enjoy where we are. As most of these were nature trips, the learning/history element (which is time consuming) was not as big a factor.

Many people stay in Ubud, we stayed in Nusa Dua which meant driving through the traffic laden streets. In other countries that would be an issue, but not in Bali as the countryside is fascinating. I was enthralled looking out the window as we went from town to town. The people, the shops, the never ending temples on every street corner and at every house. Fascinating. I would have loved to spend more time wandering through small village streets.

My only mistake was that I should not have relied on the driver to help us order the trip over the 2 days that we toured as their sense of time and directions is a little deceiving. When I would ask “how far to the next place” I always got the answer “30 minutes”. 30 minutes later I would ask for an update and get “20 more minutes”.

If you are heading there, enjoy. Great place.


The Sacred Monkey Forest in Bali is a truly amazing place, one of the most interesting that we have ever been at:

The Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal is owned by the village of Padangtegal. Village members serve on the Sacred Monkey Forest’s governing council (The Padangtegal Wenara Wana Foundation). The Padangtegal Wenara Wana Foundation has historically strived to develop and implement management objectives that will both maintain the sacred integrity of the monkey forest and promote the monkey forest as a sacred site that is open to visitors from around the world.

The Sacred Monkey Forest is a series of paths that cut through the jungle, encompassing 3 temples and hundreds of macaques with staff spread on the paths selling bananas. A tourist mecca. There are many different reviews of this place, but my TripAdvisor review will give it 5 stars and call it out as one of the most unique places I have ever been. Yes, the monkeys can be ill-mannered – as this is the wild, with no control.

I loved shooting here, interacting with the long tail macaques. This little fellow kept my attention, when we first arrived. Same configuration, Canon 5D Mark III, and luckily I had my 70-200mm f/2.8.

He was just looking around … enjoying a banana.


And look at how white his teeth are. Really enjoying that banana.



Those eyes ….


I could have watched him all day. As you walk the path there are monkeys everywhere.


This fellow made me smile. He found a remote place to enjoy his banana, away from the rabble … away from prying hands.


If you looked closely, you would see mothers and their children.



There was a group of mothers sitting above us, on a log.




I wonder what this fellow was thinking?


It is a beautiful place with temples scattered across the grounds.




A special place.


We pretty much missed the cherry blossoms in Tokyo as they are early this year and we were out of the country.

But it is worth it. A few photos from the Monkey Forest in Bali. Glad I put the 70-200m f/2.8 on the Canon 5D Mark III for this walking adventure.

A few close-ups. I was very close.



Just hanging out.



Very close.



They are cheeky little fellows.



They are cute. Yes. But what happens if you get bit while trying to get them to sit on your shoulder?

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I post this as a public service to others who will go through that stress if they get bit.

On our trip to the Monkey Forest we had a bit of a fright with a monkey bite. One of the problems with the internet is that it is filled with opinions. From what I can ascertain from the International SOS clinic and reading, here are the facts:

  • Cases of rabies in Bali: All are in a different district than the forest. There have been 17 deaths, and they all appear to be attributed to rabid dogs. Beware of the dogs.
  • According to the Doctor at International SOS, he treats travelers who have been bitten at the forest daily and has not had any follow-up from international doctors who have had issues with patients. He has received no notice of a rabid monkey being found in Bali or of a patient being confirmed with rabies. Nothing.

Online forums are filled with “I was bit by a monkey” questions, panic and forum answers, with nothing of value. The reality is that if you have not been vaccinated for rabies, the protocol according to the World Health Organization is:

  • Wash the bite are as soon as possible aggressively with soap, water and an anti-bacterial if you have it. This has a significant impact as anything that is transmitted would be done via saliva into the blood stream and it can reduce the chances of transmission by up to 80%.
  • Seek medical attention right away.
  • A shot of rabies immunoglobulin is given based upon body weight. This is an immediate immune boost to the system to provide rabies anti-bodies. A shot is given around the scratch/bite mark and the rest administered normally. This can be quite painful depending on where the bite/scratch is. Many people do not get this shot as it is very expensive (I have seen estimates ranging from $1500-2000). Again – that is why we always travel with insurance.
  • Rabies vaccines is administered at day 0, 3, 7 and 14. These vaccines are like a standard inoculation shot. The old days of the 12 inch needle are long behind us. A small shot into the shoulder.
  • A standard anti-viral (We received Aciclovir) is prescribed from day 0. It is 2 pills, 5 times a day for 14 days. The alternative is Valaciclovir 3 times a day. We had a difficult time acquiring Valaciclovir in Bali (due to the Hindu holiday), but were able to switch to the much easier medicine when we returned to Tokyo.

Full WHO document here.

The moral of the story – what would we do differently this time?

  • We have all of our vaccines except rabies. The only time that you really need to worry is if you get bit and I would only get the vaccine if going to somewhere remote. The thing you need to watch out for is dogs.
  • Always have insurance.
  • Should have checked it out that same night on the web. Had it been more serious, we would have.
  • We would absolutely do the Monkey Forest again. Just remember stay calm, watch your fingers, don’t make threatening eye contact and buy lots of bananas .. from the locals. Support the locals.

Hope it helps someone else “calmly” determine what to do.