6 January 2018

2017 Running Dashboard

* Completed 13 years of running. Finished running in 16 countries in those 13 years.
* In 2017, posted 100 mile run per month for every month. Ran in 5 different countries.
* Ran with a lot of friends, ran with strangers and ran by myself.
* Ran by the oceans, ran in the mountains, ran in the trails and ran in the forests.
* Ran in sun, ran in rain, ran in snow.
* Ran by the sunrise, ran by the sunset, ran in midday and ran at night
* Ran mostly for fun. And picked up a few medals on the way…

6 January 2018

A shout out to our new found friend in Bali – Wayan Werta

Without Wayan, we would not have half the fun in Bali as we did. From picking us up at the airport to dropping us at the airport and all the travel in between, he was our constant companion. Learnt a lot of local language, customs, political structure, educational system, healthcare system and what have you about Bali. Given his detailed knowledge of the island, we were able to take in quite a few off the road spots.

Above all, I was fascinated to learn about his own family and his three kids. The father in him often came out during our discussions in the long drives – his exasperation at how they constantly fight and how his only goal in working hard in life is to be able to afford his young kids as a good an education as he possibly can!

His business card said “I Wayan Werta”. After some constant questioning, I found out some naming intricacies in Indonesia. First off, there are only four names – Wayan, Made, Nyoman and Ketut (there is a new version now – Putu, Kadek, Komang and Ketut). Regardless of boy or girl, the naming is done strictly in that sequence. (first child Wayan, second child Made etc etc). You start over with Wayan (or Putu) for the fifth child. And basically keep repeating that.

As you can imagine there are a lot of Wayans in Bali. You differentiate by the last name. Finally, if you are a boy, you put an “I” in the beginning and if you are a girl, put a “Ni”.

Whew!! That was a wee bit complicated!!

5 January 2018

Costliest coffee in the world?

We went to a agrobusiness coffee plantation in Bali (Batubulan village) that advertised Luwak coffee. We saw quite a few plantations like this. I had no idea what Luwak coffee is or why it is so costly. At the end of the tour we had a little of the coffee too.

What I did not know is how the coffee is made. I remember seeing the whole coffee production process in a coffee plantation in Costa Rica once but this is rather unique. And gross.

First a cat like animal – called civet – Indonesians call it a “luwak” (see the picture – the farm had quite a few of them) actually eats the coffee cherries from the trees. Inside the stomach, the cherry goes thru the digestion process. The fermentation dissolves the outer layer but the beans themselves (there are two beans in a pod) cannot be digested by the cat’s digestive system. So, next day, it poops the beans out (this is the gross part). You can see dry poop in the picture.

The poop is then collected and cleaned and the beans recovered. The shells are broken and then roasted in an open oven as shown in the picture. Finally, the beans are ground to powder like the lady was doing.

After packaging, it is then sold at prices that reach 20X-40X more than normal coffee!!

5 January 2018

Sometimes, I wish I stuck to my core competencies…

One of the things I have made a habit out of after landing in a new country is learn the basics in the local language – you know – “Hello”, “Thank You”, “How are you” etc. If I am there for more than a day, I usually grab a local and learn a little more – like one thru ten, education system, political system and all that.

Bali is a place you always negotiate and haggle. And I like it. This is one of those “predictably irrational” things. I absolute delight in saving 30 cents in a haggle (the full price would be a dollar) but am too lazy to walk out of the hotel for half a kilometer and get my wine for five dollars less. Go figure.

In any case, after one of those temple visits today, the girls decided to buy some local sarongs. Once they had chosen what they wanted, they went away to sit under a tree as I commenced my bargaining.

The problem with my bargaining was that I was trying to beard the lion in its own den. So, I started with my knowledge in Indonesian numerals that I had just learnt the previous day – mpat.. noll.. noll… I started. For the Indonesiany-challenged, let me tell you – a problem with Indonesian currency is that everything is in thousands and millions. The lowest denomination in one thousand. No idea why. But basically, I was “nolling” all the time. (noll being a zero).

The lady was trying her best in her language. Which I did not know. But I knew the numbers. So, I even threatened to go down… “triga, lima, noll, noll…..”.

After a couple of minutes of exasperation, she gave up. Gave me a straight, stern look and said “Four dollars, sir?”.

I was stunned. I was not sure how to react once she had taken the fight to my home turf. Four dollars? Sure? By the way, that was for three sarongs.

The deal was done.

I was very satisfied.

Till now.

I have my calculator with me in my hand. Looks like I paid her more than what she had asked me to begin with!!


🙂 🙂