Indonesia: Margo Utomo Agro Resort (b); Kalibaru

After breakfast, we went back out into the Margo Utomo Agro Resort’s garden with our guide.  We found several more interesting tropical flowers, fruits and spices… and a rather special animal.


Hanging from a tree was a local bat.


It was not particularly worried by my presence. Perhaps it was licking its lips in happy anticipation of some nectar from the nearby New Guinea Creeper.


The New Guinea Creeper, (Mucuna novo-guineensis), has brilliant pendent bunches of pea flowers. They hang in the shade created by the plant’s own leaves.

Like other legumes, the plant produces it’s seed in pods. They are generally bat-pollinated and produce seeds that float.  The seeds can therefore be spread in streams and by the sea.

New Guinea Creeper has been brought into cultivation, although, at temperatures below about 10 °C ,they must be grown indoors. They’re grown as ornamental plants and, locally, for food. Interest exists in developing Mucuna species as a sustainable, edible green manure crop, dug in after the fruit is harvested.


An unknown fruit with an attendant ant.


Ripe, and not so ripe, coffee berries.


These wonderful flowers, belong to Theobroma cacao, the cacao tree also called the cocoa tree. It’s native to the tropical regions of Central and South America. The flowers are borne directly on the larger stems of the plant. They develop into…


…these wonderful fruits which, on processing, turn into CHOCOLATE!


A white turkey wandered around the surrounds of the old home… he “owned” the place.




Cattleya orchid, just growing in the garden.  I can’t get them to flower like this even with all the molly-coddling under the sun!


At a tropical fruit tasting session, we tasted Star Fruit, Longan, Rambutan…


… Mangosteen , Custard Apple and Dragon Fruit.


This is the interior of a red-fleshed Dragon Fruit.


A Custard Apple being cut open.


A Custard Apple growing on a tree.


One of the more unusual sights in the garden… Civet cat scats.

The Most Expensive Coffee in the World, Civet coffee (Kopi Luwak), is produced from coffee beans that have been eaten by the Civet Cat or Palm Civet.  In Indonesia these animals are called luwaks, hence Kopi Luwak.

Civet cats roam the ground beneath coffee trees and eat only the ripest of coffee beans.  During the digestion process the red pulp surrounding the coffee bean (seed) is digested during a unique fermentation process.  This gives the coffee its special flavour.  About 24 hours after the beans have been eaten they are passed by the animal and left on the plantation floor.  Farmers collect the faeces each morning.

The faeces are washed, dried, cleaned of any remaining pulp and finally roasted.  Kopi Luwak is brewed in the normal way but it is recommended that it be drunk without sugar or milk as these additives tend to mask the unique flavour of the product.

So… anyone for Civet scat coffee? On cup of Civet Coffee costs between $35 and $100… compared the usual $4.00 to $4.50… a bit of a difference in both taste and price!

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Also in the resort area, we went to a rubber factory. Our guide shows us raw rubber.

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The amorphous mass is rolled a number of times to create sheets of rubber.

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The still white sheets are washed before being cured in a smoke house… and that turns the rubber a very dark brown colour.


Later in the afternoon we sailed across to the island of Bali. More anon.


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Indonesia: Sunrise over Mt Bromo

A very early morning (03.30) enabled us to reach a good view point to watch the sun rise over the volcanos that form the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. Our mini-buses were not up to the task of climbing the steep road let alone cross the Sea of Sand (read ash flats), so we were loaded into short wheel-based 4WD Toyotas with big fat tyres that were only partially inflated.


Light was just beginning to lighten the horizon as we reached our view point, Mount Penanjakan 2,770 m (9,088 ft).  We had travelled from our hotel in the centre-middle of the photo.


The sky began to lighten predawn… Mt Bromo was hidden by cloud but the taller stack of cloud in the centre of the photo was actually ash and steam from Mt Bromo.


The effort required to get up so early was well worth it… it was spectacular watching the sun rise above some clouds out to the East of our vantage point.


It turned out to be the coldest morning of our whole adventure. A stiff breeze made it even more so, but, at an elevation of 2770m, it should be expected.


And then the cloud in the valley parted and we could see Mt Bromo.


Mt Bromo.


After enjoying that stunning sunrise, we headed part-way down for a quick stop at another view point. Now we could see how far we had climbed up from the valley floor..


Wonderful scenery… clouds wreath Mt Bromo on the other side of the valley.  The Sea of Sand is the flat grey valley floor between the view point and Mt Bromo.


Our next stop was at a staging point for the climb to the rim of Mt Bromo’s crater, a 2km walk with a height difference of 133m (436 ft.).


It was a gentle walk over ash to begin with.


The incline gradually got steeper.  Our vehicles were parked at the edge of the green area on the far side of the area with trees in the middle distance.


Finally, we came to a set of steps that would get us up to the rim.


A continuous roar came from the volcano, getting louder as we neared the rim.


Looking down into the crater, large clouds of steam were bellowing upwards. Every now and then there would be silence before, suddenly, there was a huge roar as even more steam burst forth. On these occasions, rocks and other debris was hurled into the sky.


It was indeed fortunate that the wind was blowing away from us or we could have been in some peril. Even though I’ve been on volcano rims before, this was still quite exciting.

Our guide, Tan Tan, had advised us not to climb to the rim, but not because of safety concerns… no.. because he didn’t think we had it in us to get to the top and back to the vehicles in the time available. This wasn’t the first, or the last time, that we managed to achieve a bit more than he gave us credit for.


It transpired that Mt Bromo had increased its activity somewhat while we were climbing, to the extent that, according to Tan Tan’s wife, it hit the local news.


Back down on the ash flats, we had that moment I usually dread… the group photo!


After all that, we were back in Yoschi’s dining room for breakfast by a bit after 08.00! And by then we were rather peckish. After breakfast it was back into our trusty mini-buses for a seventy-five minute drive to Probolinggo.


We travelled back down the same road we had traversed in the dark the night before.  The scenery was quite spectacular with many different crops being grown on every arable piece of ground.


The tall narrow trees look that way because the branches are cut, probably for fuel.


The road twisted around the steep valley sides.


At Probolinggo, we caught a train to Kalibaru – a three hour journey.  This was the Station Master’s office which contained all the levers that controlled the station yard points.


Arriving at Kalibaru, it was just a walk around the end of the station platform to find our overnight accommodation, the Margo Utomo Agro Resort. This hotel had two rows of twin bungalows set in very well maintained tropical gardens.


Heliconia sp.


Shrub Vinca (Kopsia fruticosa).


The resort had a massive swimming pool… a lovely place to while away an hour before dinner… and that was worth waiting for, too. It was a mixed plate of Indonesian cuisine;  chicken curry, chicken satay, sautéed vegetables, boiled egg with Balinese sauce, sweet potato chips, steamed rice and beef floss. We had earned that meal.

And we had also earned an early night after a very interesting, but long, day.

More anon


All photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

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