Kopi Luwak Tasting at Alas Harum Agro Tourism

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Our last activity for our first day in Bali was our favorite: a visit to a Kopi Luwak farm in Ubud.

Kopi Luwak is coffee made from raw coffee berries that have been digested and defecated by the Asian Palm Civet. In simple terms: Kopi Luwak is cat poop coffee… although I just found out recently that the civet cat is NOT a cat. This is like the whole “Hello Kitty is not a cat but a British little girl” issue all over again.

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“I am not a cat. I am an Indonesian rock star. Obviously.”

Kopi Luwak is regarded as the most expensive coffee in the world, priced at around USD 600 – 700 per kilogram. Luckily, curious visitors can try this one-of-a-kind concoction for a fraction of the cost. Just visit one of the many kopi luwak farms in Bali, particularly in Ubud. The one we visited is called Alas Harum Agro Tourism.

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Aside from being a kopi luwak farm and plantation, Alas Harum also grows various plants, fruits, and spices that are used to create teas and coffee of varying flavors.

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Taro
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Ginger
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Ginseng

Entrance to the kopi luwak farm is free! One of the staff took us on a tour of the place, showed us all the features in the farm, and explained to us the process of making the kopi luwak. Like many Balinese people we encountered, our tour guide was very warm, accommodating, and soft-spoken.

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Our tour guide showing us around the kopi luwak farm

He led us to the area where the civet cats or luwaks were contained.

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I want one!
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Hello, little fella!

The civet cats look like a cross between a cat, a possum, a raccoon, and a baby fox. In other words, they were SO CUTE!

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Aww! ♥♥♥ Would you look at that face???

It broke my heart a little though, seeing them caged like that. There is a controversy surrounding the production of kopi luwak. It’s been said that caged civet cats are force fed immoderate amounts of coffee berries to keep up with the increasing demand for kopi luwak. Our tour guide assured us, however, that they only feed their civet cats what they can manage to digest. I do hope this is true!

Our tour guide asked us if we wanted to try feeding the cute little critters, and of course, I said yes! It was really fun! I noticed that the civet cats were quite eager to munch on the coffee berries, instead of being repelled by it — a good sign that perhaps, they were not being force fed, after all.

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Having the time of my life feeding this baby

The civet cats we encountered also did not show signs of stress. They interacted with us and even seemed like they were happy with the attention they were getting from us. I think that every time I gushed, they were enjoying it!

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So fun! And he seems to like it too!

Although the civet cats in Alas Harum were kept in a cage, it was a relief, at least, to see that the cages were clean and big enough for them to move around. The luwaks weren’t packed like sardines, and they were separated from each other, which means that the chances of them having a “cat fight” was very slim.

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I wasn’t able to ask about this little guy though. I’m not sure why he was kept in this tiny box… and close to the bee hive too! Not a very good location, if you ask me!

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So how is kopi luwak made? First, it starts with this coffee tree producing coffee cherries. You’ll know that the coffee cherries are ripe and ready for harvesting when they’ve turned from green to bright red.

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Our guide picked out two coffee cherries straight out of the tree for me and Mike to try. It had a distinct and mildly sweet taste, less sweet than the usual cherry fruits. It also wasn’t as juicy as I thought it would be, and tasted like dried fruit. I also needed to chew it slowly because the texture, especially the middle part, was quite tough. But I could imagine why the little civet cats would enjoy munching on this! (By the way, have you ever wondered what your fart would smell like if you ingested a lot of these cherries?)

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These coffee cherries are then fed to the civet cats. These coffee cherries stay in the digestive tract of the luwaks for about 24 hours. During the digestion process, the meat or pulp of the coffee cherries are removed. However, the coffee beans (or the seeds) are not digested. At this point, fermentation happens in the civet cats’ stomach, which then leads to the coffee beans having its unique flavor.

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A luwak feeding on a ripe coffee cherry

24 hours later, the civet cat finally poops out the coffee beans. This poop is considered the most expensive shit in the world. Of course, while the poop has those delicious, sought-after coffee beans, it also comes with other “unwanted stuff.” Take a look at the leftmost tray in the photo below. Those beans are dark, brown, and clumpy because they still come with, um, other things that you wouldn’t want in your coffee. (If you want a closeup of what they look like, just google “Kopi Luwak Poop“)

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Once the civet cat feces are collected, the coffee farmers then filter the beans and weed out the quality ones from the inferior ones, wash them, and let them dry out in the sun so that the skin is easier to remove later on.

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Next, we go to the “Roasting Place” where the transformation happens.

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The next step to perfecting the kopi luwak is to pound it with this giant mortar and pestle. Pounding is done to make it easier to remove the skin of the coffee beans.

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Good workout for the arms!

Remember what I said about the coffee cherries having a tough texture? Well, this picture proves that! The beans are hard so they need to be hammered this way.

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After one more round of washing the coffee beans, they are slightly roasted to remove their bitter taste. The reason why these beans only go through mild roasting is to retain its original flavor, as much as possible.

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The coffee beans being mildly roasted, sans the oil
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Ever heard of the vegetable farmer gone viral dubbed as “Carrot Man”? Well, I have my Coffee Man! Haha!
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Didn’t expect to be doing chores on my honeymoon!
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Am I doing it right?
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“Amateurs!” This lady looks unamused. Hehe, just kidding!

The finished product is kept in a jar and displayed for all visitors to see, along with saucers of different kinds of spices used to make their teas or blend with coffee.

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Roasted kopi luwak and spices mixed with the teas and coffee

 

And this is the luwak coffee after going through a coffee grinding machine. It’s kind of hard to imagine that THIS once passed through a civet cat’s butt. Just try not to think about it.

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Kopi luwak produced by female civet cats are more rare and more expensive because their digestion and fermentation process takes much longer than that of the male civet cats.

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Although you don’t need to pay an entrance fee to go inside the coffee farm, you do need to pay IDR 50,000 (around PHP 170 – 180) for a cup of luwak coffee, which is a teensy tiny amount compared to what you would usually pay in a five-star restaurant. And if that’s not good enough for you, you also get a FREE cup of regular coffee so you can compare it with the kopi luwak.

I’m sure you are wondering, “So what does CAT-POO-ccino taste like?” First, there’s one important thing to remember: the taste of one batch of kopi luwak may differ from that of another batch. Why? Because it all goes back to the coffee cherries they eat. By nature, the better the quality of the coffee cherries the luwaks ingest, the better the taste of the final output would be. I don’t claim to be a coffee connoisseur so I can only tell you what Mike and I thought about the kopi luwak we had during that time in comparison to the regular coffee. There was definitely a difference. Kopi luwak had a smooth taste and light body. It had a stimulating flavor, which I would describe as fresh and earthy. It was also undeniably much less bitter than the regular coffee, and had very little aftertaste. It was certainly delicious and Mike really liked it. Up to this day, he still tells me “I miss kopi luwak!” However, I honestly don’t think that the difference in taste is worth the outrageous price tag. It’s coffee fit for a king, sure, but I’ll settle for my cheap but satisfactory commoner coffee.

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Bali Coffee vs Luwak Coffee: going at it head to head

But wait! There’s more! What? No entrance fee, a free cup of regular coffee, an opportunity to taste kopi luwak for a measly IDR 50,000 and THERE’S MORE? I’m not SHITTING you. There IS more. Now you know why this tour is one of our favorites in our Bali trip!

One of the best parts of this tour is getting to taste the many different flavors of tea and coffee FOR FREE!

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And no, I’m not talking just a teaspoonful. You get 8 CUPS of tea and 6 CUPS of coffee! And most of them were absolutely delicious that Mike and I had a thirst for them (literally and figuratively) for days after that free tasting.

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(With a British accent: “Would you like a cup of tea?” No, I would like EIGHT cups of tea… and 6 cups of coffee!
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Tea pahhhty! (And coffee pahhhty!)

So that we would know what we were sipping, a sort of “cheat sheet” was given to us, indicating the different flavors of tea and coffee in front of us. The flavors that really stood out for us were the Mangosteen Tea, Rosela Tea, and Coconut Coffee, but other flavors were pretty yummy too. Others, however, like the Ginger Tea, were a little too strong for us and left a scratching feel in our throats, while some like the White Chocolate Coffee were good but a bit too mild. But overall, the teas were flavorful, refreshing, and unforgettable! We had some leftovers but we almost finished everything. We got drunk on coffee! Yummy!

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The coffee and tea tasting, plus the free tour of the kopi luwak farm, were such fun and great experiences that we would have gladly paid for it. In fact, Mike and I were saying that we couldn’t believe that the tour was free, and that they could actually charge for this. Not complaining though! I guess SOME of the best things in life are still free!

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Mike’s got coffee, tea, and me! It’s his lucky day. Haha!

 

By the way, inside the coffee farm is a small shop where you can purchase the different kinds of teas and coffee. We were really tempted to buy (especially our favorites!) but we weren’t sure yet if we wanted to go shopping already on our first day in Bali. We had 11 days to go and we needed to make sure that we could stretch our money for the duration of our stay!

 

Before leaving, we went around to take more photos of the place.

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I am ending this blog post with a little reminder…

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…and another one.

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Word.

Alas Harum Agro Tourism
Address: Jl. Raya Tegallalang, Ubud, Gianyar
Phone: +62 85792 466 220, +62 81999 814443
E-mail: alasharumagrotourism@yahoo.com
How to Get There: Rent a private car with driver / guide. I recommend Galih Bali Tour.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

For all stories related to our Bali honeymoon trip, visit the link below:
#PuffAndFluffBalimoon

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Comments

  1. alison says:

    This was so cool to see all that you did. I was especially intrigued by the roasting process. I definitely going to have to try one of those cherries I think. I have never seen them by me but now I am looking for them!
    alison recently posted…Cheers! Ice CreamMy Profile

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      It WAS one of the coolest things we did in Bali! It was pretty fun to roast, although I only did it for a few seconds. Maybe it’s harder than it seems. 🙂
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  2. ROBERT LEE says:

    Incredibly informative article and I am a coffee drinker so this post does interests me. Super expensive – that kind of coffee. Looks like this could be a good business to get into! LOL!

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Great to know that you find this post interesting! I believe we do have this in the Philippines but I’ve never tried it here. I wonder if it’s just as good as the one in Bali…
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  3. Pia Villamor says:

    Tasted kopi luwak when we were in Bali too. I almost chickened out knowing how it was produced, but I’m glad I didn’t. It was actually pretty good! 😛 I also share your concern about how they treat the civets though. I really do hope they’re as humane as they claim. Thanks for sharing this post. Makes me want to visit Bali again. 🙂

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      I’m so glad you decided to go for it! It just sounds weird at first, but once you taste it, you’ll want more, right? I hope for the same thing for the civet cats. Just looking at their faces can make one go “awww…”
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  4. Chhavi says:

    Wow, beautiful. Your pictures give a detailed visual. Its great, you made me want to visit this place.
    Chhavi recently posted…Travellers Guide to Varanasi, IndiaMy Profile

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Thanks, Chhavi! 🙂
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  5. I really enjoyed this post! Your adventures on the coffee farm were so entertaining. I personally would love to drink the “cat poop” coffee. I like tasting unusual things.And I can’t believe that tour was free! I would pay just to see the adorable civet cats.
    Stella the Travelerette recently posted…The Prettiest Bodies Of Water of the WorldMy Profile

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Thank you, Stella! 🙂 Do add drinking cat poop coffee to your travel bucket list! It’s a pretty interesting experience. Yeah, it’s free!!! Amazing! I wonder how they make money? I wasn’t able to ask that.
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  6. sam says:

    I have tasted kopi luwak (locally called kape alamid) in the mountains of Batangas here in the Philippines. I loved the taste. Unfortunately, I feel a bit sad about caged civet cats because they don’t to pick the coffee cherries they want, and they’re forced to eat to produce so much. I hope that isn’t the case in this place!

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      I’m ashamed of myself… I haven’t tried kape alamid! Haha! Poor civet cats though 🙁 Where is the best place to see a civet cat farm in Batangas?
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  7. Joanna says:

    This looks like a great experience! I just feel sorry for the civets, living in those small cages. I have bought a bag of Kopi Luwak in Vietnam, as a gift from my mother. I remember she said it was too strong for her. Now I wish I would have tasted it too.

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Actually, the cages weren’t that small but I do hope they are allowed to roam around freely once in a while. 🙂 Oh, you didn’t get to taste it? I hope you get the chance to do that one day! It’s pretty good!
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  8. Neri Ann says:

    I love coffee! So I’ll definitely enjoy the process of making one for myself. This is definitely a fun and great experience especially for the both of you!

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      I’m sure you will enjoy this experience! 🙂 One of the best things we did in Bali!
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  9. Cheryle says:

    I’m surprised. I love roasted coffee and yet this is new to me. Aside from its flavor, does this coffee contain healthy effects like the typical coffee beans?
    Cheryle recently posted…Blogapalooza 2016: On Blogging + Working With BrandsMy Profile

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      I believe it has antioxidants and can prevent cell damage. 🙂
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  10. Jasmin N says:

    Loved the post!
    Seems like you had a lot of fun!

    <3: Jasmin N
    Little Things With Jassy
    Bloglovin’

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      We did! Thanks, Jasmin! 🙂
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  11. Shay says:

    I’m not a big coffee drinker but this looks like an interesting and fun experience!

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      It was! 🙂
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  12. Katelin says:

    Many of these photos look similar to habitats at our local zoo! It’s neat to see how closely our zoo keepers can replicate and animal’s nature environment.
    Katelin recently posted…Why We Chose Our Young MarriageMy Profile

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      That’s cool! 🙂 Which part of the world are you from? 🙂
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  13. kareenliez says:

    It is a nice place and it is really interesting that you are able to make your own coffee here. I love drinking coffee and I am curious on how this one taste like.
    kareenliez recently posted…The Benefits of Using Milk Paint on Kids’ FurnitureMy Profile

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Well… actually someone else made the coffee for us. Hehe. 🙂 I think it’s better that they do it coz they are the experts!
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  14. Ashlyn says:

    That’s actually rather disturbing as it sounds disgusting. I’ll believe you that it tastes good though. I also am concerned with how small their cages look. They’re really cute though!
    Ashlyn recently posted…I Unwillingly Took on a New RoleMy Profile

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Haha it’s true, drinking cat poop does sound gross! I tried not to think of that while drinking it! 🙂
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  15. Felice Raina says:

    Love all these pictures. You guys looked like you genuinely enjoyed your time. Love learning new things ❤️❤️

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Thanks, Felice! I’m glad you learned something new from this post 🙂
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  16. I’m so jealous! Bali looks amazing and the dress you are wearing is just beautiful. Looks like you had an incredible time.

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Thank you, Sarah! 🙂 Will you believe me if I tell you that I got this dress for 5 USD? 🙂
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  17. Analesha says:

    This looks like such a fun experience! Great post!
    Analesha recently posted…Bloopers // Part OneMy Profile

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Thanks, Analesha! 🙂
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  18. Lauren says:

    What a fun experience! Great details and pictures too!

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Thanks, Lauren 🙂
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  19. Diana says:

    Such a funky adventure you guys went on – I love the quote at the end – I like to think that way in the present to live life to the fullest on daily basis ♡dynamicbohemian.com
    Diana recently posted…12 Instagram Pictures to RepostMy Profile

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      That quote at the end was an eye-opener for me too! 🙂
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  20. Your photos are stunning and shows the details you share on your post. Hope you had wonderful time enjoying Bali. I feel sorry though for the civet. I’ve done this tour twice and it’s nice break during long day tour.
    Rose Sahetapy recently posted…Ancient ruins in Sicily, the magnificent past – Part 3My Profile

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Thanks, Rose 🙂 Wow, you’ve done this twice? I would love to do this again! I probably would… it’s free anyway! 🙂
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  21. Ruxandra says:

    I have heard of this coffee and the way it’s produced made me skeptical. But as long as I do not think of that I bet it’s quite delicious! and 8 cups of tea? that is insanely amazing! Now I have to save all my money and finally do trip to Indonesia!

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Yes, that is the secret: forget what it’s really made of. Haha! Yes, 8 cups of tea! Incredible, right? We couldn’t even finish all of them! They were sooo good!
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  22. Kerry says:

    I’ve made coffee before, hard work isn’t it?! My hat goes off to everyone years ago who had to do it, and the people that still do to this day. Great post.

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Haha! Yes, I don’t have the patience to make coffee. Glad someone else did it for me. 🙂 Thanks, Kerry!
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  23. Julie says:

    Hi Nadine, stumbled upon your blog while googling more about Kopi Luwak. I love your photos and post about this Kopi Luwak farm! I have just returned home from a short trip to Bali and we visited this very place. We had a very interesting and enjoyable tour as well. Loved the many delicious flavoured teas and coffees we could try but the best was the Kopi Luwak! Hee hee we left with a selection of the teas and coffees under our arms and of course a packet or two of the famous Kopi Luwak. Can I just add here Nadine, that we were told the caged Luwaks on show were for tourists to see and that the beans were actually harvested from the forest floor after the wild Luwaks, who roamed free, ate from the coffee plant. It’s a must do I think for anyone visiting Bali. 😃

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Hi, Julie! Thank you for leaving a comment. 🙂 And I’m glad you had an amazing time in Bali. Isn’t it a lovely place? I wish I had gotten some flavored teas and coffees too. I’m kind of kicking myself now for not doing that! Thank you for that piece of information about the caged and wild luwaks! 🙂 That’s a relief for me and for everyone who are having doubts about the treatment of these sweet creatures. Totally agree with you that people visiting Bali should include this in their itinerary!
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

  24. I too have done a post about this on my blog. Here is the link
    http://www.tickingthebucketlist.com/2016/05/angkor-wat-costs-and-budget.html

    But the ethical conundrum still bothers me. What do you think?

  25. Oppss…sorry….here is the link to the Kopi Luwak post…
    http://www.tickingthebucketlist.com/2015/06/coffee-tasting-in-ubud.html
    Btw…I love your pretty blue dress in the pictures! 🙂
    Ticking the Bucketlist recently posted…Mozart Dinner Concert: SalzburgMy Profile

    1. Nadine Smith says:

      Thanks for sharing your blog post! I enjoyed reading it. 🙂 About the treatment of civet cats, even though I’ve been hearing bad stories about them, somehow, I feel that they are treated well in the coffee farm we visited. 🙂 The people were kind to us so hopefully, they are also kind to the civet cats!
      Thank you as well for the compliment about my dress. 🙂
      Nadine Smith recently posted…Lost Boys-Themed Baby Shower for Luis AlfonsoMy Profile

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