|The app of choice for the backoftheferry is @untappd. The botf correspondents celebrate with relish the various badges the app rewards us for enjoying our favourite beverage but none more than the Uniques*.
Botf reached the 1000 milestone (“Extraordinary”) almost 11 months ago and we’ve been able to maintain a pretty superlative rate in the period since.
* a unique is a beer enjoyed and checked into @untappd for the first time
|Last Saturday, while enjoying the hospitality of botf inductee, Ferg, we reached the 1500 uniques milestone. Whats more the view for beerp0rn from Ferg’s northern beaches eyrie was superb. The beer itself was the #squintingly good Executioner IPA from the lads at Beer Here in Denmark.
The only let down was that Untappd does not reward the user with a badge at 1500 uniques. The next badge for uniques is at the unimaginable number of 2500. For that you earn the ‘Elite’ moniker. What about some short term targets Mr Untappd? Maybe a ‘Pretty Special’ for 1500 and a ‘Very Well Done’ for 2000?
|Still, the view was superb and we rewarded ourselves with a further few cracking uniques. Namely an Extra Special Bitter (“right amount of bitter. Some caramel.”) from Moylans in northern California and a Milennium Falcon (“Lot of #squint. Chewy. Lots of fruit.”) by Holgate in Victoria.|
Here’s a few remaining snippets from Yangshuo and Guilin.
A speciality of Guilin and Yangshuo is Beer Fish or pi jiu yu. This is often a catfish steamed in beer and then served in a tomato sauce that looks like sweet and sour. We thought we’d missed out, but we snuck it in as our last meal of our Guilin leg. It was good, but the stars were the cucumber served Guilin style with garlic, chilli and vinegar. Outstanding.
We hadn’t eaten during our rooftop pub crawl and I’d read about the London Tavern that had recently opened. This was our first Western meal and it didn’t disappoint. I had Cumberland bangers and mash, whilst my daughter ate an “awesome” steak sandwich. The inside design, the beer menu, the food and the English chef/proprietor complete with chef’s whites transport you from Yangshuo to a UK tavern. The beer list was awesome and Thwaites beers are well represented. I hadn’t the Lancaster or the Indus Pale Ale and they were both terrific. Great if you want a break from Liquan beer, Guilin noodles and beer fish.
Another oddity is Le Votre. This is a relative veteran of Yangshuo and is in most of the guidebooks for its food. A Karst provides an impressive backdrop to restaurant and a small brewing operation.
They make a pale ale and a black beer. I never got to the black beer, but their pale was underwhelming. Still marks for being the only craft brewer in Yangshuo.
The last place of note is a bar that doubles as a Bike Shop/Tour Arranger/Rockclimb organiser during the day. At night Bike Asia becomes the Rusty Bolt.
Yangshuo is a serious rock climbing region with hundreds of climbs “bolted”. In the evening wiry people talk about the day’s events over a range of German and local beers.
Talk about maximising your space.
I love a good rooftop bar and Yangshuo has three of the best. All offer the most spectacular views and if there’s a better twilight and evening on a rooftop in China, I’d be very surprised. None are easy to find, but they are all worth the effort. What adds to the impressive spectacle is that the Karsts are lit up once the sun sets, making the back drop even more dramatic.
Monkey Jane is an infamous hostel. This place is all about partying very hard and budget drinking. The rooftop bar is up 6 flights of stairs. The views are 270 degrees and 360 degrees if you are insane enough to climb up a rusty ladder to the water tower. (Yes, I was insane enough). You can the other two bars in the second photo. Get here for twilight before the shooters come out.
Mojo Rooftop Bar is the easiest to find, so long as you know to go through a hotel foyer which also has a silver smith and a doctor fish spa (fish that eat dead skin off your feet). There’s a lift which gets you to the 4th floor then walk to the 6th. This is the most substantial of the 3 bars. Large indoor and outdoor areas with one of most inclined pool tables in it as well. This place is definitely a dancer’s paradise, but also provides an amazing view of the third bar, which is silhouetted against the Bi Lian Karst that dominates the Yangshuo skyline. A couple of unique German beers as well with the Hessenbrau Weizen being really good.
The last of the trio is the Showbiz Rooftop Bar. Again tough to find, but we kind of knew where it was by judging its location from the Mojo. This bar sits on top of a youth hostel and whilst there is some nudge-nudge entendre to the names of the drinks – it isn’t in the League of Monkey Jane. Looking up to Bi Lian, which by this stage is all lit up, is a real thrill.
A must do pub crawl for any Yangshuo visitor.
Mrs BotF was keen to inject some funds into the Daylesford economy, just not into the parts in which I’m interested. A quick look at the map indicates that Daylesford is close enough to Woodend which is the home of the Holgate Brewery. In turn the Holgate Brewery is close to Hanging Rock, a real place that has been made famous by a fictional Australian novel. To earn a drink at the brewery, an ascent of Hanging Rock is required.
Hanging Rock is about 7kms from Woodend. It is 6 million years old and is a remarkable geological formation. It is an untaxing climb, but the views once at the top are as good as gets. The rock formations are quite wonderful and you get some amazing photos looking out over the plains around the Rock. The eponymous Hanging Rock is actually pretty modest. The real highlights in my opinion are on the summit. There are many spikes and turrets that provide great places to stand upon and absorb the wonderful vistas below.
The Holgate Brewery is one of the greats of the Australian craft brewing scene. It started last century(!) and powers on to this day, continually expanding in size and range. It resides in Keatings Hotel, which was built in the 19th century. The front bar is where the beer action happens, and all of their greats are available. I was driving so wasn’t able to enjoy too much “Straight from the Gate”, but I had a special to try later.
Empress is very big beer. The bottle describes it as an “Imperial Mocha Porter” and it really is imperious. A massive 10%, it is a real sipper and 500ml is plenty big enough. The long, long rich taste, the big nose and the aftertaste are all stupendous. A $20 buck beer has to be good and this is worth every cent.
Despite the omnipresence of Bintang in Bali – helped by the hordes of Australians who feel compelled to don the ‘Uniform des Australiens’ while holidaying there – there are a couple of ‘Indonesian’ competitors plus a few craft beer suprises.
Bintang, despite the bad press, is not a bad beer and is in fact very drinkable given the climate and the ability of the local water supply to turn your stool to liquid. Owned and operated by Heineken it is has been brewed since 1929.
Next in popularity, several lengths back, is Bali Hai. Despite the name it is brewed on Java and is owned by San Miguel (Phillipines) and Kirin (Japan). Also a pilsener like Bintang I prefer it as it tastes a little more full bodied.
A fair way back again is Ankar. I could only find this in a couple of supermarkets and in taste it was indistinguishable from Bintang. Brewed again on Java it is also a subsiduary of San Miguel.
The two suprises were a couple of local Bali craft beers. The first company, Stark, produces a wheat beer (reviewed in an earlier blog) and a dark beer. The other, Storm Brewing, produces a whole range with seasonals etc but your correspondent could not track any down. I passed the brewery in Denpasar while en route elsewhere and there was no way Mrs botf was going to let me stray.
Walk down Pat Pong Rd Bangkok and you are offered a ping pong show (sans bats), walk down the Ramblas in Barcelona and it’s gypsies with babies, walk down the Champs Élysées in Paris and its ‘Tourist Menu’ (microwaved bags of shite with a French flag stuck in it)….walk along the coastal path on Lembongan and it’s ‘snorkel snorkel?’.
Despite the obvious Benny Hill overtones it really is the offer to rent a boat and snorkel over the coral reefs Lembongan has to offer. Having seen those of Bali (covered in sanitary pads and devoid of coral-the basic premise of a coral reef you’d assume) and Lombok (dynamited into oblivion) you’d understand if your correspondent ignored the offer.
However the junior botfs were insistent and at 30 Aussie bananas for the day – this is for your own boat – it is a bargain.
Off we set and my mind was blown. This botf correspondent has had a previous life as a marine biologist and has dived on the GBR extensively. Lembongan’s reefs are in the same league. They are glorious and easily accessible. What is more impressive is that they are not formally protected. Our local guide told us there is an unwritten rule that if the reefs are fished or dynamited the tourists will stop coming. So any local caught doing this ‘disappears’ (his words).
On to todays meal. As mentioned Lembongan does not have a rich culinary history so I tried the Thai Green fish curry at the Bange Bange Warung that we have settled on as our preferred haunt.
One mouthful and the lining of my throat and oesophagus were instantly stripped. No thought was given to the providence of the fish as no microbe on earth could survive the chilli in this puppy. I consumed the meal assisted by Bintang but as I write this missive the sweat brought on by processing this meal is still wet on my brow. My hope is at least that it exits correctly and does not attempt to return via the gates.
Mopeds are the way to get around on Nusa Lembongan. With three tin lids all below driving age this becomes a tricky task. Mrs botf and I rented 2 mopeds and your correspondent took on board Miss botf and one of the Master botfs. Being Indo I was still carrying two less kids than most family mopeds that we passed.
You can pretty much circumnavigate Lembongan and its tiny neighbour, Ceningan, in a day including stops for swims, lunch and assorted photo calls, bintangs and kids issues. Highly recommended.
I chose a local Lembongan dish for today’s post. Duck Lembongan. Methinks Lembongan’s culinary history is a short one as this dish matches shredded roasted duck with penne pasta. Still it was delicious in its own way.
Just a note on Indo ducks. Also relevant for its chickens. These ain’t no fatted, juicy birds that have been hand raised and then slaughtered and hung on a hook in the window of BBQ King to tempt you with their dripping fats. This duck in the photo was likely the one I nearly ran over on my moped this afternoon as it scratched about for scraps in the gutter. They are scrawny and a bit stringy. Still tastes like duck.
Botf has decamped to Nusa Lembongan with the family. Nusa Lembongan is an island about 30 mins east of Bali in the Lombok Channel.
Compared to Kuta it is pretty undeveloped. There’s a mix of low and middling quality villa complexes with one or two top end ‘spas’ – snooty term for warung ( see earlier post ).
All overlook Bali and its volcano Mt Agung so sitting in any eatery with a Bintang affords one a brilliant view. Todays dish was Satay Chicken. Just spectacular. Given the higher temps as compared to Ubud your Bintang is best consumed from the 620ml longneck so as to save your waiter excessive return trips.
Warung in Indonesian means small house, guesthouse or roadside eatery. They are everywhere in Bali and are brilliant for experiencing everything about Indo. The noise, the food, the traffic….the vibe.
Near your correspondent’s spread in Ubud is a warung called Naughty Nuri’s.
On every hard bargained taxi back to base I passed Nuri’s and it was pumping. Westerners and locals alike…milling about and punching out ribs. Nuri’s was a rib place. I like ribs.
So I convinced Mrs botf and the three tin lids that Nuri’s was the place for our last dinner in Ubud. The ribs were brilliant (and it was just ribs – none of this vege stuff). The ribs were BBQ’d out the front of the warung and then plonked in front of you for consumption. They had been marinaded in something fragrant, rich and delicious. AAA+.
Beer of choice – Bintang.
The food in Ubud is unbelievable. The strong Aussie banana means dinner for a family of 5 including a few Bintangs comes in at about AUD20-25.
What’s more the choice is amazing. While I have my daily Lund-inspired Nasi Goreng (more in a later post) there are a plethora of options with something new each day.
Today’s beerporn has the de rigeur Bintang together with some superb pork and crackling we had at a roadside warung. The pork arrived whole, as it were, on the head of motorcyclist who had shipped it in straight off the spit. It was then sliced onto plates in front of you for consumption.