Monthly Archives: April 2017

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Karimunjawa Town Wedding

Getting to Know Karimunjawa Town

Although it’s quite a small place, it is possible to get temporarily lost in the similar-looking streets of Karimunjawa Town. Most of the facilities you require are to be found, but are spread around the place and not always easy to locate.

Top of your priority list is probably finding your accommodation. If you booked in advance, all well and good. They will probably even send someone to pick you up from the jetty. If you want to find a place when you arrive, you shouldn’t have much trouble: You’ll just need to trudge around for a while with your rucksack until you find somewhere suitable.

Karimunjawa Town Map

Karimunjawa Town Map (click to enlarge)

Hit the Karimunjawa Night Market

The town square is the place you should visit early evening for the daily night market. Located around the edges of a grass football field, this is usually a hive of activity with lots of stalls cooking up varieties of fresh and tasty food.

We found we were returning there most evenings.

Karimunjawa Town

In the daytime, this is still a good place to come and get your lunch. There are a couple of places that serve buffet-style food at reasonable prices.

I daresay you could also get in a knock-around on the football pitch if the local school kids are out and about.

Karimunjawa Town

Find the Mini-Market

The mini-market is a good place to stop off for supplies on your way to or from your guesthouse. You’ll just need to get your timing right if you want to find it open. They don’t have much in the way of fruit and vegetables, and you won’t be able to buy any alcohol there.

For fruit and veg you’ll need to visit Karimunjawa market. For an alcohol fix, go to one of the restaurants in town.

Karimunjawa Town

Karimunjawa Town Mini-Market – ‘Tutup’ means it’s closed

Meet Jon at SeaSky

If you have a problem in Karimunjawa, go and see Jon. In fact, go and meet him even if you don’t have a problem. Apart from being a nice guy, Jon has a wealth of information about everything to do with Karimunjawa and the surrounding islands.

He runs a business called SeaSky, and is located on the corner of Jl Pelabuhan Baru and Jl Jend. Sudirman, not far from the harbour.

Karimunjawa Town

Karimunjawa Town – Jon at SeaSky

He can arrange any trips you want to make, and arrange your transfers.

We hired our scooter from him (IDR 75,000 per day), hired snorkeling masks and fins (IDR 30,000 per day), and booked his full-day snorkeling trip to the western islands (IDR 200,000 per person).

You can also contact him on Facebook.

Withdraw Cash – Karimunjawa Town Bank and ATMs

As a general precaution, you should try to take enough cash money to Karimunjawa to cover all your costs. There is just one bank and 2 ATM machines (one inside the bank). The bank isn’t always open, and is unlikely to give you cash if you present a credit card.

Also the ATM machines are sometimes out of order or out of money, or they simply won’t accept your credit card.

Very few (if any) hotels or guesthouses accept credit card payments. Even the up-market Breve Azurine  4-star resort claimed their credit card machine was broken when we stayed there. They would accept only cash, and I’m talking about millions of rupiah (and we only stayed there 2 nights).

Karimunjawa Town's only bank and outdorr ATM

Karimunjawa town’s only bank & outdoor ATM (good luck with that…)

If you run out of cash and can’t use the ATMs, your last resort is to ask around for local money-changers. They’ll possibly exchange your foreign cash currency, but at an exorbitant exchange rate.

Beggars can’t be choosers – you have been warned.

Play Volleyball!

If you fancy a game of volleyball, you can join the locals for a game most afternoons. You’ll find the volleyball field up the hill and across the road from CocoHuts on Jl Danang Joyo.

Karimunjawa Town

Afternoon volleyball in Karimunjawa town

Visit the Traditional Market (…if you’re lucky)

Visiting the traditional market is actually not as easy as it seems. First, you’ll have to find it (check out the map above). Then it will have to be open. We visited on 4 different occasions and found the fruit stall open only once.

However, it was worth our persistence, since we discovered what quickly became one of our favourite tropical fruits – Salak (Snake Fruit).

Karimunjawa Town

Yup, it’s still closed

The Mosques of Karimunjawa Town

The mosques are a constant and essential aspect of everyday life in Karimunjawa. We counted three in Karimun town alone. The 5 daily Salah call to prayer times create a unique aural identity of where you are.

Karimunjawa Town

Karimun street leading to the tall mosque

Restaurants

Although not great in number, there is a small variety of places to eat in Karimunjawa town. This is just as well since only 1 out of the 4 hotels/guesthouses where we stayed offered any food beyond breakfast.

Karimunjawa Town

Karimunjawa Town – The Night Market

The best options that we found for eating in the evening were the Night Market, Meet ‘n Greet, and Amore’s.

Karimun Park

Karimun Park is worth a visit, if you have the time. It used to be a butterfly park, but is now in the process of evolving into a different type of attraction.

Karimun Town

Karimun Park, Karimunjawa Town

We visited expecting a butterfly park, and indeed there is still a collection of dead butterflies in glass cases. Unfortunately, the live butterflies had problems with the climate. We met a pleasant and talented guy called Cicak (literally translated as ‘lizard’) who is currently in the process of converting Karimun Park into something with perhaps a broader appeal.

These islands have a history of pirates, and this is the new theme of the park. It should turn out to be a great attraction for the kids.

Karimunjawa Town

Karimunjawa Town – Cicak on board his Pirate ship





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Coffee Tours in Boquete Panama

Having done the Tea Plantation tour in Sri Lanka, it seemed only fair to do one of the Coffee Tours in Boquete Panama – And very informative it was.

We booked our tour at the Boquete Mountain Safari tours office for $29 per person. In fact, for the same price they offered to let us join a group for their combined Coffee Tour plus Panoramic Jeep Safari (normally $49 per person).

We started from their office early in the morning with the Panoramic Jeep Safari. We were driven all around the highlands surrounding the central Boquete valley. Needless to say the elevated views were impressive.

Coffee Tours in Boquete Panama

Coffee Tours in Boquete Panama

Finca Agroturistica La Milagrosa

After our tour of the valley, we were taken to Finca Agroturistica La Milagrosa – a small coffee plantation owned by the extremely innovative Tito Vargas.

He started his business in the early 1980’s when he acquired 5 hectares of land located 1500 meters above sea level in Alto Jaramillo. This is where he began to plant his coffee trees.

It takes around 10 years to harvest a good coffee tree. The beans are handpicked every day during the season, after which each tree is cut down to ¼ of its size to permit new growth and harvest for the following year. The farm uses organic fertilizer made from coffee skin and coffee shells.

Tito built by hand his production plant building, and used his garage to assemble his first tools and machines from scratch.

Many of the coffee-processing machines still used today were hand-built by Tito using parts from his Jeep and an old washing machine that he took apart for pieces.

Coffee Tours in Boquete Panama

Coffee Tours in Boquete Panama

The Coffee Bean Production Process

Our tour guide Jorge explained the different varieties of coffee that are produced at the plantation, and guided us through the whole coffee process, from harvest to cup.

When the coffee beans are harvested, they go through a process where the red skin is separated from the beans. Once the skin is removed, the beans are sorted by size and then spend 20 to 30 hours fermenting.

After fermentation, the coffee beans are washed. They are left to dry in the sun for 15 days, and are then sent to a dry storage area for a further 3 months until fully dried. Once the beans are dried, they are selected by size: the bigger, the better.

Coffee Tours in Boquete Panama

Coffee Tours in Boquete Panama – Coffee drying in the sun

The whole process takes 9 months, and the final product is green coffee. The coffee beans are exported green  – without roasting – because roasting standards vary from country to country.

Let’s Roast and Taste!

The next step in our tour was the tasting, but first the coffee beans needed to be roasted. The handmade roasting machine (once a stovetop oven) was warmed up to around 200-300°, and then Jorge started roasting the beans.

He roasted the 3 most common preparations:

♦  American: (light color). Lighter in color because the beans are less exposed to the heat. This method preserves a high caffeine content.

♦  French (medium color). The French roasting style is a bit darker, balanced between the American and Italian preparations.

♦  Italian (dark color). A darker coffee with less caffeine.

Coffee Tours in Boquete Panama

Coffee Tours in Boquete Panama – 3 Preparations

I was also disillusioned of the notion that there is more caffeine in a coffee that is darker, thicker and more bitter. In fact, the Italian-style espresso has very little caffeine compared to the American style coffee.

Once the beans were roasted, they were allowed to cool down before grinding and removal of the dry shell. Finally, we were rewarded with a small cup of freshly-ground coffee – the American preparation.

Our tour around the coffee plantation took around 1½ hours in total.

Decaffeinated coffee is produced by boiling the green beans. The caffeine that is extracted is sold to the soft drink and energy drink companies.

Coffee Tours in Boquete Panama – What’s in a Name?

The name of the farm La Milagrosa, means miraculous, since Tito was able to fulfill his dream with no resources whatsoever. It also refers to the transformation that the land underwent from a milk producing cattle farm to a coffee plantation.

Today both of his brands: Royal and Cafetales Don Alfredo are named in honor of his parents. The name Royal is simply the result of a mix of both of his parents names Rosa y Alfredo”.

Finca la Milagrosa is ranked the 2nd best in all coffee in Panama, producing exclusively Arabic coffee. They produce between 20,000 to 25,000 pounds of coffee per year, exporting to Japan, Taiwan, the USA, Norway & Canada.

The farm produces 8 varieties of Arabic coffee with its most famous – the Geisha – valued at around US$100 per pound. Geisha coffee is not very dark, resembling a tea color with aromas of jasmine and citrus.

The name Geisha has no relation with Japan, but originates from a small Ethiopian valley named Gesha, from where the coffee originally came.

Coffee Tours in Boquete Panama

Coffee Tours in Boquete Panama

When in Panama, it is best to buy your coffee from a coffee plantation since the best quality coffee is exported and not available for retail in Panama.




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