It’s all downhill from here

3 Nov

Generally when going to a tropical island for a holiday, one would partake in relaxing activities such as lying on the beach perhaps stirring for the odd massage or cocktail. I however discovered at a very young age that staying still bores me very quickly. I found myself in Ubud and after a sufficient amount of time checking out temples, hanging out by the pool it was time to track down some action.

Everywhere you go in Bali you can find a multitude of stalls selling tickets to pretty much any activity you can imagine. While there was the temptation to climb Agung or Batur, the fact I hadn’t done any real hiking in a few months made me reluctant knowing how terrible climbing a volcano overnight can be when unprepared. I couldn’t however go to Bali without checking out a volcano up close so finding a tour which involved cycling from Mt Batur back to Ubud was just the thing for me.

Not a bad view for breakfast

We left early driving for almost 2 hours up to Kintamani, a village on the edge of the sprawling Batur caldera, a spectacular spot overlooking the massive volcanic landscape and the perfect location for breakfast. From here it was to be a 40km cycle back to Ubud with stops along the way to check out some local industry and villages. I was unsure as to what cycling in Bali would be like after a few attempts to tackle the roads of Central Java on a bike which were soon abandoned after a few too many close calls with trucks.

Along the way we sampled kopi luwak, which I still think does not have a taste that justifies the cost (Sarawakian Coffee though.. I’ll post about that later), saw a traditional Balinese compound, cycled through sprawling rice fields and stopped at an amazing hollowed out tree where some local kids came along and laughed at the tall white girl who spoke Indonesian with the funny accent. It was an amazing insight into Indonesian culture and the Balinese way of life.

Typical Balinese village temple

Reaching the end of the road we were given two options, jump in the truck to head up to lunch or ride an extra 10km uphill. Recovering from a cold and in 30+ degree heat I was apprehensive but the guide assured me that it would be very easy and mostly flat with a few little climbs. It wasn’t. The next 30 minutes were possibly some of the most painful in my life with a feeling that my lungs were going to be ripped out of my chest. Suddenly those beautiful rice paddies became a lot less scenic as I gasped for breath and threw bottles of water over my head in futile attempts to lower my body temperature to make it over the next ridge and then suddenly it was over.

After having an amazing Balinese lunch and a few soft drinks to get the blood sugar levels up to a healthy level again, I realised that the whole day was quite amazing in the end. By cycling we got away from the tourist trail and saw the more authentic Bali, a place full of unique culture and spectacular natural beauty. Would I recommend cycling in Bali? Definitely, in fact when I go back I’ll probably attempt to do some touring on a bike. Although maybe wait until you’ve fully recovered from that cold.

 

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