Tag Archives: cycling

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.

 

Adjusting back into Indonesian Life

8 Jan

I’ve been back in Indonesia, Jogja specifically, for almost 2 days now and finding I’m slowly settling into the laid back lifestyle that I got used to my previous times living over here. One thing I have definitely noticed is Jogja is so so much more expensive than Salatiga (and super expensive compared to Cambodia) but that has a lot to do with me staying in a tourist area so I’m sure things will settle down when I move out to the suburbs.

Another thing that has been difficult to adjust to is being alone for the first time in 10 days. It’s very strange to eat by yourself and make all of your own decisions after being with a big group of people for so long. That said it is also quite nice to sit in a cafe and read a book alone. (although I miss all of you guys and hope you are having a wonderful time in Vietnam!) Due to this new found independence and the 10 days of madness catching up to me I have been taking it very easy.

Yesterday after arriving I got a becak (pedicab) into Jl Malioboro to do some shopping. First however I got a haircut and an amazing cream bath which I paid more than usual for (went to a nice salon) and my hair still feels lovely. A cream bath is basically a hair treatment and a really head massage which turns into a back, shoulder and arms massage. It’s actually bliss and I will be having a few more for sure. After that I went to the supermarket and tried to brave the streets to do some shopping for a batik shirt. I failed. Jl Malioboro is full of stalls and noise and people making it revoltingly hot and generally not a very enjoyable place to be. Plus being quite large by Asian standards it is pretty hard to find clothes. As you who know me already know I’m an awful person to shop with and when I’ve had enough I’m done and need to leave and that’s what happened yesterday.

Had Indian for dinner at Via Via which was lovely before coming back and loading some photos up to facebook. It’s raining a fair bit with it raining yesterday and today for a number of hours. I have an outdoor bathroom at the place I’m staying for now so while the rain doesn’t come directly in it is still very wet in there. I’m staying at a lovely guesthouse on Jl Pramwirotaman which has made me feel quite at home and helped organise laundry and a taxi to work tomorrow for me. I’ve spent a lot of time here mostly just lying around and reading and enjoying a bit of free time. I’m really glad that I stayed here rather than Sosrowijyan as it’s much quieter- although still noisy in an Indonesian way with motorbikes and animals and the mosques as opposed to a drunken bule way. Sometimes I wish the mosques would synchronise the call to prayer better. I really like listening to it but having the 5 mosques around start in a staggered order is a little annoying.

This morning I went on an organised tour (withdrawals) which was a bike ride into the countryside. As I’ve seen most of the main sites in Jogja there wasn’t much to do so it seemed like good exercise to go for a ride. We rode for about 3.5 hours occasionally stopping to see how things like Bakpia (traditional green bean snack yum!), Tempe (fermented soy- a bit like tofu but a weird consistency), Krupuk (Indonesian style prawn crackers) were made and also had a go at helping to plant a rice field. Standing in knee deep mud for an extended period of time made my life at uni seem pretty easy but it was rather therapeutic. After some traditional snacks we headed back and I came to the hotel and lay around for a few hours.

I then went to Amplaz which is the huge mall in town and had a look around. I needed to buy another polo shirt for work which I succeeded in and also got some moisturiser and the like. Carrefour is a massive supermarket and I only managed to see half of it. Afterwards I went back to the hotel planning to get a massage but it started pouring which resulted in more lying around until it settled down a bit at 7pm so I could go get some dinner. Ayam Goreng (fried chicken) for dinner which is my favourite Indonesian food. It’s not like KFC fried chicken but rather the whole quarter is deep fried with no real batter. It came with tempeh which I still can’t stand despite knowing how it’s made.

Well that’s a brief update. I’m really excited to start my internship tomorrow so before then I need to repack and attempt to get a reasonable nights sleep!

Courts xx

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