Posted by: aitzko | December 4, 2009

I ride a bike through rural Bali and amazingly, am not the one who crashes.

Boy, am I tired!  But I’ll try to write this down while it’ s still fresh in my mind.

Last night, I went to a restaurant called Nomad recommended by my guidebook.  As I was finishing, a sweet Australian girl named Sasha came by my table and asked if she could sit down – her friend had been with her, but was feeling ill, and went back to the hotel.  Sasha didn’t want to sit alone, so she came over!  I think she was about 19, and on her “gap year, ” except not really.  As Sasha explained it, the rich kids get to go travel for a whole year, whereas she worked her butt off for her vacation!  It was great chatting with her, and we talked about all sorts of random stuff – apparently their kangaroos are kind of like our deer, in that they’re everywhere, and you have to be really careful not to hit them while driving!

I went to bed fairly early, cause I had to get up early today for the bike ride.  They picked me up around 8:15 in a van, and we drove up toward Mt. Batur.  Also on the bike ride were Steve and Marissa, a young Australian couple, and Brian, an Australian approximately my dad’s age.  All were super nice, and great people to be on the trip with!  On the way, we stopped at a little organic farm, where they showed us a lot of the plants they grow on Bali, like pineapples, cinnamon (which comes from a tree that smells like cinnamon if you put your nose up to the bark), bananas, coffee, ginseng, vanilla, etc.  They showed us how they make the coffee, and then had us sample some various drinks – coffee, ginseng coffee, lemongrass tea, ginger tea, and cocoa.  All were, of course, delicious.  And being a sucker for tea, I totally caved and bought some.

We kept driving up to a restaurant that had an amazing view of the mountains, or should I say, volcanoes.  They haven’t erupted for a long time, but still could.  Luckily, they didn’t today. 🙂  Breakfast was pretty good, and it was really nice talking to Marissa, Steve, and Brian.  It turns out Steve proposed to Marissa when they went to Japan last year, and Brian’s wife is Japanese and he’s traveled there extensively, so they all had good things to say about the next leg of my trip!  After breakfast, a bit more driving, and then we got out and got on our bikes.  Wow, let me say – in my last post I compared something to being like riding a bike.  Perhaps we should rephrase that, because while I eventually got the hang of it, I was pretty shaky at first!  It’s funny, when you haven’t ridden one for years, it really takes a while to get the feel of it again.  Brian had been a triathlete pre-hip surgery,  so he was really confident, and made us all look stupid as he rode his bike one-handed, taking pictures with the other.  And then we began our ride!

I took a ton of pictures, but I’m afraid they won’t do the scenery justice.  The views were AMAZING.  We went by lots of rice field terraces, and farmers going about their work.  It was a beautiful day for the ride – hot, but with a breeze.  We stopped to take pictures several times, and of course for water and a snack of a banana.  They were really tiny, but really sweet.  The bananas, that is.  The rice fields were amazing, and just went on for miles.  We passed through several villages, too, and kids would come running out to say “Hello!” and get high fives as we passed.  I tried, but when I lifted my hand up I wobbled like crazy, so I left the high fives to Brian and Steve.  The kids were adorable, though, and shouted out “Where are you from?” and “Where are you going?” to practice their English.  We exchanged “Selamat siang”s with the adults (good afternoon – specifically between 11 -3ish), and waved.  Brian said that it must be like TV – “Oh, it’s 12:30, time to watch the tourists go by!”  Anyway, it was an amazing experience, and I’m so so glad I went!  It was such an awesome way to see the countryside.  And believe it or not, it was mostly all downhill!  There were a couple parts that went up sharply, and we had to get off the bikes and push – we’re not in that good shape!  But for the most part, easy ride, great scenery, and friendly people.

Unfortunately, just as we were going through a dip in the road, there was a man shoveling on the side of it, and some gravel was in the road.  Just as Marissa was approaching it, a motorbike came the other way, and I think she got a bit freaked – and crashed.  She got a huge scrape on her knee that looked not at all fun – we all stopped to clean it off and patch her up.  They had a car following behind us just in case of such an event, so they brought out the first aid kit.  It really didn’t look too great, so Marissa and Steve went back to get it looked at.

Brian, our guide and I continued on, and just after Marissa and Steve left, a ceremonial processi0n came by – just in the middle of the road, a total surprise!  Women carrying offerings on their heads smiled and waved and said “Hello!”, and it was really too cool.  We continued on until the end of our ride, at which point we hopped in the truck to go get lunch at our guide’s family compound.  Most Balinese families live in compounds, or collections of buildings that house the entire extended family.  Often, three or four generations will all live together.  Haha, since the van had taken Marissa and Steve back to Ubud, we rode in the truck that held the bikes – I sat up front with the driver, and Brian and our guide sat in the back of the truck, with the bikes!  Brian said he liked it that way so he could wave back to the people we passed.  Haha, I considered popping in the back, but funnily, all I could think was, “My mother would kill me.” 🙂

So lunch was delicious, and we had an impromptu, multi-language lesson.  I’m sorry to say that my Bahasa Indonesia isn’t much better than before, but it was certainly fascinating!  Brian used to be a language teacher – which explains a lot, like how he speaks so many languages!  He’s learning French, so we chatted in French for a while.  I have to say, its terribly embarrassing not to speak more languages – I feel like everyone else speaks several!

After lunch, the tour was over, and now I”m back in Ubud!  I have to say, though, I”m exhausted!  I suppose the ride took it out of me, as well as being in the sun all day.  I covered myself in sunscreen, so I’m not really burned, although I am rather pink – but not bad.  A miracle!  Thank goodness for the little things.  I wish I could describe the scenery better, but every time I try, my words really just don’t do it justice.  Anyway, it was an awesome day, and I got to meet lots of interesting new people!

I think I’m going to check out the Yoga Barn tomorrow, a place near my hotel that offers yoga classes, and all sorts of fun stuff.

Missing everyone, hope you’re all well!

Oh, PS – when I first got in the car, they asked me if I was Canadian, and I said no, American.  Apparently, it’s best to ask Canadian first, because if you mistake a Canadian for an American, they get really offended!  Great.  Glad to see that our reputation preceeds us.  Sigh.  I’m doing my best to work on that!

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Responses

  1. Loving your posts! Makes me want to get back there soon. Its so cold in northeast China right now 😦

    Also – don’t let people tell you Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia are two different languages. They are pretty much identical.


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