The Bali bike ride is a famous one amongst the expats at my school, and is something that I have long wanted to experience. Our second day in Ubud, 6 of us spent the morning peddling through paddies (including the place that they filmed Eat, Pray, Love!), visiting volcanoes, and getting a glimpse into the Balinese lifestyle. I loved both the sights and the chance to get out into nature a bit – that is something that is really hard to do when one lives in the Jakarta outskirts!
We went with Bike Baik* Tours, and were very impressed by them! I would highly recommend a trip with them if you ever make it to Ubud. Even if you’re not an avid biker, you will enjoy the open-air tour through the beauty of Indonesia… and most of the trip is downhill 🙂 One of the things that I especially appreciated about this company was that it was run by a Balinese person, as were the places visited along the way. The company donates to elementary schools in the area, too – definitely an enjoyable way to support the local people!
We started the morning off at a coffee, tea, and chocolate plantation, where I quickly learned that all of my resolve to not fall into such costly tourist traps is fading rapidly. This said, I have been greatly enjoying my tea, coffee, and chocolate post-trip.
We were given samples of all of the above, including Kopi Luwak – the coffee with the unique feature of traveling through a cat’s digestive system – which is supposed to be the best coffee in the world. We also tried the only coffee that I have ever enjoyed – a coconut flavored brew – which resulted in my first ever cup of coffee!
After we finished our drinks and snack, we continued to Kintamani, a nearby area that hosts a prominent volcano. Our school competes throughout the year in ‘house teams’ named after four Indonesian volcanos, and I am (a very enthusiastic) part of the Kintamani team, along with my friend Janis. I was excited to visit, and we took a couple shots that we’re thinking to use as part of a Kintamani campaign 😉
We made a few short stops along the way, the first of which was series of webs with at least one hundred enormous spiders suspended between the trees. Our guide gave them the opportunity to hold them, which was actually pretty fun! I don’t mind spiders, but was impressed that all of the girls eventually took turns holding them – definitely a fear overcome for many!
Our second mini-stop was a village temple, where we learned about the religious practices in Bali, which is majorly Hindu. Each village has three temples, and each family has a small portion of one, where they worship twice daily. The other two temples are only opened periodically for special holidays and events.
As a group of teachers, one especially meaningful stop for us was at a local elementary school. Though my Indonesian language definitely do not qualify me for impressive adult discussions, I was pleasantly surprised by how easily I could communicate with the precious children that we spent time with. Some were shy at first, but quickly warmed up and excitedly showed me their classroom, desks, and the schoolwork that they had been doing. I was sad to leave!
One of the highlights of the trip was the endless stream of rice fields and terraces that we biked through. Such simple yet intricate beauty!
Another highlight of the ride was getting to see a bit of the Balinese lifestyle. We biked through lots of villages and backroads, and I felt far away from the tourist-saturated Bali that I so often picture. This is a wonderful culture with very kind people.