Biking in Bali

This summer, we spent a warm three months docked in Bali.  Had I been backpacking or on holiday, I probably would’ve found myself in some hostel/resort/villa in Kuta/Legian/Seminyak, but being on the boat, we had to pretty much take what we could get.  You might not know this, but there really aren’t any options for dockage in Bali besides Benoa Harbor.  Haven’t heard of it? Not surprising. This is Benoa Harbor:

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nice thumb, Arielle

With the lingering stench of feces (both animal and human) and festering trash, Benoa Harbor isn’t at the top of your Bali “must see” list.  If that weren’t enough to sway you, I could also regale you with stories of being chased by rabid stray dogs while on my daily runs, all the while with locals pointing and laughing.  Even cab drivers would think I was crazy when I told them to take me back there after a day out in town (white girl to Benoa Harbor all by herself? Yes, sir).  Honestly, the only way you would have heard of it at all is if you happened to take one of the Ferries to Lembongan for the day (they were docked right next to us).

After a couple weeks, I needed to get out and see the lush green Bali I had always heard about and envisioned.  Plus, I would take any excuse to leave and explore when given a day off.  The marina had a few brochures for various activities and excursions, which is where I found out about cycling tours through the Bali countryside.  Quite easily I booked a tour for the next morning from one of the tour group/activity stands that are scattered all throughout Kuta.  All I had to do was show up at the stand the next morning and a shuttle would pick me up along with other tourists from various resorts and hotels around town.

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The tour began with an hour or so van ride up into the hills of Bali.  Before reaching our ultimate starting point for the cycling tour, we had a short detour at a coffee plantation where we learned about how Balinese coffee is grown and produced and then were able to sit and enjoy a nice cup right there in the lush green forest.  FYI, Balinese coffee comes from mongoose poop.  I am %1oo serious.  From what I was told, the mongoose (mongeese?) eat only the best coffee beans which then pass through into their feces, which are then cleaned and roasted.  I mean, if it’s good enough for the mongoose, it’s good enough for me. (New life motto?)

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After the piping hot cup of mongoose excretion, we made our way up to a scenic restaurant in Kintamani overlooking Bali’s Mt. Batur, an active volcano.  However, it was shrouded by a dense fog upon our arrival, so the effect was that of sitting in a cloud (kind of eerie to be honest).  Luckily, after enjoying a complimentary breakfast (!!!) the fog began to dissipate and more of that dense greenery I had been looking for came into focus.

Stunning view, huh?

Stunning view, huh?

There it is!

There it is!

Now, I would like to tell you that the 40km bike tour that ensued was a testament to my athletic prowess, but i’m afraid my nose would grow six sizes and my pants would spontaneously combust (and I really like these pants) so the good news for you is, the tour is (almost) completely DOWNHILL.  Pause for cheering.  Honestly, I basically rode the brakes the entire trip, often at the back of the pack watching the other daredevils (yeah, so one kid was nine) fly down steep winding roads while I took my sweet precious time.  Also, you wouldn’t have any of these photos to enjoy if I had been so reckless.  You’re welcome.

the kids running into the street to wave were the best

the kids running into the street to wave were the best

The ride was an absolute delight.  We passed rice fields and villages, saw children running into the streets to wave and shout “hello!”, and the tour guide was kind, intelligent and approachable- everything you want in a tour guide (…and a boyfriend. Did I mention I’m single?…) We stopped a few times along the way both for breaks and lessons in Balinese culture.  We learned about how the rice was grown and produced and stopped at the home of a poor local family who was kind enough to show us how they survive on what little they have.  It was really humbling to see them smiling and to have them share their home with us.  It was also really interesting to learn about the way their religion and culture dictates how their homes are structured.  Did you know that a young couple will often spend their first night as man and wife in their GRANDPARENTS room? Talk about a mood killer.

The little boy from the home we visited.  He would smile up until I took the photo; this was attempt #3.

The little boy from the home we visited. He would smile up until I took the photo; this was attempt #3.

We ended the tour at yet another restaurant where we were treated to beautiful scenery and one of the best meals I had during all my time in Bali.  I could seriously go for a plate of the mie goreng washed down with a watermelon juice right now.

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If you find yourself needing a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Kuta, a cycling tour is definitely the way to go.  It’s great for any age, there are multiple companies that offer the tours and they are easy to book (and they all have basically the same itinerary), and all you need is some sunscreen and a comfortable pair of shoes (I wore flipflops…).  Sorry, that was a lot of ‘and”s- that’s how many perks there are!  To top it all off, it’s only about $50-70 (depending on how and where you book) for a full day of entertainment.  *FYI, if you see in all the brochures and online ads that the minimum booking is for two people, it’s a filthy lie.  So really, no excuses. *

my view for most of the ride (people's backs)

my view for most of the ride (people’s backs)

…In retrospect, I probably should’ve titled this post “Cycling in Bali” seeing as basically my only motorbiking experiences included my adventure with Herman and the incident with the kind stranger in Lembongan, however I like the alliteration. Don’t you?

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9 responses to “Biking in Bali

  1. You’re getting very good at these — and I look forward to them more and more as we go along with you on this life changing experience. Your own “joie de vivre” is becoming readily apparent (your Mom can tell you about that reference) and I’m elated to share in it vicariously with you.

    ILY, Dad

  2. Arielle,
    I did some research and read a few articles about the mongoose poop coffee and it sounds like the civit cat poop coffee that Nicholson drank in The Bucket List ( Kopi Luwak) and what you had are really the same. Civit cats in SE Asia and mongoose in Bali are related so you got to drink Bucket List Coffee! Scratch it off your bucket list, which by the way you are doing a remarkable job of completing at a young age–kudo’s to you kiddo! Remember what I told you when you graduated from college–you are living the good life-way better than those girls that married right out of college. Keep on truckin’
    Uncle Mike

    • I actually forgot about that fun fact until you mentioned it, but you’re right! They did tell us it was from the movie and I think they may have even said that we were at the same spot where the filmed… can’t remember exactly. Honestly, it wasn’t the best tasting, but everything is an experience! Thanks for the message and the encouraging words, uncle Mike! Love ya!

  3. I’d have to sign up for this the next time I go to Bali, sounds pretty awesome. Never tried “Kopi Luwak” before (heard it’s super expensive), but it’s on my list and I’m pretty ashamed that as an Indonesian I’ve never tried it! Lovely post as always Arielle!

  4. I can be a bit of a lazy sports person, so I beamed when I read the tour was almost entirely down hill! Whoop! I’m definitely more of a ‘roll and push the breaks’, instead of a ‘speedy peddler’ kind of cyclist!

    I love the scenery in your photos, and cycling is the perfect way to explore it. And how cute is that little boy? Talk about wanting to squeeze him in my suitcase!

    And yes, yes I love alliteration, nothing beats it for a catchy title! 😉

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