One of the excursions we had looked at while in Bali was going to mount Batur – a still active volcano in the north of the island. Bae had found an interesting tour that allowed you to cycle down the volcano on bikes with an informed guide as part of a small group– my last experience of a cycle tour became hell after 4 hours and 5 cenotes (let’s just say wet swimsuit and bike seat and cycling for mile in Mexican weather s don’t mix This one, Bae assured, would be downhill and we would have a van following us in case it all got too much.
We started early, met our group at 08:30 at the hotel. We had 7 people total in our group – 2 Germans, 1 English, and 2 Australians.
Our tour guide is Wayan (told you) and he is such a bubbly, knowledgeable tour guide with an obvious love and appreciation for his country, culture and the long term conservation of Bali.
As we drive up to Mount Batur we stop by the tiered rice paddy fields and get some fresh young coconut (which I am told is great for stomach ailments) and take some pictures of the farmland.
The rice terraces seem to go on forever.
Another stop takes us to an amazing wood carving shop in a village that is famous for its woodcarvers.
They have an extensive gallery of pieces, ranging from small handheld trinkets, to 20 foot sculptures that seem like eh stuff of dream and nightmares.
The head of the shop welcomes us and shows us to the workshop, where a few men are carving out the finishing touches to a massive bird. He also explains the culture of woodworking and the craft itself. Bae buys about 4 pieces all hanging wood carvings that are absolutely beautiful and a really good price too!
After much admiration we pile back into the van and continue until we stop at a local restaurant for a spot of Indonesian Breakfast.
The place itself was basic but the food delicious and my god, the view! We were sat on the patio overlooking Mount Batur and the gorgeous blue lake that sat below it. If the sun weren’t so blazing I could have sat out there all day!
a delicious breakfast of nasi goreng, fried egg, cucumber and fresh squeezed juoce – I opte for Orange – wth a bamboo straw!
Filled with energy, we get to our meeting point and go over a quick safety briefing before trying on our bikes and helmets for size.
And then we are off! We are told that this is about 22 miles total of cycling and that 95% of it are downhill – well the first 2.5% of that uphill is about 54 minutes in, as we cycle along rice paddy fields. We cycle through so many villages; stopping at a few so Wayan can talk to us about the people and the village. Each village here usually specialises in one thing, whether that is growing oranges or carving bamboo. Our first stop is at an orange grove where we talk to the pickers and try some of the oranges – so juicy and sweet!”
A few villages along we stop again to see everyone in the bamboo village taking their midday siestas and we pole around their shed looking at the pikes of wind chime and other prepared bamboo. That’s when we hear the pigs. Just a little way over, there is a pig sty with 10 of the cutest piglet I have ever seen! A couple of sties across is their large mother who looks about 800 lbs minimum and is sleeping. We say hello to the piglets, and some calves that are curious before heading off down the road. After half an hour of cycling at speed through villages along potholed roads we stop at a house for a longer break and some sustenance. We are given by fresh young coconuts, passion fruit, bananas and snake fruit – a fruit that has the texture of an apple and the taste of a pineapple – the skin looks scaley hence the name. We walk around the property to enjoy some mangosteen and other tropical fruit trees before continuing our cycling adventure. I made a point to smile at everyone I passed. Somewhat selfishly, I love the feeling you get sharing a smile with a perfect stranger and it seems to come easily when you spend the day cycling through a place like Bali.
I was definitely the least fit out of the group, and during some of the rare uphills and flat terrain, I didn’t think I would make it, but I still smiled and it made me feel better and want to stay with the group.
We had a last push of difficult cycling along some very narrow pathways that wound through more rice paddies until we came to some severely rocky terrain where we had to push our bikes for a bit.
Finally though we came to the top of the trailhead,
where we walked down for about 20 minutes to get to an amazing waterfalls that we stopped at for a refreshing and crisp swim –
I love feeling the power of a waterfall on my back and this one was less severe than the one in Kauai – you could even go behind it and “hid” form the other people there. The waterfall is hidden in the rainforest, you really feel like Indiana Jones exploring uncharted terrain and then suddenly, you come across this waterfall that looks like something out of a myth or fairy-tale , the sun shining down, turning the water droplet into tiny flying crystals of light.
We rested for a bit before heading up the stone stairs and stopping at the ramshackle café that sold fried banana, cassava and something else that escapes me at this moment. Definitely needed after that cycle and hike!
We continued on the final leg our cycling tour, stopping by a coffee plantation to try some fresh picked cocoa and coffee beans and learn a bit more about the land.
Our final stop was at Wayan’s family house. His family made us an amazing Indonesian buffet spread with all manner of local delicacies – my favourite being the fish wrapped in banana leaf. As we all exchanged emails and numbers after a fun and bonding trip, we thanked Wayan for his amazing tour guiding and wonderful spread. Wayan then asked if we wanted to see a black sand beach – how we could say no!?
After a bit of a frolic we piled back into the van and headed back to our respective hotels for a rest!
Tune in Tomorrow!