How I was attacked by monkeys and I screamed!

Ouch! I'm still smiling. I'm still smiling! Photo@ Frank Böster

Ouch! I’m still smiling. I’m still smiling!
Photo@ Frank Böster

Monkeys!!

I absolutely hate ‘em!

Last week, I retold the story and gave you the beginner’ guide to going up a volcano for the very first time; because going up a volcano really isn’t for everyone!

The-Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies.

The-Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies.

The adventure of walking through the flames of Mordor and struggling through the mountains of Erebor, whilst I plunged myself through the footsteps of Thorin Oakenshield and….

Oooops!

Not that mountain in New Zealand. The other one! The one in Indonesia.

In Bali!

It sure was a challenge and what was even moreso, was of trying to get through the hordes of monkeys.

I’ve met monkeys before.

Many times.

I don’t like monkeys.

I have a fear of them!

At the Ranthambore National Park, India.

At the Ranthambore National Park, India.

The last time that I had an encounter with monkeys was in India. I was in Rajasthan and I went on a tiger-hunting safari tour at the Ranthambore National Park, not far from Jaipur.  Ranthambore National Park is known for its tigers and the best times for tiger sightings are in November.

I happened to be in India in November.

I was looking forward to seeing those majestic creatures, and you would have thought that after paying our open-top gypsy jeep fee all we would have had to do, was to settle in, and take off.

Yeah right!

When has it ever been that easy?

Inside the national park is a huge forest, and in that forest is the Banyan tree. The Banyan tree is the national tree of India, and hidden in those mystic trees were monkeys.

Huge monkeys at the Ranthambore National Park, India.

Huge monkeys at the Ranthambore National Park, India.

Huge monkeys.

Huge monkeys who didn’t swing off into oblivion. Oh dear me no. These huge monkeys only had to come down and start parading around, as if they owned the place.

Apparently they do.

There was some sort of monkey temple nearby and in order to walk further into the forest, (as we were also on a guided tour of the flora and fauna of the national park), we had to pass these temples.

I turned into a sweat.

India is a place where they take the worship of animals quite seriously. You all know of the virtues of the Holy Cow but did you know that there is a temple called the Karni Mata Temple, dedicated to rats and known as the Temple of Rats.

Karni Mata Temple - The Temple of Rats, India.

Karni Mata Temple – The Temple of Rats, India.

The temple is the home to over 20,000 varieties of rats. You have to take off your shoes and walk in your socks, as bare feet are considered de rigueur. You are then surrounded by lots of little rats who scuttle over your feet.

Don’t move, as they’re holy and bring blessings.

Quite disgusting, but you can’t be in India if you aren’t shocked at least a little bit. Shudder!

Back to the monkeys!

Don't look them in the eyes!

Don’t look them in the eyes!

In the monkey temple, the primates roamed free and they begged. Nay. They demanded, that you gave them titbits. Our guide had instructed us to:

  • Be careful.
  • Give small amounts of food.
  • Don’t show fear.
  • Don’t look them in the eye.

A huge monkey came towards me. And immediately, I began to shake. He brought out his hand. I gave him my “gift” whilst still shaking slightly. He strolled around me, and I gingerly walked on.

Walking on in Vietnam! I don't recall seeing any monkeys this time!

Walking on in Vietnam! I don’t recall seeing any monkeys this time!

Then we came to the actual temple and all the monkeys were right in front of me.

I was surrounded and found no way to go around them, so I had to go through them.

I kept my head down all the way through until we got to our safari jeep.

And yes, we got to see tigers!

But what started this fiasco of fear in the first place? How did it come to be that I can ride horses, elephants, and camels. I can eat snake and crocodile meat, but I cannot be surrounded by monkeys! I mean, The Music Producer, “The Tall Young Gentleman” and myself love going to the Zoo in Berlin, and even there, I refused to go into the monkey sanctuary, and waited outside.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

In fact, even though I love watching Return of the Apes, it still keeps me awake at night. I mean, what if?!!

Double Gulp!

I love Bali. I really do. We had such a lovely holiday in that most beautiful Bali resort called: Alam Shanti and in our own private house called: Utari House.

Tea and cake at the lovely Alam Shanti.

Tea and cake at the lovely Alam Shanti.

What I neglected to tell you was that our beautiful residence was in Ubud. Ubud is one of the most fascinating places in the world. It’s surrounded by rice paddies and is just packed. Packed with opportunities to dig into your spiritual flow, get your karma going, and focus on your chakra. That’s right, Ubud is the land of enlightenment, learning, and discipline. It’s also next-door to that enormously famous forest of awe.

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary otherwise known as The Monkey Forest.

You know how I told you that the Banyan Tree is the National Tree of India. Well, it’s also on the coat of arms of Indonesia and is deeply sacred. As are monkeys.

A family of monkeys in The Monkey Forest.

A family of monkeys in The Monkey Forest.

Our hotel was about 5 minutes away from the Monkey Forest. In fact, we had a private team of security men who slept in the surrounding confines of our house. Not because of crime. Nope!

Nothing to do with monkeys. Just a little light relief!

Nothing to do with monkeys. Just a little light relief!

Because of the monkeys.

Our house was set away from the grounds of the hotel and was blissfully secluded, but with seclusion came nature. We had giant toads, giant lizards, and lots and lots of monkeys. Monkeys that have no respect over walls, and just climb over! In fact, on our first day, we saw a huge number of them in the neighbouring rice field at the back of our house! Alam Shanti were great and ensured our safety so that we always felt safe and secure, as there was a large number of staff on the grounds. And rice farmers!

The Music Producer and “The Tall Young Gentleman” wanted to experience what The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary had to offer. As for me. I already knew.

Inside The Monkey Forest.

Inside The Monkey Forest.

Remember when I told you that I had been to Bali back in ’99.

Yeah!

It was here that I had my first experience of monkeys.

Myself with longer hair. Don't I look cute!

Myself with longer hair. Don’t I look cute!

I had joined a small group that had decided to go to The Monkey Forest. We came by mini-van and had just huddled up in the car-park. Our guide had instructed us to take off hats, glasses, and anything else that might catch the attention of a wandering primate. In those days, my hair was long, and I was leaning on the fence listening intently to the guide, when I felt a thump.

Something had landed on my head.

And that thing took a hold of my then-long hair, and pulled it.

Oh dear!

Oh dear!

It was a monkey.

I was in such a sense of shock that I screamed!

The guide shouted at me not to move but I couldn’t hear him, all I could see were the shocked faces of other tourists as this monkey proceeded to hang on for dear life, all the while pulling my hair, whilst I screamed and screamed!

Local people in Bali.

Local people in Bali.

The local people came to help me and enticed the monkey away, whilst I gingerly went on into The Monkey Forest too, all the while on high alert.

I did it, but not without discomfort, and almost screaming the forest down! As such, you can imagine my dismay when my family wanted to go to The Monkey Forest too.

Going Bananas!

Going Bananas!

They went and had a great time playing and feeding the monkeys. The Music Producer had a cheeky monkey go into his shoulder bag and help himself to a bottle of water. “The Tall Young Gentleman” had monkeys that liked him so much, they snatched bunches of bananas from his hand and tried to take his trousers!

And what about me?

Did I take up the challenge to face my fears?

No way!

They went without me!

Going to The Monkey Forest without me!

Going to The Monkey Forest without me!

This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my very own!

I have so much to share with you so next week I will be continuing our adventures in Indonesia, and Qatar and you can read what happened to me in Korea……!

Winter is coming. Oh my!

A fortnight ago, a British company contacted me and asked me to contribute my expert knowledge on Germany and Britain. You don’t need to ask me twice. Here it is: The 5 best differences between Germany and Britain.

Additional National Theatre Live productions are also coming up and can be seen at the Cinestar Berlin – Original such as:

On January 15th, I will be watching the new Grand Show at the Friedrichstadt-Palast: THE WYLD.

Berlin Fashion Week is coming up and will take place between January 19th and January 23rd, 2015. Save the Date!

For the rest of the year, Berlin will be celebrating and marking the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

At the end of 2014, I will reveal some of my plans for 2015. So many things are going to happen.

December is going to be marvellous!

Watch this space!

Alive and well outside The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary!

Alive and well outside The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary!

Have you ever been to the Monkey Forest in Bali? Do you like monkeys? Do you like rats?!

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post.

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

The beginner’s guide to going up a volcano: because going up a volcano isn’t for everyone!

Mount Batur in Bali. Wow!

Mount Batur in Bali. Wow!

Last week, I told you that part of our summer in Asia was of going to Indonesia. Indonesia is one of my favourite countries and going to Bali brought back memories of my travels all the way back in ’99!

Last week, I told you how I went on a cycling tour and fell in a ditch, but that isn’t all I did. Oh dear me no! I also decided to try my hand on going up a live volcano.

Craaaaazy!

I had heard about how easy it was to climb them from a young American blogger called Ashley. Her blog is called Ashley Abroad and this year she spent considerable time travelling around the world and finding herself. At the beginning of the year, she climbed Mount Batur which is Bali’s most active volcano! She made it sound reasonably easy so I decided to do the same.

Ha! If only I had known….!

Some of the licensed trekking guides on top of Mount Batur, Bali.

Some of the licensed trekking guides on top of Mount Batur, Bali.

I did a little research and found that a local company called Pineh Bali Tours seemed to have the sort of activity that I was looking for and were well organised with various outdoor activities such as white-water rafting, cycling and of course, trekking up the various volcanoes that Bali had to offer. We opted for the Batur Sunrise Trekking Tour.

And Gulp!

They weren’t joking about the sunrise part of it.

The Music Producer had taken a turn for the worse and decided to stay behind in the safe hands of the wonderful Alam Shanti Resort Hotel and the blissful quietness of the Utari House. The staff were great and I arranged for regular cups of tea and slices of cake to be sent up to our house, while my husband slept away and tried to recover from the illness that he had unfortunately picked up in Thailand.

The mountain is alive and steaming!

The mountain is alive and steaming!

And so it was left for “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I to undertake an adventure never discovered before, aka – climb a live volcano in Bali!

What was I thinking?!!

As promised, a car came to pick us up at 02:00. I mean, 2 a.m. in the morning! We hardly slept but I made our 12-year-old son go to bed at 21:00 so that he would get some shut-eye.

It was too early to eat so we just had a drink and then crawled into the car which already had a young American couple in it, who were just as bug-eyed as we were.

A banana pancake in Bali. Why do we always have to have this? I hate banana and I don't like chocolate. Sigh!

A banana pancake in Bali. Why do we always have to have this? I hate banana and I don’t like chocolate. Sigh!

Within an hour, we arrived at the Pineh Colada Bali coffee plantation and organic farm. It was freezing cold, but we managed to have our included breakfast of banana pancake sprinkled with chocolate sauce. Sigh! And a variety of tea and coffee. I don’t like coffee either so I stuck to the tea.

The Association of Mount Batur Trekking Guides, waiting for business.

The Association of Mount Batur Trekking Guides, waiting for business.

At about 04.00, we proceeded to the base of the volcano where not far away was a car park and also the licensing office. The volcano is a treasure and is well guarded, it’s also live and therefore dangerous. We don’t have to look far to remember volcanoes that have erupted in recent years such as that in Iceland. As a result of this, one licenced guide is allocated to at least 4 people and 2 guides for 6 people. We were a group of four (4).

We were given a young English-speaking guide who then gave us bottles of water and torches. These torches were very much-needed as it was pitch-black. The volcanic ash was dark and all around were the twinkle of village homes. And so we proceeded upwards and onwards.

Akwaaaard!

Akwaaaard!

Let me tell you. It was awful.

The path was extremely narrow and it was pitch-black. I couldn’t see a thing. Thank goodness, “The Tall Young Gentleman” had on a red-jacket. On one hand, I kept a constant eye on where he was, and on the other, a hand on the rocks in front of us. The young couple travelling with us were quite irritating as they wanted to run to the top of the volcano as apparently, they were leaving for Spain in less than three (3) hours. Er. What!?

I, on the other hand, was just struggling to breathe up there and I had to rest every few minutes. I wish I could have said every five minutes but it was distinctly less.

I wanted to turn around right there and then but that wasn’t an option as there was a long line of people with torches, also behind me, and in the pitch darkness, it just wasn’t an option. Also, the guide has to stay with the tourists so if we split up, we would have a problem. In the end, our guide attached the couple to a group leader that he knew, so that we could again, go on at our own pace.

Some of the other tourists wrapped up warmly.

Some of the other tourists wrapped up warmly.

It was a long hard slog with enough time for me to think of why I was doing it. Why the hell was I climbing up a live volcano when I even had trouble walking up five flights of stairs?

I’ll tell you why.

Because I’m an idiot.

I like challenges even when I know perfectly well, that it’s a rubbish idea!

Honestly, looking around me, I saw lots of 20-somethings skipping merrily ahead and in flip-flops no less! I saw very few people over 50 and even less under 10. I’m in the middle and I have to confess, I found it a struggle.

"The Tall Young Gentleman" in the midst of Mount Batur - Bali's most active volcano.

“The Tall Young Gentleman” in the midst of Mount Batur – Bali’s most active volcano.

And “The Tall Young Gentleman?” He had a blast, sang to the sound of music, and skipped along too!

I tried not to cry and then the guide started giving me words of encouragement, “it’s only 20 minutes away” when it was actually 2 hours away! He held my hand, carried my “city” backpack and made me rest when my eyes began to get blood-shot with tears. He began chatting about the village life of local Balinese people and the stories of why they have a temple in the middle of the hike to remember people who had died from volcano eruptions years before. It didn’t make me sad, it just made me more determined.

At about 06:30, we finally made it to the top of the volcano.

The heavens began to open on Mount Batur.

The heavens began to open on Mount Batur.

There was an eerie silence as the sky was cloudy and then it happened. The clouds parted and the heavens appeared. It was a “wow” moment and complete and utter silence.

We were on top of the world!

Slices of bread and eggs boiled in the steam of a volcano!

Slices of bread and eggs boiled in the steam of a volcano!

We were completely exhausted and an included breakfast was welcome. We were offered eggs boiled in the steam of the volcano, sliced bread and a banana. I opted for a cup of tea and put down my plate for just a second when I saw a sudden movement.

Monkeys!

I hate monkeys.

One of the monkeys on top of Mount Batur.

One of the monkeys on top of Mount Batur.

And I’m scared of them.

As soon as I saw it, I realised that it was not only eyeing my breakfast plate but also my backpack which had a bottle of water sticking out of it, as well as my camera bag. I began to shake as monkeys can be ruthless. I managed to slide the bag away from them but left the breakfast, and all of a sudden there were more.

More monkeys.

OMG!

There was a monkey temple on the peak of the volcano and they knew that once people were around, so was the food. I took a few photos and tried to step away from them.

Monkeys! That was our breakfast by the way!

Monkeys! That was our breakfast by the way!

Slowly.

I have a few photos but they are pretty shaky!

Soon, it was time to go back down and it wasn’t any easier. It was worse!

My knees! My poor knees!

A local lady. With a baby going up! She's got perfect knees!

A local lady. With a baby going up! She’s got perfect knees!

Thankfully, there was a view so that we were able to actually see the beautiful valley and lakes, and the temples scattered around the volcano. We also walked through a few villages where people were going about their business and selling fruit, snacks, and live chickens to passersby.

A Kopi Luwak or Asian Civet.

A Kopi Luwak or Asian Civet.

After another hour or so climbing down the volcanic mountain, I gave our guide a hefty tip and we were once again driven by private car, back to the Pineh Colada Bali coffee plantation and organic farm, where we could look around the plantation and see that most interesting animal called a Kopi Luwak or a civet. Apparently, the coffee berries are eaten and then defecated out by this creature. The droppings are then cleaned, roasted and ground to be made into coffee. The aromatic falvour and its unusual process make the coffee one of the most expensive brands in the world.

It’s a good thing I don’t drink coffee!

A range of exotic drinks such as Bali Coffee, Vanilla Coffee, Lemon Tea, Ginger Tea, Ginseng Coffee, and Coconut Coffee.

A range of exotic drinks such as Bali Coffee, Vanilla Coffee, Lemon Tea, Ginger Tea, Ginseng Coffee, and Coconut Coffee.

However, you do get a chance to have a snack of banana fritters, try some strange fresh exotic fresh fruit, and a wide variety of tea and coffee to taste, ranging from ginseng coffee to ginger tea.

The beginners guide to...!

The beginner’s guide to…!

And so to what you’ve all been waiting for – the beginner’s guide to going up a volcano.

  1. Get fit.
  2. Go to bed early.
  3. Go with a reputable company such as The Batur Sunrise Trekking Tour .
  4. Wrap up warmly. In layers.
  5. Bring a torch.
  6. Take some snacks.
  7. Get a little fitter.
  8. Make sure you’re between 12 and 50 years old or possibly a well-honed 60.
  9. When you get to the top, breathe in the sights.
  10. Protect your breakfast from monkeys.
  11. Mind the monkeys.
  12. Take in the views again.
  13. Now take photos and videos.
  14. Prepare to do all that hard work all over again coming down.
  15. Relax. It’s exhausting.
  16. Have breakfast and taste as many different breeds of coffee as you can, as you’ll probably won’t find them again.
  17. Try the poop coffee.
  18. Buy some of the local stuff.
  19. Go home.
  20. Sleep.
We're on top of the world, or at least on top of Mount Batur, in Bali!

We’re on top of the world, or at least on top of Mount Batur, in Bali!

Here’s the info:

WHAT IS PINEH BALI TOURS?

Pineh Bali Tours is a local Balinese owned and operated business focused on small organised trips to visit and climb Mount Batur, and other areas around it.

WHAT IS THE BATUR SUNRISE TREKKING TOUR ABOUT?

The Batur Sunrise Trekking Tour is a private organised tour and a once in a life-time experience to see the sunrise from the top of Bali’s most active volcano – Mt. Batur.

Phew!

A Balinese god covered in moss and shrub!

A Balinese god covered in moss and shrub!

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND BALINESE?

Nope!

This particluar tour was in English but being that the tours are private, I’m sure that they would try to link different guides with different people. If English isn’t your native-language not to worry, as most of the staff members spoke a multitude of languages, and are dedicated to ensuring that you enjoy your time and experience with Balinese nature and culture.

WHAT DO I NEED?

A pair of good walking shoes, a pair of thick gloves, a warm jacket, a scarf, a torch, a hat, some water, a camera, some snacks, and a huge smile!

Some strange fruit in Bali.

Some strange fruit in Bali.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Yes, this volcano tour includes a small breakfast, a variety of tea and coffee, as much bottled drinking water as you want, and a small lunch.

The trekking tour costs $40 or €32.60 per adult.

Return transport is included and they will collect you from Kuta, and Nusa Dua at 01:00 and Sanur and Ubud at 02:00.

It's "only" a km away to Mount Batur in Bali.

It’s “only” a km away to Mount Batur in Bali.

MY VERDICT:

A tiring day.

It was an exciting challenge and an adventure that I wanted to do. I ticked off that bucket list but I probably wouldn’t do it again.

My guide, as well as the other guides that I met, were wonderful and so professional. Climbing a volcano isn’t for me but don’t let that stop you. If you want to do it then DO IT!

A glorious sunrise on Mount Batur. © Stephen McNamara

A glorious sunrise on Mount Batur.
© Stephen McNamara

My knees cackled, and my glasses got smudged with ash and tears, but I’m proud that I made it once, up the most active volcano in Bali!

Everyone should go on an adventure tour of sort every now and then, if only to make sure that you’re not dead!

Well recommended.

WHAT IF THE PINEH BALI TOURS ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!

For more information please contact: The Batur Sunrise Trekking Tour

A wonderful view on top of Mount Batur.

A wonderful view on top of Mount Batur.

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a discount, all opinions and the large variety of drinks that I sampled, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you so next week I will be continuing our adventures in Indonesia, and Qatar and you can read what happened to me with those pesky monkeys……!

Christmas is coming, with more exclusive productions, and merry-making at German Xmas Markets. Whoop! Whoop!

A week ago, a British company contacted me and asked me to contribute my expert knowledge on Germany and Britain. You don’t need to ask me twice. Here it is: The 5 best differences between Germany and Britain.

Additional National Theatre Live productions are also coming up and can be seen at the Cinestar Berlin – Original such as:

For the rest of the year, Berlin will be celebrating and marking the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

Berlin Fashion Week is coming up and will take place between January 19th and January 23rd, 2015. Save the Date!

December is going to be jolly!

Watch this space!

Clinking glasses while drinking exotic beverage.

Clinking glasses while drinking exotic beverage.

Have you ever been up a live volcano? Would you swallow coffee poop!

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post.

Share it! Tweet it! Like it!

How I went on a bicycle tour and fell in a ditch, in Bali!

On the beach in Sanur, Bali.

On the beach in Sanur, Bali.

Last week, I told you that I would be back to writing about our time in Asia, and indeed I am.

In the summer, The Music Producer and “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I went to one of my favourite continents for the summer – Asia.

The beauty of Asia - waterlilies!

The beauty of Asia – waterlilies!

We went to Thailand and you can read all about it in the following posts:

"The Tall Young Gentleman" having fun in Bangkok.

“The Tall Young Gentleman” having fun in Bangkok.

But you know, we really had a full summer because not only did we go to Thailand, but we also went to Indonesia. Bali to be precise!

I looooooove Bali. In fact, I’d even go as far as saying that I have a love for it which is far different to the love that I have for Thailand.

Local Balinese men in Ubud, Bali.

Local Balinese men in Ubud, Bali.

I first went to Bali in 1999. I had just left England and was doing my around-the-world travels before moving to Germany and starting a new life as such, I was a rich little girl. I had British pounds and I was willing to spend them. Not only that, but my pounds were worth a lot.

Even now in 2014, a £100 is worth 2 million Indonesian Rupiah or IDR. Imagine what it was worth fifteen (15) years ago!

I'm a Millionaire!

I’m a Millionaire!

I was a millionaire!

Many times over.

Did I spend all my millions?

You can bet your nelly I did!

And some!

A young Balinese man.

A young Balinese man.

Of course, with lots of money, came lots of attractive boys who wanted a piece of it.

Did they get any?

Now that would be telling!

Cue 2014. I was back in Bali. This time with husband and child in tow.

Utari House at Alam Shanti, Bali.

Utari House at Alam Shanti, Bali.

We were staying in a lovely house, behind a rice paddy, in a beautiful Balinese resort in Ubud. I found out about this resort after hearing lots of amazing chatter about it from Australians. On Tripadvisor!

Apparently, these Balinese resorts were so good that there was a two (2) year waiting list.

A two (2) year waiting list!

I had to find out more.

Enjoying the swimming pool at Alam Shanti in Ubud, Bali.

Enjoying the swimming pool at Alam Shanti in Ubud, Bali.

I did.

I wasn’t able to get the units that I wanted with private spaces, but I got one better. They offered me a secluded house, set back in the rice paddies with a full breakfast, tea and cake every afternoon, free shuttle service into Ubud, and a shared swimming pool that was hardly used by others, for only $75.00 or €60.00 a night.

Yes, please!

That resort was called: Alam Shanti and our house was called: Utari House.

Staring at Monkey Gods in Ubud, Bali.

Staring at Monkey Gods in Ubud, Bali.

Bali was truely a paradise and Ubud was a marvel, but you can’t spend all your holiday drinking cocktails and staring at monkeys all day.

Can you?!

At least I can’t.

We decided to do some activities. One of those activities was bicycle – riding.

Ha!

Let me tell you. I’m not a very good cyclist. In fact, I only learnt how to ride a bike in 2011. Yeah, just three (3) years ago!

Of course, that didn’t stop me from booking a cycling tour in Bali. Far from it. I looooooove adventures and the unknown, so I contacted a company in Bali called: Banyan Tree Bike Tours.

A traveller breakfast of banana pancake, chocolate spread, a hot beverage, and freshly-made juice.

A traveller breakfast of banana pancake, chocolate spread, a hot beverage, and freshly made juice.

They were very quick with confirming whether we could join the cycling tour and so the next day, we were picked up at 07:30 in the morning. Because it was pretty early, we had an included breakfast of banana pancakes, chocolate spread, tea or coffee and fruit juice. I don’t like banana or chocolate but I tried my best, and managed to eat the pancake by swirling bits of banana around my plate, in order to be as polite as I possibly could.

Our little band of cyclists in Bali.

Our little band of cyclists in Bali.

During breakfast, we also met the other members of the group: three (3) older German ladies, one (1) young Italian couple, an (1) English girl from London, and ourselves, a family of three (3).

Our guide was a well-travelled guy called Nyoman. He told us about Bagi, who was one of the partners of the company and spoke a million languages which he picked up during his time on ships. After retiring from his travels, he decided to set himself up, offering bicycle tours to visitors and tourists.

I chose this tour as I heard that it was a tour with a difference in the sense that they went off the beaten path, and also that they had people to assist if you were tired, or not as experienced as you thought.

The Music Producer with his shiny helmet, bravely smiling.

The Music Producer with his shiny helmet, bravely smiling.

I was impressed by the look of the shiny new bikes with brakes which we had to test before we left the premises. We were also given helmets and bottles of water, which we could put in the pouch-like bit of the bike.

On testing my bike, I had a bit of trouble actually getting on and I could see the face of Bagi slowly fall as he thought I couldn’t ride at all! Happily, I changed bikes and managed to get it together, so that we could get started.

Some of the refreshments that the group got to sample - I can't remember the details except that it had coconut in it!

Some of the refreshments that the group got to sample – I can’t remember the details except that it had coconut in it!

Remember, how I said that I only learnt how to ride a bike a few years ago. Well, what I didn’t tell you was that after my cycling lessons, I went to Poland, rode a rented bike, and promptly had an accident!

Nobody was hurt, but I was a bit shaken, and didn’t ride for a while as I had been on a busy road.

Now, before we got to the unbeaten path in Bali, we had to ride on the roads and they’re busy. Very busy. Ubud is a small place, with very narrow roads, and lots of traffic which the road was not really suited for.

Gulp!

Nyoman and and the young assistant - Kode - assigned to me on the Banyan Tree Cycling Tour, Bali.

Nyoman and and the young assistant – Kode – assigned to me on the Banyan Tree Cycling Tour, Bali.

I bravely rode with our group until we got to the entrance of the forest and after fifteen (15) minutes, I realized that I was completely out of my depth! I hadn’t really ridden for a year, I was riding really slowly, and I began to get upset because I thought that the other riders would dislike me as I was keeping the group back, and they had to wait for me.

The Music Producer had been ill and wasn’t at his peak, but he was to ride with “The Tall Young Gentleman” as he was the only child present, and I didn’t want them to lose the enjoyment of the day.

I had insisted that they rode on ahead.

Thankfully, the management of Banyan Tree knew what to do. They assigned one of their assistants to me – a young man called Kode – and we rode at my very own slow pace.

They were really lovely and even offered to carry my bike for me when I was really tired. I loved that they asked, but I rejected their offer as I really wanted to reach my goal of cycling the tour myself. As a result, I got a lot more respect from the tour assistants for that, and the ice was broken.

Local children and myself (can you see me?) squatting in Bali!

Local children and myself (can you see me?) squatting in Bali!

For the mere fact that we were slowing down gave me more opportunity to look around at my surroundings, and marvel in the glory of its untouched beauty. At one point, we ran into a bunch of children outside a local school. I asked that we stop and began to chat with them. They were very eager to talk to me. I stayed a little and asked for their names, did a little small talk, and showed them some photos on my phone.

They found my photos hilarious!

Local cows from the rural villages.

Local cows from the rural villages.

We went through the remote back roads and met some of the local farmers.  We saw a few scarecrows, and a couple of local people discreetly bathing in the streams. We saw statues of local gods and we went through the rice fields, the rural villages, the local jungles, the green plantation, and rural communities. We respectfully also went through ancient Hindu compounds and ceremonial temples.

As we went further and further into the rural community, the roads began to turn into paths, and the paths began to turn into stones and dirt. We also got further into the rice fields which had streams and rivers flowing by. I had been very careful as the way was extremely narrow and in my mind, I had just congratulated myself on my prudence, when my bike began to stumble over the rocks on the dirt path. I was very conscious that there was a river parallel to where I was riding, and in my panic to avoid falling off, I swerved to the opposite side of the river.

Craaaaash! @leviathyn.com

Craaaaash!
@leviathyn.com

I crashed.

One leg was in the river and the other was in the ditch!

My pink shorts were no longer so pink, my trekking socks were drenched and soaking wet, and blood was pouring down my right leg.

I was bleeding! @fanpop.com

I was bleeding!
@fanpop.com

OMG!

My guide – Kode – came running and gave me the once over. He wanted to call for more assistance, but I insisted on going on, once I had calmed down.

I realised that I had probably taken on more than I could effectively chew, but I really wanted to continue on the rural bicycle tour.

So I did!

I'm looking at you my girl! The eyes! THE EYES!

I’m looking at you my girl! The eyes! THE EYES!

Here’s the info:

WHAT IS THE BANYAN TREE BIKE TOUR?

The Banyan Tree Bike Tour is a Balinese owned and operated business dedicated to showing visitors Bali’s amazing culture and countryside.

WHAT IS THE BANYAN TREE CYCLING TOUR ABOUT?

The Bali Cycling Tour is a spectacular Bali adventure of mountain cycling away from the hustle and bustle of the regular tourist path. The tour takes you cycling through the natural hidden beauty and spirit of the real Bali where you can meet villagers, cycle through rice terrace and mountain farms, and learn about the spiritual and philosophical background of the Balinese people.

Phew!

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND BALINESE?

Nope!

These tour are in English. If English isn’t your native-language not to worry, as most of the staff members spoke a multitude of languages, and are dedicated to ensuring that you enjoy your time and experience with Balinese nature and culture.

The Hindu god - Lord Ganesh or the elephant god.

The Hindu god – Lord Ganesh or the elephant god.

WHAT DO I NEED?

A pair of good walking shoes, a pair of sunglasses, a hat, toiletries, a camera, mosquito spray, sun-cream, and a huge smile!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Yes, this cycling tour includes a healthy breakfast, as much bottled drinking water as you want, and a buffet lunch.

The cycling tour costs:

  • IDR 550,000 or $65.00 for adults.
  • IDR 350,00 or $40.00 for children under 12.
  • IDR 150,000 or $20.00 for children under 5 using a child-seat. I recommend bringing your own child-seat.

Return transport is included and they will collect you from Ubud, Kuta, Sanur, and Nusa Dua. Don’t forget to tell them about your bicycle level!

I know my level mummy - the best level!

I know my level mummy – the best level!

MY VERDICT:

A wonderful day. I really learnt more about the hidden beauty and culture of Bali. It was lovely to meet local farmers and members of the community.

I also learnt a lot about myself.

I shed tears a few times, my chest hurt from the strain and struggle of going up those hills, and my legs ached and burned, but I’m not a quitter!

Everyone should go on a cycling tour of sort every now and then, if only to make sure that you’ve still got it!

Highly recommended.

WHAT IF THE BANYAN TREE CYCLING TOUR ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!

For more information please contact: Banyan Tree Cyling Tours.

Yay! I made it! Phew!

Yay! I made it! Phew!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a discount, all opinions and the wonderful lunch that I throughly enjoyed, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you so next week I will be continuing our adventures in Indonesia, and Qatar and you can read what happened to me on that volcano……!

Christmas is coming, with more exclusive productions, and merry-making at German Xmas Markets. Whoop! Whoop!

Last week, a British company contacted me and asked me to contribute my expert knowledge on Germany and Britain. You don’t need to ask me twice. Here it is: The 5 best differences between Germany and Britain.

Additional National Theatre Live productions are also coming up and can be seen at the Cinestar Berlin – Original such as:

For the rest of the year, Berlin will be celebrating and marking the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

Berlin Fashion Week is coming up and will take place between January 19th and January 23rd, 2015. Save the Date!

December is going to be merry!

Watch this space!

Happy as Larry!

Happy as Larry!

Have you been on a cycling tour? Have you ever been to Bali?

See you in Berlin.

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