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.
We went to Thailand and you can read all about it in the following posts:
- I told you how to go to Bangkok on the superior cheap so that you don’t have to worry about the cost.
- I introduced you to a fantastic private walking tour in Bangkok that started with us going to Chinatown and ended with us all having cocktails on a rooftop bar, with our tour guide and his girlfriend!
- I reminded you of how we went to street markets in Chiang Mai and that the food was so superb, that we thought we were going to die!
- In fact, Thai food was so good that we had to go out and cook our own. That is such an achievement on my side because I can’t cook. I used to live in London. Nobody cooks!
- We were so exhausted by the cooking and the eating that we just had to go see the elephants. Yes. And ride them! I know what you’re thinking but it isn’t like that, it’s like this!
- If you were ever concerned about whether to go visit Thailand or not, don’t be. Either way, you’ll have a fabulous time!
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.
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 was a millionaire!
Many times over.
Did I spend all my millions?
You can bet your nelly I did!
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.
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.
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.
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.
At least I can’t.
We decided to do some activities. One of those activities was bicycle – riding.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND BALINESE?
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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:
- John. on: 08.01.15.
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson on: 22.01.15.
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!
Have you been on a cycling tour? Have you ever been to Bali?
See you in Berlin.
If you like this post.
Share it! Tweet it! Like it!