biking in bali

Apologies for the hiatus. I have been moving home from a foreign country, which obviously comes with its own unique set of distractions. I really want to fill you in on the rest of the Bali trip, as it only grew to be more and more epic as the days went on.  As I said before, Bali is rather touristy, especially in Ubud, especially in July. This is usually not my cup of tea, as I like to do things off the beaten path (although you never know what kind of trouble you are going to run into). However, no matter how many times you roll your eyes at all the sweaty Australian bros in their neon fake Ray Bans asking you if they are allowed to carry their beer on the sidewalk or elbow your way down the sidewalk to make your way through a hoard of seniors in Hawaiian shirts who just stepped out of their tour bus,  there is one MUST DO tourist activity in Ubud. And that, my friends, is the bike tour. There are a million companies selling the tours along the street, but I went with the LP suggested Bali Bike Tours and it seemed to have great reviews. As a beginner lone traveler, I was looking for something reliable.

Its an all day excursion that leads you on bicycle throughout the outlying areas in Bali. I was going into this thing thinking it was going to be a huge all-day workout. Well, think again. The entire thing is downhill, as they drive you to the top of a mountain and slowly eek your way down, stopping at various Balinese places along the way. If anything, it is more of a cultural tour than a bike tour. So if you are extremely out of shape, don’t shy away. You’ll manage.

The best thing about this tour is that you feel like you have crossed a billion items off of your bucket list by the end of it. The first stop is a coffee plantation. Trying what is commonly known as “weasel coffee” is often on people’s “to do” lists before they die. You know that coffee where the little weasel thing (okay, technically it is a civet for those of you who care) eats the coffee bean, then science does its magic in the little guy’s tummy, and then out the bean comes the other end. Now, the freshly processed bean is ready for roasting….allegedly making it the most expensive coffee in the world. It used to be exponentially more expensive when it was first produced, but that was because people walked around the forest looking for civet droppings in the wild. Now that they are raised on farms, its a lot more reasonable. It still is quite absurd though. A bag that makes 12 cups of coffee costed around $30. It’s one of those things that you just HAVE TO TRY…

the little civets that eat the beans. they are nocturnal so they were all adorably snuggled up when we saw them.

beans ready to be eaten and beans, ahem, ready to be roasted

nice man roasting beans

in addition to the weasel coffee, we also tried other balinese specialties

FYI

Below is me experiencing that once-in-a-lifetime moment where I try the allegedly most expensive coffee in the world. Let’s just say it was…earthy. A rather natural taste to it.

yumzies

Next stop…an extremely mediocre breakfast powerfully overshadowed by the fact that we were on top of a mountain overlooking ridiculously breathtaking scenery of stunning volcanoes and a glittering lake. This is actually the first time I had ever seen a volcano. Cute, I know. A piece of trivia: in 1963, two volcanoes outside of Ubud erupted at the same time. Talk about a bad situation.

Now time to hit the road. Highlights included all of the exquisitely exotic rice paddy fields and learning how rice was grown. You don’t know what green looks like until you have seen the rice fields of SE Asia. Bali’s have a special charm to them. I told my Vietnamese friends how I biked through the rice fields and how beautiful it all was. Their response: “why would you do that?” It is pretty hilarious how rice fields are so exotic and exhilarating to Westerners, but those who work in them every day could not be less amused. I wonder if they would have similar feelings about all of the corn fields here in America…

wondering why there are all different types of European flags flying over the houses in a little village outside Ubud? It was Euro 2012 time–everyone showing support for their favorite teams

the swastika is actually originally a hindu symbol, standing for prosperity

rice after being harvested

This is the most unbelievable part. After the rice is cut, it is then beat against a wooden board in order for the grains to fall out. Talk about hard, back-breaking labor. I can’t even imagine what these people were thinking as a bunch of white people sat around taking photos. They were not shy to give us a smile and “hello!” though! You do really gain an appreciation of each grain of rice in your bowl afterwards. I am convinced each grain of rice has touched a human hand at least once.

We ended with a delicious lunch at a traditional Balinese house. The houses are fascinating. No matter where you are, rich or poor, every house has a huge temple/garden thing. If they are really poor, families will share a temple, but there is still a temple. I had seen them along the road but I thought they were community temples. However, most belonged to private homes. Its quit amazing how ornate everything is.

Ganesha, the protector god, often greeting you upon entering

beautiful garden in the home–note the caged birds are found here too…

entrance to his family’s temple

after the mother gives birth, the placenta is buried within the grounds of the house so the children are always a part of their home

cocks–not for food–for cock fighting!

Even if you are in Bali for 48 hours, squeeze this tour in. It covers a lot of bases and you are able to view some of the most extraordinary places on earth.

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