Bali on a Bike

Besides being very positive and smiling, some people in Bali also have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Yesterday, as we were lying on the beach, one of the hotel managers passed by. We got to chatting and he offered us a great bike tour. We said ‘yes’ almost immediately and here we are, very early in the morning, waiting to be taken for the bicycle tour. All the tours were so very well organized! They would fetch you from the place you are staying (which might turn out to be challenging to find a spot, especially for us in the last couple of days). They would drive you to where you want to go, you do your thing, there’s even food! After that, they would return you to your designated location. We took advantage of a couple of these tours mainly because they covered a lot of ground, the transportation from one place to the other was taken care of, and we learned so much from our guides…

Our bike tour guide, Made, was one of the most genuine people we have ever met. Immediately since he took us from our hotel, he started telling us about the life, customs, culture, and ambiance of the island. He was indeed a live encyclopedia. Made explained to us the names – 4 names are distributed in a family. The first child is called Wayan, the second one – Made, the third one – Nyoman, and the fourth one would be Ketut. These are the names regardless of the child’s sex. If there is a fifth and sixth one, they would again be Wayan, Made, etc.

Of course, they also have official names that are used in school.

schoolkids in Bali

Meeting school pupils

We stopped at a primary school where we caught the kids in a break, and a group of six-year-olds was sitting outside.

Like all others, as soon as they saw us, they started waving and yelling “hi”, “hello”. All of them were wearing uniforms. The children start learning English from a very young age, so the little Desi (she introduced herself with her official name 😉 ) asked me what my name was and she immediately replied to me asking her the same question.

Schools on Bali are expensive, they are paid entirely by the parents. Only the primary school there is free, but the uniforms should be purchased by the parents. Universities are also quite expensive, hence a few people enter. For instance, to start your first year, you would need 30 million IDR (~2,260 USD). Graduating from a university, however, secures you an occupation which is also well-paid – for example, a nurse. We learned that the hard way when we needed this kind of service during our great regurgitation and diarrhea times.

Gorgeous views over the Batur lake

The amazing bike tour and Made gave us the opportunity to contemplate views and experiences from the real Bali. We passed through several villages, starting from Kintamani, a place with a gorgeous view of Batur Mountain which is still an active volcano. One could see the black lava blanket from the eruptions which occurred years ago. The vista also included Batur Lake whose water is holy and should not be used for water sports.

Crossing the villages, we saw the crafts, which we already knew from our previous trips, directly into the yards of the people.

Nobody got angry with us entering its home and probably hindering his/her work.

We also explored one of the central Bali temples – that of Vishnu, the Guardian. This temple was a pearl in an area with no others like us (tourists).

Bali rice fields

The staple food of Balinese people is rice. Working on a rice field is hard. One could barely get 3 harvests from a piece of land on a yearly basis.

We were extremely careful not to displace the rice that was being dried on the road. We offered our help to the ladies, who were busy with harvesting the rice, but they declined it kindly. After all, we would have only hindered their work.

One senior lady started chatting with Made. She needed money for ice cream because she was feeling really hot. Made was very noble and compassionate with the people in the fields since he was once among them. He, who was barely managing to support his daughter in university, and he, who did not have the means to even put a decent wood carved door at his home, immediately took out a couple of notes with thousands on them (1,000 IDR – 0.07 USD, not much, but enough for them).

After 3 hours and 30 kilometers of cycling, we felt super exhausted despite the fact that most of the time we were going downhill. We filled our thirsty eyes with verdure.

Coffee plantation

We also visited a coffee plantation. Passing through the woods and bushes of different spices, we saw the “live” versions of cinnamon, vanilla, turmeric, and whatnot indispensable condiments for various dishes. We came across Luwak cats – an important part of the production of Luwak coffee. These critters wander around mainly at night and consume coffee beans. After that, they process them and when the beans leave their bodies they are better and with a cover. For some people, it may sound disgusting, but the processing includes removing the cover. So, don’t worry, we were not consuming cat poo. 🙂 The coffee is quite expensive because it takes a lot of time for the people to locate the Luwak excrements…

Dinner at Made’s home

We ended the bike tour in Made’s house with a hearty dinner. The food quantity was much more than what three people were able to consume. The food quality can only be described as superb.

Made explained the contents of the dishes. The table looked like a coffee table and his family and he were used to eating kneeling. Can you be in a squatting position for one hour?

This is the temple of the house, or rather – the several houses in the yard. The families live in adjacent houses with one yard. When a girl gets married, she starts living with her husband and his family. If you have many daughters, you risk spending your senior years in the yard alone.

Well, this was a different view of Bali seen from the wheels of a bike – so much for such a little amount of time. If you had 10 days on the island, would you spend one to go biking and explore authentic Bali?

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