Finally the day has come where we feel prepared enough to cycle Bali. Theoretically we could just go east towards the ferry to Lombok but as we want to see a little bit more of Bali we decided to make a loop in northern direction.
Finding our way out of Ubud takes a bit of time bit it is very much worth it as we land on tiny pathways in the middle of rice paddies, a few cafes and houses.
I love being surrounded by so much green!
On the first day of cycling we have a big climb of about 1000m ahead of us which is a bit daunting at first.
But being well rested and on such beautiful tiny roads it’s not too much of a challenge.
We land in a small town overlooking Gunung Batur and are planning to cycle around the volcano next to a beautiful lake. In the middle of the night our plans evolve in a rather different direction when my stomach protests against dinner. As the protests keep on coming violently we’re forced to stay here for one more night which sucks as we just started cycling again. But I’m not going anywhere like this.
A day later I’m feeling better albeit weak. The owner of our guest house advices us not to go along the lake as the road is supposed to be really bad and steep after the lake. As he is a cyclist himself we take his advice and go in the opposite direction. That means more climbing and weak as I am it is tough going. At one point about 2k after starting I feel like I’m going to faint and force myself to eat something although I’m not hungry at all.
Luckily we soon reach the highest point and it’s all downhill from there.
We stop at a small shop/eatery with lemonade in recycled bottles (cool!) and I force myself to eat some fried rice. Which is good because I need some energy for what lies ahead. This night we end on a road next to a beach and accommodation is on the luxurious end of things. So we ask around and as it is already getting dark a local tells us a about a room which is in our price range. What we don’t know is that the room is kind of in his home but kind of not. And that there is no running water and we will end up taking a shower on the beach with some local audience. Let’s not speak of our toilet related needs here ;). In the middle of the night someone tries to enter our room and just smiles at us awkwardly when we talk to him. Our Indonesian is not good enough to ask him what he wants in our room and neither is his English.
All in all it was a bit of a weird experience. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind not having running water or finding alternative toilet solutions – we’re well used to the camping lifestyle by now after all. But there was a lot of stuff going on that night and I didn’t even understand half of it. Maybe it was about language barriers, maybe there were some local or family customs involved which I knew nothing about. Maybe we should have said no from the beginning. But I guess sometimes stuff like that just happens. In the morning I’m very glad to cycle off and the next few days are very different, once again.
We cycle along the coast to Amed, originally a fishing village and now well known in the tourist world for its diving and snorkelling opportunities. After last night we want to take it easy and rest for a bit.
Unfortunately it’s not that easy to find affordable accommodation but in the end we settle for a bungalow near the beach. It’s a bit expensive, a bit further away from eateries than I’d like and doesn’t have cellphone reception which is nice for calling families once in a while and to do some blogging and work. But oh well, the view is beautiful, the wind from the sea is refreshing and so we decide to take a short holiday here. There is time to bake and eat lots of pancakes…
… and to do some good old washing.
On top of that we rent snorkelling gear and explore an old shipwreck and some coral reefs. I’m totally and absolutely blown away by the underwater world. I have snorkelled in Croatia before and this is just nothing like that. There are so many colourful fish here and they come in all shapes and sizes. Some have stripes, some have dots, some come in swarms and some rather stay solitary. It’s mindblowingly beautiful, this other world.
Our last day of cycling in Bali takes us along the coast to the port town Padang Bai. After tackling some serious hills with the steepest gradients we have had so far, we get rewarded with beautiful views.
It is over the top exhausting but I’m fascinated that I actually manage to cycle up those hills instead of pushing. On our way to Padang Bai we buy snorkelling gear – we’re not going to be far from the ocean for a while!
And then, very soon, it’s only just a ferry ride which separates us from leaving our first Indonesian island! Lombok, here we come!