Bali, Island Of Gods

I’m back! Writing that is. I haven’t been idle in my near 3 months or so of silence. I’ve cycled nearly 4000km since leaving Australia but with a dead laptop and a lack of enthusiasm for hanging out in internet cafes the updates could wait. After Jakarta and Singapore proved fruitless for repairs I picked up a shiny new laptop KL a couple weeks back so the stories and photos can start flowing again. Just imported 4500 photos into Lightroom so there’s some work to be done.

Despite having a week to laze about in Darwin, Kuta seemed to encourage more relaxing. There was an excellent vibe and really good group of people at Mumhors House, the hostel I was staying at so I hung
around for 4 days. Drinking a few beers, dining on the beach, movies under the stars and very briefly catching up with some friends from home. After reassembling the bike I did do a little exploring of
Kuta, slowing becoming accustomed to the tangled mess of roads, many one way streets and less than accurate signage; something I would have to get use to in Indonesia.

My first stop out of Kuta, Ubud was barely 40km away but being a couple hundred metres uphill the temp dropped slightly. The road passing an uncountable number of stone carving shops, roof thatchers and timber yards. Strangely half the Kuta hostel people all had the same plans and we ended up together again taking in Ubub’s sights; temples, monkeys and a puppet theater show – which eventually put me to sleep – and for a few mores beers for good measure. Leaving Ubub, a tangle of back roads lead west and then north past a never ending string of village and towns, local shops and businesses spilling out
onto the road, ignorant to its purpose for vehicles. Rice grew in fields and crops of all sorts filled in the gaps in-between. Somehow I ended up on the right road but riding in the opposite direction I had intended, no matter, that meant I avoided the tourist toll.

The clouds didn’t lift but the morning light was beautiful over the rolling slopes of lush rice paddies. Quiet back roads leading through tiny villages and farms but that ended soon enough as I headed north across the spine of mountains that run east-west across Bali. Grey clouds grew gloomier as I climbed and the drizzle turned to a downpour. After the sweaty heat of the coast I actually found myself quite cold but thankfully a hot tea is never far away. The rain eased and I was soon rolling past botanic gardens, volcanic crater lakes and opportunistic monkeys. At the top of the climb the heavens cleared revealing a magnificent view down to the north Bali coast and Java’s mighty Gunung Ijen in the distant west. For a measly $10 (after some half-hearted bargaining) I scored an amazing bungalow with the same spectacular views. The sun put on an amazing show, slowly dipping behind the clouds and bringing the sky to life with a palette of reds, yellows and purples.

It was all downhill the following morning but I made a quick stop at a waterfall to stretch the legs before stopping for breakfast where I got an invite to stay the night. Too early in the day unfortunately, so I continued on the downhill run past more rice paddies, strung out villages and a smattering of coconut palms. Down on the coast it was a little less pleasant, heaviest traffic since Cairns but mostly mopeds driven by impatient, arrogant, assholes. The scenery wasn’t much to look at either. I did however meet Arnold, a Belgian cyclist heading for Bali, who laughed at my complaint about the traffic. I had far worse to look ahead to in Java apparently.

Pedalling on I arrived in Gilimanuk, the last stop on Bali and holed up in a dinghy hotel for the night. After a half a boiled chicken, including the foot and some spicy vegetables, I had an early night and would see what Java held in store for me in the morning.

Leave a Reply