For today we had booked a cycle tour of the countryside around Ubud, not being great cyclists and knowing the hilly nature of the countryside we had enquired as to the difficulty of the tour and the actual amount of cycling required. We were told that very little pedalling was needed as this particular tour was all downhill – now this was our kind of cycling!
The tour was to start with breakfast at a diner that overlooked Mount Batur but as ever another tea/coffee/Cat-Poo-Chino was on the cards unofficially beforehand – whilst for the other two ladies (one and English lass the other an American) of our tour party this was a new (and exhilarating?) experience, for us Old Hands it was more of the same old, same old so whilst we tried to show some enthusiasm it was not the easiest of things to do as most of the brews for tasting were the same as yesterday – hardly a refreshing cup of Tetley in sight! The fruit teas were okay many to choose from (yet again) but once again the coffee was less like Cat-Poo-Chino more like Poo and the other coffees were not much better too quite crunchy in parts too!
We jumped back in the van and off to the breakfasting point and although the cafe looked like a bombed out building site built on the edge of Mount Doom the view was absolutely priceless. The blackened earth was in the foreground with the odd track across it, in the distance stood the volcano and at the side of that the lake as well – an amazing way to start the tour.
The breakfast was simple banana pancakes but more than enough to keep us going especially in light of the setting so after a few photos and a quick drive we arrived at the real start and off we went on the ‘Tour de Ubud’!!
I spent a lot of time following Liz on this one so plenty of rear end shots (lol) but as the man said the way was just about wholly downhill so lots of freewheeling with only the odd bit of pedalling. It was really good to cycle through the many villages at a speed that enabled you to take in everything around you and as we were sitting slightly higher than in a car – this made the whole experience more tangible for it. One of the best bits were the many kids who would give a wave and a ‘hello, what’s your name?’ (at least that is how I heard it!) as we sped by and some of the buildings particularly the temples though they were more simple in construction and style but no less amazing for being simple. Also during the ride, often we would see the remains of a poor Ogah-Ogah whose fate had been sealed by the eve of Nyepi some only slightly damaged but more often than not they were destroyed, a great deal of work gone into such a short existence.
First stop along the way was a traditional family dwelling which looked well-lived in and consisted of four or five buildings each used for different things like a deconstructed house.
It was owned by an older couple, the old fella was making some hot chilli coconut stuff in the kitchen/shed/general preparation area – which he let me try so I can vouch for its heat. The buildings seemed to have various uses – bedrooms, toilets etc., but it was not exactly cut and dry as to which was used for what! One room seemed to be an outside bedroom which was cool in the island’s heat. The home, as everywhere, has its own shrine area at the back and the whole place was very real and not at all set up so it was really cool. After the house we had a quick stop at a temple with the unusually undamaged Ogah-Ogah and met some kids outside, one sporting a Man United shirt – not sure which was more offensive!
A bit later we stopped at the rice fields and were told a bit more about the cycle of growing rice.
When it is harvesting time everybody mucks in and the fields would have entire families all pulling together to harvest the crop. Quite funny that the guys usually had the less demanding, more managerial tasks to do whilst the women slogged their guts out. When we turned up the men actually had the gaul to show us the tasks the women had been doing as if they were not doing it right – talk about adding insult to injury!
We were nearing the end of the cycle tour and horror of horrors we were now not only pedalling but pedalling up some serious hillage – this was a killer, why not stop the tour a bit early I thought? One last push though and we had done it – well one last push of our bikes up the said incline that is. Then off for a ‘well deserved’ lunch at a restaurant in yet more rice fields. The whole occasion started off very refined and then descended quite sharply downwards as the English female contingent decided to talk ‘lady parts’ to the American lass, a very nice girl with quite an American name (Casey or Corey, I think). Liz and the other English ‘lady’ decided to describe as many names for the ‘Jack and Danny’ as possible, much to the aforementioned young lady’s amazement as, in America names for the ‘Bearded Clam’ are few and far between – not sure what this says about either culture really!
The bike tour behind us we went for a bit of a rest and then out for tea when we booked some touring for tomorrow and completed the day with a very nice piece of eating – which though nice cannot be memorable as I cannot remember what it was!