Denpasar

​​​​​Sunday 15 Jan, 2017. Toya Bunkah to Ubud. 25th cycling day. 4 hours 47 minutes. 41.82 km. Average 8.7 km/h. 444 metres up, 1221 meters down.

Drizzle as I cycle south down the slopes of Bali to Ubud, thankful I’d finished the hard yards of the trip as the cold has worsened, and I’m not at full strength, a half a peddle here and there seems about right at this stage. 

Farms and rice paddies for the first half of the ride and then all of a sudden it’s art and craft, tourist souvenir shops. As with other parts of Asia, the types of shop are clustered together; wood carvings, paintings, ceramics, and then as you come into Ubud every stall seems to sell sarongs and Bintang singles. 

Splash out on a lovely guest house and then take one in the pool.


Do the ‘rice field walk’, which really was quite nice, and walk around Ubud. Tourists everywhere. 

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Monday 16 Jan, 2017. Ubud to Sanur. 26th cycling day. 3 hours 59 minutes. 36.95 km. Average 9.3 km/h. 97 metres up, 276 meters down.

 A breakfast that included a fruit salad, and not just a banana in a pancake and then another slow roll further down the slopes to Sanur. Turn down the first place I find, basic for 150 wanting to compare a couple but after an hour of exploring the area, including riding along the beach paths with other tourists on rented bicycles return. Everything else I found was double the price, for not much better.  It’s evidently an expensive area of Bali.

Rain in the afternoon and so I bypass a planned swim and sleep. Body thanks me.

​​​​​Tuesday 17 Jan, 2017. Sanur to Kuta. 27th cycling day. 2 hours 53 minutes. 20.41 km. Average 7.1 km/h. 17 metres up, 12 meters down.
I’ve been taking things pretty easy and today, reaching my final destination, Kuta, Denpasar was the easiest of the lot. I did have plans to cycle through the city and to explore the southern tip, perhaps finding somewhere in Nusa Dua for a night but decide I’m finished.

So here I am, Kuta baby. Two nights and then it’s back to Melbourne. 

I suspect there will be a prologue covering the next two days and the trip home but effectively that’s it. Done. Dili to Denpasar. December 14, 2016 to January  17, 2017.

Thanks for sharing the journey with me. 

Where to next? 

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Dada da…. Dada da da da……

Dada da da…. Da…dada da da da……

Da da da da da da da da daaaaaaaaa….

The final mountain……

​​​​Friday 13 Jan, 2017. Padang Bai to Toya Bunkah. 24th cycling day. 8 hours 16 minutes. 58.36 km. Average 7.1 km/h. 1930 metres up, 935 meters down.

My ‘packed lunch’ today was fish in banana leaf.

Smaller temples everywhere with intricate carvings as I begin my accent.  I like how the Balanise architecture style has remained consistent. This means you have doorways, gates, fences and buildings with similar designs whether they are hundreds of years old or newly built.

I cycled to Toya Bunkah via Pura Besakih. It’s lovely, but as an active place of worship it’s not possible to visit all areas of the compound, even paying $10 for a guide. The best thing to do is to bypass the guides at the ticket counter, whose fee includes a motorcycle ride and walk the kilometre to the entrance gate.  Here temple patrons gather, and for a donation of your choosing they will be your guide, and can take you to all parts.

The early part of the hill today broke me, and I was forced to push my bike, but the inclines were kinder after Pura Besakih. Stop for another meal and have the most delicious chicken and vegetable noodle soup. I told the owner chef it was the best food I’d had in Indonesia in five weeks, and he was happy.

Make it to the top, before a fast decent into the valley and village on the other side.

Hot springs are popular here, and the two most luxurious try and convince you on the way into town. Go straight. Go straight. Go straight. Nooooo.  Turn right. Turn right. Turn right.

I find a family run hotel for 100 rupiah and a simple hot spring for 30. It was fine though. Three pools, each a different temperature to soak my muscles. Niiiceee…

Saturday 14th January, 2016.

I was asked a number of times yesterday whether I wanted a guide for a sunrise  hike to Mt Batur, the quote was always the same, $40. That seemed a bit excessive as I could see paths on maps.me and reports suggested it could be done in an hour. I had declined offers intending to do, like much of what I do, it by myself.

Alarm set for 5am. Camera, bike light, water, and a take away nasi goreng bought yesterday at dinner packed. I set off from my hotel and as I reach the turn off a guide asks where I’m going. Guide mister? Nah bro, I’m all good. I get about 100 metres before he’s caught up, on his motorbike, with a second man who he introduces as his boss.

He says that he is very sorry, but he can’t let me continue without a $40 guide. I say that I am very sorry, but I have a map and will be fine. He tells me I’ll be disrespecting the mountain by going alone. I tell him I went to Bali’s holiest temple yesterday and paid $1.50 to pay my respects. He says the money is used to pay for the 70 plus religious festivals held there each year. I tell him it isn’t,  and that the majority doesn’t even go to the guides, it goes to the bosses. He says  he’ll block my way if I ignore him, or call the police. I’m firm, smile, tell him he won’t, and continue.

I don’t see him again.

Even so, I keep a low profile and when I see flashlights of a group up ahead, fall back keeping my distance. I also decide to avoid the rim for sunrise, and break off the main path to find a secluded spot.

Decide to show my respect to the mountain by filling two shopping bags with plastic bottles, lids, candy wrappers, cigarette butts, cans, noodle packets, bits of shoe rubber and whatever else I came across. 

When it is light I finish the climb. Breathtaking views. Walk around the rim and then back down the slope passing pink magma trails from its last eruption. AXA few surprised people asking about a guide but no hostility when I reply I don’t have one. 

Paranoid panic that I’ll return to find my room broken into, or bike gone. Happy everything is as I left it I slip into my liner and doze the majority of the day, a welcome rest day. Particularly as I can feel a cold coming on.

Decide to update the Wikipedia entry for Mt Batur. My additions italicised.
There are reports about “local mafia” which harasses and threatens anyone who is trying to climb the mountain without hiring their guide. According to the reports this situation is totally ignored and even supported  by the local police. In 2015 a harassed tourist has created a petition on change.org with a call to change the situation but no reaction was given by any official.

Despite their presence it is possible to climb by yourself (confirmed January 2017). It is not a managed government tourist attraction and there is no entry fee to pay at the base of the mountain. 

The ‘mafia’ (the local trekking association) will try and talk you out of climbing by yourself suggesting you are disrespectful to not take a guide for 400 rupiah. They may say they will follow you, or call the police. Simply be firm and walk away. One idea is to take a shopping bag to collect some rubbish. If questioned later on your hike you can explain that you are showing respect to the mountain by picking up trash.

I’ve been to Bali, I’ve been to Bali too.

​​​​Thursday 12 Jan, 2017. Senggigi, Lombok to Padang Bai, Bali. 23rd cycling day. 2 hours 42 minutes riding time. 34.62 km. Average 12.8 km/h. 43 metres up, 45 meters down.

The main streets in Mataram are busy although I make a nice accidental detour through the administrative district with large colonial type government office buildings and neat lawns. There was also an impressive mosque.No rubbish on the streets in this part of town.

More busy roads and quiet back streets to find the port to board the ferry to take me to the final island of my summer holiday trip, Bali.  

And so begins my farewell lap, first stop is the first stop, the port town of Padang Bai. Immediately I notice the Balanise architecture. I’m now on Indonesia’s only Hindu island and the carved sandstones and little banana leaf pallets of offerings have instant appeal. I mentioned Islam in a comment on another post. The signs of it on Sumbawa and Lombok were mosques (and in particular the megaphone call to prayer) and head coverings. If I think back to Timor and Flores, the predominant religion was Catholicism and this was evident with the churches, roadside nativity scenes and people wearing Jesus cross necklaces. Bali is very pretty.

I look on booking.com and find another place with a pool. Check in.  Swim.  Snooze. Wash and hang out my riding clothes and head to town for food.
Sit in a restaurant across from the beach wiith a brilliant orange sunset and order fish, asking for a recommendation. The tuna was caught today. Done. And I got a Bintang. My first since Christmas eve.

Redgum – I’ve been to Bali too.

Twisting by the pool

​​​​Wednesday 11 Jan, 2017. Senaru to Senggigi. 22st cycling day. 7 hours 18 minutes. 83.5 km. Average 11.4 km/h. 565 metres up, 923 meters down.

An initial steep decent and then a back road short cut heading west. Beautiful scenes of rice paddies and people going about their business, children walking to school, farmers attending to their rice, ladies carrying things on their head. Road turns to dirt, but it’s compact dirt, nah worries at all.

I decide to visit a school and after some initial trepidation, enter the gate and approach a classroom.  Kids excited and female teacher in head scarf smiling, but didn’t speak much English to provide me with any sort of confirmation I was ok being there. I take it as fine and grab the whiteboard marker and go through some basics, and English lesson, pro bono with Mr. Simon. A bit hard to get any call and response for what’s your name? My name is.. happening, English isn’t taught until high school. I’m a bit of a shock for them, I’m sure. 

Another teacher, male, better English comes in and I explain that I’m a teacher. He’s very friendly and when I all to see another class he happily guides me. Similar reactions, smiles and laughs. I decide that this is the moment to give out my second ‘koala stamp’ tea towel. Photos together on multiple phones, before I ask if I could be sent to the principal.

I’m invited into the office area. I pull out my photo album and the male teacher translates my story to the principal (left) and his best mate the school security (who didn’t stop a mad Aussie from barnstorming the grade 1 classroom) guard (right). Coffee and donuts and a decline of a cigarette, and then it’s time to continue.

Beautiful ride heading south into Senggigi up and down, in and out of bays, each one more picturesque than the last. Debate making a detour to a Gili island, the three shown in the photo below, but in the end decide against it, though pretty resort type islands I’m sure they are. Next time? When I come back to climb Mt Rinjani? When I have a wife (and children) who aren’t keen on cycling long distances each day to explore some place new?

In Senggigi I skip the hotels/guesthouses/homestays at either end of the price spectrum and find a nice bungalow, the main drawcard being being a pool. Sooooo good to spend a couple of hours swimming and lounging before cycling the main drag to find food.

Dire Straits – Twisting By The Pool

Into Lombok

​​​Monday 9 Jan, 2017. Sumbawa Besar to Maroak. 20th cycling day. 6 hours 4 minutes. 110 km. Average 18.2 km/h. 380 metres up, 371 meters down. 

I slept beautifully, thanks for asking. The rooms of Hotel Tambora, all air conditioned, are tucked away, off to the side and around the back and I was disturbed by neither mosquitos, traffic nor roosters.

Nasi goreng and coffee for breakfast at 7am and then it’s time to hit the road, and after a few hours of solid pedaling it’s time for another meal. Lilian asked about bakso earlier, the photo below is a bakso shop front and then a bowl of bakso – add tomato sauce, a salty dark (oyster perhaps?) sauce, and chili as desired. The three meals I’ve had most often Indonesia have been fried chicken and rice, nasi goreng (fried rice), and bakso. While they have been similarly presented each time, there has been a differentiating factor, the homemade chili and lime hot sauce. My goodness there have been some doozies. I don’t think today’s was anything too special.

The Indonesian military, perhaps 30 of them, all armed joined me for the ferry ride to Lombok.

The north-east of Lombok is underdeveloped. I cycle to a group of three hotels/guesthouses marked on maps.me and check out each. Only one seemed interested in providing a reasonable quote, the Dewi Tuning Biru Hotel. I check in and then get down to the beach for a swim. Bliss.

Cycling around looking for some sort of food outlet, not much around but a minimart also seems to do food and the lady provided me with another double serve of, yup, nasi goreng.

Tuesday 10 Jan, 2017. Maroak to Senaru.  21st cycling day. 4 hours 51 minutes. 52 km. Average 10.7 km/h. 966 metres up, 571 meters down. 

Another good night’s sleep in clean sheets and air con, and another banana pancake with black coffee for breakfast.

I don’t feel like I’ve given out stickers on fake money notepaper for a while, and I have quite a few left so I find a school to say hello and reduce my stack. Not everyone got one, and I started packing up when the boys started asking for money.

Nice scenes to my left of the impressive Mount Rinjani, the peak of which I didn’t see because of the clouds.

I’m coming to the end of my trip (so sad) so I’m thinking of things I want to remember but haven’t yet mentioned. Photo below shows what I’ve had for snacks along the way. Little parcels of rice, egg, meat and veg in greaseproof paper that are available to buy only in the mornings for 5 or 10 thousand rupiah. I try and find a shop selling them each morning and carry them to have for lunch, or snack later in the day.

The road to Senaru is steep, as you leave coastal roads and start climbing Mt Rinjani. I would imagine this place is buzzing during the peak season but the motels and restaurants along the road in town are pretty quiet today. It’s illegal to climb the peak at the moment, wet season and chances of landslides but that doesn’t stop unscrupulous tour operators from signing tourists up at the port towns when they arrive in Lombok.  An American couple at the hotel I was staying at had paid 1.6 million each (AUD $ 175) in a package deal that included transfers, a night at this hotel, a hike with guide and one night camping at the crater rim. They were worried though because the hotel manager said a French group was turned around by park rangers that morning. He was offering them a refund but only half what they had paid!

I instead paid 10 rupiah and walked a few kilometres in the jungle finding the two waterfalls in the area.  The first was impressive and the second even more so. An exhilarating swim. The rubbish though! Plastic bottles especially, on the walking tracks, by the water, in the rock pools.

Two fishermen at the base of the second were hunting eels, HJ and van der boys, thought of you. 

Two days in one

​​Sunday 8 Jan, 2017. Manggelewa to Sumbawa Besar. 19th cycling day. 10 hours 4 minutes. 172 km. Average 17.2 km/h. 1260 metres up, 1325 meters down. 

Did you read that? 172 km. Today was a big one. I have decided I didn’t plan Sumbawa very well.  It’s an oddly shaped island and the (only) two tourist spots, surfing at Lakey Pesk and the volcano, Mt Tambora were off to the side and not on my radar, given my time was limited. I wasn’t expecting to be able to cover 170 kilometres, effectively two days in one. Perhaps I could have changed plans and detoured to one but by this stage it was too late, and to be honest, all thoughts are on Lombok and Bali.

I got away before 7am and it was cloudy so I made hay while the sun was hiding. On the only serious hill climb of the day I ran into two runners, the only people I’ve seen exercising in Indonesia since, well they are the only people I’ve seen exercising. 

I slowed and cycled with them, talking as we went, to to the top where we took a photo. I can’t remember their stories. 

It was heads down for the remainder of the day. I don’t think I gave out one sticker. I can’t remember too many opportunities. Far fewer people by the side of the road than Flores. 

By early afternoon the sun was shining bright and I was singing what I’ve tended to think of when someone calls out “foreigner!”

Bule ole, bule ole, feeling hot hot hot.

I wanted to be a buffalo doing this

By mid afternoon it was pouring with rain and I was enjoying not wearing my very expensive ultralight raincoat and eating rambutan as I rode.

By late afternoon I was tired. I skulled a litre of creaming soda and scoffed a  chocolate bar to top up me sugar levels.

By early evening I had made it to Sumbawa Besar and I headed to the planned hotel. I was greeted by the manager. Oh mister. So strong. Where have you come from today? Oh wow. Where are you going tomorrow? Oh great. Where did you start? Oh really? Where are you from? Good mister, very good. How can I help?

Um, I’d like a room please.

So sorry mister.  Fully booked tonight.

It wasn’t the fact that for the first time this trip, and after a 170k day no less, a hotel had no vacancy that annoyed me. It was the fact that he made me answer questions knowing I couldn’t stay. 

Happy to report though that a backup wasn’t far away, a kilometre back the way I had come, and the room was nice and quiet with air con.

I showered and put on some clean clothes and went looking for food. I ordered two helpings of nasi goreng and two ice teas. I then went to the nearby supermarket. I wanted a beer. Possible, kind of. On a supermarket shelf that would excite Harry there were three varieties of Bintang for sale, and all three had zero percent alcohol. I bought two chocolate milks and an ice cream instead. 

I couldn’t Bima tired

​​Friday 6 Jan, 2017. Sape to Bima. 17th cycling day. 4 hours 36 minutes. 51.1 km. Average 11.1 km/h. 579 metres up, 567 meters down. 

A good day starts and ends with a good sleep, wouldn’t you agree?  Last night I slept terribly so I was a bit of a walking zombie today. 

School is back and all the children were very neatly dressed in their brown and beige uniforms walking to and from school, returning home for lunch.

The road was good and there was only a moderate hill climb but it was all very tough going for me. This matched the environment around me which didn’t feel as fresh as Flores. There were some lovely scenes of flourishing rice paddies but there were also plenty that had been left unattended and either dry or flooded. There was also growing, but little evidence of anything else. 

Bakso and ice tea for lunch. No fruit to be seen either in or between villages.

Over priced hotels in Bima but I find one with a lovely receptionist, a short man with wonky teeth called, I think Gu Gu.

I wash my bike and swap the back tyre, with rubber worn down under the weight of myself and panniers to the less worn front one.

A much needed afternoon rest in my aircon room after doing my daily chore of washing riding clothes.  I may have flushed a sock down the drain way back when, but it turns out I’ve only needed two. In the evenings I’m often wearing thongs, or going sock less in runners.

“Where you going?” Gu Gu asks as I’m leaving the hotel just after 5pm. Food, mate. Famished. He suggests I couldn’t possibly find food on my own and insists I jump on the back of his motorbike.

He explains that Bima looks particularly bad because it’s just flooded. Which I can see. Mud and rubbish line the streets.

He takes me to the night market and a beautiful fish is fried up for me and packed with bags of rice and condiments for 25k. Gu doesn’t order. It’s your standard Friday take away fish and chips, only of course it’s fish and rice. Eat it on the balcony of the hotel and show Gu photos of back home and of my trip.

He brings me a towel and a blanket. Have another wash and go to bed sleeping soundly.

​Saturday 7 Jan, 2017. Bima to Manggelewa. 18th cycling day. 6 hours 33 minutes. 81.65 km. Average 12.4 km/h. 664 metres up, 562 meters down. 

Gu greets me as I’m leaving and again offers to help me find food. I offer some resistance but he is insistent. I follow him to a warung for a good solid meal and encourage him to eat so I can pay back some of his kindness. He does.

He directs me to follow him so he can take me to the right road. We high five and he turns right back to the hotel while I turn left to continue my journey west.

I was due to stop in a city called Dompu but on the back of a good night’s sleep, a pre 7am getaway, and gentle terrain I push forward to Manggelewa. No hotels on any maps I can find but I’m directed up a street where I find two. Both are new. Neither have any signs and would be difficult to spot without the help of locals.

Successfully bargain accommodation for the first time this trip, 100 down from 150.

Because every day is a nice day for a ride