If you’ve already read Part 1 of this epic saga, we had left off with me flailing about in the bushes trying to untangle myself from a bicycle. For those of you who live life on the edge and want to start halfway through this story, the gist of Part 1 is – I can’t ride a f****** bike.
So when my friends finally stopped laughing long enough to help me back up onto the devil’s seat, we continued on cruising the streets of our guide’s Balinese village and learned more about the daily lives of his community.
Everywhere we had been in Bali had multiple shrines along all the streets and backroads (imagine replacing every Starbucks in New York City with a shrine – then double it – that’ll give you an idea of how many). In Balinese culture, stone carving is an intricate skill passed down from generation to generation. We were able to watch a newly married couple shaving and shaping volcanic rock (maybe from Mount Batur) to form sacred shrines to sell to local families and communities.
As we moved on through more areas of the village, we passed schools with children out front waving erratically and yelling “hello! hello! hello!”. Some even ventured to the side of the road with hands outstretched to try and give us high fives (I wasn’t falling for that trick – I’d already fallen off my bike once).
We pedaled on past other community houses, shops, and shrines and ended up at a rather large communal temple. We weren’t able to enter since we weren’t a part of the Hindu community but we did stop for some photographs when someone pointed out a sign informing us that menstruating women were not aloud in the temple. Turns out that it makes them ‘impure’ and ‘unclean’ (as if we undergo this monthly torture by choice).
After more temple spotting, we started to veer towards narrower streets that eventually turned to complete dirt roads. We had been on the bikes for quite a while now and my sides were starting to stitch up with cramps as I started panting harder and harder (I had run a half marathon 8 months before so had already checked off my yearly exercise). I mean I knew I was a bit out of shape but this seemed rather extreme. No one else was struggling.
When I mentioned something to my friend Tricia, she said, “Shift your gears.” I’m sorry – my what now? You mean I didn’t have to spend the whole ride feeling as though the past 2 years were devoted to continually rolling a stone up a hill? After I made that life saving adjustment, we moved on to the ‘agricultural’ part of the tour to something I had been stereotypically dying to do since reading Eat, Pray, Love – wander through the rice paddies.
‘Favorite’ is probably the number one most overused word in the world so I won’t use it here but I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the tour as we were able to really connect with our environment and feel as though we were the only ones around (sounds super cheesy but it’s true).
We were able to come up close and personal with the locals while winding through paths that I’m not entirely sure were actually paths. I’m not going to type here and bore you by describing everything I saw (if I had a nickle for everytime I read the phrase ‘lush and vibrant’ in a blog post, I’d be writing this on my gold-leaf dusted computer) but rather let you see for yourself…
After a few hours spent sloshing through villages, fields, irrigation systems, and plenty of mud, we came to our end point and were relegated back to the van (upon which I endured an uncomfortable ride thanks to my freshly bruised cycling rump).
The day was rounded out with a traditional Indonesian meal (and of course a cold beer) at a charming place overlooking (surprise surprise) a rice field.
Luckily I survived this harrowing bike trek and surprised myself by telling my friends it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Not to mention I was able to take home some free souvenirs – purple and black bruises from my many bumps and falls.
Ever ridden a bike in Bali? Let me know in the comments below!
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