Bali – Wake up, smell the coffee and cycle home

One of the best days that my family and I spent in Bali was the day we went on a cycle tour through rural villages, paddy fields and mountain scenery north of Ubud.

We were picked up from the place we booked the tour and driven about an hour to a “coffee farm”.  I am not convinced the place we stopped was anything more than a tourist spot but we had good time seeing what coffee and cocoa plants look like, tasting various coffees and teas and eating breakfast looking out over the forest in the valley below.  Although they also had lewaks on site, they were hard to see, and in fact we got a better view of them in the markets at Tanah Lot.

Mount Batur

Mount Batur

After breakfast we drove another 30 minutes or so to a look-out over Mount Batur and after a brief photo stop we headed 5 minutes back down the road to meet our “hogs” for the day’s trip.  Bikes and helmets are supplied as part of the tour and we cycled back down the hill towards ubud stopping at some of the key sights along the way.

Bike Stop

Bike stop at the village temple

We stopped in a traditional Balinese home in a rural village and visited the local temple in the town where our guides gave us some information on the traditions and culture of the area. (This is one of the areas where I believe you get what you pay for and we went cheap so we got pretty rudimentary information.)

A man herds his ducks down from the paddy fields

A man herds his ducks down from the paddy fields

We cycled further and stopped to look at a cock fighting arena.  Whilst the arena itself wasn’t really much to look at while we were there one of the local farmers was herding ducks on their way to market.

Duck Wrangling

Duck wrangling

He was getting the ducks from the paddies and herding them to the flat area afforded by the arena and from there they were corralled and loaded on to a waiting pick-up truck.  We watched this amazing scene unfold for some time and have to say it remains one of my best memories from our travel in the region.

Ducks ready for market

Ducks ready for market

Our penultimate stop on the tour was a set of paddy fields where a farmer was ploughing his paddies in readiness for planting.  This was pretty interesting and made all the more exciting by the balancing act that was required as we made our way along the tiny paths between the flooded paddies.

A man ploughs his paddy fields in readiness for the next crop

A man ploughs his paddy fields in readiness for the next crop

Finally we stopped at another set of paddy fields where we thanked our guides before re-boarding the minibus for lunch – Nasi Goreng at a local restaurant overlooking the river, where they initially “didn’t realise” lunch was included in our tour and tried to get us to purchase from their hugely over priced menu so be aware of what’s included in the tour you book.  Then after lunch it was back on the mini bus and the trip “home”.  All in all a great day and a bit of exercise.

The rice fields near Ubud, Bali

The rice fields near Ubud, Bali

For me the key take aways are:

  • Based on our tour don’t expect breakfast to last you till lunch – eat before your tour begins.
  • Be aware of what the tour includes as the lunch fiasco we had just felt more like a scam than an innocent mistake.
  • Suitable for almost all levels of fitness as the route is carefully selected to ensure most of the trip is downhill and gravity does most of the work (on our tour I think we had 3 hills to climb the longest of which was less than 100m in length).
  • Take your time and don’t be rushed so you can see what’s happening around – without that we would have missed the duck herding.
  • You get what you pay for.

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