Do not be fooled by the many bicycling tour operators. They all run the same root with the same bikes and use the same guides. The 350,000 rupiah tours offer you lunch. The 150,000 rupiah one does not. In Ubud paying an extra 200,000 rupiah per person for lunch, well that’s nonsense. I can take you to restaurants where the food is amazing and you would pay 200,000 for all of you to eat!
Anyway back to where I was… How do I know this? Well the brochure says it: “There are many Bike tours in Bali, though they all charge around 360.000 rp. They all travel the same roads and small tracks and rice fields. You will see all the same very interesting places including the volcano and temples and amazing scenery though this tour is at a very low price. Why you ask?? Because we don’t feed you……. we ask that you have your breakfast as you normally would and bring your own snacks for the trip including water. And you book direct, saving commissions.”
This was also verified when they came to collect us from our house this morning at 8am. Before we could get in the car with the other passengers from Emerald Tours the guide jumped out and told us that they were owned by the same person and please not to mention the price to the other guests as we got ours very cheap price :) Well then, WIN!
They drove us to a coffee plantation, where you see them make the coffee and try several different teas and coffees. My 3 year old downed at least 3 cups of vanilla coffee, coconut coffee and the mocha! I didn’t have one, yuk! After this visit they asked us what we want to do.
A typical tour takes you to the volcanoes where you have breakfast, then hop on your bike around 11am and travel until 2pm, when you stop at their restaurant for lunch. We had asked for a custom tour, as we did not need al that extra food money and we also wanted a shorter tour since we had a 3 and 2 year old with us. They were so obliging and so we skipped the volcanoes (which we have seen previously) and started our cycling tour at 9:30am, it was still cool and we had plans to be done by 12:30pm.
It seems like a long time and I can see all your minds ticking over how on earth does anyone cycle for 3 hours? So easy. It’s a downhill tour. Most of the time you are pressing the brakes not the pedals. Sure there was a few hills up, but nothing worth worrying over, the whole thing was fairly simple and so scenic.
Amazing greenery, rice fields, local’s all saying hello all the time, little villages, crazy motorists, breathtaking palm trees and constantly the breeze and smell of just freedom.
Both our bikes had a baby seat and Josh took on Mia, while I took Caius and off we went. Caius was so tired by the time we started he fell asleep fairly quickly and was laughed at by several locals as his head flopped around on the back of my bike. Mia also fell asleep during the ride.
It was such an adventure that I would highly recommend. Our tour guide was fantastic. We stopped several times where he showed us a typical living compound in Bali and revealed the several hundred different ceremonies they do throughout the year. He shared with us about how he recently became a Hindu priest and how no one is allowed to touch his head any more. I asked what happens if they do and he say’s he gets sick. What an amazing culture to truly believe something like that. He shared about how villages were made and who lives in their houses. He showed us this amazing tree and why it wore a sarong. Apparently the sarong around the statues and trees, etc. mark that there is a spirit there, but they do not know if it is evil or good. He shared that 47% of their wage goes on religious ceremonies: the offerings, the ceremonies, the decorations, the preparations. Suddenly the Christian 10% tithe that has most people in an uproar actually seems hardly fair when we have such an amazingly loving God in comparison.
He shared that they have a ceremony for a child every 6 months, not just a year. That a child is not clean until it is 3 months old and after the ceremony it can then go to temple, etc. He shared about how they prepare the rice, how they carve wood, his hopes and dreams for the future. The Balinese culture is actually very open and kind and generous and very family orientated.
When we came to the end of our 26 km, 3-hour bicycle trek it was sad to see him go, but he was off to do another tour that afternoon as he does 7 days a week.
I learnt a lot about Bali today and it’s culture and religious habits. I drew great comfort in my personal faith as a Christian and a loving God who does not require much from me, but still I fight even what He does want. Today I guess I had a little Eat Pray Love moment where I fully realised how blessed I am to have grown in Western society, and to have known God’s mercy and grace. Now to just extend it.
Beautiful Bali. Definitely give this a go on your next visit.