How To Find The Real Bali By Bike

Thursday, June 23, 2011

There is a saying: “To really see a country, leave the city.” Just as Paris may not be the best representation of France, and New York City isn’t a complete portrayal of the United States (sorry Matt), the same can be said about other parts of the world, Bali for example.

There are two well-traveled versions of Bali, both of which are arguably not the “real” thing. Who doesn’t enjoy sprawling out on the endless beaches the island’s known for, or exploring the markets and eateries of the densely populated triangle between Kuta Beach, the capitol city of Denpassar, and the hill town of Ubud. They are alluring areas, but many don’t venture beyond them. For a real taste of the island, try ducking into one of those tourist offices in Ubud’s main road and you can arrange a guided bike ride through the less-visited countryside.

The NZ Herald recently described this excursion away from the sand and crowds. Bikes and travelers are taken by bus, uphill, stopping at a volcanic crater that dominates the landscape, then onto breakfast where they’re likely to encounter a “cat fox,” the nocturnal animal that is the source of the world’s most expensive coffee. In the wild, the cat fox (or luwak to be technical) selects the reddest, ripest coffee beans and eats them, discarding the beans “out the other end” where the nuggets are dried and the beans are harvested. (The coffee sells in Bali for around $700/kg).

After breakfast, travelers then hop on bicycles and zip past the tiny shops that make up Bali’s smaller villages. The guide explains the importance of BBC to Bali’s economy — banana, bamboo and coconut — as they roll by farming terraces carved into the hills. Fields stretch onward, with whole families working to harvest soy, rice and tapioca.

Though Bali’s sand and resorts lure people there from all over the world, perhaps the true Bali — the Bali far from the visitors — is what many of are seeking. The author of the NZ Herald piece would likely agree:

We drift past exquisite rice fields flanked by dark, swaying coconut palms and pass the temples which shape and anchor Balinese life. There is beauty everywhere, natural and created. This is the Bali I have been searching for — contained, quiet, peaceful.

[Go by Bike by Axoplasm/Flickr]
By Jon Wick


About the Author

Jon lives in Butte, Montana, spending most of his time on skis or bikes; sometimes both. He began travel writing while teaching in Korea and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Technical Communication at Montana Tech. Jon has begun writing his first book, The Story of Will, whose movie rights are still (very) available. Catch more of Jon at (@ExpedJon)

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