After recovering from our New Year’s Day bouts of gazpacho-gut gripe, we were ready for another outing with Bali Adventure Tours (BAT). This one promised a morning riding mountain bikes down the sloping hills of Bali’s northern region, and an afternoon at BAT’s Sumatran elephant preserve that included a promenade astride a pachyderm!
After a long, winding drive through the countryside, we arrived at a restaurant with a spectacular view of Batur, Bali’s sacred mother volcano.
Our BAT guides helped us choose mountain bikes – figuring out how to work the gears and brakes was key, since the trip would be downhill most of the way with some fairly steep grades.
Miranda was in a tough spot – too tall for the banana-seat bikes but too short for the grown-up bikes. She opted for the larger model, which proved problematic later on some tough trails, where she suffered a couple of nasty spills. Bravo, Miranda, for pulling through!
The trek led us through 25 kilometers of lush countryside. At the higher altitudes we saw fields of corn, coffee and jackfruit.
We stopped in a coffee field to check out the green-roast.
In the next field over, our guide showed us how to blow bubbles out of a castor-oil leaf!
The villagers who lived along our route were obviously accustomed to seeing helmeted foreigners zipping past, but we still got some long, curious looks…
…and an occasional smile, especially from the school kids we met on their way home for lunch.
In one village we passed through, the kids were clearly accustomed to posing for pictures.
A bit later, we made a sharp turn behind a small village and ended up zooming along on a narrow trail for over an hour.
Bumps and mud made the going a bit rough, but also exciting in spots:
As we descended, we began to pass through rice paddies, where we could see farmers harvesting and replanting.
Bali’s fertile soil supports three crops of rice a year, making it a never-ending occupation.
Sacks of freshly-harvested rice were ready for processing.
Back on paved roads again, we knew we were getting close to our destination when we passed through the stone-carving village of Taro.
An occasional rooster crow punctuated our final sprint through scattered raindrops. These birds are prized fighters, and are kept outside so they can be entertained by passers-by before they perform in ritual temple cockfights.
Sami, an animal-lover, was appalled to learn that they were slated to die fighting and was relieved that we wouldn’t be around to see!