A bike ride through Ubud takes me on a winding journey of scenery and farming life outside its urban sprawl. From rice and tapioca fields blanketing the land and rows of tall papaya trees to leafy ravines and sloping foothills – it’s an organic journey through the heart of Bali. The town’s name is derived from the Balinese word for medicine, so it’s only natural to hop onto a bike to explore the surrounds of Ubud and get some fresh air in the process.
Within an hour, this peaceful scenic bike ride morphs into more like Tour de Bali – children stand by the roadside and cheer me on as I speed freely on the downhill slope of a calf-stretching hill climb. Their cheers and clapping pace along with me as the wind races through my cotton shirt; they urge me to ride faster and faster. Almost all too soon my bike slows to the pace of flatter road and I’m back to rotating my pedals through more forest and farmland. Children wave to me from the dirt-side and call out “hello!” in an excited chorus. Clouds part to let the sun belt down upon me and sweat starts to drip down my back as I exert my strength back into the momentum of my ride. Slopes return and hills are climbed before flat tracks bend back into view.
Gullies and side streets offer brief glimpses into desa life. I ride through many desas, or villages, today; each with locals selling groceries from roadside shops, or squatting in doorways casually sucking away on half-smoked cigarettes. Their eyes follow me, some with smiling faces and waves while others riddle their eyes with intrigue. Massive flags fly proudly in their courtyards, flags of faraway countries – Brazil, Germany, and Italy. It’s all in the spirit of World Cup.
The sky is overcast again, despite the heat beating down, and the anticipated view of mountains along the horizon is skewed. Still, more desas are brimming with sleepy farming scenes. Women wander along the road in a row, their heads and shoulders bearing the weight of baskets filled with grain and groceries. They’re showered by penjor sprouting into the air, decorations that ring in the spirit of Bali’s Galungan festival when ancestral spirits visit the earth. Festival umbrellas line the road, bending in the wind as their tassels fly gently. One man is drying rice on a large tarp on the side of the road, his arms flapping the tarp to pile the rice together before the wind picks it up again.
I stop for a welcomed break and refuel on water and fruit under the canopy of lush forest. Locals vroom by on their motorbikes as I squat near the warm asphalt and nibble away on a thick, juicy slice of sweet watermelon. It’s not long before I’m back on the bike and heading into the direction of a local house for lunch.
Veg Voyages offers small group vegan and vegetarian tours throughout Southeast Asia. Veg Voyages travels to Bali on their ‘Vegin Out on the Island of Gods’ trip twice a year. The bike ride through Ubud is one of the activities experienced on the trip. Visit their website for more information and inspiration.
This blog post has been entered into The Luxe Nomad Bali Villa Blogger Competition.
Wish me luck!