• Saturday , 17 February 2018
Full stop on Bali: Indonesia

Full stop on Bali: Indonesia

Up in the lush hills of Bali, just North of Denpasar, is a little town called Ubud. The population of Ubud on any given day is a diverse mix indeed: millennial backpackers, wealthy jet setters (Barack Obama and family were in town while we were here), day tripping budget tourists who swarm in by bus, the new-age crystals and yoga expat hipsters, and local Balinese who call Ubud home. I prepared myself to hate it here and was already making excuses why we should go somewhere else. But just the opposite happened. Each day we discovered new places to explore and things to do. Our five weeks in Ubud, Bali ended up being a special treat to end our time in Asia. We ended up loving our time here.

Unlike most of Muslim-majority Indonesia, Bali is a wild exception and the majority of the population here is Balinese Hindu. Bali is strikingly different from the rest of the country and it has a look and vibe unlike anywhere else in the country, or the world for that matter.

The Monkey Forest lies within the village of Padangtegal on the island of Bali. The lush jungle preserve is home to over 600 crab-eating macaques (Macaca fascicularis). The village’s residents view the Monkey Forest as an important spiritual, economic, educational, and conservation center for the village.

It was a strange and wonderful afternoon exploring the Monkey Forest near Ubud, Bali.

We rented an airy little house on a Balinese family’s compound for $300 a month. Our little oasis was private and nestled in its own little tropical garden. And, since we were a mile or so out of Ubud town we avoided the crowds, unless we chose to ride into town for errands.

With our Suzukis now crated and steaming their way across the Pacific as cargo we needed to find an alternate way to get around for our 5 weeks on Bali. Our rented 110cc scooter was the perfect tool for exploring the island.

Overland motorcyclists are a diverse lot. We met Matt on at the Horizons Unlimited meeting on Sumbawa Island and met up again on Bali. Matt is heading from Australia to England on his Honda, a 110cc used Australian postal service bike.

Living in paradise does not need to break the budget. We rented a lovely little house on a Balinese family’s compound in Ubud for a month (US$ 300).

Shannon the filmmaker in the editing room of our cozy Ubud cottage. We have 3 years worth of photos and video footage to pare down. In the end we built a 45 minute movie that encapsulates our trip around the world. We will premier this movie at the Horizons Unlimited Canada West meeting in Nakusp, British Columbia at the end of August.

The family who rented us the little house on their compound were lovely people and very kind to us. We will miss staying with them. Ubud, Bali.

Once settled into our little house we went to work on making a short movie out of the countless hours of video footage we have taken over the past three years. The editing, storyboarding, dubbing, and soundtrack were all done on the laptop with software called Final Cut Pro. The project took about four weeks to complete with an average of 7 hours spent each day.

We met quite a few other overland motorcyclists while in Indonesia and many of our new friends were either on Bali or passed through while we were there. We met up with someone every few days and it felt good living in a foreign land and having so many friends about, we felt very at home.

Tourism is the primary industry on Bali but the biggest overall employer is still agriculture, most notably rice cultivation.

Traditional outrigger boats along the Bali shore. Sanur Beach, Bali.

Ancestors and religion are very important to the Balinese. Ubud is the cultural center of Bali and most families here maintain elaborate shrines on their compounds.

Riding the backroads of Bali on a small scooter is a delightful way to explore the island.

Proper fuel stations are few and far between on Bali so many shop keepers sell fuel by the bottle. The blue color signifies the best grade gasoline, yellow being the cheap stuff.

Bali’s roads are mostly narrow county lanes. A big motorcycle is a disadvantage here. Since speeds are low and distances never too far a scooter is the perfect way to travel.

A farmer working his terraced rice fields in Bali.

These hillside rice terraces were created by hand using primitive tools and rice has been grown here for millennia. Bali, Indonesia.

A smoldering garbage pile on a lonely road through the jungle is hard on the eyes as well as the environment. But for these two feral dogs it means full bellies. I parked my scooter on the side of the road to take this picture. As I walked closer to the trash pile to get my shot these dogs snarled and snapped their teeth at me, they didn’t want me to get any closer. Bali, Indonesia.

A smashed up statue abandoned in the bushes on the side of the road. Bali backroads are strange and wonderful places.

The Honda 110cc scooter we rented for the month cost just over a dollar a day and was worth every penny. Having motorized transport was the key to making Bali so enjoyable. We could go anywhere we wanted and an all day ride would only need two liters of fuel. We used our scooter every day, sometimes for adventures, sometimes just to go to the market to buy food to cook for dinner.

Shannon even talked me into a daily yoga exercise routine. I can proudly say I now own my very own yoga mat for the first time in my fifty-year life. Each morning we would do our routine on the tile verandah of the house then we would roll up our mats and go to work on the movie. In the end, the movie is definitely Shannon’s baby; she did most of the heavy lifting and is the editing guru. But I worked alongside when I could and we are both very happy with the final product.

A few miles out of Ubud, Bali there is a small barbecue shack where you can get a slab of pork ribs for US$3. This spot became the informal clubhouse for all the other overland motorcyclists in the area and we met here many times for long and lingering lunches.

Our barbecue master sorting out the lunch.

Three bucks and worth every penny.

Around the town of Ubud there are many walking paths through the rice fields and peaceful strolls were a favorite activity.

Our five weeks on Bali was easy, enjoyable, and someday we will go back for more, but the morning we caught the cab to the airport neither one of us were sad. We have been off our motorcycles for way too long and we are eager to get to Canada so we can ride into familiar mountains and set up camp once again. We miss our comfy little tent and Spam fried over a petrol stove.

As the wind suddenly died these young boys had a problem on their hands; their giant homemade kite crashed into the farmer’s field.

Fortunately the wind came back and the boys got their kite aloft once again.

At first glance Bali felt overrun by tourists but the longer we were here the more we fell in love with the island. We found it was easy to escape the crowds and the Balinese people are welcoming and very friendly; their exposure to extensive tourism has not made them jaded.

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