I've been staying in the artsy town of Ubud for a month now and I was ready to go explore the island. Staying in a peaceful and comfortable place has its advantages and disadvantages. It's good to know a place but after a while I felt stuck. I wanted to go but couldn't! Finally I gathered my courage and embarked on a trip: I would do a loop to the north, east and south of Bali. I brought a map, small backpack, motorbike and my faith! Back home, I have trouble getting places even when I use my GPS so this was a real challenge. A leap within a leap!
Traveling solo around Bali is interesting and requires a good sense of humor (which luckily I have). People want to help you even if they don't know where you are going. Often this is part of a come-on and after one such helping episode I was offered a massage! Road signs, which I thought were supposed to be universal, aren't. There were signs that looked like gates, others that promised busty women ahead and one that was just an exclamation point!
The first day I traveled for 8 hours. I went up north to the crater of Mount Bator and its gorgeous views of the volcano and the valley below. There is a coffee plantation that does tastings. I tried Bali coffee, ginger coffee, ginger tea, lemongrass tea and hot chocolate. Their shop is very overpriced. I was shocked that I could bargain, even though there were set prices. I walked away with a package of ginger tea with 75% off the marked price! I traveled down a cold and steep hill on a windy road. On my map the way down looked short but in reality it took over 2 hours. About 4 hours into my trip I couldn't stand it any longer and started listening to my iPod, which helped pass the time.
I stayed the first night in Amed, a coastside village littered with guest houses, restaurants and diving shops. If you are not a diver (which I am not) there is absolutely nothing to do there. The second day it rained and I sought shelter in a magic looking restaurant/hotel. The owner said no one had come for 3 days and all he could offer me was tea, a banana from his garden and homemade chocolate cake. I accepted all three and read a book about cultivating Kombucha and an interesting article which claimed that a cure for AIDS had already been discovered in 1990 (apparently using electric current to kill the virus). After lunch I proceeded to fall asleep on the couch to the sounds of the rain.
Arriving in Candidasa (another beachside town) later that day I found a place to stay based on the recommendation of a quirky German couple I met earlier that day. The owner's name was Gary and he was a joke-cracking Australian. He said the bed was so comfy that I could jump on it. I took him up on the offer! I ended up staying two nights there and visiting a hidden beach was down a very poor road that tested my motorbike abilities.
Because I decided to extend my trip from three days to four, I needed to call people back in Ubud so that they didn't worry. Community is a beautiful thing and I am honored to have established two here. I had to call two separate sets of people to let them know of my change of plans. I am so grateful for the gifts that I have received on this trip!
It was amazing and very empowering to take this trip. People would ask me who my driver was and if I was traveling with people. When I said I was on the motorbike and by myself, the common reply was a thumbs up and admiration! Guess I am a little adventurous even by Balinese standards.
Photo caption: Terraced rice patties are a common yet always beautiful sight in Bali. This photo taken on the way from Amed to Candidasa.