Cycling through the Bali rice paddies

February 17, 2012 in Indonesia,Places

When I was zipping around Seminyak on my hot pink motorbike and saw people cycling through the cluttered streets, my first thought was: ARE YOU CRAZY? Smog, potholes, crazy drivers, the need to create your own lane and create your own throughway in a world without the authority of traffic lights or dotted lines. And it just seemed so…slow. The pure chaos of Bali was already rubbing off on me.

Cycling through the Bali rice paddies with Banyan Tree Bike Tours, Indonesia

And then I arrived in Ubud. Deep breathes. Yoga breathing. Rice paddies. Fresh air. All of a sudden, cycling was looking a lot more promising. I decided to escape the crowded Ubud Market and skip a yoga class, and instead head out with Banyan Tree Bike Tours to cycle through the scenery for a morning.

View from breakfast with Banyan Tree Bike Tours, Bali, Indonesia

First stop: breakfast. After a 7:30 hotel transfer and an hour twisting and turning into central Bali, we end up at a restaurant overlooking the volcano: a scenic backdrop for a breakfast of pineapple pancakes and Balinese kopi.

Balinese family compound with Banyan Tree Bike Tours, Bali, Indonesia

Next stop: Pick up our bikes. A hodge-podge of mountain bikes in different colors and styles.

Balinese family compound with Banyan Tree Bike Tours, Bali, Indonesia

Up next: a typical Balinese family compound. One of the guides leads us inside his family’s compound and explains how a family compound tends to work, as well as gives insight into typical Balinese practices like teeth-filing and cremation. My main takeaway: the Balinese family unit is a very, very integral part of the social structure.

Giant spider on tour with Banyan Tree Bike Tours, Bali, Indonesia

We brake for spiders. Someone spies an enormous web up in the trees. Our guide laughs it off—that’s just a baby!

Cycling through rice paddies with Banyan Tree Bike Tours, Bali, Indonesia

The scenic stretch. The vast majority of the day is spent cycling through roads curving through Bali’s signature rice paddies, wide swathes of luscious green under endless blue skies.

man working in rice paddies, bali, indonesia

More rice paddies. The fresh air is rejuvenating. While the work must be back-breaking, I can’t help but think how wonderful it would be to wake up in surrounds like this every day, to have this natural beauty as your office. 

Muddy feet after cycling through rice paddies, Banyan Tree Bike Tours, Bali, Indonesia

“Many people fall off into mud. Haha!” The last bit of the tour goes off-roading, trading in the sealed road for a mud path. Did I mention that it absolutely bucketed down the day before? We all get bogged, testing out different ways to make it to the other side without falling off into the ditch. Walk the bike? Ride with one foot? Ride at full speed? It’s a test of trial and error, and all I can do is thank my lucky stars that my shoes were muddy before the tour.

We ended the morning with an incredible spread of homemade food: chicken satays, sauteed veggies, three different types of Balinese sweets. I was absolutely stuffed from both the food and the surprisingly strenuous cycling, but very glad to escape the urban chaos for a stretch of rice paddy beauty.

Note: Banyan Tree Bike Tours kindly offered me a complimentary tour, but all opinions are my own. 

  • These pics are gorgeous — except for the spider eeeeeeek! What an incredible place, I want to be there NOW!!!

  • Ahhhh, that spider is HUGE!!!

    But the rest of it sounds nice.

  •  That spider is insane! And I thought huntsmen made my skin crawl :-/

  • Oh my God my heart stopped when I saw the spider! One of the reasons Asia scares the crap out of me – I am terrified of bugs and everything that has more than 4 paws!

  • The spider is way cool…but damn huge!  I love the photos, makes me need to get to bali someday soon….

  • camorose

    The rice paddies in Bali are just incredible–SO worth a visit!

  • camorose

    Haha yes–I declined to hold the spider myself, but it was crazy to see the guides carry it around!

  • camorose

    Haha just when I’d gotten used to the huntsmen in Oz…Bali definitely outdid itself!

  • camorose

    Haha I’ve definitely gotten MUCH more used to bugs since being in Asia…not my favorite part, but I don’t freak out nearly as much.

  • camorose

    Do it! Such a gorgeous part of the world!

  • How cool! Sounds like a great experience…. except for that spider. It looks mean!

  • camorose

    Haha the spider seemed super friendly although I declined to hold it myself!

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