05 December, 2011

Bali 2011

It’s 5.45am early dawn high up in the central mountains of Bali and Kimie and I are off to climb an active volcano – Mt Batur.

The little red Yamaha Mio scooter is buzzing away at a heady 60kmh as we ride the empty roads through Penelokan, a mountain village with excellent views of the volcano and eponymous lake.

Penelokan is quiet at this hour, not even the dogs are stirring – or are they?

Over there on our right a mangy local hound drowsily picks itself up, shakes off the sleep and proceeds to slowly meander across the road. I slow down just to be sure, but expect that like most of the local mutts it will plonk itself down again a few steps later – most likely in the middle of the road and oblivious to passing traffic….

….. but no, he keeps coming so I slow further – down to around 30kmh now – when Fido decides to make an almighty dash to the other side and directly in our path. I hit the brakes hard but is too late and I plan for the inevitable collision and hope it is not going to be too painful – as usual, we are dressed like the natives and our shorts, teeshirt and thin rain poncho are guaranteed to shred themselves on the coarse bitumen along with the removal of several epidermal layers.

With a thud the front tyre hits Fido amidships and with a series of yelps he cartwheels into the air. My focus though is not on him, but on keeping the Mio upright. Amazingly the little Mio tracks true and wobbles to an almost stop. I ask Kimie if she is Ok, she replies YES and without stopping we continue on our way to our 6am rendezvous with the guide who will take us up the volcano. I subsequently check the Mio and it doesn’t even have a scratch – this is one of the benefits of a small bike, we hit the canine from below, rather than from above and didn’t end up bouncing over it.

Apart from this incident, the rest of our time riding in Bali was most enjoyable. We picked up the little Mio in Kuta on the morning after our arrival, and for the princely sum of $4 per day we immediately sped off for the 120km ride to Lovina on the northern coast of Bali where we planned to spend our holiday relaxing by the beach and enjoying the sights and sounds in the immediate area.

We had packed light with only two carry-on bags as our sole luggage and this allowed us to carry everything on the Mio without difficulty. With one bag upright between my legs in the step through area, and the other balanced on my thighs, the Mio was easily manoeuvrable through traffic. Once we had wended our way through the stop-go chaos around Denpasar we left the traffic behind as we started the long ascent along quiet country roads bordered by rice padis up to the cool mountain air of Bedugul before wending our way back down to the steamy coast and relative traffic congestion of Singaraja. On reaching the coast it was a quick 10km westward ride to the peaceful relaxed beach resort at Lovina.

We also enjoyed quite a few day trips along the coast and up into the hills, following 2 lane bitumen roads that slowly petered into single lane then gravel and then 1.5m wide dirt tracks whilst simultaneously getting steeper and steeper to the point where first Kimie had to hop off and walk and eventually I had to climb off and run alongside the asthmatic Mio as it struggled up the precipitous slopes and into the ever thinner air.

Riding in Bali itself is most unlike the Western experience and one has to contend with not only animals but also the regular array of vehicles - oncoming vehicles overtaking (requiring you to run off the road or stop), motorbikes in the millions zipping past you in all directions, and pedestrians oblivious to the traffic. Throw in the poor quality, potholed and bumpy roads and you have a true adventure. Despite all this, however, Kimie felt more comfortable on the little Mio than she did riding as pillion in Australia – , possibly due to the much lower traffic speeds. Most of the time she was more than happy to sit back and relax, without holding on to me or the bike, and make video recordings holding the camera as we rode along.

Overall, a very enjoyable experience for us and one we wish to repeat again soon – one tip though, avoid southern Bali! Anywhere south of Denpasar is simply traffic jam central and no fun riding at all.

No comments: