Back in the 1960’s Bali was a destination for surfing enthusiasts; it was easy for these tourists to see the authentic Balinese culture. However over the years Bali has become a tourist mecca. The Balinese culture has become lost in a sea of souvenir shops, resorts, day spas and upmarket dining.
So, how can you experience and show the kids what life is like for the Balinese people?
Well, on a recent family holiday to Bali we discovered cycle tours that take you through the heart of Bali. There are several cycle tour companies available and some will offer the choice of toddler bike seats, tandem bikes and children’s bikes – just do your research and choose which one meets your needs best. We chose the Green Bike Tours as they not only offer small group tours and tandem bikes but also provide a support car that you can utilise to carry your bag or if the kids get tired. We were collected bright and early from our hotel, and were driven for an hour up to the arty town of Ubud where the cycle tour guide joined you. Our tour guide told us how he grew up on a nearby farm he inherited and now runs with the aid of his wife and children. During the talk we were driving along the winding roads of the jungle and arrived at a spice garden and coffee agro plantation. We saw how local spices like chilli, cinnamon, vanilla, cacao and coffee are grown. This region is famous for its Luwak coffee, which is made from the poop of the Luwak or Asian Palm Civet (a small cat like animal that you will see in cages) then it is roasted and ground. We even got a chance to try grinding some of the coffee, before tasting a selection of flavoured coffees whilst overlooking the most spectacular valley views. Back in the car passing citrus plantations we made our way to the top of the mountain where the wonderful views of the Batur Volcano and Lake Batur opened up in front of us.
After a local brunch of toast, rice, noodles and pancakes we were taken to the bike depot to choose the appropriate sized bikes and helmets. And then we headed off on our family cycle tour down a local street with a guide in front advising when to slow down or watch for pot holes, there was another guide at the rear of the small group and of course the support car follows along behind. It was a very easy and generally downhill ride; we found we had our hands on the brakes for most of the trip and the local cars appeared to be used to the cyclists easily maneuvering their way around us. We passed through several small villages along the ride and were even fortunate enough to happen upon a village that was having a festival to celebrate the opening of their new temple. The women were all dressed in their finest sarongs with white or yellow lace kabayas that matched the flags adorning the main road. At the next village on the cycle tour we got to see inside a local villager’s compound. Each room is a separate building – the sleeping building is separate from the kitchen which houses an open fire stove, a large water tank was located just outside, a bit further away the toilet and shower room, and a pig is settled undercover at the far end of the lot. There was also an area set aside for the family’s temples. We now understand how all those stone carving shops along the major roads stay in business – every family compound has shrines and temples! We also learned how to make a Hindu offering with the family. Back on the bikes we continued along through a couple more villages and saw the local kids coming home from school for lunch. There is no proper school bus so all the kids piled onto the back of a ute/pickup truck or walked home.
There was a slight respite from the heat as we made our way into the jungle and stopped to refresh. We were given bottled water and green bananas that were sweet and surprisingly ripe. After leaving the jungle it was time to ride through the rice fields which was probably the hardest part of the whole bike ride. I nearly fell off at one point due to the bumpy, sandy tracks, but it was totally worth it to see the rice fields and the irrigation system known as Subak – water trickles down stone trenches and branches off into each rice field. Our guide explained that the rice fields are handed down from generation to generation.
The End of the Cycle Tour
Out of the rice fields it is time to deposit your bike and hop back into the car to be taken for a well-earned Indonesian lunch of chicken satay and fried rice at an up-market villa overlooking the rice fields – a perfect ending to a day of discovering the real Bali on a cycle tour.
I am Sally-Ann Brown the author of Toddlers on Tour. I am a wife, a mother and travel blogger who has always had a passion to travel. A degree in Tourism, 20+ years’ experience in the hospitality and tourism industries plus lessons learned travelling as a family; I have discovered a plethora of travel tips for travel with kids. My goal is to help you have a better family holiday. Website: http://toddlersontour.com.au Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/toddlersontour.com.au Twitter: http://twitter.com/traveltips4trip Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/traveltips4trip Google+: https://plus.google.com/+ToddlersontourAu Instagram: http://instagram.com/traveltips4trip