Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Cycling In Indonesia Bali 2018 Day 1: Welcome To Bali The Land of The Gods

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Cycling Indonesia Bali 2018 Day 1: Welcome To Bali The Land of The Gods
Bali, Indonesia :Wednesday, 21st November 2018
This is part of a multi-mode tour Bali & Nusa Penida:
Cycling Distance: 5 km.     |     Level: Easy
Time : 2:45pm to 3:50pm
Time Taken : 1 hrs. 5 mins. (including stop for lunch and many photo opps).

This is page 1 of a 6-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
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Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
    Traffic in Indonesia, is right-hand drive, so cycle on the left. Same thing applies when crossing the road, take note of the direction in which traffic is approaching from!
2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
    This past few years, KutaUbud and the surrounding regions have developed tremendously and traffic along most roads can be quite busy. Cycle with care and do take note that there are many motorcyclists around.

3. Weather
     Bali during end November can get quite hot, with temperatures averaging 31°C and 25°C for day and night respectively, so do re-hydrate regularly. Do expect some rain during this time too.
     Useful weather forecast sites for the Indonesia is AccuWeather. For more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.

4. Bringing Bikes Onto Planes
    We flew Malindo Air from Kuala Lumpur to Kuta, the fare included 25 kg checked-in luggage (inclusive of sports equipment) which was more than adequate for our bicycles. On the outgoing flight our Brompton bicycles were packed into Dimpa bags; while on the return leg we had a second spare Dimpa to pack our cycling gear (jerseys, zippable pants, etc) and also for shopping purchases. Seven kg. of allowable cabin luggage were also included in the fare. Malindo's fare also include free light meals, drinks and on-board video/music entertainment on demand on individual screens.
    For Warganegara Mas (senior citizens above sixty) can skip the long queue at immigration by using the Senior Citizens Priority Lanes at both Kuala Lumpur international Airport and Bali (Ngurah Rai) Airport.
     A tip, simple but important. Ensure that you DO NOT carry your tool kits or any long/sharp metal objects in your hand luggage. Put your tool kit into your checked-in bike bags. I often seen friends forgetting about this, only to have their tools confiscated at the security checkpoints. Also note that power banks are not allowed to be checked-in.

5. Places of Interests
 Along the route were several places of interests, some of which we visited others we did not for lack of time:
- Satria Gatotkaca Statue at the Satria Gatotkaca Park (GPS: -8.74438, 115.17886) situated at the road exit of Bali (Ngurah Rai) Airport.
- Statue of Lord Ganesha at the airport arrival waiting area.
- Baruna (Varuna) Statue (GPS:-8.73719, 115.16727 ) at south Kuta.
- Angel wings wall mural in Nuka Restaurant (GPS: -8.73737, 115.16688at south Kuta.
Pantai Jerman (German Beach) (GPS: -8.73621, 115.16249) at south Kuta.
- Statues of Balinese wearing traditional Balinese daily wear at Sulis Beach Hotel & Spa (GPS: -8.73617, 115.16362) at south Kuta.

6. Food
Lunch: Simplified version of Javanese mixed rice (Nasi Campur) at Warung Saica (GPS: -8.74374, 115.17909).
Tea: Bintang Beer & fruit juices at Nuka Restaurant (GPS: -8.73737, 115.16688).
Dinner: Sundanese FoodKupat Tahu, iced Lidah Buaya (aloe vera) at Warong Kang Zanger (GPS:-8.73743, 115.1676 ).

7. Accommodations
   Bali has a wide range of accommodations, ranging from six-stars hotels, to homestays and even back-packers hostels. We stayed at the Nuka Beach Inn (GPS: -8.7374, 115.16687), a three-pax room with en-suite bathroom/toilet at 320k rupiahs per night.
Address: Jl. Wana Segara No.11 X, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia.
Tel.: +62-361-756584

8. Communicating with Each Other
    When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost from the rest. There are booths selling these just after exiting the arrival hall of Bali (Ngurah Rai) Airport. We opted for Telkomsel's at it provides the best coverage even at many of the remote areas of Nusa Penida, and got their Simpati prepaid sim cards with 10GB of data valid of 30 days at 250k rupiahs. 3G internet is available in the more populated areas but can drop to the slower GPRS or even Edge in remote areas.
    Most hotels, motels, home-stays, restaurants, and airports have free Wifi; do note that these free wifi may not be secure and registration could be required. But one can safe on one's mobile data by using these especially for uploading or downloading videos.

9. Communicating with Locals
    As Bali, is a favorite tourist destinations, many locals speak fairly good English. At the smaller towns, locals speak some rudimentary English. The older generation speak very little English, so knowing some basic Bahasa Indonesia (or even better - Balinese language) will come in handy and also warm one up to the locals.
10. Navigation
    We used Google Maps in Walking Mode for navigation but there is a lag when starting off, so one would have to cycle a bit to get the orientation right. Google Maps is also useful as it shows updated places of interests that may not be shown on GPS units.
    Alternatively, download the MAPS.ME app together with the relevant country maps. This app can be used offline.
11. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads and the relevant tools.

I love Bali, it's an island steep in culture with friendly soft spoken people and many interesting tourist sites to visit. The colourful people and places have attracted me so much that I have been on three previous non-cycling tours there, each time experiencing a different facade of the island, from the busy towns, to the quiet villages and serene parks, to the terrace padi fields and up to the volcanic mountains; with these diversified background it's now wonder that the place is called Island of the Gods
But to cycle there was something I had hoped for but did not materialize.... UNTIL OUT OF THE BLUES came an opportunity to ride there. The Brompton Owners Bali (BOB) group together with the Ministry of Tourism Indonesia had organised a "We Love Bali" Brompton World Traveler event to cycle in Bali and had invited Brompton owners from the region to their event. It's an all expense paid event; for the duration of the event accommodations, food and bus transfers were provided, all we had to do was buy our own air tickets 😊 ...... it's an opportunity not to be missed! Many of us promptly registered to join. It won't be a hard-core cycling tour but the organizers did show us a face of Bali which I had not seen before.

This is short and easy route from Bali Airport to Kuta, with a detour for lunch.
Cycling Distance: 5 km.     |     Level: Easy

Eager to attend the "We Love Bali" Brompton World Traveller event organised by BOB; many of us will be going to Bali one day ahead of the event. For those who had been to Bali before, it's a day to get reacquainted with the island; while for those going for the first time, it's a day to warm up to it's people and culture.
We would be flying via Malindo Air. We had used this airline on our tour of Cambodia & Vietnam a few months back; and from that previous experience we had liked it's policy of including sports equipment (meaning our bicycles) without any extra charges. Also meals (with unlimited drinks) and on-board entertainment-on-demand were provided via personalized TV screens. We found all these inclusive items made their slightly higher fare more worthwhile than some budget airlines.

Another thing we found out was that there is a special immigration counter for Warganegara Mas (senior citizens older than sixty) at both Kuala Lumpur international Airport and Bali (Ngurah Rai) Airportt. Great! Older people like me and my buddy Sin (of the hApPy HaPpY blogs) could skip the usual long queues. Here we are the two of us happily smiling; the trouble is that our cycling had kept us looking young and the officers had to have a proper look at our passports to make sure 😅😅😅.

9:50am - This morning's air traffic seems to be higher than normal; there were long queues of planes at the taxiways waiting to take off. We waited fifty minutes after boarding before taking off. Okay, I am not complaining - it's better to be safe - it's just that we were eager and looking forward to be in Bali.
After taking off, looking down I saw adjacent housing developments near the airport. The land looked scarred and very laterite brown, with pools of muddy brown water. It's a pity, after seeing how clean the environment and water at New Zealand was during my recent cycling trip there, I wonder how long it will take us to reach that stage of environment consciousness.

Three hours later, we approached Bali. What a difference there was! Looking down, I could see the boats parked on a sea that was so clear that one could almost see right through to the bottom.

We landed at Bali (Ngurah Rai) Airport to views of a much larger new airport building that was complete around 2011, it incorporated Balinese traditional architectural elements.
The airport is named after I Gusti Ngurah Rai, a Balinese hero who died on November 1946 in a puputan (fight to the death) against the Dutch during the Indonesian Revolution.

Bali is many things to many people. It's a place of adventure: some come for the surfing on it's rolling breakers, others go snorkeling in it's clear pristine waters, yet others go even deeper, scuba diving to catch those graceful manta rays. At some of it's rougher rivers, there is white water rafting. An then there are the exciting night life along it's southern beaches.
For others, it's a place of rest, of solitude visiting the many old temples and parks, most adorned with intricate Balinese architecture; or just simply mingling with the soft-spoken locals.
Okay, okay... we were not here to surf; the above was just a mural at the airport - we are here for some action too, to cycle here... but there was no cycling mural at the airport; so the surfing one had to do!

Okay that bit of fun aside; the next important thing to do was to get pre-paid phone sims. Right out of the door of the arrival hall were stalls selling these. We opted for the 10GB Simpati package from Telkomsell as it gave wider coverage, even at many of the remote areas that we went to.

At one side of the arrival building, we unpacked and unfolded our bikes to the "oohs" and "aahs" of the locals; they finding the compact fold of the Brompton intriguing - especially with just a couple of steps and a flip of the back wheel the small package became a cycle-able bicycle.
We rode out using the airport exit road and surprisingly found it to be light in traffic, perhaps most park their cars to pick up their friends. Although the day was hot, this shady road was rather pleasant to cycle on.

Once out of the airport grounds, signs that WE ARE IN BALI appeared - like this intricately crafted wall of Balinese architecture. It's great that many old structures and buildings like these are preserved, they give Bali that ancient feel.

Ahead at a triangular junction was the Satria Gatotkaca Park, and within it was the majestic statue of Satria Gatotkaca. Built in 1993, the statue displayed Gatotkaca, a courageous and powerful knight, the son of Bhima, one of the five Pandava brothers. He is identified as a flying knight who is responsible for air defense and security protection for the Pandava Kingdom.
This sculpture depicted a battle between Gatotkaca on Pandava side, against Prince Karna, whose horse-cart was coach-manned by Shalya, of the Kaurava side in the Bharatayuddha war. Gatotkaca sacrifices himself as a victim of Karna's deadly weapon, Konta, that can be used only one time, to save Arjuna. The erection of the statue is believed to lend spiritual protection and safety for all incoming and outgoing flights.

Along the way, was a large "Candi bentar" Balinese gateway that signified the entrance into Kuta. The Candi bentar or split gateway, is a classical Javanese and Balinese gateway, commonly found at the entrance of religious compounds, kraton palaces, or places of significance. It is basically a candi-like structure split perfectly in two to create a passage in the center for people to walk through.

3:00pm - The meals-on-board has vaporised - hungry and it's time to go hunting for lunch at nearby stalls. We ended up at Warung Saici hoping to get some Balinese food, but this place served Javanese fare. Well beggars can't be choosers and at this late hour there was not much choice of dishes left at this stall too. That's my lunch, a simple one of chicken curry, chicken fried in banana leaf and some mixed vegetables; these dishes were okay only but the couple of sambal chilli mixed made up for it.

After lunch we split up, with the main gang heading for a hostel near the GWK Park. The four of us headed for our accommodations, the Nuka Beach Inn, nearby. Our route, using Google Maps for navigation, took us through streets that passed local dwellings, often on nice shady roads. And at one time it took us onto sandy, stony roads to a.... DEAD END! Hah! We had misread Google Maps, missed a turned and made a U-turn for the right course!

Local life here is simple and the people friendly; we passed by this rest rest shade at Sempati Jaya with the locals waving us on while the Bakso seller looked on from his push-cart stall.

Near to our hotel, was another nice statue, this one of Baruna (Varuna) rising out from the blue waves. Baruna is a Vedic deity associated first with sky, later with waters as well as with Ṛta (justice) and Satya (truth). He is found in the oldest layer of Vedic literature of HinduismHe is also mentioned in the Tamil grammar work Tolkāppiyam, as the god of sea and rain. In the Hindu Puranas, Baruna is the god of oceans, his vehicle is a Makara (part fish, sea creature) and his weapon is a Pasha (noose, rope loop). He is the guardian deity of the western direction, so I guess we must be in western Kuta.

Here we are, arriving at Nuka Beach Inn, sorry there is no Candi bentar gateway here; but we are happy all the same, time for a quick rest.....

..... and a dip to cool off ourselves in the hotel's inviting pool.

6:00 - After a good rest, cool swim and an afternoon siesta; we were off to explore the surrounding area. Just down the road was an inviting Candi bentar which led to the German Beach (Pantai Jerman). This beach was originally the site of the Port of Kuta or Coetaen or Kotta, which is one of the important ports at the time and used by merchants to trade. The existence of the Kuta Port can be traced from the history of the Danish merchant, Mads Johansen Lange (1807-1856). An interesting note is that his daughter Cecilia married into Johore royalty and bore a son, Ibrahim, who became the Sultan of Johor.

The origin of the name itself ("German Beach") is still unclear. However, the beach is closely linked to the history of the port of Kuta (Coutaen or Kotta), the development of the area around the Kuta Port (into hotels and beach resorts), the existence of European citizens, and deported of German citizen by the Dutch during World War II.

This beach was fairly flat type coupled with white sand layer which is thick enough, ready to spoil our feet while walking on the water's edge along with the waves. This place had beautiful sceneries in the north and south, the blue sea, and colorful rows of traditional out-rigger fishing boats .....

..... and a spectacular sunset!

While at the beach, we saw this people laughing out loud; going "HAHAHAHAHA", "HIHIHIHIHI", and then "HOHOHOHO". They were doing a laughing therapy exercise, we joined for a short while and I must say it's good for the spirit and soul; which each loud laugh, our troubles seems to be thrown out and our inner selves getting calmer. So if you do meet me and see me laughing for no apparent reason, don't think me mad as you will understand why! 😃😃😃.

At Nuka Restaurant & Bar; an angel drinking Bintang Beer.

Nearby, at the Sulis Beach Hotel & Spa, are rows of statues of Balinese in day-to-day traditional costume. After taking a photo with them, I slowly admired the costumes and the postures of the people; the sculptor had managed to capture the feel of the simple life of the locals.

8:00 - Anne had taken an evening flight to come join us; not wanting her to cycle at night along, David and me cycled out to the airport to meet her and escort her back to the hotel. It was an easy task; our hotel was just one kilometre from the airport... heh... heh.
While waiting for her to come out, might as well admire some of the artwork that are at the waiting area. This one is of Lord Ganesh; no he is not attacking the dark grey rat. The rat is his mount. Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesh's elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesh is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. Here he is shown riding his vahana (a deity's "mount"), which is often a shrew.

And here comes Ann!
"Om Swasthiastu"
(That's Welcome in Balinese)

It's off to dinner straight from the airport. We had it at Warong Sunda Kang Zanger, just round the corner from our hotel. We ordered two sets; one was the Seafood Basket (shown above), and the other the "Nasi Timbel Komplit Kombinasi" (roughly translates to Complete Combination of Banana Leaf Wrapped Rice).  These were suppose to come with Grouper fishes, but at this later hour they had run out and replace them with Tilapia. We loved them nevertheless, especially the freshly prepared sambal (which we went for seconds). Balinese rice is also very good, fragrant and not that glutinous with individual grains standing out.

We also had their Kupat Tahu; this tasted very good; it's almost similar with the ingredients and sauce used for Gado-gado with the exception that ketupat rice and crackers being added.

For drinks, I had this one called "Es Lidah Buaya" (Iced Crocodile Tongue). Eh? You must be wondering... REALLY? Yes, really! It's called that. And it's actually made from slices of aloe vera together with Basil seeds. The leaves of the aloe vera plant does look like crocodile tongues 😂.

Well, that's it for today. It's been a nice day, a sweet re-acquaintance with Balinese life.
We looked forward to the BIG DAY tomorrow!

Rahajeng wengi! 
(That's Goodnight in Balinese)

(For more photos of the day Click Here)
This is page 1 of a 6-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
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