Bruised thighs and altitude highs

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Dua Dura

Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Monday, August 16, 2010

We woke at 6am (still with my ribcage showing no sign of feeling better) to find it still dark so we only got underway at 06:30, we jumped on the bike realising I hadn't actually driven a bike since way back in India when we thought we had been caught drink driving. We were armed with the cheapest map (from the 7/11) we could find and instantly headed North. Within 15 minutes we were lost and looking for signs for anywhere on our map but nothing seemed to make sense. (Erica edit: The map was crap it had been the cheapest one in the shop and as they were all sealed I couldn’t find out just how crap it actually was until I’d bought it.  None of the place names made sense compared to the street signs so as chief navigator I was screwed and just kept on having to randomly yell guessed directions to the driver without any real idea of where we would actually end up.)

We ended up lost in the capital Denpasar. Driving around the cities made me realise why I didn’t want a bike in the likes of Vietnam its almost claustrophobic when you are almost touching other bikes on every side and then have to start and drive off nearly bumping and hitting everything around you. For once we were both in agreement no-one was to blame it had started to get hot and the signs just had no correlation to anywhere on the map. We ended up pulling into a driveway to try and get out heads together and figure out a plan. At this point a one eyed woman approached us, who we thought was going to offer assistance but stood maybe 30cms from our faces just staring at us, it was very uncomfortable and after about 1 minutes I hit the throttle and nearly threw Erica off the back. We eventually found one of the North bound roads and figured out which one we were on.

The island soon opened up into glorious paddy fields, lots of Indonesian flags, Hindu temples, houses that appeared to have a full temple on top of them and lots of roadside statues that were fantastic. Although I think since we knew where we were for once and had already wasted lots of time getting lost turning off the road to explore some of the small villages was not the best idea. Don’t get me wrong the villages were fabulous and all the locals seemed really happy to see us I’m not sure how often people really get off the beaten track in Bali. In the end we ended up.... lost again but were soon joined by a man and his daughter at the roadside eager to help us and advise us of the most spectacular places. He offered to take us to his house for coffee but with the advice of people saying you won’t make it back in one piece in a day I thanked him but declined. He then opened up into telling us he could take us white water rafting and climbing some trees..... mmmm...... I wonder if he was insured for that, regardless he was a great guy and gave us his phone number in case we had an accident or couldn’t make it back to Kuta.  Yeah like that could ever happen.

We soon started to climb up into altitude and it got very, very cold I suppose that is to be expected when you are actually above cloud level but my worries about the bike not having enough power to get us up there were unfounded and although sometimes we almost stopped the beast got us up every climb (although it ate petrol whenever we went up hill). We got some stunning views of lakes and the monkey forests and still with maybe an hour ride to go to reach the north coast we were knackered and our backsides were numb.  (Erica edit:  Yes it was extremely cold so cold that I had to wear the t-shirt of Andrew’s that I had brought to stop the sunburn to actually keep warm – not exactly what you would expect of Bali.)

We descended the mountains down really steep roads in terrible conditions hitting pot hole after pot hole back to the madness of town centres although a lot calmer still from down South. There were lots of parades and groups of teens marching in the streets singing as they went, I’m not sure if it was notional day or something to do with VJ day maybe but having spent all morning doing crazy overtaking manoeuvres and having crazy overtake and undertake manoeuvres done on me but the distraction didn’t really help me much.

We were now so tired we had started to get cranky but decided to traverse the north coast from Lovina Beach in Singaranja to Kubutambahan before finding a different North bound road back. The difference in the temperature is incredible one second you are roasting and the next you are worried about hypothermia dressed in just a t shirt and shorts (and my super safe helmet packed with that well known shock resister, newspaper). Anyway the perils of riding a motorcycle became obvious at one point I was hit in the face with a plastic bag creating a naked gun style comedy moment (Erica remained unaware).

Also of note on the trip around were passing the schools or school buses all the kids would run shouting hello, before making a bizarre two figure salute which turned into a V sign (no they weren’t giving us the fingers it was presumably a nice gesture) all the locals whenever we approached smiled and waved and genuinely seemed lovely.

We reached the most famous temple in Bali which was stunning but we still had temple lash and stuck to our vow of never going into another Asian temple on this trip. More stunning, stunning views and the we started to descend towards our other intended destination in Bali, Ubud. We were really tired by this point but we had wanted to come for a few days but the bus trip one way for one person cost more than the bike for a day so couldn’t miss it. The town was really nice and really interesting, full of art galleries and cultural shops but we spent maybe only about 45 minutes there taking pictures of the bridges and wandering around before we looked at the clock and started to panic again.

We hit the road again and instantly went numb all over again counting down the km marks one by one all the way to Denpasar. By this point the evening rush hour had really got to me and we were undertaking, overtaking, using pavements and doing all the ridiculous stuff we said we would never do.  At one point trying to find the road for Kuta we were following another bike across the pavement to skip the traffic when the bike in front joined the traffic we went straight into a car and was knocked off. That was the wakeup call we needed so that calmed us right down again. (Erica edit: I love this 'we’ thing). Although lost again we eventually found Bali airport (further south than we intended to go) but this was a good landmark as we knew our bearings from there. We eventually rolled up at the hotel not long after 6pm so almost 12 hours driving not stop practically without eating anything all day. What were we saying about it being a breeze?

By this point neither of us could actually get off the bike so the rest of the pool had to watch us covered in dust and glasses covered in bugs have an argument to try and help each other get off the bike. It was an awful moment and an awful end to what had ultimately been an awful day. Maybe that is a little harsh as we saw real Bali, men with lungis (skirts like in Burma and Kerela) and real culture, we also saw stunning landscapes and great people, but worth the effort, misery, sunburn and absolute exhaustion? Probably not. Never mind perhaps in the future when someone says don’t do something we may at least give consideration to the people in the know before we do it regardless.

We went to our cheapest eatery and had a special rice and Chicken Satay and soon drifted off to sleep. My last words of the day "If I ever go near another motorbike please shoot me".
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Col & Sonja on

good effort guys, that's a lot ground you covered !1

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