My alarm went off at 04h00…but I forgot to turn up the volume of the iPod before I went to bed, so I woke up too casually, not with a big bang. I got up, decided to stay another day in Ubud and went back to bed. Just before 08h00 I thought “to hell with this, I want to go to Padangbai today!”. I took a quick shower, loaded my bags onto the bicycle and at 08h30 I cycled out of Ubud.
Oh how I’ve missed the darkness-with-no-crazy-sun on the way!!
The first 30km were small ups and downs the whole way. The downs were lovely, but the ups killed me — well not really, now that I’m thinking about it…they were not too shabby – but I think the sun played a big role. I could feel the sun burning on my face, arms and legs. I stopped every now and then for a sip of water.
Even though I had traffic and the insane sun with me all the way, there was a plus side to starting late in the morning. With the previous rides I saw Bali waking up, this time I saw Bali in full action – everyone doing their daily tasks: coming from school, having breakfast and lunch, working on motorbikes, doing woodcarving, standing at fires making Sates (lamb, pork and chicken skewers) and just doing their day-to-day thing.
In Gianyar (almost halfway) I stopped at a local supermarket. I got the usual reactions when I answered the questions of where I’m going and where I’m coming from. These people must think I am completely insane – in their eyes tourists are rolling in money. In Bali, if you own a car (and you are not a tour guide) you are insanely rich, if you own a scooter or motorbike you are rich and ‘the bomb’, if you travel by bicycle you are either old and set in your ways, a child or poor. So here is this tourist, apparently rolling in the dollars, but traveling by bicycle. They don’t get it.
So at this local supermarket I stopped and the two ladies saw my nails. They wanted to do their nails too. First I thought ahh damn, I want to get moving to reach my final destination, but then I took a step back and remembered that I have all the time in the world. So I opened my panniers and reach for the bag of nail polish way down in the one pannier. And there, in Gianyar, these two ladies had the time of their lives painting their nails. Other people stopped to look and another lady even joined in. I spoke Indonesian all the way, impressed with myself that I remembered so much even though I did not study the last 2 or 3 months. In that moment I realised this is what it is all about – the people you meet on the way and the random moments that will stay in your heart forever! Time doesn’t matter, the sun doesn’t matter (even though it does) and that it is not about the destination, but the journey!
I cycled on for another 10km or so and stopped at a traffic light when I saw a policeman sitting in his little office on the corner of a main road. Just to make sure I was still on the right track I asked him “Padangbai?”. He showed me with his hand to turn left at the traffic light and just continue straight. Then he came to me and told me to please take a rest, sit down in the shade with him because it is very hot. I sat a good 20minutes with him, talked about Bali, South Africa, his 3 children, soccer and he gave me some advice about taking the boat to Lombok. What a nice guy! I love these random moments!
The last few kilometers were on an open road, mostly flat, with lots of hellos and trucks coming all the way from Java, passing through Bali to reach Padangbai to take the ferry to Lombok and then the ferry to Flores. It is kind of impressive to think that most of the products (imported or made in Indonesia) reach Bali, Lombok, the Gilis and Flores by trucks (from Java) and boats. What a crazy long drive and wait on the ferries for the drivers and great planning – no truck or boat, no products to the other islands. Respect!
The last half an hour on the bicycle I could feel that I needed some serious shade. After 44km I arrived in Padangbai all sweaty, tired and ready for a cold shower! Chuffed with myself that I’ve survived (this sounds SO dramatic) hours of sun, all the ups and Bali traffic in the middle of the day I rolled my bicycle into a fancy air-conditioned room.
These little milestones might not be something big for around-the-world-cyclists, and in a month it might be a minor accomplishment for me too, but for now I’m thrilled! I’m so happy and content with life and this journey that I’m on!
Thinking back – when I got this crazy idea in my head to tour with a bicycle, I guess I had some idea what it would be like. Now, I can’t even begin to think what I thought it would be like – all I know is that the real deal can’t compare to the initial idea. It is 10 000times better!
I’ve decided to stay for another day in Padangbai before I take on the long ferry ride (anything from 4 to 8 hours) to Lembar in Lombok. The ferry might be much longer than the fast boat, but at least it is 10 times cheaper AND I can take Koos the Bicycle with me (where I go, Koos goes!).Before I stop at the beautiful Gili islands, I want to go from Lembar to Mataram to Senggigi to I-can’t remember-the-name-of-the-place. After the Gilis I hope to make my way back to Mataram to renew my visa!
For now I’m going to enjoy the harmony and collaboration of the Muslim and Hindu prayer calls, try to find “Pantai Kecil” (small beach), try to get the dog’s attention to pat him and just enjoy every moment of this journey!
I’m in LOVE with life – I pray to all the dogs, gods and mountains that this feeling will never change!