|Ornate doors signal entry to homes... what lies beyond such sumptuous gateways??|
I couldn't resist the proverbial "flogging of the dead horse"; Bali Memories. It is such a Land of Beauty and Contrast! A little like India. I think I could easily have taken 20 photos a day - 10 days in Bali = 200 images!
We wanted to try something a little different on our holiday, less shopping-craze, less resort-laze, so we opted for an eco-cycle tour. Nothing too untoward there for the average tourist, but wait.............. I haven't sat on a bicycle in 15 years?? And then, only brief flirtation with 2 wheels quickly discarded as a bad idea. I did try to once cycle to work - all 4 blocks. It nearly killed me - and that's mostly flat ground! After that, my legs were like jelly and I could barely get off the darn contraption and walk the 5m to our kindy gate!! So what was I doing putting my hand up for a 3 hour eco-cycle tour in Bali???
|A Bali bicycle parked up at the beach.|
I should probably rather have put my hand up for scooting around where you don't have to exert much effort in such a hot climate, but no, I had a trick up my sleeve!
|Litte fella is showing me how cool it is to ride a scooter!!|
|Or perhaps I could have asked this local for lessons riding a paddle board sitting down,|
with a salad bowl helmet on for safety
When I told my friends about the cycle tour, they looked at me with wide eyes and questioning grins - how did I ever expect to succeed, as exercise is just not my thang! Everyone knows that!
But ha! I had read that the cycle tour was 3 hours downhill! I reckoned if I could just steer the thing, the bike would do all the work free-wheeling down the mountain!!
|Our tour started with a buffet breakfast on top of Mount Kintamani,|
overlooking the crater lake below.
We were picked up from our resort and driven 1 1/2 hrs to our breakfast stop, before being taken to the waiting bikes. There were 8 of us, and a tour guide, a young buck from a local village (the tour is a village initiative). I must admit to being a little nervous when I realised that the bikes were big, and I suddenly doubted my ability to not tumble off on a corner or when applying brakes! With heart pounding, I made sure I was one of the last to leave so no-one would see my ineptitude (my gallant man offering to cycle behind me and ensure I didn't get left behind)!
|The proof we did it!!|
The saying, that "it's like bike-riding, you never forget", well, it's true. It took me 10 mins and I felt like the king of the downhill road! My confidence picked up with each passing village! After about an hour, we stopped at one village and were guided through a typical home compound. We were shown the family shrine, the typical layout and learned a little about Balinese life and culture.
|The pavillion building where families gather for feasts, for death and birth ceremonies (bodies are kept on ice on the raised platform for 3 - 30 days!!) and on this same platform, women give birth!|
|Drying cloves in the sunshine.|
|Balinese woman making baskets|
|Ingenious children's eco-swing made from bamboo|
|Old lady watching festival parade|
|The women's procession|
We stopped to view an awesome, spiritual-Avatar-like 500yr old Banyan tree, where we were given water and a banana to replenish our energy. Then we walked into a rice paddy and were given a agri-lesson on rice growing, and finally, we stopped at a coffee and spice plantation for a tour and taste testing all the different types of coffee beans. Truly a broad spectrum view of rural Bali for off-the-beaten-track tourists. I made the cycle tour, (just - there were 3 small hills - the first I managed, the second winded me and the third nearly killed me with the effort required in the tropical heat, and in fact I nearly caused a 3 cycle pile-up when I hopped off!) Afterwards, we were taken for a sumptuous lunch - vegetarians generously catered for! And then we were driven the 1 1/2 hours back to our resort - a full day's entertainment all for less than $50!
I felt such an immense sense of achievement! Yay, I made it! Lil' ol' lazy me!!
Charlie's Chocolate Factory
After seeing how raw cacao grows, we were keen to discover another unusual little attraction; Charlie's Chocolate Factory in Jasri Beach. What an amazing discovery!! Charlie, an ex-Aussie lives in a basic little shack on prime real estate beach-front paradise! He builds his empire with bamboo and has created some fantastical Hobbit-like shacks to house his chocolate-making factory. We bought some chocolate and goji berry drops, and had the BEST-EVER hot chocolate drink whilst his mournful honking goose followed Mike around like a faithful love-sick dog!
|The chocolate factory office|
|Hand-crafted to perfection, Bilbo Baggins would have LOVED this!|
|The Chocolate Shop|
|The beauty of the inside, with sky-lights for natural lighting|
|This is where Charlie lives.|
Of Charlie, we caught but a glimpse! I guess he is not used to too many guests, and he scarpered a quick getaway dash as we arrived, leaving us in the capable hands of his beautiful Balinese right hand lady. In a rustic bamboo factory, he produces chocolate, soap and candles to fund his love of surfing. Gotta love a guy who follows his dreams!!
|Charlie's view - a popular surf spot|
|Charlie is busy building a bamboo shipwreck restaurant to serve his chocolate treats in.|
|A swing suspended between the coconut palms - Charlie calls it the Chair of Enlightenment!|
So if your'e headed down Karangasem way, Charlie's is a definite must-see! Inspirational! Check out the video link above for a 15 min interview with Charlie.
Back in Sanur, we took a walk along the beach and discovered these gems:
|Some eco-art, bottle caps hammered into drift wood demarcates a beach-side restaurant, I loved the sign!! "Sorry. No wifi. Talk to each other."|
|A beautiful re-purposed pallet table.|
|A Yoga Retreat with shop below, with Hammock Therapy.|
|Sign says it all...|