Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Cycle Bali Chapter Five: The Ubud Climb

Day 4 of our Bali biking adventure was perhaps the highlight of our trip in terms of riding. We were to tackle the uphill journey from Sanur to Ubud. The distance was around 21km one way. And because we were riding north, the route would be mostly uphill.

We started early at about 8am and before we knew it, we were on the road making our way towards Ubud. The most challenging portion of the route occured midway along the journey when we met a new friend (a 6km upslope). It must have been adrenaline that was kicking in that kept us pedaling. We've never seen/rode on a slope like that. It brought new meaning to the term eye opener. Our eyes were literally open!

Along the upslope, a few locals on their motorbikes tried engaging us in conversations, asking us where we were heading towards. The first time it happened, we were understandably kind of worried. I mean here we are battling the upslope and there is this guy on a motorbike, riding alongside us. Were we going to get mugged in broad daylight, at our most vulnerable or what?

Fortunately, nothing of that sort happened. The locals that rode alongside us were in fact very encouraging. When we told them that we were heading towards Ubud, they pointed at our bikes and gave a resounding thumbs up! Maybe thats where all that adrenaline came from...

We came across a few historic structures from the old Dutch regime...

The skys were not so promising as we approached Ubud though. See the cloud patterns below? the left was the direction towards Ubud. The clouds were visibly darker as we rode towards Ubud.

We decided to stop by a drinks stall midway as we monitored the weather condition. The weather forecast a thunderstorm in Ubud. The last time we were at Ubud a year ago, it was also raining. There's just something about rain, Ubud and us...

We were about 6 km away from our destination but the forming dark clouds, coupled with the weather forecast meant that there was a possibility we had to u-turn back towards Sanur.

After a short rest stop, we gave it one last shot at completing the ride to Ubud. However, after another km, we saw cars coming from Ubud wet and drenched. That was the sign to turn back.

Usually, we prefer to take different routes back during our rides. That also meant that we could get lost. And we did. So we stopped by the road, took out our map and figured we should go left towards Sanur.

100 m down, we see a sign board that says Sanur Right...

Thank goodness for the road sign. Our ride downwards was truly enjoyable. It was mostly downhill. Food for thought, maybe next time we can consider taking a cab up to Ubud and ride/roll down towards Sanur.

Came across more padi fields along the way...

Smiling for the cam...

Gwyn's bike just fell over...

Our brommies in Bali!

We came across this local. He was riding barefoot, with a huge load on his bike and handling himself well on the road. Respect!

Hasta La Vista, we will be back for you, Ubud!

To read about the rest of our Bali adventure, click here

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Cycle Bali Chapter Four: Bob Marley and Bali

Our love affair with Bali introduced us to Reggae music and her legend, Bob Marley.

The Bob Marley culture in Bali is surprisingly strong. Not sure why. Maybe it's the chillax culture. It's quite common to see Reggae merchandise, paintings etc. And Bob Marley is synonymous amongst the locals.

Along Sanur Beach sits Warung Sunrise Bar & Grill, a Reggae themed bar that offers live music every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The band has been performing faithfully over the past 3 years. Whenever we return to Sanur, we always look forward to spending the night at the bar, by the beach with live Reggae music in the background.

Warung Sunrise Bar & Grill. It's located along Sanur Beach, just next to the Diwangkara Holiday Villa.

And the perfect companion for the chillax music...5000 rupiah (SGD 0.70) Giant Grilled Chilli Corn.

You can get it from the stall just next to the restaurant. We've tried many different stalls but this is the best of them all. There's just something about the chilli they use that differentiates them from the rest.

It's run by a family of 4. Usually it's the mum that tends to the stall. That day, it was her son.

Corn with some butter, chilli and more chilli, charcoal grilled.

An alternative to dining in the restaurant is to chill by the seats in front of the stall. That way, you get to enjoy your corn, the same sea breeze and at the same time live music with no obligation to order from the bar menu!(I know that sounds totally cheapskate)

Do consider throwing in a couple of coconuts to go along with too.

Imagine corn, coconut, music and the night sea breeze...Again we find Life's simple pleasure in Bali... =)

It was a great way to end the day and the perfect prep for the "famous" Ubud climb...

To read about the rest of our Bali adventure, click here

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Cycle Bali Chapter Three: One Love, One Sanur

Welcome to Sanur, our favourite city in Bali.

Thrice we've been to Bali, thrice we've checked into Sanur. We find it less touristy as compared to Kuta, Ubud or Seminyak.

It's less crowded and quieter. And the things are generally cheaper in Sanur. We were once quoted 120,000 rupiahs for a pair of sunglasses in Kuta. We told him we came from Sanur and knew the rate. He sold us the sunglasses for 40,000 rupiahs.

This time round, there was a new reason to love Sanur even more. Bicycles!

Cycling is very much encouraged in Sanur. The government built a cycling lane to encourage both locals and tourists to pedal their 2 wheelers. The lane stretches down the main parts of Sanur city and connects to a beach front cycle path that stretches for around 5km along the beach.

We arrived early before check in and wasted no time in hitting the road while we left our backpacks at the conceirge for safekeep.

La Taverna, our accommodation of choice this time round.

La Taverna has this rustic old world charm about herself. They used this wheelbarrow like thingy to transport our baggages. No buggys.

Here is our room. Interesting concept.

We liked the little cozy corner outside our room...

Brommies lined up...

It's not the biggest room but the architecture and theme is intricate and exotic. The whole feel is as of a cave, or a tavern, a la La Taverna.

The room could easily pass off as one of those cave type rooms in Europe. Here is the shower area.

To illustrate how low the toilet ceiling was.

Small antique writing table... See this thing here...what do you think it's used for?

It's the lock to our room from the inside. No chains, no locks. Just a plain old piece of stick. It took me a while to come to terms with that. Just imagine...at night, only a piece of wood stands between you and the outside...

Make sure you insert it properly...

It's worth noting that there are NO televisions in all La Taverna rooms. So if you're a television kind of person, this is probably not the place for you.

However, if you're a beach kind of person, then do consider La Taverna. It's strategically situated in front of the beach. There is a private area in front reserved specially for guests of La Taverna. Do however be mentally prepared to be approached by touts for sea sports activities every other moment.

Apple and Buck, by the beach at sunset...

Less touristy, lower costs and pretty beaches aside, there is one more reason that keeps drawing us back to Sanur...which we will reveal in our next chapter... Stay tuned!

To read about the rest of our Bali adventure, click here

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Kranji Countryside Ride

We interupt our sequence of Bali adventure entries with a recollection of Sunday morning's Kranji Countryside ride with the good folks from LCSG (lovecyclingsg).

Bollywood Veggies, a home grown organic farm founded and managed by Ivy Singh Lim and her husband, was top on the agenda.

A short ride from Kranji MRT station took us past Kranji Reservoir into the countryside towards Bollywood Veggies.There were parking lots available for bicycles.

I have to admit. The BV (Bollywood Veggies) concept is too cool. If anyone tells you that farms are passe or it's impossible to farm your own crops in Singapore, ask them to visit BV.

Set up a farm, live just next to it, grow your own food and at the same time educate and spread the green message. Now that's a way to retire in style! We like that!

Visitors are allowed time to walk through the farm which showcased countless types of flora.

What caught our attention were the many quirky yet inspirational signage located throughout the farm. The Eco-friendly, green message was evident for all to see.

"Let Nature be the Driver of the Future"

"Life's Good"

"Back to Nature is the Future."

"Gentle Woman or Gentle Man is a Genuine Person"

More green messages...

And a tribute to our Nation's birthday...

Ivy is ex-president for Netball Singapore and it was nice to see her passion for netball still evident in her farm...

Not often do you see scarecrows in Singapore...

It was like going back in time and felt like a class excursion as we walked through the farm on a guided tour.

Had no idea Aloe Vera could grow in our local climate...

The classic Papaya tree...

Overheard near this blue flower: "this is what you use in your Nonya rice dumplings. (Nonya Zhang)"

A huge gourd...

We love our chilli...

Cat's Whiskers!

We had breakfast at Poison Ivy, the in house cafe within Bollywood Veggies.

Western breakfast with scrambled eggs.

Some samosas to go along...

After BV, we headed down the road towards Hay Dairies, one of the last few standing goat milking farms in Singapore.

If you do make your way there, do try their fresh goat's milk. It's $2 for a small bottle, but the freshness is second to none. Must try!

After Hay dairies, we moved on to Lim Chu Kang jetty. The thing about joining the Sunday LCSG rides is that it brings you to places where you never knew existed. And more often than not, these are beautiful locations.

I would never in a million years imagine myself at Lim Chu Kang jetty had not for Sunday's ride!

There's a wooden platform that you can walk on. Very picturesque.

It was an enjoyable and insightful ride. The terrain at Lim Chu Kang is worth mentioning though. Enroute the farm tours, there are a couple of rolling slopes.

We bade farewell with the pack after Lim Chu Kang jetty as we headed back towards Boon Lay. The long stretch of Lim Chu Kang road (rumored temporary runway) was quite a killer. I used to think that runways were supposed to be flat. It was on this fateful Sunday morning that we realized that it is not flat at all!

Do think twice before trying to ride along this seemingly never ending, perpetually inclining stretch under the scorching rays of the 12 noon sun.

We know we certainly will!