Friday, 19 August 2011

Cycle Bali Chapter One: First Night, First Ride

Bali, one of our favorite islands in the world. Beautiful beaches, good food, friendly people and not too far away from home. Since we first visited Bali 3 years ago, we try to go back once a year. 2011 was no different. We bought our tickets to Bali a couple of months ago, before we got our bromptons.

It was only a few weeks before our trip that we figured, "Hey why don't we bring our brommies along?" I know it probably sounds a bit crazy for some. Why would you want to bring your bicycles across islands for a holiday? Will it be safe to ride in Bali? We just thought it will be kinda cool...

So like ardent students before exams, we crammed up on last minute practicals with basic bike repair like how to change a spare tube. Thanks to Steven from Diginexx who readily agreed to teach us how and Taiwoon, who advised us to practice in a peaceful state of mind, in an air-conditioned room, we successfully dismantled and reassembled our brommie. Learn how to change spare tube checked!

Next we had to decide how to pack our brommies. There were 2 options. Buy a Logel suitcase or use the official Brompton cardboard box. Suffering from deep "poisoning", we were working on a tight budget. Cardboard box sounded good. Not too shabby and does the trick! =)

Here is our brommie arriving in Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar, Bali.

Another reason why the box was a good option is because being the official Brompton box, the bike fits nicely without having to dismantle any parts. Also, because it's a box and labeled fragile, it doesn't go onto the same conveyor belt as all the other luggages/suitcases do. It gets special attention. Personal transport via the airport crew. No joke, we saw it!

We were to spend our first 2 nights in Seminyak. Here are our bikes and backpacks checking in at the lobby of Amadea Resort and Villas.

One thing we noticed about Bali this time round was everyone's general interest and approval for bicycles. Being tourists traveling with 2 cardboard boxes, it drew a fair bit of attention from the locals, ranging from the guy at the airport to the cab driver and hotel staff. The following conversation probably happened at least three times on our first night in Bali.

Balinese Local: What is in the box?

Me: Bicycles.

Balinese Local nods with extreme excitement and gives the thumbs up.

The trip got better during check in. The superior room that we reserved turned out to be fully booked. They had to upgrade us to the next level (Deluxe), which turned out to be fully booked as well. So they had to upgrade us to the next level (Deluxe Pool Terrace), which turned out to be fully booked as well. So they had to upgrade us to the next level. Junior Suite. Yes, you read it right. No typos. We were upgraded 3 classes to the Junior Suite at no extra charge! Now, how can we not love Bali? =P

Gwyn got right on with business. If there was something tough about traveling with bikes, it has got to be pumping the tyres. As a regulation, all tires have to be deflated before check in onto the planes.

Slowly but surely, we go there to the right pressure. Here is Apple and buck settling down nicely in our Junior Suite.

It's a nice room, spacious and all.

Only one strange/amusing arrangement. With all that space, you would think they would not place the toilet seat centimetres ( And I mean centimetres) away from the wall. But they did...

One aspect we missed about Bali was the food. The Nasi Gorengs, Ayam Bakars, Grilled Seafood, Chilli Corn, etc . It didn't long before we headed down the road to grab a bite.

Bee Hong Goreng, Ayam Bakar and some pineapple juice.

While we kicked off our Cycle Bali in style, concurrently another big kick off was happening in the UK; The English Premier League. Amadea's a nice resort but it doesn't carry the right sports channels. How can any nice resort not show live football! Undeterred, we found ourselves across the road in one of the pubs(Rumours) to catch the live game.

The next morning, we were up early and ready for our first ride.

During our trip from the airport to the Villa on the previous night, our cab driver told us about this cycling event in Denpasar, whereby the roads will be closed and all cyclists in Bali would ride towards Denpasar. That sounded like a fun thing to do.

So we headed off in the general direction towards Denpasar, in search of this interesting cycling event. We had no idea where the exact location was. We just rode towards Denpasar thinking that we would be able to spot some cyclists along the way.

The first few minutes of riding in Bali was crucial. Crucially amazed by the wonderful culture on the roads. Drivers actually give way. And they look out for cyclists. Where we come from, this is not a given. Drivers in Bali actually share the road with motorists and cyclists. In Singapore, drivers horn when you fail to move off within split seconds of the green light. Drivers horn when they see cyclists slowing them down. In Bali, drivers horn (in a friendly manner) to tell you they are coming from behind.

Adapting to the road conditions was not difficult with such a well mannered driving culture backing it up.

The biggest challenge was the pot holes in the ground. There were aplenty. And it was important to ride carefully. We did come across this construction area along the ride from Seminyak to Denpasar. What did we do?

Carried our brommies and got across it! It was a bit of an Amazing Race moment there. Like a Road Block or something.

True enough, there were many riders moving towards/away from the event in Denpasar. Foldies, Roadies, MTBS...

It was after about an hour's ride when we noticed that the cyclists we were following were all cycling in different directions that we realized we were lost. Well, technically, can you be lost when you don't even know where you're heading to? We knew there was some cycling event in Denpasar , but had no idea where exactly it was...

So we stopped by a market, took out our map and started looking which was probably not the best thing to do considering the tons of native balinese eyes all on you.

Then this angel from heaven approached us on her motorbike. Speaking in a mixture of Mandarin and Bahasa Indonesian accent, we communicated like chicken and duck talk for a while before finally finding the right frequency. Her name is Ah Hua and she was tremendously kind enough to lead us to our destination.

From the Fujian province in China, she relocated to Bali with her family many years ago. She was like an angel sent down to lead us in the right direction.

So here we were! Finally after about 20km of cycling from Seminyak to Denpasar and with the kind help from Ah Hua, we made it to that cycling event we heard about.

The turn out was huge (and I mean it!) There was at least hundreds or maybe thousands of bikes at the event. We came to realise that the event was called 2gether We Cycle.

Teams and throngs of riders turned up...

Roadies, MTBs and Foldies were all present...

The folding bikes culture in Bali is actually really really strong...

Riders young and old made the trip...

Gwyn couldn't resist the balloon on the bike shot...

It was a fun first ride in Bali. We adapted comfortably with the road conditions in Bali. Got lost but found our way in the end. Met nice people along the way. Got to experience first hand how strong the riding culture in Bali actually was.

We hung around for a while at the fair before making our way back to Seminyak, smiling, heart content and finding our way this time round.

Till the next Chapter, ride on! To read about the rest of our Bali adventure, click here


  1. Great documentation and story telling! I love the upgrade part! Maybe can include adddress of hotel and places with contact info. They will be valuable info for pp who wants to follow foootsteps

  2. Thanks Matt! You can imagine how HIGH we got from the upgrade.

    Good idea about the info, will try to incorporate more of that in the later chapters!

  3. Congrats to Kevin and Gywn on you first successful Bali ride. Wonderful writeup and information. It is so cool because just afew weeks ago, I don't think u even believe this was actually possible. But u folks just went and do it! Clap clap! Enjoy the ride and may u have many more exciting adventures !

  4. Can't wait for the next blog post!!!


  5. Taiwoon, you're right about pushing our limits. Never did we imagine would we do something like this...but we sure did!

  6. Diane, Chapter two coming right up! Thanks for reading!