I decided that it was time to work off some of the delicious food that I’ve been stuffing my face with and also to see more of the Balinese countryside outside of Ubud. A day spent cycling through rice paddies seemed like the perfect fit.
We started early with breakfast overlooking Batur lake and volcano as rain threatened. We then visited a Luwak coffee plant to learn more about the “most expensive coffee in the world.” Luwak is made from the Arabica coffee bean, which is then fed to ferret like cats called Luwaks, who have an enzyme that partially digests and softens the coffee and then the beans are harvested from…. well, you can guess. It’s six dollars for a small cup and I can only imagine what the markup would be at Starbucks, since that is practically what they charge for normal coffee.
Buzzed after trying multiple varieties of local coffee, I was ready to jump on my bike and go. Just as everyone in our small group clasped on their helmets, the skies opened and an absolute downpour began. Disappointed, I expected that we’d have to get back in the van to wait it out. Not so – we donned blue trash bags and set off, sloshing down the road to the occasional roll of thunder and straining to see through the water pouring into my eyes.
Once the rain cleared up I could see more of the beautiful green landscape. The rice fields are dotted with colorful flags to scare off the birds and are terraced to keep the water flat. We spotted a small group of farmers harvesting rice and climbed through the small grassy paths between fields to reach them. Rice is harvested throughout the year in Bali – the growing season lasts all year and small cooperatives of farmers determine when each family will plant their fields so that the farmers will always have rice to eat and so that the laborers will have constant work throughout the year. Most families have small paddies that they use exclusively to feed themselves, but larger farmers will outsource the work to laborers, who they refer to as sharecroppers and who are paid exclusively in rice and rice husks. The husks can be sold as pig feed, which is where they get their cash. Most sharecropping families also have some other small business. The farmers we spoke to also weave bamboo ceiling mats when there isn’t work in the fields.
As we rode through small villages, children would line up on the side of the road and put out their hands for a high five and yell “Hello!” What an odd but regular site our group must be to these children – lumbering foreigners in giant blue trash bags and bright red helmets unsteadily wobbling through their towns.
The final stop of the day was a giant buffet at a picturesque restaurant set outside of town. I think the bike tour delivered on half of what I was expecting: I got an amazing chance to see more of Bali and some great exercise, but between a giant breakfast and lunch, I think I ate more than I would have in a cooking class!Additional information:
Bali Eco Cycling
PT. Bali Budaya Tours (Bali Eco Cycling)
Jln. Raya Pengosekan
Peliatan Ubud Bali
Telephone: 97 5557 | Mobile: 081 337 420 420