The type of Bali you would never see…until now. Let’s get cultural guys! But NOT touristy! This is the little off the beaten path track you have been searching for, Banyan Tree Bike Tours is gonna take you through vast stretched rice fields with an ongoing view as opposed to the classic Tegalalang (which you have to pay a small entry fee for and share with many other tourists viewing the same) they’re going to show you a 300 year old Banyan Tree, stop and pick fresh fruit from the trees, visit a ‘Kopi’ (coffee) plantation, give you an active chance to exercise off all that delish Mie Goreng you have been chowing down on but then also feeeeeed you at the end an absolutely scrumptious Balinese meal filled with all the classics and cooked like the locals – you are officially one with Bali life! And don’t you worry, because of this wider untouched area you have the choice of beginner tracks, intermediate or expert – that’s the perks of going where others don’t usually go, you are filled to the brim with choices! Perfect for if you want a challenge or to just take it easy and enjoy the lush scenery!
So, let’s go! We kick off with a hotel pick-up at 8:00am, head straight to the starting point for our intermediate level private bike tour 😉
Our wonderful guide explains the gears and the type of track we are going to be riding on – I.e. Mostly down hill and flat but one or two hills but he’ll tell us when! Also, we are given the freedom to stop whenever we want and also photo-op our hearts out! There’s no rush guys, this is an easy breezy cruisy Bali life tour!
Our first stop is a top a hill right after the starting point to see a gorgeous view down below, it was also right next to one of the local houses that sells the volcanic rocks from the Bali volcanoes so you can get a sight at some of the black sanded formations that have come from the mountains in the distance, it’s pretty connecting!
Then off we go downhill and up to our first view of the fields of rice! It’s just beautiful green meadows at first glance but as you roll past you can see the little individual stems that are going to form into rice plants – our guide explains the growth process and gives us insight into what the farmers have to do and their year round work schedule to have a better understanding how hard they work and what it takes! I’m not gonna lie, it sounded like a lot of work with little financial reward BUT those friendly faces just smiled solid on with humongous waves when we passed by – excited just to share a passing smile with one another.
We head through towards the neighboring villages of Ubud where it’s a little quieter, school kids are chasing after us on our bikes as we glide past the river canals and into the shadowy jungle shade from the forest surrounding us. We pass through more rice field clearings and back through shaded forests, it’s a calming up and down that makes the ride pleasant – just as you’re starting to get hot, a nice shady cool off!
We come to the local temple of the Sangeri Village, school kids are having their P.E. Class and RJ joins in playing a hacky-sack like volleyball, then goes on to show them some magic as a thank you.
We see the beautiful 300 year old banyan tree which if you ask me didn’t look a day over 120 😉
But it’s greatness is truly breathtaking, something I wish a photo could do justice! But I’ve got the sun playing hide and seek behind its sky-high leaves as a beautiful memory to look back at. For sure if I was to become homeless I would want to shack up in one of these babies! It’s a homely type of tree if you get me..
At our own pace, we head off again towards the Kopi Plantation but before doing so, stop in at a locals house where we see them cleaning the rice and preparing the grains inside their community built family temple setting. It’s so refreshing to see how Balinese families live, they stay united as a family, a few different houses situated around their shared family temple and that’s how they live, forever staying close. There’s no “oh dinner with the in-laws tomorrow honey” nope, it’s family night every night and I LOVE that closeness! It’s strong family love and morals.
At the Kopi Plantation, we park our bikes and our guide waits outside as one of the workers from the plantation takes us on an escorted tour. We are introduced to the different types of coffee beans, get a glimpse of cocoa pods and smell different scented leaves – tamarin, ginger, vanilla, for the tea and coffee flavours! Then my friends, I will introduce you to Luwak Kopi, whats the locals call – CATpuccino. There’s no ladylike way to say this – it’s brewed from poo. But, please, allow me to explain.
So, the Luwak (a red version of what I would describe as a raccoon/badger/possum belonging to the Cat family) eats the coffee pod whole, then the enzymes which reside in their bodies ferments the coffee and naturally makes it decaf, then, well, we all know what happens once we digest something – out the other end! So the Luwak droppings are cleaned in boiling water, then the coffee pods (still whole) are removed. Cleaned again. Then not one, but two outer layers are removed to reveal the bean so, the poop never actually touches the actual bean, it’s just hard to get your mind around it. The beans are then roasted as normal, ground down by hand and sifted into a fine grain to produce what I will admit would be the nicest coffee I’ve ever tasted. Yes. I tried it. And you will too. It’s actually really good and very sought after, it’s a little pricey (for Bali – regular for Starbucks) but worth it for the experience. We also tasted many other of their complimentary teas and coffees brewed on site direct from the plants – I’d have to say Ginseng is my favourite! Like a French Vanilla Latte but sweeter!
After the plantation it’s a short ride to our drop-off point for our bikes, but the exercising isn’t over! We then head down on foot towards the Ayung River, a 30 minute walk through the jungle, and across a bamboo bridge, to reach the other side of the forest and up to a well-deserved and very delicious Lunch at Banyan Tree Bike Tours home location! We chat with the owner Bagi and just enjoy great convo over great food while we refuel our bodies from a satisfying bike tour across Bali, all in all, it’s a great way to see the untouched parts of true local Balinese living and such a fun and inexpensive way to do it! To grab this experience at a bargain price head over to www.banyantreebiketours.com