Friday, June 16, 2017

Bali Biker Club


I saddled up on my light blue scooter with my bright blue child-sized helmet with cartoon bunny decal sticker on back. I looked pretty awesome and fierce. Who knew that I could be a part of the infamous Bali Biker Gang!

It was my first day riding a scooter and I was already outfitted in rad gear, had an equally fearless partner in crime sitting on the back of my light blue scooter, and belonged to one of the most notorious biker/scooter gangs that ever roamed Bali. After paying 60,000 for 24 hours ($5), I packed my bag full of the essentials for a day full of trying-not-to-crash: make-up, swimsuit, cute sunglasses, cellphone and other distractions for the road. I saddled up with my partner's in crime: Aurore from France, Sรถran and Michael from Germany, and Julia and Erica from Philippines, and set off through the windy and busy roads around Ubud. With our treasure map (MAPS.ME, Google and Ways) in hand, we set off to uncover the wonders of central Bali. 


Our first stop was Tegalalang Rice Terrace, only 30 minutes outside of Ubud town, depending on traffic and the number of angry monkeys that attack along route. Here we parked our chariots for a whooping 10,000 Indonesian Rp. By far the most expensive parking on our treasure hunt. After a mini photoshoot, we descended into the rice paddies, with the help of coconut ice cream. Along the way we had to cross dangerous bridges which required sacrifice of around 5,000 Rp each person. We ended up turning back when we discovered that we had to pay extra toll multiple times along route. In the process I managed to step off the path into the unforgiving swamp. My shoe was then covered in mud, but that did not stop the Bali Biker Club. 


Pura Tirta Empul 

Our next stop was the Pura Tirta Empul (AKA the Water Temple). Following our handy treasure map, we drove down some really steep windy roads with many obstacles. The landscapes were breathtaking rice fields and lush green jungles. We crossed over bridges and by waterfalls. After 30 minutes of driving we noticed that our treasure map had lead us astray. We ended up in some tiny village. The locals saw our confused faces and tried to help us get back on the right path to Pura Tirta Empul. After another 30 minutes of driving we finally arrived.

Pura Tirta Empul

Pura Titra Empul was one of my favorite stops. We spent over two hour here. We dressed in fancy robes and then learned after many failed attempts, how to cleanse our souls. We dunked our heads below each fountain in a sequential fashion with a huge gaggle of locals who tried to help, while also laughing at our failed attempts. We finally emerged purified and soaking wet to conquer our next mission. 

Gunung Kawi

Next on our voyage was the Gunung Kawi (AKA the Rocky Temple). Here we doned team inspired matching sarongs and wandered the grounds of the temple. We found a couple poor chickens and a parakeet that were in serious need of water and attention. After saving the birds from thirst and a couple group pictures we headed outside the temple for lunch. Just on the other side of the road we had nasi goreng (fried rice), nasi campur (just google it), cap-cai (mixed veggies) and sayur urap (similar to cap-cai but with more leafy greens). After a nice meal with a beautiful view we headed out to our last stop: Goa Gajah which translates to Elephant Caves.

Gunung Kawi

They call them the elephant caves, because hundreds of years ago elephants would make
pilgrimages from all over Indonesia here to meditate inside the cave ... just kidding. No one knows how the place recieved its name. Some archeologists suggest that the river that passed nearby was once called Elephant river, or that people believed the menacing creature's mouth that encircles the cave opening is a giant Elephant.  Nevertheless the name stuck. We arrived after the ticket office had closed. We realized that like most of the other stops, the temples don't actually close at night, just the box-office closes. We parked our scooter for free, which was a first all day. We then wandered down to the bottom. There we haggled with a gentleman for a reasonable price for sarongs and entry. 

Goa Gajah

Very few people were at the temple as the day faded to dusk, just a lady selling snakefruit and coconuts. With coconut and snakefruit in hand we wandered the temple grounds. We explored deep into the elephant cave, which was not that deep at all. Sitting in the cave are various statues of Hindu gods. After we sat for awhile on the roots of a majestic tree, contemplating life and being attacked by mosquitos. As the sun set behind the rolling mountains of Bali we wandered up the path to reach our final destination on our treasure maps: fried squid dinner at a local restaurant and beer while bathing in the cool pool at our hostel. 


Overall the day was full of adventure. I recommend highly to rent scooters  to explore Ubud (as long as your wear a helmet with a bunny on it). We did not have any encounters with police, though we heard lots of horror stories. We encountered a significant amount of traffic immediately around Ubud but very little traffic outside the city proper. Remember stay safe and have fun! 


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