If you saw my family and me in the early morning hours of June 17th, 2008, you would never guess that we were in for the experience of a lifetime. It came in the form of a bicycle tour by Bintang Bike Tours down the Kintamani volcano.
We woke up in the wee hours of the morning- partly due to the arrival of a shuttle to pick us up, partly due to lingering jet lag as Bali is thirteen hours ahead of the time we were accustomed to- and left the Gazebo Hotel in Sanur before eight. The shuttle drove us up to the summit of Kintamani, where we sipped fresh orange juice and feasted our eyes on the view of several other volcanoes around us.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
One of the volcanoes' craters was filled with water, creating Lake Batur, and sunlight was glittering off the surface, reflections of light dancing across its surroundings. There were trees with leaves and flowers of every kind imaginable all around us; it was like being in a piece of paradise!
A few minutes later, we met our guide, Jack, who gave us the bikes we'd be using. Before long, we were off on a 40 kilometer adventure down the side of a volcano!
The ride down wasn't strenuous at all, and we were able to drink in unbelievably lush landscapes and witness the beauty of the tiny villages we passed through. We saw children making and playing with kites, cockfighting in the streets, carpenters working, and all kinds of other craftsmen. We rode through a marketplace and saw all kinds of strange fruits and vegetables we never knew existed, women making and carrying religious offerings down the road in front of us, dogs and other animals weaving in and out of traffic and bicycles. We passed through deserted back roads of villages, through forests, fields, and rice paddies.
Once, when we stopped, Jack spoke to an elderly gentleman near the edge of the road. Not a moment later, the man had shimmied up a nearby palm tree and tossed down a large green coconut. Jack proceeded to dig a hole in the top, and we all drank from the fresh coconut in the shade before carrying on. The man up the tree continued tossing down coconuts into a pile before hauling them away down the road.
We stopped again for a water break in one of the rice paddies, where some women were hard at work threshing the dry rice. Jack led us over to them and we watched how they removed the rice from the stalks. He asked if we wanted to try and showed us how. My brother and I learned how to properly separate the grains and collect them, and worked alongside the women for a few minutes before we kept cycling.
When we were about ¾ of the way down Kintamani, Jack took us on a little detour. We were riding through another small village when we took a few extra turns and stopped in front of a traditional Indonesian home with flowers blooming everywhere and intricate carvings on every surface. Jack invited us in and we realized that it was his own home- he introduced us to his daughter, nephew, nieces, mother, father, cousins, brothers, grandfather, and 90 year old grandmother. We gave us a tour of his home and we sat and talked for a while, sharing around the coconut the man had given us. It's the best memory I have of Indonesia, being welcomed into a near stranger's home like an old friend, and I'll remember it forever.
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