This is also a late post, week #11 of my trip ended on October 2nd.
What I love about travelling is that I can get more variety of experiences more easily than while being at home. Which in turn lets me test assumptions about myself or confirm or discredit certain beliefs about myself.
What I have learned about myself is that I’m not a quitter.
While in Bali I rented out a bicycle and I wanted to put it to good use. Which by the way, made me a total weirdo. In Bali everybody rides a scooter and some people drive cars. In the past, it used to be that the stares in such situation where I’m the weirdo and doing something completely different than the norm would cause me to be uncomfortable, but this time it was just funny.
I saw there were several ads for bicycle tours in Bali. I stopped at one of the many roadside stands. They sold bicycle tours from different companies. I asked about the routes, and the guy said that all the routes are pretty much the same (well, he actually pointed in the map, his English was quite limited).
Since I have biked quite long distances before I thought going with a tour group would be way too slow for me. So I looked online, found a route, downloaded the route coordinates in a KLM file, uploaded it to Google Earth on my phone and I was ready to go.
I got up at 6:30am, was out of the house a bit past 7am. I thought I would bike for an hour out and then turn back whenever I felt tired.
One hour in and I was convinced that no sane person would sign up for this not even talking about tourists!
The road was just going up and up and up and up! It wasn’t steep, but still going only up. Well, the good thing is.. on the way back it is only going to be downhill.
Also only now I was getting out of the city/urban area so I thought I should bike for another hour to see any views. And so I did.
Then it started to get really beautiful.
I saw some cafes with beautiful views, but at this point it was too early for them to be open. It was 9am. So I kept going.
At some point I looked at the map and I’m like two thirds there. I need to go all the way to the top! I can’t stop here! As long as nothing hurts, I can keep going.
Then I felt a sharp pain in my right knee. I took a short break. It felt better, but couple minutes later it hurt again. Ok, I have to stop. I have been going for hours nonstop. Luckily 50 meters ahead was a Luwak cafe. Intriguing. I stopped by, my bicycle got valley parked and I got whisked inside what looked like a zoo and a botanical garden.
Luwak is an animal. And there is a special type of coffee which is made from coffee beans that Luwak animals have half-digested and then pooped out. Sounds gross, but its a delicacy.
I was offered coffee and tea tasting and I also decided to try out the Luwak coffee.
I’m not a big coffee fan or connoisseur. So yes, I could taste a difference, but I wouldn’t say it was way better than any other coffee I had tasted.
While drinking coffee I chatted with the server, a local guy, whose English was pretty good. In Bali religious offerings to Gods are very important. Among other things I learned from him that money spent on offerings could easily be half of the salary. And you can’t spend less than that.
I got back on the bike, glanced ahead and the top was so close! I could see the houses on the ridge. The guy at the coffee place said it takes 20 minutes by scooter. Of course it would be way longer than that on a bicycle. I can do this. After the good rest, I didn’t feel any pain in my knee. As long as I get to the top, the way back will be easy.
It was a steady inching forwards. I could imagine this is also exactly how one finishes big projects, just chipping away inch by inch, word by word, action by action. I said to myself while trying to imprint in memory how I felt:
“Remember this feeling. It will be useful when embarking on a big project later in life. It is just moving forward inch by inch. That’s all there is.”
When I finally reached the top it was exhilarating! I made it! I persevered and made it to the top! I’m not a quitter!
At the top there is a view of the volcano (Mount Batur) and the crater lake.
I got lunch at a place with a view of the lake.
The way down was easy. Super easy. For hours and hours just downhill! It was a more beautiful route than the one up. It was filled with rice paddies, bamboo forests, small streets, mellow dogs.
The total route was 48 miles with 4494 feet elevation gain (77 km and 1370 meters). Here is the route on Strava: part #1
Now I’m ready to tackle anything and I believe nothing is impossible.