Day 9: A long, hot and flat ride from Tulamben to Singaraja and Lovina

Posted: June 10, 2010 in Cycle touring Mountain biking Bali, Indonesia 2006, 2008
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Monday May 15, 2006, 98 km (61 miles) – Total so far: 388 km (241 miles)

Rising with the sun is one of the reasons for my instant need for a mid day siesta, but it’s worth it. I’ll just have to sample black coffee at every rest stop today.

Sunrise at Tulamben

Our choice of rooms at the Bali Koral Bungalows paid off and the views of Mt Agung look almost moon like from the second floor balconies.

I had cycled in the opposite direction in 1992 and was looking forward to see if it was any different doing the nearly 100 kms from Tulamben to Sinagaraja and Lovina beach. While knowing what to expect at day’s end might take some romance and joy of discovery out of the travel equation, today’s flat roads even surprised Coleen. It’s one beautiful word. Tailwind! which meant pedalling up to 40 kmph plus was effortless. ‘Sup sup suey’ in Cantonese/Chinese or something like ‘Piece of cake’ The traffic got heavier as we reached the outskirts of Singaraja, Bali’s second largest town. Speaking of cakes, Coleen has the uncanny ability to sniff out one in the busiest part of town, so a pit stop was made for today’s and tomorrow’s over sweetened quota of pastries and pies. I spoke to a Chinese lady/chief baker/cashier at the shop who had no idea where/what Tulamben was/is despite being born here, but I bet she knew the best places to shop in Hong Kong or Shanghai.

Getting separated out on the open road often meant playing a quick catch up. Most times I’ll stop for a few pictures while Coleen carried on. The road’s quite shady with big cotton trees but I saw a motorcycle make a U turn towards Col and follow her for some time. I sprinted up behind the Honda who was obviously trying to taunt a girl on a bicycle, quickly overtaking the surprised motorcyclist who eventually backed off. Some guys will pull up along side at 30 kmph with questions like Where you going? or Where your husband? (Right behind your smoky exhaust, fool) In the meantime there might be a black truck heading the other way in the middle of the shady road. Most motorcycle rear view mirrors, if not cracked, broken or missing are used by men to check on their hair or pimples. The both of us were stopped twice by a guy who whipped out the business card of a friend who had a homestay by the beach. He was persistent and showed up in Singaraja town 20 kms later pushing the same card and offering to direct us there. Boy, business must be really slow, his petrol free or his commission really huge. We took refuge in a restaurant hoping he would disappear. We had better reservations at Nurini’s Hotel, well a simple homestay that in 15 years blossomed into a beach hotel.

A few days before in Bangli I remembered Coleen being tailed by a m/cycle as she circled a round about twice to see if she was being followed. After she exited and stopped, so did the two guys on the bike. A second bike came along and the first hastily took off. It was a sharp eyed off duty policeman who could just be one of Daddy’s (from Batur’s Lakeside) relatives. (:-) Most times these fellows are just curious, but I’d rather be cautious.

We’ve never had so many swimming pools on any of our cycling trips. Well Bali’s pretty tropical and just 8 degress south of the equator, and as many places start to upgrade, a pool is top on the list and gives any homestay an instant upmarket staus as well a reason to increase rates sometimes to the detriment of room quality. Some pools are salt water ones, not sea salt water but salt added into the system.

Poolside at Rini's

Lovina is the generic name given to this 7 km black grey beach on the island’s north coast 10 kms from Bali’s old capital of Singaraja. Like Candidasa, it was a 70s backpackers hangout and has seen better days. Early morning is the best time for a beach stroll or to hire an outrigger for snorkelling or dolphin taunting. Taunting? Yes since the offshore lagoon is calm and relatively wave free, pods of dolphins sometimes surface and flip over to the delight of those above water. If you havent been pestered into a pre dawn dolphin taunting expedition yesterday, you will be approached this morning or any other. Dozens of motorized outriggers patrol the calm waters in search of any fins breaking the water. Once some are spotted there’s a mad rush to get as close as possible to Flipper and company lest they start to dive and disappear, as they always do. The hide and seek goes on for a few hours until one by one the outriggers head back to shore. If you’ve not caught sight of a single dolphin there’s a gigantic concrete dolphin monument right by the beach parking lot to look at, or buy a carved wooden dolphin or two and zip tie it to your handlebar or seat post as a mojo. Tacky but true as I’m writing from experience of days gone by here.

Dinner was a low key affair at a new New Zealand themed restaurant called Tiki. Surprisingly it only had Italian food, and which cyclist is going to refuse pasta? I sort of missed the final demise of a long time favourite bar, restaurant plus bandstand place called Malibu, another victim to a downturn in tourism here.




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