Cycling in the beautiful tablelands of Bali

 

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We were picked up from our hotel in a mini-van by our guide, Made, and taken north, to the beautiful (and surprisingly cool) tablelands of Bali.

It was about an hour and a half drive and Made used the time to talk about Balinese traditions, like the naming system and the cast system.

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We were first taken to a local tea/coffee plantation and shop to taste a variety of coffees and teas. The stop at the plantation was interesting and we had a lot of fun tasting all the drinks and learning about plants which some of us had never seen before.

We had a breakfast of banana pancakes and coffee (included in price) at a restaurant in the Kintamani area overlooking the stunning Mt Batur before being driven to our bikes.

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What followed next was a two-hour mostly downhill run, winding through back lanes, tiny villages and rice fields.

We stopped whenever someone in our party wanted to – which was often- as we chatted with school children, toddlers, rice farmers, even a family making bricks from hand on the side of the road.

We also walked through a rice paddy field and got to sift some rice. Finally, we were brought into the home of Yoga, the owner of Halo Bike Tours.

We’d never been inside a Balinese family compound before and Yoga showed us around their home where we saw the family temple.

Yoga’s wife prepared a six-course buffet – real, home-made Balinese food, not restaurant food….and it was divine.

You don’t need to be fit for the tour as it’s 90 per cent downhill and we breezed through the day. Definitely worth the 400,000 IDR per adult each.

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Adventure trek deep into the Sumatran rain forest!

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We took a flight from Jakarta to Medan (2hrs) on Lion air and then drove to Bukit Lawang which took another 2 hrs. Our flight departed late but the driver patiently waited at Medan airport. The drive from Medan airport to Bukit Lawang was traffic free (unlike Jakarta) and very pleasant. We stopped on the way to enjoy some Padan food in a local restaurant.

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We were keen to see the Sumatran orang-utans in the wild so decided to go on a trek into the depths of Gunung Leuser National Park. Last year two of us visited Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan to see the Bornean orang-utans. The Sumatran orang-utans compared to the Bornean species are thinner and have longer faces; their hair is longer with a paler red color. We were informed that only 7,000 Sumatran orang-utans still live in the wild. A larger number of them are being protected in five areas in Gunung Leuser National Park. Others live in unprotected areas northwest and northeast Aceh block, West Batang Toru river, East Sarulla and Sidiangkat.

Bukit Lawang is a small village situated 90 kilometers northwest of Medan, the capital city of North Sumatra, Indonesia. Bukit Lawang is situated at the eastern side of Gunung Leuser National Park.

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In Bukit Lawang, we stayed at “ON THE ROCKS” which is located on the eastern bank of the Bukit Lawang’s Bohorok river, a ten minutes trek up the side of the jungle. A trek that was well worth the effort as our reward being a cold beer / fresh juice when we reached the top! “On the rocks” has only 5 huts and a small Restaurant with spectacular panoramic views of the jungle, and Bukit Lawang, including the river. The huts are basic with bathrooms with shower and a small balcony with a hammock!

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We took a two-day, on-night Trek in Gunung Lesuer National Park, for 60 Euros each. This included all meals, water, and snacks. In the evening we stayed in a campsite near rivers in the national park. We woke up early in the morning and trekked along the river (difficult but well worth it!) to a small but beautiful waterfall where we were able to swim. In all the trek was physically demanding, so we all needed to be reasonably fit and healthy!

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Finally we took the easy way down by white water rafting in tied up rubber tyres. It was one of most tiring but adventurous treks that we have ever done. Most of us (not all) would love to go back and do it again!

Adventure in the Jungle! Borneo. (2)

Our knowledge of orang-utans – “people of the forest” was very little. However, extensive research undertaken by Dr. Birute Galdikas, a primatologist who arrived at Tanjung Puting National Park in 1971 and along with her husband Mr. Rod Brindamour established the Camp Leakey. Whilst research still continues today from the Camp Leakey, visitors are also welcome to experience the daily afternoon feeding.

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The only way to visit the Camp Leakey is by klotok – a double storey river boat. Our klotok departed from Kumai and we traveled up the Sekonyer River into the Tanjung Puting National Park. We could have stayed at the only accommodation on the river, Rimba Lodge, but we chose staying on water. The journey up the Sekonyer River allowed us the opportunity to relax to the sounds and smells of the rainforest and spot both bird and animal life. Included in the price of our klotok is a National Park fees which covered our entry into the Tanjung Puting National Park.

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The boat trip to the Camp Leakey was wonderful and comfortable. We slept on deck under a mosquito net, and it was magical with the forest sounds and monkeys everywhere.

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Travelling up the river was so nice and serene; the river was beautiful. It was easy to spot various animals, especially proboscis monkeys, birds and orang-utans. The walking into the forest at the stops was easy, more like a stroll and the forest was diverse.

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It is truly a magical place and we hope to revisit in the coming years.  We went to Kalimantan for the sole purpose of going to the Camp Leakey and we were not disappointed.

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Adventure in the Jungle! Borneo. (1)

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Having craved to escape from rainy Jakarta, we booked a 3 days 2 nights boat trip into the Borneo Jungle.
We departed from the Soekarno-Hatta airport at 9:00 am with Trigana Air which we never heard of… (a bit worrying)

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As the Kalimantan island is approaching, the sky becomes very clear and we started to be excited.

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We landed at 10am, a 1 hours flight from Jakarta. After we picked up our luggage, at the gate of the Iskandar airport, we met our tour organizer, Ruth.  She put us in a taxi and asked the driver to take us to Kumai port where our boat is waiting for us. Ruth spoke very good English so we felt very comfortable.

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At the Kumai port, when we boarded our boat we met our captain Isy who was friendly and welcoming.
There are many boats near the port which are mainly for tourists or belonging to the mining industry.
We really liked our boat as it is unique with natural touch, deck chair and hammock. We even felt that other tourists were envious  when they saw our nice boat!

We found that near the sea, the water was not very clear, or, it was actually very dirty and contaminated.
Also, the forest was quite thin and we got the feeling that the destruction of the environment was really on-going in this area.

Around 12 mid-day, they served a nice lunch cooked on the boat!

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As we went up the river we saw some proboscis monkeys looking down at us from the trees around the riverside.
After some time, the water becomes very clear and we could see the boundary between the clean and polluted water clearly.

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Our journey/adventure had just begun….

Tea Garden Resort – Bandung-

It’s been quite long time ago when me and my friends stayed at this hotel located in the middle of tea plantations in Bandung.

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There are three type of rooms (70m2, 80m2, 150m2) and we have chosen 80m2 one to be shared by three of us. It was quite spacious and there are two bed rooms and shower (with bath tub) plus mini kitchen.

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The room was quite clean and there was even a tatami-place. There is enough space between cottages so your privacy will be protected. You need to have a car to come here otherwise there is no restaurants around this hotel, though you can eat at the cafe/restaurant in the hotel (or room service is also available). It is also important to note that you need to close the door/window tightly, otherwise you will end up with lots of small insects in your room next morning!

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The hotel can also arrange transport from Jakarta and it is recommended to include stopping by at the crater.
For a van, it costs us around Rp.1.3mil. There is a person who can write e-mails in Japanese, though not perfect.

Tea Garden Resort Bandung
E-mail: teagardenfinance12@yahoo.co.id