Meeting up with the Backroads Group

Ubud Travel Blog

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The pool at the Alila Ubud

I had a nice breakfast on the verandah of the hotel this morning with lots of fresh fruit (watermelon, honeydew melon, pineapple, papaya and jack fruit), Balinese coffee, and papaya juice to start.  The village breakfast of the day was a black sticky rice pudding, bananas in a rice dough that was baked, and a Jaya cake of rice and coconut with palm sugar syrup.  It was quite nice. 

I had a little time to kill, so I went back down to the pool and read for a bit, then it was time to pack up and change hotels.  I was just finishing the packing job when the room staff came by to clean.  I gave one of the staff members my 'Nike' sandals that had not worked so well for me -- and he was thrilled, as they were just his size.

My room at the Alila Ubud
 

I checked out and took a taxi over to the Alila Ubud, the hotel where I am to meet up with the Backroads group.  It was about a 35 minute drive from the Waka di Ume and cost about $5 USD.  The Alila Ubud is a beautiful hotel/resort surrounded by a very thick forest/jungle.  The pool is amazing!  I was voted one of the top 50 best pools in the world in Conde Nast Travel magazine -- and has an amazing negative edge that makes it look like you could swim right on out into the jungle!  As I checked in, the General Manager came over and introduced himself to me.  He is from the Netherlands, and has been the GM here for a couple of years.  It was amazing to get that kind of personal touch.

My room was amazing.

Our bikes lined up for sizing.
  King size bed, outdoor shower -- and I have no assigned roomie by Backroads!  Yahoo!  There was a welcome card in my room from the Backroads trip leaders, Jo and Courtney.  I unpacked a few things, took some pictures around the hotel and pool, and headed for lunch.  I had a beet salad with arugula and goat cheese and a ginger flavored limeade.  The Backroads group is to meet at 2:00pm -- and I found myself looking at all the guests in the restaurant to try and determine if they are part of the group.

I went to the hotel lobby at 2:00 to meet the group -- and sure enough, there were 12 guests -- 3 men and 9 women, with Jo and Courtney as the Trip Leaders.  Both the trip leaders were very positive, welcoming  and gracious.

Listening to to our local guide, Wayan Narta explaining Balinese Culture
  Jo is the more experienced leader, and I learned that she developed this trip for Backroads.  The group has two married couples, and both are from the Bay Area in California -- Larry and Cecilia, and K.C. and Ted.  We have two solo travellers (besides me) -- Jody (also from the Bay Area) and Ellen, a reporter who currently lives in Senegal -- and has been covering the Darfur story.  Joyce and Kat are friends traveling together from Atlanta and West Palm Beach.  The other three women live in Vancouver, Canada -- two by way of South Africa, and one originally from Switzerland.  These three are Jundre, Irika and Francoise.  

After introductions, we were fitted for our bikes.  Then, it was time for a hike through the rice paddies to get a view around the area.

Ducks in the Rice Paddy
  It was about a 3 mile hike, and it was hot and very humid -- in the 90's.  We met our local guide, Wayan Narta, and he gave us a great background on the Balinese culture and Hindu beliefs.  One of the interesting things I learned while hiking through the rice paddies was about how the farmers utilize ducks in their rice farming.  Ducks were present at all the paddies.  We leaned that the ducks provide fertilizer for the rice, they eat bugs that damage the crops, their constant digging around for food in the area helps to cultivate the rice, aerate the roots, weeds the area, etc.  Plus, they provide eggs and food for the farmer.  Kind of the circle of life here in the rice paddy!  It was a nice hike, a good introduction to Balinese culture and customs, and a good start to get to know my fellow travelers.
Jo and Jody with the local fruits for tasting

We shuttled back to the hotel, showered and met out at the pool for soem wine and an introduction to local fruits.  We had palak (called the snakeskin fruit -- which was what I described as the "leather covered strawberry" in my Kuta blog), passion fruit, ramatan ("hairy fruit"), and mangiss or mangostein.  The ramatan and mangostein were my favorites -- really delicious and different than anything I have had before.

Dinner this night was prepared especially for us by the hotel's Australian head chef, Stuart.  I had butter fish accompanied by a great French chardonnay.  I also had a chocolate souffle and ice cream for dessert.  It was a great meal.  I was so tired at the end of that, I wobbled on my way back to the room!  I fell asleep very quickly!

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The pool at the Alila Ubud
The pool at the Alila Ubud
My room at the Alila Ubud
My room at the Alila Ubud
Our bikes lined up for sizing.
Our bikes lined up for sizing.
Listening to to our local guide, W…
Listening to to our local guide, …
Ducks in the Rice Paddy
Ducks in the Rice Paddy
Jo and Jody with the local fruits …
Jo and Jody with the local fruits…
Negative Edged Pool at Alila Ubud
Negative Edged Pool at Alila Ubud
My outdoor shower!
My outdoor shower!
Rice being harvested
Rice being harvested
Rice Paddy
Rice Paddy
Rice in the Paddy
Rice in the Paddy
Ducks working the Rice Paddy
Ducks working the Rice Paddy
Ubud
photo by: eddie8498