I came across a discussion recently on the best way to travel, to experience a place, a country. Among the discussed methods, I was skeptical to note that many readers recommended cycling as the best way to travel.
“Really?” I had to think for a moment.
That’s because I did a cycling tour once in Bali, cycling from the top of the Kintamani mountain down to Ubud. My memories of my ride were not all pleasant to say the least – primarily because of my lack of confidence and experience on a bicycle.
At the end of the 3 hour ride, I was grumpy, grubby and out of sorts with my friends. I felt that it was one of my most stressful times on a holiday when I had expected to be enjoying myself instead.
However, hearing about the stories told on cycling tours made me think again. Was it really that bad?
Looking back, I can say that perhaps I was being a little too hasty in putting this aside.
For as much as I was occupied trying to keep myself on the bike itself, I could see that we were riding past beautiful, green plantations on our way down the mountain.
Our group was cycling on a one vehicle road with me cringing each time my butt hurt from riding across a pothole and hoping we didn’t encounter much traffic along the way. I could feel like one of the locals. Almost.
I chickened out when I encountered one of the steepest roads ever coming down that mountain. I could only be grateful my guide took pity and let me stay with the driver in the van. I ended up talking to him about his life in Bali and telling him about mine in urban Singapore. He didn’t believe me when I told him Singapore has no plantations at all.
I suppose the most impactful part of the journey would have been when we rode through the village, with schoolchildren waving and running alongside us. Cheeky schoolchildren too. One of them called me gendut. ‘Fat’ in short. I just gritted my teeth and rode on.
Ultimately, I suppose I could have been a bit too negative about my cycling experience. These are surely experiences that would be harder to get without a cycling expedition.
So is this sufficient to convince me that cycling is the best way to travel?
Well, let’s just say, it’s sufficient to get me to give it another chance, someday, sometime.
What do you think?