Riding Through Bali – From Banyumala Waterfalls to Lembongan Island (Part 2)

Still feeling the stress of our sandy adventure, I needed a break from the motorcycle. So, we walked to the Banyumala Twin Waterfalls from our Rustic Cabin. While going through the jungle, some very nice ladies gave us a lift, navigating the dirt roads like they were old friends. When we reached the waterfall, despite not having my bathing suit, I couldn’t help to go into the water and embrace the fresh waterfall and the surrounding nature. For a moment, I had forgotten that in less than two hours, we had to go to our next destination, Mount Batur.

After the waterfalls, loaded like mules, we made our way through the twisted roads. I felt Lida squeezing her legs at every turn and going up every slope. I took it slow, but it was a long road that kept going higher and higher. We arrived at our hotel in Kintamani without problems, except for that one moment when the front wheel left the ground on a particularly steep slope. It’s fine, right?!

The following day, we had plans to hike the Volcano to catch the sunrise. Waking up at two in the morning, a car picked us with other residents from the hotel to make way to the base of the mountain. The slow climb towards the summit became steeper and steeper. My backpack was heavier than it should have been and every step became a challenge. It felt more like a personal battle we each fought to reach the top by sunrise. I had thought many times to just give up, but kept going. And the spectacle that was waiting for us was well worth the sweat and the pain. We admired the sunrise while taking in the peace it brought to our minds, hot coffee in hand.

It was time to leave the mountains. We wanted to leave the mountains, but the mountains didn’t want us to leave. Following once again Google’s indications, we ended up going through the Black Lava[link] section of the mountain where the roads were made of nothing but sand. We crossed many surprised looks from riders on motocross bikes. “What the hell are they doing here?!” Despite the road being flat, I soon realized that this was a valley and the only way to get out of a valley is up. At the exit of the valley, the steepest slope yet was waiting for us…I was not confident about tackling this one with so much weight on the bike. And despite the fact I should have tackled it a lot faster, I took it slower out of consideration for my passenger. First turn, we made it. Second turn, we made it. But as we were climbing in first gear, I could hear the engine screaming and rumbling and I saw the oil gauge temperature being darker than the asphalt under our feet. Right in the middle of that slope, the motorcycle stopped… 

In the middle of that slope, I was clenching on the breaks while Lida climbed off the motorcycle. The slope was steep enough that releasing the breaks was followed immediately by the wheels sliding on the asphalt. We were f*cked. This was not a good position to be in. And yet, a friendly local stopped by and helped out. In the middle of what felt like nowhere, this random stranger showed up and I thanked the mountain God. Holding the bike, I got off and allowed the engine to cool off. And the stranger offered to bring the motorcycle to the top for us since he knows the road. I didn’t hesitate and trusted him blindly. He could have taken off with our motorcycle and all our stuff. But at some point, you have to trust a helping hand.The climb felt just as bad as the hiking we did in the morning and the thought of giving up came back to me once more. These mountains won’t let us go. We thanked our helper before moving on.

Once we were back on the saddle, we followed Google’s instruction. And once again, the British accent lady sent us…nowhere… She indicated a road that we never found. We were on top of the mountain and we could even see the ocean’s reflection. Yet no roads around brought us even near the right path. We ended up circling around a big section of the mountain to be able to find a practical path down.

As we were finally descending from the mountain, we felt more at ease. Finally, the beach was waiting for us, but not without one last surprise. Engaged in 2nd gear and using both front and back brakes, the descent was never-ending. With as many twists and turns as when we climbed the mountain, came a moment when I used my back brake and a dreaded feeling of nothingness swallowed me. The back break was dead. Just a loud “clack” sound, but no resistance. I became very silent and concentrated. The front brake still works, but for how long if the back brake gave up? As we arrived at a decision making intersection, I stopped the bike completely. Instinct was screaming at me that going forward now would be the end of us. I asked Lida to get off while she was asking what was going on.My head was empty, my voice was silent. Her eyes were wide and full of thoughts, but not more words came out. Just silence. 

Lucky enough, a repair shop was right on the corner of that intersection. And as I started turning the bike around, the front brake stopped working too. The guys jumped to hold the bike and me. When asked what was going on, I simply replied “The brakes died…” as if it was the most natural of things. The brakes had over-heated from that never-ending slope. They helped us without asking for money and wished us luck on the rest of our road. It was a heartfelt moment. One that made Lida and I review our lives.

We descended the rest of the mountain on the 1st gear instead, weary of the brakes being at risk. Upon reaching the main coastal road, I just said “Honey, we are out of the mountains!” With laughs of relief, we headed towards our next hotel where relaxation and calm was waiting for us. While watching the sunset of that day by the ocean, I started throwing stones, skipping them on the water.

Dragos out!

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