Bali and Lombok family cycling holiday – getting to Indonesia

During the summer of 2018 regular Cycle Sprog columnist Kathryn took her family (12 year old Alice, 9 year old Tom and husband Richard) on a brilliant adventure. They headed to Indonesia, where they went cycle touring around Bali and Lombok for several weeks.  Kathryn kindly agreed to write us a few blogs about their adventures. Here’s her first one on the logistics of getting their bikes out to Indonesia, and the shock of cycling on the roads of Bali for the first time.

Flying with our bikes to Indonesia

Having flown with bikes before (when we did our family cycling trip along the River Danube)  we were confident we could get them to Indonesia, but were less certain about how much it would cost. However taking bikes long haul proved not much different to taking them to Europe. After some research it looked liked Singapore Airlines was the most viable option for us. They would accept bikes as part of our 30kg baggage allowance, and as long as our total luggage did not exceed 30kg we could have as many items as we needed at no extra cost. Emirates was also a consideration but their total allowance was only 23kg. Before we set off, we did all the necessary bike maintenance to make sure that the bikes are in tip top condition (although they will need a really good check over once they arrive at the other end).

Packing everything that is need for a months family cycling holiday is always challenging, but we’re now used to travelling light. This time rather than packing clothes directly into the panniers we each have our own mesh bag. Maybe sounds a little too organised, but as the principle packer has revolutionized my holiday. It’s not only easier to keep track of whose stuff is whose, but now the kids are a bit older everyone takes responsibility for their ensuring their own clothes are in their mesh bag as we move on from place to place. Essential when you move on every couple of days.

We flew with 4 x bikes each in their own disposable cardboard bike box.  We had our Topeak Journey trailer with the wheel and forks detached wrapped in plastic as we have before. Our four panniers and the large Topeak trailer bag were also all put in hold.  (If you’re interested, you can read my review of the Topeak trailer here). For this trip we had a couple of new pieces of kit:

  • Blackburn seat post dry bag which Alice will be using, the idea being that it keeps weight down as there is no need for a pannier rack on her bike.
  • Topeak handle bar bag – which you’d think (or I did when Richard bought it!!) is a little too small to be really useful, but is already proving very handy for sunglasses, map, sunscreen and emergency snacks, and it doesn’t effect the steering at all!
  • We also have with us this Arkel Bike Trunk bag which is designed by a lovely company in Quebec (which is close to where we’ve been living recently in Montreal – that’s another story, which you can read about here)

Once everything was in the hold, we were left with 2 small rucksacks containing all the items required for a 16 hour flight with 2 children! Thankfully the bikes and us all arrived in Denpasar from London ( via Singapore) in one piece!

Arriving with bikes at Denpasar airport

Denpasar is the capital city of the Indonesian state of Bali, and is situated in the southern part of the island.  The airport is  quite low key.  Our bikes were just left by a sign next to the baggage carousel saying ‘oversized’ and easily loaded on to trolleys to pass through customs. We transported our bikes in cardboard bike boxes which were easily disposed of at the airport. This means we could cycle directly from the airport, but does mean that for our return we will need to source a large roll of polythene to wrap them in (I’m not worrying about that just yet!) The alternative would be to use bike bags or bespoke boxes, but you would then need to arrange a transfer to a place (hotel / hostel) that is willing to store them whilst you travel. It was easy to find a quiet area in which to assemble bikes, get changed (with clean bathrooms!), buy water and draw money out of ATMs with no-one hassling us. Arriving with bikes at Bali airport Denpasar However …. once you leave the airport, the place however takes on a whole new dimension!

Cycling with kids in Bali for the first time

Leaving Denpasar airport, we needed to get to Legian Beach, which was just 10km away. On paper this is not a very long distance, but in reality it was totally overwhelming after the calm of the airport. The noise (from horns) the heat, the sheer volume of traffic as vans, cars, tourists buses and motorbikes all jostled for space on the roads. Cycling with kids in Bali - capital city Denpasar We stop often to check the route and to see how everyone is holding up! We quickly try to find quieter smaller roads, and weave our way to the coast, but even on the most narrowest of alleyways we are still competing with mopeds…and here the road quality is not so good. Despite the quantity of traffic however our fellow road users are considerate. They beep to warn us they’re overtaking, give us space and allow us to merge in to the traffic at junctions. It was Tom that noticed the absence of traffic lights! Cycling on the side roads in Legian Denpasar Bali Thankfully we made it to our destination, feeling rather frazzled and shell shocked, but excited about the adventure ahead of us.  You can read the next installment, where we cycled from Penelokan to Sidemen here.

Top tips I’ve learnt so far:

1) Don’t seal your bike boxes before they go through the security scanner and keep some extra tape handy. Security need to be satisfied the boxes just contain bikes. 2) Keep the distance from your arrival airport to first nights accommodation short, even if it means staying just one night in somewhere you’d ideally rather not! Don’t under estimate how tired you’ll be, and how much your brain is processing as you step out from the ‘safety’ of the airport. You’re jet lagged, it’s hot and there’s a whole new set of road rules for everyone to get used to. 3) Research your route (and road rules) beforehand so you know what to expect when you get there, and prepare your kids for it. For example, know which side of the road you’ll be cycling on, agree the order you will cycle in etc … For those of you who haven’t read it yet, Kathryn has written a great post on the logistics of taking bikes and kids on planes, so read that if you’re looking for lots more hints and tips on taking your bikes. Click here to subscribe About Kathryn:  As well as enjoying family cycling adventures, Kathryn runs a intercultural learning consultancy called Up+ Thrive and also provides advice and support to expat partners through Kathryn Relocated. Other posts you’re going to love: 

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