I went to Bali last year and really loved it. When some people think Bali – they think surfing and Schapelle Corby. Others think luxurious white sandy beaches and lavish resorts, still others have visions of cheap shopping, noodles, beer and nightclubbing dancing through their heads.
But there is another side that the more intrepid think – white water rafting down the Ayung River.
Anyone who knows me knows I will never be described as ‘intrepid’ but having been assured the river was a grade 2/3, and the rest of my party keen as river beavers to do it, off we went for the 11km ride with Sobek Bali Utama tours. About 8 rafts were waiting in the fast flowing river thanks to the thunderstorm that crashed around us.
We floated effortlessly through lush jungle foliage beside stone walls that have been carved with Balinese figures, then we hit the rapids. Our guide yelled ‘forwards’, ‘stop’, ‘backwards, backwards’, ‘stop’, at the top of his lungs and we paddled like our lives depended on it. This gave way to hysterical giggles and when we landed in each other’s laps or grabbed each other from the brink of death, it was all too much and we roared like kookaburas.
Then suddenly we rounded a bend and come to a screeching halt as the huge downpour had uprooted a stand of bamboo which had fallen across the river, blocking our way. After about 15 minutes of cutting, thrashing and hacking (while other tourists puffed on cigarettes exhumed from their waterproof bags) the guides made an opening and we kiwis showed them how to paddle like stink pushing over the fallen branches, bouncing through and then spinning in donuts as per our guide’s show-off instructions.
Finally we reached the end and hauled ourselves back up the hill while these ladies carried our deflated rafts weighing 45kg on their heads all the way up to the company office!