Much to his embarrassment two ladies immediately try to fix the chain (which he has failed to do), while an elderly gent offers me his shady chair out of the hot sun – as a young boy fusses round me with water and another man phones our hotel on his mobile to summon assistance.
The bike cannot be fixed, so quick as a flash a hotel car brings us a new one, enabling us to continue on our jaunt.
We are amazed – both by the friendliness of the locals who went out of their way to help two sweaty foreigners, and by the superlative service of our hotel.
What is more incredible is that we aren’t in the tourist hotspot of Bali, where English is the lingua franca. We have journeyed further west to the majestic island of Java for a slightly more spiritual experience.
Like Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Pagan in Burma, the Buddhist monument of Borobudur makes the rest of Southeast Asia’s spectacular sites seem almost incidental.
This colossal tiered monument, covered in the most exquisite carvings of the Buddha’s life and teachings, looms out of the patchwork of bottle-green paddies and swaying palms like a giant stone wedding cake.
It has survived terrorist bombs, earthquakes, and ash-attacks from the volcanoes that ring it (some of which still smoke gently in the distance) to remain as enigmatic and beautiful as when it was built 1200 years ago.
And it retains a real sense of mysticism and spirituality.
In every stupa sits a meditating Buddha, and the ten levels correspond to the ten steps a Buddhist must pass through to attain Nirvana.
As we watch the sun set over this wonderful architectural feat, we too feel an unexpected serenity.
Mind you, our hotel, Amanjiwo, is just as much a destination in its own right.
Perched on a hillside amid mountain streams and terraced rice fields, its 34 suites, many with their own personal pool, have panoramic views down towards Borobudur – and its architecture mirrors that of the tremendous stupa.
Its exclusivity and luxury is such that David and Victoria Beckham stayed here four years ago (enough said really), though the ever-discreet staff refuse to talk about them even now – save for confirming the fact that David played football with some of the local boys. Although I later discover that they were helicoptered in and out – which played havoc with some of the farmers’ fields.
Two sides of the story: Amanjiwo in Java (left) and The Purist in Bali (right) offer different styles of relaxation
Despite the A-list clientele and staff to answer your every need, Amanjiwo is incredibly peaceful and low-key.
We could easily have spent our whole stay enjoying the views and private pool in our suite, but there is so much to do (beyond the dawn visit to Borobudur) – such as a hike up Mount Merapi, one of the many volcanoes, and a private night visit to another Buddhist temple and monastery.
And then, a change of gear. After our introduction to the Zen-like side of Indonesia in Java, it is time to step up to a more frenetic pace in Bali.
A short plane ride to the east drops us into the country’s beating tourist heart – where hotels range from surfer dives to stylish retreats in the lush mountains, and the only limit to your shopping is how big a suitcase you can carry.
We decide to give the larger beach-side resorts of Kuta and Seminyak a miss and head to the more bucolic delights of Ubud.
This village, set on the gentle slopes leading up to the central mountains, lives life in slow-motion, and was made famous by the best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love.
It was here, of course, that the author Elizabeth Gilbert was told by a fortune teller that she would live on the island and find true love – with her resulting memoir turned into a blockbuster starring Julia Roberts.
Despite the smart restaurants, cool bars, myriad boutiques and nightly dance shows, family traditions and the regular rituals that pay tribute to the Hindu gods are still very much part of everyday life – as the daily offering of flowers and incense on the pavements showed.
Bali is big on relaxation, and we spend many a lounge-lizard hour sunning ourselves beside the pool at our hotel, The Purist – which is located in a beautiful spot outside the main tourist areas.
Our individual villa is beautifully decorated with stylish soft furnishings, pebble stone floors and traditional carvings – and the highlight is our personal wooden sundeck overlooking the tropical gardens, where we enjoyed a delicious supper and one too many G&Ts.
But for the ultimate sybaritic experience, take a trip to Amanjiwo’s sister retreat Amankila, on Bali’s less developed east coast.
Each individual villa is perched on a hillside overlooking the sea towards Lombok, and connected by raised walkways.
The private beach offers individual day-beds, a three-tiered infinity pool (plus a longer one for those tireless souls who want to do lengths – though why you would want to exert that much energy is beyond me), exquisite food and spectacular views of the type that make you want to stay forever.
Sadly, we have to get back on our bikes eventually. Thankfully, on our flight home, the chain doesn’t come off.
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