After 6 mths wandering in Ozz its time to relax ! (hey travelling is hard work).
I spent a week or so in Kuta getting my bearings and finding a surfboard and just relaxing. I stayed at Kadins II (125,000IRP) , an older style hotel with a lovely pool set in a small lush green garden with easy going staff and a good wifi connection. Set on a quiet lane with few scooters you would hardly know you were in the heartof party town! A constant stream of travellers come and go some starting out on adventures others on there way home, stories and ideas for places to go and great cafes not to miss are exchanged over breakfast and around the pool. Luckily instead of having to have a kneeboard made for me I found one for sale used, a south african board, great deal with board bag, fins and leash (about $ 220.0) in like new condition. Came across a cremation ceremony on the main beach, tourists are always welcomed and even encouraged to take photos. Its considered an honour and very favourable that we have come so far to see there loved ones ashes be scattered and there spirits sets free. Such wonderful traditions and ceremonies full of offerings, flowers, music, prayers and a party atmosphere to honour the dead and help everyone to share the pain of a loved one passing. makes our western “culture” appear a bit unsure and lost in comparison when dealing with death.
In the first few days Bali had a few monsoon storms with lightning and floods! but also some hot humid days where the only place to be was in the surf. Often after waves I would stroll down the lane for supper at the Gong cafe with Emma from Auz, she’s been living in West Sumatra for a bit and we had some great chats about everything from the matriarchal culture of the west coast of sumatra to the best place to buy an ice cream machine. Its often the way when you travel, the people you met are on journeys both inner ones and physical ones just like yourself, sharing the path you are on is a always an energizing positive experience. The day before Nyepi, (Balinese new year) was a parade of giant monsters and enlightened beings form Hindu culture, every colour imaginable and some even had fake slime dripping from there jaws! huge crowds lined the street and it took till midnight to get to the beach where the monsters were set on fire, pretty stinky as they were made of polystyrene! The next day was a complete 24hr period where no one was allowed out of the hotel and noise had to be kept very quiet so as not to annoy the spirits, Even electric lights were not allowed in case the light would attract a bad spirit. Temple guards wandered the streets and strictly enforced the light and noise ban! And then free of bad spirits a New year in Bali begins!
With a surfboard and a rented scooter with board racks I finally exited Kuta and zipped to the south and Balanagan beach again ! Was met with laughter and handshakes at our old “home” from the Papa at the Sunset cafe, but they had no rooms left, ended up next door at suzuki cafe with a lovely room with a window onto the surf!. Food was a fair bit cheaper here and the family very relaxed and friendly. Surf was royal blue, with an offshore breeze and 5ft plus, splash I was in.. 3hrs later a chicken curry to die for arrived on my table along with a banana smoothie, oh yes i’m home! Average cost per day here including room, food, beer, scooter, fuel,wax, ding repairs, sunscreen is under $25.00 a day.
6am .. A Room with a view. :-), thats 2x overhead surf your looking at !
@ 3x times overhead i’m on the beach with banana smoothie!
Shallow reef is a price to pay for hollow waves.
Sunset surfs are a ritual here and not to be missed no matter how tired you are.
Days & weeks go by no one around here has any idea what day it is , 30 day visa is renewed, surf pounds the reef day in day out, sometimes its hard to talk in the warung due to the noise from the pounding surf at high tide. I count my self lucky as I have only broken one set of surfboard fins and one leash so far (long swim) ! in one bad day I saw 5 broken surfboards and many snapped leashes. Flyn from Oz was one of the few to brave a particularly big day with many sets over 13ft plus! he paid the price though with two snapped leashes and a very hair raising swim back to shore, one time he was swept around the rocky headland and while Nichol grabbed his board and headed out to rescue him, I jumped on my scooter and drove to the next bay in case he needed help, Flyn had managed to clamber a shore on some rocky cliff and tells us the local fisherman barely even looked at him as he struggled for survival! guess they see a lot of washed up surfers. Ulu Watu is only a 12 minute scooter ride and often when Balanagn is small we head there, even a small day is powerful and a 5ft wave strong enough to break your board, again Flyn found out the hard way. Sunny at our beach side warung is constantly mending board dings and patching up very beaten up boards. The reefs are to be feared and we all get small foot injuries and the occasional more serious head ding, but so far no one has had to go to hospital. The way in at Ulu Watu goes through a giant cave, it is the only way out and the only way back in, at high tide its freaking dangerous and two ozzies are in hospital I hear due to hitting the cave walls.
Scooters are also to be feared, statistically more so than 10ft surf on a shallow reef! One German had a bad accident yesterday and is now the owner of 28 stitches and many bad cuts and bruises!
On a flat day we drove across the Island to Mt Augung, the most sacred volcano on Bali, Flyn was keen to climb it and hey who can back down when called a chicken! Nichol, Flynn and I packed bags and went east towards the Volcano, even though it dominates the Island we managed to get lost and loose it several times in the windy forest roads, low on fuel and food we found a small roadside refuel stop with petrol in glass bottles and spicy chicken satay and rice yummy! We only had to backtrack once but ended up at the main Volcano temple in the middle of a huge festival, masses of people in there best cloths with offerings to the gods, wearing very fetching Sarongs we mingled with pilgrims. Climbing the Volcano is not allowed during holy days and we were told we would have to wait 3 days at least if we wanted to climb. rain began to fall and we decided to go back down to dryer altitudes.
Flynn & Nichol blending in with the locals..
With the Volcano gods appeased we headed back in the dark . We woke the next morning at 6am to the glorious sound of waves on the reef again! thanks gods..
Local style at Padang Padang.
Ulu’s, always bring a bigger board..
Balanagan shore break gets hungry.
Sunny , cool guy likes big waves.. apparently appeared in 3 series of “Lost”.
Surfed Green Ball today, lovely green clean waves with overhead sets and super low tide, every time I came off a wave I touched bottom, small cut’s on feet and wrist but not bad. If you failed to paddle back out through the next waves and got carried by the current you would get “cheese grated” over the right hand side of the reef that was now bare and dry until a wave washes across it, not a place to make a mistake!
With tired arms and a suntan I will endure this paradise a bit longer I think. April 24.
Hi Matt and Mary:
Glad to hear you are having fun… Good place for surfing lessons?
HI Matt: Thanks for the update! Where’s Mary? Tim had a great birthday on Saturday with the sun shining but now it’s raining again…all the leaves are coming out and the trees are blooming!
Your photographs are causing us to have to get the computer keyboard cleaned as drool is gooey!
Surfer Boy! You are living the surfin dream! It all sounds incredible and i am jealous that you have encountered so many ceremonies! Fantastic photos as always!