“Where are you from?”
“DO YOU SURF?”
Every time. Without fail. I used to answer with the excuse that I mountain bike instead. Or I grew up boogie boarding. Or the water is too cold in Northern California. Or that I really want to but just haven’t yet for a collection of other, minor excuses. But lately the answer has been a bold faced lie. “Yeah!”
Well, I’ve been in Bali for the last two weeks, and I thought I better back it up. At least be able to say I caught a few waves in surfer’s paradise. Buuuutttt…… I didn’t. My
excuse? reason? Financial limitations, too crowded, too shallow, blah blah blah. I just don’t really have the craving to get out there and stand up on the board. I’d rather drink a few Bintangs, cruise the beach, and relax on the sand, getting my bronze on. That’s not to say I didn’t take time to explore something new. It was exciting for me, to cruise around Uluwatu for the last few days on a scooter. That’s right, my scooter sessions were extremely exciting. I used to be afraid to ride any sort of motor bike, more of a fear of wanting to go too fast. I used to drive a truck like a speed demon, what the hell would I do on a motorcycle? I always convinced myself it would end in some epic crash.
Uluwatu is a gorgeous escape from the awfully hectic Kuta, just 30 minutes or so south of the main city, lies crystal clear waters, monumental cliffs absorbing the crashing waves, and countless beaches to explore along the winding road. To do so, I needed my scooter. First up was Impossible beach. Impossible maybe because it was impossible to find a sandy patch to chill out on? I don’t know. But it was gorgeous as I soaked in the remaining sunlight, watching the tide creep out and expose the soft reef below. Watching the surfers catch the last waves, then literally walk back from the break in ankle deep water, I realized this was one of those ‘too shallow and dangerous to learn on’ beaches.
Time to travel a little further from home, so I went to Padang Padang beach. This place is LOVED by tourists. The Eat Pray Love crowd flocks because part of the movie was filmed here. They even chill out in the shadiest areas. I can’t imagine they chose to though, the beach is just packed and they didn’t get out of bed early enough. Neither did I, so I wedged myself in between two towels and relaxed (The benefits of not bringing your own towel…fitting in the slivers of the sand). This was the beach to learn surfing, calm waves, sandy bottom… but it was so crowded in the water as well as the beach. Also the most expensive to rent a board, due to the massive amounts of tourists, so I passed. On another note, the Bakso from the guys motorbike food stand was excellent! Best tasting Bakso yet, and it was only 10,000 Rupiah (0.84 USD)!
I decided to scoot around more and more the next day. I upgraded to shirtless and helmet less scooting by now, so the feeling of freedom motivated me to ride til sunset. But really it took about 15 minutes to get to the Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple, so I thought I’d make a pit stop and check it out. The temple was built in the 11th century along stunning sea cliffs to keep the evil spirits out of Bali. The temple itself was pretty unimpressive. Laced with aggressive macaques, trained to steal your sunglasses and other goodies, you have to be on guard at all times. I had one jump over my head, and swipe at my face for my glasses all in one motion!! For a temple built to ward off evil spirits, it definitely housed a bunch of little devils.
The views, however, are the reason to visit. Watching the crashing waves against the towering cliffs as you stand on the very edge is mesmerizing.
After soaking in the views, I decided to scoot even further, with no destination in mind. Winding down the main road, void of traffic, I passed by local Warungs, honked as I overtook cars, and smiled as I felt the wind blow through my hair. Then I found myself on a busy, much larger, straight road. No feeling of freedom here, so I took the next turn towards the ocean. Blindly, I wove my way through local neighborhoods, passed tempting street food, and took a random pattern of lefts and rights. I didn’t realize it until I got there, but I found Karma Beach, a private beach with an entrance fee of 25,000 Rupiah. Not on my budget, and never one to actually pay to lay in the sand, I summoned my inner younger brother, left the hotel and found my way to “the back entrance.” There were 350 steps leading down to the clear blue water, and they were free.
The steps are not bad at all, and lead to the rocky shores of Karma beach. During high tide you won’t be able to get down using this route, unless you bring your flippers. I climbed over some rocks and found myself in the fancy beachside lounge area, equipped with an expensive bar, bean bags in the sand, umbrellas and the works. All I had to do was pretend like I stayed at the hotel,
steal borrow a towel, and lay on a bean bag. The sun was shining so I chilled here for a few hours, soaking it all in.
Finally, I found myself scooting over to Bingin Beach, and this by far, was the most fun environment. I randomly ran into a friend from a week earlier in Amed, making the days way more social than before. This is a beautiful beach with the most community feel amongst travelers I experienced. Within a half of a day you know everyone, you can go behind the bar and grab a Bintang yourself , throw it on the tab and go back to the beach. There are plenty of surfers here, where the waves break in a tight tube over the reef. The reef during low tide is about half a foot deep, so not exactly for those green in the gills.
After sunset, as I zipped down the main road back home, under the yellow half moon, I started thinking… getting down on myself for not surfing. But then I whipped around a turn, leaning into it so hard it felt like I was mountain biking again. Shirt off, helmet free. I looked at the stars with a gigantic smile and let out a child like laugh while I cranked it full throttle.
So yeah, I still don’t surf. But I’m thinking about buying a motorcycle.