Surfing Bali

Saturday, March 19, 2016
Canggu, Bali, Indonesia
On the 1st of March we have an early flight to one of our favorite destinations, Bali. We were here a little more then 3 years ago, halfway our yearly trip, for more then a month of relaxing surf, and afterwards considered it as the best price/performance we could find in that year. We stayed in the up-and-coming Canggu area, where there is a great reef break and in between the rice fields are a few B&Bs, restaurants and café's. It’s an easy choice to stay here again, especially when we find a new and affordable boutique hotel. When we arrive we recognize all the nice places we stayed and ate/drank, but we also see a lot of changes. Quiet streets that turned into shopping areas, luxury villa’s built left and right, plenty of new coffee places, and hip-and-cool dudes driving around on their deus-ex-machina modified motorcycle with a surfboard attached. Change is inevitable and it is going fast, in 2014 the amount of rooms on Bali increased from 24k to 30k. But Canggu is still very enjoyable, a bit more lively, for instance at the beach where a quiet sundowner Bintang has turned into a big gathering of (wannabe)surfers at the Old Man with reserved tables and all, regular parties with DJs and security guards regulating the traffic. 

We start our stay with visiting few of our old favorites, the vegetarian Green Ginger restaurant and Suksema, the sushi place, and enjoy it to the fullest. Since the waves are a bit moderate, we rent MTB’s and drive up to the volcano lake, which towards the end has some serious steep sections and I discover that kiting doesn’t provide a lot of cardio fitness. And then after three days I contract a serious fever that doesn’t go away, and after consulting the doctor it turns out to be dengue. It is not as heavy as malaria, but the downside is that there is no treatment except for taking a few paracetamol (it’s almost if you are in Holland, the standard prescription of Dutch doctors) and sit is out, which takes a full week. And that’s a shame, a week inside the room when the surf is waiting. Anyhow, on the last day of this week we have to stay inside anyway as it is Nyepi day, the Balinese New Year and the day of silence where the island literally shuts down: the airport is closed, the port, all shops and businesses, and it is a legal offence if you go on the streets. The use of electricity is limited and at night all the curtains need to be closed and the street lights are off. It must be a great sight from above, a completely dark Bali. The believe is that this way all the bad spirits will leave Bali. The evening before Nyepi day there is a parade of self-created monsters, a bit like carnival, and these huge dolls are burned at the end of the parade. At our local temple there is a creation that looks a lot like a Korean tourist with a selfie stick that even has a real flash, but when I ask about it the answers are a bit evasive. It is the dilemma of Bali, a love-and-hate relationship with the tourist, they are the major source of income but also overrun the island and change Bali forever. On Nyepi day you kind of experience the Bali from decades ago, from the rooftop of our hotel we look around and see nobody, hear nothing except the breaking waves in the distance and the whistles of birds, a very special day indeed.

And then slowly my blood gets normal and we are able to surf, although the first few days are limited to one session per day because I’m already out of breath after 10 paddle strokes. But the waves are mellow so it doesn’t take a lot of effort. The break is a bit busier than three years ago, but most of them are beginners so there is not a lot of competition in taking the waves. The downside is that when surfing you have to zigzag around the paddling surfers, some of them completely frozen and with scary eyes because they are afraid you surf over them, which indeed happens on occasion because they position themselves in the worst possible way. And the occasional drop in, but the general atmosphere is relaxed and I don’t mind sharing a wave. There are some decent days with swells up to 8ft, with steep take offs and rides all the way to the beach. We slip again into a wonderful lifestyle of spending lots of time in the water, where every surf session is concluded with a coconut overlooking the break and exchanging wave experiences, interleaved with scooter rides through the rice fields to new coffee places and excellent restaurants. Time flies by and before we know it we have to go back to Manila. On our last day we pass by the Redz surf factory to pick up our custom made wave kite board, and it is better than I expected, beautifully made in every detail, including the also custom made board bag and carbon fins. I hope we can test it out in our last week in Dubai, although the current wind predictions don’t look to good.




Geweldig Frans en Carolina, wij willen ook terug! Geniet van je laatste week in Dubai XXX

Lieve Carolina en Frans,
Lezen nu pas jullie reisblog van Bali, en inmiddels zijn jullie via Manilla al naar jullie laatste Reisbestemming Dubai, dat zal wel een hele overgang zijn om van dat paradijselijke Bali in een heel andere wereld terecht te komen.
Ondanks de gezondheids perikelen toch een fijne tijd gehad op Bali, en natuurlijk ook de nieuwjaars viering meegemaakt, heel apart te horen men het viert en alles donker is om de boze geesten te verjagen.
Donderdag hopen we jullie in de armen te kunnen sluiten want jullie aankomst is toch 8 uur s.avonds, we kijken er naar uit liefs pa en ma xx