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Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bali, Beach, Bucket List, Indonesia, island life, long term travel, Southeast Asia, Travel, Travel Wishlist


Ahhh, Bali. I understand why people come here and never leave. Pair a BEAUTIFUL island with affordable food, activities and entertainment and chill laid back people, and you have Bali. Not to mention it’s also the most temperate place I’ve been so far. The sun is hot, but the humidity is low and dies down fully at night, so on the back of a scooter you can still feel a bit of a chill.

We arrive in Bali late, but have plans to meet up with friends for the evening to celebrate Amanda’s birthday. We are staying in a town called Legian at the Hotel Jayakarta (a bit of luxury before we begin the hostel circuit). Legian is your typical beach town, but just next door is the town of Kuta, which is a bit like Ibiza’s sister. It’s also the site of one of the bombings of 2004. As you enter the main strip, they have built a memorial to commemorate the people from all over the world who lost their lives. Despite the party atmosphere, I take a minute to reflect and pay respect.

We spend the evening on a Kuta pub and club crawl, and consume numerous $2.00 Bin Tangs. But, we refuse to let a little hangover cut into our beach time the next day. We secure some spots on the beach and spend the day sunning, and sipping pina coladas to cure our ailments. Add to that some noodles and soup for $.50 from the local street vendor and we are feeling A-OK by happy hour.

The following day brings more of the same, although I had promised myself that I would attempt surfing while in Bali. A friend had told me this was a great place to learn because the waves aren’t too big. So I find Rudy, the beach-chair seller cum beer vendor cum surf teacher. I venture over to him and he yells, “Elena., what’s up?” I negotiate surf lessons and board rentals for me and my two friends.300,000 Rupiah for three boards and a two-hour surf lesson for all of us. That’s about $30 USD. Rudy gives us surf shorts and carries our boards down to the water’s edge. We’re all feeling a little anxious but excited. He gives us about a 2-minute demonstration on land of what we need to do. It basically goes like this. “Ok, so you get on board and you paddle, paddle, paddle, and then you catch wave, and ‘poof,’ you pop up.” So we all demonstrate back to him. He obviously has all the faith in the world in us (or doesn’t really care) because the next thing you know we’re all out in the water, boards in tow, bracing the waves coming towards us. Now, I’m pretty comfortable in the water, but sometimes the waves would catch the board and swoop it right away from me- good thing we have ankle straps!

After getting out far enough to catch some waves, Rudy helps me spin the board around get centered. As I lay flat on the board, I turn my head around to see the wave coming toward me, approaching faster and faster. Rudy yells to me, “Paddle hard Elena.” I paddle hard and go to pop up on the board, and just as quickly fall right back in, the wave crashing over me. Take two, same story. At this point in time, hair is plastered across my face and I’m thanking Rudy for supplying me with a surf shirt or else all of Legian beach would’ve have been getting a bit of a show.

I realize I’m doing something wrong, and I tell Rudy I need help knowing when to pop up. “Ok, Ok Elena. You paddle hard. When I yell “POP” you pop up.” This sounds like a good plan, so we get the board turned around, he slides me to the back and we watch as the wave approaches. I start paddling and just as I feel the force of the wave and a bit of a lift, I hear Rudy yell “POP!” I jump up and I’m riding my first wave. Ok- it’s brief, but I’m doing it! Throughout the next hour it is more of the same, but I catch about 4 good waves, and that is enough to make me happy…and sore. What a work out. It’s like doing sets of push-ups and crunches until your muscles start to shake. And we all know there’s only one cure for that… A one-hour full-body massage. So I find Wyen, a little lady who has been stalking us the all day, and I make myself comfortable on a beach chair. One hour and $10 later, I am in a happy place. I have just enough time to head over to Ku-De-Ta, a beach resort in Seminyak, to catch the sunset.

Here, we meet up with one of my old colleague’s friends, Eduardo. He takes us over to Jimbaran Bay to sample what they are best known for… their seafood. After selecting a 1kg fresh snapper, we head to the beach, kick off our flops and get comfortable at a table on the beach. We toast our Bin Tangs. Behind us waves crash on the beach and in front of us, authentic Balinese dancers put on a traditional performance.  The garlic and lemon-roasted snapper comes out from the kitchen, and Eduardo tells me I should eat like a local…with my hands. So we tuck in, and every bite is better than the one before.

From here, we are all in the mood to go out, so we venture out to listen to a Reggae bar. It is still early in the night, so things aren’t quite happening yet, but as it gets later, we find ourselves making our way back to Kuta…we have been sucked in.

I wake up feeling pretty rough, but I know this is no hangover. I have been suffering from pain in my sides over the past couple of days, but I thought little of it. Now, it has turned from a dull pain into a sharp pain that is hindering my movement. Is it the surfing? Too much time in the sun? Not enough water? Too much beer? The street food? Well, I can’t let it slow me down. We have a day trip planned to Ubud, a town that sits about 1 ½ hours north of Legian. Bill, our Balinese tour guide, picks us up at the hotel at 9am, and we begin the trek to Ubud, stopping along the way to look at batik stalls, silversmith shops and art galleries. We have lunch overlooking a rice paddy field and stop at a waterfall on the way home. On the way back to Legian, Bill is telling us all about the rest of the island: treks to volcanoes, tours to Lombok, diving in the Gilli Islands. I feel torn. We only have one night left in Bali, and I feel like I need to stay at least another two weeks to see the rest of the island. I assure myself I have the time to get back before the end of my trip, and I know I’ve said this before, but I WILL be coming back to Bali- on this trip, not the next one.

We get back to Legian just in time to pick up some Bin Tang and scope out a place on the beach to catch the sunset. Rudy is out here again, doing his thing, selling beers to the other tourists soaking in the last rays of the day. “Hey Elena,” he says to me. It makes me smile. It makes me forget about the pain in my side… We sit and watch the sun drop, and then watch as the sky goes from the blue of day to a brilliant display of pink, orange and yellow, and then dark. The end of another beautiful day in Bali.