Again, sorry, another wildly delayed blog post. Although, my readership is extremely low at the moment (i.e. family members and friends I’ve shoe horned on to my site) so I’m sure I can be forgiven!!
At the start of February I caught a flight out to Bali to spend five days chasing waves and, well, eating everything that came into my field of vision. I absolutely love Indonesian and Asian food, and although my stomach really can’t hack it I go guns blazing in every Warung in sight! And well, I think we all knows what then happens next. But anyway.
I chose to stay in Uluwatu, which is an area in the south westerly end of the island. It has a much quieter and rural feel than its neighbour Kuta (of which I will come on to later) but has an excellent reputation for peeling reef breaks, beautiful temples, breath-taking cliffs, and of course, peeling reef breaks (did I mention peeling reef breaks?).
A couple of days before I flew out I checked the weather forecast, but quickly switched it off, hoping it would just mythically change prior to my arrival. But alas, I arrived in a heavy storm, and the window wipers on the airport taxi could hardly keep up with the torrential downpour. Indeed, and knowing my luck with things, it would prove to be a monsoon of biblical proportions for the next four days, washing any of my hopes of riding waves during that time. That didn’t stop me from wandering down to Padang Padang beach though, the local surf break, and watching other people give it their best.
I actually spent quite a lot of time down at that beach, wondering around and watching the ocean. It’s a really interesting beach, with amazing cliff like features enclosing it from all sides. It is very small and very tidal- spending most of the time is completely submerged. To reach it you head down some steep steps cut into the rock, and brings you out towards the back end of the beach. The first time I went down I met two Irish guys that were about to paddle out on a couple of hired foamies. They looked physically fit, but proved to be slim pickings for a pretty heavy rip which they then spent the next half an hour working their way out of (to cut a very long story short they made it to the lineup eventually!). I then saw a local guy hop in and paddle through to the takeoff zone which was off to the far right as you stood on the beach (a little far out too). He cut a passage close to the buoy on the right and made it out relatively unscathed, don’t trust me on this though because I haven’t tried it myself! I could totally see why Padang Padang has a good reputation for solid waves though, and it was quite funny to google pictures of how it looks in good conditions and then compare it to the drivel that I saw. I seem to have gone to quite a few world famous spots just to see them at their very worst and it has become somewhat of a running joke but oh well, as they say. Make hay whilst the waves are crap or something like that.
After four days I was kind of exhausted by the lack of waves. Uluwatu as well was a difficult place to be when there wasn’t any surf, as things are quite far apart unless you rented a moped (which I hadn’t) and it cost quite a bit to keep getting taxis into Kuta where most of the activities ran from. So I decided the night before my last day to move over by Kuta Beach and live that touristy life for a day, eating at Mcdonalds (guilty) and shopping at h&m (also guilty). But, on a complete twist of fate this rather mainstream move proved to be a winner and the surf turned up for my final day! As well as the sun! I ventured down to the beach early, and after getting harassed for about half a mile by board rental people, I settled on one bunch because they, unlike their counterparts, had zero interest in roping people in and just sat there drinking lagers. Spot on.
I hired a board for an absurdly low price (I don’t know why I haggled them down but I almost feel obliged to in certain situations abroad- does anyone else get this) I got in and amongst it at Kuta Beach. I had read about this spot in books like Tom Anderson’s ‘Riding the Magic Carpet’ as being the entry level wave for Bali, the one you hit as soon as you’re off the aeroplane and before you jump on a boat out to one of the cool small islands nearby and get edgy surf shots and barrelled out your mind. Well, as it turned out my whole trip was building up to this wave so I really needed it to be better than that but oh well, lets just do this.
Turns out it was a bit mushy when I was there, and all I could manage were a few white water rides and a surfboard to the forehead for my troubles. The storm had also flushed a lot of rubbish into the lineup so I was wading around packets of nicknacks and odd plastic water pot things (you will see them when you get there), but hey if anyone asks- I surfed in Bali! And I am more than happy to count those couple of frothy rides…..