Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bali Lately

During our past few days in Bali we spent most of our time in the south near Kuta continuing to surf and check out the local scenery. On our first day back from Medewi, we surfed Kuta's beach break which is a horrendous smack down closeout.  I went home with more sand in my butt crack than on my feet that day.  On our second day, we hired a boat to take us to Kuta Reef which is a break right out near the airport so you can see the planes coming and going.  Basically you pay the driver $3 or $4 and he drops you off at the reef and comes back 3 hours later.  3 hours later for us was around sunset so it was getting kinda dark.  It's a little unerving being dropped off in the middle of the ocean (not really, but it's about 1/4 to 1/2 miles out or in other words, a long lonnng paddle back) and trusting that your driver will come back and get you.  Jed and I surfed some decent fun waves in the chest to head range with not too many other people.  Pretty fun until Jed's leash broke and he lost his board.  Luckily it was one of the last waves and I caught one in to grab Jed's board. 

When the swell dropped, Jed and I decided it was time to get cultural since we are such fine connoisseurs of history and the arts.  We went to see a big temple at Uluwatu that overlooked the ocean up high on limestone cliffs covered in some nice foliage.  At the temple we had to wear sarongs to cover our knees and we, being the ultra-masculine men that we are, decided on purple -- well, actually it was the 100 year old looking toothless man that decided for us.   

The temple had hundreds of cheeky kleptomaniac monkeys around that weren't the least bit shy.  One guy got his prescription eyeglasses stolen and was screaming, "I can't drive, I can't drive now," in with an Italian accent.  The "monkey men" (guides with long sticks and fruit) had to bribe the monkey with fruit to give them back.  The monkey was not having it though...he knew these were expensive prescription glasses and that it was a long trek back to Jakarta for new ones.  Finally after multiple failing attempts to bribe him with fruit, he settled on a bag of chips and returned the glasses.  Most of the monkeys are friendly and only want you to give them food, but if you try and pull on them like they pull on you, you will get the "death face", which is when he shows his 4" fangs.  The monkeys put the fear of God into us even though we had our ultra-manly sarongs on.

Later we checked out the fabled Uluwatu surf break with the cave entrance.  To get to the break at high tide, you have to walk down a long flight of stairs (what used to be a bamboo ladder) and jump into this cave sloshing with breaking waves and water.  You then scramble to paddle your way out of the cave and into the current that sucks you out to the right.  It's a hard paddle from there to the north where a super hollow freight train barrel awaits.  Coming back in can be even worse if you miss the cave entrance, but sitting in the lineup and looking back, you're surrounded by a humbling view of the huge limestone cliffs, which is said to make you forget your possible impending doom.  Since Jed and I were exploring our artistic side that day, we didn't bring our boards so we opted to surf Uluwatu later in the week.  Before continuing our cultural expedition, we also checked out the world famous Padang Padang break, but there weren't many waves since the swell was down. 

The next day we hired a driver to take us to Ubud, which is the cultural center of Bali.  This is where many of the artists, sculptors, and woodworkers hone their skills to create some of the most ornate pieces of artwork I've ever seen -- and for insanely cheap prices.  Too bad we don't really care that much about art, but they had another monkey temple so that was a big draw for us.  This monkey temple was more or less the same than the last, but the monkeys may have been even a little more cheeky at this temple.  Free to roam around, you might be walking in a narrow alleyway and be surprised by one on a ledge, where he'd attempt to steal your sunglasses or water bottle. 

The next day we balled up our manhood and decided to surf Uluwatu.  Since the swell was down, the crowd had thinned out and we figured we could survive without getting an ars kicking from the wave and reef.  Since it was low tide, we didn't have to paddle out through the cave and we were able to walk out of the cave onto the reef (with booties of course...locals are far more manly and do it barefoot) and hop in.  Uluwatu is one of the most famous breaks in Indonesia and probably the most well known in Bali.  It's a heavy, hollow freight train left  breaking over shallow and sharp reef.  The paddle out wasn't bad, but we were a little worried about the reef since it was low tide.  To make matters better and worse, the water was ultra-clear so you could easily see the reef.  It was beautiful, but this also meant you could easily see the steak knives waiting to greet you at the bottom.  Luckily for us the waves were around head high and not quite lethal, but they were some of the most powerful waves I've ever been on.  Taking off here meant a quick drop and turn with a race to the finish to avoid the tomahawk to the back of the head.  Catching a wave here was quite remarkable since you can see the reef flying underneath you as you're riding.  Along with the clear water came the sheer beauty of the place.  Huge limestone cliffs and some of the most post-card looking views I've ever seen.  On top of the scenery, we saw all kinds of sea life including at least 10 stingrays, a whale-like looking animal (but not a dolphin), and a small shark.  I saw a guy today that got a nice skinning from the reef at Uluwatu.  Luckily we escaped unscathed.  Here's a link to a video of the entrance...luckily we avoided this and went at low tide to take our chances with the reef.     Cave Entrance Video

After surfing we decided to go out for another night on the town in Kuta with some more Swedes we met.  For a country with less than 9 million people, they dwarf us in numbers here.  They are very friendly and ask us to join them for dinner.  We learned 2 Swedish words, which I've since forgotten that they said could easily carry us through any conversation with another Swede.  One of them wasn't actually a word, but if you suck in air hard like you would through a straw it means, "no shit".  Interesting... 

We are actually pretty tired of Kuta and are looking for something more laid back.  We've booked transport to Lombok which is a smaller more remote island east of Bali.  We've read that is has great surf, post-card picturesque beaches, and some amazing diving on the Gili Islands which are just north of Lombok. 

As I'm finishing this post, we are going on our second night in Lombok and there are a lot more interesting stories to come from our first day here.  Since it is more remote, internet is expensive and slower so it may be awhile before I can upload more pictures.  Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog bro... so far sounds sick. You guys need to padded out in the cave at high tide on a big swell like on you tube. Keep it coming, still trying to work things out on my part.