Eat, Play, Surf

Bali SuspensionSo what happens when you eat, play and surf too much?  You post a blank blog.  But you don’t even realize it until two days later.

I’ve always had a love affair with Bali.  Yet I had never been there until a month ago.  Like a school girl crush, I could fantasize about my Bali.  My Bali was pristine, tranquil – devoid of modern chaos.   My Bali was not the result of Eat, Pray, Love – the bestselling book by Elizabeth Gilbert. Or the Julia Roberts movie of the same name.

My Bali was prompted by my bucket list.  I wanted to surf in Bali, darnit.  So did my dear Hawaiian friend, Dyanne. And my husband and my son.

Four people, three different flights and one weary group of travelers later, we descended on Bali.  We shopped and dropped all our hard-earned money.  Yes, I had heard about great prices but spending is believing! We ordered silk suits; we ate amazing food; we ordered custom surfboard bags; and we ate more amazing food.

Then jet lag kicked in.  Yet all we had was instant coffee.  Instant coffee?

Yes, the Balinese need to work on their coffee.   They either have instant coffee or brewed coffee that is thicker than lava rocks.  And just about as crunchy.  By Day Three, I was having serious caffeine withdrawals, so Dyanne and I headed over to Deus Customs.  http://www.deuscustoms.com.  My son, Danny was floored that dear old Mom knew all about the coolest, hippest spot in Bali.  My husband, Rick was clueless as he drifted away during his daily massage.

Deus is a combo surf shop, motorcycle shop, art gallery, restaurant and music venue with locations in Venice Beach, California; Sydney, Australia and Canggu, Bali.  And Deus is also the only place in Bali that knows how to make a real cup of coffee and some serious French Fries.  I got my coffee fix. Dyanne got her French Fry fix.

We still had our appetite for a real surf session, though.

But first  we embraced the hustle and bustle of motor bikes loaded down with entire families whizzing past sacred grounds – a  sharp contrast of eastern traditions and western values.   Strip malls. Temples.  Monkeys. Expats. Kuta nightclubs.  Hordes of tourists.  Lots of booze.

And of course, the Balinese people.  And, their spirituality.   That was the best part.  The depth of their spirituality.  The worst part?  The barking dogs.  According to Hindus beliefs,  starving dogs were thieves from another life. No food, water or shelter for those thieves.   Well, that may very well be true but they were a real downer for this dog lover in this lifetime.   Equally sad?  Picturesque beaches plagued with piles of trash from neighboring storms in Jakarta and Java.  Plastic bottles overshadowed nearby ancient temples.  How do we stop this global insanity? How…

Danny dragged me off my soap box long enough to book a week over in Nusa Lembongan. After a 25 minute boat ride,  it was there that we would quench our Bali craving.  Serenity, tranquility, spirituality.

“It’s what Bali used to be like” was the mantra we heard from tourists and island natives.

We checked into an amazing villa up on the hillside with spectacular views of the Bali skyline and the magnificent volcano engulfed in turquoise waters.  And a refrigerator full of Bintang Beer.  Check it out at:  http://www.balivillanusa.com.

Shipwrecks, Lacerations and Playgrounds became our new vocabulary.  World renowned surf breaks hosting a hand full of locals and tourists.

Timing is everything.  And we timed it just right.

We headed over to Monkeys Surf Shop; rented boards and jumped on a local water taxi.  The handmade goods of Ubud and the plastic overload on windswept beaches became a dull memory.  Bali bliss was just a paddle away.

Our boat driver, Wayan, couldn’t believe that Dyanne and I would get wet.   Let alone, surf.  We dove in and surfed with local kids with grins the size of coconuts.  We surfed with Aussie surfer Karl and his girlfriend, Tasha.  And yes, we surfed until our bodies ached. Bali Surfer Girls Small

Wayan was impressed.  Dyanne and I were the two oldest female surfers he had ever seen.  I suppose some women would be offended.   Not us.

We came and we conquered.  Then we washed it down with a cold Bintang with our newfound friends.   This would be the Bali we came to know and love.

That night we celebrated our new Bali.  We all hopped on the motor bikes that were part of our villa rental package and headed to Sandy Bay Beach Club Restaurant.  We splurged on a giant fresh lobster that cost a whopping $9 USD.  Frequent Bali travellers had warned us that we’d feel like millionaires and for one fleeting moment, we did.

For a week, we embraced the spirit of Nusa Lembongan that was on hiatus in Bali.

The highlight of the trip?  Metals Holiday. It started out with a morning blessing of the refrigerator and microwave in the villa.   Of course, every motor bike on Lembongan was blessed that day.   Mind you, this is as normal to them as an Egg McMuffin is to McDonald’s.  We took a scenic drive over the suspension bridge to the other side of the island on our blessed motor bikes.  Holy moly, good things those bikes were blessed.  Half the wood slats were missing on the suspension bridge.  When Dyanne got to the other side of the bridge she vowed that she would never ever ride on a motor bike with my husband again.

Then she hopped back on his bike.

We followed that excitement with a snorkeling trip and an epiphany.  In my next life, I want to be one of the colorful fish I saw down under.  Disney and Pixar fishies never had it so good.  That night, I opted for an outdoor shower that was built into the indoor bathroom.  Shampooing my hair under a full moon to the chants from the nearby ceremony capped off the perfect day.  Sheer nirvana.  Until…

At exactly midnight, a loud bolt of lightning struck the utility box on the property that caused a blackout on this tiny island.  An ironic twist to a very heavy Metals Holiday, don’t you think?

As I boarded the plane home, I knew I would return.  Not for more custom board bags that cost less than a dinner in Laguna Beach.  No.  In fact, there will be no shopping when I return for Nyepi Holiday (pronounced nippy).

According to Wikipedia – Observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The main restrictions are: no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling; and for some, no talking or eating at all. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali’s usually bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people to be seen outdoors are the Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed.

Donna, the villa owner explained it this way:  All flights are cancelled for 24 hours.  No incoming flights.  No outgoing flights. No tv.  No internet.  No cell phones. No commerce. No barking dogs.

Only the sounds of silence.

Imagine.

A real vacation.