Finding a ticket to Indonesia for less than $1200 U.S is very hard to do, but with tax returns on the way and time to waste before a busy California surf season, my good friend Steve and I wasted no time and bought two flights to Bali for $650 each. We had no real plans other than finding warm waves and traveling on the cheap. Not knowing where we would start and having even less of an idea where we would end up was the most exciting part of the trip. Although I had been traveling and surfing around the states for years, it would be my first over seas surf trip ever. Steve had been to Bali before, but every time you travel it’s different. Using my amateur photography and social media background we would trade for free or discounted accommodation, keeping our budget as low as possible.
After a fifteen hour flight we landed in China. Because of the long layover we snagged a free hotel room compliments of the airline and took to the streets of Guangzhou. Never in my life have I experienced that kind of humidity, so the first plan of action - find beer. After exploring back alley ways , snapping photos of locals and getting stared down by police , we made good use of our time and found a case of cold brews. “Are we allowed to drink in the streets here?” That was a question asked but never really answered. Sometimes its better to apologize than to ask, especially when there's a huge language barrier. Making our way back to our hotel with new friends and a case of cold beer, we looked up and wondered if we could access the rooftop of the 36 story hotel. We could, so we did. Eventually security spotted us and came up and in a relaxed manner told us we couldn’t be up there.
Ten hours later it was time to head back to the airport for the next leg of the journey, a five hour flight into Denpasar, Indonesia.
I couldn’t wait to arrive. After two days of traveling, my body was tired and I just wanted to lay in some sort of real bed. We took a taxi from the lavish Indo airport (honestly it was amazing), over to Canggu, a small surfing town with a hipster problem. It was passed nightfall once we arrived at our villa named “Surf Dacha” -Russian owners no doubt. The taxi driver punched in the door code to the grounds and showed us to our bungalow. Quickly making ourself at home in the tiny, two story, lofted shack made out of wood and straw, we settled in to get some much needed sleep. With the mosquito netting and good AC unit perched on the wall, we slept well and woke early before sunrise to check the surf. After a short walk to the beach, we soon realized the waves were pumping. Steve quickly found a board to ride while I grabbed my camera. In my head I was wishing I could surf but due to a recent MCL injury I knew It wasn’t a good day to risk it. All I could do was watch from the black sand beach as guys were getting the most amazing barrels, in and out, all day. It was truly some of the best surfing I had seen in person.
We headed back to the villa after a couple hours for some complimentary coffee and breakfast. Steve and I took advantage of the pool and outdoor shower, finding it necessary for survival in this weather. The only problem is that it’s only a temporary fix, because within a minute or two after drying off, you're wet and sticky again. Damn humidity. It took a few days to get used to but once we realized that everyone was just as sweaty, and smells just as bad (or worse) as we do, it became a bit easier to deal with.
Canggu is party central, and felt less like Indonesia than any other place we went on this trip. With Denpasar airport being a direct flight from Australia, Bali is like the Hawaii for the United States. There are Aussies, Dutch, Swiss and Russians everywhere. If you want a nice coffee, you can find one. Want an American style lunch or want to go shopping? It’s all there. Some of the trendiest boutique surf shops I have ever seen, as well as the best food I have ever eaten is in Canggu.
If you have ever been to Indonesia you know that the best way to get around is by renting a motorcycle. Everyone rides them, even eight year old children. There aren’t any real traffic laws there except be patient, and watch out. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw a family of five, newborn baby and all, zooming by on a moped.
PART TWO coming soon.