Three of us set off from Penang Malaysia for sun, surf and sea side spirits. Running low on money, yet high on exploration, me and two friends decided that the not so cost effective trip to Bali was the answer. It was the answer, I have never had as much fun, excitement and pure stupidity rolled together into one beautiful ball of experience. To start off I would like to point out that even the touristic areas are breathtaking. Do not be put off by the simple idea that Bali is a tourist spot. It is, but it is so much more, and if you take the time to wander, your eyes will glisten in youthful like glee.
To save you all the idle particulars we met, flew and landed. Upon arrival, even after Malaysia, the muggy heat of the place takes away your sense of breathing. You realize you are inhaling warm air, like putting a hair dryer on your face, and your met with an array of spicy foods that may blow your brain to Saturn. You combine the two and you have one sweaty traveler, bursting for the water refrigerator.
My first revelation
Eating with my hands, and soaked in my own personal eau de toilette, was just awesome. No need for forks, knives or spoons, just your good old *hands grabbing what you need, when you need it. I recall thinking ‘I wish I could eat this way everywhere’. So after a good few beverages and a good nights sleep, we embarked upon the completion of my greatest fear, the sea.
The sea can guide me any direction it feels necessary. So the early morning swim ended in a floundering panic as I idiotically drifted, unknowingly, towards the central rock at old man beach. Cut to an exhausted, drawn out man, clambering rocks with the waves smashing against him as locals stand and watch the silly foreigner who did not appreciate the ocean. It turns out this was my early morning exposure after the champion idea of learning to surf the previous morning. After one quick beach lesson, maybe twenty minutes, we are in the water. I am going to dominate a wave, with my guide spurring me on. The first came, I paddled, crouched, sprung, fell. I was okay, my determination continued. I paddled backwards, I prepared for the next wave. It came, I pounced with a certain focus I have never acquired before. I stood, I was standing, King of the waves. I could not turn, move, twist, but the statue man was riding this tiny wave like Poseidon. I did not fall, the wave kind of dissipated, and I slowly sank without any forward thrust.The second attempt ended rather badly, I will explain later, I looked back to the starting point, where the waves break, and looked towards the beach. The beach was closer. So I basked in my own excellence, and a bin-tang(local beer). I Adam Fisher, the conqueror, had succeeded. Laid out the beach. I was truly a man.
The plenty of provinces to visit
Each place has its own individual edge. Also in each province there are areas for night life and daytime adventures as well. I visited the beautifully majestic Canggu, the built up areas in Denpasar. I went to the scenic Kuta and Seminyak and bustling Ubud. Each with its own life force. Bali truly has it all, and it’s a great time reaching to discover them.
The beer is less than desirable, and the Arrack, a sap or coconut based, supposedly a killer and a danger to drink, was no stronger than any other moonshine based country drink I have tasted. It’s not exactly flavorsome but it does have a warming throat feel to it.
We also visited Nusa Penida, which is another section altogether, so first Canggu. The beach is smooth and clean, a nice change from some areas of Asia. The sunsets are spectacular as they sweep across the clouds and sea, and the surf culture is rife. Canggu beach has a large rock in the center that separates the beginner surfing area to the intermediate. The difference is in the wave size and, although hard to see, is worth your appreciation. There is a beach party on batu belong beach, well worth a visit if it is on while you are there. Mudunk waterfall is also worth a visit, not the most beautiful waterfall in Bali but the trek to it is lovely and worth the journey.
Gianyar has a hidden canyon trek and was the second most awesome experience on my trip. I could not recommend this enough. You start off, no shoes, paddling through rock pools and climbing, at times quite challenging, rock sides and boulders, then back into the pools. This takes around two hours, while taking thousands of picturesque photographs and posing unashamedly. After the canyon you exit into a really old farm, meet the locals and the view is spectacular, although don’t forget the sun block.
All around Bali there are steps into the wilderness, broken down trails around every beach, that sometimes go nowhere, but sometimes open out into breath taking views on treacherous cliff crescents. I advise taking each and every one of these as often as possible, true adventure is going into the unknown.
Day 1: The arrival
After all the standard flight monotony we arrive in our hotel. It has a nice little pool and two single beds with an outside bathroom. Evy has her own room across the pool. Our driver (how very posh) Butu collects us in the evening and we go to Lafavella. This place is expensive but cool. It incorporates the hipster style of old and new. I think its called boutique with a touch of grunge. Chic, that’s what they call the interior. After a lot of alcohol and dancing we go for some incredibly spicy food, which in this climate, is ridiculous, but evy is Indonesian and totally used to it. I had a lengthy explanation about the hero of indonesia, sprouting from the question about a statue near the airport in Denpasar. I, to this day, have no idea who the hero of indonesia is.
Day 2: Surfing startup
To Changgu, to surf. Conquer my fear of the ocean. Defeat my demons. Progress as a man. Fuck my arse it is hard work. Although I stood up the second time, the first real wipeout I got was an intense experience. Snot and spit spill with profound power as the wave takes you from light to dark systematically. After this wave, I decided to call it a day. I return to an argument between friends in Penang on the phone. I am in Bali, they can bollocks. Bali is breathtaking. We go for food and drinks by the beach. Surfers wander until around ten pm when all the bars suddenly empty. It is due to the fact that usually the best surf is before work starts at 6 am so nobody truly parties until the weekend i guess.
Day 3: Educating orphans with rock
Surfing in the morning and my shoulders are killing me now. Went to old man beach and watched evy surf. I have broken my nose clamp, thus I now breathe water like a fish, although it doesn’t seem to agree with me entirely. At one point I felt the immense power of the sea as I went swimming and the current dragged me to the rocks. The fear was overwhelming and I genuinly considered my impending death. I have the full go pro video of this but it will never fully encapsulate the fear I experienced. After returning to the hotel I decided to practice my underwater skills in the pool. I am a shit swimmer. Ski didn’t surf today I think he may be a touch sore. Everything is so chilled here with a certain understanding between everyone that I think must be pumped into the air in gas form or something to that degree, wonder if I can add some gaseous psychadellics to the mix. Its 35’c and I have a few beers at 11am. The sun is not as warm as the feeling I have inside of me. It reminds me of that christmas feeling, when everyone seems a little happier than usual for no apparent reason. We set off to a childrens orphanage to deliver some things, nappies etc, and sit with the children and play. Me and adam have no idea what to do or what is expected so we just sing AC/DC songs to some little girl and give her banking advice. To Aywah resort, rock bar. Not a rock bar in the musical sense but due to it been cut into the cliff side with an amazing view. This is by far the poshest place I have ever been and the price reflects that shockingly. I lost more breath paying the bill than when I surfed, but it was worth it. Afterwards we went to a sea food restaurant which was delicious and on the beach with fireworks and drinks. Apart from the sporadic rain, this was wonderous. We had Baramundi, prawns and squid. I am exhausted.
Day 4: The beauty of religeous architecture
I feel I prefer the surfing lifestyle than the actual surfing. I am glad I am doing it but I will never take it up as a hobby, just have a go when im in a surf environment. There are so many morning offerings to gods here, and religeon is huge. There are mini temples everywhere and the architecture is all amazing and religeon based. We go for Nasi Pedang and I eat, kuta, lung jerky, beef jerky, cows brains, cows leg skin, rendang, casafa leaf, satay padang, beef, prawns and baladoo. I am as full as the british benefits queue. We go to the squirting rock, which is a very shap rock collection that has moulded to the sea and creates a huge squirt of sea water to emerge every few mins. It seemed like volcanic rock and it was fun to explore and climb. Out to a bar on the other side of the island, we watch the sunset. The surfers, and pros at that, smashing the waves maybe 150 ft below. So to Lafavella as plans change. I dance all night. Surfing at 6 am, hangover.
Day 5: What monkey?
‘’ITS NOT A MONKEY IT’S A COW’’ sang to the tune of no woman no cry. After a few beers about 10am post surf, some guy mistook a monkey for a cow. I have no idea how, why or on what drugs he was on. I pretend not to feel rough but copious amounts of alcohol and heavy surf takes a toll on a skinny man. The swatstika is everywhere, it turns out it’s a symbol of peace, how ironic. We go to Kagod waterfall and its raining so hard its difficult to tell where the rain stops and the waterfall begins. The trek down is lovely and not far realistically. We have driven down a crazy winding road and we are in the heights of the hills. Theres a lovely chill in the air, which in constant heat and sweat, I have missed. We then go to Bedugal temple in ulundanu lake. Like everything here, it is beautiful. Evy paid us in as adam wasn’t so sure how much money he could afford to spend, she is a darling. Then she bought me a traditional udng hat for praying and a few tank tops. We went to a rock bar after evys sleep and mine and adams daily ritual of beers and the pool. The guitarist was astounding. It was amazing to watch as I drank the indonesian rice wine Orrak. Pass out in bewildering happiness and alcohol.
Day 6: Clambering through paradise
We went to surf but I had had enough so just adam surfed and I watched. I am knackered. So to the hidden canyon. The best experience of my life. You climb and swim and slip over and inbetween rocks. Its called beji guwang and its quite far, but well worth the trip. You spend your time wading through rock pools and climbing the rocks between the canyon walls. This is a truly spectacular experience and eventually after a few hours of climbing and selfies, you open out into an old Indonesian farmyard. It is huge and absolutely genuine. Aging people working the hard land and producing rows and rows of fruits and vegetables and all welcoming you in their own way. We go to Ubud then Deus bar. Sit on bean bags and drink and chat as the sun goes down. A few waves crash upon the front ten rows of the beach and bean bags float as people scatter. My yorksire roots would not be proud, as instead of helping, i giggled incesently. Watching the sunset and scatter of people i know i have to leave this place soon, and my heart sinks a little.
Day 7: Ending the surf, relief overwhelms my muscles (or lack of).
The final surf. Not too dissapointed but very glad I have done it. Standing is not a problem for me, but everything else inside the water is incredibly challenging. We go to semenyak to the secret beach which is small and would be wonderful if it wasn’t for the gaggle of saleswomen that swarm you. They are selling bracelets made of coloured string, telling of their trouble and strife. Do not buy, as i did, otherwise a gaggle of them then surround you complaing you only bought from one and you become frustrated. I admire that no dole system really exists and everyone works but the situation is overwhelming. There is a small cave with a lovely lady on the small beach that sells slightly warm beer for really cheap. We finish in a bar and eat and basically get smashed. Don’t recall much more after that.
Day 8: Garden of eden
We rise early for the boat to Nusa Penida. I sleep the entire way. We meet our new driver on arrival and purchase a few beers. He takes us to the top of a hill and me and evy climb down the cliff which is insanley dodgy. One slip and your dead, no qualms about it. Adam was scared halfway and decided to return to safety, the sensible choice. Then to a rock pool which is also a decent trek and climb and just amazing. The sea there createsd a waterfall after the wave and the rock pool is warm and slippery. I climb away on my own little adventure and get to the cliff edge, not the smartest choice but I am in my element by now. There is a bay that’s secluded and I don’t think humanity can physically reach it. Would love to try and get there but I have no idea how. We then go to another beach. There are a few beach huts for our beers and after six or seven I decide to trek into the jungle where I can see old rock steps. As I climb higher and higher its becomes more and more dense. At the top of the hill maybe half an hour in there is a pink arrow pointing back down to the other side, this doesn’t look like I should be going, but I have come this far. Eventually I have no idea of direction or path just simply walk towards gravity. I am literally thirty seconds from giving in as I see a bit of light through the trees. I am exhausted, hoit and covered in spider webs. Its only a motherfucking uninhabited beach. Me, alone, no sign of life anywhere. Humanity has not seen this for a long time. No rubbish, no buidings, no sign that humanity exists. I strip naked and enjoy the solitary. The journey back is far easier as my smile carries me most of the way. I get back to the beach bar to a concerned evy and adam, I show them the video and pics and then I drink a few beers while watching the fishermen divide the catch.
The most perfect day of my entire life. I have never been happier (until i met senna of course ;-)).
Day 9: Goodbye my love, I will never forget you
We wake up for breakfast and drive to a mountain/ hilltop with a descending rope to hold on to and a sharp steep drop. British health and safety would go mental. Maybe 200 ft altohough my perception for these things arent the best. At the almost bottom there is a slight bridge connection to another rock which you climb up and on the crest of the final part, there is a tree house. Spectacular. I went alone and left evy and adam at the top of the cliff. I think it only took me maybe an hour ish. After my return I think adam had become quite jelous of my adventures and decided to come with me on my next one to an adjecent ridge. The views were spectacular, and i am glad i could share this with my friend on our final day.
To Bali, I will always love you