The bustle and crazy traffic (there are ALWAYS traffic jams on these streets, no matter what time of day you choose to travel) is constant, all the way out of Kuta to Canggu. As soon as you start to see the rice paddies, you know you are close. I was longing for some peace and quiet and so excited about this lovely little homestay we had booked (that looked exactly like the haven we were looking for).
Too bad for us: we finally arrived, our taxi driver refused to give us change for our fare, and the owner of our guesthouse was nowhere to be found. Moreover, no one could speak English to help us out and there was a crazy racket of construction going on in the neighbouring lot. Not exactly what were hoping for: it looked pretty, but it sounded TERRIBLE.
The owner (a British guy, which was a big surprise because every other place we have stayed at has been Indonesian-owned and run) eventually showed up, but by this time we were both in terribly foul moods and had headaches from the noise. Since our booking was non-refundable, we couldn’t just cancel it and find another place, but we decided to stay for one night instead of four and headed out for a bite to eat. The construction racket didn’t stop until well after we had returned – at 10 o’clock – from dinner.
If you go to Canggu, you have to rent a scooter for the duration of your stay. There are beaches to check out and rice paddies to drive through and delicious places to eat, but they are all spread out across a couple of main streets that don’t connect in a grid-like manner and exploring everything means covering a lot of distance. So we rented a scooter (for $5/day) from our guesthouse, and endeavoured to find the peaceful spot. We found it at Kubudiuma…
Kubudiuma was the little haven we had longed for since Gili Air: there was a pool, the staff were amazingly friendly, our room was large and had air conditioning, and we didn’t feel the need to leave it all that often…except for the surf lesson!
Christian really wanted to take a surf lesson at some point in Indonesia, and with two days to go and close to a good beginner surfer spot, we enlisted the help of our friendly host, Wayan, to hook us up with his surf-teacher-buddy, Mega. For $35 each, we got our own teacher (Mega brought his best friend Made along who is also a pro surfer), a two-hour lesson and a longboard to learn on. It was a terrific deal and Mega and Made were awesome teachers. But surfing is exhausting!!!
I have a new-found admiration for surfers after that gruelling two-hour experience, which felt more like 5 hours out in the waves. It was physically tough; paddling out meant facing incoming waves (and there were plenty of big waves out there that bowled me right over) and swallowing gallons of saltwater. By the end of it, I felt like I had been beaten up. Christian fared better than me, but we were both absolutely wiped, cut up, bruised and sunburnt and were glad we had given ourselves a day to recuperate before our flight. While we both managed to stand up on our boards at least once without falling, we still have a ways to go. Luckily, Mega and Made were patient teachers (Made even towed me behind his board when I no longer had the strength to paddle out to the waves anymore!).
For our final night in Bali, we headed by scooter to nearby Tanah Lot, a Hindu temple perched on the edge of cliffs overlooking the sea. A 20-minute ride (in gruelling traffic) from our place at Pererenan beach in Canggu, this temple is the most visited of all Balinese temples, and there were plenty of tourists there to catch the sunset.
We took lots of photos, watched the surfers cruise the waves below (in awe) and then headed to a lot (the Tanah lot…I don’t think that is what lot means in Balinese, however) to see the famous Kecak fire dance. It was a perfect way to spend our final evening in Bali.
Christian and I are both huge fans of the Ron Fricke film “Baraka.” There are several scenes in the film that show Indonesian places and cultural phenomenons, and one of the most mesmerizing is of the Kecak dance being performed in Bali, with over 100 men chanting in the most deeply moving way. The dance we saw didn’t have as many voices, but was made all the more astounding by the magical sunset over the ocean as a backdrop.
It was pitch dark by the time it ended (perfect for the fire part of the story), and we got our pictures taken with the main characters at the end. On our way back to the scooter, we had roasted corn on the cob, which we bought from this cool dude.
And just like that, our time in Indonesia was over! Our friend, Yogi, from Bali Storage (who also picked us up when we first landed in Denpasar), arrived at our guesthouse the next day to pick us up, with all our stuff in tow. It even was kind of nice to see the bikes again! We did the last drive through Bali traffic to the airport for our 4:10 flight to Bangkok.
It was sad leaving Indonesia. When you can get away from the frenetic busy-ness and find your own little refuge (be it on the sand, on a special little island, or amidst the rice fields), this nation of islands is an absolute gem. Indonesia will always have a special place in our hearts.
Musician, teacher, traveller. Currently on a year-long journey around the world. Bronwyn is one of the founders of onlyamazingdays.com.