After my little roundtrip to the islands that are surrounding Bali, I had a stopover in Canggu for 4 weeks. Since my first time I was there, which is now already 4 years ago, a lot of things did change. There were no or only a few restaurants and bars, so we mostly had to go to Seminyak. Right now Canggu is booming and you can find cafes, Warungs and restaurants on every corner. Back in the time I thought that everything was already really touristic, but…. you can always go wrong 😉
Besides surfing, I went a lot with the scooter to check out the surrounding areas. After some time I was able to ride along with the locals in the chaotic traffic and could also follow a local friend of mine, who is Indonasian and has already been living long time in Bali. He said to me with a smile … “at least you can keep up with me” 😅 as I always told him that I am a bad scooter driver and that I prefer my car. Nevertheless I was a bit proud that he said it 😉
Until today I do not really like the rice field route in between Canggu and Berawa. This narrow street is made out of cobblestones, which means that it is possible that some stones are missing and there is a hole in the middle of the road. I always avoided those holes as I did not want to get off the scooter doing a somersault over the handlebar 😅. Additionally the street is only as wide as one car plus a scooter. On the sides of the road there is nothing, no barrier…. only 1 meter way down into the rice field. The thing I really did want to avoid was, to find myself sitting in the rice field 🤣
Okay… after driving the scooter for 3 months in Asia, I can proudly say that I did not get involved in an accident and did not get one scrape ….
End of March there was a biiiig holiday in Bali, which is called Nyepi (silence day). I think I was very lucky that I could experience this on the island. I had never heard of that holiday before. The first time somebody told me about it, was when I went to the surfshop to pick up my board. The shaper told me that there will be the silence day at the end of March. He said it would be better to visit one of the surrounding islands as everything will be closed on Bali. No shop would be open, with nobody on the streets. At this point I thought.. “ahhhh this is a touristic place, there will be something open for the tourists”…. faaaar wrong….
Nyepi is the day where everybody and everything and that really means everything, the airport included, is quite on the island. This day is the first day of the New Year, the Balinese New Year’s day. At this day everybody is supposed to think about the past year in quietness and completely start off fresh and clean into the new year. As a reason of that, nobody is allowed to leave the house. Everybody is supposed to be quiet and keep the lights turned off during night time. On the previous day at night time there is a big parade, where the monsters (Ogoh-Ogoh) are carried through the streets to scare away the evil spirits of the previous year. This parade reminded me of our carnival parades……. It was funny to see how the electricity cables in the air were lifted up with woodblocks, that the monster could be carried through the streets without problems. Sometimes it really looked like a lot of work to keep the cables above the monster and squeeze it through underneath.
I was very lucky at the silence day, as the hostel I was staying in said we could use the stove to cook and also did not turn off the Wifi. What do you do if you are “locked” into your accomodation and are not allowed to go outside? Somhow you have to keep the contact with the world outside 😉?
In general it was important to the people of the hostel, that the guests did not make that much noise as the patrols outside were walking the streets and checking that everybody was at home and behaved properly. I never thought that in a country where everything is more easy going and a lot more chaotic compared to Europe, something like that would work… but it did/ does….
A big advantage of the night without lights was the starry sky. I’ve never seen such a bright sky, full of stars. This night the sky was not “polluted” by the lights from the island, which made us enjoy the pure starry sky. As we did not have anything to do anyway, we started a photoshoot including the starry sky. Well… the surfboard also had to climb up the roof to get really good shots 📸… Claudi…. great job again 😉
After the Nyepi there were more holidays, once in a while and also ceremonies. I think I was in Bali during a time full of holidays. Mostly I only recognized the ceremonies, as people dressed in white with yellow cloths were in front of the temple which is facing the surf spot. Due to the respect for the religion and the culture, it’s generally said not to walk around with a minimum of clothes especially in and around temples. They ask you to cover your legs and shoulders with a scarf or longer clothes. Even more I got the feeling that I dropped a brick as I was getting ready to go surfing on the parking lot only wearing my “surfoutfit”, as in the exact same moment the local people that were having a ceremony passed me by 😅 Well… I couldn’t have done it differently, so I was stepping from the left to the right foot trying to hide a bit until the crowed had passed by 😳…… funny… around home, nobody would ever think about that…..
Another interesting experience which I could avoid the last 11 months, was a visa run 🏃🏼♀️. This means that one has to leave the country, due to the termination of the visa. In Bali everybody (with at least a German passport) gets a 30 days on arrival visa. As I arrived in the Philippines it was the same, but there, I easily could go to the immigration office and get an extension for 59 days in total. This only took 2 hours and a little bit of money and then it was quickly done. Nothing like that in Bali….. there one has to go to the office 3 times and spent hours waiting. I wanted to save myself from this and bought a flight to Kuala Lumpur instead. The flight left in the afternoon and arrived back in Bali at 2 a.m. the other day. Toward all of the different information that one would have problems with the officials in doing this, I did not have any problems neither in Kuala Lumpur nor in Bali entering the country again. The Malay who gave me the exiting stamp into my passport did wish me a great day in German. Again I was positively shocked how many people know some pieces of German…..
Svenja and the ocean
For sure there are lots of possibilities to go surfing in Bali. Sadly I was the only one in the hostel that did not have to take surf lessons, which made it hard for me to find surfbuddies, as it’s always a lot more fun to go surfing with other people. Nevertheless I went a lot to Batu Bolong, which was the closest spot.
This spot is reef break but known as a beginner’s spot. Mostly there were a lot of surf instructors with students and even a lot more, who did not know what they were doing 🙈, as it really is a forgiving wave. As a reason of that, I always tried to go around high-tide and on days with bigger swell. The advantage of that is, that due to the heavy shore break most of the beginners were not in the water respectively did not even get out 😅 and a bigger swell also made them not to go out at all want . Actually a bigger swell was really good for me to get the right mindset for bigger waves, as the wave is slow and easy to catch and I can still learn a lot at overhead conditions.
The other spot that was close is called Berawa. This wave is a quicker beach break wave, which was harder to read accordingly. Some time I went there too and also had lots of fun. The difference could easily be found, as most of the people in the water did know what they were doing and one really has to pay attention to which wave to catch 🏄♀️, not to drop into somebody 🛑 and generally paddle more 💪. Unfortunately I rarely have photos 😞, as I mostly went with my new, shorter board, which I call the “toothpick” 😅that has no GoPro mount. Only one day, which I think was the worst day at Berawa, as the conditions were really shitty and the water was colored in a lovely brown and full of dirt 🤢.
I also went to the Double Six Beach several times as I could go surfing with a local friend from Bali and another girl I got to know in the hostel. These days were lots of fun at the beach 🍹 and in the ocean 🌊. Getting some spot know-how from the locals also helped to define the best time to get into the water, as the wind can really upset one’s plans.