We ended up booking tickets for the 30-minute flight from Lombok to Bali because another huge swell was heading there, and it seemed cruel to leave the country when we were literally next-door to world-class waves like Uluwatu and Padang-Padang. Plus, with another week of time to kill before Brian’s interviews in New Zealand, we figured that spending a week in Indonesia would be comfortably cheaper than spending a week in Wellington.
In the three days before the swell arrived, we headed to Ubud, the cultural heart of the island where Elizabeth Gilbert spent time during the love portion of her Eat, Pray, Love adventure. The main streets are lined with fresh, modern restaurants and shops for tourists, and the hotels are located down alleyways and behind walls that contain mazes of Hindu shrines, sacred statues decorated with flowers, and reflective ponds topped with lily pads and blooming lotus flowers. On the outskirts of town there are hundreds of cluttered gallery/warehouses filled with beautiful handicrafts and decorative housewares (now we know where Home Goods’ buyers source their stores!) Everyone looks like they either just left a yoga class or like they are taking a hiatus to explore the new-age lifestyles that have precipitated from the ancient Hindu culture. We drank our weights’ worth of pressed juices and indulged in plates full of superfoods to make up for the lack of nutritious food on our trip. The Ubud Palace and the Tegallalang rice terraces were enchanting, and on a friend’s advice we trekked out of town and up through fields of rice to a neat restaurant called Sari Organik and ate lunch surrounded by a vista that felt like a screensaver.
Trust me…if you show a map of the Bukit Peninsula of Bali to a surfer, he will have stars in his eyes. Uluwatu and Padang-Padang are a series of surf breaks located on the West coast of the peninsula and they are some of the best waves in the world. Once we’d had our fill of the inland beauty of Bali and once Brian’s stomach bug (magically) surrendered, we headed to the coast to experience surfing heaven. A moped-ride away from our hotel was the famed Uluwatu cliff. Uluwatu means ‘lands end rock’, and it is a special little place in a refreshing area of this tourist island. The Uluwatu cliff is terraced by little ‘warungs’ (cafes) packed with surfers, surf-enthusiasts, photographers, and surf-wives like me. Giant bulges of water move slowly, rhythmically, toward the cliff of onlookers, lifting and folding into smooth, sparkling, surf-able walls. Everyone is captivated from 60-some meters up as guys (and a few gals) find the ideal take-off points in the line-up to paddle like mad and catch a ride on the breaking behemoths. Watching Brian paddle amongst the brave surfers in this soulful section of ocean was amazing. He was happy as a clam those few days, getting lots of surf and way too much sun!
The quintessential Uluwatu experience is sitting at the Single Fin bar at the top of the cliff, sipping the local Bintang beer with a hundred other sun-kissed ocean-lovers and watching the sunset. We went to the Single Fin two evenings in a row and felt supremely happy as the sun dipped through pink clouds over the swollen, crashing ocean.