Day 15: Seb flies off and returns to Sydney town with tired red eyes.
The morning was bright and chirpy. Squirrels and swallows were awake and making the most of the sunlight, as they dodged and weaved through the jungle greenery. Our stay at the Eco Village was coming to an end, and home was beckoning us; and we felt the call deep within our bones, seeking the comfort we are climatised to. We met up with Perth native Michael for a Yoga class, which our aching muscles were struggling to get through after the strenuous treetop course. It was a painful class for sure, as our muscles were reeling with atrophy after trying its best to defy gravity the day before, and asking the same muscles to bend into a pretzel was equally as difficult. The class eventually made its way to its end, and we said farewell to Michael, and hoped him and his family the best. We then settled our bill at the village, which was slightly confusing due to a reservation mix up, but after it was all sorted; we were then on our way out with bags packed to meet up with Nengah. He waited by the main entrance in the village of Kintamani, away from the crazy driveway and its almost 90 degree descents. He greeted us with one of the warmest and friendliest hellos, and promptly snatched our bags and threw them into the back of his minivan. And off we went, next stop Ubud.
During our drive, Nengah regaled us with some stories, a little history of Bali, translated words and described to us his week. He was pleased that we hired him for the day to drive us around, and we were more pleased to have a friendly face of trust to tackle the hustle and flow of Bali’s streets. Our first stop after an hour of conquering the controlled chaos, was a raw food locale named “Alchemy” for lunch. This place was tethered next to a busy street, but the place itself was calm and colourful. It had two counters, both next to each other but split in the middle with a large wall. The walls itself were a shade of calm lemon yellow, and had cherry blossom trees painted all through them. Hanging from the ceiling above one counter was aged letters, each spelling out classily ‘a l c h e m y’. So we got a salad each. Usually a salad would be a small serving, right? Wrong. The salad that we purchased for $3.50 aud was the size of a punch bowl, and was just overflowing with salad. It was a mission and a half to get through it all. As we sat, there were a great amount of ex-tourists who have graduated to Balinese locals sitting and chatting, checking their emails on the wifi and laughing about their stories. I felt a little more homesick at this point; I couldn’t tell you why, because I couldn’t really understand why myself. Along one of the walls there was a shelf with packaged food to buy, with a guitar propped up underneath a sign that said “play me”. So, naturally I did, between finishing a salad I played and later whilst waiting for Jess, I played some more. Two weeks away from the guitar had really been a testament in itself, and picking it up casually was a little too foreign for me. Either way, my fingers relaxed on the fretboard and easily calloused its way through some gems that I adore to play. Lunch was consumed, customs questioning items were purchased by Jess and we were off. Next stop was the CBD of Ubud. We made a quick stop for some food for the plane, as we were determined not to eat the photocopy of food they present to their patrons, and spent big at Bali Buda.
Once again, we were on the road. We did stop to buy a few kites from a shop that makes beautifully painted custom gems, packed them lovingly into overflowing suitcases, and continued forth. Nengah told us of a beach that he recommended to see, as it wasn’t far from the airport and was beautiful to boot apparently. We took him up on this offer and headed for Jimbaran Beach. When we arrived, we were greeted with a beach that stretches for a few kilometres, with cool water crashing small swell waves, hot sand that we preferred over the volcanic harsh rocks and pebbles, heaps of restaurants that had their tables under parasols and balanced on the sand, off in the distance you could see the end of the international airports runway, also off near the horizon were heaps of small fishing boats all hand netting themselves catches of the day. In other words, the beach was beautiful. Nengah told us to go play for a few hours and we’ll meet up with him before flying off. Easily done in my opinion, really easily done. Jess and I loaded ourselves with our cameras and walked the beach. We kicked up the breaking waves, and eventually sat at a restaurant for some drinks and slowly watched the sun set. Tourists then came in droves as the sun set and the temperature changed for photos. It was comical to see droves of people posing with the sun in their hands for photos, as there were the equivalent of a soccer team of people doing it all at once. Either way, it was beautiful to watch the sun set off in the horizon of Jimbaran beach, it just was the final display of beauty that we lavished about Bali as it casually romanced us and cemented the notion of perfection.
We met up with Nengah and drove to the airport. He expressed that he will genuinely miss us, and urged us to pass on good spirits to our families for him. We expressed the same sentiment, and as we got to the airport, I posed for a photo with him and gave him a hug. We paid him, and tipped him largely, which he didn’t want to take; but we felt that he deserved more and that he deserved to take that tip. As we walked away to the international departure terminal, Jess and I both felt emotional about our last fortnight and our last moments with Nengah, Bali was something else entirely. It was charming, shocking, funny, beautiful, humbling, passionate, calm and chaotic; it was an epiphany and an inspiration. It was exactly what the two of us needed to experience for ourselves to better push forward with our lives it seemed, it was an imperative that taught us to slow down and enjoy the little things.
It was just… Wow.
Our flight was long and we didn’t get much sleep, and as we were driven home the next morning by our great friends Dani and Seth, our hometown never looked the same again as we were looking at it from an entirely new perspective. It felt good to be back home, but the urge to go back was also more enticing.
Day 15: Seb flies home, has an emotional farewell, doesn’t care what you have to say about it. Music listened to: Title Fight, Parkway Drive, Bobby Womack, Cat Stevens.
Day 13 and 14: Seb gets both rope burn and crotch crush. Curses harnesses and their tight safety.
Day 13 consisted of reading and relaxing. Education of a Felon was finished, as was Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll. A large dent was administered to Ian Flemming’s “The Living Daylights” and a new idea was written down. This idea maybe could be a script, it definitely will be a story, maybe it’ll stretch forth and be a book, who knows. Either way, I feel a surge of energy. Its urging me to attack, to achieve, to conquer and to embrace easily. I think this last fortnight has shown me a great deal, of what I had experienced and the luck that I truly possess. I can’t help but feel that this place has opened my eyes into what I was so oblivious to before, it’s something that is just so apparent here, when you interact with the Balinese locals who have everything figured out, it makes you want to look at your own circumstance and give it one extra tweak. Maybe I am embracing the culture here, or maybe I’ve just stumbled upon the epiphany that I was searching for for quite some time.
Day 13 ends with a realisation. A complex thought that eases into slumber that perpetuates into a vivid dream. Music listened to: nothing at all.
This morning Jess and I got up super early and sleepily put on some clothing. We met up with an Australian guest at the Eco Village, a Perth native named Michael for an 8am relaxed yoga lesson. The yoga class was set in this tiny little shack on the edge of the village, which has a full view of the jungle. As we stretched and breathed through positions, the jungle lamented with its noises, it made for a good wake up call.
After the class, breakfast was had. A quick meal before we venture out to see the river, about a kilometre from the village and through some crazy terrain. As we were walking out of the village, we were joined by the super friendly Great Dane Cindy, as she joined us for the trek down to the river. We ventured forth through overabundant greenery and gravity defying trails, past a coffee farm with a super friendly Balinese owner by the name of Pak Ruko, who welcomed us with a toothless smile and warm words spoken in Indonesian, and through to the River. It was incredibly quant and picturesque, as the water flowed through several rock faces and cascaded in chaotic waterfalls, to slow down at the end of the trail. All the while I was shooting footage on super 8, Jess was taking snaps and Cindy was running around like a dog possessed; biting sticks, chasing bugs and digging holes. It was just incendiary. We made our way back and relaxed the sweat away.
At this point the time rolled around to 11am, we had already accomplished so much in the morning that we were conflicted into whether or not we should be bothered doing anything else. We had arranged a treetop ropes course, but Jess wasn’t feeling up for it. I somehow managed to guilt her into going (maybe that it was one of the only things I had my heart truly set on doing) and we piled into a minivan and drove for an hour or two to get there. We were driven by a friendly dude called Mo in his 20’s, he’s been working for the Eco Village for 2 years. He’s demeanour is reserved, cool and bright. The car assaulted the road with tenacity, but treaded carefully over ridiculous potholes and dirt tracks. The Bali roads are either super smooth, or so beyond help. Either way, we made it to the Botanic garden in Bedugal. This park shames any groomed Australian park, it has rolling fields of super finely cut grass, beautiful manicured garden beds, incredible statues of several scenes from Balinese Ramayan stories and lastly, tucked away in obscure shade, the Bali Treetop adventure park.
We rocked up to the counter and paid our entry fee, which was $21 aud, and signed our names down on a blank piece of paper. There was no terms and conditions or any indemnity forms, just money and harnesses. We got fitted for a harness and were briskly taken to a demo course, which was a trial course with only a few obstacles to wet the palette and to get aquatinted to the harness/carabiner setup. There really wasn’t much else to it, except for the fact that no matter what harness I’m given, my crotch is never comfortable.
After 5 minutes running through our safety course, we were taken to the first of 6 high ropes courses. Jess at this point wasn’t nervous any longer and was joking that if this place was in Australia, we would have still been signing our life away and going through safety courses. I thought about that for a second, before letting go of all ambitions and propelling myself through a Forrest line on a fast as all hell flying fox. The red course was conquered with ease, as was the blue. Our instructor? Safety spotter? Well, our guide to the park was seeing that we were keen and pushed us forward onto the black course. Usually black stands for the most deathly or hardest course, so we went for it. Jess halfway through the first hurdle (a rock climbing wall with fixed tether points) called it quits, leaving me to go forward alone. I managed to make my way through some very crazy rope work and eventually found myself on a ledge standing at least 3 stories high. I then had to tug at a tiny blue rope attached to a larger rope in the middle of an empty space the size of basketball court and attach my harness to it. Once that was done, I just had to jump.
I’ve jumped off some crazy shit in all my years, tops of houses, rock formations, school buildings and moving cars. There was never really a moment of hesitation when I would go about it, as the risk is calculated, the height wasn’t too large and the injury would be minimal. This on the other hand was different.
I was on a ledge, hands clenched on an ageing rope, looking towards a massive free fall swing that then should propel me to a net. I knew what needed to be done. The trust in the harness was no-where to be found. I took a bit of time to breathe away the slight dull nerves, and lunged forward.
At first, I just free fell. The rope didn’t pull for what felt like an eternity. Eventually it did and propelled me forward quickly towards a suspended net. I was moving so quickly, that time to react was required. My safety spotter? Instructor? My park guide urged me to grab the net with both arms. I let one free, whilst the other one remained held onto the heavy rope. I hit the net with force, one arm held on for dear life, whilst my legs attached quickly also… But my remaining arm on the rope pulled me instantly away from the net, almost ripping my shoes off with harsh force and leaving my arm with bruised welts and rope burns. The course defeated me. And I did it all again, and I did the same thing.
I vowed later on, with my feet glued safely to the ground, to come back and to conquer that course, for it made me its bitch and left me with insane bruises to show for it. I will be back, Black course, and you will know my vengeance.
Jess and I then attacked other ropes courses with ease, whilst we chuckled at a woman who ended up back first on a flying fox, to miss the end, hit a tree and end up swinging backwards towards the middle of the flying fox run. There she was yelling at her two friends on the floor to help, and they really couldn’t do much at all, except maybe laugh. Is it mean to laugh at something that comedic? I hope that woman was ok. Sure was hilarious though.
We eventually left the park and headed back to base. Food was consumed, Bintang drunk and pool was played. A good way to end the day I think, overnight we would sleep deeply and wake with sore muscles; I’d prefer sore muscles over rope burn and pained genitals anyday.
Day 13 and 14: Seb plummets to a near death, was saved by genital crushing harness. Music listening to: touché amoré, la dispute, make do and mend, Owen Pallet, Bahamas, M83.
Day 11 and 12: Seb has another relaxing day, considers he might be on vacation.
Edward Bunker intrigues me, a highly intellectual individual who is restless towards authority. He finds himself in very lucky situations with folks who are willing to help him have a greater life, but after hours the underworld streets beckon him to do their bidding. He dances between incarceration in some of the most insane prisons the United States (especially the state of California) has to offer and the freedoms that civilians lavish from day to day. He has morals that exist in the prisons, but a lack of discipline within the cities that grant him his freedom. He sure can write though. Day 10 was spent mostly reading “Education of a Felon” by Mr Bunker, hanging out with Jess in a pergola that’s fitted with a large day bed, listening to music and petting a large friendly and goofy pooch called ‘Cindy’. The Bali Eco Village in the mountains of Lawak has a great amount of things to offer, but we chose to just chill out. The day coasted by as we relaxed and lounged. It was at around 2pm where we had to snap out of our relaxation and seek cover, as a torrential rain cloud opened up and flowed cool water. Eventually the rain abated, and we helped ourselves to a massage at the spa area of the Eco Village. I am now addicted to massages that crack my knuckles and spine. Jess unfortunately suffered an hour of prodding and near misses instead of a massage. We paid and agreed to not return… My knuckles wept in silence at this news unfortunately. The day swung by at a snails pace, where we read, ate and conversed quietly about whatever was coming across our minds. Jess reminded me that it’s refreshing being in a engaging relationship that has many interest to swing from. All this was changed after a late night game of UNO where I beat her sneakily. Day 11 is over. It’s bizarre, a day where not much is done is usually the most tiresome, so to sleep we ventured.
The next morning we arranged for a 2 hour village bike ride, it departed at 10am. We loaded into a minivan with three mountain bikes attached to the back and drove up to the one of the highest points in Lawak. We got out and fixed ourselves with horse riding helmets (which eventually gave me a headache, as it was cutting into my massive Spanish skull) and got peddling. I was carrying on my back a lowepro backpack with a GOPRO, a Canon Hfs10 and a Canon 576 Super 8 in the lower compartment, and in the top compartment there was Jess’ Fuji Instax and Lomo Fisheye. I was carrying a bit of weight on me, this was noticed as I followed our tour guide, a fellow who somewhat looked like Usher, who was my height and almost half my weight. He casually rolled down the hills, whilst I burnt through the meat on the brakes trying to stay behind him, as I had all the attributes of a freight train. We rolled through some brilliant little villages, with friendly locals smiling, waving hello and cracking jokes with our guide at breakneck speeds. The trek only contained two slight up hills that our bikes easily devoured (Jess’ bike had gear issues and made it slightly difficult at the time for her) and the biggest collection of downhills ever amassed in one small geographical area. We pushed through heaps of downhills, whilst our guide at full speed would slowly turn his neck behind to see if we’re both ok and still behind him, ignoring the road ahead.
The common issue with mountain bikes bought from a department store, is that everything on there is perfectly functional, except the handlebars. They tend to loosen up at the central truss where a bolt keeps everything from moving about and sliding whilst riding, this quickly loosens up over a ride or two. I know this because my dad had a tendency to always buy Kmart mountain bikes that always had the caution sticker of “Do not ride this off road or through major traffic” affixed to them. Either way, whilst I was conquering hills quickly, the tell tale sign of the faulty handlebar started to appear, the handles shimmied backwards and forwards, and if I applied pressure to either handle, the middle of be handlebar would slide either way.
I was hoping that everything over the next kilometre or two was going to be straight, and the end would be easy.
I love being wrong.
We came along to a fast downhill that curved left followed by a hairpin right towards our final stop. Hesitant at that point, I laughed and thought to myself:
-“huh! Of course there HAD to be a hard set of turns! OF COURSE! Oh well. So this is how I die.”
I laughed at the situation as I bent through the corners with no brakes and no option of full turning. Traffic was honking and jetting past as we all reached the end, the Lawak bridge, the tallest bridge in all of Bali. I gave thanks to my balance and the various gods for choosing to spare me, and gave the bike back, letting the staff know it was cursed. I also secretly kissed the earth, for not gifting me with serious road rash.
We ventured over to the bridge an took some footage and photos. I was amazed at the height and the lack of security barriers. I realised that Bali doesn’t spend time with terms & conditions and oh&s reports as Australia and any litigation heavy society, and I enjoyed it. It’s a trust thing. They trust us with not falling over the edge, and we’ll gladly dance by it.
Jess took a photo on her Instax, a camera that spits out instant photos on white frame film (or Polaroids, to get an idea) and with this it attracted a Balinese dude on a motorcycle to stop and ask if it was instant film. We then started talking to him and he showed us his rig, a Canon digital SLR (maybe the T3) with extra battery grip. He then took a photo of us and showed us how he develops the photos, which was through a portable printer that takes memory cards. We thought we had a trade going on, we took a photo of him on his motorcycle posing for the camera, he took a photo of us at the bridge being tourists. 35000 rupiah later, our trade was one sided. Ah well, I thought, at least I got a photo of Jess and I on one of the craziest bridges in all of Bali.
I think our driver and our bicycle tour guide had a laugh at this exchange, I agreed with the laughter. Edward Bunker said it best, “if you were to get conned, do it in silence”.
The remainder of the day was chilled as usual. Jess and I are enjoying the lack of commitment and schedule, something that takes control so easily. UNO was played, books were read, laughs were had. Another day, another good memory in Bali.
Day 11 and 12; Seb shakes hands with Death, and meets a biker photographer. Music listened to: Touché Amore, Title Fight, Numbers Radio, Descendents, Tomahawk, Defeater and Kate Nash.
Day 10 - Seb considers wearing a jacket in Bali. Concludes that the world has gone crazy.
I had awoken at 6am and just stayed in bed, resting in the comfort of watching the beach and being next to the grrrl. She was fast asleep, so I then picked up my book and tried to understand the mind of a repeat offender (Currently reading Edward Bunker’s ‘Education of a Felon’). Eventually a few hours later we both slinked out of bed and had a quick dip in the crystal cool waters. The water was colder than the night before, but it was still as entrancing as we fought against a slight tidal rip urging us to visit the sea. We emerged from our swim hungry and willing to attack the day.
We had our breakfast at a picturesque restaurant called “rendezvous”. It was a small restaurant attached to a hotel pool area overlooking the ocean with reef boats floating around casually. This I gathered from the very few seconds sitting at our table and noticing a couple canoodling by the poolside, the man had pasty white skin and red sunburns on his legs, whilst his wife was dressed in jeans and an ed hardy tee. Either way, breakfast was lovely when I have good company such as the grrrl and a view that is quote “a photo is a thousand words” trebled.
We had to return to our unit and pack up our belongings, as check out was at 12. As soon as we arrived back Nengah was there to greet us, he was really to pleased to see us, and promptly carried our packed luggage to the waiting car. We cleaned up what we had misplaced and gave everything the once over glance, and as we were about to embark to Lawak, I noticed a pair of swimming trunks I had left out went missing. So I ran back to find them, which I did; they were on the kitchen table top. What they were doing there is beyond me. In that brief instant that I was looking for my pants, Nengah told Jess that he was grateful of our generosity in considering his patronage. We piled into the Suzuki mini van and drove onwards to our next destination, Lawak, which is 3 hours away and perched high in the mountains to a place called Bali Eco Village. We drove off and encountered more of the countryside and got stuck in traffic, as the main road was blocked by a large religious precession. Men were wearing either red linens or white linens, they had their hair covered by a tied silk and they were carrying either an offering or a large spear that had a curved blade. There was also a few men carrying large golden statues and instruments. This ceremony blocked off our road for 40 minutes, Nengah apologised for the inconvenience, but we didn’t mind as it was an amazing spectacle to witness. Eventually the road cleared and we were on our way.
We had a pitstop at Ubud for lunch and supplies at Bali Buda, I gave some money also to some beggars, as they give you this look that just tears at your soul. They don’t really say anything, they just motion at you dramatically with their hand out, whilst the other arm is holding a child. It’s something you can’t ignore, as its really confronting, and most tourists would choose to ignore them at the expense of their conscience reminding them of that troubled look. We returned back to the car and pressed on. The sky was showing us a dark troubling amount of clouds ahead and before we knew it, it was raining heavily whist we ascended into the countryside and mountains. We eventually pushed through the weather and over Bali’s longest and highest bridge (which had amazing metal ornamental railings and Balinese local tourists staring over the edge of it) and through to Lawak. Nengah found the entrance to the Eco Village and had to drive through terrain not suitable for a Suzuki minivan. The car bounced and hopped around traumatically over insane dirt roads, and it eventually descended down one steep hill, my mind was thinking “Shit, that hill is fucking ridiculous, we should be getting close I hope?”. I was wrong, that hill was followed by another even steeper hill, which was then followed by yet another. Eventually we came to a hard hairpin turn that led to a crazy downhill that forced Nengah to stop and call up the Eco Village to pick us up the remainder of the way. I understood completely, as all this would force any driver’s knuckles to turn white from grabbing the steering wheel tightly. We were picked up by another Suzuki minivan and driven briskly to the village… Which was only 4 minutes away through crazy terrain.
What met us at the end was an incredible village high in the mountains that had brilliant green gardens and maintained fruit and vegetable beds. A large wood, cane, bamboo structure centred the whole village with all places to rest surrounding this massive dome. We were then escorted to the office and given some tea. Jess filled out paperwork, whilst I got attacked by a friendly Doberman X Labrador in black coat called “Cindy”.
We settled in and explored the place. They live with the principles of sustainability and reduced carbon footprints. Everything is recycled and waste is kept to a minimum. We played a game of pool inside the large dome structure that was then hijacked by a group of hyperactive young kids with an apologetic father. I didn’t mind, eventually we made it to our place, but off in the near distance we could hear the laughs and yells of kids mounting a pool table and lobbing hard pool balls at each other. Jess went to yoga, whilst I wrote and listened to music, as the night got cooler. I then went to find a staff member to help out with lighting a heater, and during a lesson on how not to light a heater, I shared a common fear of burning eyebrows with one of the younger staff members.
Dinner was had with an interrupting dinner guest, it seems Cindy has taken to your humble narrator, pushing her massive weight against me to pet her skull and back whilst we waited for our food. So ends this day at one of the highest points in Bali.
Day 10: Seb discovers how powerful minivans truly are. Music listening to: Talking heads, Touché Amore, The Mars Volta, the Delta Lions.
Day 8 and 9: Seb travels from Singharaja to Candidasa. Beaches, waves and beach salesmen.
We came up to our last day at Villa Boreh, the night was rough because of relentless waves of ants attacking us in our sleep, and mosquitoes that love your humble narrators skin. We were looking forward to a new destination with more options to explore and chances to get mauled by Bali dogs. That would be ideal. Our bags were packed and we settled the bill from the time we spent at the Villa. It was a great place, and I know I am certainly going to miss the wildlife (like eagles, peacocks, a hornbill bird named ‘Bella’ and native frogs) and the staff who were incredible. We said goodbye to Sumar and hoped that our travels will see him and his family again. Kadek had a large Suzuki van waiting for us to drive us to Candidasa (pronounced “Chah-n-did-ah-sah”, and a common joke among the Balinese is “Chocha-Chola” hilariously ripping into the famous soda brand), which was going to be a 3hour drive past Amed through to the beach ladled east. The time was 12pm and the sun was blaring accordingly upon our darkening shoulders. In the car ride I had control of the stereo, Bob Marley, The Specials and Sublime made the trip melt by quickly.
The countryside varies dramatically as we fight through controlled chaos traffic; we pass villages with a few shops and Mie Goreng bike eateries, darting past tropical Balinese wedding ceremonies with ornamental head wear and makeup, speeding up steep mounds overlooking perfectly maintained rice fields and zipping past many roadside temples and shrines. It seems that everything here has a balance, work with leisure, study with play, praying with relaxing. Though at times prayer and worship take control and throw a wrench in the controlled chaos streets. Time has no ideal place here, but it exists whenever a tourist chooses to be somewhere at some time. It’s a unique macrocosm that I’m lucky to engage with, even if its at arms length for comfort at times.
We reached Candidasa a few hours later, at 3:45pm to be precise; we got lost trying to look for our new abode, but eventually found our serviced apartment by the help of friendly locals. We were escorted to our new apartment that we’re staying at by the superintendent who’s in charge of maintaining it, it was a double story beach house that was screaming Australian northern beaches bachelor pad. It had glass railings on the balcony overlooking a crystal clear blue beach and sky. Off in the distance were Lombok islands, volcanic rock standing strong against the constant barrage of waves. The furniture was a maintained rustic collection of wooden chairs, junk boats converted into bookshelves and luscious cane couches, white linen drapes cover several windows, the bedroom is a big spacious room, full of light. The bed itself sits parallel to the balcony, which has wide screen doors that can welcome in the sea air and quiet roars of the ocean. It was easy to settle in and relax here, after being mosquito food for quite a while, I took to this place like a fish to water.
That night we explored our surroundings, dipping our feet into the cool water whilst watching the setting sun in the distance. We walked a little and ate at a Indian/Balinese/something else restaurant called “La Rouge” and tried not to get sick from their odd music. Food was great though.
Candidasa itself used to be a sleepy fisherman town, until some restaurants and hotels were installed, quickly cementing the place as the new “it” locale. As a result of this hasty instalment, a great amount of sandy beaches were lost to overdevelopment and the natural corals were mined for lime used for concrete. And to further stop the erosion of all their remaining sand beaches and coral reefs, massive concrete seawalls and breakwaters were constructed. So it’s not uncommon to be at a beach with a huge concrete wall sitting in your peripherals.
That night we snoozed deeply, pleased with our new surroundings and comfort. Day 8 ends as such, with the sounds of waves crashing deeply in the distance assisting us to sleep.
The following morning we got up early and went on a quest for both breakfast and free wifi. Whilst walking past persistent taxi salesmen and loud shop fronts, we found ourselves at an Balinese/Indian place called “Jawak” for some fruit and a continental breakfast. Continental breakfasts differ everywhere you go, and I like to think that some places versions will lead to incontinent breakfasts. We ate slowly and attacked the wifi quickly, one day without the net provided difficult, especially since the outside world was still revolving (it was my mothers 60th birthday, and with no payphones and homebase wifi, an email is all she got… For now). I’m not sure how Jess was, but I did feel slightly homesick at that point.
We settled the bill for breakfast and made our way back to our temporary home. Now, Bali is incredible and beautiful, but on any walk to and fro, you will get approached by heaps of locals peddling services and products. This is normal, but at Candidasa, it was a bit overkill. I think my homesickness irked this sense of slight unease towards the countless waves of people wanting business, that I started to keep my sentences short and my pace slightly more faster.
We made it back, and walked to the water, saying no to a snorkelling offer from one person, and later getting approached by another. This guy though was fairly young, maybe around 22. He was talking mostly to Jess’ chest and wouldn’t want to leave after telling him “no” several times. I at the time was shooting some footage of the beach with my Super8, it looks a great deal like an Uzi, but without the deadly aftermath. I then approached Jess and the snorkelling salesman, and he commented on my gun camera, got disinterested and eventually walked off. At that point I knew that Jess too was getting tired of the waves of salesmen, but each to their own, people need to pay their bills.
The remainder of the day we spent chilling out and reading. Jess is reading a book called “Eating Animals” which has truly boiled her blood and lost her sense of hope with humanity, I’m reading a book titled “Education of a Felon” an autobiography of now deceased writer who spent a great chunk of his life in and out of maximum security prisons. The hours swayed past as we chilled out, happy in our surroundings. As the sun slowly disappeared, we ventured out for a dip in the ocean. The water was warm and clear as we let it wash over us, and as the sun set, we floated with the swell, this moment defined itself as one of our most ideal so far.
A dinner location was found by chance in a local travel guide, a place called ‘Alila’. What we thought was a quick walk of 15 minutes away, was slowly quashed when 30 minutes into our walk we met enveloping darkness. At that point we were slightly confused and almost lost, hoping someone would Taxi us to our destination. Oh, the rule of life, never complain about over abundance, and you’ll never cry when it’s gone. That was our curse for losing temper towards the beach salesmen. We continued to walk, getting deeper into being lost when someone approached us with a question, “Taxi?!” He motioned with his hands that he had a car, Jess quickly blurted out “Yes!” like a soldier thrusting himself onto a grenade. The friendly stranger drove his car out and stopped in front of us, and off we were to Alila in the village of Manggis.
My Various Gods!
This place was rich. It was like an expensive Hilton hotel restaurant, oozing wealth easily and casually guffawing with its wealthy patrons. The restaurant was charming, with a bar in the center and all tables around the edges were seated next to a large coy pond, which then overlooked lush green gardens that then transcended into the ocean. Each table had an overabundance of cutlery and candlelight. It was a surprise without a doubt, as I was dressed in a singlet, shorts and thongs; and Jess in a summer dress and thongs also.
The meal in such a fine establishment was expensive in Bali standards and cheap in Australian standards. But we were on holidays, and adored being fish out of water. The night ended after a cocktail, gin and tonic and a cab ride home.
Days 8 and 9: Seb wears a singlet to a 5 star restaurant, not a single fuck were given at all. Music listened to: the specials, Sublime, Bob Marley, At The Drive-In, Sparta, The Mars Volta, la dispute, Touché Amore, François and the Atlas Mountains and Heartsounds.
Day 7 - Seb does nothing, and enjoys it.
Jess and I awoke fairly late, which was 8 am. We both felt dazed and confused, whilst juggling the notion of also having muscle fatigue. So we took a conscious effort to just about do nothing at all.
So over the course of 8 hours we read a boom by the side of a cool pristine pool, I swam for a few hours and fished out rocks from the bottom of the pool in lung destroying succession and listen to a great amount of music.
We chased it all up with some food and skipping stones at the oceans edge. The grrl took some photos on instant film, and I shot some super 8.
I think that is what we needed, a day on vacation where activity was minimal. We slowed down, we embraced the sun and forgot the constant notion of time itself. Maybe we’re getting accustomed to Bali time, where anything can be done slowly between now and our deaths or maybe we just were throwing off the responsibilities that are placed upon us in our regular lives. Either way, it was needed.
Tomorrow is our last day at Singharaja, and we’re eagerly looking forward to Candidasa and Lawak. Bring it on, after we take it easy for a bit longer.
Over and out, fighting the urge to nap some more.
Day 7: Seb reads, has a nap and chills the absolute fuck out. Music listened to: Defeater, Heart, Lucero, Gaslamp Killer, The XX, Touché Amore, La Dispute, A day to remember, Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix.
**Day 6 - Seb tries two new things in one day, kicks ass as usual.
The sun was reflecting across the ripples of the ocean in an untroubled glow of bright oranges and burnt yellows, as the fishermen were casting their nets out and trying to wrestle the schools for some catch for their wages. Small swallows were flying in circles around us as we sat on the edge of a concrete balcony, flying so close to us with such precision and fun that we could hear their wings cut the air as they sped by. We watched the sun in a sleepy state, sitting close and saying not much at all. It was another hot day in beautiful Singharaja.
Not much was planned today, so we arranged to meet up with Sumar at 7am for a yoga lesson, which was set in this large outdoor hut with large columns fixed among a beautiful array of maintained greenery. Within this large hut was white curtains along the edges and a statue of Shiva practicing yoga. We walked into this area and saw Sumar doing an insane back bend (or a wheel pose for those playing at home, or Urdhva Dhanurasana for those who want this entry to be specific), further opening up more mystery into this dude. He then took me through my first yoga class. I found out that I’m not as fit as I humoured myself to be, I have crappy balance and can’t fold myself into a pretzel at a willing call. It was a good class though, super chilled out and frequented by a large hook-beaked bird named “Bella” (it honestly looks like a Jurassic aged Toucan, acts like a bird of prey, but is super friendly). We went through a plethora of stretches and breathing exercises and eventually topped it all off about the notion into why Yoga is meant to be done slowly, as with love and worship. Sumar made us realise that it’s better to die in our sleep as healthy as one can be, instead of dying from complications that will bring about too much pain. It was a positively morbid subject to be undertaking at 9am. Either way, after the first lesson and my first headstand, I’m considering going regularly… whilst still wearing Punk tees and swearing as all fuck when I stack it.
Jess and I then had breakfast, something small that I can’t remember and not anything that would wow you. Either way, we were joined by the manager of Villa Boreh during breakfast, a woman by the name of Danielle from Canada with a quirky sense of humour and a mind that has many ideas churning at once. We decided to snorkel after lunch, where we’ll be taken by a Balinese local named Kadek to a place call Amed. Danielle quickly arranged it all easily without us having to think about how Canada should apologise for Justin Bieber.
Kadek took us to Amed beach, an hours drive from Singharaja, and practically showed us with pointing at sea gestures of where to snorkel. I instantly had issues with ALL of the snorkels that were given to me, that I just decided to swim without one. Take THAT lungs, who needs a breathing hose whilst snorkelling anyway? Jess took to snorkelling like a fish to a metaphor.
A large amount of the beaches in Bali are black rubble beaches, where their shores contain black stones and soot from the active volcanos. This apparently is great conditions for coral reefs and underwater sea life. What we encountered underwater was just incredible! The wildlife was bursting with colour and foreign structures and shapes. We saw teams and schools of tropical fish diving in and out of active coral, fish of all colours and types swimming through rock and water with ease and fish with such bright illuminated colour that it seemed almost surreal. It was just an amazing sight to witness, even if I felt like breathing was an option.
We swam for two hours or so, before returning back home listening to a random compilation of music ranging from Bahamen to Death Can For Cutie programmed by Kadek.
This day was eventful, so eventful that the rest of it was spent reading under the shade of palm trees by the sea. Another day winds down, and even I am jealous of the place we’re witness to.
Day 6: Seb reunites with the crew from the Little Mermaid, they were appalled that he had lost his Jamaican accent. Music listening to; ALEXISONFIRE, Bahamas and Regurgitator.
Day 5 - Seb almost breaks a leg exploring.
Overnight we were attacked by big ants and Mosquitos through our fly net mesh bed. It was almost involuntary swiping at an ant that crept up through the night and feasted on your skin. For me, I’m tiresome of being a meal for Mosquitos. My blood type of B positive is truly the blood of choice for those little bastards, and my skin is now bumpy from just getting constantly attacked. Oh well, Malaria isn’t rife in Singharajah; so I have nothing to worry about (he says whilst crossing his fingers so tight they might snap off).
Today started out easy, we got up early and chilled. I read, whilst Jess took some photos of the rising sun. The photos were spectacular, so I cursed myself for being a lazy fucker. We had breakfast of fruit and met up with our driver Sumar, a 24 year old Balinese local who’s sunny demeanour and humour is incredibly easy to get along with, we spoke about what to get up to today. Jess and I after much umming and errrring agreed on taking a waterfall trek. Apparently the secret waterfall is too dangerous to trek to due to raining season, so we opted to see a mystery bunch of waterfalls that not even Sumar knew how to get to. It was the 6 waterfalls in Gitgit.
After pottering around for an hour in the pool, we met up with Sumar who picked up his 8 month pregnant wife and drove to the waterfalls. As per usual we drove through chaos of streets and traffic. The incredible thing about the streets of Bali, and I’m assuming Indonesia, is that they have a controlled chaos system. You can overtake anyone at anytime, just as long as you do it quickly and honk before doing it to let the other driver know. You also honk the horn on blind corners and use you highbeams when approaching a bottleneck on the road to allow opposite traffic through. Motorcycles can come and go as they please practically. They can drive on the opposite side of traffic, if its very much near their turn off to prevent being taken out later on down the track and can overtake anyone at any speed. So, if you have a coronary behind the wheel, this place isn’t for you.
Eventually we made it to the parking area of Gitgit and were about to embark on the 2 hour walk, after getting a sales pitch in broken English from a local on the entrance of the walk. Sumar casually spoke to him, and the mystery salesman just walked off apologising and telling us to take care. We began our walk through thin concrete roads that curve and snake through hills and farms. These roads rise and fall, as we grip in either in vans or bare-feet through so many tiny farms with their tiny tender stores. We met with friendly locals who offered a place to rest and water to drink, but we didn’t stop at all. Sumar’s wife eventually sat under a shady pergola that looked over the mountains directly into the torrential of a not so distant waterfall. Jess, Sumar and myself pressed on. We trekked down winding steep concrete stairwells that led all the way to creeks pumping with freshwater from the gushing waterfalls. At that point we had a Bali dog tag along with us and hang out for most of the time, climbing on rocks and jumping into the water, whilst we struggled our way to our destination. Whilst we were crossing a lake, we met with a group of young folk coming in the opposite direction, and they asked Sumar if I could take photos with them. I thought they wanted me to take photos, not be in them… But I obliged. 20 photos on separate cameras and a Facebook friend request later (I’m now officially friends with Inna Chayank. Classic.), we continued. We made our way over wood plank bridges, over a billion different types of rocks in all different forms ranging from sharp to baby smooth, through mud and over muck to these massive forces of nature. The waterfalls of Gitgit.
These waterfalls are just forceful obelisks of angry cascades, and they are about 60- 90 metres high! As soon as we made our way closer to one of the six, we were met with spitting dew from the force of nature. I strapped on a GOPRO to my wrist and threw myself into the water. I pushed forward, turning my back against the whipping water stinging my back, and let the water push over me. It was painful, but completely welcoming. Jess and I swam in one of the waterfalls for a bit. Eventually we jumped out and the three of us then visited 4 more waterfalls. We made our way to one last one, where we all jumped in and yelled at the tops of our lungs at the force of nature crashing against us.
Whilst eventually trying to climb up a pulse of water from the waterfall, I felt my leg slip into a large ditch underwater, I quickly held out and grabbed some smooth rocks to stop from falling backwards. My right shin smashes harshly on some rock inside this ditch, and begins to bruise quickly as I clamber my way back to a safe spot. I realised that if I had lost my tracking, I would be having to describe to some doctor why my leg is in two separate pieces and why I need morphine. All that aside, we took footage, photos and memories of this place. It was a mesmerising place where nature gladly reminds you who really is in charge, and that we need to respect it or suffer the consequences.
We made our way back to the car and met up with Sumar’s wife. Sumar let us know that we were the only ones that he took to see this waterfall, as it was a suggestion from his wife. Feeling humbled from this, we made our way back to Villa Boreh in a relaxed pace.
Lunch was had, as well as a massage. The day winds down and I feel like I’m cool with spending the rest of my days trekking places and writing down my observations. Maybe if its interesting, I can make money and continue doing it. Maybe if it isn’t interesting, I can make a new vampire thriller novel with crappy wordplay and spend the money made on trekking beautiful Bali. Sounds good regardless. This day is through, and I’m feeling more human than ever. Tatuam Asi.
Day 5: Seb stands at the bottom of a waterfall, walks away with only minor injuries. Success! Music listening to: Lights, Mariachi El Bronx and Heartsounds.
Day 4: Seb departs Ubud, travels to Singharaja… Minus a set of jeans.
This morning we got up easily, the streets had a hum of hyperactive motorcycles pumping through to various destinations, and we’re packing our bags to leave. Check out from Desa sanctuary is at 12, and I know I’m going to miss Komang, Taman and Nengah as we travel elsewhere. Maybe they are treating me like some tourist, but I’d like to humour the idea that I’m not like a tourist… But rather a lost soul gathering connections wherever they may be. Laugh if you will, but I’m sticking to that thought.
The day before, I accidentally tore a 100000 rupiah note, it got snagged in the rubber band that held all my other notes together and tore cleanly when I tried to slide the band to the middle of the fat stack of Indo money. So this morning, I approached the staff about a few things, checkout time, how to say “how are you” in Balinese and to see if I can patch my money together.
I asked for sticky tape, and Taman, a lovely woman with very warm features slides me a dispenser. Whilst I was patching the money up, I asked;
“Would this money still be usable? Like for a tip?”
Taman replied, “sure! Who’s the tip for? For us?”
We laughed at that exchange, I couldn’t help it too, as it was a tip… For them. My laugh was more forced awkward than anything else, just to render up more laughter really.
“See that just ruins the surprise!” I replied.
I finished mending the note and handed it to them. They didn’t know whether or not to take it, merely shocked that it was a big note and that I was willing to part with it. I told them that they had deserved it for being so amazing, and that the broken note is a crazy reminder of myself. Lame sentimentalist I am. We exchanged thanks, and I was then on my way.
We had breakfast at the Yoga barn, half a km from the Sanctuary and then returned back to get ready to leave.
Our bags are packed. And I was looking to get rid of some clothing that I think is just excessive. Earlier, over the past day or two, I managed to rip a pair of jean shorts at the seam of the left side, I then just ripped it so much more that I had no qualms in throwing that cheap fucker out. I haven’t bought any souvenirs yet, just food and cab rides.
We said a heartfelt goodbye to Komang and Taman, and promised to return soon. I honestly meant it, as they were just amazing.
The funny thing about Bali taxis, is that almost anyone with a car can run a taxi service. The cars have stickers on them, like Harley Davidson logos, as does their business cards. You can haggle on a price before actually embarking to your destination, and true to their word, the price has no hidden charges. I loved their stereos more than anything. Most car stereos rock a mean tape deck with Indonesian rock jams. I’ve got big respect for anyone who is willing to rock cassettes; they are my people, they are my family. Lo-fi unite!
The ride to Villa Borah, Singharajah was quiet. The driver was concentrating on getting us there safely; whilst Jess and I are just exhausted from the heat and patchy sleep patterns. Maybe I was tired more so, as I had quickly downed a Bintang at 11am Bali time… Which Jess justified as it would have been 1pm Australian time. Either way, the trip was silent and reflective as we drove through a great amount of the Balinese country. Squalor and stalls, rice fields and shops, shrines and workers. This place would scare the germaphobic, but to me? Nothing of this sort scares me at all. I think I’d rather live with hardly anything and be happy, instead of being locked away with too much and not have a familiar connection with brilliant people.
Our driver is a nice guy, I didn’t catch his name but he informs us over the purchase of a kg of mandarins that he is expecting a child in the next month or two, from his wife whom he’s married to for 8months already. His hair hasn’t been cut for a few months, as its tradition to not cut your hair when a couple is expecting an offspring. I took a photo with him at a lookout, the background contained an active volcano. The scene was amazing. The remainder of the car ride was more lively, as we discussed religion and life with our driver, who is switched on with spirituality at such a young age. I think I am envious of their thirst for knowledge and simplicity, and their calm and passion. It seems that the mantra of “if you’re happy, I’m happy” rings true here, no matter what you believe in. The notion of togetherness is paramount, and judgment doesn’t belong.
We eventually made our way through traffic jams and scenic coastlines to Singharajah a beach side local spot on the north east coast of Bali. The resort we’re staying in is picturesque and beautiful. Its a collection of open air huts littered among welcoming greenery and plonked next to the ocean which is constantly rumbling passionately. Birds of all sorts are strutting around preening, and we’re all just witness to it. There isn’t many people about, since it isn’t peak season… But that’s perfect for Jess and I. The only problem I can see with all this is that the Mosquitos love my sweet blood and are eating me alive!
This resort has so many things to do within its confines, from archery through to snorkelling. We’re looking forward to dolphin watching and massages… Heaps and heaps of massages. Did I mention how many massages I’m going to have? It’ll be a great amount of them. As soon as we got in, we jumped into a vacant pool and relaxed in the sun as the waves crashed in the near distance.
Later that afternoon after lunch, we had a massage for an hour and a half. I’ve never done anything so decadent before, and after having the massage, I honestly lost a great deal of brain cells from sensory overload. This day winds down casually. I’m too relaxed to write anything more of any merit.
Tri Hita Karana.
Day 4: Seb has a massage, scrambles brain in process. Music listened to: Amitty Affliction, Deer Republic and Emperors. Another destination, another cheap beer, sponsorship spots from Bintang totally welcome.