Despite my attempts at getting to know Bali by researching its tourist spots, I still hardly had any idea what I would do in Bali. Well, except for one thing: I will go to Bali to SURF. Yes, I went to Bali with just one goal in mind. I wanted to try surfing in Bali. Although I have only surfed in two places here in the Philippines (Bagasbas and Baler), my mind was already set on surfing in Bali.
So, on my second day in Bali, Kadek, my Balinese driver took me to Padang Padang Beach, which was already in the itinerary. In our email exchanges prior to my departure, he assured me that I could surf in Padang Padang and I also read that it is a good place for beginners and intermediate surfers. Because of that, I was thinking that we would be going to a beach that was similar to Baler where the crowd consists mainly of surfers. But I was in for a real surprise because the beach was filled with Caucasians who were sunbathing under the hot noonday sun. Some tourists were lounging under beach umbrellas (for rent at 100,000 IDR for the whole day), but most were exposed to the harsh rays of the sun. It was crazy!
So, Kadek and I took shelter under the shade of Rasni Warung and had some lunch first. After our prolonged lunch, I asked one of the lifeguards on duty how much was the rent for a surfboard. I was told that it was 200,000 IDR for two hours, which was the minimum, and a total of 350,000 IDR if there would be an instructor. I was flabbergasted; 350,000 IDR was 1,516.84 PHP that day and two hours of surfing in Baler would only cost me 800.00 PHP max (surfboard rent + instructor). It was insane! Feeling crushed, Kadek and I just walked along the beach and thought about what we would do next.
Meanwhile, my driver was really cute in that he even bought some beach shorts so that he wouldn’t look out of place in the beach. He was dressed in khakis, shirt and leather shoes but felt compelled to accompany me to the beach. Other drivers would’ve just stayed at the parking lot but Kadek was really nice and all. He went with me to the beach so he could look after my stuff.
So after some deliberation, I decided to try bargaining with the lifeguard, and he finally gave in to my price. Kadek would later on inform me that with the price I asked for, Wayan the lifeguard would not get any commission or anything. But he was really so nice that he let me rent the surfboard for just one hour and accompanied me to the really deep waters just to surf. That made me really happy.
Surfing in Bali proved to be way different from what I am accustomed to. It wasn’t my first time to surf in really deep waters but it was my first time to do reef surfing! Surfing in Padang Padang meant that I was to prevent my surfboard from reaching the shore because the fins would drag on the reef and break. Plus, I also had to keep myself from wiping out because I would land on the sharp reef. Another thing that stood out for me was the way that the instructors handled their students: we were not babied at all! We had to paddle seriously because they won’t fetch us and tow us back to the where the waves break. I had one of the most intense surf workouts ever! Good thing my last Baler trip had given me some confidence on this aspect. But really, after my third wave, I was already so tired from paddling that I think my arms would fall off.
My first attempt was a fail because my foot slipped off the board because it wasn’t sufficiently waxed. Wayan had to go back to the beach and look for some sex wax (yes, that’s what those waxes are called). And after completely waxing half of my board, I was in for the best rides of my life! There was even this one wave that I was able to catch myself, angle on and ride for 10 seconds. Since that already felt long enough, I sat down on the board because I knew I had to stop soon, lied down on my stomach but still kept going! Fast! It was really fun and terrifying at the same time. I was really amazed that I was already back to my starting position but I still kept on going to the shore. I was just so worried that the fins would smash into the reef and that I would have to paddle for a really, really long time just to go back to the line-up. Despite that, it was truly the best ride ever!
In between waves I was able to meet a couple of Venezuelans with whom I was able to practice Spanish. That also added up to the cool factor of my surfing adventure. Too bad I wasn’t able to find them back at the beach.
All in all I was able to ride 90% of the waves that I took and I had a really great time. I suffered from some small cuts from the reef and I paid a great amount of money just for that one hour of playing with the waves but I must say: it was all totally worth it. ♥
Side Notes on Surfing in Bali:
On my third and last day in Bali, I was finally able to check out the Kuta beach. My friend Mags warned me that it was butt ugly but that there are people who surf there. When I finally saw what Kuta Beach was, I saw that it was not different from our own Batangas or Baler beaches wherein the sand is dark and is perpetually mixed into the seawater by strong waves. And it was there that I saw the familiar scene of surfers playing with the waves and riding their boards into the sandy shore.
Watch out for the next installment of my Going Solo in Indonesia series.
Read the next part here.
Going Solo Note:
Bali Driver: Kadek “Alung” Suastika
Email Address: email@example.com
Phone number: +62 08174793556
August 23, 2013
***photos were taken using an iphone 5 (except those taken by Kadek)