After a 14 hour flight from Dulles to Incheon, South Korea and a six hour hop down to Bali I had put the rough part behind me. It was midnight when I walked to the Korean Air counter to declare my delayed baggage. They scheduled my backpack to be dropped off at lodging that I haphazardly set up using their desk phone and with almost mafioso flare handed me an unmarked envelope with 600,000 Indonesian Rupiah for my inconvenience. Don’t get too excited, it’s about 50 bucks but that goes a good little ways here.
I opted for the budget room option at a budget spot in Kuta beach near the airport. Fan cooled instead of AC and cold water shower. It ran me about 8 bucks. Who wants a hot shower in a tropical climate anyways? Kuta beach is a bit too touristy and crowded for my taste but I didn’t want to stray too far from the airport until I got my backpack. The next day I did a bit of surfing and got my ass absolutely handed to me by a local playing chess in a shaded part of the beach. That evening I walked around the Kuta beach area to take in the sights and get some local street food. I don’t want to be the one to tell them but somebody should let this place know that the massage parlour market might be saturated. You can’t go ten feet without being catcalled by a zombie apocalypse hoard of masseuses. The next morning I was reunited with my backpack and ready to make moves. I rented a moped with a surf rack and high tailed it south out of Kuta for the backpacker and surfer haven of Uluwatu.
Bali street food is on point
Watching the surf from my perch in Bingin beach
Driving a moped in urban areas is an absolutely hair raising endeavor. Not only do they drive on the other side of the road but the entire experience is like Luke Skywalker shooting the death star gap. In order to not die you have to join the locust swarm zipping in and out of slower moving vehicles in a torrent of other mopeds. After a considerable amount of cursing I made it out of the city limits where the roads mercifully shrunk down to two lanes and actually became enjoyable to cruise on.
With no reservations, I pulled up to the spot google maps decided was Bingin beach and asked around for budget accomodations. I settled on a non-descript guesthouse that was directly on the beach nestled into the terraced hillside about 40 feet above the high tide mark. It required me to park my moped at the top of the cliff and descend a long, steep concrete staircase in utter disrepair. Dripping with sweat and wondering what I could jettison from my backpack to make it less arduous to haul around, I negotiated down the price of my little thatched hut room to a tolerable 15 bucks a night. The view from my balcony was unbeatable but if another Tsunami came rolling through I decided I didn’t like my chances. Oh well, YODO!
I grabbed my little gobag and headed back up through the shaded rainforest staircase to my scooter for some exploring. After getting the lay of the land I had some local balinese food for dinner and then splurged on a tiny dessert at one of the posh cafes geared towards westerners to poach some wifi. Uluwatu is an international melting pot with something for everyone, especially if you are a surfer.
One of the many surfing coves around Uluwatu
Getting back into it
Every good gobag has a headlamp and I definitely needed it on the way back down through the dark to my little lodging perch. To my dismay high tide had totally covered the beach which I had used to walk to my guesthouse and water was lapping against the stone terraced wall rising steeply up the hillside. I opted to hop through two private businesses’ balconies until I reached solid ground again. When I climbed under my mosquito net and into bed I made sure to bring my headlamp to do a sweep for any stow away bloodsuckers. There is a certain futility to this task. I managed to kill two but spotting them all is impossible. The lucky ones that evaded me now had exclusive access to my completely exposed body all night. If they just took a bit of blood and called it good I really wouldn’t take much issue with it. However, I react horribly to mozzie bites with big itchy welts and they seem to be a finicky bunch when it comes to sticking you. Like an inexperienced nurse trying in vain to start an I.V., the same asshole mosquito will stick me over and over in search of the perfect spot.
Mosquito net battleground
The next few days were used to recalibrate my expectations for the “new normal.” I would always be a bit sticky, mosquito bites are inevitable, my dirty clothes will accumulate rapidly in heaps around my room, organization of my possessions requires totally emptying my backpack, and most concerningly, at the end of the day I’m here on my own. I’ve been bullshitting with people while sitting on my board waiting for waves and in passing but I was definitely going to miss my core friend group back home. As if the universe heard me, the same day two separate friends reached out about linking up in Bali in the coming week. Haha, suck it loneliness! I’ve accepted that this adventure is going to be a mix of linking together visits with people I know, striking off into the unknown to meet new people, and from time to time experiencing life solo. I think I can handle that.
My daily routine in Uluwatu has been somewhat structured of my own design. I wake up with the sun and make my morning oatmeal with local fruit, nuts, and honey just like back home before catching the morning surf. As the sun begins to reach its peak I seek shade in the local gym which charges a buck for walk-ins. In the afternoon I go seek out new beaches or a chill cafe to do some reading. In the evenings I get a massage and am in bed by nine. So far, so good.
Dried jackfruit in my oatmeal served with my seat to summit collapsible camping cup and sporknife
Compilation Video - Southeast Asia (Part 1)
Please Subscribe to my YouTube Channel