Tuesday, April 12th (Bali Day 26)

  • Cory’s headache had subsided to a manageable level this morning so we decided to take advantage of the small ocean swell and surf Uluwatu.
  • Under normal conditions or in high season we would never get the chance to surf here as the waves are too big and too technical (not to mention the razor sharp reef break).
  • Despite the small wave report we were still very nervous, not sure if we were about to paddle into conditions far beyond our level.
  • After arriving at the Uluwatu parking lot by scooter, we paid 3K IDR (25 cents) each to access the beach.
  • Carrying our boards, we descended 50+ stone steps to the cliff-side surf village, then continued down an even more treacherous staircase, hand carved into the cliff with no railing, until we were standing in a sandy-bottomed cave.
  • From here, it was a properly timed mad dash paddle out of the cave into open ocean where we immediately had to contend with breaking waves over a shallow reef.
  • Once we made it past the breakers we had a chance to relax and catch our breath.  
  • We spent some time observing other surfers before our first attempts at catching a wave.
  • Within 15 minutes we had both caught our first ride and were all smiles and confidence for the rest of the session.
  • At one point, Cory was separated from the lineup and caught a rogue wave while everyone watched enviously.  He passed within feet of me and I couldn’t help but smile at his bewildered expression as he took off down the mountain of water and nailed a bottom turn dragging his hand on the wave face like a pro.
  • On our paddle back in I caught my best wave, probably ever.  I fit in two sweeping switchback turns on the clean wave face before riding the white water towards shore.
  • Paddling back to dry land through the cave, now at high tide, might have been the most dangerous minutes of the past two and a half hours.  The waves are small but sporadic as they come crashing into the cave entrance pushing surfers every which way.
  • Luckily we didn’t bounce off the cave walls, though Cory was struck in the ankle by a torpedo rock that left him with a big gash.
  • We made the long vertical trek with our boards back to the parking lot, then freshened up back in our room before heading to Warung Heboh for another delicious lunch.
  • We had a few minutes to relax back at our guesthouse before jumping on the scooter and driving to the Immigration Office, roughly 30 minutes away.
  • We were nervous about the drive, and for good reason: we don’t have an international drivers license and the scooter is not insured, though the rules in Indonesia are a bit lax where this is concerned.  
  • Our bigger concern was encountering the police and having to bribe our way out of the situation.
  • Within the first 10 minutes of driving, we rolled through a police check stop.  I tried to keep my head down but watched from behind my sunglasses as a cop blew his whistle and pointed directly at us.  
  • I didn’t stop and accelerated slightly, hoping desperately that the rules from Vietnam also applied in Indonesia: if you see the police, keep your head down and keep going, stopping only if they give chase.
  • Luckily the cop decided that it wasn’t worth his time and we rode on undisturbed, though with significantly higher levels of adrenalin than a few moments before.
  • The rest of the trip went off without a hitch, though we couldn’t shake the feeling that seeing the police so close to Uluwatu (which is supposed to be a safe haven) was a bad omen.
  • We took a circuitous route back to Guna Mandala Inn to avoid the police.  We got lost a few times but it wasn’t all bad: we got to see Balangan Beach, stopped for a fruit juice at a cool cafe, and got some experience with the back roads.
  • Finally back at our guesthouse, we breathed a big sigh of relief and waited until after the sun had set before venturing out to Nirmala Supermarket to pick up some snake fruit and dragon fruit.
  • We watched some Netflix and did some reading in our room before calling it a night.

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