– Bombora Surf Camp –

You can eat, sleep, and surf in Bali, for a lot cheaper than many other surfing destinations and even if you aren’t into surfing, there is plenty to do, or not do.  The plane ticket will be the most expensive part, but what you need to do is make a plan and stick to it. You can buy more electronic gadgets, clothing, and “stuff” for the house or apartment or save your money and buy yourself a plane ticket.  The choice is yours.  You know you want to go.

Learning to Surf In Bali - Uluwatu - Padang Padang

Easing into a pretty left-hander – Uluwatu – Taken from Single Fin restaurant balcony.

I stayed on the island of Bali in Indonesia for a month, starting at the end of December 2013 till the end of January 2014. Approximately 3 weeks of that time I stayed at Bombora Surf Camp.  This was the first time I ever spent the Christmas holidays and New Year’s in a foreign country and away from my family.  It was an amazing experience and this is only the first of many stories I will write about my time in Bali “The Island of Gods”.

View of Padang-Padang from bridge. Bukit Peninsula of Bali.

Legian, Kuta Beach, and Tourism

It rained nearly nonstop for the first 3 days after arriving in Bali, but at least Kuta beach was a short walk from my hotel in Legian. (pronounced Leg-e-on) I didn’t do much exploring those first few days, but since I had a better internet connection here, I was able to do some more research on where I should go next.

I really wanted to surf, but from what I had seen so far on Kuta Beach, this was not the spot where I really wanted to be.  It was stormy and just a disorganized beach break.  Although, I did see some guys and girls catch some really good rides.  I quickly realized that many of the spots I wanted to see were mostly for dedicated surfers who had planned months in advance to hire a boat to take them to the isolated and more exclusive Indonesian reef breaks.  Besides, this was not even surf season and hiring a boat was not in my budget.

My trip to Bali was a last-minute plan I made before returning to the states.  I was in Phuket, Thailand, and saw cheap flights to Bali, and I figured I would fly home from Bali, instead of returning to Bangkok or staying in Singapore.

Legian and Kuta Beach to me felt like the epitome of a tourist trap.  It was overly populated with tourists and overrun with Western style malls, clubs, and shops.  I walked for blocks to finally find a small empty restaurant cooking up local Balinese dishes.  I really enjoyed the food here, so much, that I had to order two plates!  I ordered something different the second time, and prices were very reasonable.  The owner even sat with me to have a drink and talk. She introduced me to some of her family too.

Nice little Indo restaurant a few blocks away from the busy tourist side of Legian.

While I was speaking to the owner of the restaurant a lady with about 4 children walking with her stopped on the sidewalk in front of me.  One of the kids, a 5 to 6 year-old girl climbed up to the railing where I was eating and started grabbing my shoulder and begging me for money.  At first, I was very sympathetic, and the little girl was so cute and so sad.

But, the owner told me not to give her anything.  In most cases, the kids have little bracelets or other trinkets to sell, but this one was just asking for money.   As soon as the owner said that to me, the little girl jumped off the railing and began cursing the lady out. That was not so cute, but kind of funny.  The owner said, “See, how she acts?  If you give her, then there will be 5 more around you asking for money.”

The locals in this area are notoriously aggressive when it comes to selling just about anything on the streets here.  I really didn’t like it. I have never seen people so aggressive to tourists.

It seemed like every single person was calling out to me, I mean, one after the other. “Rasta!” “Where you from?” “Taxi, taxi!” The taxi drivers were constantly beeping and motorbikes were driving up on the sidewalks, so you were constantly on guard.

While I was in Legian, I had on 3 occasions, people singing Bob Marley songs to me.  That was hilarious I admit.  I went to the convenience store and was approached maybe 10 times on a short walk only a 100 yards away from my hotel.  They were selling everything from baseball caps to cheap sunglasses and jewelry.  As annoying as some of them were, many of the locals were really able to get me laughing.

One evening, I was walking back along Kuta Beach, and I heard this voice from the darkness underneath these trees near one of the hotel entrances.  He was repeating “Ganja…Ganja.” over and over again.  I finally looked to my right to see this guy approaching from the shadows and whispering these words to me.  I said, “No thanks.” Then he says, “Coke…coke.” I said “No, I am alright.” Then he says, “Ecstasy…Ecstasy.”  I said a little more firmly…”No…no, I am good, really!”  I kept walking and then he says “I have Viagra too…” I just laughed, and said “No! I don’t need that!”

Bombora Surf Camp, Padang-Padang, Pecatu, Bali

Tucked away down a little dirt road behind Buddha Soul Restaurant there is a quiet little hideaway called Bombora Surf Camp.

After some research on nearby surf spots, I found that Uluwatu, Nusa Dua and Padang-Padang were not too far away from where I was staying in Legian. These famous spots are on the Bukit peninsula of Bali, about an hour south of Kuta Beach.

Buddha Soul Organic Fusion Restaurant - Bali - In Front Of Bombora Surf Camp

Buddha Soul – Great healthy food! Well known in the area and I’ve often seen people ordering their wheatgrass shots. hmm?

I found the Bombora Surf Camp on agoda.com and the price was comparable to some of the other surf camps in the area.  I believe the deal I got was somewhere between $22-$25US/night at the time.  I believe when season began in January the prices went up a little, but Amitesh, the manager, gave me a fair rate.  You can definitely find a lot cheaper, I was ok with paying a little more for location and convenience.  Many of the resorts that are on the cliffs by the beaches are a lot more expensive, and you still may not get the view you want from your room or even easy beach access.  I liked the fact that Bombora was really secluded in the countryside overlooking some jungle forest and a cow pasture in the distance.

Bombora Surf Camp, Bali, Indonesia

Sunset on Bombora Rooftop January, 2014

The beaches are a long walk from Bombora and some of the restaurants are a little too far to walk to on a daily basis, so I rented a motorbike with a built-in board rack, from Bombora for about $5US/day.  I was able to give them my laundry on a few occasions which they would bring back to me in a few days folded and cleaned for a very cheap price.

When I first arrived to Bombora, I met the surf instructor Julio (pronounced with a hard J as in “jury”) from Brazil and his wife Evania.  I didn’t need an instructor, however, the reason I wanted a surf camp was so I could go with other experienced surfers who might know the area.  Unfortunately those first few days at Bombora, Julio was not available for lessons.

Rapture Surf Camp

Amitesh set me up and another guest to surf with the Rapture Surf Camp and the only spot that was really breaking good enough for learners or intermediate was Nusa Dua on the eastern side of the Bukit peninsula.  The first day we were picked up in a cool little red pick-up truck and brought over to Rapture to meet the other surfers, some experienced, but needing a guide like myself,  and some surfing for the very first time.

On the way to Nusa Dua via Rapture Surf Camp pick-up.

I have to apologize because I don’t remember the names of the crew at Rapture Surf Camp. Believe me, they were all great guys and good instructors.  I want to give them credit for showing me a great time.  I didn’t even get many pics that I would have liked to at Nusa Dua because I was caught up in just enjoying the moment.  I traveled with them twice to Nusa Dua, but I surfed with them again at Padang-Padang when the surf was up.  I also partied with a few of them at Single Fin, they were not drinking alcohol, and still having a great time.

One of the surf instructors at Rapture Surf Camp. Super cool and excellent surfer.

There were many other times that I would run into the Rapture guys around town.  It was nice, that even after a short time in the area I was becoming a familiar face to people I met around the community locals and foreigners.  A few times, I found myself waving to many people on the road or in shops and restaurants and if I told them my name once, they most likely remembered it.  I remember hearing my name yelled from a girl flying by on a motorbike and she was a waitress I met two weeks before, that I never even really spoke to.  I want to note that the vibe over here was totally different from Kuta Beach and Legian.  It is a lot more laid back in this area. A lot more rural and country.

You can’t see in the above picture, but the lady who hosted us at Nusa Dua had some pretty wicked natty bongo dreadlocks ha!ha! much thicker and a little longer than mine.  She was very sweet and helpful.  Basically, you took whatever you wanted to drink or eat and at the end of the day you paid.  Our lunches were bundled in little paper pouches.  Inside the pouches was a local dish called Nasi Goreng or variation of it, as far as I know.  It is a spicy fried rice with some vegetables and small pieces of chicken.  We also had fresh coconut water and she even sliced up some mangos for me and a few of the others in our group.

Also, this was the day I lost my G-shock watch.  I left it on the ground at Rapture when I took it off to put on sunscreen. 🙁  I always say, I guess someone else needed it more than I did.  Oh well.

I also didn’t take any other pictures at Nusa Dua, because I thought I would return a 3rd time, and now I regret it.  Never procrastinate.  Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day!)

Learning to Surf in Bali at Padang-Padang with Bombora Surf Camp

The week after I spent time with the Rapture Surf Camp and after Christmas a new group of people arrived at Bombora and I ended up spending a lot of time with them and having some pretty epic and memorable moments too.  José and Paula, Rio, Israel, Johanna, and Mylan. Some of them were  interested in taking surfing lessons and now Julio was back to give the lessons.  I didn’t surf that day, so I thought I would surprise them and show up to take some pictures without them knowing.  The first group was José, Paula, and Mylan, then later Amitesh, came out with Chereen and Sarah.

Below are some of the pics that I got that day.

Julio and his surf students, Chereen, Sarah and Amitesh

 

Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

Remember,

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Brian Dennis

I am a software test engineer, ex-mental health counselor and wanna-be vagabond with a passion for traveling, board-sports, nature, music and photography.
I love to share my experiences with family and friends.
Hopefully, I will inspire you to fulfill your travel dreams too!
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