Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other,
we may even become friends.
we may even become friends.
– Maya Angelou
Uluwatu and Uluwatu Temple
Uluwatu is a laid back rural area, located at the southwestern tip of the Bukit Peninsula on the island of Bali. Despite its popularity in Southern Bali, it remains a relatively quiet and peaceful area, except for the lineup in the surf. Surfers come from around the world and it can get crowded in the surf, even when it is off season. There are a few other things to see, most notably the Uluwatu Temple or Pura Luhur Uluwatu where the traditional Kecak Fire & Trance Dance is performed daily at sunset.
The nightlife here is also very mellow, except for the Sunday night music at Single Fin. It gets crowded and pretty rowdy there and that is also where I spent my NYE 2014. It was always a great time seeing all of the familiar faces I had met around town, all in one place, both Balinese locals and fellow travelers from Australia to South America to Europe to North America; and especially California!
Yes seriously. This town is inhabited by beautiful and friendly people of all ages and all backgrounds and races. I met soulful surfers from Australia who welcomed me into their pack, practicing yogis and yogini’s on their physical and spiritual journeys, the curious tourists on “holiday” following the recommended itinerary from the Lonely Planet, and some real life vagabonds.
I honestly met so many people in the 1 month that I spent in Bali. When I think of all the faces, the smiles, the accents, and the languages…. Well, it’s hard to describe how the flood of memories really makes me feel so happy and blessed. I only imagine how much better this world would be if everyone were as open and fun-loving as the people I’ve met while traveling.
Uluwatu Surf Break
Surfers around the world are more familiar with Uluwatu than most travelers. It is a world class surfing break that was discovered and pioneered less than 50 years ago. Any kid like myself reading surfer magazine in the 80’s would have seen countless images of pro surfers charging this powerful surf break.
There is a unique way to paddle out to this famous break, which I didn’t even remember until I arrived there. It was actually surreal when I found the path to access the break from the top of the cliff. As I began descending the stairs I recalled seeing either video or photos of the beautiful cliff faces and rocks with surfers attempting to paddle out with the incoming tide and getting slammed into the rocks. It was like a warning bell went off in my head and I thought, oh yeah…I’ve seen this place before, and there is no way I am paddling out through that small gap between the rocks by myself! Well, not this year.
I wasn’t physically conditioned or ready to handle the paddle out to the breaks. Not on my own anyways. I met other surfers who offered to meet up and paddle out, but the conditions were never really right on the days we planned. I surfed Padang Padang and Nusa Dua several times and was just beginning to gain some paddle strength after a few days out, but I couldn’t go every single day. I definitely needed a few days to recover after each session.
Maybe if some of my friends from back home were around they would have motivated me to go out more. I don’t regret not surfing enough because I had plenty of priceless moments out there, that I won’t soon forget.
Friends and Furry Foes
One afternoon at Bombora Surf Camp in Padang Padang Amitesh rounded up a few of his guests to go to Uluwatu Temple to see the Kecak Fire & Trance Dance. I had already met Rio and was actually out with her at Nusa Dua when she caught her first waves. I was hootin’ and hollering for her every time I saw her catch one.
José and Paula had just recently arrived at Bombora Surf Camp. They didn’t have any transportation, but Amitesh, Rio and I each had motorbikes. Rio was riding for the first time and Amitesh and I offered to give Paula and José a ride. Right before we were about to head up the steep embankment to get out, Rio lost control of her bike and crashed it, right in the parking lot. No one was hurt, she just got a little scrape on her knee.
Riding motorbikes may look easy, but if its your first time and you are in a foreign country, definitely do a practice run in an open area with no other obstacles, like people or cliffs in your immediate area.
I took my bike up to the top of the hill and Paula jumped on the back of mine and José got on the back with Amitesh. Rio got a handle on hers and we headed out on the only road heading south to Uluwatu.
Luckily, we managed to get there safely without any other incidents, paid for parking, paid the entrance fee, and then paid to wear a sarong, which is customary and respectful on temple grounds.
We thought we had enough time, but by the time we got to the area where you buy tickets for the Kecak show, it was sold out! So, instead we decided to walk around take pics, antagonize some monkeys and wait for the sunset.
Uluwatu Sunset and Reflection
Days like these keep me yearning for more. More time in nature and less time behind the computer screen and camera lens, would probably be better for me, but I am not giving up a wi-fi connection for more than 3 days. Go ahead…you try it!
My hotels wi-fi was out for more than a week. I could only get wi-fi at Buddha Soul a short walking distance away, but I spent that downtime working on video editing which didn’t require any wi-fi.
Anyways, It may seem like I am always running around with a camera, and sometimes I wish I did, because I’ve missed so many opportunities for photo and video. The memorable everyday experiences I had in SE Asia are too many to count, and because I didn’t plan exactly how long I would stay I wanted to make sure I captured as much as possible, so I could share with you.
I enjoy my tourist moments, but not nearly as much as the simplest interactions that I have had with locals and other foreigners.
There was one afternoon in Padang Padang where Amitesh and I were having lunch at a little store next to a surf shop. There were two tables set up basically on the roadside and right next to the building they sold petrol/gas stored in old vodka and rum bottles.
Three local Balinese teens sat down at the table next to us, one had a guitar and another was beating on some kind of drum. The guy was just plucking around on the guitar, and they were talking casually. Then gradually they just started singing and playing some very upbeat music with a ska rhythm.
Their music definitely had a fun, surfer vibe to it. It wasn’t serious or anything, they were just messing around, but they sang a few songs that sounded pretty good. I thought, I should probably be recording this, but this time, I just let the moment pass. I didn’t pull out the iPhone and I didn’t have my DSLR. I just ate my lunch, conversed with Amitesh and enjoyed the moment.
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