Day 56: Groundhog Day

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July 20th 2010
Published: July 20th 2010
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After a full full day of flights, delays and airport sitting we made it to Bali. We flew past immigration which didn't ask us for our non-existent 'proof of onward travel' and hopped in a cab to a hotel where Trevor, SF friend, had booked us a room in a hotel. This was pretty crucial as it was high season and many hotels were full up for weeks. We took an hour nap and got up to watch the World Cup final. I swear to god if that thing went to penalty shots I would've killed myself. Thankfully it ended at a leisurely 5am and we got some sleep for a few hours before surf fever drove us onwards.

Our task was clear: surfing. Before this could be done we had to check the surf, hit the ATM and money changer, eat and find surfboards. Most of these were easily accomplished and the 12 surf shops we passed all had reasonably good used boards from $120-200.

Note: If the moneychanger busts a roll out from under a table, its probably a scam. Also, if they are advertising rates above the actual exchange rate, its probably a scam. Eric's math skills came in handy when the slight of hand took place. After a couple counts, Eric had the correct amount and the businessman balked, taking back his money and sending Eric away. For a tip he received a handwritten note, triple underlined by Eric. "Shady". At the same fine establishment, I found a hat that proclaimed "Jiggy Jig" and had to have it. Post sale, the lady, coworker of scammy mcquickhands, said she had a present for me, a free braclet and manicure. So i let her clip my nails, but when finished she said I had to pay! I refused so she cursed me with black magic. We left the store, both cursed but un-hustled. It must be nice to be able to curse people who refuse to give in to the hustle.

We met up with Trevor, who had lived and worked in Indo previously, and went up the coast to a surf spot which might agree with the low tide and sideshore wind. We found a somewhat messy 4-7ft beach break. Lorca, a roommate of Eric and I from UCSD who lives in Bali working on Lines magazine and helping with all the contests in Indo, met us in the water. After the sunset we all went out for burritos. The epic end to an epic start of a country.

The next 9 or 10 days kinda blur together. At some point we rented a jeep for ease of transport. Time flowed past us like a stiff offshore breeze as we slipped into a cycle of surf/eat/sleep/surf. Everyday started the same and ended the same. Since the days blended I have no real sense of when things happened. Some days we surfed 3 different spots, each with its own flavor, so im just going to give up on times and dates. Most of this won't even make sense to non-surfers but i will try to speak clearly to everyone else.

Kuta reef: Our first experience with the Bali reefs, we paid ~$6 each for a boat driver to take us out to the reef and to pick us up later. We surfed "Middles", a spot in between Airport Lefts and Kuta Reef. It was pretty crowded and a little choppy due to extreme offshore winds but we all scored good waves. The second day we surfed for 4 hours in 6-8ft reeling lefts. A crowd of 30 people all got out of the water at the same time and we had these epic beauties practically to ourselves. 1 of my top 10 best waves scored here. Fast but very makeable 100-150m rides.

Bingin: We left the chaos of Kuta for the Bukit peninsula. After a confusing drive down the coast through a maze of roads, Trevor led us to Bingin. We walked down the cliff where small hotels, losmen, lined staircases to the beach. The view from the top was breathtaking. Strait out of a surf video or magazine peeling lines of surf stretched to the horizon. 6 world-class breaks were just hundreds of meters apart. Uluwatu to Padang to Impossibles, Bingin, Dreamland and Balangan. Our hotel sat at beach level facing Bingin, a fast short ultra makeable tube that broke a little smaller than the other reefs in the area but in very very shallow water. We surfed it 3 times and I only got 3 real waves (out of 3 hours of waiting). I managed to get my first Bali barrel here on a quick head-high reeler. Locals and crazy good surfers snagged most of the best waves, dropping in so deep it seemed they were headed for doom only to tuck in to deep almond shaped shacks. We all three (Trevor, Eric, and I) hit reef here often. High tide gave you chest deep water but surfing to the inside meant jumping off in knee deep water. Low tide was 2-3ft deep in the takeoff zone and spots of dry reef inside. I managed to cleanly snap off a fin doing a bottom turn in shin-deep water. We had to make a trip to the supermarket 20 minutes away for a new set of fins and some reef booties (like water socks with thick rubber soles and sides to protect valuable feet from the jagged reef) for Eric, who had been thrashed at Impossibles enough times to give in and buy some. Bingin was sketchy and crowded enough for us to mostly watch from the balcony. 1 of my top 10 best waves scored here.

Dreamland: The mellowest break out there was spread over a couple deep reefs. This is the only spot we barely ever hit bottom. A short right that was mostly a drop except the eraser sets and a long, sometimes makeable, super fast pumping left that wasn't too hollow. When you got a good one, you got a really good one. Long fast racetrack lefts for 100m+. Lots of closeouts and I got smashed pretty good when a hollow 10ft + wave jacked up on the reef and broke right on my head. From the depths I grabbed ahold of my leash and climbed back to the surface. Gonna have to get used to that if I wanna surf here. We put in a good 5 or 6 surfs at Dreamland. 1 of my top 10 best waves scored here.

Impossibles: As the name suggests, it is nearly impossible to make waves at this shallow, super super fast, hollow left. From some angles it looked like the best wave in the world, and maybe if it was just a little slower, it would be. Swell rolled across the reef at just such an angle that it would section just ahead of the fastest surfers. But when good ones came through... oh shit. On 7ft+ waves and very very infrequently, 200m+ long rides peeled at racehorse speeds but held up the whole way. Most of our drops closed out before us but after a week we had each hooked a handful of super fun racey racers. The bottom was always waiting and I managed to crack the nose of my board on the bottom one day, repair it, and crack it again with my head the next day. Being dragged across the reef was a regular occurance. It was rarely crowded so we spent much time here.

Balangan: We paddled to this high tide break after Dreamland shut down with the high water. Super fast hollow and shallow... and crowded. Eric broke the nose off his board first wave and had to paddle back around the point. After a few throwing and unmakeable overhead waves that left you standing in knee deep water, we followed him home.

Uluwatu: This is an epic world class wave known to surfers from around the globe. We paddled out in 2-8ft peeling perfect surf but were forced to surf far down the line because of the thick crowd. At the main peak people were catching heaving standup barrels without blinking. It was a sight to see. We all caught a few long rides dispite the crowd. It was worth sitting out there while insane waves were being demolished the next peak down.

We were averaging 3.5 hours of surf per day and 10 days has passed like one. In 10 days Eric broke off his nose (fixed the same day)and I twice cracked my nose and lost a fin. Shallow has a new meaning; chest deep feels like a safety cushion. The reef is part of the game over here. In Bali, you are considered unscathed if you only recieve minor cuts and bruises each day. We saw countless boards snap and a guy with a 6" long gash in his back come out of the water at Bingin.
Today we rest (after just one surf in the morning) Trevor went home and we are in Sanur visiting with Lorca. The swell prediction over here is 50/50. Today the swell was supposed to drop but it got over 8ft again. Our rest may be short lived if the surf keeps up.


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