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Fields of Bali

Written on: Saturday March 8th, 2008

A journal entry from: Indo with the ZMT

Soooo.... I never made it to the temples. The idea had been that this guy in a BMW can give me a lift and show me around, but then a few hours before leaving he suddenly realised he had lectures he could not miss. That's the way things are here, and you get used to it pretty quickly, by shrugging your shoulders and just getting on with it. I could have taken the night train and spent one day chasing down most things I wanted to do in three, but I'm now on holiday and I simply could not be bothered with any hassle or stress. In addition, I made good friends in Purwokerto, so it was really quite easy to just stay and discover that area a little. My last night was spent in the local night club, a source of terror and sin. People were drinking alcohol! And dancing! Yeeees, behind these walls the students were having fun like anywhere else, and the hangover is quickly prayed away the next day. Surprisingly, I behaved because I had sincerely enjoyed this month without booze and happily gathered round some late night Java coffee.

It was very sad to say good-bye to everyone, and they will be missed dearly. Zico and Andhi gave me the pleasure of their company at 2 in the morning while waiting for my train to Yogyakarta. The trains are actually so bloody comfortable the plan to stay awake to guard my stuff failed miserably, but I had everything looped or belted on me so I snoozed n awaked until I arrived. A taxi ride later and I was at the airport, a horrific ordeal trying to stay awake (my flight was at 9 am). When my gate was called I breathed a sigh of relief... at least I could now sleep until Bali! Unfortunatly the seats were made for infants and the aircon set to deep freeze, so all I could do was chatter my teeth and watch the wonderful island of Bali unfold beneath me.

I'm here now and my love for Indonesia has deepened even more. It took a little time to get used to the presence of other Westeners and things like Starbucks, but after Dave picked me up in his charismatic pseudo 4x4 we were soon in calmer waters. Kind of, anyway- his house is near Canggu, a fantastic surf break. Dave has been working here as a professional English teacher for almost two years, and the decent income goes a long way here. Thanks to him I can discover this place without bumbling around too much, he knows the ropes and for "only" two weeks holiday that is extremely valuable. For example, when I arrived I found out that because Bali is predominantly Hindu, the national holiday "Nyepi" is enforced very strongly here... So on thursday the whole Island is ablaze with processions, music and giant papermache monsters. The idea is that the spirits come to have a look at all the ruckus on the island, but by friday they find nothing and retreat for another year, cleansing Bali in the process. That means noone is allowed to leave their house on Nyepi, and make sure no noise or light makes it out. While a very interesting tradition, it does not make for much fun for the short term traveller or work beaten surf junkie. So a group of us headed out towards the West, where the locals are mainly muslim, and managed to check out some processions on the way. We stayed in a wonderful little surf retreat, and I got my first good surf in, well, since Costa Rica. We stayed until saturday, and on our way back turned in for a morning session at a river mouth. I stayed out a little shorter here and shot some footage... later on I was told that we had been sharing our waves with a baby bull shark, which at one point cleared the water...gulp. Sounds cute, and we laugh about it.... now. But these fellas are on the top list of 'uman munchers. The day was rounded off with Dave giving his scooter man a quick bell, and fifteen minutes later I was bombing it around amidst hundreds of other beeping metal horses. And yes, I have gears! We rode over to Canggu for a deliciously inexpensive but stylish dinner, complete with all you can eat salad bar. For those in the know, the place is highly recommendable and called Echo Beach Cafe...

Unfortunately I have an extreme boardshort rash and a stupidity inflicted sunburn, so this morning I gave my body a rest and just filmed the lads shredding Canggu. The third place world champion pro surfer strolled past, and I had no idea... What I do know though is that the Nature Conservancy has an office here in Bali, and they like marine GIS people very much so they do, so I'm going to rattle some doors here for sure...

Much love from the best place I've been to in a very very long time,
PS I tried to upload pictures... sorry, no can do. Only a few made it. You'll have to wait till I'm back I'm afraid.