I was hoping to update this more frequently....but to much fun to be had rather sit in front of a computer.
So the last night in Ubud after my hike I head out to dinner to a restaurant called Naught Nuri's that was recommended in Lonely Planet and by the hotel. It is a grill and it mentions that the martinis are incredible. So I think I am going to a swanky joint to eat...but turns out this was a roadside stop...literally the woman was cooking off a grill that was almost in the street as cars flew by. The place was a total hole in the wall...and the book was right...one of the best martinis I have had. I real surprise for this place. Then the spare ribs were the most amazing thing I have had thus far. After dinner there is a local reggae band playing next door
. Me and 2 others watch...and these guys were really talented...mostly covers but a great last night in Ubud!
Jan 12th. After sleeping in for a bit I have a swim to wash off the residue of last night martinis. You know what they say about breasts and martinis? One is not enough and three is too many...and that was the truth with what they were serving up at Naughty Nuri's. Its been awhile since I have had anything but water, coffee and of course....Bintang. I pack up to head back to Kuta where Russ and family are staying. He let me know there was a room there for $21 a night which was perfect cause I could save a few bucks for a change. I check in, they show me to my room and I ask where the Fletcher's are staying. Turns out the room right next door.
I get settled in and find out that Nicole Vey (SD friend) has a friend living in Bali. We get in touch and meet for dinner. Alice is super cool as is her friend who while hailing from Australia, she has lived in Bali her whole life. After a decent dinner and drinks Alice mentions her friends are drinking at their home further up in Semiyak. Alice works as an assistant to an art dealer and has lived here for about 6 months and this is one of the guys she works with. We hop on her scooter and head up in the hills a bit. We enter this small compound of Villas that is nicely landscaped and on what I guess would be on the "higher end" of Bali homes
. Her friends are all from Italy, a little older and about as welcoming as they come. We indulge in some liquor including some absinthe and then out comes the desserts! Marco is so funny I can hardly stand it. My sides hurt the next day from laughing so hard. End up partying until about 3:00 and then I grab a taxi back to the hotel. Supposed to surf early with Russ.
Jan 13th - Russ knocks at my door at 5:45 as planned. Today I am HURTING as I scrape my tongue off the roof of my mouth. Last night has taken its toll! I sleep in then run some errands. Russ and I meet up around 2 and head to the other side of the peninsula for the "wet season" surf breaks that only break this time of year. He said it was good this morning but I didn't miss anything....the swell had still not filled in as fore-casted. We pull up to what we think is Sanur reef which is a fickle wave....but world class when it breaks. It appears to not be working when we notice we are not in the right spot. Just a little north we see a cranking right peel across the reef. We haul ass back into traffic, turn down the right street....and we see this place on fire with only a few people in the line up! My heart starts pumping, we wax up the boards and head out. In the line up there are about 8 locals, me, Russ and a girl from Oregon. The wave is several feet overhead and breaks across a shallow but flat reef. We just get into the line up when a local comes over and for no reason starts yelling at Russ....then comes over to me and yells "OUR WAVE....YOU GO" while splashing me
. I know the chances of this guy hitting me are next to none because of their Hindu beliefs, but I will admit that this really rattled my cage. Being in a foreign place where everyone has been beyond friendly, this occurrence was a big surprise. Russ said "don't sweat it mate"....but even after a half dozen trips to these areas he has never seen that happen. After a bit I caught several nice waves.....one in particular lined up so perfect....but the whole incident made my session not nearly as enjoyable. I noticed that 2 of the guys in the line up were actually Japanese. Turns out these guys pay around $100 to the locals to be cool and give them waves as this spot is super localized and only breaks several times a year. We return and I head out to dinner but it is pouring Rain....I mean POURING....like streets are flooding. I consider "Mc Delivery".....yes they deliver McDonald's in Bali. I end talking to this super sweet Scottish girl and we decide to brave the rain together and grab dinner. We have a nice meal and good conversation followed by several Bintangs on the beach after the rain dies. Then its off to bed as Russ is coming by early to go surf.
Jan 14th- even though I didn't drink much last night I'm not feeling to well....shit I hope I'm not getting sick. Well after coffee and some food I'm back to life. Turns out I missed a great session at Serangan reef....and the crowd was low which is rare for this break. Bummer....but I head back over with Russ in the afternoon. There is some good size to the waves as the swell is peeking. Catch several mid sized rights and lefts....and one well overhead bomb that I got unintentionally dropped in on. We head back and then out to dinner with the Fletcher's. If I have not already mentioned this....they are about as cools as a family comes. Russ is about to be 50 and you would never guess it. He is so mellow and kind....and he RIPS at surfing
. Not to mention he shapes all his own boards. His wife Jo is always so happy and loves to share great stories. Sam and Galyan, who are 9 and 7 are about as good as they come. They are so well behaved , very respectful to their parents and a true pleasure to be around. They love to tell me stories of first tube rides as well as about their small beach side hometown of Congo where the bush meets the beach. This is the kind of family that I envy. I truly enjoy my single lifestyle....but when the time is right this is the roll model family I want to be. These guys have taken me in like one of their own and even referred to me as Uncle Greg.
Jan 15th -up early to surf and we head to Turtle Island aka Serangan reef once again. The swell has backed down to a little over head. There are several peeks at this spot, I sit on one with only a few guys and catch a decent amount of fun, workable waves. After surfing for several hours its time for a massage and a beer. Then I snap a few photos as I have not brought my camera surfing thus far. Back to Kuta then I head back to Legian, just north of Kuta, to the Ocean front hotel where first stayed. I swim, get a $10 hour massage and head back out to meet the Fletcher's as well as a woman they met named Sarah. Her son has become friends with Sam and Gaylan....and tonight we are headed to Jimbarayan Bay for dinner. This is an area known for its fresh seafood warung markets
. You pick out the fresh Seafood straight from the ice cooler, they BBQ it and bring it to your table which is in the sand a few feet from the ocean. All this while a group of guitarists plays from table to table and the surf crashes in the background. This dinner is magnificent!! We head back and I'm about to crash when I hear from Alice. She is going to Kuta tonight to meet friends and invites me to join. So tonight I'm going into the bowels of the Kuta night life. This place goes off....but really not as crazy as I imagined. Not really my sceen....guess I'm getting old....but a fun night and I had to go at least one time while in Bali. Sky Bar was my favorite. This bar has several levels with different style music playing on each one. We stay til about 4 or so and then I'm back at my hotel courtesy of Alice's skilled moped driving....and in the rain too!
Jan 16th - wake up for some reason around 730. I'm actually feeling pretty good for partying the night before. I wanted to head out on a tour of the Bukit peninsula but plans changed and instead I spend the day just chillin on the beach and pool side. Another massage, pool, beach and repeat.....life is good! I grab a decent dinner and drinks solo....and crash a bit later.
Jan 17th - The surf has dropped so its time for a day trip
. This afternoon I head out with a driver to the Bukit Peninsula in southern Bali. This is where are the legendary Bali surf breaks are located....but they don't break this time of year. Driver is super cool and I start cranking out the tunes on the Ipod. We grab several "roadies"....yes you can drink and drive in Bali! First stop is Dreamland's. We climb high above for a view all the way out to Ulu Watu. Few more Bintangs and its off to Padang Padang. This beach is super nice. We chill for several hours, swim and meet more great people. Some people prefer to rent their own car or motorbike.....but for only $20 I get carted around for 6 hours which ain't bad.....and I don't have to deal with the crooked cops if I get pulled over..not to mentione driving in the absolutly hectic traffic hell around Denpensar and Kuta. Next up is Ulu Watu which is the furthest point south and home to one of the most famous surf breaks on Bali. The temple at the top of the cliff is home to hundreds of monkeys that are known to be aggressive at times. The views here are stunning and I watch a fire dance ceremony at sunset. I get back and have dinner at a buffet with Balinese dance show. Too much food....way too much food....bad idea! Back for a swim and off to bed as Russ and I are supposed to surf....but I haven't heard from him so not totally sure.
Jan 18th - I awake at 330 and just cannot sleep
. I realize its Sunday back home and the Cowboys are playing....well more like getting their asses kicked. So I watch the play by play on my Ipod while sitting next to the beach. They lost....its now 5:00 and I still can't sleep. I start reading for a bit when I hear a commotion next door. Then I notice someone lurking outside my patio. Holy shit...its Russ....at 530 ready to go surf. Nice!!! He had been told by the front desk I was in the room 108 when I was in 107....which 108 had an old German couple staying there. Opps. When the wife opened the door Russ thought, "oh mate....who did you hook up with last night?" Ha ha. We head to a new break further out called Keramas which is a black sand beach with a reef break out front. There are only 3 guys in the water. Fun session in head high waves. A photographer showed up right before we got out and snapped a few of Russes waves and my shitty last wave. I get back to my hotel, eat and pack up. I'm headed back to the hotel in Kuta where the Fletcher's are staying for 2 more nights before heading to the Gili Islands. Russ and I take the boys out for a surf in the wind blown waves but have a good time. These kids love to surf and it is enjoyable to see their excitement. I head back, get cleaned up and head to the beach for a spectacular sunset and super long walk on the beach. I grab dinner and crash as once again we are headed out early to surf. This time to Nusa Dua.
Jan 19th - this morning we are all moving slow as going non stop is catching up
. The whole family heads out this time. We are going to try and catch Nusa Dua....but its just not working all that well which is a bummer cause there are only 8 guys out spread over 3 peaks. We head back to Serangan which is pretty crowded but looking far better. The swell is continuing to drop but some solid over head sets are coming through. Surf for several hours and then chill on the beach followed by a a session on the inside reef with the boys. I act as photographer then Russ and I contemplate another surf....but its just not working with the dropping tide. We head back to Kuta for sunset on the beach and then out to one last dinner together. We get back and say our good byes. These guys have been so incredible to me and I am sad to be parting ways. I truly feel like family with the Fletcher's. Russ is such a great father and just all round cool guy. He is so relaxed with his boys and if either Sam or Gaylan gets upset as all children do, he simply says, "hey mate...relax...everything will be all right" in a somber voice...and as if some sort of magic has occurred they are back to normal. Not once did I see these two boys go over the edge. Jo is such a warm spirit, loves to smile and have a good laugh and just has great energy. Sam loves to tell you all sorts of stories and reminds me so much of my nephew Taylor with how much he knows and is constantly thinking. Gaylan reminds my of my other nephew Ty with his similar "look at me" style as he always want to impress and make sure you're watching
. Both boys are incredibly intelligent for their ages and again I am bummed to be parting ways. I owe Russ so much gratitude for taking me along with him to surf breaks, 2 of which I probably would have not gone to as they are less known, letting me use a quality board out of his quiver and pushing me to "go for it mate" when the sets came. It was great having someone to get inspired by as he is such a great surfer with a so much style and power. Please see the photo below of him destroying the lip of the wave. That was one of many, many waves that man disected! Any spot we were at he was one of the best, if not the best surfer in the line up, killing it like he was 19.....not 49. Russ....you rock man! You and your family have had an enormously positive impact on how my visit to Bali has unfolded and my life in general....and I thank you for the experience! Cheers mate!
Next up....the Gili Islands for some diving.