You don’t know me, but trust me when I tell you that I have never looked so smug and confident in my life as I look with these local cheerful ladies. That smile is the condensation of the perfect storm of assorted types of gratification that I achieved in Bali.
The first thing I must mention is that I went to Bali because someone has asked me to do it, and was paying for my plane ticket and for two weeks of food and accommodation. With helicopter and catamaran rides on the side. All I had to do to deserve this was to take good pictures for his enterprise. So, for once, I didn’t have to go through the pain of finding meaning in the trip. No need to struggle at the beginning either getting to know the working team, because this benefactor is probably my best friend, and he’s very fond of my photos, so in a way it felt like going on holiday together. This immediately gives an unfair advantage to the island of Bali when I have to give my opinion about it and compare it to other places I visited. It also partly fuelled my enthusiasm about the other things I am going to mention.
Let’s start from the surfing. Bali is the place where I unlocked several achievements on the board. I was a beginner before going there and I still am. But the first time a beginner surfer has the possibility of riding the same wave for something like 30 seconds, switches flip inside him forever (accompanied by screams, shouts and howls of orgasmic happiness). And, as you may guess, this happened to me in Bali, on the Batu Bolong beach in Canggu. It’s a beach break, with water that I wouldn’t exactly define crystal clear, but that I can’t recommend enough to a beginner. Contrary to other beaches I tried in Bali (Balangan, and another one next to Batu Bolong, in front of the Finns beach club), there’s enough space for tens of surfers to ride at the same time without killing each other, and, while reaching the line-up with my soft board was next to impossible, the whitewash was as good as whitewashes go. As I said, you can have incredibly long rides, on most days. And even when it gets a bit too big, it still feels gentle and predictable enough for someone with little surfing experience. I had to paddle like my life depended on it, but that counts as a fantastic workout, and it was totally worth it considering how many good waves I was catching.
Bali is world renowned for surfing, so I don’t feel the need to be yet another blogger who is going to list the best spots of the island. I prefer to speak about the things I experienced myself enough to feel at least a bit confident.
So let’s go back to Batu Bolong. After two hours in the water there, the bill amounts to the equivalent of three euros, you don’t have a wetsuit to get the hell out of (water is warm), and the guy you rented the board from walks towards you with a cup of cold water. He’s got fresh coconuts for you to purchase for three euros, and you can also relax under one of his umbrellas the whole day for…three more euros, looking at the waves and at happy people all around.
Or, if you’re starving like me, you can ride your rented flaming red scooter bare chested to the next warung (local restaurant), and stuff your face with a dozen of different things: rice that comes in three colours, vegetables, eggs, spicy meats, fish, tofu, and the best potato croquettes ever. For a grand total of…three euros. There’s definitely a pattern there (no shit Sherlock, that’s the equivalent of 50 thousand rupees). And nothing’s stopping you from eating international food of the highest quality if you’re tired of Indonesian edibles. In Canggu I had Gordon Ramsay’s level scrambled eggs, excellent hamburgers by the dozen, delicious and super cute japanese/french fusion dishes, and even italian food good enough for an italian! Also no shortage of hipster coffee, matcha, and paleo options. And all of this is incredibly affordable.
As I’ve mentioned before, surfing like a god (even if just in your head) and then eating THE LOT improves your mood and attitude towards the world around you more or less by eleven billion times, and as a consequence you might find yourself selflessly complimenting girls about all sorts of things, engaging in conversations with all sorts of people (I don’t do that lightly) and in general feeling like heaven is manifesting itself right under your nose. In short, you turn into the best version of yourself. And I don’t know about you, but for me suddenly transforming into the type of guy who is able to simply walk to a beautiful stranger and compliment her, without risking a heart attack, has been a turning point of my whole existence. I have always, secretly or openly, desired to be that type of person but I’ve always found excuses to delay such transformation.
Now combine this with the realisation that the work I had done for my friend in the first two weeks produced excellent photos, after years of neglecting my creative spirit (my usual job is not about taking pictures myself but to photoshop other photographers’ work), and you’ll see why then going berserk with my camera on my own to scoop up all this beauty was basically an obligatory consequence. Day after day the results were getting better, so the empowering effects were piling up and I began glowing with light and leaving behind me a scintillating rainbow every time I was riding my scooter.
Is that 5 reasons? No? Who cares…