I’d been counting down the days to our departure to Bali for some time, not just for my birthday but the 3 weeks off work with my family and quality waves without a steamer.
In my mind I would be bodysurfing everyday, in reality with 3 kids and my wife, that would not be the case – she had even warned me before our departure and “this isn’t a surfing trip” was still ringing in my ears as I diligently packed three Slyde handboards and two sets of DaFiNs.
My brother in-law (Jay) and his family were with us and he had packed a couple of surfboards as he was in a similar mindset to myself (2 kids).
For the last nine nights we were staying at Seminyak, a mere 27km from Ulus. All it took was an afternoon/evening taking care of the kids whilst the girls had the afternoon off and ventured to ‘W’ for cocktails and dinner. Brownie points in the bank and we were locked in for our surf session.
Once on the road, sporting sensible scooter attire or thongs/flops, boardies, t-shirt, sunnies and helmet, we headed on to the Sunset Highway. Unsure of the speed limits or majority of road rules other than the complementary beep of the horn to notify someone that your overtaking them. Unsure of the directions we began following a passing van loaded with surfboards. Which was great until they took a right hand turn way before we expected. On our own we continued, following our nose and the sporadic signage.
Hitting some hills that force the bike to feel all of my 100kg frame, we finally spot a turn off to Padang Padang but continue on as another sign says ‘Uluwatu 15km’. There is a stage of confusion as we arrive at Uluwatu temple as the one time here expert Jay doesn’t recognise it. Its at this point we realize we had come the wrong way. Some helpful directions from some tourists later and we are on our way again…back to the sign we had passed earlier. Damn it…..we take the turn off and head in through the winding road, mindful of the dogs, cattle and chickens that scatter the road side and small villages we pass. We finally arrive at the entrance, pay the attendant $2000 rupiah each and head on in to park our bikes. I’m privately pumped with anticipation, but play it cool and take a few nonchalant pictures on my phone as we walk down the cliff to one of the warungs where we can store our gear (as long as you spend some money). A quick pre surf juice (money well spent) and we get ready, frothing over some of the sets pealing through while we head down the cliff and dodgy stairs. Jay fills me in on the wave and the current that sweeps you up the coast once you exit the cave (had fun with that on our second session).
Immediately exiting the cave you feel the pull of the current, doing its best to drag you down to Padang. Its a slog to make it out to clear water and start paddling back towards the break, there are more than a few curious looks as I kick pass surfers that are obviously wondering where my board was. Once out in the line up, which at this stage is about 40 people you realise how multi national it is. Local boys, Aussies, Americans and a whole lot of Brazilians, all scattered across the various sections of the line up wherever the waves peak.
I settle in the line up and conscious of the reef below me and not wanting to finish the session early – I catch the first little runner that comes through that miraculously no one has jumped on. Feeling the wave and watching the way the reef sucks up and boils on the shallower sections, a nice little loosener.
The courage is up and as the larger waves come through, feeling more comfortable I sit a little deeper. With the masses jockeying for position it a real challenge catching waves. Its not uncommon to see 3-4+ people paddling frantically for a wave and then the sound of the deepest guys calling out “Mine, Oi, Yep, Mine” and there were plenty of fades on show. I take advantage of the clean up sets, which I can easily get through and surface with the board riders suddenly 30m behind and me, in the perfect take-off position.
Even then its pretty frustrating as I would see the oncoming waves, turn to paddle while keeping a keen eye on the person deeper, giving them priority only for them to pull off at the last moment. The barreling beauty would then go through unridden while I fumed and swore underwater
After one clean up set, I just turned and went late on the second set wave with no chance in hell of making it. Air dropping into the barrel and then following up with a little reef massage, I surfaced to the shocked surprise of a surfer, who had obviously just seen the stoked look of “did you see that?!” on my face – it must be a bodysurfing thing.
We call it a session and start heading back in, luckily the tide is low and the current isnt an issue as I end up doing my best awkward fin walk across the reef to the entrance of the cave. Once up the cliff, I was immediately set upon with the calls from the numerous photographers that sit perched on the cliffs taking photos of surfers. I had quite a laugh at the Balinese men yelling out and motioning their best bodysurfing moves “Hey you bodysurfer, I have picture of you in barrel”, “bodysurfer, you spin spin spin roll roll roll”, “I have picture, come look”.
Awesome day bodysurfing and pictures to prove it?! Terima-bloody-kasih!!