Goodbye Bali, it’s Been Fun :)

After our Blissology yoga retreat we went back to Seminyak with our new German friends that we met at the yoga retreat. Our plan was to stay here until Eoin left to teach yoga in Australia so that we could surf together, and after that Josi and I would go back to Nusa Lembongan for a few weeks to chill and surf. Unfortunately though, just when we were meant to go I came down with a bad flu. Deciding to not go somewhere remote when I was sick we ended up staying in Seminyak. I was out of the water for a week because of it and in doing so I missed the best swell since I have been here. It’s been over a week and today was the first day that I have been back in the water surfing. The swell has dropped considerably, but at least the sand banks out front have shifted and it’s breaking really nice and clean. I was a bit burned out, but I caught a load of great waves today and it felt great to get back in the water.

The last time I was in Bali it was pre Facebook and since then it has changed a lot. I’m partly to blame because after my first time here I told everyone how awesome it was. I would go on about the beautiful bright blue ocean with it’s countless pealing hollow and uncrowded point breaks, amazingly kind and wonderful Balinese people setting out offerings to their Hindu gods, the crazy hot temperature of both the sea and the air, countless ceremonies and festivals in the streets and how cost friendly and inexpensive everything is.

It’s still super hot here and there are still lots of waves but now it’s very crowded, so much so that much of what made it so special for me has gone. Yes, driving here was always a bit crazy, but there were never huge traffic jams everywhere you went. Things are so congested that I could walk down the beach for 15 minutes to get to the next decent surf break, or I could drive and it might take 45 minutes.

Today when I surfed the ocean was a beautiful and clean just as I remember it back in the day. This is because the plastic bags and garbage that was there last week was washed away by the big swell that just came through and it hasn’t rained for a few days. For the last three weeks I was brushing by floating plastic or scooping up plastic bags every second paddle when surfing. On bad days there are dark brown patches of pollution that migrate along the shore with the currents. When the brown patches pass the locals all get out of the water to walk around it before getting back in. Many of the tourists on the other hand continue to play away as the brown slushy waves engulf them. I’m guessing that it’s a mistake they only make once because I have been told that if it gets on you skin you can get a bad rash, not to mention ear and eye infections.

The pollution in the ocean is bad here because the locals don’t have it in their culture to recycle or dispose of garbage properly. In the 80’s there was no power here and everything was from the land so their method of throwing everything in the rivers and streams worked because it all got digested by nature. Their trash is no longer all organic, but they still dispose of it just as they always have. The small streams are so thick with pollution you can’t see through it an inch and their banks are full of trash. Somehow there are still fish feeding on the surface and even fisherman sitting on the banks fishing for them. We watched for as long as my stomach could handle the toxic smell of the stream, but after 2 minutes we continued on.

Even the Balinese who used to radiate the most amazing positive energy seem to have somewhat lost their glow. Don’t get me wrong, they are still super awesome, it’s just that they don’t radiate as much as I remember. I would be pretty bummed too if my home country was overrun with tourists, pollution, traffic, over crowding, over development, the list goes on. The infrastructure in Bali isn’t designed to support as many people as there are here now and it’s showing the side effects.

It’s not that it isn’t super awesome here, it’s just that for me Bali is no longer a remote tropical paradise. Luckily there are countless islands with equally awesome surf that have yet to be discovered by the masses.

Josi and I had planned on staying in Bali for longer than the month and a half that we had initially booked our tickets for, but we have decided to continue on to Australia as scheduled which means that we fly out on April 17th. It’s going to be awesome to catch up with some of my good friends from when I lived in Sydney way back in 1996. I loved living in Manly and would have moved there for good if my then young company Cowie and Fox had not landed Westbeach as a client back in Vancouver.

We are on a bit of a milk run as we fly from Bali to Thailand where we stay over night and the following morning we fly to Sydney.

Blissology Yoga Retreat

Taking part Eoin and Insiya’s yoga retreat here in Bali was like going to summer camp, and as a kid I loved summer camp. Arriving at Desa Seni both Josi and I were super stoked to see how beautiful it is here. The cabins where the guest stay in are made of vintage houses that have been relocated from all over Indonesia. There is a huge pool with comfy chairs in the centre of the resort which was the perfect place to chill in the afternoon and the people that work here are so nice. Many of the guests at the resort are people who now live in Bali and come in the day to take yoga classes and hang out by the pool. They are mostly young new age affluent healthy types, some of who were super cool and others perhaps a bit over the top.

We started every morning at 7am with a fresh fruit and tea breakfast. From there we spent a few hours practicing and learning the fundamentals of yoga. After morning yoga we all enjoyed a delicious brunch consisting of amazing organic delights. Between brunch and our afternoon yoga was free time which Eoin and I used to go surfing at a local Cangu surf break which was a lot of fun. Then we did another amazing afternoon yoga session, followed by a great dinner, followed by hanging out with the rest of the people taking the retreat.

There were a few days where the routine was mixed up so that we could visit ceremonies at temples or to have dinner and watch the sunset at the beach which was really great as well. The people taking the retreat were all at different levels of yoga abilities and they came from all over the world.

Best of all Josi and I met some amazing people who we will continue to stay in touch with and see on future adventures. If you are interested in getting into yoga, or if you are a season professional looking to deepen your practice I highly recommend taking one of Eoin’s retreats. They are action packed, full of yogic knowledge and really a lot of fun.

The Beautiful Island of Bali

Being in Bali this time is great not only because we are super stoked to be going surfing and playing in the warm blue ocean, but also because my Mom is here with her fried Nancy. They were exploring the remote jungles of Borneo to see wild orangutans and came to Bali to chill for a week before going back home to BC.

Our first stop in Bali is to visit my mom in Ubud. It’s a land locked town known for it’s arts and yoga scene rather than it’s surf. We spent our time eating at amazing healthy restaurants, shopping in the many boutiques and markets and visiting the monkey forest. We had a great time catching up and seeing the sights together as both my mom and Josi and I had been on the road for a while. After four days in central Bali it was time to go in search of somewhere with less traffic and more importantly with surf. We took a speed boat/ ferry from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan which is a small island just off of Bali. What makes it so rad is that it’s a small island with no cars and it’s home to three great surf breaks right out front of the main village. Two of the breaks are shallow hollow reef breaks and one is more of a beginner wave called Playgrounds. Unfortunately Josi split her toe when climbing the ladder to get onto the roof of the ferry so she wasn’t able to surf for a week. Turns out that she didn’t miss out on much though because for the week we were there the swell was small and next to nothing. At least it’s super beautiful and we had a great time regardless of the small waves.

From there Josi and I went back to Ubud to meet up with our good friends Eion and Insiya Finn at a yoga event called Bali Spirit Festival, and my mom left to go in search of more adventures. Josi and I went to the festival for one of the 5 days and while we had fun checking it out, it wasn’t our vibe so we left early so that we could find some surf.

We chose to stay in a town called Seminyak because it’s close to Desa Seni which is a resort where Eion is having a week long yoga retreat that Josi and I are stoked to be taking. I haven’t done much yoga since Eion lived and taught classes in Vancouver about 7 years ago so I’m a bit rusty. Josi used to be a yoga instructor and is going to be doing it again when we go back to Vancouver so this was a perfect opportunity for both of us to get back into yoga.

Loving Life in Beautiful Bali

While we had a great time in Vietnam, Noel and I were more than ready to trade the pho soup for some delicious Gado Gado and satays. Noel’s mom who has been travelling in Borneo for the last little while, decided to come to Bali a little earlier than planned, so as soon as we heard we did the same. A phone call later and we had our new tickets in hand and we were Bali bound. The first leg of our flight was only available in coach and we were ok with it, knowing that Bali’s tropical waters were around the corner. What worked perfectly was that the second leg of our flight was still business class meaning that we were able to enjoy our 3 hour lay over in the Singapore Air first class lounge. Of all the lounges that we visited this one was absolutely awesome and the best that we have experienced so far. The food and drink selection is over the top and the nice ambiance gave Noel and I a chance to catch up on a few emails.

Even though we are mostly visiting places where we had never been before, Bali is an exception. Both Noel and I had been before on separate occasions and we both loved the thought of experiencing this beautiful island together. Last time I was here was nearly 4 years ago when I did my yoga teacher training up in Ubud. Noel’s mom had gotten to Bali before us and had set up camp in Ubud so Noel and I headed straight there once we landed. I was expecting Ubud to be unchanged from when I last left it, but like most thriving tourist destinations in this part of the world, it had grew a little too much for my liking. The are definitely too many fancy shops and way too many taxi drivers harassing you for their business. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still lovely and I would recommend going for a visit, it’s just that it has lost a bit of it’s Balinese character. What I miss the most is that four years ago the Balinese would all great you using Indonesia Bahasa and now they all speak English. Even though it’s convenient, I think that it’s a bit of shame.

Noel and I are determined to get back into our yoga routine and with two magnificent studios in town, it’s perfect to get back into the grove. Our hotel is really close to The Yoga Barn which has a great yoga pavilion overlooking the rice fields and offers tons of different classes. Another studio is Radiantly Alive which is where I did my teacher training. They have since expanded and have a stunning studio right the heart of Ubud, just across from Bali Buddha for those who know the area. It was great to reconnect with one of my teachers, Daniel Aaron and take one of his perfectly challenging classes. Noel and I are hoping that a few classes will be a good kick start for our upcoming week long yoga retreat here in Bali with our good friends Eoin Finn and Insiya Rasiwala-Finn. They are friends from back in Vancouver and they now travel the world with their yoga company which they aptly named Blissology.

One thing that remains unchanged in Ubud is the Monkey Forest that’s in the middle of town. For only a couple of dollars per person, you get to explore this beautiful park that’s absolutely filled with cheeky little monkeys, really neat statues and walkways. These monkeys are not shy at all, allowing you to snap great photos and witness their cheekiness as they jump on tourists backpacks and steal their sunglasses and what ever else they can get their hands on. The babies are definitely the cutest of all, especially when they hang from the mom’s belly while she runs through the trees. It was all fun and games to watch until one the monkeys climbed on a girl and accidentally scratched and cut her back. Noel’s mom and I immediately started thinking about rabies which the monkeys have been know to have and we decided that it was time to go!

While in Ubud, we went to see a traditional Balinese show involving live music and dancing. What was particularly neat about this show was that all of the talent were local women. All of the musicians except for one man who we assume was filling in for his wife had been practicing together for several years and were proud to perform in their bright blue and pink traditional outfits. There was also a troop of great dancers who entertained us for nearly an hour and a half. It was impressive to see all the gestures they incorporated in their dances as well as the facial expressions and movement of the eyes bringing a cartoon like feel to their characters.

After a few fun days in Ubud, we are off to the little car free island of Nusa Lembongan for a week of peace, relaxation and surfing.