Our first trip to Bali saw us travel up the east coast to Amed where we enjoyed some great diving followed by some surf and yoga down on the west coast in Canggu. During this trip we were given many recommendations regarding other areas and attractions on this vast island. We were not able to experience Ubud or Uluwatu, so these areas were included in the plans for the second visit. As we had both really loved Canggu the previous year, we would end the trip there, followed by a short trip over to Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka, for a short kite-surf visit, before heading back to the Maldives. We would also be celebrating a milestone birthday for myself, so we had taken some extra time off from work to enjoy ourselves. There would be a huge surprise for me before the trip was over, but more on that later…
Our first stop, straight from the airport, would be Uluwatu. Most surfers know of Uluwatu, it has a great reputation as a world-class surf break, boasts a great assortment of surf-viewing options, busy surf shacks and pumping sundowner venues. Make no mistake, this is for experienced surfers only. Just getting out to the line-up is a challenge. During high tide you will have to take on the hectic and harrowing paddle through the Uluwatu cave while being bashed around by the swells, making your way around a blind-spot and if luck is on your side, without you or your board getting nasty scrapes on the cave walls or rocks.
I made peace with the fact that Uluwatu was way beyond my skills level, so these first few days of the trip were just to unwind and watch the surf , while grabbing a bite to eat, sip cold Bintangs, watch the sunset or enjoy a local warung massage. While the trip to the Uluwatu temple is highly recommended, we never made it, as sunset drinks at any one of the many cliff-side venues gets your priorities a bit messed up… next time…
Why Kuta?… well… We live on an island without malls, cinemas or nightclubs. When we go on holiday, we occassionally like to let our hair down, actually more like often… Kuta nightlife is simply amazing with a huge choice of venues that cater for everybody, any night of the week. From multi-level super-clubs to laid-back reggae bars, the strip caters for all. Buy original surf brands at usual cost or haggle the price of knock-off sunglasses and perfumes. Kuta beach is a little like some of the beaches in Thailand, with constant harrasment from vendors trying to sell you their goods. I went for a one hour surf and when I returned, Nicole was the new proud owner of two beach towels, a coconut, seven bracelets, a tattoo, two new nacklaces and had just has a massage. Of course, she also had around four new best friends.
So we spent a few days surfing, chilling and nursing hangovers. I spent a lot of my time running away from ladies on the beach screaming “hey… where Nicole… she say she come today..”
We were told by many friends that a trip to Ubud is a must-do, so we included this as part of our second Bali trip. We decided (great decision) to stay out of the busy centre, in the hills, overlooking the rice paddies, and use a scooter to get around and visit the town. There are some great places to visit and things to do in Ubud, including the Mount Batur volcano hike (if you don’t mind a 2am start to your day), river rafting, coffee and tea tasting, shopping and many cultural dance shows. The highlight though, was a guided tour through the jungle and rice paddies, along and through the river, enjoying local cuisine and experiencing local farming traditions.
Next up, Canggu, where we had stayed during our previous visit. This area really does cater for all, and has a more laid-back, international surfer vibe complete with yoga studios, massage parlours, beach clubs and fantastic restaurants. We pre-booked our accommodation after seeing the facilities and prices the previous year. We made the trip down from Ubud by car, and went to the reception desk. Here’s where it gets interesting. Behind the reception, on the wall, is a list of rooms, with guests’ names, and their arrival and departure dates. One of the rooms was listed in my daughter’s name, with same dates as ours. To me it was a big coincidence that someone with her name would be in at the same time as us, but I shrugged it off and we got settled in. A little later, we decided to relax at the pool and I went to grab a beer from reception. This time, as I looked up at the board, my daughter’s name was gone, and was replaced with Nicole’s name. Again, I shrugged it off as a coincidence and joined Nicole poolside. Then I got a bit nervous, as I thought maybe we had both booked a room and had essentially double-booked our accommodation. I told her how strange that this morning I saw Leigh-Ann’s name, and now the room was in her name, and asked if she had made a booking on top of the one I had made..? She was uninterested and didn’t respond much, just brushed it off.
A few minutes later, she came to me, with phone in hand and said Leigh-Ann was on the line and wanted to talk to me.
“Hi Dad, it’s me, Leigh-Ann, I’ve got a bit of a problem..”
“Hi, what’s up?”
“I’m here in Bali, at the airport, and I want to go to Canggu but not sure where to go…”
“What..? What do you mean..?”
“What the f…. , no… f… off…”
At this stage, Nicole is starting to chuckle, I’m swearing like a trooper, as Leigh-Ann explains she is joining us for my birthday, and will be taking a car soon, along with her cousin, who was due in from the UK. So we would be a couple from Maldives, with my daughter flying in from South Africa and her cousin joining from UK… This was going to be some birthday… Nicole explained that they had been planning this for months, and she was sure that me seeing the names, had busted them, so that’s why they decided to call and let the cat out the bag. The next hour would be the longest in my life as we waited for the girls to arrive and the party could begin…
If you go to Canggu, you have to go to Old Man’s… This beach-side venue has different theme nights and you can enjoy chilled live music, or pumping disco beats. We had one of the craziest, fun evenings in my life and partied the night away…
The next week or so was spent surfing, partying, sight-seeing and for the girls, yoga. We took in a cultural Balinese dance show, ate barbecue corn while watching the sunset, drank many Bintangs and cocktails, and Leigh-Ann had a nice encounter with the coral reefs while trying to surf, ouch…
We would all go our separate ways after an amazing time together, with Nicole and I moving on to Sri Lanka for our second visit there, in search of wind.
You ladies got me good…
Please note: All Tripadvisor posts were updated shortly after our visits. We do not believe in giving negative reviews unless we have made a personal request or comment to senior staff, allowing the relevant designated persons an opportunity to respond and rectify any shortcomings we might have experienced.