Surfing Bali at 16 Years Old Delivered a Unique and Unforgettable Experience


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Living in the Moment and Surfing Bali

Why do we travel? Some of us like to be adventurous and explore the nooks and crannies of the world, while others like to create new horizons. Traveling can be an itch that can be scratched, but the sensation never seems to vanish. Some just have a thirst for culture and all things new. Traveling allows me to hit the reset button on life. It refreshes the senses and, quite simply, makes me feel again. I always want to hold onto that ability to feel and live in the moment and nothing has provided that genuine feeling as much as surfing Bali.

The Story Behind My Trip To Bali

When I was sixteen years old I traveled to Bali, Indonesia with my mother, Cindy. My aunt and Cindy’s sister, Lyn, died one year prior to our trip and it was a way for us to commemorate her passing. The three of us had always talked about traveling to and surfing Bali, even though Cindy never surfed. We were not in Bali to carry out one of Lyn’s dying wishes. Lyn didn’t have a dying wish because she left the world a regretless person. She was content and grateful for her accomplishments and failures. This notion of being totally content with life, so much so that dying wasn’t a fear, was foreign to me. The trip to Bali was a test for me to see the world the way Lyn saw it.

Experiencing Bali

Everything about Bali perpetuated a smile on my face, but surfing Bali was the real treat for me. The Balinese people exuded a loving warmth and gratitude for their lives and vibrant culture. For the majority of our trip, we stayed in the quiet, artsy town of Seminyak, which borders the bustling, tourist-ridden streets of Kuta. Kuta is a party town, but trash is littered everywhere, stray dogs wander the streets, and street vendors hassle you. Amid the grime and chaos were little offerings that squatted in front of each store. The palm-sized baskets were woven from banana leaves and burning incense, pieces of fruit, flowers, and rice were inside. To see so much appreciation for what seemed like hard lifestyles made me appreciate what I had even more. I interacted with the vendors near our hotel and they nervously engaged in broken English. They were happy I took the time to find out who they were. I wanted to socialize with the culture as much as I wanted to ride the world-renowned Balinese surf breaks.

Finally Surfing Bali Was a Dream Come True

Most surfers worth their salt know the famous Balinese surf spots, even those who haven’t actually surfed Bali. There’s Padang-Padang, Uluwatu, Dreamland, Impossibles, Balangan, Medewi, among lots of others. Those waves can ferociously race towards the shore, spitting out mist from the curling tubes that conceal surfers in a world of silence and bewilderment. I remember looking down from the Uluwatu Temple, where curious monkeys scrambled across the grounds and seeing the waves I had only seen in surfing magazines. I was actually there and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Cindy and I walked around the temple, which kisses the cliff’s edge, and observed a Balinese fire dance from afar. I continued to spy on the surf spot, which was too crowded in the late afternoon. Since Uluwatu was crowded, Cindy and I went to Dreamland, a surf spot just west of Uluwatu.

Surfing Bali Was Unlike Anything I had Experienced Back Home

Lounge chairs and umbrellas lined the white sand beach, which painted orange by the setting sun. Balinese women, who solicited massages, walked up to people on the lounge chairs; Cindy indulged in a massage session while I paddled out to the surf. The crystal blue water was silky, like soft fabric blowing in the wind. The waves were unparalleled to the waves I was used to surfing in my home state of Hawaii. I carved up and down the faces, leaving behind wake patterns like an artist’s signature. During that surf session, I felt like I was present in the moment. Did Lyn always feel that way? Since we spread her ashes in the Pacific Ocean, I wondered if she was still swimming in the oceanic limbo. It was truly a special surf session.

Surfing Bali Reminded Me of The Sheer Power Of The Ocean

The waves started to get bigger as the sun neared the horizon. I paddled farther out to catch one of the incoming waves. As the wall of water approached me, I rapidly turned towards the shore, paddled like hell, and caught the wave. Water splashed in my face as I popped to my feet and charged the drop. After making a deep bottom turn, I grabbed my rail and pulled in to the barrel. I didn’t make it. The wave closed out, engulfing me in its jaws. Darkness surrounded me, but I relaxed because the worst thing to do in that situation is panic. Panicking expends energy and air, which is the most valuable thing, besides your wits, you have in that situation. Although I wasn’t in the most ideal situation, there is something moving about being alone under a thundering wave, witnessing the sheer power of the ocean. I’ve often thought about dying out in the ocean and would happily surrender my earthly ties to the ocean, but it wasn’t my time. I had to seize the moment to scramble back up through the washing machine of currents and breach the surface. I gasped and located my board, once I resurfaced. I paddled back out, hungry for more.

Nothing Compares To Experiencing Bali Via The Ocean’s Perspective

When I caught a wave in, I jogged up the beach and sat with Cindy on the sand. We looked at each other and couldn’t help but think of Lyn, and how much she would’ve loved tackling the new surf breaks with me. That was then, and the way I remember the surf breaks is different than how they are now. There has since been extensive development, which has caused more and more people to flock to the paradisiacal destination. I’ll always see Bali the way I know it, though. Looking at the towering cliffs, which were decorated with warungs (restaurants) and temples, from out in the surf is how I appreciated Bali. I experienced Bali via the ocean’s perspective because that’s where Lyn felt at home. It was as though her love for the ocean transmitted to me via every carve on every wave and every drop of water that landed on my skin. I am comforted in knowing that I felt her presence and could appreciate Bali like she would have seen it.

Lucas Derailya

Lucas around the web:

Lucas is the Director of Content at Driftr, creating valuable content related to the travel industry and how social media and technology are changing the way people travel today.

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