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Bagus Bali Part 1: Canggu

Bagus Bali Part 1: Canggu

It was as if I woke up from a dream that I never really was asleep from. The familiar sounds that woke me up in the mornings during my childhood somehow found its way to rousing me up from slumber here in Canggu, Bali. Reorienting myself again, it took me a few seconds to remember that we just landed in Bali the previous night.

Visiting the Island of the Gods this year wasn’t part of the immediate plans I had from last year save for the fact that I always knew I’d already fallen in love with Bali way before I even set foot on its soil.

Arriving at the airport last Saturday night, any first-timer would immediately be charmed by the depth of culture found almost in every corner of the airport. It took a while for me to get used the idea that I was in a country not my own. I was awed looking at art installations, and even the ambient music in toilets and hallways were so strongly influenced by their culture.

A normal day at Canggu's Batu Bolong Beach.

A normal day at Canggu's Batu Bolong Beach.

Bali has charmed me right off the gates in the airport. It was already midnight that we were able to get on the road and travel to Canggu where we would be spending six days before heading to Nusa Penida, and finally to Ubud where we’d zen out and chill with the remaining days before flying back to the Philippines.

The airport’s external design was jaw-dropping—intricate artwork resembling temples from the Bali Hindu traditions and some Javanese elements. Even their malls didn’t also look like one as we passed by a mall that resembled more of a temple than a commercial center.

Arriving in Canggu, the first thing I noted when I stepped out of the car was how quiet it was. I was surprised to find this kind of calm unlike the many parts of Siargao where I would say must be the “closest” thing to the experience here in Bali sans the preservation of culture.

We didn’t have plans for the first day, but we knew we had to recover from the day of travels. We got up from brunch and walked a kilometer until we reached Batu Bolong Beach. Along the way, there were so many shops that had unique and local offerings—it was just so hard not to stop!

Seaweed Resto's view of the surf makes me always want to stay here after surfing to watch other people surf.

Seaweed Resto's view of the surf makes me always want to stay here after surfing to watch other people surf.

Kikay alert! Lots of beautiful handcrafted jewelry at pop-up fairs in Canggu.

Kikay alert! Lots of beautiful handcrafted jewelry at pop-up fairs in Canggu.

Canggu Dreams

What I particularly loved and will go back for was the bazaar where a big surfing brand had a branch, and it was kikay plus hipster heaven combined. You could come in and leave the place with more rings for your 10 fingers. I loved the sarongs, the art and the jewelry that were there. I am sure I’d revisit the following day when we’ll pass by.

Now, my friend, Johnlery, kept telling me to calm down as soon as we saw a peek of the beach. I knew the waves were pumping as our driver, Agus, said when I asked how the surf was. He said, “Oh, it’s big, maybe 3-4 meters.” I did the instant math in my head and got a little worried that the waves would be too big for me but when we arrived at the beach it was just the way I wanted it! Challenging but still fun once you get the courage to overcome fear.

Board shopping isn't a difficult thing to do while in Canggu.

Board shopping isn't a difficult thing to do while in Canggu.

We stayed at Seaweed, a restaurant overlooking one of the surf breaks at the beach, and it was instant entertainment for me. I could hardly eat because of the excitement watching the waves and observing the surfers as they rode them.

Who was I kidding? I couldn’t really contain myself. I didn’t imagine Bali would be like this (yes, even with Instagram!) but I did realize one thing. I was already in love with Bali before I went here. I knew it’d love it but I never realized how much, only when we had to leave did I know.

Canggu was everything a surfer could dream of, and more! Well, minus the crowded peaks but the waves were amazing! I haven’t had the liberty to surf.

Bali on My Mind

I keep finding myself dreaming of being back in Bali.

I really wished I booked that PHP 2,800 roundtrip ticket from Manila to Bali for September this year. I guess it’s really not God’s plan for me to get that ticket, but I really wanted to. I hope there’ll be another seat sale where I can go again. It should be this year because I don’t want to wait for 2020 to go back.

I’m glad one of my high school best friends, Isay, is also game to go to Bali with me! I do hope that we could go to Bali really soon like this year soon. I can’t wait to surf it’s epic waves and wiggle through the lineup of people who are also great surfers and the beginner-tourist crowd.

I want to try to surf in Padang-Padang and Uluwatu. Echo Beach too if the waves are decent enough but definitely in Batu Bolong because every single surf session I had there blew me out of my mind.

The long rides, the many attempts of walking to the nose (and almost reaching it), the endless trimming and the fact that I was able to finish each wave to the shore nearly every time—everything felt like a dream I didn’t want to wake up from.

If the surf session wasn’t enough, the sunset session was always to look out for. In Bali, the sun doesn’t go down til around 7pm in the evening. That afforded us surfers more daylight time to chase waves. In the Philippines, you can’t surf beyond 6:30pm (at the latest) unless there’s a full moon out. It usually gets very dark that time of the day and not ideal for staying out especially if you’re surfing reef breaks with no lights around.

Returning from Bali and Palawan, I didn’t feel like Manila wanted me back. I was gone for around more than 20 days, almost three weeks. I didn’t even want to come back. I was happy to be either in just Bali or Palawan—as long as there were waves.

I can’t believe there were always waves in Bali. It was rarely a hit or miss. True, there could be windy days with messy waves, but there were waves still. Unlike here in the Philippines where a flat spell isn’t uncommon, surfers have to resort to finding other means of getting stoke. Bali was just perfect because there’ll always be waves to surf each day and then afterward, you can go work in peace because the internet connection is as strong as their coffee.

JL and I were chatting a few hours ago, and he kept telling me how he wasn’t over Bali yet. I replied “I don’t think I ever will. That’s why I need to go back”. Sooner rather than later and with my new board, Nasi to go test her again in Canggu waters. Bali is definitely unforgettable and an experience I’d always want to have with me, whether in the past or present.

Can’t wait to go back, Bali. Wait for me!

Bagus Bali Part 2: Nusa Penida

Bagus Bali Part 2: Nusa Penida

Coming Home to A New Dahican

Coming Home to A New Dahican