Fourteen and a half hours from LAX across the great Pacific Ocean to Taipei. Four hours in the airport and five more to Denpasar, the capital of Bali.
Bali lies between Java and Lombok in the island chain that makes up the country of Indonesia. The volcanic island is a little more than half the size of the big island of Hawaii. The tallest is mountain is over 3000m. Ninety two percent of the population is Hindu.
We arrived excited and exhausted. Dave describes our trip to Balagan as follows:
“After 19 hours of flights we finally arrived in Denpasar Bali. Thinking we would be met with a calm, restful vibe we were very surprised. Hundreds of people waited with signs at the airport exit. Half of them taxi drivers looking for fares and the other half a conglomerations of families excited to see their loved ones and a whole slew of tour companies and hotel transports. On top of the swarm of clamoring people the temperature is about 85 degrees with 99% humidity and the time is 2am in California. My brain, In particular was not working well. Sierra and I found a corner away from the crowd to clear our thoughts. We decided that renting a car would way too much of an undertaking given the fact that we could both barely stand due to lack of sleep and the roads looked treacherous just from the parking lot. We opted for a taxi and we off to Balangan, a surf break known to be a little mellower and good for Sierra and I to surf together.
The drive to Balangan reaffirmed that we made the correct decisions to not rent a car. The roads are narrower on Bali, there are motor bikes swerving in and out of traffic constantly, and driving happens on the opposite side of the road. Imagine a traffic jam in the US but your are still driving 30 plus mph and the are twice as many vehicle on the road with motorbikes doing the best to use moving cars as their salmon gates on a downhill ski race that ends at the beach.”
When the road ended the taxi driver let us out and pointed out a hotel—right on the bluff above the surf break. It was 4am California time, Dave and I could have collapsed into a bed anywhere, this place with beautiful plantings, a serene pool and the sound of crashing waves was about the best thing we could have imagined. The town of Balagan is comprised of a few places to stay on the bluff and a handful warungs (local stores/restaurants) on the beach. We spent the next two days surfing, exploring and relaxing in this tiny, lazy town.
Dave paddling out at sunrise, a local’s warung and penjor silhouetted in the foreground
Dave describes the surf: Balangan is a long left hand point break with mellow takeoff that rifles down the line for 500 yards plus. We got the wave the first day 10-12 ft. I went out during the higher tide. The high tide allows the wave to break in shallower water, which lends itself to an occasional barrel section down the beach. I was able to get a few waves that first morning and was super impressed with how fast you can get going. One dismount off a wave flung me a good ten feet into the air.
The evening session was at a lower tide but the waves were a bit fatter. Still the swell had increased with easily double overhead plus sets.
The next morning the swell backed off of bit to about 10 foot. Sierra decided it would be a great time to give it a go. She got a few awesome lefts that were well overhead. We both made it in unscathed and were pleasantly surprised to find an Indonesian photog had snapped a few sweet pictures of Sierra.