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Dang Padang, It's all good in Ubud

INDONESIA | Wednesday, 23 May 2012 | Views [1113]

Bali…A wide spectrum of beautiful land and space, that will soar from horrid to absolutely heaven in moments. At least that is what I think!  But before I get to that I must put ina tidbit about our one-day layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

We discovered good news that it was affordable for us to make it down to Bali from Thailand. Although this is true, it does entail some heavy travel.  The cheapest flights are through Kuala Lumpur so we took a mini-van transport from a peaceful Muslim man who took corners so tight and so fast that we had to brace ourselves for most of the ride from Ao Nang, Thailand to Hat Yai and an overnight bus to Kuala Lumpur.  This took a total of about 9 hrs. There we decided to stay a day to at least check it out since we were there.

Imagine New York City, large and vast that is modern and archaic, full of history, culture, and diversity.  Large, well-designed corporate buildings make-up the business district while large 6 story malls, restaurants, bars and cafes make up what would be Kuala Lumpur’s time square where Asian and Indian cultures sit on the forefront of the city dominating the streets with shops and restaurants.  So as anyone would do in a city, we ate, walked, ate, walked, and ate some more with some other things in between that aren’t worth mentioning.  The next morning however was an adventure.

We woke up the next morning semi-rested ready to get down to business and make it to Bali.  We decided to take the thrifty route by taking the sky train to the airport.  Unfortunately there are apparently two airports that one can fly out of and our itinerary did not say which one was the correct airport.  Under the assumption that we were flying from Kuala Lumpur International, we went straight there aware that we would be getting there close to one hour before the flight.  Yes this is cutting it close but we thought we would be fine.  Turns out that we went to the wrong airport and needed to get a taxi from that airport to the other airport, which would take apparently 25 minutes.  This would have gotten us there 45 minutes before our flight.  We made it there in 15 thanks to our NASCAR driver cabby!  In the end we made it to our flight just fine.  A little stressed but you can’t travel without little hiccups here and there right?

A breeze rushed through as we exited the airplane onto the tarmac in Bali only to ease the brash heat from the sun.  It had rained the previous two weeks but once again big mama nature took care of us as big white clouds danced around in the beautiful blue skies and palm leaves and plants I have never seen waved around in the air. We headed through customs and exited out away from the airport and onto what seemed to be 24/7 rush hour where mopeds, taxis, and bemos (mini-van public transport) along with other cars and trucks filled the streets.  There just isn’t enough road for the amount of vehicles on the road and someone always had somewhere to get to at any point in the day. We caught cheaper taxi than those waiting for you outside the airport and decided to head to Kuta Beach because it was close, convenient and all we wanted was to put our bags somewhere so we could head out. 

Kuta is everything we did not want from Bali.  Major surf brand stores flooded the streets with apparel more expensive than the U.S next to stalls selling knick-knacks, t-shirts and other random things.  It was slow season but you wouldn’t have known it in Kuta.  They still had 60% of their accommodations filled and there is a Losmen (guest house) or hotel or hostel on every corner of every major road and side-street.  It was like an old episode of MTV Spring Break but without Jay-Z and All American Rejects romping around.  We finally found a cheap place to rest our heads but it was not so clean so we did our best to stay out of the room as long as possible and headed down to the beach.  The beach itself was not too bad.  The emerald ocean offered a variety of beach break surf with umbrellas, drinking areas, and surf boards for rent every 50 yards on what seemed to be miles of beach while locals ask you if you want a beer, surf lesson, massage, paintings, or “magic mushrooms.  We ate some local food had some local beer and decided we would head to Padang Padang the next day.


Arriving in Padang Padang was absolutely sublime!  It was like we actually got to see Bali for what it is.  Small little town areas surrounded by jungle next to the ocean with very nice people on every corner saying hello and willing to help.  We arrived at Thomas Guesthouse, a nice, chill place that was basically empty over looking the ocean above what turned out to be pretty much a private beach for us. Off to the left one could see the world class breaks for Uluwatu and to the right was Padang Padang beach. There was swell so I decided to rent a board for the 3 days and every spot is a little ways away from each other so we rented a moped with a surf rack for three days as well. At basically every beach, an ancient cave with monkeys hanging and about 140 steps separated you from the emerald waters and dazzling beach so we definitely got our work out in!  Cindy hung out on the beach, relaxing while I spent hours in the ocean surfing some of the hardest waves and dealing with some of the strongest currents I have ever encountered.  I surfed  a total of 8 hours between the reefs at Padang Padang and the beach break at Dreamland.  In all I rode three waves, ate it on at least 8 more and paddled into an overhead wave (about 8-12 ft high) for the first time, which ended in a snapped surfboard but an unharmed me luckily.  It was my last wave of the three days so I guess I went out with a bang. Nights usually ended with us eating at a local warung (restaurant), having a few Bintangs (local beer) from the mart down the street and enjoying the sunset on our private beach J.   After three days in the beaming sun it was time to head inland to the bohemian stunning area of Ubud.

We left Padang Padang with a new friend in life and on Facebook, Biur Rusak, our 19 year old host at Thomas Guesthouse and headed to Ubud.  We found a nice room at Pramesti Guest House in a two story villa type place with a patio overlooking a rice field with a verbal cow and some wonderful breezes to keep us cool and off the main road aptly nicknamed Monkey Forest Rd. since it was on the same road where a monkey sanctuary resides. Every morning you could smell the inscents burning as the mostly Hindu people of Bali set out little baskets of flowers and a cracker as an offering to the gods.  At least that is what I assume.  Once venturing around the town we understood why many artists enjoy living and thriving in the area because if there was one place to shop, whether it be custom furniture, jewelry, or clothing, this would be the place.  We spent most of our time roaming the streets and looking through the shops keeping ourselves from spending an abundant amount of money on some great things. The vibrant delicacy of the town from its bold, bright colored, soft fabric of the clothing to the detailed jewelry and the ancient temples sprinkled all over the area distracted us away from all the traffic that was filling the area as Artsy, bohemian tourists, ex-pats, and locals hung in local cafes and nightly soccer matches went on every evening just up the street. It is definitely a memorable place and a place we could definitely see ourselves residing at some point in time. 

After a night of local music we met a nice Australian woman who we hired a moped from to go see the two volcanoes just outside of town.  It was a peaceful ride with leveled rice fields and kids flying kites above small prayer grounds to admire along the way. After paying off an officer for not having an international driver’s license we made our way up into the foothills of these green luscious mountains that are still active volcanoes separated by a beautiful little lake where farms were being worked by locals.  We rode around passing by local small temples where many people relaxed and did their prayers and just enjoyed the surroundings.  It is now our last night in Bali.  We are heading out to catch some more music and relax as we prepare for our trip to Vietnam.  This should be another great adventure.

Memorable moment:

Playing with a local full band (guitar, bass, drums, keys) and getting a standing ovation from the crowd.  It was by far one of the best moments of our trip thus far.  Beautiful people and nothing but good vibes and positivity….oh yeah! While rolling through the monkey sanctuary some monkeys climbed on top of cindy and tried to nibble on her a bit.  That was pretty amazing as well!













Tags: bali, beaches, kuta, monkeys, padang padang, surf, ubud, uluwatu, volcanoes

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