I felt like I found the Bali I was looking for here…
Not too many hassles, no pretentiousness, no over pricing, great beaches.
I arrived on Monday morning and decided within minutes I would settle here for two nights. I had a beautiful lunch with interesting conversations at Zen Inn where I was staying, before taking a hike to the beach.
I thought I had got the directions wrong when I Looked at the steep rocky footpath that apparently led me to Bias Tugal ( White sand beach ). I persevered in the heat in my $3 flipflops and made it to the top breathless from the hike and my breath taken away by the view. A small palm fringed cove at the bottom of the cliff awaited us, with gentle surf and not many people, and out on the horizon a few boats making their way to Lombok or back.
I spent a few lazy hours there enjoying the surf and the tranquility. One lady asked me if I would like a massage, to which I politely responded no, and she left me a alone. An Ice cold Bintang made it all the better too…
Wandering around Padangbai i discovered a charming little village based on fishing, boats to Lombok and diving. It’s a pretty laid back place where ceremonies take precedence and life rolls on. I was disappointed to see where all the obsessive sweeping and countless offerings end up, and you really wouldn’t want to sit on the main beach here…
The Blue Lagoon beach which the Lonely planet recommends was not one of my favourite places. Whilst the snorkelling is very good, you are subject to hassles on a very small beach, or very desperate women wanting to sell you their sarongs and bracelets, and after paying twice what I think I should have for a broken snorkel set I was then sarcastically told I was “very nice English” when I didn’t want to engage in conversation or even look at the sarongs being thrust under my nose. Honestly, yes I KNOW everyone is just trying to make a dollar, but their tactics need to be changed, they have little understanding of how to make a sale in my opinion and thanks to that experience, I didn’t spend very long at that beach. I did a few snorkel sessions, admired the view and then hiked back to my preferreed beach of Bias Tugal. A lady approached me – the same as the previous day, and said she recognised me from the day before, would I like a massage today? I said I wanted to have a swim first and would think about it when I had rested. She waited a considerable amount of time before approaching me again, and I did say yes simply because the politeness and simpleness of her enquiry made me want to give her my business.
We chatted a little before and after and she told me I was a Strong woman for travelling to Bali alone. This was worth more than the massage itself, as the past few days I had started to question whether I was enjoying myself at all – dealing with a poorly tummy, a bad back and a constant feeling that everyone wanted to extract money from me rather than help to enjoy being here. So thank you to the nice massage lady on the beach – such a simple thing to say and such a lasting effect it had.
More of Padangbai
On this visit I met a family member I didn’t know I had and enjoyed an afternoon and evening chilling out at her West End gaff enjoying the simple pleasures of good wine and good company which is something one seldom gets the opportunity to do in the bush!
The following day I enjoyed the Aussie life I have been waiting to have. I got picked up by a friend, and we jumped in the car, surfboard in the back and headed down to the waves on the Gold Coast. This is what I want: freedom to just jump in a car and ride off to wherever I like.
I didn’t surf, I watched. Despite having lived in Australia now for almost 10 months, I have not yet been in sea with good surf (Port Phillip Bay doesn’t have waves!), let alone got onto a surfboard. So I stayed watching fish jump out of the water, surfers catching waves and sun sparkling on the turquoise ocean. It was a wonderful moment to be in Australia.
Note to the world and to myself, I cannot, I repeat absolutely cannot, leave Australia until I have lived on the beach and at least had a surfing lesson. If I went home lean, fit and good at surfing, that would be awesome, but one day at a time….