Bali 2006 – the first days

P9043968.JPGThis year’s trip to Bali has been one of the most rewarding journeys I have ever made. It will be remembered as a classic trip to an extraordinary island. Although with only 14 days net in Bali, our holiday has been characterised by diversity, serenity and community.

Similar to my experience in Australia, likewise in Bali I immediately felt the relaxing vibe of the place at the point of embarkation. We were surprised to find the weather all sunshine and warmth but not unbearbly hot and humid. With the constant wind, you could easily spend time walking on the beach and in the streets of Kuta. We spent the first few days in Bali Surfcamp, situated directly on the beach on the northern brink of Seminyak just off the cool bar Hu’u.
P9033822_surfcamp.JPG Bali Surfcamp is a nice and quiet place, with a large garden, circled by grass roofed, one-storey huts, which serve as ‘apartements’ for the guests. They come pretty basic with a bed, mosquito-net, a simple shelf serving as a wardrobe and a bedside locker with a tiny lamp. Outside there’s a small balcony with two easy chairs where you can sit, sip your Bintang and observe the goings-on on the compound. The heart of Bali Surfcamp is a roofed terrasse equipped with tables and chairs where breakfast and dinner is served and where you can catch up with the guests and update on the latest news from the beach and surf or chill out with a fruit cocktail and a game of pool. Showers and toilets shared by all guests are situated just behind the terrasse and are again pretty basic even if the showers come with hot water. We only had dinner there once but it was delicious on an all you can eat basis. They served chicken sate, snapper from the grill along with nasi goreng and vegetables. For breakfast you could opt for eggs in all kinds of variations, pancakes with fruit such as bananas or pineapple or a simple toast with jam which all came with a fresh fruit juice or a basket of delicious fruit. It turned out to be the basic fare on Bali, served in any restaurant and hotel and except for the wonderful fruit can after a while turn dull and boring.
We stayed three nights there and got a good impression of the place. As a matter of fact it seems an excellent place for people in their early twenties with a focus on surfing and hanging out with the same kind of cool people. P9033826_balicamp.JPG The atmosphere is laid back and cool, you can relax in one of the many beds in the garden, sit on the shady veranda or go down to the beach with its roaring waves. Somehow I had the impression that I had grown out of that target group but it was nice to see what people 10 to 15 years younger than myself like to do in their holidays.

Although the Bali Surfcamp website claims that it is just a 30 minutes walk along the beach to Kuta, it turned out to be a bit further away. So you had better take a taxi to get to the buzzing Jalan Legian and the Poppies but you can also find good restaurants, nice bars, cool nightclubs and plenty of shops nearby in Seminyak or a bit further down South in Legian.

P9033838.JPGBeing picked up by a driver at the airport and having a quiet and clean place to crash after our 24 hours journey was just the proper way to start our holiday. After arrival, Sylvia had an afternoon nap while I, jetlagged but eager to explore the place – headed south on the beach to find the Courtyard hotel in Rum Jungle Road, where Gerhard and Rosemarie were staying. It was quite easy to find although I had to ask for direction several times and only few people knew the Courtyard. P9033851_gerhard.JPG But when I arrived I was lucky to meet Gerhard, who had just returned from his afternoon bike tour. We hadn’t seen each other for almost three years and settled down at the pool, had an ice cold Carlsberg and exchanged all the news. It was great.
Gerhard returned with me to the Bali Surfcamp where we met Sylvia basking in the sun and reading a Haruki Murakami novel. We sat on the veranda for a long time drinking Bintang and talking. Gerhard seemed to appreciate the place for a lot of the guests came from Austria.
I had brought 10 litres of Kernöl from Austria for Gerhard as a present from my father. Sepp Hammer, the farmer who had produced the oil, had filled it into cans and packed it so that we could check it in. Thus it was very easy to bring to Bali and once we had cleared the customs where we had to unpack the oil and identify the black fluid, we had taken the biggest obstacle. If you grow up in the southern part of Styria you also grow up with that special salad oil, all black and viscous, and it seems to impregnate into your genetic code. Like vegemite for the Australians, people who were not conditioned to Kernöl in their childhood find it hard to appreciate its taste. But once you have fallen for it, it becomes a sensual addiction. You come to find the salads served without it poor and lacking something integral.
When we had finally finished our fourth Bintang it was high time for me and Sylvia to head for the bed and get some sleep. We arranged to meet for breakfast on the next day in a posh restaurant nearby called La Lucciola where we were going to meet Rosemarie, Gerhard’s wife, and their friends Helen and Kevin.

to be continued soon