As I boarded the Garuda flight, I left my inhibitions and worries behind. I was dazzled as I sat in the window seat, taking in the wonders of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, and that amazing waterway of Sydney Harbour. I love flying. I always get so excited.
I landed at Denpasar Airport in the early evening to the smell of different air; it took me back to my early years of travelling, when I first landed in Singapore for a brief stopover. That hot, humid odour hits you immediately as you leave the airport or walk across the tarmac. The air is warm and pungent, penetrating your lungs. Almost immediately my clothes were sticking to my wet, sweaty skin. But I was excited for whatever adventure awaited me. I closed my eyes, and smiled to myself. A feeling of exhilaration swept over me.
After joining the long procession of passengers, I made my way to the Visa desk, paid AUD25 for my visa, then collected my suitcase from the carousel. I made my way with hundreds of other excited passengers to the front of the terminal. The villa where I was spending the next week had arranged for a driver to collect me. It didn’t take long for me to find my name amongst the numerous signs, held above the heads of the local men, taxi drivers and courtesy drivers, all desperate to be the chosen driver. Together we walked to his car. With my suitcase in the boot, I jumped in and we were on our way, out of Ngurah Rai International Airport, heading northeast for the 52km drive up the coast. I was excited, wondering what discoveries lay ahead for me. I had never been to Bali, I’d never had any desire to go – it was just one of those places that didn’t particularly inspire me – but now, I was intoxicated with the mystery of what lay ahead.
It was dark as we made our way out of the airport precinct and into the chaos of the Bali streets. It seemed like a lifetime since I had been in similar countries. Everything seemed so new to me. We whipped around roundabouts and zigzagged in and out of traffic, then we were on a dark road with hardly any sign of life or traffic. Suddenly, I was nervous. It hadn’t been a long flight, just over six and a half hours, but with possibly one too many glasses of white wine on the flight, I was feeling weary as I sat in the front passenger seat of the car. I fought hard to stay awake, but kept drifting off. In my waking moments, I suddenly thought ‘what am I doing’? I had never been a solo traveller – I questioned my decision to come to Indonesia ten days before my husband arrived. I clutched my small backpack tight and twisted the straps of my camera bag around my wrist. Who was I kidding; if this guy was going to mug me I had no chance.
Fortunately, an hour and a half after leaving the steamy stench of the city I stirred to the familiar smell of the ocean. It was late as we pulled into the resort. My heart started racing again, this time with excitement and adrenalin, rather than fear. I was safe and also hungry. After being shown to my spacious room which overlooked Candi Dasa Lagoon, the staff organised a delicious meal for me before I was finally able to plonk myself into the deliriously comfortable bed. Argh, this is good, I smiled to myself, before falling into a deep sleep.
When the Airbus A330 had left the tarmac of Sydney Airport two days earlier, I’d had no idea what I was going to do in Bali and it didn’t worry me. I was just going there and that was basically all there was to it. I was happy to ‘live in the moment’ for a change. After breakfast on the second day I wandered casually and aimlessly along the main road, looking in the shops, browsing for souvenirs. I was happy just to be soaking up the atmosphere, but with the constant call from the drivers, standing in the shade, leaning on their cars, yelling, ‘Tour, tour, I take you on tour,’ one after the other as tourists walked by, I eventually thought, Why not? My driver for the day was a man in his forties; his name, Nyoman. The day was filled with contrast; driving high into the mountains which offered a fantastic view of the rice fields below, climbing the huge steps of numerous temples and wandering through the colourful local markets. I had a great day with Nyoman. I found myself falling in love with Bali.
Ten days later, my husband arrived. We spent a few days in the hustle and bustle of Kuta, but I was definitely looking forward to the next adventure. We stepped out from the comfort of our air conditioned room and into the stagnant feel of humid air that Kuta and Legian typify. The aroma of frangipani was a welcome assault to the nostrils as we tip-toed our way quietly along the path, lit by garden lights. It was 5:30am, dawn was yet to break. We were met in the lobby a short time later by a ‘Bobby’s Surf Camp’ driver and driven to a beach, which is a forty-five minute drive from our hotel. This is where we would catch the boat from. We were offered coffee on arrival at the beach; it was that pre-made sachet style coffee – sweet as could be, but it was hot and drinkable. Incredibly, it was somewhat enjoyable. A shroud of fog, or more likely pollution hung over the early morning ocean, giving an air of mystery to what lay beyond. Close to shore colourful outriggers sat moored in the murky tepid waters and also on the dirty sand of Kuta beach. I felt somewhat out of place, and momentarily out of my comfort zone. Standing on the shore was my husband, myself and quite a few men. I started questioning my decision in asking Brad if I could accompany him on this ‘brotherhood style surfing trip’. I soon realised I had to let this insecurity go; my luggage had already been loaded onto the bigger boat. There was no turning back.
I was going to G-Land!! The decibels on the boat almost rivalled any Kuta nightclub as the twenty-five or so excited men talked loudly to each other, above the rumbling noise of the diesel motor; chatting about their previous surfing conquests at G-land, plus many other epics breaks around Indonesia. They were all amped up. The forecast for the next few days was looking great; 6 – 9 foot. It was on! As we motored close to the southern tip of Java, the cheers of excitement stirred me from my feeble attempt at a bit of catch-up sleep. We were riding on the back of what looked like some serious waves. To me we seemed close. Once again, I wondered what the hell I was doing on this boat. Yikes! Most of the guys were now on their feet, checking out the waves that were beckoning, anticipation was building. Brad had told me about the camp; there would not be many, if any women, so I sort of knew what I was in for. For some reason though, the idea of the jungle and isolation excited me. Fortunately, as it turns out there was one other gal. She was nice. She was also a surfer.
Two hours after our departure from that dirty Kuta beach, we were off-loaded onto a small local motor boat which bobbed around in sparkling aqua coloured water. This boat took us safely, although a little wet, to shore. We were then loaded onto the back of the jungle truck for a short trip to Camp.
We all made our way to the huge open style communal room, where we ordered our 3 course breakfast of juice, fruit salad, porridge with banana and scrambled eggs and bacon on toast. With Brad now out in the surf, I sat out of the suns burning rays on the balcony of our 2-storey ‘deluxe’ bungalow. A nice breeze was cooling and refreshing. Deluxe however – our room is not, but it is absolutely amazing, considering we are in the jungle. Upstairs we have a king size bed and a small cupboard with a mirror. Downstairs is the toilet and shower. I am so glad I have long legs, as to navigate the stairs; it is walking down ladder style steps, at an incline of 1 to 3 – steeper than a ladder. And it is probably 18 inches between each step. We have to keep everything stored away in our rooms and make sure to lock the door; the monkeys are quite happy to help themselves to your belongings. Apparently the tigers don’t come close to camp, so that’s good to know. The sound of laughter and happy banter echo around the camp; a few guys have made their way back from their first session. It was only 4-5 ft, but they all look like happy campers!
Day one of jungle life at Bobby’s Surf Camp is almost over as I watch the sun setting over the Indian Ocean, drinking icy cold Bintangs, swinging in my hammock with the monkeys screeching and swinging from tree to tree hopefully at a safe distance above me. Late in the afternoons’ low tide, I’d walk along the beach and rock-shelf, this is the time when the local villagers come out to collect crabs and other sea creatures from the shallow pools and rock crevices – dinner.
As I head back to camp I hear the ‘camp staff’ call out ‘Afternoon Mumma’, I smile and say hello as I head back to our cabin for a cold shower. ‘Bintang time Mumma’ they call as I pass by. I smile at them and answer ‘Of course it’s Bintang Time, I’ll be back real soon’. Yewww!!! is the call from most of the blokes, life seems pretty good at the moment!! Life is what you make of it, an adventure awaits us all.
Susan Loch is the author of “Jessica’s gift” a book soon to be released which she has written from the heart about the loss of her daughter, you can pre order this book from Susan by contacting – firstname.lastname@example.org