After being in Lakey Peak for almost two months, we were surfed out and ready for some fresh menu options. I will always enjoy the cheap sashimi at Mamut’s warung, but when you have been eating it every night for weeks on end, it’s time for a change. Returning to Bali after long surf trips brings up a range of conflicting emotions. Catching up with friends and eating at nice restaurants is something to look forward to. Steering clear of boozy adventures in nightclubs and bars is a constant challenge. The crowds in the surf and the madness on the roads are not appealing at all.
The borders remain officially closed to tourists, but there are still ways to enter the country. If you happen to be looking to start a business or invest in real estate, then apparently there are visa options available. Surf spots around Bali have been getting steadily busier. There must be lots of keen surfers who have suddenly become closet entrepreneurs.
During normal tourist times, etiquette in the surf around Canggu is non-existent. The most popular surf spots often resemble a chaotic scene from Mad Max – Fury Road. It’s every man, woman and child for themselves. There’s really no need to subscribe to Kook Slams, just pull up a beanbag at Batu Bolong and enjoy the show. It would be funny if some of the behavior wasn’t so reckless. Someone should really erect a large yellow sign on the beach – “Ditching your board can ruin someone else’s holiday”.
Without the continuous influx of visiting surfers, lineups around Bali have been more orderly. I guess people are less likely to misbehave when they have to surf with the same people the next day. But there were plenty of fresh faces at the breaks around Canggu when we returned. They were easy enough to spot. Once you’ve lived in Bali for a while, you can practically smell the fresh off the plane enthusiasm in some people.
I paddled out early one morning and watched in quiet appreciation as the first rays of the rising sun set the dawn sky alight. As I stroked into my first wave, a fuzzy glow of tangerine orange silhouetted the temples and coconut palms lining the shore. It was blessedly quiet for the first thirty minutes. A few others paddled out. Everyone sat and waited their turn. Soon enough, a few more joined us in the lineup. The queue held, but you could feel an uncomfortable urgency building. When a young lad lost patience and made a sneaky move for the inside, the dam burst. Within ten minutes the lineup situation had descended into a complete farce. People were paddling everywhere, dropping in and getting in each other’s way. I let out a quiet sigh of resignation, sat off to the side, and waited for the occasional wide set.
The sunrise was just as spectacular the following morning, and the crowd filled in just as quickly. When a guy in a bright red rash vest dropped in on me, I forced myself to count to ten before heading back out. He was nice enough to offer me one of those classic fake apologies as I paddled past. Maybe it’s just me, but these half-baked attempts to smooth things over just seem to make me angrier. If it’s big, and conditions are forcing surfers to make split-second decisions, then mistakes can happen. But if the waves are cruisy and head high, then not checking your inside as you take off is inexcusable. You can apologize all you like afterward, but you are still a fucking selfish kook.
Mr bright red rash vest was at it again less than twenty minutes later. This time he missed the take off and his board went flying straight at the unsuspecting surfer flying down the line. I could probably have counted to a hundred and it wouldn’t have made a difference. I snapped at him, then paddled in shaking my head. The direction of the next swell would be hitting South Sumatra at just the right angle. I scootered back to my homestay and made the necessary travel arrangements.