Some people feel more or less homesick when abroad, I only mostly miss my family and friends and Vitamix. Okay, forest berries too and way more affordable fish than here, but I’ll survive without. When I left Finland, my intention was to stay away from Finnish people (besides the friends who I met in Bali), and hang out with local and/or international people as much as possible. I don’t really understand going to the other side of the word to only speak your own language, like so many backpackers do. Until now I had only spoken Finnish to my cousin in May, and a few awkward words in a coffee event here in Melbourne where Finnish coffee and pastries were sold. But social media brought me and Anna together.
Anna found me on Instagram, sent me a message and we hang out a good while yesterday: long enough to walk from the city to Prahran and back to have tea. After first awkward Finnish words I found out we have a lot in common: more than with anyone I think. This is a good thing, and very refreshing, to have someone who understandands exactly what you’re going through and how you feel. Anna was brave enough to do her farm work like a good girl, so she can stay for another year whereas I am still trying to get my shit together and avoid the 3 months in the bush. Plans B, C and D are brewing, we’ll see what happens. In the meanwhile…
This morning, as I was driving trough the rice paddies that has only have one lane made of bricks, I started thinking about courage. It took me a lot of courage to get on the scooter and start driving, and even more to start driving after sunset and to the next town. When I didn’t dare to drive myself, going on a scooter with a drunk driver was not a problem, since I didn’t really have other choice and everyone was doing it. Now I am responsible for my own life (and fellow drivers’), and it’s scary!
Besides driving a scooter (sometimes without a helmet), it took me courage to go in the water, against the waves and get rumbled upside down and around time after time. But I did that, too, and it doesn’t feel so scary anymore. Maybe it could be considered courageous to eat salad and fresh vegetables in a place where the water is not drinkable, but I haven’t seen that as a big deal. (Knock on wood, food poisoning.) To others, living in the same building with somewhat 20 other people would be beyond possible. We all have different challenges.
Different things require different amounts of courage for different people. Some might say I was brave to leave my job and home and to go to Asia without a ticket back, but for me that was just a way of going forward. Because if you only stay in your comfort zone and never do anything that scares the shit out of you, you’ll never grow, or experience the feeling of insane pride of what you’ve just done, even if it’s just making it home alive after dinner or being able to stand up on a board in the sea.
I am trying to learn how to give credit for myself even for the smaller things, not just life-changing decisions. Even the smallest choices lead to forming the big picture, though it is sometimes hard to see the effect of some tiny things. Balance between conquering and facing fears and being able to step back into comfort is the key, most likely.
What do people do in surfers’ paradise when there is no swell, and the very few waves that break are so weak they won’t take you anywhere? Things (read: the sea) has been looking rather gloomy for the past few days here in Canggu, and the atmosphere is a bit anxious (yet still way more relaxed than anywhere else I’ve been).
What do you do when you can’t surf? Funny question in a way, since I hardly go surfing once a day if even that, this is not a problem to me. My fellow travelers and flatmates have harder time to fill their time.
1. Drive around from one beach to another, just to check if. The beaches are different, so there might be a chance of white water, even though you can’t see it from where you stand.
2. Watch surf movies, preferably in the pool. This includes loud sound effects, re-plays and Bintang. Also surf clips on different media devices, and some Black Friday mayhem clips.
3. General day drinking. Might just as well.
4. Talk about surfing (They do that nevertheless, so this doesn’t really count). Take the surf board for a swim. It needs water!
5. Go bowling. This night time activity is technically not surfing-time, but still something special. And fun! Not in flip-flops, I wore socks for the 1st time in a month.
Tuesday should be lucky day with proper swell. Then it’s just a question of who gets the waves.
I have now stayed and kept on extending my accommodation day after day in one of Bali’s most potential surfers’ paradise and upcoming cool hipster mecca, Canggu. Canggu is located a bit north from the infamous party beach of Kuta, followed by Legian and Seminyak, after which comes Kerobokan area where in my best understanding also Canggu is located. I have enjoyed my time here without doing much anything, which is very rare, odd and even scary for me. Why have I stayed so long? I am not even a surfer, though I am doing my best to learn and not to mind the visual damages than follow when getting hit by the board or rolling in the “washing machine” (No picture of my fin hit purple thigh, sorry).
Compared to other places (for example Ubud and Kuta, where I visited for 1 hour the other day and was extremely glad to get away), you are not constantly hassled by people who want to sell you tourist stuff or offer you a taxi/tour/rafting/mushrooms.
Canggu is laid-back. No one is in a hurry to go anywhere, the biggest topic of the day is the swell and tide, and where to have dinner. And oh boy, there are options. Naturally I want to tell you more about food rather than my experiences of getting my face rubbed against the sand in the sea, or seeing a car (or better yet, two cars) fallen into the rice field.
Best picks for Canggu, if you ever happen to be around:
Crate. Awesome breakfast, quality coffee and good lunch options too for ridiculously cheap prices compared to some other places. You can swap to out-of-this-world-delicious gluten free bread without extra cost, and man that stuff is yum! This place is very laid back and rustic, almost like you’re in an open space loft in San Francisco (though the weather was 38C today)! No extra taxes added, which is always a plus!
Betelnut. Next to Crate, this lovely joint is also open for dinner, but offers also breakfast, smoothies, desserts and whatnot. I have tried their raw gado gado several times, and the other guys usually go for a burger or wraps. Mixture of comforting Western and Asian grub, this place is cosy and also cheap, no added tax.
Old Man’s. Bar by the beach with happy hour every weekday – what more can you ask for? Live music at nighttime. Even after rather heavy drinking people drive home on their scooter through the rice paddies.
Warung Heebo. Indonesian food that is so cheap it is odd. No idea how they price their food: basically you pick the stuff you want and they give you a price tag which you hand over at the cashier. Convenient.
Deus (ex Machina). Apparently sells motorcycles, cool gear, surfboards and such, but is also a restaurant and “the place to be” on a Sunday night.
Some more? Sprout. Disappointment price-wise, but has AC. Canteen. Another brekkie option, but since I’m so deeply in love with Crate, I haven’t tried it out. Avocado. Sounds tempting, but I have not yet made it there. Maybe tomorrow. Or the day after.
Beaches. Berawa, Batubolong, Old Man’s, Echo. All the same sea and you can walk the shore, but somehow different. As a beginner surfer I’d go for Batubolong. Oh yeah, I am a surfer. One day, maybe.
When in Canggu, you really need a motorcycle to get around. I had never in my life driven one, but what’s a better place to learn than one where there’s almost no rules, and everyone just seems to drive like a maniac? In the smaller roads I feel quite okay, but I would not go to the bigger ones. And I still prefer to be on the back of a bike than to be the one driving.
Days just seem to float on by, and even though I have plans on moving somewhere else, there is a vibe here that I enjoy. Even besides the food.