The decision to forgo the Lombok to East Timor boat crossing was pretty much made for us by a combination of crappy weather and straight up traveler fatigue. We thus made our way back to Bali by means of a wild boat crossing and found ourselves at Padangbai on Bali's East Coast for a night before getting back to Denpasar to deal with purchasing East Timor tickets.
We found ourselves in the notorious Kuta/Legian/Seminyak corridor of Bali with 3 days to kill -and there wasn't no way in hell we were sticking around there for that time... so what to do... you guessed it... Motorbike Road Trip.
After a night at a hotel G and I would just assume forget existed, we rented our motorbike and packed our day pack and then pulled out of town heading NW. We were eyeing a small surf town called Balian Beach where we were hoping for a few chill days and maybe even a surf session or two.
The drive up was nice once we got out of town and we worked our way out to the coast and followed it until we saw the old surf board nailed to a telephone pole with an arrow and the words "Balian Beach this way" etched into it. We'd arrived.
We checked into our sweet digs: a big studio apartment on the hill above the beach. Aside from the location, one memorable thing about this place was the mini bar. Typically you would find a mini bar to contain what, 4-6 beers? Not this place, we opened up the full sized refrigerator and the thing looked like a Snoop Dogg video; 20 ice cold Bintangs awaiting our arrival. Hilarious.
That evening I went for the first surf I've had in a long, long time. The good news is that I survived and even managed to get up a few times. Bad news, well lets just say my paddle fitness was a little lacking and I seemed to have lost any style I once had. Oh well, this kook still had a good time out.
In the morning we jumped on the bike and headed out on a loop drive we'd picked on the map. We tried to get an early start as we were hoping to beat the impending wet season downpour...no such luck. We got pretty far into the hills and drove through the tree tunnel where you literally drive through the middle of a tree that the rode goes through. Just after that the rain started. At first we tried to hide from it; we pulled over and sat under a shelter, but it really looked like it wasnt going anywhere anytime soon...so eventually we came to the cold realization that we were going to get wet one way or another, so just chucked on the rain jackets and braved it.
We were soaked and shivering wrecks by the time we got to the little mountain town of Papuan. We warmed up in a cafe with a large cup of very hot tea before heading on. There were some waterfalls that we had hoped to hike out to, but it was raining steady and we were soaked, so the appeal of a hike at that point was low and we cruised past and headed down the hill and back to the coast. As we descended the air temperature steadily increased and the rain steadily ceased...by the time we hit the coast we were thankfully almost dry and had stopped shivering.
I had hoped to go for another surf that afternoon, but the swell had picked up considerably and having not surfed in quite some time except for the previous day, the size of the surf was intimidating. We had an afternoon coffee in the cafe on the bluff directly above the ocean and watched as a handful of nut jobs surfed the liquid mountains as they rolled in perfectly off the Indian Ocean. Conditions were good and you could see the swell lined up all the way to the horizon. If only I wasnt such a wuss......
We had a great dinner that evening at a spot about 10 minutes up the road, allegedly the best in the area. In the morning we packed it up and said goodbye to our sweet digs and headed back into Legian beach to the awful hotel we were at before heading up the coast. We'd left our stuff in their baggage check so were sort of obligated to stay there again. They promised us a nicer room that night...it was nicer, but still pretty awful. Whatever, it was a place to sleep before an early wake up and taxi to the airport to catch our flights to Dili.
It was our final motorcycle adventure in SE Asia, which made us a little sad as those adventures had been some of the best...but, I guess we can officially comment on the fact that we managed to rent a motorbike in SE Asia 7 times without incident...road rash, police shake down or dodgy rental experience. So there ya go; it is possible!