After my island romance with Lombok and some quiet days and perfect waves on Sumbawa, one island east from Lombok, I decided to go back to Bali for my last 10 days in Indonesia. Even though I had found a new island love, I wanted to give Bali another chance, or actually it felt more like an ex boyfriend that I wanted too meet just once again to make my peace with him. So I went back West, literally. Instead of returning to places I had already seen, I decided to explore some not yet visited parts of Bali, I went to West-Bali. Rumors say that Bali’s West is the last place on the island of the Gods that has waves and is not overrun by tourists. I couldn’t resist to find out myself. So my friend Hanna, who studies on Bali, and I packed a small backpack, grabbed my travel guitar and her surfboard and made our way north-west by Scooter. Starting from Canggu, it takes about two and a half hours to Medewi, which is a small fishing village and has the surfspot that’s furthest in the north on Bali and apparently Bali’s longest left. Even the way there by scooter was an experience that was worth it. Even though we had to overtake a lot of big trucks that were on the way north to the ferry to Java, because there is only this one road that leads up north, we could still enjoy the way through authentic Balinese towns, rice fields and, towards the end, the view on little coves at river mouths. Beautiful.
Arriving in Medewi, I expected a village with the typical surf infrastructure, restaurants and cafés, but nothing. Seriously, if there hadn’t been a big sign showing the way down to the surfspot, I wouldn’t have even realized that we were there. So that already made me really excited and the excitement lasted, when I saw the beach. Black sand, palmtrees, fishing boats, two Warungs and two surfboard hires. That was it. I was so surprised, positively.
The next days felt like we were on a different island than before. The weather is inconsistent due to the closeness to the mountains and there is really not much you can do except for surfing and chilling, but the whole vibe is so good and I couldn’t stop thinking about how lucky I was to get to see a different side of Bali. No beach clubs, no hipsters, no quinoa bowls. I felt like I could breathe there, get my mind to rest and just pause for a while, enjoy my last days in the country and reflect on everything I had seen, about the choices I made and the people I met. We talked a lot and laughed a lot and ate a lot and slept a lot in Medwi. After four days we weren’t quite ready to go back to Canggu yet, so we stopped in Balian Beach for two days.
Balian is completely different to Medewi. While Medewi is a real Balinese village with just a couple of homestays and hotels that you barely notice, Balian Beach just exists out of Hotels and Homestays, but surprisingly not in an annoying way. It’s very quiet and very small and it’s not packed with tourists either. There are some Yoga folks and surfers, and in between you have locals offering to the gods at the beach. I love it. And if you just go to the next beach, there will be either no one, or just locals, driving around on their motorbikes, watching the insane sunsets with you.
I can’t really tell you much about the West of Bali, because there is not really much to tell. No big tourist attractions, no parties, no white beaches. It’s unagitated. Non-built-up landscape. Rice fields. Cows grazing in between palmtrees. Wind. Waves. Black sand. Untamed nature. Pureness. Beauty. People smiling at you. Kids waving at you. It is me getting a little glimpse of how Bali must have been before all of us came and wanted to get a piece of the cake: Peaceful and wild at the same time.
Traveling is a double-edged sword. We all want to see these pure places, experience authentic culture, but with that, we also contribute to its change towards a less beautiful and authentic version. We should not loose our awareness for that. Travel slowly, stay at local places, eat local food, talk to people and appreciate them letting us into their world.
My six weeks in Indonesia have been intense. Indonesia is a beautiful country and there are still 17.505 more islands to explore. From what I have seen so far, I would always say ‚go East‘. Go to Lombok, go to Sumbawa and further….
But if you stay on Bali: definitely go West!
Most pictures were taken by my friend Hanna from Global Study Friends.
In Medewi we stayed at the Medewi Surf Homestay that I can highly recommend.