Our driver met us right outside of immigration where I bulldozed by a group of Chinese tourists obviously more eager (read: more awake) than myself. We met our driver, hopped into the van and were off, zooming through narrow roads, passing Balinese temples poking out from the dense jungle, blurring fruit stalls strung with browning bananas, carefully stacked bottles of petrol and plastic chair eateries. Chickens poked at the ground next to surf shop after surf shop. Singapore, it was not...but that's the way I like it.
Our Air BnB in Uluwatu was a dream, stepping stones in varying shades of eggshell green, smokey charcoal and a creamy beige allowed a tranquil pathway across the infinity pool, curtained doorways and hanging shell chandeliers. We sipped a flower adorned lime drink till our room was ready — which by the way, seemed to embody peace and tranquility itself...but we didn't stay long. With the promise of "Dreamland Beach" just a walk down the road, it was obviously time to don swimming suits and make our way there.
A jumble of signs pointed the way towards a narrow walkway of villas (and a field of dolefully grazing cows and vocal roosters), through a derelict ally littered with tangerine and fuchsia colored petals and baskets woven out of banana leaves. Oh and cigarette butts and other rubbish, but who wants to hear about that? Bali's not *quite* perfect, but I digress. Through this derelict alley, we found a long and narrow set of stone steps that gave us a first glimpse of said beach. Truth be told, I looked at these photos after I initially took them and was disappointed — they didn't quite capture his incredibly stunning the scenery was. So if you think the photos convey that, you're wrong and will just have to go for yourself. Pockets of deep navy waters swirled with creamy turquoise patches taunted me from the stone steps. I had to get the water ASAP.
This long set of stairs spat us on the rocky shore; we'd traipsed onto the surfer's section where the frothy waves broke over jutting rocks. Undetered, Laura and I made a treacherous walk across rocks and powerful surf (avoid crabs and abandoned coconuts) to very private, very beautiful and very sandy cove, set under a sheer cliff and to the right of a trio of fisherman, who were sitting atop one of the volcanic rocks that jutted out from the ocean. Basically, we found perfection.
It was effortless spending a few hours swimming in the strong surf, lying in the sun and just reveling in the how unbelievable this beach is. Don't get me wrong, I adored my time in Thailand. But this is something out of a falsified postcard. Despite my base tan (days my apartments pool had trained me for this) I felt the beginnings of a sunburn and Laura and I climbed this very unofficial set of stairs out of paradise and back onto the country road back to AirBnB. I say unofficial intentionally. This abandoned house on stilts seemed to be home to a few surfboards and was eerily grafittied with random phrases, but had a very clear depiction of the word "kidney" (or maybe "kidsey" but I like my version better) at the top. Not sure if was some sort of kidney drop off but hey, the view was great.
When we did reach our dreamy room, a shower and lunch was in order: Mangosteen and dragonfruit smoothie bowls were the highlight, though I'm a sucker for anything coconut, so the coconut ice cream was a close second. I also had an entree, but is that ever as good as dessert? Fed and feeling the after effects of our sunny afternoon, Laura and I got a 5 second tutorial on driving scooters after arguing down the price. Then we were off — on the wrong side of the road. Sorry, American driving. I was quickly corrected and then we were really off. There was a bit of a learning curve, several stops for directions and a random toll road stop where I fumbled with the currency (1,000 IDR is not even 20 cents, but I still was wary because a 1,000 bill has got to be more than that, right?) and we'd arrived just at sunset at the Uluwatu temple. After buying a ticket and wrapping up in a purple sarong I hoped distracted from my hair (helmets and humidity had not played nice), Laura and I watched the sun melt into the waves high from the above cliffs. The waves at the shore crashed violently into the cliffside which I could've watched for hours, if I wasn't rudely interrupted.
I felt the pressure of someone's arms on my neck, coming from behind. In a panic, I thought to myself, "Who is the world do I know in Bali who is hugging me from behind?" as the more cynical thought in my brain took over "What sort of stranger is trying to hug me?" Turns out, no one I knew was in Bali and was not being assaulted by a stranger. An enormous monkey had jumped onto my back in order to get close enough to snatch the pearl earring out of Laura's ear. Once the sun had sent, hordes of monkeys swarmed the ground in some sort of freakish "olly olly oxen free call". Now, I'd seen monkeys up close before. The ones in India? Cute. The ones in China? Cute but also terrifying. Turns out Bali has the cute but terrifying kind and after the pearl snatching, it was our cue to leave.
Donning helmets and revving up our scooters for a drive back in the dark, a wrong turn led us to a convince store that mercifully had wifi (where I could re-download a map home) but more importantly, had a roadside stand selling fruit smoothies. Tragic, I know. Post smoothie Laura and I zoomed more confidently onto the now quiet and dimly lit roads, stopping to admire the stars in an empty field along the coast — you don't get sunsets really, not to mention stars, in Singapore. It was only the allure of the thread hammock strung up by the empty pool that kept me from collapsing straight into my bed after returning our scooters. I got up before I feel asleep by the pool, knowing I'd sleep better in my Balinese bedroom. We had a busy itinerary planned for Saturday, after all.