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“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ernest Hemingway

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30 March 2015

Medewi Beach: Bali's quiet surf retreat

15th-19th March 2015

Not bad for our first sunset in Bali
    
Heifer on the halfway line
It took us no time at all to find transportation from the ferry terminal at Gilmanuk. Unless you want to explore the nearby national park in Bali’s extreme north-western peninsula there is no real need to hang around. After turning away the usual taxi and bemo touts that lurk around whenever a ferry arrives we soon found a public bus heading to Denpassar, the islands capital. We knew that our intended destination was located halfway down the western coast of the island and any transportation to Denpassar (which there were many) would pass by soon enough. The public busses are pretty small, cramped and resemble knackered VW campervans but are by far the cheapest way to travel to the islands main destinations. It cost us 70,000 IRP for both of us which equates to £3.50 and for that price it was worth losing the blood flow to our legs for 40 minutes.
Medewi is a hell of a catch

     At first glance Medewi didn’t look like much. The small fishing village is strewn with family run convenience shops hugging the main road selling the usual essentials of snacks, water and fuel. Some may offer a few more expertise such as basic vehicle repairs or have even branched out as a sole greasy spoon cafĂ© but if you wander away from the busy, chaotic mass of trucks, buses and scooters on the main road and head towards the coast what you find is a little bit of real Bali.


What do you mean the rooms double booked!

     This one road surf retreat offers a few accommodation options ranging from a 1,000,000 IRP a night hotel on the coast (a strange place to have an exclusive resort hotel considering most of the visitors are die hard surfers well accustomed to basic digs but the fact that it had no paying customers at the time probably says it all) to basic, family run homestays. Being the budget backpackers we are we were quite content with opting for the homestay. We weren’t planning on spending all day indoors anyway. This was the first time we had been by a beach for a few weeks and we planned to make the most of it.  The twin room we vacated cost 100,000 IRP (£5) per night with breakfast included and the family running the place were incredibly welcoming and even offered to drive us to the nearest ATM (5km away) if we ever needed it.
   
To say that the beach is a little rocky is an understatement

Right Ross you can do this
  If you’re the sort of person who gets bored easily the only option you have to beat the chilled out vibe is to grab a board and hit the surf. After my short three hour class on the steady sloping, white sand beach at Pangandaran I was full of confidence and grabbed a long board which resembled a kayak more than surf board, while Jono longed to be in there with the best of them and picked the shortest board he felt he could stand on comfortably. The swell wasn’t the greatest and we had to show a little patience waiting for the right wave.

Whoa!


SHIIIIIITTTTT! (Actually looks pretty badass) 
Sometimes hanging around admiring the stunning coastline with the quintessentially Asian panorama of rice fields and buffalo’s in coastal valleys loomed over by great volcanic peaks for ten to twenty minutes at a time but we managed to catch a couple of waves at least. Medewi isn’t the most beginner friendly place for surfing and although locals are happy to offer their service as instructors for a little cash I’m certain there are better places along the coast. When we visited the good surf is narrow and you have to fight your way through other, more experienced surfers to make the most of it. Added to this large rocks with razor sharp barnacles dominates the black sand coast and its’ very easy for someone as inexperienced as myself to end up back first on the volcanic strata. If you do visit make sure you hire some of the boots to protect the sole of your feet when the wading back to shore. We ignored this the first day and hobbled around like two old guys for the remainder of our stay.
    


Anyone heading to Australia?
I wish I could say more about our stay in Medewi but I cannot. We had a great time surfing, avoiding involuntary laceration, chilling out in the late afternoon with a cheap bottle of Bintang, watching the sun setting behind the distant hills whilst the local fishermen bring in the days catch. As our friendly Australian neighbor who has visited Medewi over the last twenty five years explained “If you’re the sort of person who enjoys giving your hard earned cash to luxury chain hotels owned by foreign billionaires c***s with a walled compound ensuring you have no contact with the local population then Medewi is probably not for you. If however you want to see one of the few parts of Bali that hasn’t yet been discovered by the tourist hoards then you will love it”.