We needed somewhere to chill. It sounds contrary, but we were headed to Bali, with in-laws and 9-month-old baby along for the ride. We had heard about the hustle that Kuta Bali had become, and how far the hustle had spread, but we were headed off to Balangan, one headland away from the nightmarish development of Dreamland.
Balangan is mellow, it’s a bit quieter, there are places to hide and there are places to chill. The beach is relaxed, the wave is fun, and there are other waves around the corner. There are cheap beers to be drunk and great local food to be had, and a cool little accommodation spot called Flowerbud. We all piled in.
We were there for a week, and there were waves every single day. They varied from small to medium, and we dint get any big days, but Balangan from all accounts gets even more fun when it gets a bit bigger. The crowds also varied, from very mellow at low tide, to manageable at high tide. Even so, It’s one of those places that when it gets a bit busy in the water, it’ time to come in and chill out on the beach and watch for a while. Before you know it, the crowds thin, and you can head back out for a couple. Otherwise you can crack open an ice cold Bintang and savour where you are in the world.
It took quite a bit of courage and even more planning to make the one-day tourist mission that is Kuta Bali. We set it up with military precision, with a driver on hand to pick us up and drop us off at various places along the way. I only wanted a few Bintang wife-beaters and a bottle of gin, while my wife and her mom were off on some mysterious shopping mission that only mother-daughter pairings would ever understand. I left them to it.
I found the Bintang vests, a bottle of gin, and a bunch of videos that hadn’t even been released yet. Bali’s good like that. I stopped to wait for the rest of the shoppers and enjoyed a coffee and serious session of people-watching as only Kuta can provide, before the long ride back to the peace of Balangan.
Visitors to Bali often choose the western choices on the menus and eat primarily hamburgers and pizza made Indonesian style, while often ignoring the delicious local food. I stuck to nasi gorengs and chicken satay throughout our trip, even eating a spicy little mi goreng for breakfast a few times.
We were sad to leave Bali. We had enjoyed so many waves; found that chill time we needed so much, and signed up our 9-month-old on a Singapore Airlines Frequent Flyer program that would probably do him good in the years to come. He didn’t seem too interested, and gifted his parents the best present ever by sleeping all the way home.