Somehow I have spent the last month in Bali, surfing, exploring and finding out that all it takes to love a place is people. You can read guide books that will tell you that you ‘must' do this or that itinerary, you could be stressed that you don't have a enough time to see the island, but then you would miss just how good it is to hang out with people and see where each day takes you.
Yesterday my local break looked very crowded. The expected swell hadn't arrived and everyone who surfs had been getting cabin fever. So even though the waves were small, the line up looked busy. However, as I paddled out I realized that I knew half the people out in the water, so instantly the vibe changed from one of tension- to people chatting, sharing waves and encouraging each other when a set came through. It was one of my best surfs simply because it was so relaxed and fun. You can't plan this stuff.
Ironically, after weeks going by with my reluctance to leave Padang Padang, I've miraculously ventured off the Bukit Pennisular and had the most amazing experiences. Some American friends invited me to join them on their friend's yacht for an afternoon. If you had tried to find me last Saturday you would have discovered me sailing on the Defiance around the beautiful eastern coast of Bali from Sanur, jumping into the ocean and being mesmerized by the oil-painting like sunset.
On Sunday evening it was finally time to go ‘do' a touristy excursion: The Uluwatu Monkey Temple. After waiting a month to go to the temple, I was joined by old and new friends in the pursuit of monkey fun, and it didn't disappoint. After being wrapped in a purple sarong (part of being covered enough in the holy grounds), I walked around the grounds finding monkeys everywhere.
They really are little people, and look like old men with how they sit. Within the grounds I bought some nuts to feed the monkeys, however this invited monkey trouble. There is definitely a pecking order, and the alpha males instantly wanted the whole bag of nuts. I had a monkey jump onto my head and shoulders and try and pry the bag from me. In the showdown of Francesca vs the monkey I amazingly won thanks to my friend's nut distraction technique, so I not only lived to tell the tale, but was able to feed baby monkeys.
My activities continued even more over the past week, as I made it to Ubud- the cultural centre of Bali. Hello ‘Eat, Pray, Love' time. Single women mill around having come from a yoga class and shop in the massive hive of market stalls and small boutiques. I wasn't overly wow-ed by Ubud's shopping, and found that the Bukit Peninsular is actually more beautiful. However, I did treat myself to a day spa, and almost fell asleep during my 60 minute traditional Balinese massage. I left smelling of Jasmine and feeling relaxed to the core. I feel a spa addiction in the making.
So what's next? My plan to not plan is still working out a treat, as next week I've been invited to go to the Gillie Islands on a speed boat with some new friends. I've got no idea what to expect, but that seems to be the best way. Get ready for the next update.