Tag Archives: surf

The Magic Healing of Balian

I’ve fallen into the trap recently of becoming complacement.  Lazy.  I came away wanting to get my writing done, study, enjoy the things I was doing at home and online; but to do it in a much warmer setting, whilst experiencing a different culture. 

That was happening, and I was moving around at the same time, exploring, fulfilling my life in different ways with new places, new experiences and excitement.

In the last few weeks I have rented a small room for myself and my boyfriend, who is arriving this week.  However in the run up to his arrival, because neither of us were entirely sure when it would be, I have spent my time preparing for him; nesting if you will.  However, due to work commitments, his arrival date had to be pushed back, and I didn’t realise it until these past few days, but I’ve managed to put my entire life on hold for this.  I’ve not been doing any of the things I love, instead have just been going to the gym, and working on my tan, thinking of nothing more than how big my bum looks, and filling my brain with self indudlgent and trivial thoughts, rather than doing the things I set out to do.

To add to this, I ended up doing something last week to a friend I have made here, that really, really hurt her.  It was a completely drunken and foolish thing to have done, and I can make every excuse in the world, but essentially I hurt someones feelings, someone who I care about, and as a result of this, have spent the past week being rather critical of myself, and evaluating the kind of character that I am, if I could have done something so clearly hurtful to another human being.

  

❤️

 
So as you can see, even though I am in paradise, I’ve slipped from my healthy place of self love and self worth,which I was discovering, back to not really knowing who I am.

A few photos from my favourite place in Canggu; Echo Beach

     
   

Thankfully, I feel that I realised this pretty quickly.  
So having woken up yesterday morning, after an evening of drinking with friends from home, and a dark cloud of hangover and guilt looming over me, I packed some clothes in a bag, rolled up my yoga mat and caught a ride, North up the coast, to a small village called Balian.

I’ve been here now for less than 24 hours, but having got my head down last night, woken up early this morning, and completed a yoga session for the first time in ages, I already feel better.

I felt a sense of guilt; for feeling disappointed in myself; when I’m in the most beautiful place on earth, and I’m not sat behind a computer in an office in Highbury & Islington, working in a crap job for the council like I was before.  I should be just embracing it, and being happy.  But instead, I’d become lazy, waking up every day to lounge by the pool before going to my gym session down the road.

My brain works 1million miles an hour, and I know this.  I need to have more mental stimulation to challenge myself each day.  Yes, I’d be meeting people all the time, making friends, going for dinner, having drinks, but I still wasn’t filling my mind with substance.

 

Deni, lovliest guy and best waiter in Bali

   

Monggos; my local bar /restaurant / sofa spot

 

Wednesday night drinks at Old Mans

Complaining about working out, post training at Bali Fit

Teaching the most loveable, oversized pup in Bali, how to swim

 

Looked after a puppy for the day as a trial. It was great til she peed in my bed. Now revaluating want of children or puppies in life

 
I woke up this morning in Balian, and as I say, went to practice yoga.  I then came back to my hotel for a breakfast of watermelon and pineapple with yogurt, and some gritty Bali Coffee.  I then slipped into my bikini, grabbed my novel, and walked down to the beach.  Here, in between reading chapters, I’d look up at the surfers taking it in turns to catch a wave, or the men out on the fishing boats, not too far from the shore.

 

Last night’s sunset at Balian

 
I looked to my right, and saw the ocean crashing against the rocks that were jutting out into the water, and the little bungalows situated on top.  To my left there was an expanse of more beach, with palm trees lining the way.

  
   

After overheating on the black sand, I gathered my things to return to my hotel, a short 3 minute walk up the cliff.  I came to the (infinity) pool, even though where I’m staying is certainly budget accommodation, and took a swim, before stopping to look over the edge, at the waves rolling in from the Indian Ocean.

  

“Budget” Accommodation


 I’ve since been sitting in the sun, taking positive actions to get myself back on track with where I need to be.  I’ve done some writing, and looked into more online work, as well as chasing up some other things that have been sat at the back of my mind, niggling at me.

I’m glad I took the escape to Balian.  Yes, I was living my own paradise in Canggu, but even the most perfect of places have their way of grating on you.

For me, I needed the change of scenery, just so I could hit the refresh button, and remember why I was here.

If you’re reading this and you feel like you need somewhere with no distractions, and somewhere that literally will give you a reminder of the true Bali, and not the tourist version, I can whole heartedly recommend Balian.  I’ve achieved more of my “to do list” here in one morning, than I have done in one week in Canggu. 
 After spending a couple more days here, I’m going to head back to the relative hustle and bustle of the hipster town, and keep my newly rediscovered work ethic intact, finish my online studies, whilst getting some writing jobs under my belt.  And then finally get to see my beautiful boyfriend.  Perfect.

  

 

Unlikely Paradises in Unlikely Places

Tiree. Never heard of it. Apparently it’s some tiny little island five hours from the coast of Oban, Scotland.  Admittedly it wouldn’t be somewhere I’d choose to spend a two week holiday if I hadn’t met and fallen head over heels for a strange, exotic Scotsman who I’d met when traveling Bali.

So after a little gentle persuasion and many Google searches to see how true the idea of a tropical island in Scotland actually is, I decided to say “screw it” and spent two weeks on the Isle of Tiree.

Said Scotsman came and met me on the mainland, and drove us to Oban, where we caught the 7am ferry through the inner Hebrides and to the most outter Island, Tiree. 

    
The journey was five hours, and was bloody miserable.  The weather was particularly bad on this day, and the ferry’s captain even came on the tannoy to warn us the incoming winds were so dire, they may not be able to dock at Tiree, and instead turn round and do another five hours back to Oban.  “Great” I thought.  Ten hours on a bloody cold ferry that smelt vaguely of the cooked breakfast coming up from the deck below.

Poking around at some luke warm baked beans, and tasting the local cuisine of potato scones (which I later learnt when done properly are actually v nice and up there with the humble crumpet in ratings of tasty treats), myself and Sam felt it was time for some sleep.

We swayed our way up the stairs like two drunk men coming out of a branch of Ladbrokes after the Grand National, as the boat ran over waves aggressively.  The mist and the fog was so thick I couldn’t make out any of the surrounding islands, said to be beautiful and breathtaking.  So with lack of things do to and severe lethargy I curled up into the foetal position on a cold fake leather seat, trying to huddle myself warm.  

The boat was full of those cheery types you see that actively try and peruse holidays that are damp, outdoorsy, and freezing, as they sit there in their The North Face or Jack Wolfskin jackets, cheeks rosey from all the wind and cold weather they’ve exposed themselves to over the years, grinning mildly at the thought of hiking over a bog and swimming through a marsh in Baltic conditions, only to build a shelter out of cow turd in order to spot a rare bird before going back to their homes in the Cotswolds.  

These types kept leaving the “lounge area” to get out their binoculars on the deck and see what they could see through the gale force winds and and lashing rain. That’s fine. They can do that. But for heavens sake would it kill them to shut the damn door behind them?? Recognising my internal anger rising, and wanting to keep poised and calm and not a total bitch, I gently walked over the the open door and shut it, so that the howling winds would stay outside, and hopefully I could have some sleep.  However, returning to Sam, (who was contently curled in his own foetal position, breathing heavily and looking v peaceful) I found that in my 30 second absence a little old lady with a Peter Storm waterproof and heavy duty walking boots had taken my place, leaving me with no room for a lay down and a snooze.

Again, taking a deep breath and and smiling to myself, I rose above it, and took myself back downstairs to buy a cup of tea to warm me up.  I spent the remainder of that journey clutching onto that tea, trying to make it last as long as possible and to keep my body temperature just above freezing, whilst eating my “Mutiny Slice” and trying to think of jokes surrounded said boat bought snack.

After 5 hours, on came the tannoy announcement, like the voice of God himself telling us we had reached Tiree, and as the predicted storm hadn’t hit just yet, we were able to dock and to access the island – hurrah!

I woke up Sam and we sleepily headed back to the car deck, where we switched that heating on full pelt, sitting and warming up, waiting to be beckoned off the boat by a ferry staff member.

  
  
We left the boat, and drove the short distance to Sam’s brothers house. The rest of the day was spent napping, sitting by a log fire and listening to the howling winds.

I’m happy to say that all my melodrama and misery was probably mainly due to the fact that I was tired and cold; as my trip to Tiree turned out to be two amazing weeks.

So, to the set the scene, Scottish Sam, has an older brother, Marti, who runs a small business on Tiree, with his wife Iona.  The business is called Blackhouse Watersports, and together they offer lessons in surfing and kite surfing, as well as equipment rental for both sports, as well as kayaking and bike hire.

My plan was to spend a couple of weeks on Tiree, getting to know the family and then on top of that enjoying the delights of a small island with the population of less that 1,000.

During this time, Blackhouse Watersports were also running a Surf and Yoga retreat, meaning there were a good few beginners who I could join in with when learning to surf, in attempt to disguise how terrible I actually am.

But before I even managed to join in a surf class and hide myself, Sam was asking me if I fancied going, just me him, and his ten year old nephew, at one of the beaches; Crossapol.

   
The weather was howling, the air had an edge of ice to it, and all I wanted to do was lay on a sofa and eat disgusting amounts of cheese on toast on my own.  But hey, if I’m getting myself into a relationship with a guy who lives, breathes and would quite possibly eat surf if he could, I must endeavour to be really optimistic about it.  Must keep telling self; today freezing nipples off in bitterly cold Atlantic Ocean, tomorrow perhaps catching waves in Costa Rica.  Sure.

    
Sam got out out the car, easily gliding himself into his perfectly fitting wetsuit, fresh from the internet. I was thrown an old wetsuit, handed down through previous ex girlfriends as if some Olympic torch that must keep burning. I jumped out of my clothes, trying to be as enthusiastic as possible, wondering how my ass may look in this wetsuit compared to its previous owners. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried about that part.  What became more of an issue was how I was looking just trying to get the damned thing on.  

The legs seemed to be ok; it was when we got to the arse / hips vicinity things started to go down hill.  My new boyfriend had to hold the folded up material, as I proceeded to jump into it, hoping with each extra bit of force, a butt cheek would slither its way slightly further into the wetsuit.  He then tried to help with my arms, and they slowly went in through the holes, and needed peeling up towards my shoulders.  At one point halfway, I was stuck, arms outstretched and crossed over, rather similar to a straight jacket, with the zip still wide open at the back, with my two ass cheeks being pushing up and together rather like an ass cleavage, if you will, with the wetsuit doing a great job of acting like a Wonderbra for the buttocks.

       

   

  

  After more struggles and unntractive groanings, and mental notes to go on v quick blitz diet, I was finally in the wetsuit. And it fit! Hurrah!! Thoughts of having to swap said wetsuit for XL men’s suit gladly diminished quickly, and I picked up a surfboard, thrust it under my arm, pretended to myself I looked like some kind of surf chic pro, and strutted my foamed neoprene bottom down to the sea.

And cor blimey I was awful. Thankfully though the sea temperature was actually quite bearable on the majority of my body, and my wetsuit was the thickest you can buy, or so I believe.  It was just when the water went in my ears, I got flashbacks of drinking Slush Puppies too fast as a child and in turn getting awful brain freeze.  However this just felt like somebody had just taken a Slush Puppy and poured it directly into my ears.

After an hour or so of frantically trying to get up on the board, and instead just falling off repeatedly, I thanked Sam for all his teaching help (which in all honesty was really useful, I just so happen to have all the grace of Bambi having done a tab of acid)  and let him enjoy some time with his nephew, who was absolutely owning this whole surfing thing, as I returned the car, and gracefully (NOT) removed my wetsuit in the privacy of myself and a very cheery Boarder Collie I found in the car park.

      

      Over the next few days, the winds started to drop and the sun began to shine a little more.  Some of the guests from the Surf and Yoga retreat went swimming by the pier and collected a whole load of mussels to bring back for our dinner that night.

    

  

  

  

    Myself, Marti, Iona and Sam, and the River Cottage chef, also called Sam, who was responsible for all the amazing food served at the retreat, spent the afternoon sat in the sun, cleaning the muscles and putting them in fresh water to purge them for the evenings supper.  After an hour and a half yoga session, we returned to the accommodation, Island House,  where the mussels had been cooked up in a bloody delicious white white and cream sauce, with fresh bread to dip in, heaps of butter and of course heaps of wine. 

It was also (my) Sam’s 30th birthday, so his parents came down to the house, along with the nieces and nephew, and we all ate, laughed and drank, until it was time to watch the incredible sunset at the back of the house, over the lake, as swans (quite possibly were ducks but poetic license etc) and their cygnets glided through the glass like water, and a little otter rose its silly little head, and then disappeared again without a trace.

   
      

   

    

    

    

   

After some awesome views, everyone decided to call it a night, bar myself and Sam, who instead grabbed a bottle of wine and a half finished bottle of whisky and head to the beach, where Sam built a massive bonfire, and we got stupidly drunk and talked absolute rubbish until the early hours.  This also led to setting my bag on fire, and not noticing this for a good few minutes.

   
      

    

   

The thing about Tiree is that it hardly ever gets dark in the Summer.  In fact, it has even coined the nickname of “The Sunshine Isle” as it is so far north, it shares the same latitude as Southern Alaska.  So it wasn’t until about 2am it finally felt like bedtime, and then unfortunately you want to get up again at about 6 because of the glorious sunshine. However, when it shines there, it really shines, and I managed to achieve one of the best tans of my life, without even trying.

      

        

  

  

  

  I spent the next few days trying more surfing, going on long walks around the many beautiful white sanded beaches, one of which I was dive bombed at due to angry gulls protecting freshly layed eggs (fair play), and sitting at more campfires on the beaches, drinking port and appreciating the beauty of not being in a God damned city.

      

             
      

    

      

   

Regardless of my first miserable impressions, I loved my two weeks there. I loved the beauty and the simplistic way of life; the fact there were no high streets trying to tempt me out of my money, only one pub and a very basic petrol station to fill up at.

   
        Blackhouse Watersports are running a fantastic business with huts at both Gott Bay and Balevullin to cater for different water activities.  We spent the majority of the time down at Balevullin, as a shed has been recently contructed there, creating such a nice focal point to spend the day at the beach at.   Its natural materials means it just sits, perfectly blending into place by the sand dunes, and importantly means that there’s some privacy for when I next get into my wetsuit, and don’t want to display the Wonderbra-for-the-Butt idea to the whole island.

    
Most importantly though, Blackhouse Watersports is a great way for the kids to become more active and to get involved in sports, with free board rental to all children there.  The business is an incredible asset to the island, and this combined with about a million and one other reasons, is why I have decided to call it my new home as of next week…

    

Bintang-alanging in Bali

As the boat ploughed along through the ocean, from Gili T back to the mainland of Bali, I was hit with more waves of euphoria. Sitting upon the top deck and looking down; random fish would jump up alongside the boat; almost chasing or trying to keep up with the speed. I felt like after swimming with the sea turtle and having such a great week; the joy of seeing fish skip alongside me, with the sea spray slapping me in the face; life couldn’t get much better.

  
The boat made a stop at the mainland to off load all passengers; whilst Abbey and myself stayed on board. The boat then made the quick trip, half an hour across the water to Nusa Lembongan.

  
We got off and onto a smaller boat; which then drove us up through the shallows and onto the mangrove beach.

   

From here a small truck came and took us to our accommodation; the Yoga Shack.

 
We dumped our stuff and whizzed off to the beach to watch the sunset and enjoy fresh fruit juices in the dusky haze.

 

  

 We already knew we’d fallen in love with this island; it was such a welcome change for it to be so chilled and relaxed; compared to the never ending pumping music of Gili T.

The next day we woke up early and went on a snorkelling trip on a local boat to see manta rays and untouched coral.

It was amazing. Unfortunately I can’t upload any underwater photos yet as my laptop has given up the ghost; but me managed to spot and swim with these huge ghost like manta rays which were just so stunning on so many levels. Although we knew they were entirely harmless they still manage to make you realise how insignificantly tiny you are when you get to see these wonderful creatures in their natural environment; and how we get to see a tiny part of this planet; with all these other worlds taking place under water.

 
The next few days were filled with yoga and healthy eating and lots of healthy juices.

We both took a surfing lesson which was incredibly difficult for me; someone who seriously lacks balance; but was at the same time incredibly awesome.

I managed to stand up a few times; and I knew my pop up was weak; but it made me so exhilirated just to ride a wave.  It was fair to say Abbey was significantly better though. 

   
  

 

The following days were more about relaxation than any more activity; as we hired a moped and drove to a couple of resorts on the island; where we were able to enjoy beautiful beach views, infinity pools and cocktails.

   
  

   

  
 

Before we knew it our few days were already up as we begrudgingly said our goodbyes to the island and the wonderful Andrea who runs the Yoga Shack.

We boarded a fast boat back to the mainland; where we had a hostel booked in Seninyak.

   

On the Sunday , Abbey had bought me (as a birthday present) an all you can eat and all you can drink brunch at the W hotel. It was amazing. I have no words that can describe nor do justice to the amount of food that was at the brunch.

There were stations upon stations offering foods; from oysters and crab claws, to a hog roast, to sushi, to Yorkshire puddings.
When we arrived we were greeted in my favourite fashion; by having a glass of prosecco thrust into our hands; and those glasses were never empty for the three and a half hours spent there.

   
     

We stuffed out faces in a disgusting fashion, really taking advantage of the whole all you can eat aspect.

 

a before and after portrait, quite aaccurately summing up the two looks we had that day

 
We nearly got matching tattoos of carrots but thankfully decided not to; before moving onto another bar further down the beach to watch the sunset.

   
  

 

Sadly, Abbey then had to board a flight back to her new life in Perth, Australia.

I spent the rest of the week hanging out with some people from Scotland and Wales who were all fully awesome and provided lots of laughs and good fun nights out in Kuta.

   
         

I’m so glad I decided to add the holiday on to my trip; I feel I fully deserved it especially after having to have had my stay in Chiang Rai tarnished by someone I thought was a good friend unfortunately showing their true colours as a vile person. This and Pai have certainly made me feel myself again and I feel on top of the world.

I now am currently about to board a flight back to Bangkok for a long weekend with good friends before the next chapter of my life in the UK and it feels good. ❤️ ✈️