Monday, June 18, 2012

Guest Post: Chris returns to Indonesia

Today I am so excited to share a guest post from my brother Chris who just returned from a 3-week  trip to Bali, Indonesia.  It sounds like Chris' trip hit the reset button for him like my trip to Mexico did for me. Nothing like traveling to a whole different side of the world to be reminded of what is most important. And, after reading this, there are three things that I all of a sudden want and need.

1. I need to go to Indonesia.
2. I need to go to Indonesia with my brother.
3. I need to ride to the beach on a scooter with my surfboard on a surfboard rack.   It's going on the bucket list.

Speaking of surfing, reading about this trip did not help with my hankering to get back on a surfboard. If anyone wants to sponsor me with a long board and wetsuit,  you just say the word.

 Read on for my brother's awesome description of his trip.

"In 1999 I was fortunate enough to spend a solid month in Indonesia. I was drawn there by images of lush green rice paddy landscapes, an adventurous and rich culture, and the perfect waves of the Indian Ocean breaking on the reefs of the 17,000 islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago. The trip was everything I could have hoped for, and I moved on to planning travel to other places on my short list.

This year, a few things came together that brought me back, the main catalyst being that my good friend Will has been living in Bali for about 8 months. He is as close to a brother as I could have, a truly inspirational person, and even though he lives in New York he is one of those friends where distance doesn't diminish the bond. Returning to Indonesia 13 years later was akin to reconnecting with an old dear friend, figuratively and literally.

One night around the dinner table at Will's house we all took a turn explaining what it was about Bali that meant so much to us. One thing everyone expressed in some fashion, was the friendliness of the people and the richness of Bali's predominant feature, its Hindu culture. Between the dress, the offerings of flowers and incense, the intricate carvings and art that decorate every building, there is an overwhelming sense of spirituality. There are areas of worship everywhere, the running joke in Bali is to give someone directions and tell them to turn left at the temple.

Riding through Ubud on motorbikes is a splendid exercise in sensory overload. There are beautiful rice fields of the richest green mixed between open air restaurants, stone temples, grass-thatched dwellings; incense is burning everywhere, and the traffic is as comical as it is dangerous. I was usually following Will who was always at full throttle with his turn signal on, passing cars and dodging stray dogs every 100 feet as we maneuvered through streets, down alleyways, over paths. And in Indonesia you drive in the left lane. There is no way to ease in to it, you just have to jump in there and adapt, and it could not have been more fun. Getting into the more rural areas was my favorite; kids were always running out to shout hello or give us a high-five as we drove by. The openness and warmth of the people in Indonesia is truly inspiring.

On the way to have dinner with the King of Ubud and about 50 other guests, traditional Balinese dress required.

I spent about two weeks with Will in Ubud on Bali, and then went back to Kuta Lombok, the place I fell in love with on my first trip. It had changed some, but was still amazing, white sand beaches everywhere and some amazing surf in a seaweed fishing village called Grupiuk Bay, a 20 minute scooter ride from the bungalows in Kuta. I ended up hanging out with some amazing people, mostly from Australia, we shared boat rides out to the reef to surf, usually twice a day, once super early and then again right before sunset. I got really lucky with the swell, and conditions could not have been better, but it was crowded as compared to 13 years ago. Indonesia is arguably the best destination for surf on the planet. The swells develop in the Indian ocean and establish a perfect rhythm by the time they hit the coast, there is no continental shelf or obstruction to break up the sets, and the water is crystal clear, warm, and most often over coral reef. As with the last trip I often found myself in a moment where I just was happy to be in the lineup of such beautiful waves. Beyond the joy of surfing, it is just incredible to see first hand the dynamics of the ocean come together in such a perfect way.

I still have a lot more places to travel to, but I would not be surprised at all if I am back to Indonesia for a third time before too long. Might have to bring the kid sister along."

Love you, Christopher.  When do we go???


Dinayati R said...

I'm Indonesian. i really like to read ur blog. especially, about ur kids and ur outdoor activities.

also glad to read ur brother's letter. come to indonesia, u'll have great experience. not only in bali, but also sumatra, lombok, java, kalimantan, papua. so many travelling spot u can explore. really... :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris, totally jealous! I really enjoyed reading about your trip and I am so glad you made it back. My trip was 23 yrs ago and I have not made it back yet! I hope to soon. I just got off the phone with Jason down in Tahiti and I may have to go back there first! we are leaving to Kauai on the 23 rd for 2 weeks and that will have to do for this year! Hope to hear from you soon! Mark Keidser