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Dreamland: Beach of the Apocalypse

We awoke our last morning at the Beautiful Kalepa Mas, free of mosquito bites, due a late night investment in a “coil” – a locally popular type of mosquito repellent. The sun was shining beautifully, and it was not without some pulling of the heartstrings that we departed from our luxurious and most affordable accommodations.

But depart we did, and loaded the speed TRs into the back of a shiny Kijiang bound for the unknown land of Uluwatu. What did we know of this place? It was a mecca for surfers, renowned for its beaches and waves. Scott was interested in surfing, and an investigation of maps suggested a hotel that was well positioned in the midst of a number of well known surfing beaches.

As the sun beamed outside, we snacked on Indonesian crackers, watching the signs for the many places we had already seen fly by outside. Soon, the city dissolved into farmland, and we turned off the main road onto a smaller, quite winding, and notably hillier bit of road. Then, quite unexpectedly, the driver pulled off the road, and announced we had reached our destination.

It turned out that Uluwatu was not a town, per se, but just a region of beaches, farms, and scattered hotels. Our hotel was quite beautiful, though, and had an expansive view of the ocean. The rooms were spacious and the hotel had a very clean and new-looking infinity pool.

The place was called Rocky Bungalows, as we later learned not for the rocky nature of the landscape, but for the owner, a simultaneously friendly and rather tattooed fellow by the name of Rocky. At $20 a night, we decided it would do for the next two nights, so we unloaded our belongings and took to the streets.  The hotel also featured a fearsome creature caged for security in the drive up roundabout.  We call him killer.

The subsequent wheel was good but hard. The destination was a beach known as Dreamland. Once a secret, it was now well known and rumored to be quite stunning. Not long into the wheel we found ourselves tackling one of the most difficult uphills of our lives. My ears popped and my legs burned as we struggled up and over a mountain. The sun burned hot and bright and in the stifling humidity the sweat poured out of us. Lack of blood sugar and water whipped our backs like a cat o’ nine tails. Finally after one false positive after another, the hill ended, and we descended into the cooling breeze. The beautiful west coast of Bali was laid out before us. And from the summit, it seemed it might all be accessible now without even pedaling.

The hunger hit as we were entering the first established city of the ride. And we passed a place by the name of de X-treme Culinare,  and something about it called to us (besides from the brilliance of the name). We feasted there on fried noodles, chicken satay, and fish stew, while chatting with the owner, who had made his fortune as a cook on a cruise liner.

In addition to the grub, he gave us much needed directions to Dreamland, which we had inadvertently passed on our way to de X-treme. You see, however, we had passed it because we assumed it to be either a resort hotel or a posh housing development. And it turned out to be both, so it was a more complicated kind of mis-navigation that caused the error. Now on the correct road, we found the approach to be a long, wide, and newly paved downhill, with opposing lanes of traffic separated by a wide and grassy median, lined with palm trees.

After a number of long and fast descents (thank goodness for the modification to the Panama hats), we arrived at the entrance to a number of compounds. One of these, we knew, must be the beach, but which one? We were turned back from our first two attempts, one of them proving to be a nightclub, and another a golf course. Finally we found the right entrance, and locked the bikes to a telephone pole.

We strolled down a steep and crumbling approach, across a newly built concrete walkway, and out into a scene of pure post-apocalyptic glory.

The tide was in, and waves were breaking right at the shore. Only a thin strip of sand separated the breaking surf from the steep rocky cliffs that backed the beach. From time to time, a large wave would close the gap completely and crash against the cliffside. A large group of souvenir and apparel merchants had been forced to erect their umbrellas on the small bit of land that was protected from the unpredictable surf, and the beach goers were trapped in a decision between enduring the harangues of the hyper-concentrated souvenir merchants, or braving the dangers of the frothing and angry sea.

Despite large flags proclaiming the deadliness of choosing the sea, most beach goers decided it to be the lesser of two evils, and were picking their way carefully down the beach. The water was blue, but littered with both sea plants torn loose by the violence of the surf and garbage deposited there by humans. The sand was littered with wrappers, bottles, and rotting seaweed. We spotted enough broken glass to cause us to re-don our shoes.

All in all, it proved a fascinating waypoint, and after climbing back over the hill toward  Rocky Bungalows, we were quite exhausted. We relaxed part way back at another local surfing beach, by the name of Padang Padang beach, still quite dirty but not nearly as dramatic as Dreamland.

It proved good for relaxing and playing the ukulele, but after the virgin beach we had so much enjoyed in Candidasa, we were beginning to develop a bit of a discerning taste for these places, and before the osmotic pressure to purchase sarongs for project K9 became too great, we departed for home.


  1. Herringbone | February 3rd, 2010 | 1:15 pm


    is this “project k9” i keep reading about the plan that was hatched after the death by audio gig and up in the barn?

    hmmm….if so, where do i sign up? and hows that little endeavor? can i jump on before you all run out of patience with local post offices? you know my persuasions well, gentlemen, so let me know how that little k9 is going, boys.

  2. Henkes | February 3rd, 2010 | 8:41 pm

    Before I saw the pictures I was envisioning the Dreamland beach to be something out of an Alex Garland novel… not as such. Looking forward to the unveiling of project K9!

  3. Woody | February 3rd, 2010 | 8:55 pm

    @ Harringbone
    Yep. Look out for some functionality coming to AsiaWheeling.com…

    @ Henkes
    Indeed. Indeed. We just need more detailed pictures, for I think it was a little Garlandian.

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