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Double the Pleasure, Double the Coconuts in Candidasa

Ubud shined brightly in the relative cool of the morning, as we munched on fried eggs at the hotel restaurant. Allow me to explain, dear reader, if it is not already obvious, that we would certainly prefer to be eating Indonesian breakfast foods (rather than Jaffles and the like), but that here in Bali breakfast was (as, it seemed, in all of Indonesia) included with a night’s stay. So we felt pressure to break our fast in the hotel restaurant, which offered only western choices that among many lackluster qualities featured significantly smaller portions than the Indonesian equivalents we had enjoyed in Java.

Some shopping around secured us a car and driver to Candidasa for a few dollars, and with that we were off.

We asked the driver if he had eaten lunch, and he assured us that he was just as hungry as the two travelers in his 1990’s era Toyota Kijang.  He suggested suckling pig.  Being Hindu, Balinesians do not restrict pork from their diet.  This was a fantastic  blessing, as it led us to a delectable meal eaten right on the street of a small town outside Ubud.

Candidasa had come to us on recommendation of a French Canadian network administrator turned Balinese photographer, and a highly respected member of the court at Naughty Nuri’s.  The ride was about an hour and 40 minutes, and took us out of the mountains and through coastal rice paddies and coconut plantations. Candidasa proved a gorgeously sleepy little hamlet, and we quickly found amazing and quite affordable accommodation therein.

Our hotel, a place by the name of Kelapa Mas Home Stay consisted of a number of small duplex bungalows set in the midst of an ornately manicured and somewhat sprawling Balinese garden, complete with multiple stone temples, curling tiled walkways, and a private beach in the rear.

We were to be staying that night in a beach-facing bamboo bungalow, complete with private porch, two large beds, and the most delightful outdoor bathroom, which was quite clean and sported a cold-water shower that was no more than a large jug, cemented into part of the roof, which when activated, overflowed through a spout and down onto the bather in a refreshing deluge.

Though the urge to linger was strong, we decided to mount the cycles. There was much to do this day, and the first order of business was the beach. This, of course, demanded that we switch into AsiaWheeling beach mode.  AsiaWheeling beach mode is a simple transformation characterized by subtraction.  Only a small pouch of  cash and keys are brought.  Mobile phones, wallets, and sadly the WikiReader gets left at home.  Swim trunks and a light shirt with sunglasses and sandals makes beach mode complete.  The camera is the only piece of digital technology on the better side of the beach mode cutoff.  Assembling ourselves, we climbed onto the Speed TRs.

We had read of a hidden and secret beach about seven km from town and were tearing out of town. The scattering of shops that constituted the city were quickly replaced by thick jungle, dotted with small wooden,pig and chicken farming operations.

You see, dear reader, the city of Candidasa was a boom town during the 1970s, sporting a number of developments and a large swath of white sand beach. Unfortunately, a miscalculated government project harvested a large amount of stone and coral from the surrounding reef, which had the unintentional effect of completely wiping out the white sand beach, and plunging the region into an economic and ecological doomsday.

The beach toward which we rode was the last stretch of virgin beach in the area, and was rumored to be quite glorious. We climbed over a small mountain, and began to snake our way down the other side. Traffic was light, the roads were relatively free of hazard; and we were feeling great.

On the other side of the mountain, we came to a number of temples and an even smaller townships, where we were able to purchase water and gain directions to the beach.

We now rode on an even smaller and more winding path, which switched between gravel and concrete. The path had plenty of Indonesian “sleeping policemen,” however, most of these had been broken in one place or another and excavated to create a clear path for those on only two wheels.  We slowly descended to sea level on a gravel path of rugged terrain.

Eventually the road dissolved into packed red jungle earth, and descended steeply. After paying a fellow the 25-cent entry fee, we found ourselves at the beach.

It was far from secret, but also not overly developed and crowded either. The place was about 300 meters of meandering white sand beach, with bright blue surf energetically lapping against it. The first third of the beach was lined with identical grass huts, from which the locals we selling everything from fresh green coconuts to back massages.  A team of men rolled concrete piping from one side of the beach to the other, evoking the myth of Sisyphus.

Further down the beach were lines of fishing boats and the beach became scattered with discarded puffer fish (which, being poisonous, are no use to the net fisherman after being caught.)

We swam in the ocean. lazed on the beach, and generally rejoiced in our good fortune.  Generously, a French couple offered to share their loungers with us because we were almost completely out of cash.  Luckily, the cost of two coconuts to drink was within our budget.  After we had drained the milk in our state of beach-induced dehydration, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that the service included a slicing of the young coconut and the fashioning of a spoon.  It was exactly what we needed.

When the sun began to lay low enough to indicate afternoon was well underway, we remounted the cycles and headed back into the city to deal with our primary problem: we were down to about two dollars in cash.

Back at the hotel, we wiped the sweat out of our eyes, and consulted the front desk about the location of an ATM.

It seemed the closest one was some 10-15 km away in the nearest large settlement. We would need to either ride it, or charter a cab for the round trip. In many countries to which we will travel on this trip such a situation would be cause for assessment and calculated maneuvering to avoid being over-charged or ending up between a rock and a hard place short on cash.

Here in Indonesia, however, we found the entire experience to be relatively stress-free. Feeling tired from the long wheel and the sun, we decided to splurge on an only mildly over-priced cab, and in no time a jolly fellow in a blue Kijiang appeared to drive us to a local grocery called Hardy’s which sported among other things an international ATM. We loaded up on cash wandered through the store with our driver. He recommended a number of interesting snacks, and we suggested he throw a few in to share with his family.  Below, at this supermarket, is the most Pocari Sweat one may ever see in a single place.

And the coffee aisle.

The snacks were being purchased for consumption on tomorrow’s boat ride to the Gili Islands. The Gilis are a small cluster of three tiny islands in the sea that separates Bali from the neighboring large island of Lombok. Our main reason for the visit was the fact that the islands have no motorized traffic, and reportedly run on only bicycle and horse cart.

Among other interesting attributes, a theft or occurrence of misconduct on the Gili Islands is handled by the village elder, as there are no policemen present. So as you, dear reader, can no doubt imagine, we were none too thrilled to learn that rough seas and need for repairs had canceled our ferry for the next day. Stripped of our plans to visit the Gilis we were forced to re-chart the last few days in Bali.

Retiring to the beach in front of our bungalow, we recalled classic alternative rock tunes from the mid to late 1990s and nestled into some books as the twilight rolled out to the horizon.

With such a beautiful and affordable hotel, and the finest beach I have visited in my entire life only a glorious seven km wheel from town. We decided to spend another night at the Kelapa Mas in Candidasa and chart our trajectory from there.  As the ukelele continued, the sunset overlooking the Indian Ocean eased us calmly into an evening of rest.

And, believe it or not, dear reader, the next day we did something that has never happened in the rich and meandering history of AsiaWheeling Global Enterprises: we did the same thing two days in a row.


  1. Kelsey | February 3rd, 2010 | 12:23 am

    This sunset is stunning! I don’t blame you guys for doing the same thing two days in a row.

  2. Jim Morgan | February 3rd, 2010 | 1:28 am

    I thoroughly enjoy your postings and admire your ability to navigate the various cultures, gastronomic challenges and sleeping quarters. Stay safe, enjoy and keep sharing your learnings

  3. Psymon | February 3rd, 2010 | 12:56 pm

    I have lived in Indonesia for 4 years now and have never been as north as Candidasa. I hear that there is some good diving to be had and after reading this i will be making the effort sometime next month.

    Thx, you inspired me.

  4. Woody | February 3rd, 2010 | 2:45 pm

    @ Psymon

    I am so glad that you have been inspired by this post. Please let us know how your experience in Candidasa goes. Where do you normally live in Indonesia?

    @ Jim Morgan

    Thanks for the comment. Great to hear that you are reading and enjoying.

    @ Kelsey

    Look out for more sunsets in the upcoming posts!

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