Dreams of Bali – Back in Medewi

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Dreams of Pink Barrels

After the quite intense time in Thailand we were glad to spend another month in Medewi in Bali and this time we had plenty of time to ourselves as Mikael was back in Sweden. To make the most of  the extra time we had on our hands we decided to focus on studies and work between the surf sessions.

Staying in the bungalows at Pink Barrel Bali is one of the most peaceful and relaxing experiences one could imagine. We woke up with the sunrise (around 5:30) pretty much everyday and sat on the veranda by the pool and greeted the sun as it rose over the mountains in the north east. Many mornings it was a quick greeting as Linus was determined to fit in a morning surf session before his online animation school started. During our time in Bali he learned After Effects via a site called Udemy and he discovered that he really enjoys animation as it suits his imagination as a designer and illustrator very well. This might be the beginning of something very exciting.

November is low season in Medewi and in the mornings there was rarely anyone out in the water and Linus got some of the best waves and sessions of his life, again 🙂 He was a bit sad that he couldn’t share them with his surf buddy Mikael but surfing with some other non locals he was pushed to learn the line up more by himself and the time spent in the water really developed his surfing. This was the first time he got to really practice turns on his forehand and after a month in the waves they were very much improved. It will be fun to see how they work in the Swedish waters as our time in the tropics are coming to an end for this time around.

The waves were often a bit too intense for Malin but she did have a play in the surf on the smaller days and got some nice rides. She still prefers the gentle Memories Beach in Thailand for surfing, but the bungalow turned out to be an amazing yoga location as the porch is really spacious. The view is amazing with a panorama of rice fields, cows, jungle and mountains. The low season also meant some truly spectacular, and surprisingly loud, thunderstorms that echoed over the valley.

The storms brought a lot of rain that flooded parts of the valley which unfortunately meant that the snakes living at the bottom of it started to move up hill and we had some interesting encounters with our slithery friends. No dangerous situations but they do surprise you, as long as you don’t step on them there’s no reason for an attack, so we were careful where we put our feet, especially after the rains. Also, not to alarm you, apparently some snakes can jump?! as Malin got to experience as she saw a small snake jump from the porch to a near by tree.

After the daily exercise, education and work for Malin we were happy to have dinner every night with our Finnish friends, Samu, Reeta and Juho. So many laughs and so many great ideas and lessons. Hyvää Houmenta is the phrase of the month meaning Good Morning. We’re nearly fluent now, haha.

Mikael came back after a few weeks in Sweden and we had an epic celebration on Linus birthday, the 6th of December, which also happens to be the Finnish Independence day. Mikael treated us to a birthday burger brunch at Bombora, the finest restaurant in town with view of the point break. When we got home balloons and presents awaited Linus and we frolicked in the pool and enjoyed some amazing and innovative cocktails. Mangosteen-banana daiquiri is definitely a new favourite.

During our stay we got the time to be more creative with paint and brushes as we did some redecoration of the Pink Barrel road sign and the old boat they have in the garden. Both of them were looking worse for wear and with some good teamwork, colour mixing and lettering, the sign is now joyful and highly visible and we turned the sad boat, to Linus utter delight, into a giant banana with “Go Bananas” in giant letters written on it.

It was a true gift to get to spend another month in Medewi with Tika, Reza, Samu, Reeta and Juho. Gaining friends for life is a beautiful thing and the time we got to spend developing our skills both in and out of the ocean was very precious. A massive thank you to Michael who made this possible and we can’t wait to come and stay with our Balinese family again.

Dreams of Bali – Menjangan

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Underwater exploration and charging shrubs

Having dived in Bali before and remembering how beautiful it was, we wanted to explore the underwater world a bit more. We decided to check out Menjangan which is on the north western side of the island and a slightly less known dive spot compared to the famous Tulamben and Amed on the east side.

Bali is quite a small island and the trip from Medewi to Labuhan Lalang, where we were going to meet up with our dive company Blue Corner, was only about 1.5 hours. We got a driver from Medewi to take us up there in the morning and we drove through lots of villages, dense jungle areas and at one point the side of the road was full of monkeys. It is always interesting traveling on the roads in Asia, you just never know what you are going to see. One of the main characteristics of the traffic in Bali is the trucks that are often very old, extremely over weighted and very much pimped with random expressions. Sexy Fish was on of the funnier ones we saw, and another great highlight of the drive was the 3 charging shrubs we past at one point. As we arrived at Labuhan Lalang we were a bit early but after some time our dive guide approached us and we went off to the boat.

Menjangan is an island that you can see from the mainland and after about a 15 minute boat ride we arrived and sat down outside the small dive shop close to the only resort on the island. We could see the reef from where we were sitting and a few people came down from their bungalows with snorkeling gear and jumped in for a swim. It seemed like a very relaxing place to stay and it felt a bit like a forgotten treasure with monkeys climbing the trees and apparently a Balinese species of deer!? also lives on the island. Having a dear and a monkey on a white sandy beach is, to our Skandie minds, a very strange combination.

After filling out the usual paperwork we went down to the boat again together with a few snorkelers from the resort. The first dive site for the day was Dream Wall on the other side of the island and about 15 minutes away. It was only the two of us and our guide who were diving so we got ready quickly and jumped in. The visibility was nice and probably about 20m and the dive site went along a wall that dropped to about 28m. Soon after we descended our guide found a massive frog fish which is a very camouflaged fish with pectoral fins that look more like feet and they also use them to walk along the bottom. This one sat on a coral and was pretending to be a sponge, and it was so large that it took some time before we saw it. The dive site was one of the most perfect dive sites we have done in terms of giving us something to look at all the way through our dive profile. We started following the wall around 25 meters and as we reached the end of the wall and our turn around point we had ascended to 15 meters and we swam back across the top of the wall that very conveniently got shallower and shallower until it reached 6 meters in time for our safety stop.

After the dive we head off to a resting area on the island to have lunch. We sat down in one of the small roofed seating areas and looked up towards the massive volcanoes on Java while having some Nasi Goreng and some peanut butter Oreos for desert. As we turned around sure enough a short distance away, a large deer with massive horns was looking back at us. It reminded us very much of the raindeers we have in the north of Sweden and it was so surreal to see it in this setting. After watching it for some time we went for a short walk along the beach before it was time to head back to the boat.

The second dive site for the day was Eel Garden and it was a pleasant dive where we saw some cool nudibranchs and of course the ribbon eels that have given the site its name. After the dive we went to the resort for some time before they drove us back to the mainland where our driver was patiently waiting to take us back to Medewi.

It was a great day and as always it was amazing to be back in the water again. As our GoPro got flooded in Sydney it was a slightly different experience for Linus as it has been a long time since he dived without a camera and it was quite nice to take a break from it.

Dreams of Bali – Medewi

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Sunrises, serenity and stoke

After our “short” 10-day visit to Medewi in May we were looking forward to staying a full month here. Surfing, yoga, painting, reading and simply embracing the sense of relaxation that this place brings you was the grand plan for our stay and it felt like such a luxury after our amazing but quite intense time in Australia.

We had managed to time our visit with some really great swells and almost every morning we head off at sunrise to enjoy the power of the sea. The swells ranged from 3-9ft and Malin got some awesome photography sessions watching Mikael, Linus and quite often Samu, play in the waves. It is quite magic to watch the sun rise over the mountains and the mosques and see the morning light hit the foaming waves.

Linus was really stoked to get some quality time with his old surf buddy Mikael again. After spending so many hours at frigid Swedish surf sessions together, it was such a dream to share some of the best waves they’ve ever had here in Bali together with Samu, the Finnish charger, who always seems to get the bombs, sometimes on the head but he’s bagged a couple of epic rides as well.

During our previous visits to Pink Barrel we had talked about doing some wall paintings. Mikael allows guests to paint on the walls with the only restriction that the artwork should convey love and peace and we felt it was time for us to finally make our mark. Linus has been practising drawing waves for a long time and considering where we were his choice of motif seemed like a no-brainer. He and Mikael decided, after much consideration, on a heavy lefthand barrel on a large wall above the bathrooms on the bottom veranda where we have breakfast and dinner every day and after putting a table in place for him to stand on, the painting began. It was exciting to see the massive wave take shape and after many hours and a considerable amount of blue, green and white paint the artwork was finished and it looked awesome!

Meanwhile Malin spent her time in the “Low Rider” room on the bottom floor. It is the only room that doesn’t have a view and to amend this Malin decided to paint the view from the pool over the mountains and the rice fields. It was interesting to learn how to get the paints to blend and to experiment with different brush strokes and effects to give life to the landscape. After many hours of painting the “Low Rider” room had been given new life and earned a new name – the “Dragon Room”. It was a treat to have time to develop our painting skills and a privilege to get such a large canvas to use.

During our stay we got to try all the different rooms at Pink Barrel and for 2 weeks we got the privilege to stay in one of the newly built bungalows next to the main house. They are beautiful wooden buildings with big glass windows opening up towards a big porch with views over the rice fields and the mountains beyond. We woke up with the first light and to open your eyes and see the sun rise over the mountains was just beautiful.

When we arrived in Bali Linus had been suffering from some quite bad headaches for a few weeks and after a few days here he went over to Ugis, Tika’s father, who is known to be a healing man. In his house he keeps a book of messages from people he has helped, sometimes with problems they have had for many years, and during our stays we have met countless of people who have received massages from him and feel better than they have done for years. When we were here in 2016 Linus had a massage from him and after 20 minutes or so he burst out laughing without any apparent reason. He apologised to Ugis, but he said that it happens quite often, sometimes people cry sometimes they laugh, and that he much preferred the laughing.

This time he started with massaging Linus neck and shoulders and then he went down and studied Linus toes for some time and then he pushed hard at one point on Linus big toe and a huge pain seared through Linus. After another 30 minutes of toe massage Ugis finished and the headache was gone. In 2016 there was a doctor staying at Pink Barrel and he went over to study what Ugis actually does, and he said that it is a mix of many disciplines and it’s fascinating how he has gained all this knowledge from his father without any formal education, and his way of knowing what is wrong without you telling him is truly incredible.

Life at Pink Barrel is extremely easy, and probably one of the reasons why you get so relaxed when staying here. Every night Ticka serves a delicious Balinese meal, and as everyone sits at a long table you get time to get to know the other people staying there. During our stay we’ve had so many amazing conversations and laughs with people from all around the world and even learned some Finnish from our great new old friends Samu and Reeta, who kind of lives here, and among all the great things we have learned during our long trip we will now always know how to ask for some tissue at a Finnish dinner table – Pari paperia

Back to Bali

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Surfing Medewi

After an amazing, wonderful and quite hectic couple of months in Thailand it was time for us to head back to Medewi for some relaxing and surfing at Mikaels guest house Pink Barrel. We were going to meet up with Ching and a couple of other friends from Thailand there but we went a few days ahead of them.

Our flight was at 10 in the evening so as our friend Ef drove us to the airport we were already feeling quite sleepy and looking forward to getting a few hours rest on our first flight to Singapore before flying on to Denpasar. The flight went well and as there was no entertainment onboard we spent the time listening to Brandon Sandersons The Final Empire – we have found that listening to audiobooks together on flights is a great way of killing time!

We arrived in Singapore safe and sound, but as it was now around one a clock in the morning and we had a 4 hour wait before the next flight we were desperate to find somewhere to rest. Luckily we found a spa that offered reclining chairs for a small cost so we both snuggled up and relaxed so much that the staff had to wake us up to say that we had to go to our gate.

It turned out to be a 15 minute walk there so we were feeling slightly stressed in our early morning haze but we made it to the gate fine. Onward to Denpasar! we thought… but apparently there was a technical problem and we sat at the gate for 1.5 hours longing to go back to our reclining chairs that we had ran away from. Finally we got to board the plane only to hear that a few of the passengers had wondered off during the wait so we spent another 1.5 hours waiting on the plane before we could happily fly on to Denpasar.

Mikael and Reza met us at the airport with the car full of tiles, toilets and other material for the new bungalows they are building. On the way we stopped at a shop to buy a sink made from a rock and the only place left in the car was in front of Linus seat, so he continued the journey with his feet in the sink. After what ended up being a 21 hour journey from Khao Lak to Medewi we were so happy to arrive at Pink Barrel just in time for dinner.

The first few days we spent resting a lot and Linus, Mikael, Reza and Samu (a finish guy has been staying at Pink Barrel with his wife Reeta for a few months) had a few surf sessions every day and Malin did some Yoga sessions with Reeta who is a yoga teacher. 3 days after our arrival in Medewi the Thai gang arrived. We had met everyone previously at Memories, but it was great to spend more time with everyone and see everyone have fun in the waves.

The trip was very much a reunion as it was a similar gang who went together to Medewi the first time in 2012 and actually introduced Mikael to the village where he would eventually build his amazing house.

Spending time in Medewi feels like conditioner for the soul, everything is focused on just appreciating the beauty and the moment.  Waking up before sunrise everyday gave us some amazing views and also some really nice conditions for our surf sessions, with the added bonus of making the days feel really long, even though we went to bed at 9 every night. For Linus these sunrise sessions was a milestone as he caught his first barrel (hollow wave) and now he’s more keen than ever to surf bigger and better waves. The idea was that Malin could try out the surfing down here as well but the swell got a little to big for it to be suitable for beginners. We’ll return here later in the year for a longer stay with more mellow conditions so we both can get our feet wet.