The Taste of a Day in Medewi

It’s 3:30 am and the first roosters start crowing. Hit the snooze on this first alarm until 4:30 am when the chanting from the neighbourhood mosques begins. They play the chanting on speakers to broadcast the sounds to the neighbourhoods. I’m told by my host that five religions peacefully coexist in Medewi. Impressive. Still, it’s dark at the hour but I know the morning dawn surf nears. 

If I want to beat the crowds on the point, then I have to paddle out in the dark. I did this on Tuesday morning. I hit the lineup at 5:50 am while still dark. I caught one wave. Two people arrive. Then I catch one more wave before 20 people arrive. It’s now just 6:10 am. Surfing waves now is not much fun as many beginners drop in. There is no surf etiquette and it becomes very frustrating. So I decided that I would not surf the point any more. 

On the other morning, I looked at the a-frame in front of the Holy Tree but it’s never working for me. I have my best sessions at the ‘right’ behind the service station. It’s small most days as the swell has disappeared but I can have it to myself for one hour and surf a few fun ones. I have Frederico, an Argentine guy, to thank for sharing this spot with me.

On my first day in Medewi, Frederico shared some of his spots with me that he came to learn. I followed him to the service station to fuel up and he showed me the ‘right’ surf spot. Driving on the main road is treacherous. Big trucks. Buses. Cars, bikes and scooters turn every which way. It’s orderly chaos if I’ve ever seen it but daunting when you first arrive. So I was particularly grateful for Frederico showing me the way on the first bike trip.

I glance at my watch and it’s now 7 am. Time to get ready for work. I work at the homestay. I sit at the dining table with a cat and her kittens who provide some adorable distractions throughout the day. Once the first meeting is finished, I place an order for Mama’s banana pancakes. They become the morning staple. The morning shift is pleasant. The humidity is low and the sun has no bite. It’s a long shift as I try to align my work time with Melbourne. The signal for lunch is the midday chanting. The chanting in Medewi happens five times per day and even more so during Ramadan. 

I have a few options for lunch. I can head down to the point and eat lobster while watching the waves. I can head to Rasta Cafe for Nasi Campur and the best vibes — I do this most days. Naya’s Kitchen is the cheapest option and was likely the source of some mild food poisoning I experienced from Wednesday onwards. Another great spot is Holy Tree and I ate a smoothie bowl here with Natalia. She’s a young Polish surfer who stayed at the same place for a couple of days and we hung out most days. 

Post-lunch, I have a few more hours to put in for the afternoon shift and by this stage, productivity becomes an uphill battle. The heat, humidity and discomfort of the work set-up make it tricky. But I make sure to do most of the work early in the morning. I think this is the only place I booked without a desk and air-con. At least I hope that it’s the only place! 

At the end of the work day, the trade winds have picked up so surfing is not an option. Sometimes I swim. Sometimes I attend errands. On Thursday I hit the Medewi gym for a total cost of $1 — It costs me $15 per week to go to the gym in Melbourne. I got a massage on Wednesday from Huji Magic Hands who is my host. He is the type of man who exudes wisdom. I wouldn’t say my body is healed but it was a worthy experience and I’d get another one for the hefty price tag.

At the end of the day, I head up to the rooftop to glimpse the sunset. It’s such a peaceful spot and it’s like a spiritual wave washes over the landscape with the ambient background chanting in chorus once again. 

Attention now turns to dinner. Rasta and Naya’s Kitchen were staples. I’d usually team up with Natalia. I probably enjoyed Umadewi the most. It’s on the point so we can watch the sunset and the waves peeling off the cobblestone rocks. Not many people are here. I ask the waitress, Illuh, if I can practice my Indonesian with her. She was surprised and it was fun to order my food and drinks in broken Indonesian. Saya mau Beef rendang dan saya mau minum kura kura ale silikan (I want beef rendang and I want to drink turtle ale please). 

I get back to the bungalow most nights around 8 pm and I’m trying to sleep not long after. It’s sticky and the mosquito net works half of the time, which is to say it doesn’t work. 

Other highlights of the stay:

My host Rama took me to his house on Sunday. He told me of his dream to build his place and host people like me on surf camps. His partner made us tea as he shared his hard-working dream. Land and property are ridiculously cheap here. It got me thinking about investment options and running a business but it would take some research to understand the tourist volume of Medewi as it’s quite far from Denpasar. Its charm is in its peace. The locals are friendly and trusting. I could leave my scooter key in the bike ignition while I surfed. People invited me into their homes for dinner. 

On Sunday evening, I had dinner at the Pink Barrel, which is a homestay of the brother of Rama. A feast was prepared for us here. I met some other surfers of whom two travelled to Sumba the following morning to chase a swell. I found myself sharing European travel stories from that trip over a decade ago. It was an interesting moment to reflect and see how travelling has evolved. 

And I couldn’t complete this post without a special mention to the workhorse of a driver who collected me from the airport and drove me to Pererenan the following week: Sanex. He battled the Bali traffic and waited for me while customs struggled to print out my 60-day visa sticker — I suspect trouble will await me when I depart but it should be fine. Our eyelids were struggling to stay open on the drive to Medewi. We arrived at 2 am Sunday (4 am Melbourne time). 6 hours later I was in the surf albeit with a little weariness. But I am grateful for Sanex transporting me safely.

1 thought on “The Taste of a Day in Medewi”

  1. Brenton a great read and insight on your travels. Look forward to more xx

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