Vacations are good for many things: an invigorating hike, a street food tour, a surfing lesson. But the one thing that sadly gets overlooked, in part because you can’t slap a filter on it and stick it on Insta, is a good lie-in.
The effects of waking up after the sun has already climbed over the horizon are magical. Everything is soft. The world can be conquered, and you can be the one to do it, once you shake that soft sleep off your shoulders. But no rush.
What makes a good lie-in even better is walking barefoot from your bedroom to the outdoor dining area, inhaling warm tropical air, and finding breakfast already prepared for you, with coffee to boot.
We ate at 9:30 and read for a little bit while we digested and awaited our massages, which took place at 10:30. After the hectic, 24-hours-without-sleep fest the night before, Mel and I were taking it realllll slow today.
Ambitiously, we arranged to meet Kristen and Andrew at noon. They were staying in Seminyak, and we’d found a cool climbing gym in Canggu we wanted to try out.
At 11:30, Mel and I felt certain we could meet them by twelve. The plan was to pick up coffee, hail a cab, and take the 20-minute car journey around Canggu to Bali Climbing Gym.
Of course, it was nearly impossible to get a cab and by the time we got there, it was closer to 1.
“Cabs are interesting here, and you can’t get Grab,” Andrew told us when we arrived. “Last night, we tried to get a Grab, and the guy parked up the road and had a different plate on his car. He said there’s a taxi mafia here and they destroy your car if they find out you’re working for Grab.”
Apparently, the risk of picking up Grab customers in Canggu is high, so only a few brave souls dare to work the area.
After letting that sink in, we rented climbing shoes and got to bouldering. The gym was perfect: it was small and open-air, and there were other obstacles there that you could play on while resting, such as a climbing rope, a slack line, and rings.
I love bouldering, and Kristen is pretty awesome at it, so watching her crush some routes and beta made the whole thing way more fun. When she first told me she preferred bouldering to top rope, I wasn’t sure I agreed, but I do now.
“It’s more fun. Everyone hangs out and helps each other out, and when you figure out a step, everyone’s excited.”
It was even more exciting because we were well-rested and the sea breeze was drifting through the open gym.
After, Mel and I grabbed smoothie bowls next door at an adjoining café to refuel before heading to the beach for surf lessons. As we walked, we realized that Old Man’s was barely a 10-minute walk from the climbing gym. And here we thought the taxi was faster.
We chose Old Mans back in June because our friend Eric had said it was a good surf spot for beginners, with soft beach breaks and good waves. This was true. The four of us took a lesson and practiced popping up onto the boards. If you’re picturing Paul Rudd in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, you’re spot on.
Once it seemed like we’d figured it out, we were each paired with a separate guide and brought into the ocean, where we got to implement our paddling skills. By the time I made it out to the inside wave, I noticed that none of my friends were nearby. My guide, Adit, was beside me though, and immediately turned me around and pointed me toward the shore where dozens of other clumsy noobs bobbed in the waves.
“Okay, go now!” he said, and suddenly I was moving forward, then up on one knee, then in the water. This happened one or two other times, the second being that I found myself barreling toward another surfer so I flung myself off.
My exhaustion, coupled with the ocean’s beastly waves, resulted in me finding myself closer to the shore than I would’ve liked. By the time I waded out and stood panting on the sand, I felt like I’d lost a fistfight with Poseidon.
The ocean had acted as my own personal Neti Pot; it took me a moment to note the bib of snot that glistened on my rash guard, and I thought absently of the person who had worn it before me and what they’d left on it. Gross.
I scanned the ocean for Adit or anyone else I knew, until he arrived on shore and told me to get back in the ocean.
I paddled out and found Melanie, which was nice since I hadn’t seen any of them since we started the lesson. No sooner had I paddled up next to her did he turn my board around and point me to the shore. This time, I caught the wave and stood up before a second wave came and shoved me underwater.
This went on a few more times and Melanie eventually drifted away. I was tired. Climbing before surfing maybe wasn’t the greatest of ideas.
“OK, you catch the next one,” Adit said.
“OK, and then I go back to shore.”
“Really?” He sounded disappointed. The whole time on land they’d told us to “listen” to our bodies, and if we felt too tired, we shouldn’t push it. But Adit seemed to think I was invincible.
“You’re a body builder?” he’d asked me earlier, pinching my bicep. This was confusing, and also made me feel like his expectations were way too high.
In any case, I was ready to head in, so when the wave came, I stood up. And I rode it all the way to shore. In fact, a second one came up after the first one started losing momentum and I stayed up and kept going.
To any seasoned surfer, I was probably chugging along like a bipedal slug, but whatever. I didn’t fall off, and I made it to shore, and I even gracefully jumped off the way they’d taught us. It was exhilarating. I wanted to go back out and try it again, but I figured I’d end on a high.
Everyone else had reached the same level of exhaustion, so we turned in the boards and headed to Finns Beach Club for sundowners. The club was pumping thumping techno tunes and lots of thin, tan girls in bikinis were dancing with tall, muscular men and a toddler who had found his way onto the dance floor, but it was fine. The cocktails were decent, and our company was stellar.
We walked back to our villa after drinks and swam in the pool/initiated a spontaneous dance party that reminded me of being a kid again.
In addition to the underestimated lie-in, having your own pool and your own place to have your friends visit is another perk of vacation. I’d forgotten how much silly fun can be had in a pool.
After, Kristen and Andrew headed off and Mel and I ventured to the street in town to locate dinner (a failed attempt at Shmurger Burger which was underwhelming) and back to Two Trees so I could get breakfast for tomorrow.
Tomorrow, there would be no lie-in. Tomorrow was Nusa Penida.