Bali Bridge from 2016 to 2017

Surf Glamp, Canggu. Drawn back from the street behind Deus’s flagship temple of enthusiasm and its surrounding light green fields, lies this charming, airy, clean edition of a surf camp. Spacious white buildings, manicured lawn lined with lush palm trees of various sizes and species, two perfectly turquoise pools framed by stylish sun loungers, outdoor dining hall comprised by straight rows of honey-smooth wooden tables and benches, breezy house tunes and Jack Johnson classics sounding from outdoor speakers, volleyball field, outdoor yoga studio…. the place is primarily frequented by (very pretty, very toned) Scandinavians in their early twenties, but as my friend and I arrive, we also meet a handful of people our age or a bit older, and from places as varied as Spain, Thailand and Australia. It’s a happy spot – full of open-minded vibes and good energy. After having dropped off our bags and said hello to our super stunning, sweetly smily twenty-year-old marketing-studying Swedish roommates, we walk among the rolling fields down to Echo Beach for a view of the roaring ocean, meander back up through shabby chic Canggu for a crunchy and colourful lunch at one of the hippie village’s Instagram perfect organic cafes, a turmeric almond latte at another one of them, and a blissful afternoon spent by the pool with out books. A dinner of steamed brown rice, raw vegetables and sautéed shredded chicken is served at 6:30pm. Shortly after that, we doze off in front of Eat, Pray, Love playing on my laptop.

Trash in Paradise. Breakfast is served when we rise with the chickens at 6am – fresh papaya, hard-boiled eggs and steaming coffee. Off to catch the early surf south of Seminyak, where we are shocked by the amount of garbage covering the beach and sticking to our bodies in the waves. It happens every year apparently (I should have checked!), during the last two weeks of December – trash washed up on the beach from the surrounding islands. So disgusting and disheartening! The attempts at removing it seem very half-hearted – a few locals slouching around and waving at the plastic bottles and soaked garments with primitive sticks and forks – but maybe that’s on purpose? Maybe they wait it out and remove everything properly at once? Maybe the authorities are doing something to prevent it from happening once again next year? It’s just such an extensive issue – how do you keep the oceans clean; and seeing as they aren’t, how do you most efficiently keep trash out of sight and touch with tourists? Hm, I guess it’s a good reminder for us, however embarrassing it is to admit. Poor us – but even poorer marine life! My friend and I talk about setting up a surf camp that’s free if you help clean the ocean and the beach for 4 hours each day. Who doesn’t want a clean, safe and healthy environment and an idyllic-looking holiday? After catching a few good waves, I get out of the water and sit on the beach, watching my friend as she continues to play; her balance is so, so good, and she clearly enjoys herself. She joins me shortly after, though, only to grab an abandoned fork and start scraping pieces of plastic together in a pile. I walk back along the beach, watching the rolling waves, shining deep blue all the way to the horizon, where they clash with the light blue skies. Still so beautiful despite the manmade attempts at ruining the idyll. I MISS frosty weather, winter-brown beech forests, the smell of pine needles, ice-skating, freezing, the drastic sensation of your body temperature falling or rising as you step out into or inside from a snow-covered landscape …. but this is beautiful too. Back by 10 to work all day from the pool-side, only interrupted by a Shady Shack lunch. The evening is for astanga yoga (such a good lesson; makes me think that I want to do a series of sun salutations every morning) and surf theory lessons.

Work in Harmony. I wake up early, do a few laps in the pool in drizzling rain, put on my running gear and run off along Batu Bolong Beach, passing cute huts and other runners, doing a series of sun salutations facing the waves, sitting for a bit hugging my knees and looking out at the blue-greyish expanse, thinking about my life. Run back home, shower, wave goodbye to my friend who is off to surf in the clean, paradisiac water off the east coast. Curl up in a soft, white sofa with my laptop to work in full creative concentration, occasionally looking up at the hot rain that falls with an ever increasing intensity. When it eventually stops, I get up and walk to a nearby cafe, where the wifi is fast, the ambience is chilled and the juice is cold pressed from pineapples, turmeric and ginger. After a Christmas full of emotional reflection on the phenomena of holidays, traditions, distance, memories, creating new memories, what’s sacred to me, what’s time, what’s space, my mind seems to be taking a rest and thrive on focusing on work. Sitting on the Shack’s verandah and reading The Vegetarian for a few hours after finishing the day’s tasks, smelling the scents from the kitchen, listening to the music, the chatter, the scooters, and watching the myriads of hip, happy and relaxed young people enjoying healthy food and coming and going – and that fantastic view of the fields, the palm trees and the huts in the background. There is nowhere I have to go or be, no one to entertain, and I just feel completely… happy. Watch the sunset from the beach.

Nusa Lembongan. Up with the chickens to go sailing, swimming and snorkelling in warm, clear water off white sand beaches in small rocky coves framed by lush greenery. What a thrill it is to speed out across the blue expanse with wind in our hair, sea salt baking on our skin, sunshine all over. Finishing the day with a matcha latte and two shared slices of raw, vegan cheesecake, one with raspberry and one with vanilla, both so moist and tasty, while talking about dreams and goals, with my friend.

Surf’s Up. Sailing out to the reef off the east coast at 8am to paddle forth and back, jump up on the board and lean back and forth and slightly to the side, focusing on my balance, my flexibility, my confidence, never looking down, only looking at the waves and the beach. Work. Healthy food. Yin yoga. Read in bed.

Happy New Year. Morning swim – fresh watermelon and pineapple – Jack Johnson – rain followed by sunshine – rainbows covering the sky. Beautiful moment: an American guy sums up all of this idyll, only to be squashed by a dry remark from a French guy: but in Bali, rainbows mean bad luck, no? Everyone bursts out laughing. My friend and I go for a run together. We used to meet in the middle of Columbia Road, just by our favourite pub, the Royal Oak, back in London, around 6:30am, rain or shine, summer and winter, and sprint around Victoria Park. Now we’re here, on a beach in the tropics, trotting along on the hard sand until we get to Desa Seni, the eco village resort that I love so much, where we drink herbal infusion tea for female beauty, write lists of things to release from 2016 and achieve in 2017 and go for a vinyasa flow session with a wonderful Spanish yoga teacher. Have lunch at one of the healthy hotspots, where they’re playing my soundtrack of the year that’s running out that night. Funny. Run in torrential rain along backroads and rice paddy fields – spotting colourful New Year’s ornaments on the way. Sleep – read the last of The Vegetarian, which leaves a mark and which I’ll recommend to anyone – specially Murakami fans. Nap. Calls with loved ones in Europe. Watching a cheerful volley tournament in the garden. La favela – espresso martinis. Motel mexicola – perfect party – decorations, confetti, lots of delicious margaritas, refreshing vodka/sodas, fish tacos, ceviche, spicy corn on the cob. Thrilling scooter taxi ride back home before midnight, clinging on to each other in the hot night, loving the speed, the wind in our hair, the lively atmosphere in the dark streets. Stopping by the Shack for small pieces of raw chocolate made in Ubud. Pool – music, candle light, jump from 2016 and landing with a splash in the refreshing pool of 2017. Wet, excited hugs in the water. 2016 has been a remarkable year in many ways (here, one of my favourite bloggers summaries some of the good things that happened on a global scale, in relation to the environment, endangered animals, diseases, poverty and promoting equality and peace), and for me personally, in headlines, the most remarkable so far, revolving around the theme of ‘home’, as found in myself, in friends, in travelling, in love. I’m grateful for this way of showing it the last bit of gratitude, with a natural, fresh, invigorating bridge into the new year, about which I’m very excited. We fall asleep wishing for happiness, health, contentment and curiosity.

Zen Trend. Having spread comfortably from one hip destination to the other in 2016, the Danish word ‘hygge’ is going to be the global buzz word of 2017. More than describing a mise-en-scène set up to reach the ultimate harmonious atmosphere, it really is about being completely relaxed and at easy with yourself and your surroundings. More than woolen socks, fire places and cute dogs curled up at your feed, it denotes a space to stretch physically and rest mentally. Rest your grounded feet, reconnect with your heart and the hearts around you, rekindle your passion, or do, say and think absolutely nothing at all. I’ve grown up impulsively describing all kinds of situations as ‘hyggelige’, and my intention for the new year is to think consciously about creating and participating in such situations as often as possible.

First Day of 2017. Up with the chickens before midnight in Europe. Happy new year greetings to loved ones partying at home… parents with friends in restaurant in Spain, brother in Tokyo, friends in Copenhagen. My boyfriend is out of telephonic reach on a mountainside in India, with wild bunnies, birds and elephants. I swim, do sun salutations (have promised myself to start each day with at least two of them), have breakfast in the garden – fresh papaya and watermelon, porridge and freshly brewed coffee. Off to surf on reef off east coast at 8:30am. Beautiful conditions, fresh, smiling happily at each other as we sail out in little wooden boat with instructors and fellow students, what a way to welcome the new year – with waves, fresh air, fun. After 10-15 waves, I swim back to the boat, lay down on the narrow deck, close my eyes and focus on my breath. Drive back – for a big, delicious vegan burger and turmeric latte at the Shack. I’ve got my friend, we’re seated in the open window, soaking up the vibe, nodding to the palm trees. Meander around Canggu, shopping clothes for boyfriends, getting a 1-hour Balinese massage. Back for dinner at the camp with our new friends. Shower, pack, read in bed while it’s raining heavily.

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