Bali is, so far, a cacophony of different experiences. The ocean, open between here and Antarctica pulsates with waves every day, without fail, there's always something to ride. The beaches are totally diverse - some black, others brown, some white, some covered in shacks selling grilled corn and fresh coconuts, others empty and desolate, farmland stretching right up close to the shore.
August is windy. So it's kite season.. look up to see a few dozen bizarrely-shaped specs shimmering there, often static on some kind of fixed lines into the middle distance, like stepping stones into the sky.
We ride by motorbike, until Monica arrives. Two on a bike OK. The school is maybe 25 mins inland across paddy fields which shine in morning light, and on the right day the volcanoe mountain looms in the background, cocunut palm pasted into the frame. Idyllic, or classic tropical scene. Until the junction...
Ubud is the cultural heart, where for decades a melting pot of creative types have been gathering. I stopped one day for a haircut. Turns out to be a centre for therapy and massage, run by an elderly gent who was taught some ancient arts of meditation and massage passed down for generations. Now it feels like the whole town is dedicated to this, with yoga and therapy retreats behind every garden wall. Where surf lodges fill on the coast, travellers here come to stretch and breathe. And eat... the vegan cafes seem to outnumber the conventional. organic everything, dairy free banoffee pie - imagine? I've had food here i've never experienced before - and i'm not talking Balinese spice, but vegan creativity with the very same veg and nuts and fruit you find everywhere.
Back to the sea - always the sea, warm and accessible, rock and sand. This is where everyone goes to play. At weekends filled with locals from the towns and cities equally thrilled with the setting sun, selfies from every rock. Weddings and ceremonies. Temples so near the beach, donging and haunting rhythms heard far out in the waves.