2 Girls on a Motorbike: Bale Kambang, East Java

It turns out when you start the year playing with fireworks  the crazy adventures just keep on coming. It’s like opening a door for insane adventurous ideas to stroll on in. Fireworks were my gateway drug.

Road tripping on a motorbike was the next chapter in my newly birthed saga of crazy ideas.


My friend Stephanie and I had the idea on Wednesday to return to Bale Kambang. We both had visited Bali over break but hadn’t quite gotten our fix of the tropical beaches this country has to offer. Bale Kambang still tops my list of best beaches I’ve visited in Indonesia and possibly ever.

So by Friday we had a plan to hit the road on a motorbike rented for about $7.50 for the following day. And so we were committed to road trip or get hurt, injured, maimed, or die trying.

Steph was the driver as I was too scaredy cat to drive. I elected to be the paranoid backseat driver stuck in a purgatory of perpetual terror. I’m convinced this is still better than me driving. You see Asia has very different rules about driving compared to a western country. It looks like pure madness. It has some kind of rhythm and mutual understanding as traffic accidents are rare, but at face value: insanity. For example if you’re in a car it’s best to straddle the two lanes of the road so as to let motorbikes pass you on both sides. As a rule for the motorbikes: if you fit, gas it. They squeeze between cars fearlessly. The direction of traffic is more like a suggestion than a rule. For example if you’re going a short way up the street or passing slower traffic it’s acceptable to drive on the wrong side of the road. Red lights also more of a suggestion of stopping than a demand. This is what we faced on our on our 90 minute drive to the beach.

Somehow we made it by asking many smiling strangers for directions, actually understanding them thanks to my meager skills in the Indonesian language, and implementing some educated guesswork. The adventure gods were on our side.



At Bale Kambang we decided to take some treks through the jungle and found ourselves on deserted stretches of pristine beach each time. The 10 meter waves crashing offshore instilled a respect for the Goddess of the Southern Seas: the famously brutal Javanese deity of the ocean.  We found three private beaches in total and one volcanic rock cliff. Trekking between included some gorgeous jungle stretches and mud so thick and sticky back home women would pay good money to soak in it. We let it ooze and squish between our toes as the only way of navigating in it is barefoot (we found out the hard way).

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We found ourselves among mangroves and driftwood on coconut and shell littered beaches watching tiny tsunamis crash over small islands over and over. In a land where my height is the same as the average male adult height, I suddenly felt very small for the first time in a while. 

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Again Bale Kambang renewed the spirit of wonder and adventure in a place so close to where I call home. It’s almost magical how you can get so bored of a place and think it has nothing to offer you and then you find access to some hidden treasure and realize you really don’t know much at all. nfk Travel tip #2: Take a crazy road trip even if it’s a short one. 

2 thoughts on “2 Girls on a Motorbike: Bale Kambang, East Java

  1. Pingback: What to Pack for Indonesia | international andrea

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