We arrived in Batu Karas in the middle of a rainy night. We had just spent almost four hours in a cramped van, with the backpacks precariously strapped to the roof with rope, twine, and luck. They ranged from damp to wet, as the rain has caught us in the middle of the road and it took the driver some time to get to the shelter of a gas station to organize a tarp. But were happy to be here, by the sea, in a very nice hotel with a clean pool for only around $20 per night. This was the most luxury we had experienced since the start of the trip.
Batu Karas is really just a single street meandering near a bay. The rocky outcrop provides for a nice point break, which makes this an attractive place for surfing. And that is why we were here. We sharpened our skills. Some practiced catching the best waves and skillfully maneuvering their boards to catch the longest ride. Others were starting to stand up and stay on for precious seconds. I had my hands full with making sure the rolling waves did not knock me off the board as I paddled and was ecstatic when I could catch a wave and be pushed towards the shore lying down. But over the days we got a bit better and we are looking forward to learning more the next time we find a beach with a friendly break.
The days were also spent riding motorbikes in the surrounding areas, enjoying the tasty food, watching the rice grow in the paddies, and just lounging on the black volcanic sand beach. On Sunday, Weronika turned 28 and there was a little party.
One of the highlights of Batu Karas was the nearby Green Canyon. Weronika and I set out on motorbikes and decided to hire a boat for the short journey up the jungle river. We had no expectations and were anticipating a quite ride amongst the lush green walls of the jungle, and perhaps a bit of canyon. The boat came to the end of the navigable river, we donned life jackets, and jumped into the swift current (with a guide). Pulling ourselves upstream along ropes, clawing the rocks on the banks, climbing along the cliff, and swimming across the chocolate water, we finally made it to a view of the waterfall. The return trip was much easier as we floated down the river in our lifejackets, making sure to snag the last rope and climb back onto the rocks and into the boat.