Lekker. Week #5 in the islands started off with some cooking surf. Headed south again to one of my favourite tropical right hand points. The reefs close to home were pretty gnarly cos of the increase in swell size.
Did try a sesh at the roping left in the north, but nearly got a good thrashing for my efforts. At most spots I prefer to sit a bit inside and pick off the medium size waves as have little interest in the bigger sets – cos they scare the sh*t outta me basically.
My usual game plan of sit inside and pick of the smaller one's turned out not to be a not such a kiff idea when there’s a 20 second swell period running. Cos you get lulled into a nice false sense of security when you paddle out and there’s just the odd 4 footer coming through – easy enough to spot and scuttle off to the shoulder, outta harm’s way. Right until the 6-8ft sets pull through...
The left has an outside section that then bends into a bowl that turns about 90 degrees, and then hammers off down the reef. Which means it if you’re on the inside you get locked in by the horseshoe – cos no matter how fast you paddle wide it just keeps jacking up in front of you.
Thankfully a months’ worth of consistent surfing has seen my paddle power improve dramatically, so pointed my toes and dug deep. Terror can be a useful impetus when the need arises, so I managed to squeak over the massive walls of water ….just. Heart rate having risen appreciably I opted to sit wide thereafter, which of course meant that I didn’t catch too many – as only the big one’s broke wide and I wanted no part of those.
Decided the safety of the more mellow right point was the better option after that. At least you can see the sets coming! The bay that holds the right can be a treasure trove on its day. Four different waves funnel down the long point when the swells up. An outside point at the tip of the headland, followed by another super quick reef a bit further down, then a shallow barrelling spot that throws some ridiculous tubes, and finally the user-friendly point that’s a firm favourite of everyone that surfs it. Take your pick of the four.
Being a Saffa means we equate an early morning low hanging misty haze in the distance as being signs of a settlement, the smoke being from cooking fires. Had thought the same applied here. But soon found out the clumps of white misty smoke at odd intervals along the coastline were actually signs of waves not people cooking! The surf smashing into the reef releases a fine mist of water into the air, which in the cool mornings hangs about like a low white cloud.
Been going on for a while about how great coconut water is to drink, but haven’t mentioned they’re pretty good to eat too. The local in the canoe paddles up to the boat early in the day to find out how many you want, and then paddles back to land to go climb some tree’s and yank you down some fresh one’s.
Once you’ve drank the juice you lob the coconut back to him and he machete’s it in half and cuts off a small slither of the shell which acts like a spoon so you can scoop out the jelly-like flesh from the inside. It’s not the firm white thick stuff that you buy from Woolies (that’s from the old dehydrated coconuts whose green shells have gone hairy brown). Slimy would be a good description of it, but it still tastes pretty good. Actually looks like a calamari steak, but tastes a lot better!
After you’ve been without a watch, computer and TV for a few weeks you lose track of what day it is, and most definitely what date it is. I can safely say we’re in January, and it’s 2015, but that’s about it!
Aussies have to get a mention every week cos we’re surrounded by them! They have an Hawaiian approach to wave size. I’ve never seen so many double overhead waves called 4ft in my life! If that’s the case 4ft is too damn big for me thanks! Am guessing they’d probably refer to macking triple overhead Chopes as “yeh, that’s a nice 6ft set mate!”
All good things have to come to an end though, so it was with much sadness we bade farewell to the islands that had been our home for the past month and headed back to Padang for a coupla days before the next part of our adventure.
Let’s be honest, Padang’s a dump. Made worse by the fact that just over the horizon to the west lie the best waves on the planet. It’s like being forced to stay in Despatch whilst JBay is cooking. So close yet so far. Even if there were waves here you’d probably take your life in your hands trying to surf them. Water quality is downright terrifying. You’d come out from a sesh with at least a half dozen different diseases for sure!
Not being a keen cultural tourist opted to skip the tea plantation and local village tours and rather caught up on some sleep after a full months surfing. Did check out a few local shops to pass the time, and learnt that the Indo occupies a very different dimension to the west when it comes to food!
Some of their stuff is awesome, but some is downright odd. Take for instance their approach to donuts. An Indo donut does not resemble a Saffa donut, at all. How’d you like a donut topped with tomato sauce and chicken sausage? No? Maybe one with herbs and melted cheese then? No? Not like that either? Prefer something sweeter? OK, then the avocado topped one with chocolate balls round the edge will be the one you’re after! Admittedly they did then have a selection of about 30 awesome looking "normal" one's, but shew, the weird one's were really weird.
Desserts always start out looking normal, but then always have some sort of curve-ball thrown in just to keep things Indo-weird. Like my banana fritter, with ice-cream and grated cheddar cheese. What’s with that!?
Popped into a supermarket to have a look around and found some strange looking fruits on offer. Things got stranger at the meat counter. Could not identify a single piece of meat other than what looked like small calves or pigs tongues laid out on trays.
Things didn’t improve in the fish section. Tanks stuffed full of live fish – some stuffed so full the poor things couldn’t even swim around, just all squished together wiggling feebly. Below them were crates full of live black eels and what looked like small mud-fish. No ways would I eat one of those! Thinking the Tim Noakes diet would be hard to follow here. Mystery meats abound!
Thinking you'd be safer eating some junk food? The franchises might have the same name, but don't expect the same menu options as back home. Popped into a Pizza Inn - only to find they didn’t really offer pizza! The bulk of the menu was made up of various rice dishes, soups and stirfries. There was a choice of just 6 pizza’s right at the back of the menu - as in the very last page before the desserts! KFC is also a lil different in Asia. The KFC Bulgogi chicken is “a very strong flavor and aroma of roast beef smothered with soy sauce and tossed in sesame seeds”. Right, I’m eating chicken cos I want it to taste like beef?!
Four days in Padang is like a lifetime, so happy to be bailing for Jakarta and then onwards to the far north-eastern side of Indonesia. Gonna be sailing round the Spice Islands for 2 weeks, looking for waves. Totally off the beaten track as far as surfing goes, with hardly anyone having surfed the area – as it faces the Pacific Ocean. So plenty of adventure to come and the froth factor is high!
Our first month in Indo has just drawn to a close. It’s flown by in a flurry of surf and sun. Not too hard to understand why people come here and never leave. What’s not to like about consistent, warm water waves?
You know you’ve been here a while when you start to shiver when the temperature dips below 25C! They call it acclimatisation. The indo boat guys won’t even go for a surf when it gets that “cold”; preferring to stay inside the boats cabin with their towels wrapped round their shoulders.
Spongebob went for his first surf, and it didn’t go too well….
Turns out it’s pretty tricky to paddle an inflatable toy around the line-up. Ended up having to bite his arm so I had my hands free to paddle. Was a small day, but still the odd set coming through. Missed the first wave I went for cos Sponge made it hard to get my chin down onto the board. As luck would have it a lil set popped up, so ditched the board and tried to duck under the wave.
Hmmm, Sponge didn’t duck nowhere, so I got tumbled about by the whitewash. Next wave on its way so thought I’d get a better grip and grabbed Sponge by the butt in order to drag him deep. As I did so my nail dug into his ass…and he popped. Bummer. Dead before he even hooked a wave!
Least he was a whole bunch easier to paddle with once deflated, so managed to get him onto a wave after that.
That arvo we had to do a bit of surgery. Cut a piece off an old pool lilo and superglued it over the tear. Succeeded in getting a whole bunch of loo-roll stuck to him in the process….which was probably better than stuck fingers!
The repaired Bob then charged the next day and was stoked to pull into an “overhead” Bob bomb. Wasn’t taking any chances this time and just snuck a teeny wave way out on the shoulder, then took him straight back to the boat whilst he was still in one piece….so that the adventures of Spongebob can continue.
Surf trips are cool for a whole lot of reasons other than surfing. You get to meet so many different people, who all have lil nuggets of info to share. For instance, we now know that it’s really cheap to get your teeth done in Bangkok (and which dentist to see!), where to go surf in PNG, why the Carolines are the next new surf frontier, how to make your own DIY deck grip (below) and plenty of cool spots to check out when we visit Aus.
Despite my presumption that Aus is crazy crowded, the guys insist it’s possible to get waves to yourself if you just head a bit north or south of town.
Ironically the first thing the ou’s say to you when they hear you’ve from SA is “But aren’t you scared of the Great Whites – you have so many huge sharks there!”
Um, no – we have the same number of sharks as you lot, and if memory serves me correctly there’ve been waaaay more shark attacks in Australia lately than SA
Maybe just as well that’s a common misconception, else we’d be inundated with travelling Aussies given our good waves and favourable exchange rate. Great guys in general - but just add water to some of them, and their manners tend to dissolve in it. Guess it comes from having to compete with a zillion other peeps in the water, so not all of them have the best line-up etiquette.
Normally it's the Brazzo's who get fingered for being full on in the water. But the only thing the visiting Brazilian ladies did was get the guys mouths dropping open as they checked out their bottom....turns. Certain Brazilian stereotypes do hold true.
The local language in Indo is Bahasa. Apparently a very simple lingo to learn, although my total vocab at this stage is only 3 words! Got taught an easy way how to say “thank you”. Basically it sounds like saying “tear-up-my-car-seat” really fast! Bagus!
Week 5, our last week in this part of Indo, coming up. Then after that it’s off to the far east of the country for a new adventure….
A yin and yang week in Indo. Waves that kept me on the boat had others hooting in glee. The swell that pumped through JBay recently made its way across the Indian Ocean and unloaded itself at all the premier spots, throwing out gaping barrels for those who didn’t mind launching themselves over the ledge.
Some of our crew feasted on the all-you-can-eat tube buffet, whilst the rest of us opted for self-preservation and found the more protected nooks and crannies. No-one else around, just the guests at the resort. Peak season would see plenty of peeps crawling all over waves like this, but outta season there’s absolutely no-one about.
The earlier part of the week had seen a rather tame injury count – just 3 sliced fingers from an over-enthusiastic attempt to cut a breadroll with a steak knife, and a few very minor reef nicks. All that changed when the swell hit. One of the crew discovered the trip from heaven to hell can indeed be a very quick one. Paddled into a bomb, made the drop, pulled into a massive barrel….and then had the lip detonate on his head, pile-driving him into the reef – and dislocating his shoulder!
The reef at this particular spot is ridiculously shallow, and even at 6-8ft you’re dealing with thigh deep water on the shelf, and absolutely nowhere to go if you end up inside. No fun dealing with the rest of the set on the head with only one functional arm!
The rest of us opted for a super fun day at one of the right points down south, which although also having a bit of size was a far more manageable and did not entail saying your prayers every time you took off. The guys were so stoked with the waves they got they starting klapping the Bintangs as soon as we lifted anchor.
The journey home is close to an hour and a half so the beer consumption tally mounted rapidly. The surf guide told the guys about the ou who holds the resorts beer record. He managed to clobber 28 Bintangs in a day (whilst still doing 2 full surfs in 6ft+ surf). Woke up the next day, jumped on the boat at 6am, and promptly cracked his first can – reckoned hair of the dog was the way to go. Did 22 that day. Aussie guy of course! They’re good at rugby, cricket and most definitely drinking!
Pretty much all the guests at the resort are Aussies (as it’s owned and run by Aussies), so after 3 weeks we’re both starting to speak “Australian”! Ou’s become mate’s, lighties are young blokes, barbies instead of braai’s, leashes are leggies, vowels become elongated and we have to keep remembering that no-one knows what “yah” or “kak” means! It’s actually amazing how much Afrikaans slang we use in general conversation, and it’s only when someone looks at you quizzically you realise you’ve just included some in the last sentence you spoke.
Water clarity isn’t quite like the Maldives, but you still get really good days – like yesterday, when I surfed over a whole school of parrot fish, and then over a turtle on the following wave. The hiccup is that following the rains there’s always plenty of coconuts and palm fronds that wash out through the creeks and float through the line-up, so it becomes like a surfing obstacle course!
Coconuts have to be the best post-surf energy drink you can get. Locals paddle up in a canoe and you can buy one for a 10 000 rupiah – which sounds lank expensive, but in reality is just a dollar (R10).
The ou lobs off the top of it with a machete, and you get to shlurp down syrupy sweet juice which has a better electrolyte mix than any manufactured energy drink. Such is the perfect nature of coconut water that it was used as a substitute for blood plasma in the world wars in the Pacific when they ran outta blood for transfusions.
Every trip needs a mascot. Garths nickname is Spongebob, and he has the cartoon character painted onto the bottom deck of all his boards. So one of the surf guides bought him a blow-up Spongebob from the market, so he’s been coming surfing with us every day. He ventured onto a board for the first time a few days ago, and will be having his first bash at a real wave this week. Watch this space…could be a Bob in the Barrel.
Just as every trip needs a mascot every surf camp should have a dog as cool as Larry. No chance of getting on the SUP or canoe for a paddle without having to take him with. He reckons it's perfect for fish spotting, and when he finally eye's a school of fish he's off the side and after them.
Coupla quiet days at the moment, so just lazying about til the next swell hits later this week. Soccer with the staff, coupla runs down the track, an attempt to spearfish, bit of trawling, laze in the pool, SUP, table tennis, pool, read. Plenty to do in down-time in Indo. Lekker!