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!