Archive for August, 2013

WP_20130831_030Back in Lombok some of the Nine Wise Men had actually suggested that I should consider giving a surf a miss at G-Land, describing it as a “death wave.” However I haven’t come this far just to chicken out when things get challenging.

All the waves here are over the reef surrounding the island, and inspecting some of the sharp rocks that you see here at low tide did little to settle my nerves. They were painful to walk on even with footwear, and I didn’t want to think too much about a hard landing upon them as a result of a wipe-out. A monster swell also arrived while I was here so I had plenty to think about when paddling out for the first time.

DCIM100GOPROKongs and Fan Palms are where the biggest waves break at G-Land, but they are also the least steep and have the most water under them. You get to both by paddling out through a narrow channel in the breaking waves, known as the key hole, and then turning left or right once through the white water. Where each break starts and ends is a bit vague so I am reporting on both together.

I surfed these breaks a few times over a number of days but decided that having bought one I should be wearing my helmet in the water for each session. On my first outing I did really well and bagged a number of the waves which were easily overhead, and on this one I actually out ran the breaking section by building up so much speed.

DCIM101GOPROThe waves were getting bigger all the time but the huge drop into the action seemed to be ok. The bottom turns were not too manic either but then you would swerve onto the unbroken section and see how long you could last.

This picture is of my best wave of the session and arguably of the trip so far. I had made a couple of turns and was charging down the line at Fan Palms when I heard a sound like being inside a drum roll. It was because the wave was jacking up as I travelled along it and then pushing the lip right over my head, and the sound was the drops of water falling on my helmet from above. By the time I had realised what was going on the wave dropped the lip on top of me and I got clattered. Sadly the two second interval between frames missed most of my tube time, but did catch the end of it as the wave landed on me.

DCIM101GOPROThe same two second interval can also be used to calculate that I then didn’t come up for air for 30 seconds because there were fifteen consecutive shot of the board being in or under the white water with me nowhere in sight. It felt far longer and I was gasping for air when I eventually came up. Panic levels were increasing during this process because I also got bounced rather heavily off the bottom, miraculously doing so without getting even a scratch.

This picture is from another stage in the sessions I had at these two breaks but shows me getting another pasting over the reef, with which I became intimately acquainted during my stay.

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WP_20130829_018We are ferried ashore from the G-Land Express and after wading across the shallow reef are greeted by the jungle taxi, which you see here, and the driver utters the words “Welcome to the Jungle” which I thought I would only ever hear in Guns N’ Roses lyrics.

I have to say I was glad that the local guys carried our boards and bags in from the boat and across the coral. There is no way I would have managed it without upending myself into one of the rock pools.

WP_20130829_023Along with an international crowd of surfers I am staying in Bobby’s Surf Camp.

It is largely guys staying here and they have travelled from all over the planet to bag some of the gorgeous rides available here. There are surfers from Peru, Brazil, Hawaii, California, France, as well as Australia’s east and west coasts.

WP_20130829_024I am sharing this cabin with a dude called Quentin from Western Australia. Having been working in the mines there for weeks he is absolutely frothing at the mouth to get into the waves and unpacks a board and some shorts as soon as he puts his bags down.

His enthusiasm will put me to shame over the next few days. I actually woke one day at 4am to see him in his surfing gear sat on the end of his bed waiting for the first hint of daylight. The sun didn’t come up until 5.30am!

I was however laid pretty much flat by the oppressive heat of the jungle for the first 24 hours. It two naps and a gallon of water before I could even function properly. However it doesn’t take long to get settled into the pace of life here, and apart from the reef my only concern is that there might be a repeat of the Tsunami which took place here in 1994 turning the whole camp to matchsticks and sweeping all the surfers several hundred metres through the dense jungle. That nobody died is a miracle.

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WP_20130828_042I spent my last morning on Lombok ragging around the island on the scooter in search of another break to surf. I didn’t find anything but had so much fun going far too fast down the dusty roads.

However I had to get back to the hotel and collect my packed bags before being transferred back to the airport. Out progress was somewhat hindered by the high school marching contest which was going on in the middle of the road on the way there. Again there were hundreds of kids involved in matching uniforms and a huge cheering crowd, but I don’t think there was anything at stake beyond the honour of winning for your school. Quite odd!

WP_20130828_047Another eighteen minute flight later and I was back in Bali for the night. I had another stroll around Kuta in order to put some more credit on my phone, and have to say I really dont like it here.

Minding my own business trying to get to the phone shop and then back to my hotel I was offered more drugs on Legian street than I was in the whole of Central and South America combined! Every opportunity to make a play for the contents of my wallet was grasped whole heartedly by the hawkers, and as a consequence I have decided that I am unlikely to return to the island much beyond passing through on my way back to Oz. The waves are also so crowded here that their quality is spoilt by all the aggression and dropping in that goes on.

G Land ExpressHowever my Indonesian surf experience is far from over at this stage and I have a real treat lined up before moving on. A week at G-Land on Java, which is one of the world’s super breaks like Tea’hupoo, Pipeline and Mavericks.

G-Land is an abbreviation of the village of Grajagan and you get there by taking a two hour ocean crossing on a fast boat from Bali. I boarded the G-Land Express with a group of Australians, who had been out all night in Kuta and were making life a tad hard for everybody else as they dealt with their hangovers. However everything soon settled down as we bounced across the Indian Ocean for two hours.

map_of_javaJava is the third Indonesian island I have visited, and you can see Grajagan on the eastern end of it in this map. As we arrive on the island we power past all the G-Land breaks which are already breaking.

Kongs, Fan Palms, Money Trees, The Launching Pad, Speedies, Chickens, 20:20 and Tiger Tracks are all working. It is an awesome and mouth watering sight.

 

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DCIM100GOPROOn the way back across the inlet in our boat like the ones you see here we went past the beginner wave called Don Don on our way towards the town of Grupuk. Don Don is more sheltered further inside the bay and therefore the waves there are not as gnarly.

There was a similar sized crowd to the break at Inside Grupuk but passing within metres of the waves I couldn’t resist stopping there. The battery on the GoPro had not been charged properly before the previous session so by this time the camera was dead and I have no pictures of this session that I can share with you as a consequence. 

Easy RiderHowever I had so much fun in the 40 minutes I was in the water here. None of the learners in the water were comfortable waiting right in front of the peek, which meant that I had it to myself so I caught wave after wave rolling right along the shoulder and through the pack before paddling back around the waves and doing it over again. I caught loads but didn’t stick around long a) because I was probably getting right up the noses of the other 50 surfers in the water by stealing all the waves and b) I had promised my boat skipper that I wouldn’t keep him waiting long. I could tell he was itching for another fare and probably another surf of his own!

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Back in Grupuk I had a bite to eat before climbing back onto the pink surf wagon you see above, and then wobbled and bounced along the appalling road back to my hotel.

I got back to Bedrock just in time for sundowners under the shelters on the beach. Still no sign of Fred, Wilma, Barney or Betty but it was a glorious spot to end the day.

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DCIM100GOPROAfter breakfast I load my 8’0″ surfboard onto the side of the moped I have hired and then wobble and bump down the awful road towards Grupuk. Thankfully without puncturing any more tyres.

I hire a boat there to take me out to the break, but am then staggered and a bit put out when we arrive and the skipper produces a board out of thin air leaps over the side and then goes surfing. No wonder he is so happy in this picture, I am paying him to go surfing!

DCIM100GOPROWe have driven his boat across the bay and joined the mob loitering by the peak of this right hand reef break.

The first thing that happens to me is that I nearly lose my board shorts going through a wave, when the water washes them down my legs because I haven’t tied them up properly, Schoolboy error! 

I paddled straight up to the peak once I am sure of maintaining my clothed status and wait for the sets to come through to see what is on offer.

DCIM100GOPROIt was about shoulder high, and maybe a bit more on the sets which certainly felt chunky. They usually cleaned out the line up behind me, which was helpful because there were far too many trying to catch this wave. Sadly that meant that almost every time I snagged one my ride would be ruined by any number of people dropping into my fun.

One guy even surfed the whole way in front of me with me screaming at him to get out of the way, with the result only being a smile and a worthless apology at the end.

I sat as usual as far out as I thought the wave would break but got a bit of a shock with two other guys when a large grey fish started splashing close to us in the water. I can’t say for certain that it was a shark but it was at least as big as a surf board and there was an ominous shadow just under the water for five minutes!

As a consequence I didn’t stay in long after the one wave I caught without anybody dropping in. This is a groovy shot of that.

 

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ParadeOn the road from Heaven on the Planet to my next destination we got delayed for ages by this procession which went on for miles.

My driver’s English wasn’t good and I have nothing more than a smile in Indonesian so haven’t got a clue what it was about but there were thousands of people involved.

WP_20130825_100After a couple of hours on the road I arrive in Kuta Lombok which very different from Kuta Bali. It is much more mellow.

I am actually staying at the Novatel hotel here, which could easily be a honeymooners paradise, but having heard another guest say how much it resembles the town of Bedrock from the Flintstones I can no longer take it seriously.

LombokThe next day I hire a scooter and go exploring the island so that I can suss out the breaks before trying to get there with my board.

Apart from the resorts it is still very agricultural all over the island and a delight to whizz around on two wheels whilst getting lost and bumping along some of the less well maintained roads.

WP_20130826_034However my adventures for the day come to an abrupt end when I managed to put a hole in one of the inner tubes big enough to put my fist through.

There are so many pot holes on the way to Grupuk and I obviously hit one of them a bit too quickly. I am stranded at the side of the road for a short while but summon help from the hotel fairly easily and am mobile again after a pit stop at a scooter mechanic at the side of the road who worked so quickly the Formula 1 teams ought to get in touch.

 

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DCIM101GOPROWhilst still in the water at Inside Ekas I am met by most of the Wise Men who are passing in the boat which has managed to get out across the reef.

They want to see if a better wave is on offer at Outside Ekas. Now you may think I surfed this two breaks ago. It is indeed the same break, but I was several hundred metres further out to sea and a cove further on, so I was surfing entirely different waves and I’m claiming it as such rather than failing to correct my grammar.

DCIM102GOPROThe last time I got in the water at Outside Ekas it was practically the shore break of the beach in front of Ocean Heaven, but the boat took us all far closer to the entrance of the bay.

As you can see the Gopro which had already spent two hours in the water was completely fogged under the hot sun. There were loads of waves showing upon arrival and we all piled over the side of the boat.

Outside EkasI bagged this beauty early in the session and caught a few more like it but as the tide came in everything seemed to stop breaking.

I needed to get back and pack, so after getting stung by something which I didn’t see but wrapped itself all up my arm I had had enough.

To be fair I hadd been in the water for more than three hours by this stage today and having bagged both the main breaks in the bay in one session was happy to move on.

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Inside EkasThis picture shows the wave at Inside Ekas on one of the few occasions it was actually showing at high tide whilst I was in the area.

However after days of waiting for a swell which was supposed to arrive I can’t wait any longer. I was heading off later in the day and decided to try my luck in the small waves which were showing at low tide.

DCIM100GOPROTo get to them I put on the reef boots I had bought in the resort shop and walked down the steps from the resort to the beach and then around the base of the cliffs, before paddling out into the water over the reef.

As you can see here some of the rocks in the water are bigger than others so you still need to keep your wits about you on the way out and particularly once you are up and riding.

The waves themselves were only about thigh high at best so nothing too challenging, and the handful of us who couldn’t resist were soon joined in the water by a boat load of beginners which had travelled around the coast from the next bay.

WipeoutI got some pictures of me riding these waves but there really wasn’t anything special about them so I have opted for this one of me after a wipe-out instead, because it shows both how clear the water is here and also how close or how far you might describe me from being to the reef when getting rolled over it.

I stayed in here for well over an hour due to the wave starvation of the previous few days, but was happy to get out when there was a better offer.

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Falls WalkwayWhilst at Heaven on the Planet I am staggered to hear via email that my jacket, which you see demonstrating its wonderful waterproof  capabilities at Iguazu Falls, has resurfaced back in New Zealand. I have annoyingly bought a replacement already so it is now on its own way back to the UK.

You can catch up on its own exploits at www.aroundtheworldineightypostoffices.com

The tale involving some duct tape and the franking machine is outrageous!

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DCIM102GOPROIn search of waves the nine wise men and I take advantage of the boat at Heaven on the Planet to check out the next beach along. We have to wait until there is enough water covering the reef for the boat to get out, but head over to the sister location that is called Ocean Heaven and located nearer to the Outside Ekas break.

We jump over the side of the boat upon arrival and paddle into the shore to enjoy a lunch there and a change of scene.

DCIM100GOPROI haven’t been surfing for days though and can’t look at the waves breaking off the beach in front of Ocean Heaven for long after the meal.

I grab my board and am running out over the coral sand you can see behind me to catch a few before the crowd joins me. The water is so warm it is bordering on hot, and it is a delight to be surfing in shorts again.

DCIM100GOPROOutside Ekas usually breaks significantly bigger and a great deal further out than the small waves which were on offer for me on the inside section of the rock reef.

I still managed to bag quite a few waves here and even though this picture would suggest that it was far better than reality I did have an awful lot of fun before returning to the boat.

We had cut it a bit fine and scraped across one rock because there was no longer enough water covering the reef on the way back. However no harm done and time for victory beers to celebrate bagging another country on my surf tour.

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