Archive for the ‘Indonesia’ Category

sindo ferryWith all my gear on my back or in my hands it is thankfully just a short walk from the Harris Hotel to the Sindoferry terminal.

I am as close to the equator as I have been on this trip or indeed ever before and have to say that the heat is brutal here. The air and the water are both so hot that there is no respite on offer for finding shade or taking a dip in the sea.

Balcony 1The ride on the ferry is air conditioned though and is very quick, so it only takes me an hour to get into Singapore. Unusually it is also the first time on this trip that I have arrived in a country travelling by the sea.

I will be staying with my former neighbours in London, Rick and Lou, whose flat was just a few balconies along from my own. I actually saw Rick for a few drinks when I arrived in Australia earlier on my travels because he was in town on business, but I get to see him and Louise this time round, as well as their two boys Archie and Dylan.

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batam mapMy flight on the little plane had only got me as far as Padang in Sumatra. It is a bit grim and having spent a night there on my way out to the Mentawai Islands I didn’t fancy another!

It was still before eleven o’clock in the morning so I though I would try and bring forward my connecting flight from Padang to Batam Island near Singapore rather than spend the next twenty eight hours in the Axana Hotel waiting around.

I was stunned that changing my ticket was only going to be 200,000 Rupiah or 20 Dollars. Making the change also meant that I could get on a plane within half an hour too, so it wasn’t a tough decision to make once I had collected my bags.

WP_20131112_013The flight from Padang to Batam was very quick and I was able to sort out my ferry ticket and a hotel room whilst I waited for my bags to be unloaded off the plane

A cheap taxi ride over to the Harris Hotel next to the ferry terminal and I was soon enjoying the air conditioning and free wifi in my room.

I was pretty tired too after a day which had started two boat rides and two flights back before dawn, so decided that a nap was in order too.

I woke in time to enjoy a pizza and some beer in the restaurant before finally getting to watch the first of The Hobbit trilogy on the HBO channel in my room.

indo WaveThe wifi gave me the opportunity to finally upload my Mentawai pictures and time to reflect on my time in the Islands.

The following morning I had to say selamat tinggal to Indonesia for the last time on this trip. I thoroughly enjoyed my visits to all the various islands I have stayed on. The waves here have been as good as I have always heard they were, so there is a good chance of me returning here in the future.

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WP_20131111_005It is time for me to move on once more, and my first issue was getting to the airport. It was achieved by a speedboat ride before dawn to the ferry terminal in Tua Pajet, which is the capital of the Mentawai Islands.

The ferry had arrived shortly before we did and it was fascinating watching such a big boat have it’s cargo unloaded at the rate of two chickens at a time. Clearly the porters were in for a long day.

WP_20131111_006My connecting boat was in the water near the ferry as expected, but sadly without anybody on board who could take me the next hop to Rokot Airfield.

I waited around and eventually they turned up having decided to finally get out of bed.

WP_20131111_013We bumped another forty minutes across the water before arriving at the airfield whose runway is only 800 metres long. The terminal that you see here wasn’t huge either.

In it there was great amusement when everyone’s baggage and its owners were weighed on scales to make sure the plane wasn’t overloaded. The check in girl took great delight in telling everybody else that I weighed nearly twice as much as the next person taking the flight. 

WP_20131111_012I had been more than a tad nervous when told that I would be going on a twelve seater plane. Not because I was worried about flying, but because any plane that small was quite likely to have issues with an 8’0″ surfboard.

Despite asking then clerk to ensure it could be accommodated when booking the flight, the plane nor the pilots were expecting it.

WP_20131111_015It could certainly be accommodated on the plane but the pilots had arrived without the tools necessary to remove the seats because nobody had warned them to expect my red board, which unsurprisingly did not fit in the cargo hold.

One of the pilots called David, was British and actually used to visit his grandparents in my home town of Llandudno in North Wales every month when he was growing up.

It was a tad bizarre chatting about the Empire Hotel on the other side of the world as we tried to figure a way of getting the board onto the flight.

Various options were tried and discarded as we tried to find a solution holding up the flight for everybody else.

WP_20131111_016Ultimately the two pilots of Susi Air were willing to take off with this bodged solution in operation. You will note that we gaff taped the board to the inside of the plane, and then used my leashes to secure it to some of the seats.

It is well documented that I have not been very impressed with airlines on this trip but the guys, who will shortly be filmed about their work for a channel 4 documentary really did everything they could to help me avoid sleeping with my board on the floor of the ferry I had seen unloading earlier.

WP_20131111_028Once my board was ‘secure’ all the passengers boarded the plane with myself being strategically placed in the middle of the fuselage and under the wings. I might have to consider dieting once back in the UK if my current girth now affects the safe flight of aircraft!

It was short and uneventful flight only coloured by the lady next to me who was clearly unhappy every time a tight turn was made in the plane, repeatedly grabbing my knee in fear when it happened

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Nipussi 1Nipussi is a break that we visited on our previous trip across the Indian Ocean to the Playgrounds area, but I had simply been too tired to go in when we arrived. The sun had beaten the life out of me.

It breaks close to the shore and Cahn had suspected that the winds today would be perfect here, so we took the risk of leaving Burgerworld where there was nobody else in the water and motored across to this break.

DCIM103GOPROThere were only a couple of guys in the water when we arrived and it didn’t take me long to get over the side and join them, whilst David and the others who had spent the morning surfing rather than fixing dings, took some shelter from the sun.

I wasn’t waiting long before my first ride which just broke beautifully, peeling right all the way towards the beach. I was loving such a perfect wave on my forehand too.

DCIM104GOPROThe waves broke like this for the whole of the session and knowing it was my last in the Mentawai Islands I made the most of it, skating along the vertical walls of water that I could drag my hands in and getting really long rides.

I had so much fun here and was beaming after nearly two hours in the water. The sun was out for most of the session which fogged the camera up almost straight away, but the memories of my surfing will be crystal clear in my own head for many years to come. A great way to say goodbye to the Mentawais.

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WP_20131110_005My options for the last day at Aloita were do nothing or stump up 50% of the cost to take the yellow boat across to Playgrounds once more. I didn’t need much persuading!

The weather on the journey across was miserable and the wind was biting through everything. Being the Boy Scout I am I had taken a windproof jacket with me, but not everybody had the same foresight. You can see David here trying to shelter from the elements under my towel. 

IMG_9556It took us two hours in the driving rain to reach Burgerworld, which was on the limit of the boat’s fuel capacity, and everybody was cold when we arrived.

If the sight of the waves breaking off the point didn’t warm your heart, getting into the sea certainly would. The temperature of the water is nearly 30C, so it was like getting into a hot bath. The chill I had acquired on the journey across instantaneously vanished.

DCIM101GOPROThings didn’t start very well for me here though. After paddling right up to the point and catching my first wave my leash once more got ripped off my leg when I wiped out, sending my board in towards the volcanic rocks and coral lining the shore of the uninhabited island.

Cahn chased my board but it was on the rocks before he could get to it, and I then had a nervy swim in through the breaking waves, rocks and coral to join him on the shore. You can see the two of us inspecting the camera which was miraculously unscathed by its journey in through the dangerous shallow water. 

WP_20131110_011The board didn’t get off so lightly though and there were two huge gouges cut into the base where the rocks and coral had torn it open.

The fins were just scratched though and it was good enough to get me back to the boat, even if I didn’t enjoy scraping across a few more sharp objects on the way back out to sea from the island. 

Solar ResinIt was still the start of my session and David was only just getting in when I made it back to the boat, so I decided to try and fix the holes to see if I could get back into the water quickly. Fortunately I had decided to put my ding repair kit into the bag I take on the boat for the first time today, so had everything readily available for me to start working on the damage.

The biggest issue was finding shade to work in. The solar resin I use would cure in minutes in the UK but took seconds under the equatorial sun. After a couple of failed attempts I got there eventually with a little bit of help from the crew of the boat holding a towel above me as I worked.

Then having made the board water tight I sanded down the rough edges and paddled back out making sure that my leash was securely fastened. (It has become an annoying problem that I cant resolve due to the lack of surf shops here, but is going to have to be replaced in Sri Lanka if not before. Your surfboard is often your lifeboat, so I must have faith that it will remain attached to my leg, and at the moment I have none!)

IMG_9568I couldn’t resist catching a few more of the gorgeous rights on offer here though, even if I was nervous about my leash the whole time.

As you can see I did respectably well in the set waves which would come through every few minutes and caught a number of rides quite quickly on my patched up board.

I didn’t stay in long before joining the others to have lunch on the boat, but was still stoked after quite an eventful session.

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Flying Lizard 1After my encounter with the local snake I have been paying particular attention to the wildlife on the island I am staying on.

Whilst walking down the path the other day the bright yellow throat of a lizard on a tree caught my eye.

There was a number of them and they were no bigger than your average gecko.

Flying Lizard 2However these ones have a little trick up their sleeves, or more specifically hidden under their body.

As I got nearer to take a photograph it ran up towards the top of the coconut tree and then launched itself towards the next one producing a set of wings that it uses to glide the distance between them.

Batman CapeIt is quite impressive and reminds me of Batman’s cape.

However no vigilante crime fighting is on the cards here. I am guessing that it is just a skill learned over time to avoid walking on the jungle floor and the other things that live there.

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WP_20131027_034Welcome Drinks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WP_20131027_040My Place

 

 

 

 

WP_20131109_003Aloita

 

 

 

WP_20131027_043Front Garden

 

 

 

 

DCIM101GOPROOmbak Tidur

 

 

 

 

 

WP_20131027_066The Bar

 

 

 

 

DCIM102GOPROIceland Sunshine

 

 

 

 

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Dropping into Iceland

 

 

 

 

 

DCIM102GOPROSome reefs are deeper than others

 

 

 

 

 

DCIM101GOPROWashing my shorts

 

 

 

 

 

DCIM100GOPROFalling with style

 

 

 

 

 

Mentawai CoralMentawai reef

 

 

 

 

Carla & LucasClara and Lucas

 

 

 

 

Joe & NicoJohannes and Nico

 

 

 

 

DCIM101GOPROSeven Palms

 

 

 

 

 

DCIM102GOPROSurfing through a gap in the space time continuum

 

 

 

 

Cropped 1Telescopes 1

 

 

 

Cropped 2Telescopes 2

 

 

 

Cropped 3Telescopes 3

 

 

 

Cropped 4Telescopes 4

 

 

 

 

Cropped 5Telescopes 5

 

 

 

 

Cropped 6Telescopes 6

 

 

 

Cropped 7Telescopes 7

 

 

 

 

Cropped 8Telescopes 8

 

 

 

 

WP_20131030_036Mentawai Tattoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DCIM100GOPROThe Banana Boat

 

 

 

 

 

DCIM100GOPROTelescopes Fun

 

 

 

 

 

 

DCIM102GOPROMore fun at Telescopes

 

 

 

 

 

A Frames 1

A-Frames

 

 

 

 

4 Bobs4 Bobs

 

 

 

 

 

WP_20131107_025David under a double rainbow

 

 

 

 

Sunset

Aloita Sunset

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I had time for just a couple of quick waves here whilst everybody else ate lunch. It is called A Frames because you can go left and right off the peak over the edge of the reef.

I hung slightly wide keen to avoid adding to my Mentawai tattoo collection. I bagged one quickly, which was quite a long left around the edge of the reef.

Nothing really to report on beyond that and all the trash that was in the water here. There has been more rubbish floating around in Indonesian waves than the rest of the world combined! All of which is quite sad.

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Rather than just sitting around on the boat waiting for the others to finish at 4 Bobs (and keen to avoid becoming a fifth permanent Bob) I took up Cahn’s suggestion of a cruisey longboard wave.

I paddled the short distance to this break figuring it couldn’t be any worse. However it was, much.

The wave itself was brilliant. Easy take off and a long wall, but wiping out on my first wave I split my hand open on the reef, which was only after the last few seconds of my ride being terrified of getting off anywhere because I could see how close to the surface the reef was and indeed how many sharp heads of coral there were.

I caught one more wave here but had no enthusiasm for staying further in the water. When I got back to the boat I actually discovered that my earlier wipe-out was so bad that there was still a chunk of coral left inside my rash vest! As a a result of many cuts and scrapes at this break I won’t come back!

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The weather is finally kind enough to warrant a day trip out on the boat over to the Playground which is an area rich in a variety of breaks. We first looked at Rifles which can offer 400m long barrels, but wasn’t produce much more fire power than a whoopee cushion when we arrived so we pushed on to 4 Bobs.

I was nearly blinded by my sun cream, which has been burning my eyes daily since arriving, but was left with just enough vision to pick out so many boils on the water’s surface that it looked like a lunar landscape when you are taking off. Shallow and sharp doesn’t come close to covering it!

However I decided to go for it anyway and caught three lovely rights, which have been in short supply since arriving in the Mentawai Islands. Sadly I lost my board once more on the last of them. (I must buy a new leash as soon as I find a surf shop.)

Cahn was good enough to surf over the reef and collect it for me whilst I swam in, all the while have a good look at how gnarly the reef was. As a consequence I decided that three was enough and beat a hasty retreat to our boat.

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