014 - Indonesia - Lombok
04/01/08 - 04/07/08
Is that a dollar sign on my face or are you just happy to see me?
Indonesia is a country filled with lush green landsapes, white sand beaches, tourqoise waters, and amazing surf. Coming from six hustle and bustle days in Singapore, Hannah and I were ready for some laid back island life. More importantly, after six surf-free weeks I was itching to get back on a board and and paddle into some world renowned breaks. The surf would not dissapoint, but the people of Indonesia would take some getting used to.
If there's one thing that Indonesians know it's that Western tourists equal easy money. And, they learn this at a very, very young age. Our first stop in Indo was Mataram, the capital city of Lombok Island. Lombok is the smaller, lesser known sister island to Bali. After getting to the airport at dark, we took a taxi to the first hotel on our guide book that looked decent. Immediately, our 'friendly' hotel worker, Lil, escorted us to look at some rooms, and after we agreed to stay there, he offered to call his friend, who just
so happens to be a travel agent. Lesson learned: Every Indonesian has a friend in the travel industry and they get a cut from any sales made. That night, the travel agent came to our room and chatted with us about what our plans were for Indo. Since we didn't have any definite plans, he tried to sell us on some pre-packaged tours that his company offers, and steered us away from doing any exploring on our own. The aggressive sales tactics worked and we opted to take a 4 day, 4 night tour on a live-aboard boat. The next day, as soon as we walked outside our hotel room, Lil was there (I think he stayed outside our room all night) and asked us what our plans were for the day. His tactic was to keep us from really exploring the city, since he called it too 'dangerous' and we were likely to get ripped off, so he geneerously offered to drive us on the moto wherever we wanted to go. I believe this ploy was to prevent us from making any plans with any other agents. At the end of the day, we were also informed that the
boat trip might be cancelled even though we had already paid over $250 cash (he was 'nice' enough to drive us to an ATM!) for it. The story that emerged was that the boat was broken and wouldn't be available for another 5 days, 'however we could apply the money toward a 12 hour bus ride if we wanted'!! After a lot of hassle and BS, and me basically calling the guy a crook, he agreed to give us our money back (trust me, it wasn't pretty). The next day we 'escaped' from our hotel room and made our own plans to get out of Mataram as soon as possible. Me and Lil exchanged some not-so-friendly words, and we headed to Kuta Lombok, on the south side of the island, for some much needed surf.
Unfortunately, this initial experience was indicative of many of the people we would encounter all over Lombok. Aggressive, un-genuine, and generally only out there to get the most money out of you. There were exceptions of course. One was a hotel worker we befriended who we called Boss. His story is here
. Another, was a local sarong merchant that Hannah befriended. Here's a link
Shawn, Hayden, Hannah, Yvette, Nico
to that story: .
The first night in Kuta Lombok we met a brother/sister from New Zealand and a guy from Vancouver all in the area for some surfing. For the next 4 days, Hayden, Yvette, and Shaun would hang out and surf with us, and we all became good friends.
To get to the waves at Kuta Lombok you have to rent a motor-bike (with a surf board rack) and drive about 10 km out of town to a village called Grupok. Once there, you pay the 'guards' at the gate a small fee (about 15 cents) for watching the bikes and then hire a boat 'captain' to take you out to the breaks for the day (about $2 per person for the entire day). While we surfed, the boat captain would also surf, and surprise surprise, he was always an awesome surfer!
The best break at Grupok was called Outsides. This was a right breaking wave that would peel off of a rocky point for at least 100 yards before closing out on the exposed reef. The closer to the rocks you sat, the deeper you could take off, and the bigger waves you could
get. The first day we got there it was firing: solid head high with 10 foot sets and barreling on the inside. A few of the locals had the placed wired and were pulling in and out of barrels. It took a while to warm up, but I got the hang of it and started to catch my share of waves. Over the next 2 days we surfed Outsides at least once each morning and the waves stayed pretty consistent waist to head high. I caught a lot of fun open waves at the main peak as well as taking a few on the head and getting a pounding next to the rocks!
We also surfed a smaller peak at Insides on one of the days and Hannah caught some fun peelers as well. This was her first time surfing in a while and I was proud that she did so well! At one point on the last day of our surfing, all of the boats had left for the day and I was left alone at the main peak at Outsides. Alone with nothing but peeling head-high rights off the coast of a remote village in Indonesia! This
was one of the best times of my surfing career. My last three waves were large open faces that lasted for over 100 yards from the main peak, and practically forced me to get as many turns and cut-backs in as my legs would allow. I paddled back to the boat dead-dog tired but grinning from ear to ear; Hannah and my new friends cheering from the boat, an amazing Indonesian backdrop behind me. It was AWESOME!
Next stop, the Gili Islands just north of Lombok. Here we'll take a break from surfing to let my chest rash heal (check the pic) and hopefully get some world class SCUBA diving in!
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