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Published: September 2nd 2010
We finally made it out of Bali, thank god. Our destination was Gili Trawangan. We were to take an easy shuttle to ferry to shuttle to ferry and be on the island within 5 hours. There must have been some miscommunication; after an overnight stay in Sengiggi, we made it a mere 23 hours late. Thus is travel.
Gili Trawangan is a party island through and through. It functions under its own tribal law and there are no Indonesian police officers on any of the 3 Gili's, only some island security. The major bars in town take turns every other night throwing a massive party and everyone comes out. In a country where drugs can carry the death penalty, marijuana is plentiful and every bar on the island offers "Take you to the moon motherfucking bloody finest fresh mushrooms take away or deliver dial 911". Half the bartenders are on mushrooms at any given night and they put on one funny show. On Gili T, every night is an all-nighter. One night each month, the coup-de-gras of this mindless madness is a full moon party that eclipses even the wildest rager the weekends have to offer. This is why we came...
....... BUT this is Ramadan, so no need to worry about any of that nonsense. Ramadan is the Holy Month of Islam where everyone fasts from sunrise to sunset. No food, no water, no sex, and no cigarettes while the sun is shining. As a sign of respect to the inhabitants of the island (most of whom are Muslim), bars turn off all music at midnight. They keep the taps open but when the music dies, the party tends to dissolve. No all night parties. No full moon party.
Even without the party we still had fun. There is an ultra-fast right hand break (not great but some fun ones to be had) that breaks only on big swells. We were lucky enough to get 2 big swells during our 5 day stay there. There is also some decent snorkeling and great beaches if you're into that kinda thing. Although most of the shallow coral is pretty fucked from dynamite fishing, I did get to see a turtle and a white-tip reef shark.
We struck out next for Kuta Lombok in the south of Lombok. Kuta Bali and Kuta Lombok are related in name only. Where Bali is chaos, noise, dust and party, Lombok is quiet, cows are herded along the beach street each day, and the Muslim nature of the inhabitants keep the partying to a minimum. There are fewer tourists but there is no denying that the towns existence depends on foreign dollars. It is NICE there. Real nice. The coast is an immaculate collection of headlands, offshore islets, and dazzling white sand beaches. This is all set to change with a new international airport, cruise ship harbor, and a maze of newly paved 2 lane roads. Kuta Lombok is probably at the stage Kuta Bali was 25 years ago. Soon this peaceful surf haven will be another Aussie Puke-a-thon.
The surf is all out of town, a 15-60 minute motorbike ride away and the crowds are minimal. We managed to surf 4-8ft Mawi, one of the better breaks in the area, by ourselves only because it was a little windy and everyone assumed it was gonna be shit. hahahahaha they were all wrong. Onshore flow in the dry season can ruin the surf for days but the coast is a swell magnet and when real swell hits you have to search for sheltered spots (of which they have plenty). We motored around for 4 days, surfed reasonably good surf with almost no one (crowds can happen from time to time) A big swell was going to hit so we charged over to Desert Point. The road wasn't so good and 4 bone-jarring hours later, we made it to one of the best waves in the world... only there was no wave. The surf stayed flat for a day and a half. To pass the time we had a game called 'watch the stick' where we set a stick in the sand and didn't move until the tide had covered it up and washed it away. Great times. Our boredom finally broke and we paddled out to try and surf the knee high waves in shin deep water. We sat there for a good hour until the first pulse of swell hit. One wave, waist high. 10 minutes later, 3 waves. All of a sudden the swell was upon us. Chest high to overhead surf pumped in and we got our first taste of Desert Point. The current was maddening, sweeping you downshore faster than your arms could fight. The water was shallow and the reef is sharp. It was a bit choppy and not working to World Class standards but we still picked off a handful of super fun reeling lefts.
Neither of us slept much that night. Anticipation kept our dreams lucid and itchy jellyfish stings and mosquito bites ensured a restless sleep. We rose before the first sign of light and walked to check the surf. Toothbrush in mouth I almost choked. The first person in the water was pulling the best wave I have ever seen in my life. A 15ft bomb was reeling in glassy perfection for hundreds of meters and this chap was nonchalant. I paddled out wishing more than anything I had brought a helmet and wetsuit. Thankfully the size dropped with the tide and it was only 4-8ft. I caught a couple super fun lefts but then tragically dropped in on someone.
When surfing, the person furthest back on the wave has the right of way. To drop-in is a no-no because you effectively ruin someones perfectly good wave. The dilemma on crowded days is when to drop. There are no waves to waste, and people can drop in too deep on the wave and ruin it for themselves. You look back while paddling for the wave and have to make the decision... will they make it? In barreling surf you have even less time to think. On empty waves you only have a split second to paddle and be on your feet or you will soon be upside-down with pieces of coral stuck to your forehead. Any way you slice it, I fucked up and dropped from 5 feet above and landed with my mouth on someones unassuming head. We both washed over the reef inside, my head throbbing as an apology trickled from my mouth. He shook it off saying he was too deep anyways. I walked to shore in shame to get some water and let my headache mellow but the surf picked up again. Soon it was 6-10ft super grizzly barrels. Eric and I just sat and watched first from the beach, then as the tide dropped in the ankle deep shallows, less than 40 feet from the breathtaking death tubes. Not a bad way to spend the morning watching the best surfers surf the best waves.
We left the next day for Sumbawa where I sit currently. Within 30 minutes are Yo-yo's, Supersuck and Scar Reef assuming we can find motorbikes. We are getting further from the tourist mayhem and services are more limited (slightly). West Sumbawa is much more rural than most of Lombok and if it weren't for the nearby gold mine, the town of Maluk would be nothing but fishing boats and goat herds. Its starting to look like Indonesia out here.
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