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Orangutans, skyscrapers and barreling waves

The Southeast Asian buffet is served, enjoy!

sunny 31 °C

It's been a while since I updated this blog. The main reason for being so is that I've had a blast these intensive weeks. I'm now back in Bali for another month of surfing buffet. Now both the east and the west coast are working on and off making it possible to surf the east coast in the morning and the west coast in the afternoon if the wind allows it to. Spoiled is the word! So what have I done these past weeks? Well, two capitol city weekends, chilling out by a volcanic lake, trekking in the jungle spotting wild orangutans amongst other cool creatures and most important of all right now: improving my surfing in Nias and now back in Bali.

Having Bangkok as more of a stopover really, I couldn't explore too much. Instead of boring you guys with a lot of text I'll let my photos do the talking and show you my version of the city.

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Landing in Sumatra or Medan to be precise, I headed off to Lake Toba immediately. There's nothing to see in Medan really, so don't bother if you're heading that way. Lake Toba is a lake inside a volcanic crater. If that is not impressive enough for you, the lake holds an island the size of Singapore! I stayed on that island and the scenery is truly breath taking. A couple of days up to a week is enough time to spend there, after that it can become boring. It's a perfect spot to rest tired travelers legs at though.

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Borneo is usually known for it's orangutang population and I thought I wouldn't see them during this trip. To my pleasant surprise there are orangutans in Sumatra and Bukit Lawang is a excellent jungle village to start your trekking from.

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I have to warn you that unless you've been to India, traveling through Sumatra is often a long and very uncomfortable process. Once you get to Bukit Lawang, you are obliged to get a guided tour through the jungle. You're not allowed to trek by yourself, which is reasonable since it's easy to get lost. I went for a two day trek with one night in the jungle, here's the reward:

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It was quite a surreal experience seeing the orangutans, I tell you. Also in the jungle, we spotted two monitor lizards which are a bit smaller than it's big brother: the Komodo dragon.

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After the jungle trek it was time for me to move on to Pulau Nias and Lagundri bay. I took the ferry to Gunung Stoli which is a town in the north of the island. I really regret this since it took me totally two days to get from central Sumatra to Lagundri. Apparently it is possible to fly pretty cheap from Medan to Gunung Stoli. If you're heading this way, catch the plane. This reef break is considered to be THE best right hander in the world and it's easy to see why.

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The swell pumps in to Lagundri's south tip which is a horse shoe bay and is pealing nicely all the way in. This wave starts to barrel at three feet and is consistent all year round. At peak season, June and July, all the pro's flock in their exclusive yachts outside the line up to ride 15ft beasts. Considering the sharp reef, peak season is really surfing with consequences. For the two weeks I was there, there was only a proper swell for two days really. The locals in Nias are truly amazing, especially the younger talents. One guy, Anton, surfs a break nobody had the guts to surf due to the dry reef in front of the barreling beast. He was an amazing and inspiring character.

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The rest of the time it was a perfect trial and error size, which made me improve a lot. I bought a shortboard from Anton, to make faster cutbacks and to take it to the next level. It is an entirely different style compared with my mini malibu. According to Anton it is good to switch from the cruising surf of the mini malibu and the fast cut backs of the shortboard from time to time. That way you'll have a nicer and calmer style while shortboarding. I have to say that I learned more in Nias during two weeks than anywhere else. Lagundri is highly recommended if you want to improve your surf, however it is easy to get cut and bruised from the underlying reef (it is razor sharp) if you surf on the inside section of the bay.

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Especially the take off point is a bit gnarly with the rock you have dodge. Reef boots are preferred.

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After another exhausting two day trip to get from the island, this time to Padang, I got an Air Asia flight to K.L. The so called visa run is really convenient compared to the hassle and head ache the Indonesian immigration offices serve you. I only spent two nights in the city this time and spent most of the time resting after the 42h nightmare journey. I got a couple of shots though.

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Now back in Bali, I'm really happy. All the sessions in the Philippines and Nias has proven to be useful. I'm dropping in on waves I was terrified of before I left Bali last time.

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Hitting the lip and cutting back comes naturally now, the main thing for me now is clearing a barreling section. I've been in a barrel three times now but never made it out. Even so, I can say it is a surreal experience being surrounded by water shaped as a tunnel. The doctor prescribes more surfing! I'm staying in Bali until the 11th of April before I leave for K.L. (for the fourth time). A couple of days in Malaysia will be the last asian experience this time before I fly back to the hectic life in Europe and London on the 15th. Hopefully it's not too cold since I don't have much when it comes to warm clothes. That's all for now, I've got to hit the beach before it's too late.

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Keep it real!
//Patrick

Posted by Patrick_K 20:51 Archived in Indonesia Tagged me landscapes mountains lakes beaches bridges art people children animals boats Comments (1)

BBB (Bye bye Bali)

semi-overcast 31 °C

Hamish left us for the Philippines after Christmas, sending us some valuable information about the country. Both me and Will are heading there, so it was more than welcome. After the villa, me and Victoria had to renew our visas, which turned out to be more of a hassle than expected. Apparently, you need to visit the immigration office three times. One visit for application, one for payment and one for receiving the documents. Why not pay when you apply? We have to follow the system, the lady at the counter told us. We got our passports back after a week and were granted one more month in the country.

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Spending a couple of days on the island of Gili Trawangan was a pleasant retreat from the sometimes over populated Bali. With no cars or scooters on the island it had a quite chilled out atmosphere, many people came to celebrate the New Year. The expectations were high and people were at their tops. However, it began to rain heavily at the evening and kept on doing so ALL night. Past midnight, the water level on the streets was knee deep. All the clubs were as full as they could be of course, since people got more or less trapped. It was a real mess out there. Eventually, the skies cleared and one could have some lovely beach time. It was nice to spend some time with the rest of the lads, before we would split up and go separate ways.

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I went back to Bali, since the surfing during the wet season is mainly concentrated here. The east coast is the main target during this time of year, because of the offshore winds blowing there. The west coast, which is more popular during the dry season, is mostly onshore now making waves closing out. Having tried some different places, my favorite is definitely Pulau Serangan. It’s a small island connected with a bridge with east coast Bali, just a couple of km south of Sanur.

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Although it can sometimes be depressive when you see guys doing vertical cutbacks and 360´s, my level has definitely improved and I’m happy with that. My main objective right now is to ride sideways and trying to hit the lip. Despite what people tell you, surfing is not easy and it takes both time and determination to be able to ride out a wave properly. It is very awarding though, the amount of time you put into it generates a longer and longer feeling of freedom when you ride out that wave. In that moment everything else is totally blurred and time somewhat ticks in slow motion. An indescribable feeling.

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However, a dSLR with a manual tele lens is somewhat not ideal when wanting to have your picture taken, especially when the break itself is 150m offshore and compacts are not really capable. Until I’ll find a friend with some basic photography skills, I have to be happy with what I get.

I have to squeeze in the worst thing about Bali in the wet season: Getting stuck in traffic in heavy rain and wind when you forgot your rain jacket at home. In those moments you wish you were somewhere else. It is cold as hell on that damn scooter when you’re only wearing board shorts and a rash guard that absorbs water. Apart from being beaten up by the waves and getting wet on the bike, I spent last weekend on the island of Lembongan, about 20 km east of Bali. The Island is quite small and you can drive around it with scooter within 20 minutes.

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It’s also connected to another, smaller island with a bridge. Two days are enough if you don’t surf or scuba dive, I didn’t bring my board and the scuba diving was too expensive for me. Somehow the locals don’t really make you feel welcome there, in a weird and indescribable way. The islands have stunning and impressive scenery though.

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The swell was four meter high that day, heading straight towards the cliff I was standing on. Care for a swim?

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Have you ever seen a shell big enough to serve as a sink?

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Stumbling upon a cockfight in the main village, I couldn't resist taking my camera out.

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I really enjoy staying outside of the tourist area, in a more local environment. Here you can eat a decent meal with chicken for one US dollar and get your laundry done for the same price. I’ve been hanging out with cool locals and slowly snapping up some basic phrases in Bahasa Indonesia, the official language of the nation. Since every region has its own language, the amount quickly adds up and a Google search will tell you that more than 700 different languages are spoken. The interesting part is that the languages are totally diverse. For example, the islands of Java and Bali are very close to each other but without an interregional language people would not be able to communicate with each other than with body language.

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Leaving for the Philippines today, I will miss Indonesia although I’m really looking forward to the Phillies. Good thing I’m coming back to Indonesia in February, this time to Sumatra. Speaking of which, here is the updated list of my completed and upcoming flights (all these flights combined along with extra surf board charge from here now on add up to a total of 1300 €):


Stockholm – Mumbai, 21st of August
Delhi – Chennai, 23rd of October
Chennai – Colombo, 24th of October
Colombo – Kuala Lumpur, 22nd of November
Singapore – Djakarta, 9th of December

Denpasar – Djakarta, 21st of January
Djakarta – Manila, 22nd of January
Manila – Bangkok, 10th of February
Bangkok – Medan, 12th of February
Padang – Kuala Lumpur, 11th of March (visa run)
Kuala Lumpur – Padang, 12th of March (visa run)
Padang – Kuala Lumpur, 10th of April
Kuala Lumpur – London, 15th of April
London – Stockholm, 29th of April

No, I don’t have a love affair in K.L., nor am I doing business there; it’s simply Airasia’s main hub and is the most convenient way to travel through.

//
Patrick
Setting fourth towards new adventures in the Philippines!

ps. Kickin' it solo in Asia is now viewed in 35 countries. Bring it! ds.

Posted by Patrick_K 09:59 Archived in Indonesia Tagged landscapes mountains beaches bridges art people air_travel Comments (1)

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