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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)

Freezing in the Ghats

sunny 30 °C
View Kickin' it solo in Asia on Patrick_K's travel map.

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As usual a lot has happened in a week. After leaving Arambol, I met four guys on the train. George (the English bloke), with two Russian ladies (Carina & Mila) and this polish girl Marta. So after hangin' out on the train, we decided to rent a place in Varkala together. And man what a place we found! Two small flats connected to each other, totally about 70sqm. A fridge and a porch outside. In the garden they had this giant swing connected to two palm trees. For this we payed like rs200 each (3 euro). Unfortunately Carina and Marta left after two nights, heading for new adventures. Varkala had some really stunning views, basically all the restaurants lie on this huge cliff by the ocean. The beaches in front of the cliffs are really clean and beautiful with powerful waves.

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So me, George and Mila continued together to Kanyakumari. This small town is at the most southern tip of India, a place were the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean meet. It is considered as a great tourist attraction for Indians, especially due to the Gandhi memorial witch is located there. Apart from the touristic parts, there was an entirely different world in the neighborhood around the docks. People were doing everyday stuff and didn't have time to give you attention. This is rarely the case in India. Normally people come in groups of ten wanting to take picture of you with their mobile cameras. And they even call you things like "master" and "boss", when they don't use the frase "sir" of course. If you want to feel like a rock star, it can easily be done. Just catch the next flight to India.

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After doing the extreme south we headed up to the Western Ghats, which is the second highest mountain region in India (after the Himalayas). Apparently it contains world's top 34 hotspots of biological diversity. In order to go to Kodaikanal, the village up in the Ghats, we had to make a short over night stop in Madurai. When we got there, it felt like being back in Delhi. An awful stench of piss and petrol, beggars, dodgy rickshaw drivers trying to rip you off. After seeing like ten different hotels that were full of cock roaches, had broken toilets and smelled awful, we finally found the least dirty place for a reasonable price. Actually we didn't know anything of Madurai until we went up the roof and saw these huge temples that had resemblance to the Maya ones, but a lot more colorful. These pictures will come up shortly, stay tuned!

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After Madurai, we took the bus to Kodaikanal yesterday. The place we're staying at is truly brilliant. For being Indian standards, it's amazing. In our mountain cottage(!?) we have 24h hot water (very unusual in India), open fire place (yes, it's freezing cold at night), cable TV and a nice little garden. It's rs500 each per night including wood, which is a bargain. George has had a lot of issues with his stomach, which is the reason of him leaving India earlier than the 30th. He's flying back to London from Bangalore on the 22nd. After that it's just me and Mila.

//Patrick

Posted by Patrick_K 13:51 Archived in India Tagged me mountains trains train_travel Comments (1)

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