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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)

Goodbye India, hello Sri Lanka!

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

So much has happened the past few weeks here, that I don’t recall happening during the past few years in Sweden. It’s obviously too much to write about. I’ll just capture the highlights so you don’t get bored.

After leaving for Gokarna the bus stopped 3:30am, 20 km from our destination. I went out from the bus for a leak and said to myself: “Screw this; no way am I getting of here!” So we continued to Goa which was the final destination of the bus. In Goa we saw some amazing places. We rented a bike for a couple of days and did some sightseeing around Goa basically. I bumped into some friends I met in Arambol, just a month earlier. We actually went on a bike trip from Palolem to Arambol, which is across whole of Goa. It was cool seeing the transformation of the little village due to the massive increase of tourist. A lot more shops and restaurants had opened, along with higher prices I suppose. I liked monsoon Goa more, with almost empty beaches. During the season, you still can find deserted beaches. You need a bike though.

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In India everything takes ages to accomplish, hence the expression “shanti shanti” which means “slowly slowly”. To upload pictures for example and to write a blog entry takes three hours, due to frequent power cuts and extremely slow internet connection. If you’re not used to this kind of effectiveness it can be very frustrating. Fortunately, after two months in India I have learned to accept it. I wrote a two page blog entry and the power went off just 2 days ago.

I supposed to be in Sri Lanka now already, a flight I had to postpone since Mila lost all her important documents such as: Passport, ID, flight ticket, credit cards and cash. This happened (how? don’t ask me!) in Hampi the day before her flight.

Over the past few days I have become a social worker here in India. After traveling five weeks together I couldn’t just leave her 2200 km from her embassy with no ID or money. Being Lithuanian citizen though, things became more difficult. The first thing that shocked me was that the embassy didn’t even have a web page. Eventually we found a telephone number and called them. So it began, the journey to Delhi. Since you’re not allowed to fly domestically within India without ID, we had to go by train.

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All in all a 40 hour ride which was quite cool actually, we traveled with this polish guy Maciek and had a lot of time to get to know each other. It’s always interesting to hear someone else’s story when you’re sick of telling your own. After reaching Delhi, we had a fare well party with Maciek since he was leaving for Poland 12 hours later. We stay in Majnu Ka Tilla, which is a Tibetan neighborhood in the outskirts of Delhi. Tibetan people are really nice, nobody rips you off here. The food is good and there is plenty of Tibetan monks drinking Chai (tea) in the narrow streets.

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Dealing with the Lithuanian embassy went really fast when we actually found the place. She got a temporary passport. However, in order to fly back to the UK for her studies she needs to fly to Lithuania so she can get an ordinary passport. If she hadn’t lost her ID, she probably could get one here in India. Dealing with the Indian authorities to get her Indian visa (you need one to exit the country) turned out to be a real bitch. The past three days she’s been sent from one office to another. People working in government institutions here are somehow from a different planet! Are you rude? Is your patience minimal or none existing? Do you hate helping people out? Do you enjoy minimal of work? If you’re Indian and you can answer yes to these questions, the Indian immigration office will be happy to employ you.

Two days ago, when in the Internet café, I got a Trojan horse in my pen drive. This evil virus of course spread itself to my laptop, external hard drive and my memory card. I basically saw all my files and pictures being replaced by executable files you don’t want to open. Fortunately I found a computer guy that could help me destroy the virus and recover my pictures. Thank you!

Yesterday, I start to feel sick. Really sick. After spending a day in downtown Delhi, we went back to the hotel. I almost passed out before seeing a doctor in Majnu Ka Tilla. He fixed me up and gave me some medicine along with tips what to eat. I had become a victim of food poisoning after two months in India. No wonder there actually is an expression called Delhi belly. With these two encounters, I can say without any remorse what’s so ever, Delhi is a filthy place. Don’t argue with me on this one! There are parks that are actually clean though. The strange thing is that almost nobody seems to walk there.

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I wish everything turns out well for Mila so she can fly home as soon as possible, she missed out a lot in university and her parents are worried of course. She needs to fill in some final papers today. Hopefully she meets a cooperative person that can speed up the bullshit.

Tomorrow I fly to Sri Lanka with an overnight stopover in Chennai, I’m really looking forward to it. Palm trees, white sand beaches, elephants and surfing!

Posted by Patrick_K 17:55 Archived in India Tagged landscapes beaches people trains air_travel Comments (4)

Leaving for God's own country

semi-overcast 28 °C
View Kickin' it solo in Asia on Patrick_K's travel map.

There's been some great times here in Arambol. Been hanging out with some amazingly warm people the last couple of days. We did some scooter trips around the area, all from all day trips to short two hour rides. Great fun!

The coolest place was a stunning "secret" fort in the jungle that somehow (it blows my mind why!?) has been forgotten by tourists as well as travellers. It's not in the guide books nor on Google. The place is big, about two square km, with amazingly intact ruins. The Jungle Book feeling was overwhelming! A gold mine for photography.

But as every good story it has to come to an end. I'm leaving for Varkala tonight, it's only a 20h train ride! :) The state of Kerala is one of the richest states in India, the roads are great and people come with a smile. Since there's a big community of Christians, it's often referred as God's own country. I thought I'll bomb you all with a summary of the trip in color so far.

Big up!
// Patrick

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Posted by Patrick_K 16:54 Archived in India Tagged lakes beaches buildings people animals Comments (5)

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