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Welcome to my BlogBelow in the archives you will find a lot of different stories and photographs from my experiences traveling and living in the UK. Feel free to browse and enjoy.
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Monthly Archives: January 2009
Lots of new stuff has been happening, I have taken lots of photos and visited some new places and surf spots, however the internet cafe I had been using with a reasonable and I mean still slow as hell connection is being turned into a hotel and has closed… damn internet is so slowwww here so on the lookout….more then
This is Indah she works at then ChillOut lounge less then a 100 metres from where I live, these are her two pet monkeys..
I see Indah every day when I go to and from my home she is a very friendly woman and has become part of my everyday scenery, this is great she is areal character. These are her pets, they are actually pretty well behaved as far as monkeys can be well behaved. They are super friendly like her. When Indah rides past on her moped through the colourful Tropical plant lined lanes of Poppies two and Benesari Street Kuta the small one one sits on her shoulders and the bigger one on the back seat of her moped with its arms around her waist. This is a really wonderful sight to see and this is another reason I love Bali…
Feel the love..
Sky Garden, the sky grden is a an open air club split on 3 seperate floors in the heart of Kuta, it has police at the doors instead of bouncers and they carry loaded machine guns. It is a free admission club with european Djs, great decor, air con, sofas , dance floors and European Djs, It all starts pumping at about midnight onwards. Drinks are western club prices though. It s usually full most evenings during the week. they have been running a happy two hours between 10 and 12pm some evenings recently where a beer is 7pence and along island ice tea cocktail is 35pence.
Bottom line here…
swell has dropped off no waves for a few days so a group of surfers from where I am staying, Tiva, Dougy, Dan, Toby, Kirsch and others decided to have a night out starting at 10pm. It began in Bounty Bar Kuta watching alive band, then on to the Sky Garden. Whilst having a fun time and a boogie on the dance floor together, I managed to consume afew more cocktails that I could handle. I got carried away on the Long Island Ice tea cocktails made from Arak (balinese Whisky) and Local Indo Rum. As a result I found myself i friends room projectile vomitting for about 3 hours naked with my head down a toilet… NEVER AGAIN!! reminded me of being 16, woke up in a complete daze, head felt like a football stomach in agony and shame in my spirit.. I do not want to feel that acid leaving my stomach like that ever again, … lesson learned..
It has been increasing brought to my awareness that one of the places I have been surfing regularly has a lot of sharks, this is Nusa Dua Geger beach or otherwise known as Nusa Dua Reef. It is the place pretty much guaranteed to have a wave and pick up some swell evn if every other surfbreak in Bali is flat. It is a reef located about a km off of Geger beach. A surfer can either paddle out to the reef from the beachb takrs about 20 mins to half hour or get the boat out which is 30,000rupees each way atotal of about 5 Euros. I always paddle out as I guess the fitness needed to surf in all conditions will come if I do this.
When i have surfed Geger on a reasonable sized swell sometimes I have been sat there with not much wave activity then what seems like a huge wall accross the horizon appears and ominously approaches towards the surfers sat in the line up. This is called a “clean up set” It is a wave or often a set of three waves that appear from deep water and break a bit further out than normal. The reaction when one appears is to paddle like crazy towards in the hope of getting over it before it breaks, Usuall what happens is you paddle directly into the impact zone and getted completely worked. I have heard many stories off people finding God asking for forgiveness and mercy at this moment in their lives. Clean up sets are usually 30% bigger than the rest of the waves in the day.
In Bali there are old Aussie surfers 50-60years old that sit really far out in the sea waiting to surf one of these waves that appear about once an hour. Its as though they will not get out of bed for anything less… I assume they are called clean up sets as they do literally clean up a busy line up and wake up a waiting crowd.
Well Nusa Dua gets these sets as the reef is the beginning of the deep water around the Island, as a result this I have found along with Green Balls surf break these are the home for Reef sharks and other sharks. I was surfing the other day and Clayton, who I was surfing with saw one about six foot long leap about 5-6ft out of the water. I do not know if they attack humans or not like the great white sharks in Australia. However my friend Jonny said he had to sit with is feet on his board while one circled him three times last week. Well Geger is the one break where hardly any locals surf and this could be why. For me it is a bit scary but in reality it all seems to add a bit more excitement to the equation.
More anxiously though, on my paddle back when I was swimming in the shallows a sea snake swam directly at my face, this was more frightening because if they do manage to bite you I have heard you have maybe 5-10 mins to say your prayers before you die. I have also been informed that Indonesia has the highest species count of the deadliest sea snakes in the world. Reassuringly though I have been told their jaws are so small they can ony bite you between your fingers and toes…
I have had some requests to put more photos on my blog, I actually have not taken many so I will go out over the next few days with my camera and capture some pictures of everyday life here in Kuta and the differences in Architecture and culture from the UK. It really is different and I have had good intentions of doing this so far but not done so, however here are some sights that you would not normally see in Europe or pretty much anywhere else in the world…
Ok, seeing religious ceremonies happing between palmtrees and surfboards for hire is a pretty common place sight here that feels relatively normal and something that I now take for granted but if I step back and think about it, this doesnt happen in Bristol City centre too much..
I like this shot its very peaceful for me, I was riding back from another beach and the sunset at Kuta was just wonderful I had my small Nikon coolpix5100 on me and I quickly pulled over and snapped this shot..
This is an example of the embellishment that you will find around many of the Indonesian doorways and buildings..
Below is an example of what wild monkeys do when they are bored, not many differences here though, I guess biologists after studying primate behaviour, skulls and archeological finds for many years have decided men evolved from monkeys, all you need to do is watch one in a tree for 15 mins to make the link, same facial expression upon completion as well…kinda like when you mum walks in on you having a quiet moment during your puberty..
no one watching
Probe in full effect!
job done, time to get on with the day now…
“Hey, I did not know you were watching, and you caught it on camera!”
Ok, well a bit of smutty fun, the monkey and me have a pretty similar sex life right now, he,s sat in the tree playing with himself I am sat in the sea playing with my surfboard! the rest is private…
Rain, Rain, Rain
The last few days, no real major surf news the swell has been dropping off a bit and there have been the biggest rainfalls I have ever witnessed. Personally for me whether I am in the UK or in Bali grey skies and rain always make me feel low inside and my spirit always seems to slide back into a reserved and anxious mode. I really have had enough of the rain, sure it makes the trees and flowers grow and as a grown man I am absolutely aware of its necessity to the life force and ecosystems of earth but It still sucks!
The rain and grey skies remind me of going bmx racing with my family as a boy driving down the motorway in a hot moist family filled car. To then arrive at a muddy bmx track that I was expected to to race around all day in the freezing cold shivering whilst mud was washed all over my bike and all over me. Rain reminds me of sitting on long car and train rides in damp clothes. Rain reminds me of cycling on my paper round as a 12 year old delivering soggy papers in the freezing cold. Rain reminds me of extreme sports summer events that I had spent all year looking forward to competing in, getting cancelled at the last minute as a downpour ruined play. As a boy my friends and I, Damon Nicholls, Tony McKenzie, Steve Baldry and Ralph Tribe would travel to Romford skatepark by train and tube journey for 2 1/2 hrs at the weekend having spent all week at school to find all the bowls in the skatepark looking like half filled swimming pools. Seriously as you can tell I can not stand the rain it has spoilt weddings, barbecues, summer events, skate sessions, walks home from clubs, cycle rides and almost every outdoor activity I have ever tried to partake in whilst growing and living in the UK.
One of my reasons for coming to Bali during UK winter was for sunshine and waves, well I have had to adjust my expectations a little. Dec to March is Monsoon season. When it rains here it really rains, last night the rain was falling soo hard it was like watching it on fast forward on a dvd or video player, It feels like aggressive rain! I was caught short last night walking back from the beach with my friend Ellen Pape. a German female who is teaching English in Bali. The rain came soo hard that we ended up walking back shin to knee deep along the roads that had become like rivers..
However when the rain falls like this it seems more like an adventure and the extremity of the rainfall seems to transport me into a very different headspace. The streets of Kuta for a brief moment are deserted except for the occasional moped and taxi driving axle deep along the roads whilst the rain absolute hammers it down. The air is still warm and the water a similar temeperature to a warm bath or a swimming pool Rain here is not like rain in the UK, when it rains it pours and then in a matter of hours the rain is gone the streets bone dry and the sunshine lifts all the colour back from the lush tropical plants and flowers. The evidence of what was is now all completely gone, It is magical! unlike the Uk where the cold damp streets stay that way for days on end as the drizzle and greyness just sits and sits for what seems like a week at a time.
I actually enjoyed the rain last night for the first time in my life and today the streets are dry and the air seems to have lost much of its humidity.
Underwater Housing update
Its seems that one of the surf photographers from Transworld Surf magazine is selling his underwater housing so its looking possible that I may be able to purchase one second hand and save a few pennies, which I am pleased about.
I am still enjoying my time here, surfwise I feel pretty rubbish, many bars and restaurants are playing worldclass surf dvds and when I then go into the sea I realise how truly bad at surfing I am, so I aim to change this. There is a new swell coming on Wednesday which hopefully should bring some new waves to all the different beaches. Healthwise my stomach took a small turn this morning but I think it will pass quickly.
Tiva came back from a 5 am solo surf session yesterday, arrived at the breakfast table radiating his spirit filled character with a sparkle in his eye and a story to tell, It had rained all night but Tiva being the committed surfer he is decided that all the rain would increase his chances of getting the pick of the waves all to himself at 5am in the morning. Anyway to cut a long story short having had a bad ride to the beach through the shin deep puddles on the roads and getting soaked by passing vehicles, he ended up in the sea at low tide with an exposed reef on the paddle/walk out to where the waves break. Any way at this point of the story he had a big grin on his face pretty happy. He explained that moments after he was saying his “Dear Lord protect me on my surf prayers, just as he had finished asking the Big Man (as he puts it) to look after his feet on the reef. At that moment he managed to spot a sea snake coiled up on the exposed reef seconds before he was about to step on it. Thanking the lord for revealing this to him, he returned back to the beach to warn an Australian Surfer that their were snakes in the sea. The Aussie surfer asked, “what colour is it mate?”, Tiva replied, “black with white stripes” and as Tiva put it the Aussie surfer replied “godda be careful of the black an’ white onez mate, theyzz be facking deadlee!” Anyway he is still alive and well enough to be surfing and thanking God which is good..
In the morning one of the staff from where I am living was trying to guide a small green snake into an empty plastic bottle, the rain had shaken it out of the tree onto the parked mopeds below. The small green snakes are super poisonous, so I am checking my moped before i ride it now its common place for snakes to climb aboard and coil up on the warm engine cases.. Just another difference to driving in the UK, poisonous snakes..
Road Hazard, Sreet Dogs,
I am pretty sad to say I was riding down the by-pass two days ago and a street dog ran directly into the road and bounced off my front wheel at about 40 kmh, I reduced my speed from about 80 to 40kmh buy the time we collided. It hit my front wheel soo hard but fortunately didnt die, It screamed instantly and ran off limping, but it impacted pretty hard, I didn’t now whether to stop or continue, it ran off yelping really loudly and was in great pain, but was gone by the time I had slowed down. I have never hit anything driving before. It made me feel sick inside, it is pretty commonplace to see dog carcasses along the roadside, roadkill is pretty commonplace here and it looks like I have become part of it… not good…
It is now 3 pm and I have managed to find an internet cafe nearby with a pretty good wireless connection so I am trying to get back to writing my blog more frequently than the last week or two. I have recently awoken as I went out last night, drank a whole bunch of vodka redbulls and woke up with my head in a cloudy hangover.
I have not really been drinking much alcohol over the last few years and it appears I have slipped into a small window of having a late night drink and a dance until the early hours. The surfers I have recently met are all super healthy living guys with the exception of Dougy, who is but as he is a London Boy through and through still likes a good night out in the West End of Kuta (Legian Street) Tiva Daka and Dan Johnson on the other hand are living examples of the christian faith in action and are clean and sobre putting their faith into the good Lord. It shows religiously, they are so committed to their cause, In bed by 10m then up at 5am on their mopeds in the dark in search of uncrowded waves. I have tried to step into this way of life but I just can not make the transfer. The evenings in Kuta are a lot of fun their are many people out, the clubs are free to get into and the atmosphere warm, sweaty and charged with energy..
Tiva, Dan and Toby are up before dawn then they come back after a surf, have breakfast then an afternoon sleep, this dedication shows in their surfing especially Tiva and Dan, they are super fit in the water, they can paddle into position to catch waves much quicker than almost everyone else in the sea and their wave count and number of rides is way higher than nearly every other surfer in the sea, most definitely mine..
Dougy is similar to me and likes to burn the candle at both ends occasionally, however it doesn’t stop him making the 5am surf or getting barrelled on his waves!!
I have not been surfing so well the last three days, early mornings are hard for me especially when the waves are powerful, hollow, fast and the reef is shallow, I got absolutely worked at a wave called Sri Lanka in Nusa Dua two days ago at 6am. As a result of gasping for air in the frothy white water I had an awaking of how easy it would be to drown when the waves step up a gear. To be honest I felt scared in the sea and was punished relentlessy wave after wave as I ended up in a rip current that pulled me directly into the impact zone of a set of 3 very heavy waves and was anhialated by each of them to the point of physical exhaustion. I was just glad to get out the sea after that and watch Dan absolutely hit up each large wave with speed and talented precision. Dan is a great surfer, it is good to see someone from England ride the waves as good as/ and on many occasions better than the Indonesian locals. I just feel a sense of pride for England and the talent it always seems to produce as a result of always having less than perfect conditions in almost every sporting field and event.
However yesterday at Serangan was a good day surfing for me, I managed the 6am surf trip and rode more waves than any previous day on my trip so far. I have got a different surfboard from another English man in Bali called Ado.
He is a great surfer and I have traded his spare surfboard for some cash and photography and video footage of him surfing. This should provide some good shots as Ado is a great surfer and likes big waves. He is also a trained lifeguard and has experience of tow-in surfing (being pulled into huge waves too big to paddle into with the aid of a jetski) Ado is a fit guy and pretty photogenic so we will see what shots we get there….The board I now have is 6ft2″ long a thruster that is high performance, narrow and lightweight. It is not very buoyant and when I sit on it in the water the board sits about 2 1/2ft below the sea with the water level by my armpits. This is a difficult board to learn on but it seems to feel more like my skateboard the way it turns and maneouvers through the water, so we will see what happens progresswise there.
Stomach is still good have not had any problems there so far and I have been eating street food and beach food that has been prepared in very questionable hygiene situations. I have however got both feet taped up with duct tape as I have scraped them on the reef in a bad fall where I was worked by three heavy waves in succession. The problem with open wounds in Bali/ tropical climates I have found is; 1. if you leave them uncovered during the night to try and let them dry out all the flies and mosquitoes have a little feast on your blood whilst you are asleep and you wake up with infected puss filled wounds that are sore and an angry shade of red. This is the difference between getting a cut in England. I still have open wounds on my knee from when I scraped it on the reef at Nusa Dua 4 weeks ago upo my arrival in Bali. However the duct tape is waterproof and seems to be protecting the wounds when I surf and is helping the healing proccess during the night. I have found taping some tissue paper to the wound helps them dry out and keeps the little creatures out.
I was having a lot of difficulty establishing a sleeping routine and was having sleepless nights quite frequently, due to mosquitoes and tropical thunderstorms which often happen during the evening. The thunder and lightning during a tropical thunderstorm is like nothing I have ever experienced, you feel a real chill down your spine as it feels like the lightning could strike the room you are in. It is that close and the air is that humid. It still rains here every few days but the showers are only for an hour or so and now seem to happen at night time. I have a a really noisy little gecko in my room that spend most of the night saying ECK OO ECK OO! extremely loudly.
I have discovered that getting reasonably inebriated on the odd occasion definitely helps me get a good night sleep if not such a great feeling in my head during the following morning.
Life here feels absolutely great when the sun is shining, but I still feel low in my spirit when it rains and is grey and cloudy. I have decided that I really would like to find a way to live here legally and financially support myself through my photography and other sources. Today I have looked into purchasing some underwater Housing equipment for my camera so that I can take photographs in the water. I have an underwater case for my video camera but it appears I am going to need one for my Eos 1ds mk2 if I am going to get the shots I desire. I just cannot get close enough to the action from and as many of the waves are breaking on reefs quite some distance a way. I have been doing my research on line and have found the housing most surf photographers use is made by an Australian company called Aquatech but the cost including lens ports is approx £2500 so it is a big investment. I am going to make that decision later today.
Below is a picture of all the photography equipment I have with me but it is looking like I will be needing to further add to it….
Camera Kit Bali,
1- Eos 1DS MK2 17mp Camera body
1- Canon Ef 70-200mm f2.8 Image Stabilizer Lens
1 – Canon Ef 16-35mm f2.8 IS mk2 lens
1 – Canon Ef 2X Extender
1 – Canon Chargers for info lithium
1 – Canon Ex580 Speedlight
3 – Canon Info Lithium Eos batteries
1 – Visible dust artic butterfly sensor cleaner
1 – Nikon Lens pen
1 - Sony VX2100E 3CCD Mini Dv Video Camera
1 – Sony Charger Info Lithium Batteries
1 – Sony 1.7 tele conversion lens VCL-HG1758 for VX2100E
1 – Eva Marine Underwater soft housing for Sony VX2100E
3 – Info Lithium batteries
8 – AA Nimh 2700 batteries and charger including car adapter
1 – Battery pouch / case
1 – Nikon Coolpix 510012mp camera and charger
1 – Pec pads and sensor cleaning solution and swabs
1 – Wind up Led torch
1 - Apple Macbook and charger
1 – Mouse
1 – Apple DVI converter
1 – Memory Card Reader
3- San Disk Extreme 3 CF cards 2x 2gb 1 x 8gb
2 – Waterproof bag
1 – Lowepro Computrekker Back pack
2 – 160gb Seagate 2.5″ SATA Harddrives in Icybox portable caddies
1 – 320gb Seagate 2.5″ SATA Harddrives in Icybox portable caddy
1- 80gb Seagate Momentus Harddrive in icybox portable caddy
1 – 8gb portable usb flash drive
This is what I need to complete the kit for underwater photography
Aquatech DV-4- MK11 Housing
This is just the body and I will also need 4 lens ports for different lenses so total will be about US $3500 so this is a big investment but there is no other way for me to get the shots I want as a photographer. If I am going to make this work out here I need equipment that will offer me the advantage, it is nt an easy decision as I could by land here probably big enough for a 3 bed house for 5000 us dollars or pay my rent and bike hir for over a year, Decisions decisions?
It has been a few days since i have been near my laptop, I am having troubles finding an internet cafe with a connection faster than 56kbps super slow and frustrating when the sun is shining,..
New Friends! Tiva, Doughy, Toby and Dan…
for the last three weeks I have politely crossing paths where I am staying with 4 surfers from Cornwall England, great guys really friendly and dedicated to the art of surfing. Every breakfast when I meet them in the dining area I discover they have been up at 5am already and have returned from their morning surf to avoid the crowds. Their routine is pretty structured up at 5am to go surfing, return back to the hotel, they eat, check the swell on the internet sleep than go surf again in the afternoon.
So recently they have invited me along for a few early morning expeditions, damn this is sooo early for me and my coordination at 5am is not at its best so the first few time i went and took photos instead… however the light is not so great that early in the morning..
Tiva Daka, Toby Millwood, Doug Mckinney, Dan Johnson.
As you can see they are all pretty good at their craft, so its been a bit of an inspiration surfing and hanging out with them all, each one is very different in character and personality and I have been having a good time getting to know each of them,..
Now we are going to be working on getting a blue sky, palm trees in the background, golden sand and facial expression coming out of the barrel set of photos!