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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: July 2009
In case you do not know Uluwatu is Bali’s premier dry season wave arena. It is on the South West tip of the island and picks up a fairly large amount of swell and has lots of different waves to surf within the area known as Uluwatu. The Bukit (meaning Hill in Indonesian) is the South west tip of the Island and has many surf breaks running all along its coast line. They start at the tip with Uluwatu this has various waves to surf starting with, Temples, Main Peak, The Bombie, Outer Corner and Racetracks. At all tides the wave is powerful and heavy, at low tide it is powerful, heavy, hollow, shallow and very dangerous with strong sea currents, fast sections and lots of different faces to ride depending on swell conditions and wind directions, etc etc..
Basically it is very famous now since it was discovered mid 70′s and has many established warungs/restaurants located on the hill offering spectacular views overlooking all the surfing action. It attracts the best surfers in the world at this time of year and most of them are barrel hungry surf monsters from every rounded corner of the globe. When they are placed in a big group together they start to behave with levels of lunacy and human behavior with more emphasis on risk taking than risk assessment.
To be honest due to my limited surfing experience I havent felt at home within this crowd especially combined with the power and force that Uluwatu breaks onto sharp shallow reef. That was until this week. I knew there was some swell due in fact a supposedly large one and I decided to go down, put my balls on the line, paddle out and try and catch some large heavy waves amongst the 80 or so surfers in the water. It seems the swell was late on the forecast and the waves were no more than about 4 ft and the crowds pretty competitive. However the swell arrived in the space of an hour and the waves and currents started getting really heavy and half the crowd exited the sea. I stayed in the sea and scored 5 super fast long waves in the the section known as Racetracks which is a super quick steep take off into a full speed race down the line..
I was having a great day and had some great waves and my confidence has increased dramatically in the water as a result. Surfing in a crowd really is a confidence and mind game situation as it involves many different strategies to enable correct positioning in the sea to be in the right place to take off on a wave within a group of equally wave hungry surfers..
Well this was a good morning and I have noticed a real improvement in my surfing since I last surfed here, then the tide got too low for me to surf safely and so after some coffee and cakes went and surfed Dreamlands. This is a newly developed Golf course / holiday resort which is about 1km along the Bukit Penninsula past Padang Padang, Binging and Impossibles ( Some more surf breaks more info soon). I surfed here until sunset. There were 40 or so surfers in the water, many from Uluwatu earlier in the day, Waves really started coming in heavy hollow and hard with a left and a right face off the main Apex. I scored many good waves here as well in fact as many as I could catch , paddle back catch my breath then go again, It was steep and I had many late take offs and fast walls. Today was the best day I have had surfing in Bali since I have been here and my arms are super tired as a result..
Woke up with a glow on my face and a contentment in my spirit, took a morning rest scooted about on my moped took some photos and decided to go back and surf Dreamlands until sunset again, two great days and life is feeling good..Sliced my feet on the reef unfortunately so a few more cuts and grazes to add to the ever growing list of reef scars.
Still in Kuta, still sharing a room with Ella, still trying to find a moment to update my blog with Ubud pics and more Johnny Rad stories. Also noting posted about my 3 weeks in Sumatra surfing in the jungle.
Surfed Uluwatu today and Dreamlands 84 people in the Sea at Ulu’s and pretty small wave, had fun today a few waves took some photos, sea is getting cold now. Tomorrow should sea a new and large swell coming and hitting Bali so hopefully some good surfing in next few days.
My friend Johan Pontell left for Sweden yesterday after 7 months in Bali, ill post some pics of Johan as a memory to this asap..I miss Johnny rad we had a lot of fun together. I feel like I emotionally need to remain split between a constant state of arrival and departure at the same time bizarre so much change all the time.. had to purchase a neoprene 1mm wetsuit top to stay warm in the sea. The smell of the new neoprene took me back to the day I bought my first wetsuit from my friend Paul Morgan who owns Sharkbite Surf shop in Bristol, missed Bristol a lot the lost few days and felt a bit lonely and discombobulated the last two days..
A picture of me surfing Uluwatu racetracks in my new wetsuit top….
Racetracks is a superfun wave in the Uluwatu arena, like the name sugests you dropin and literally race the wave at full speed to stay ahead of the section as it breaks really fast over the shallow reef. This is a photograph one of the local photographers captured of me this day. This is the fastest wave I have surfed regarding the speed needed to get to my feet on take off and start pumping down the line..great fun
Back in Kuta, surfed airport left this evening until sunset with Johan Pontell, he is leaving for Sweden at the weekend. It was good to have a surf after spending 3 days drowning in a sea of oestrogen in the town known as Ubud (more to come on Ubud) The wave was not great today as the swell was hitting the reef in the wrong direction and most of the waves were closing out. Super busy with Australians in the sea today, I also experienced how rude Brazilians can be.
whilst I was in a restaurant in Ubud a female group of Holistic honeys were gathered at a nearby table, apparently they were experiencing a new sense of personal awakening as they were sat having a meal. I overheard their conversation and I vaguely interpreted from what I overheard that,.. they had returned from an ayervedic, reikied, energy balanced, yoga dance, pilates and rolfing enlightenment class with alexander technique and tantric breathing as the foundation for the healing of their wounded inner child, this it seems was combined and juxtaposed between discovering the true power of their earth mother connection within the safe yet free direction of their spiritually enlightened ashram gurus..(or something to that effect) Well whilst eating my Nasi Goreng (fried rice with an egg) a woman walked in and joined the group. When all whom were sat down asked her how was it for you, she replied “Seriously everyone, the velocity of positivity was just soo intense…” as this was said so projectively with a broad American accent I was really stopped in my tracks not knowing quite what to think, but I had to refrain with all self control from pi**ing myself from laughter soon after.. seriously the velocity of positivity was just sooo intense!…
Ubud, OK below are some photos from my few days walking around, there are images of many of the tropical flowers, views of the sunrises in the beautiful secluded paddy fields.
Today is a good day, my friend Skye (mentioned in a previous Bali blog) has been to the Uk to spend time with her family and enjoy the birth and first few months of her niece being born. Having decided that as a writer she finds Bali a productive place to collect her thoughts and put pen to laptop she has returned.
I had to say good bye to Johnny Rad yesterday as he has to return to England to renovate a flat. The swell is pumping this week and there will be good waves to be had all across Bali and the surrounding islands, however I have decided to come to Ubud and check out where Skye is staying, also update my blog with some stories and photos from my time in Balian with John Morgan Aka Johnny Rad.
Also it just so happens I scraped the reef with my chest and feet on a couple of occasions at Balian and I need to stay out of the sea for a few days as they are not healing so well and in Indonesia it is my experience now that small scrapes and cuts do not heal with daily surfing and start to turn into tropical sea ulcers as you can see below the one on me knee is..
Formation of a sea ulcer…
Basically Balian is a reef break with a sea bed of big round pebbles however some of them have sharp little barnacles all over them and unfortunately I scraped my chest on one getting out from a long surf one day. I took these photos yesterday in Ubud. The swell is pumping in Bali and I really want to surf but if I do not stay out of the sea and let them heal over they will just get deeper and deeper until they turn into puss filled scar tissue. Surfing, although it does carry small and sometimes large risks most days, has turned my torso into the physical condition and appearance that I am really quite pleased about as I approach the age of 40 and even if it does not stay this way for long I am glad to have captured it whilst it looked like this at least once in my life. My physical condition is important to me as I put my body through hell much of the time, body shape is not so important to me but I know that I always feel a lot better about myself and my self esteem feels higher when I am lean and trim. I will never forget the days of standing in Sainsburys and Tesco checkout queues in the UK watching assorted girlfriends eyes fixate on the black and white front covers of Mens Health magazine. I used to wonder what they were thinking and whether their thoughts were as wayward as mine are, when I see any kind of female with a great body. I remember vividly feeling and wishing my body could have looked like that… However I absolute hate going to any kind of gym and lifting weights so I decided to accept it wasn’t even going to get close. Since I have been surfing this year the daily exercise has been good to me on so many levels and has helped me increase my inner confidence every time I come back to the surface after being smashed around in the white water. l also feel a large increase in my sexual energy and other areas of acheivment and confidence each day. This feels good and I thank God for this as I do not want to be getting prescriptions for viagra in the near future. Bottom line here is I was a podgy plump youngster and was called fat by my skinny friends and now whilst following the pursuit of fun and happiness all has reversed..they are now fat.
Ok I really want to dedicate a bit of my blog and some photos to John Morgan. He has many knick names amongst his peers, “Johnny Rad” being the predominantly most used due to the fact he spent many years making and repping his own brand of surfboard grip call Rad Grip, hence Johnny becoming being Johnny Rad. Other names less widely used are John Mop due to previous long hair, Moth wallet, Pest and Fireballs.
How I do I know Johnny?
I actually know Johnny’s brother Paul Morgan aka Mr Shark bite Bristol.Paul has owned the surf skate snow and clothing shop in Bristol called Sharkbite for a long time now. I have know Paul for approx 10 years due to countless visits to his shop, coffe mornings, and the occasional surf tip in the Uk and Portugal as he slowly manged to encourage me to the activity of surfing. Paul is a very successful friendly sociable and likeable surfer who I have a lot of admiration and respect for. Johnny however was his younger Brother that I occasionally used to say hello to here and there who thought I was someone who talked a lot on the rare occasions we met!
Well Johnny and Paul both share the same passion for surfing Paul is now mid forties and Johnny 41, both have surfed for most of their adult lives, both have traveled around the world in search of great waves and both have equally funny, informative and sometimes amazingly ridiculous and preposterous stories to tell from their travels. Well one thing remains consistent in their lives and that is the Islands across Indonesia producing consistently the best waves in the world for a surfer planning to to get a lot of surfing done on a surf trip. A cheap economy, war water and predominantly friendly locals Indonesia still attracts them back every year.
Well, I managed to spend 3 weeks surfing with Johnny in South Sumatra, however we only spoke briefly in the sea as on land he was juggling his time between an ex girlfriend that had come out to visit him and a present girlfriend on her way with a day free for the changeover. This stressed Johnny out a bit and kept him out of the Sumatra surf camp social circles for this period. Me and Johnny met up again in Bali and decided for a weeks surfing in Balian mid west Bali. This was a great time as we actually managed to get at least hours surfing in nearly every day and spent a lot of time chatting and relaxing in the evenings.
Basically I now believe in that one week I have made a really great friend, Johhny is an absolute legend and inspiring on so many levels and has become an absolute legend (leg end) in my eyes and I was actually quite sad to see him go.
Johnny surfing in South Sumatra
We have both agreed Johny needs to work on his cutback, inside arm and front leg needs to be straight, right hand planted in the face of the wave and head looking right down his leading arm with both eyes fixed on the wave’s shoulder, however he has had to go back to England and work renovating one of his many flats he manages and owns, so just for the record this is what they used to look like whilst he visualises the future..
Johnny nonchalantly paddled into this wave deeper every day then any other surfer staying in the local surf camps, this one landed clean on his head and spat him out the other side..
Johnny Rad can surf…
Johnny has a good photographic range as you can see below,..
No female is safe in the hands of the radster, pesting here in full effect..
Basically we stayed in a really cool room overlooking the wave for a few days, it was a place called Pondok Pataya, about 200 000 rupiah per night between two people so about £7 each including breakfast. I think the accommodation and restaurant are owned by a western business man /surfer living his dream in Bali. I didnt really meet him except when he nearly run me over surfing like a kamikaze on his longboard on the back sets one day. Anyway the restaurant has great food reasonably priced, good viewing, great relaxed vibe,good mellow music and friendly staff. Also the owner has made lots of viewing platforms and comfortable seating for all who use the beach break to use including a shower to wash off the black sand this is most commendable and adds to the relaxed vibe at the beach. It also seems that a swimming pool and some extra rooms are being built as I type this which will only make the place more busy,. But hey its a soft wave and seems to attract more surfer girls in small bikinis than other breaks so that is all good to. As much as I like to spread my money around local businesses we returned to chill and eat here every day.. Pondok Pitaya is the name, and it most definitely has the location location factor..
Pondok Pitaya accommodation, this was a cool room with cool bits and pieces,
Ok whilst we had a great time staying here in order to set a bit of balance as a “whinging pom” as we are known worldwide, a few minor points that would have made our stay here perfect,
1.we had to move out of our first room which was great to another not so great room which cost the same money as a result we ended up finding cheaper and better value for money accomodation at AYU’s 100 meters up the road.
2.The restaurant did great porridge, great porridge is a luxury in Indonesia, having surfed for three hours the chefs served up half full bowls, this is annoying as hell because its not good to complain and its even worse to still be starving hungry having spent western prices on food. So when we ordered we had to ask for full bowls and then we got them, when we didnt ask they went back to half full which was bizzare.. Oliver Twist factor
3. They put the price up on the room from 200 000 rupiah to 300 000 rupiah in the 4 days we stayed there this wasnt cool so we moved out..
Other than that like I said, it is a great place, good pizza, tasty food, cold beer and friendly staff with a great view and location of the surf which could be shared by all present so all good really…
We ve been here a few days now, managed to find an internet connection at the ohhh sooo jazzz Balian Yoga Centre, crappy slow connection so only a few but great photos from today. waves have been small but fun, crowded but still enough waves to go around.
below is Johnny Rad and me..
Johnny felt a real connection with this piece of artwork in our room at Pondok Pitaya and felt dressed for the part in his camo combat shorts,. Johnny is a real life action hero and as you can see below has a wide range of serious action moves,..
For a property developer Johnny is a very versatile actor and professional poser below you can see him do two excellent and unbelieveably convincing prisoner of war poses
Balian, waves, ambience, sights, and general everyday stuff if you were to visit including some of the sights along the way if you were to ride a moped from Kuta like we did…
I wasnt sure whether to post this dog splat picture however Idecided I want my blog to be as objective as possible. Seriously this sight made me feel pretty uneasy and also a reminder that I do not want to end up like the dog, driving on the road to Balian behind all the trucks heading for Java is certainly more dangerous than surfing the waves there..
My friend from Bristol “Johny Rad” has arrived back in Bali and we are going on a small surf trip to a place called Balian, it picks up a bit of swell and has nice places to stay so it shoild be fun. John is a really good surfer and fun to surf with, he only has 10 days left in Indo so we are going in search of waves.. Below is Balian I have been here before but never actually surfed but this is what it looks like from the cows perspective
I have been surfing Kuta reefs today again, 3 hours in the sea, bright sun but small inconsistent waves, had a few good rides though..My friend Judit from Switzerland is now in Bali and I just spent some time with her this evening having some food. We have not seen each other since we met in Portugal as our two surf trips crossed paths in Arrifana. Good to see her agian she looks happy and well and seems to have acquired a nice Indonesian surfer boyfriend whilst in Bali..
Bangkok Blues, for some reason i cannot stop my mind from thinking about my time in Bangkok with Tim, Dan, and some of the other people whom I had the pleasure to meet. So as I am back in an internet cafe approx 11pm and I am going to post some random pics for you to look from Bangkok streetlife..
(there once was a man who always complained he had no shoes, that was until the day he met a man with no feet..)
below are pics from one of the many food carts along the streets.. Basically fried anything small and crawly is on the menu…not to forget locusts, maggots,larvae etc
Ok Ive been sat in Gloria Jeans Coffee shop Kuta Bali and have been drinking copious amounts of coffee in order to be able to get some wifi time to upload some photos to previous posts in my blog. I have not finished yet but my head is ready to explode from caffeine overdose and the pumping trance music playing outside in the road. I have uploaded maybe 50 -60 photos which is a nightmare on this internet connection. I need to feel positive about my world as the waves are super crowded and I havent been having a good surf this week..I am missing Bangkok for some reason, my friends Tim and Dan and just the fun time we had there.
This picture was taken by my friend Johan Pomtell in about Feb 2008 and I took the ones of him below at Kuta beach so much has happened since then but I have wanted to post these shots for a long time but haven’t had the chance Johan is from Sweden and rips on a skateboard and is like me surfing daily in Bali,…happy days…
I have moved Hotel a couple of times due to it being so busy in Bali right now. We were staying here for a couple of nights about 10 dollars a day between two its called Suka Beach Inn, but now we are back at Mekar Jaya Bungalows a bit cheaper and just a bit more peaceful and like a sanctuary in the middle of the hustle and bustle.
It seems that Australians are coming out of every nook, cranny and crack in the street and every passing wave in the sea, it is all good though there is a great vibe in Kuta right now.. Anyway I am still room mates with my new American friend Ela, she is busy working on manufacturing her clothing range so we are passing like ships in the night and not getting much of a chance to hang out. I am going to bed a lot earlier than her so we haven t had a chance to do much stuff together. She has suggested that she thinks I am avoiding her but this is not so I am just pretty inconsiderate when I am tired and I just collapse on my bed, do not return calls and the such like. However its great sharing a room with such a beautiful woman I get to see her change every day!. She told me that if we were going to share a room she need to be able to feel comfortable naked in her living space! So I agreed I should be able to deal with that and it seems it is not too difficult,.. Living the dream! Oh boy God loves me!
Being a clothing designer Ela, and does fashion pretty with able ability. As well as suitcases full of South American fabrics for her collection she has a whole bunch of outfits as well. I am getting to see them all one day at a time..
I have been in Bali for about a week now and have bee surfing Kuta Reefs which are a small boat ride outside Kuta town and situated by the airport runway. Waves haven’t been so great the swell direction hasn’t been right and the wind has been blowing cross shore. However its pretty cool sitting in the sea watching the international planes take off and land over your head as you surf until sunset. The sea is getting colder now and I might have to get a thin neoprene top as I am feeling it. Its winter time here now and I can only spend about two hrs in the sea in shorts instead of 4 in one surf session, that is winter in Bali, a slight nip in the air
Jason and Skateboarding..
I really miss skateboarding on large ramps, compared to surfing it is a much more productive use of time. You don’t have to sit there and wait for the ramp to come rolling in accross the horizon and then scrabble with 10 other surfers to try and get on it.. The sea is soo crowded now and getting a wave that peels and gives a long decent ride is getting harder everyday. Skateboarding you just drop in and go and skate as hard and as often as you like, the ramp stays the same and you can skate until you cannot walk. Surfing is all about weather variables, swell conditions, height, swell period, direction, type of swell, wind swell, groundswell, then you have wind direction wind speed on shore cross shore off shore, AGHHHHH!!!!. Sometimes it is just a nightmare to get it all right and because of the internet if it is all going to line up nicely everyone knows and the sea is full of surfers all fighting for those perfect waves. This makes learning to surf so much more difficult and this also makes the sensation from scoring a great ride on a good wave that much more valuable.. However if my knees would still allow it I would rather blast an 8ft backside across the whole width of a vert ramp any day of the week… This I know for sure. My Knee X rays below are the reason I decided to learn to surf, my cartiledge has been completely removed on the right side of my knee, leading edge of my leading knee on my skateboard. This means I can no longer skate pain free. A unicondular knee replacement pictured right is the solution but I need to be 55 to be eligible so no more vert skateboarding..
Above is basically the breakfast I eat most days it comes include in the room price, Banana Jaffles and fruit salad..below is a typical Bali petrol station a young girl and a glass bottle full of petrol filling up my moped with surfboard and rack on the side. Fuel is 5000 rupiah a litre 50pence