Friday, July 20, 2012

Indo 2012 chapter two (Bali part one)

So why did I leave the UnNameableSpot if I was having so much fun?

I did it for two reasons: a forecast and a friend.

The only internet connection I had was provided via a USB modem with a local SIM card that I bought before getting there. There was a signal, but it was weak and the related speed was hence pretty slow.

My website of choice for wave forecasts is Surfline (I’m a subscriber). But unfortunately, most pages were too heavy to be loaded.

So I switched to another site called Magicseaweed that offered much lighter pages that could be loaded a lot faster.

At the beginning the forecast seemed to be ok, so I started to trust it. And I learned that as long as there was more than 3 feet of swell, it was going to be fun.

Well, the forecast for June 16 and the following days was calling for 2 feet or less and very windy and I started to think it was maybe a good time to go explore some other waves, when I received an email from my friend Paolo who announced me that he was going to be in Bali at that time for three weeks.

“Perfect!”, I thought. “It’s going to be shitty here, so I go to Bali and meet him and from there I’ll decide where to go next.”

Too bad that, despite the 2 feet forecast, the day I left was double overhead... damn! Well, at that point I had already bought the tickets and didn’t feel like changing them, but I sure learned that the MSW forecast for that location is not reliable.

“Whatever, I’m still going to Bali... I’ll surf over there.”

And so I did.

Airport left was the most fun break, even though it was usually pretty crowded. One of my favorite spots from last year (Secrets at Uluwatu) instead wasn’t working. Windy, choppy, weird, it reminded me of Middles when the trades are blowing...

At the end, with the exception of a couple of great days at Balangan, overall the surfing of the first Bali stay wasn’t particularly high quality, but I did enjoy doing it in the company of a friend. We also did some relatively fine dining (he took me to places where a dinner was $15-20 instead of the usual $3-5...) and explored a bit of night life.
That was fun, but I definitely wasn’t there for that. So, one morning I woke up, went to check Airport Left, didn’t like it, went to a travel agency looking for a ticket for Sumbawa-Lakey Peak for the same day (or the day after), didn’t find it, went to the office of one of the G-Land camps and booked a 6 days stay, leaving the morning after at 6 with the fast boat.

But that is material for the next chapter.

In the meantime, enjoy the photos from Bali and this little clip that shows the stairs that take you down to the beach to paddle to Padang Padang and Impossibles and a wave at Kuta Middles.

top turn at Uluwatu
nice cuttie!

this knee boarder was killing it

a glimpse is better than nothing


the start of a possibly memorable ride at Race Track

One of those Balangan perfect ones

Paolo knows how to relax

not sure about this shot...

the calf may appear big, but trust me that the overall was good indeed

do you prefere the unflashed chili...

or the flashed Bintang?

sunset at Balangan

Wedding photos... they crack me up. Yeah, I'm sure he walks on the reef in a suit and slippers all the times...

so what's that supposed to be? Romantic?!?!? Maybe if they weren't wearing those ridicolous dresses and if there weren't  professional photographers paid to capture the staged moment. I bet they were even instructed to do that head to head move...
Sorry, I'm against any kind of bullshit.

And now a fat section of Gopro photos + some from the beach taken by a photographer (with a poor lens) at Balangan.

mini sequence 1 of 3

mini sequence 2 of 3

mini sequence 3 of 3. Once again, on the wrong side of the barrell. Oh, you guys try!

still trying...

surfing is SO MUCH FUN!!!!

another one bites the dust

this is Padang Padang. It was high tide and it was breaking very close to the rocks

VEEERY close to the rocks!

love the sunset light through the lip

I mean, look at the colors! GoPro cameras are fantastic!

sequence 1 of 6

sequence 2 of 6

sequence 3 of 6

sequence 4 of 6

sequence 5 of 6. This might as well be the best GoPro shot I've ever taken!

sequence 6 of 6. Bye bye!

put those razor blades down, no need to cut your veins. This is the last GoPro shot...

small Balangan nugget

I had a couple of screamers at Balangan. The photos are not that good (shooting into the sun with a not so good lens), but the waves were amazing

quite explicit body language

you get so much speed...

take off with the hand in the water. I like it.

I stood up as soon as I could and I'm at halfway down on the wave. I saw Owen Wright standing up and pumping down the line dropping only two feet under the lip in the take off...
BTW, I call this size well overhead

sequence 1 of 3. It looks like a barrel, but it's not with my strict barrel claiming rules: I need to see the curtain on the beach side and I need to make it out of it. Didn't see the lip in this case

sequence 2 of 3. But is sure was right there...

sequence 3 of 3. It wouldn't have counted anyway, since I bailed right after this...
Plenty more Balangan in Chapter four. In the meantime, stay tuned for Chapter 3... I'll take you to G-Land!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Indo 2012 chapter one: the UnNameableSpot

Note: 60+ photos after the text

My 2012 trip to Indo was awesome.

I surfed waves like these.

Last year it was my first trip to Indo and, despite a couple of attempts of seeing different places (a one day trip to Nusa Lebongan and a two days trip to Sumba – Pero), I ended up spending the whole month in Bali.
In fact, between Canggu, Kuta and Uluwatu I had enough spots to explore and I sure didn’t get bored.

But I knew that Indo has a lot more to offer than Bali, so this year I ventured to other places as well.

Here’s how I spent my trip (not counting the travel days)
- 16 days in a spot that I’m going to call UNS (UnNameableSpot)
- 7 days in Kuta (Bali)
- 6 days in G-Land
- 9 days in Balangan (Bali)

I’m hence going to divide my diary of the trip in four chapters and this post is chapter one.

The first spot offered the best surfing (and I stayed longer), that's why you will find a lot of photos in this first post.
If you're a surfer, the photo above should be enough to appreciate the extremely high quality of that wave.
And if you're wondering how big those waves were, this photo is the answer: big enough to have fun, even push your limits, but without risking much.

Allright, I got too many photos to organize, this post is going to have a bit of a random plot.

I do feel like starting with a little video first, so that you guys can have an idea of what I'm talking about.
It's 6 minutes long, it might get boring for you guys, but for me it's different... it brings back wonderful memories, so you guys will excuse me if I indulged.

The reason why I’m not going to reveal the name of this place is that the person that turned my onto it asked me not to publicize it on the blog.

At first it seemed me like an unnecessary request. The spot is not secret, so I didn’t quite get why. But once I got there, I understood.

The place is just gorgeous, with an unimaginably fun wave and it’s still relatively uncrowded. And even if there’s days in which you can get thirty people in the water, since the wave is relatively mellow, the crowd and the vibe is mellow too. And the people will be distributed along a lineup that can be up to 100 yards long.

Let’s talk about the wave first. An absolute dream.

Most days, long lines peel perfectly and predictably over a reef that seems shaped with a ruler. When it’s on, it’s the most fun wave I’ve ever surfed, without a doubt.

Cloudbreak remains the most beautiful one, but that is a demanding one. You’re not relaxed (well, at least I wasn’t!) because the consequences of a mistake can be serious. In other words, it’s a wave that barrels.

UNS, instead, doesn’t have a throwing lip (only on big days, low tide and offshore wind it will occasionally barrell), but it nonetheless offers steep racing sections, as well as softer walls where to throw all kind of turns. Even though it got up to double over head a couple of days, I didn’t get scared once. I never touched the reef either and when I intentionally did that (to feel it up with my shoes), it felt kind of even and not particularly sharp.

At my level, it was the perfect playground to improve my turning technique as well as my wave reading and down the line pumping.

For more advanced surfers seeking the highest thrills of barrel riding, it would be a disappointing experience.

At the same time, it’s definitely NOT a beginner wave either. Depending on the section where you catch it, in fact, you often have to stand up quickly and start pumping down the line to make the next section.

In other words, it was just perfect for me.

And it works at any size and any tide (even though at low tide it's a bit punchier).

Of course, it has its bad sides too. It’s a place that can get extended periods of flat and/or wind. The wind is straight offshore, but if it’s blowing over 20 knots it gets a bit choppy and the takeoffs become kinda blind because of all the spray in your eyes.

Like many other Indo setups, you can walk on the reef at low tide (shoes highly recommended), but you need a short boat ride at high tide.

The surf camp where I was staying was really nice. The rooms were basic, but they had a mosquito net bed and private bathroom.

The food was good. Not particularly various, but very healthy (plenty delicious vegetables) and abundant. That’s a key factor when you surf most of the day...

The boat service was excellent: they had two boats, so there was always one available to take you out or in. And I didn’t even need to tell the boatman when to come pick me up... which is something that I hate, because it makes me look at the watch all the time. How in the world am I supposed to know the duration of a surf session?? It depends on a bunch of factors like:
- body tiredness
- body temperature
- wave conditions (that includes wind and tide changes)
- crowd
and all those things can change at any time.

Here’s a typical day there.

Wake up early and check the surf.
Eventually go out right away if the conditions are good.
Repeat next day.

There was absolutely nothing to do other than surfing, so I filled the empty spaces with reading books (might have to do a post with the reviews of those I read) and playing my ukulele. My time was absolutely stress free. The only thing I had to be worried was to try to pace myself and don’t surf too much. An annoying shoulder pain, in fact, did bother me for most of the stay... maybe it was a blessing, otherwise I would have surfed myself to death.

Last thing I can say about this place, also considering the fun I had compared to the other places I went in this trip, is that I will go back for sure next year. It was just really, really fun.

And now something like 60 photos. Too complicated to rearrange them, so I'm just going to leave them in the order they were uploaded.

The beach is an absolute dream. This photo was taken from the reef. I would recommend to click on it to appreciate the amazing colors.

This was a gorgeous morning. A few of us decided to dawn patrol it.

And this is a nice girl called Krista on one of the waves of that session. So rippable!

More waves.

These photos were taken with the Fujyfilm camera. It's a keeper.

This was my bungalow.

This is that magic sunset featured in the video.

Last shot taken from the lineup (it was two of us). After this, I'm gonna catch the last wave in.

And after I rode that wave (it wave a very long one), in between duck dives, the colors got even more intense.
I didn't care if I was going to be pushed all the way in again, I had to sit on my board and take a shot (and that wave on the head). Totally worth it. This shot is unreal.

A few minutes later, the blog author appears pretty happy on the boat.

No comment.

This is a different sunset.

This place is not particularly easy to reach. The last leg of the trip is with a bemo (taxi). I met couple of other surfers and we shared the cost. This guy is the first Slovenian surfer I've ever met and he looked a lot like the italian rock star Ligabue.
Only afterwards I noticed we had unawarely joined the last dinner...

A few shots from the beach.

Observation hut.

Medium low tide.

Love this shoulder. Big, peeling and no one on it!

Also on the reef of a remote island, I found a girl to photograph.

Same lady, bit of a wave in the background.

The little fellow starring in the video. Making bubbles without a hot tub... don't try it at home!

Mini section dedicated to the star fish and their funny poses.
This is a romantic one.

Hey, what you doing with that camera?

Errr... I don't like this wet sand!

Mmm... today I feel like doing nothing...

Seaweed harvest.

Unexpected beach wild life.

The locals are crazy about football.

Pacific field invasion.

The keeper almost got hit by a falling coconut.

The action was quite intense.

So was the sunset.

Most of the sunset in Indonesia are like this. Mellow with pastel colors. Those two above, were an exception.

Reading my awesome kindle on the porch.

Some pretty fine houses along the beach.

How's the colors?

Another piggy fellow.

Not a bad spot to watch the waves.

But I'd happy with this...

Miss Uruguay.

 More unexpected beach wild life.

 Surfers dream.

Couple of gopro shots. Big wall.

Devil eyes duck dive.

Intense duck diving means intense breathing.
Last shot.