Wednesday, April 29, 2015

2015 first Indo trip report n.1. Not the smoothest start.

I apologize with the readers for having declared that I was going to keep doing the daily Maui morning call from Bali, but as soon as I arrived, it was immediately clear that I had no interest in doing so.

The idea of publishing a daily forecast for Maui on this blog came to me because that is something (the forecast) that I do for myself every morning anyway. So it only takes me the extra effort of selecting the pictures and writing the post. But from here, the last thing I care of is what the waves are doing in Maui (well, that's not 100% true...), and it would require a much bigger effort to do a forecast I'm not really interested in.

So, sorry but no more Maui forecast until I came back, which will be on May 13.
But don't stop checking the blog because I will do random Bali report posts, much more like how the blog used to be for the past 10 years.
Please post comments if you have any interest in me posting a daily photo of the Bali surf conditions, because that takes almost nothing from my phone.
In the meantime, here's the first "old style" report from my first 2015 Indo trip.

As I quickly posted on Facebook, the photo below is the first spot I checked in this trip, but it's not Bali. It's the beautiful beach of Makapuu in Oahu. This one day lay over wasn't planned, and here's what happened.

I believe this is my fifth time I go to Indo and for the third time I found an affordable ticket from Honolulu to Bali with Korean Air. The trick is to start checking the prices as much in advance as you can. Usually, the earlier the cheaper.
For some reasons, Maui to Bali is always a lot more expensive, so I usually buy the inter-island ticket separately with Hawaiian.
In my two previous experiences with these two airlines, I was always able to check my baggage in Maui all the way to Bali. Plus in this case, I didn't even think I had baggage to check in, since I already had two boards in Bali. So I booked the Maui-Oahu flight 2 hours before the the Honolulu-Seul flight. I know that the walk between terminals is only 5 minutes and the Hawaiian inter-island flights are usually on time, so 1.5h seemed a safe enough connection time.

The bad luck started manifesting itself when the Hawaiian check in agent told me the two months ago the rules changed and she could not check in my boards all the way to Bali anymore.
Oh yeah, in the meantime I had found out that Korean doesn't charge for boards anymore, so I thought about taking a couple more... you know, as one does.
No big deal I thought, I should still be able to make it without too much stress.

So I checked in the boards to Oahu and went to the gate. I pulled out my kindle to start reading my friend Bill Boyum's book (he's the man who discovered G-Land) and noticed that the battery was low. I did remember to charge it a couple of days before leaving, but evidently it got turned on in the backpack and it was low. Below is the photo I took that made for another facebook post.

I then looked for a power plug to recharge it. Couldn't find any in the hall of gate 13, which was also completely full of people waiting for the flight (or their flight I should say... as I was about to find out) to be called. But plenty power plugs and absolutely nobody sitting in the adjacent hall.
So I sat there, charging the kindle and keeping an eye on the hall of gate 13.
"Even if I can't hear the announcement from here, I can easily detect when everybody is going to stand up and start boarding" was my weak plan. It seemed good enough at the time, but it wasn't.
I started reading. Once in a while I would check the hall of gate 13 and notice that there was still a lot of people sitting. I admit I got into the reading and spaced out a bit.
When I finally noticed some of the people standing up and starting to form the line for boarding, I noticed it was half an hour later that the scheduled boarding time.
Still not too worried and hoping for a fast boarding procedure, I placed myself in line and got to the gate, only to be told:"sorry sir, your flight has already left!"
"Really? Did you change the gate?"
"No sir, it left from this gate."
"Well I have to catch a flight at noon in Oahu, can you get me on this flight anyway?"

They did get me on that flight, but it was going to be too late.
What happened is that they boarded two consecutive flights (half an hour difference) from the same gate and the people that was filling the waiting room was waiting for both flights. So the room was never really empty as I expected it to be and that was the reason for my mistake.
Quite a beginner mistake, considering the amount of travelling that I do, I have to admit.

Despite the objective list of bad lucks (boards not checked in all the way, kindle needing a recharge, power plugs only available in the adjacent room and two consecutive flights 30 minutes apart boarded at the same gate with people of both flights sitting in the waiting hall), I was blaming my stupidity and being angry at myself for a good... 20 minutes.
After that, my zen approach to life took over and I was able to cope with it a lot better while I was on the plane for Honolulu not knowing yet if I was gonna make it or not.

Here's some of the concepts I strongly believe in that I usually remind myself of in these occasions:
- everything happens for a reason and it's for my best
- there's always something positive in everything and even if right now it's not evident what it is, it will manifest itself sooner or later
- being pissed off won't make it any better
- nothing matters (Carlos Castaneda's Don Juan taught me that).

But the one that really worked in this case (and in many other cases) is the following:
There will be a time when what now seems to be a big deal will only be a distant memory. In this particular case, I could even quantify it quite precisely: a couple of days. Once I get to Bali, in fact, I won't think anymore about how stupid I was to miss a flight. So, why I don't start right now not thinking about it anymore and enjoy the challenges and new unplanned things it will bring?
It worked beautifully and I did the rest of the short flight in a much more serene mode, until I finally got to Honolulu and the Korean Air check in manager told me that maybe without boards to check in I could have made it, but with boards I stood no chances. I had then to rebook the flight for the day after.

Here's two new little details that really challenged my zen attitude again:
1) I was supposed to leave on April 25th. On that day the time between the Honolulu-Seul flight and the Seoul-Bali one was going to be 2 hours, enough for Korean Air to sell it as one ticket. On April 26th, the new day of my departure, a change in their schedule would take place and the time between the two flights would only be 40 minutes. Not enough for them to commit for a one ticket. I was then booked for the Honolulu-Seoul for the 26th and on the Seoul-Bali on the 27th. That meant one full day to spend in Seul and two days late in Bali.
2) the cost of the rebook was $280.

I rented a car, got in touch with some friends that live in Honolulu, went to check Makapuu under one of them's suggestion (it was beautiful and offshore, but you can't surf the break in the photos, because it's reserved for body boarders), ended up surfing Publics (onshore and shitty, but still nice memories of my 2009 two months stay in Oahu), took my friends out for dinner in a nice Thai place, met more friends, went to a live music club.
Bit pricey, but fun.

I was a lot more worried about the day to spend in Seoul (I have no interest whatsoever in visiting big cities anymore), but fortunately I managed to make that 40 minutes connection and so in the end I arrived in Bali only 1 day later and with 400 bucks less on my bank account. Could have been worse.
Could have been 2 days and 800 bucks. That's another easy thing to think of when you think things are going bad. Thing, think, think, things... geez, how was that sentence?

Wow, that was a hell lot of unnecessary/uninteresting details. I could have just said "I missed a flight", but:
- I enjoy writing
- I analyzed what happened so many times (in order to learn and not do it again) that the story came out without much effort
- it's a rainy (and flat) late afternoon in Bali
- someone might actually read all this and learn something out of it (like to put at least 3 hours between connection when booking flights not as one ticket)
- I don't have much to report from the surfing point just yet.

The first day in fact, was relatively small (waist to chest) and I surfed in Canggu (not too far from where I'm staying this time). Here's how a spot called Old Man's looked like at high tide at sunset.
I would have loved to have a single fin longboard. It was perfect for trimming and nose riding.

While the rest of Bali (specifically the Bukit peninsula) has waves that are more or less for experts only, Canggu is an area that offers waves for all skill levels, beginners included. The speed at which it has developed (and I see no signs of slowing down either) is almost frightening.
When I first surfed here in 2011 (here's the 8 posts I did at the time...  impossible to do such a reference to previous posts on facebook!), there was NO board rentals on this beach. Now this "operation" has more than a hundred boards. And the amount of home stays and cafĂ© and restaurants that popped out like mushrooms is mesmerizing. Same applies to the increment of people in the water, as you can imagine.

Well today it was quite flat as I said, and I finally on my trip n.5 I decided to do a classic tourist thing and go visit the small town of Ubud. Also because I had the right company, I have to add. Here's the Murni's Warung where we had a lovely fresh coconut. It looks like someone's eccentric living room and the view on the left was on a beautiful green gulch.

The part of the ride through the rice fields was the best, but my phone camera sucks and it doesn't render it.

The forecast calls for another couple of flat/small days (which can happen in this season), but then there should be a couple of fun size swells before a solid 9f 16s one (biggest of the new season they say) will hit on May 6th.
Definitely more excited about the first ones, since I still haven't figured out where to surf here when it's that big.

So long, till next one.

1 comment:

Wayne Griffith said...

wow. great story post. it's awesome trips. You are really a seeker of challenge that is very reliable. and you seem to have found it in our country Indonesia, especially Bali. if you need a reference about surfing in Bali you can follow ... nice post. thanks.