[I’m stoked to present this guest post kindly volunteeered from an old Bali & Indo hand]:
Bali……..The Land of Nice Happenings
You know there’s over thirteen thousand Islands in Indonesia but none come even close to this Gem. I remember the first time I heard the name and straight away thought it had something to do with sugar. That was in 1975 and a few years later after my brother returned from a 3 month trip ranting and raving about a tropical Island paradise I thought I’d better check this place out. Fast-forward to 2011 and you know the magic’s still there even after all these years of so-called progress. Sometimes you need to dig deep …but it’s there! Believe me. My kids still feel it and so do I.
With all the up-market cafes & restaurants now that serve all the mouth watering treats I was surprised last month when one of my daughters ordered a jaffle. The memories came flooding back to the Gu and Bukit. Where would we have been without a cheese – vegemite jaffle. Twenty years ago Biff (Satay) after a long….long wave ordered one then actually paddled back out with a plastic bag and ate it while sitting in the line-up.
We used to call the early surf the “Jam Pat (4am) Dawn Patrol run to the Gu” but they changed the time to daylight savings and you need to leave a little later now. Even in those day’s when crowds were down “Menda’s Army” would turn up and it was time for a jaffle. We don’t get out of bed too early these days except for the worlds oldest Grommet but all us grey, balding old surfer mates from the early day’s who once called our selves the “North Legian surf team” got on the beach breaks last August and surfed some nice clean uncrowded waves. It was Kunigan with no Balo’s, board rentals or surf schools that day. My point is this…..you can still get uncrowded waves in Bali! It’s all just about timing, planning and luck.
The Bukit Peninsula is definitely not what it used to be but then again the only thing that stays the same in this world is that everything and everywhere changes. Except for the waves! As a local ex-pat said to me earlier this year they should have made it a national park 20 years ago and told Local hero and good friend Made Kasim at the time. His honest answer was that “money will talk”. And it did and they built and they built… some local’s won …and some lost. But that’s life and it is what it is. Padang keeps pumping most days when the swells on and all the other breaks have countless days of endless fun in the sun. Legian with it’s beachbreaks (and no wall like Kuta ) has all the facilities and beach games with a carnival atmosphere that can make it seem like the centre of the universe.
Could go on forever with surf stories from years gone by but I won’t. “The Worlds Oldest grommet” had a 7-hour session in a big late season swell many moons ago that had me flabbergasted! (we only lasted 4). The late great Kim Bradley who was a true friend was paddling into a monster at Sanur one early morning in the 80’s that had me screaming from the inside don’t Go! He did and went on to surf one of the biggest and best waves I ever saw in Bali and milked it all the way to the wreck. Kasim at Padang and Menda at Kuta Reef were the standout Balo’s with some awesome late take-offs at full speed and local knowledge keeping them firmly in the pocket at all times. Peter McCabe, Rocky Forward, Tim Watts and Steve Palmer were Pioneers whilst Balo’s Gidday & Swenda (RIP) deserve a mention for not only charging in the surf but also what they did for the kid’s growing up in and around Kuta beach.
Probably the best way to sum it all up was a letter written to Tracks in the very early nineties about a memorable day in the surf. (See below). And as Micky Dora once wrote in Surf guide magazine in 1965 – “ The vintage years are over… I have my surfing memories and that’s it…..don’t want to share them with anyone”.