A brief & incomplete history of early Bali surf transportation

The other week while filling up at a Pertamina gas station, these two surfers whizzed by. They weren’t on scooters, though. After paying, I got my digital camera ready and snapped this shot out the window as I drove past them:

The picture isn’t all that great, but these two guys are riding bicycles and pulling surfboard carts

Over the decades, I’ve seen just about every mode of surfer and surfboard transportation there is in this country, but this is the first time your blog correspondent as seen this in Bali. (Although the surf-carts have been advertised for quite some time in California and Australia, I believe)

Good on ya, fellas, you’re having an adventure. The dangers of the traffic make it even more exciting. I’d brave a nasty, low-tide 10-foot Padang pit before I’d take on the bypass on a bicycle.

Early surfers to Bali will remember the classic bemos of Bemo Corner, with their open backs and the two benches slung along either side. A favorite way to get up to Ulu, boards stacked down the center, clinging to the handrails overhead (if there were any) as the bemo jostled along. Then, of course, the village lads who carried your boards along the cactus-lined track to the cliff-top. The old Hike & Surf – one was generally knackered by the time one got back to the Kuta losmen.

Of course there were also rental motorbikes. Not scooters. In the 70s and 80s, Honda 90s were among the most common. You carried your board in a bag slung over your shoulder. Driving into a stiff wind could be a pain, the way the bag wanted to wrench you off your seat. Or you put the board on the bike’s seat and sat on the nose, the tail hanging off the end. Sometimes taking a corner too fast could result in board skewing sideways, making for some excitement.

On Kuta Beach, there was a period (late 70s, early 80s) there when fat-tired bikes were available for cruising along the sand toward Canggu. Also four-wheeled dune buggies. At this time, there was no road along Kuta Beach.

Scooters, or Bebeks as the locals called them as they looked like ducks, didn’t make a mass appearance until, oh gosh, mid-90s? Then it took awhile for those U-racks to proliferate—one still carried boards slung over the shoulder.

Many surfers who rented motorbikes in those early days will recall with some amusement the circus that was called going to the police station and getting your temporary driver’s license.

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