How many surfers had made it to Bali during the first decade of Bali’s modern era of surfing (arbitrarily defined from 1970-1980)? An order of magnitude calculation: say an average of two flights a day landing at Tuban airport during May through September, which was the surf season (very few surfers came in the wet season; for point of interest, there used to be only two flights a week in the ’60s, DC-3s with canvas bucket seats). So 200 passengers, of which, say, 20 were surfers. That’s roughly 3000 surfers a year, or 30000 for the decade. A rough order of magnitude for sure, but the point being is that there are a lot of memories and snapshots lurking in various heads and photo albums around the world.
So your blog correspondent was delighted to get these photos from Kevin Gordon, one of those early surfers, who surfed with the late Wayan Suwenda, when Suwenda was a grom.
Above: Suwenda at Lembongan Island, 1979, with tuna (tongkol) given to them by the islanders. Lembongan in those days was a pretty sketchy place, minimal accommodation and food, so I’m sure the fish was drift-wood barbecued on the beach and eaten with delight.
Above: The grom with a Lightning Bolt given to him by Gerry Lopez (from Kuta to Uluwatu and beyond, Lopez acquired a measure of fame that went beyond the surfing — all the Balinese seemed to know who he was).
Above: Made Degel, Wayan’s father, preparing babi guling for the guests at their homestay. (Homestays: the classic early Balinese surfing experience, tea and banana breakfast on the cement verandah, the old ibu in the kitchen hut, cows in the yard).
Above: Balangan. Kevin says, “Our first glimpse of Balangan line up as we walked over the last hill. This was a place we had only heard about so we took boards & backpacks for a half day bemo ride & trek through the cactus to be greeted by this view. We camped on the big rock outcrop for 3 days and surfed until we dropped.”
A half day to Balangan — the Dutch-built road to Uluwatu was a ruined, atrocious track from hell. Part of paying the dues. These days, kids think paying dues means getting stuck in a traffic jam and then caught inside at Serangan.
Many thanks, Kevin!