The early Ulu surfboard carriers

Surfing Uluwatu in the 1970s was a lung-busting affair even before you paddled out, because you first had to hike over hill-and-dale and through pastures just to get to the famous cave. Balinese living alongside the main road to Uluwatu temple (and road is a generous term, as it was a pot-holed ribbon of tarmac) would wait for surfers to rock up and offer to carry their surfboards. Not just young lads, either, but adult farmers scrabbling out a living.

ulu board carrier

(photo courtesy Peter Neely of Indo Surf and Lingo).

Ah, the infamous bamboo ladder of Uluwatu cave. A rite of passage, in a way. The man carrying the board probably earned more cash money for this day then he did in a month of farming. It was really, really tough living for the Bukit locals back in the day. Now, it’s premier real estate (and a lot of the locals got kicked off their land…)

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2 Responses to The early Ulu surfboard carriers

  1. Anonymous says:

    Just out of interest. How did some of the locals get kicked off their land.

    • Robert Wilson comments:

      The Bukit used to be quite a harsh environment, the locals had it tough eking out a living growing peanuts once it rained along with grazing a few cattle. Some land owners were known to give their land away rather than having to be responsible for the land tax.

      *****

      Those who did pay the land tax only had the tax payment records to “prove” they owned the land, a leftover from the Dutch colonial days. When the Indonesian government implemented a land certificate system, many of these farmers didn’t get the certificate. Greedy money came in and easily got the certificates issued in their names, forcing (with a minor pittance) locals off the land they’d farmed for centuries. This was one way it happened. Another was simply strong arm tactics…

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