Hi. My name is…oh, it doesn’t matter. I’m a grumpy, balding, middle-aged man, but once upon a time, I was a golden haired surfer boy who had the great good fortune of being born in Bali in 1956, where I was raised, and where I still live, hermit-like, with an occasional public sighting.

Bali’s surfing history starts with Bob Koke, an American who in the 1930s built a hotel in the empty coconut groves of Kuta beach and who surfed the empty waves on his wooden Waikiki style boards. I missed that era by a world war, but apart from that, I’ve pretty much quietly witnessed most of Bali’s surf history

Some time ago I was surfing at Serangan, two hundred souls bobbing in the water, and motorheads banging the waves down the way on jetskis, and I said to myself, “Well, I’m getting wet and it’s warm and I did get half a wave to myself, and I do have the memories.”

Memories of actually having to take an outrigger to Serangan, back when there was no connecting road, the present landfill a half-mile wide lagoon, complete with seagrass and the odd turtle, which was by far the longest paddle in Bali, even longer than the Hyatt paddle out. I did this once, and never again–boats thereafter. But this wasn’t often. Serangan can get good, but it’s a B grade spot, really, and if it was firing, then so was Sanur and other places much easier to get to.

My parents came to Bali in 1952. My father was a native New Yawker, my mother was an expat American born in Tibet who lived there until the Communist takeover. I attended American boarding schools, and I’m often mistaken as an American tourist or expat. As for the surfing, I body surfed at Kuta on my own and then learned to board surf, when boards first appeared, with the first generation of Balinese surfers. My surf shade hat is off to them. I’ve seen it all, in the narrow slice that is my life, mostly as an underground and background observer. I’ve done the feral thing, I’ve been up to Sumatra before the media implosion and stumbled across places that other ferals had long camped out at. (Off one beach out in the middle of nowhere, a tattooed islander paddled out in a canoe wearing a Local Motion t-shirt. He couldn’t speak Indonesian. But he knew surfing, and pointed to the other end of the island–which was how we found the spot now famously known as Macaronis.) I’ve had a local boat since the early 80s, cruising through the eastern islands with a few friends, soloing at a bunch of spots, one of which is in the header of this blog. No names, though.

I’ll be blogging once a week or so, until I don’t have anything to say anymore. If you have your own stories you want to share on this blog, I’ll try to get something set up for that later.

I’m a writer. I’m not trying to be completely anonymous here, so if you want that side, then go to my website or my other blog

Oh, as for the memories, well, riding one of the waves in the memory banks is fine and all that, but I’d rather ride one for real.

2 Responses to About

  1. Fleety says:

    Hi R, I stumbled upon your blog quite by accident while looking for roof racks and was happily surprised by your writing style. While I’m far from a literary critic, I appreciate your tone and will look for your novels, I’m sure I’ll find a few copies floating (pun intended) around the island. Your entries on the tsunami of ’78 and stacked surfracks were the only ones time permitted me to read this morning, how ever I look forward to returning and discovering more of how the world looks from your perspective.

    Thanks and regards,


  2. Richard Karwelo says:

    Dear Sir / Madam,

    Warm Greetings from Jakarta,

    I am contacting you on regards of my interest to put our future company in your magazine or website. Therefore, would it be possible for me to get your price details and current audience viewers of your magazine or website? We would like to ensure that we will be able to target the right target market and audience. I do really appreciate your kind assistance and looking forward to hear from you soon. Have a great day.

    [Our future business will be surfing business and food and beverage business. It will open hopefully by end of this year or early next year. Therefore, we would like to start to advertise our upcoming business into your magazine or website]

    Richard Karwelo
    Artha Graha Building
    SCBD, Jl. Jend. Sudirman Kav. 52-53, Jakarta 12190
    email: richardkarwelo.cas@gmail.com

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