Tracks - - Eleven -

It was al­ways go­ing to be a big gam­ble. A two-week, In­done­sian so­journ right on the cusp of the wet sea­son. How­ever, it had been an ex­cep­tional year for waves and hopes were high that the run of swell would con­tinue right through the mon­soonal months.

An eclec­tic crew was as­sem­bled and with the aid of travel com­pany, World Sur­faris, we plot­ted a course that would guar­an­tee us waves while tak­ing us via some of In­done­sia's most dra­matic over-land scenery and one of its most sa­cred sites. Charis­matic Len­nox Head surfer, James Wood, was re­cruited to keep things en­ter­tain­ing; in­trepid charger, Andy Scwartz, leant his surf guide sen­si­bil­i­ties to the team while top-ranked women's surfer, Dim­ity Stoyle de­liv­ered a cer­tain fem­i­nine panache to our adventure.

We ini­tially set up camp at Cu­cukan, which is about a 15-minute walk north of Kera­mas on the in-vogue east coast of Bali. How­ever, when Kera­mas and its nearby cousins failed to re we headed south to Green Bowl, the only part of the is­land at­tract­ing any gen­uine swell. Af­ter a surf, the cun­ning old ladies tried to con­vince me I needed help car­ry­ing my ex­pen­sive cam­era gear up the stairs, only to be told at the top the price had dou­bled be­cause my gear was too heavy (I told them so). I thought the old woman was go­ing to drop dead at my feet but she mirac­u­lously re­cov­ered af­ter I paid her.

Back at the beach at Cu­cukan the con­trast was strik­ing. No heck­lers, just a few lo­cals bask­ing in the af­ter­noon sun, some strangely buried up to their necks in the black, vol­canic sand. Good for arthri­tis ap­par­ently. The few res­i­dent dogs paid no at­ten­tion to the char­coal chicken schnitzels when they emerged from their sandy co­coons and headed down to the wa­ter to wash down, this sug­gest­ing it was a regular oc­cur­rence.

When you're hunt­ing waves all day, regular mo­ments and ex­pe­ri­ences can slide by in a blur. A few days of lack­lus­tre waves gave our guys a chance to sit back and ap­pre­ci­ate Bali life out­side the main tourist ar­eas.

One morn­ing we wan­dered down the beach look­ing for waves, pass­ing the usual as­sort­ment of med­i­ta­tors, yo­gis, pebble col­lec­tors and farm­ers, when we came across what we later dis­cov­ered was a mass Hindu cre­ma­tion cer­e­mony. We had no idea what was go­ing on but we ex­changed smiles and ne­go­ti­ated our way through the gath­er­ing while try­ing not to up­set the pro­ceed­ings.

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