INDO OH-NO...

Any Indo mis­sion, in­deed any trip any­where, can go a bit off the rails. Indo it's a bit eas­ier ad­mit­tedly. Gill went to Lakey's re­cently and had what's known as 'in­ter­est­ing times'.

Carve - - CONTENTS - WORDS AND PHOTOS BY PAUL GILL

The Gill went to Lakeys and let's just say didn't have the dream trip. Weird go­ings on down in Sum­bawa.

So there's me and Steve Hock­ing, Indo bound. The taxi driver picked us up and we urged him to turn what passed for air con up to full.

'Where you from?'

Hock proudly piped up, 'Wales!'

'Ah, Gareth Bale!'

He knew straight away, knowl­edge­able chap I thought.

'Have you ever been to Wales?'

'No never been to Aus­tralia ... just Bali.'

For my first visit to Bali stay­ing at Johnny and Luke's place was bril­liant and set­tled us into the new world with­out be­ing im­me­di­ately ripped off. We surfed Green Bowls down the road from our home­s­tay, which was nice.

Josh, Steve's son, was al­ready in Sum­bawa or­gan­is­ing our lux­ury beach­front apart­ment. So we did the short flight hop from Bali to Sum­bawa, much quicker and less stress than bus/ferry/ bus/ferry/bus for 24 hours.

Leav­ing the com­par­a­tive safety of the tin pot Bima air­port we were flung at the mercy of the pack of porters and taxi driv­ers ea­ger to make a week's wages by help­ing you put your own boards on top of the taxi! The cab­bie only made a month's wage for the two and a half hour hell ride to the south side of the is­land. Funny he did it in half the time on the way back?

We were oddly greeted just out­side Lakey vil­lage on the road­side by a group of non-of­fi­cial chaps. Pass­port num­bers! You want mo­tor­bike! In hind­sight pre-ar­ranged for later lever­age.

Balumba. £18 a night for the three of us, bar­gain. The man­ager pushed the key too far into the lock and broke the back win­dow. Peer­ing into the be­yond ba­sic box with hor­ror I said, 'What about the toi­let door?'

He said, 'What about it?'

I said, 'I want one! Look at the state of that bath­room, I'll have ty­phoid in the morn­ing!' In a beau­ti­ful come­back he said, 'You'll have pan­cakes like ev­ery­one else!'

The sun­set was go­ing to be beau­ti­ful, so Josh had the great idea to jump on our paid for up front mo­tor­bikes and head off in just our board shorts to check Cob­ble­stones.

Fif­teen min­utes later along the empty jun­gle road, weav­ing round goats, cat­tle, dogs and piles of sea­weed dry­ing all over the tar­mac. We ran bare­foot down the riverbed to the beach. I won­dered what lurked in the un­der­growth as the sun dived be­low the hori­zon. Ah, should have worn my bal­a­clava and one­sie, we were now at the mercy of vam­pires! Quick, back to the bikes! Shriek­ing like three school­girls hur­dling over nests of vipers and at­tacked from above by blood­suck­ers in the twi­light.

Two miles back wear­ing only shorts on the bikes dodg­ing crea­tures on the road whilst be­com­ing a hu­man mos­quito buffet. I thought the best way to avoid get­ting malaria on this is­land was to cover up and not be bit­ten. Think that over­dose ren­dered us im­mune for life.

Next morn­ing pan­cakes were in­deed for break­fast and we pad­dled across the la­goon to the Peak for the build­ing first swell of the sea­son. It wasn't sup­posed to amount to much, with all eyes fo­cussed on the next tele­graphed one. Only half a dozen of us out, a six foot set loomed and I was in pole po­si­tion. Miguel from Lan­zarote said go! He would take the next.

Rail set, my first proper wave of the trip, but 'Shock­ing' se­nior had ideas of his own and thought this was Lang­land Reef so dropped in. Pad­dling out, Josh looked on in dis­be­lief as his fa­ther faded right across me also putting him­self be­hind in the soup; be­fore eject­ing over the shal­low coral. I glanced over my shoul­der sadly watch­ing the pris­tine un­rid­den bar­rel reel­ing off like the ones I'd seen in videos and mag­a­zines many years ago. I sur­faced just in time to get a great view of Miguel pig-dog­ging the next one.

The fol­low­ing day we left Hock se­nior, him of the du­bi­ous wis­dom 'the ice and salad won't harm you', ly­ing on his bed writhing in sweat, wear­ing only a loin cloth. All his un­der­pants had been soiled. We

locked him in quar­an­tine and left to the sounds and smells you can but imag­ine.

Off on the bikes to meet the next new swell at Periscopes, head high per­fec­tion, pity. The be­fore break­fast lot started a mass ex­o­dus leav­ing the lineup near empty, Josh wished he'd had his mal and went in for a few any­way. I sat in the shel­ter and took some snaps and chat­ted to the re­main­ing Aussie and his sponger girl­friend. He had a huge blue lump on his nose and eye. Said some Welsh guy's loose board had done it, she wasn't to happy about his now al­tered Gold Coast looks, say­ing that they were hop­ing to have a few words when they ran into them next.

I promptly replied with, 'Gee man that sucks' and con­tin­ued for the next 15 min­utes chat­ting in my best Cal­i­for­nian ac­cent. Luck­ily the sets just kept get­ting big­ger and they went back in to surf the quiet per­fec­tion. I waved Josh in and we darted back to surf the big­ger un­crowded per­fect Peak.

Shock­ing se­nior was still sweat­ing it out in the cham­ber of hor­rors. More surfers started ar­riv­ing from the af­ter­noon flights in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the six foot at 19 se­cond swell that had al­ready kicked in

“STILL BRIM­MING WITH CON­FI­DENCE WE DOWNED A BOT­TLE OF WA­TER AND WENT OFF TO TRY LAKEY PIPE 'UN­TIL SUN­DOWN, NOT SO CON­FI­DENT WHEN THE FIRST BIG SET CAUGHT US IN­SIDE.”

through the morn­ing luck­ily for us.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing was a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing as the break­fast ta­bles were empty. Ev­ery lu­natic and his friend fren­zy­ing out on the Lakey per­fec­tion, about 30 I counted, surfers, not pan­cakes.

A light breeze from the north ruf­fled the pump­ing peak and af­ter an hour or so the bulk of the pack came in to eat and pre­pare for off­shore Periscopes. The prospect of com­pet­ing with that lot on my back­hand soured my en­thu­si­asm for a Peris ses­sion. Josh agreed and opted for solid, quiet cross shore Peak.

Re­ports of flawless bar­relling rights were fil­ter­ing back to camp, turn­ing Lakey into a ghost town and then the wind died. We gave Hock the cam­era and pad­dled to what was to be one of the best surfs I've ever had, Josh and two oth­ers go­ing right and me and three oth­ers on the left.

Af­ter three hours surf­ing we came ashore ea­ger to see the pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence as promised by the much im­proved Hock. 'How are the shots?' Was his son's first sen­tence. I didn't like the way he was hold­ing a large bot­tle of Bin­tang.

‘Couldn't see a thing out there, too much glare!’

Josh's face de­flated, ‘Didn't you use the over­ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion?’

Still brim­ming with con­fi­dence we downed a bot­tle of wa­ter and went off to try Lakey Pipe un­til sun­down, not so con­fi­dent when the first big set caught us in­side.

The surf was per­fect again the next day as well but later de­vel­op­ments some­what soured the ex­pe­ri­ence. As Hock was still to ill to surf he lent his mo­tor­bike to the Ice­landics to go down the coast. They re­turned on foot. Oh well it was a crap old bike any­way. We re­ported it to the rozzers who im­me­di­ately in­formed the lo­cal mafia boys who'd hired them to us.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions started, soon we some­how be­came the guilty party for hav­ing it stolen. The po­lice and gang mem­bers seemed to be on the same side and were threat­en­ing to put Hock in a cell and take his pass­port un­til he re­placed the '06 plate scrap­per with a nearly new mo­tor­bike ... only £900!

The Ice­landics agreed to pay about £700 af­ter a day of ex­treme pres­sure and walked off. The ag­gro mob came round to our place for the rest. I was off tak­ing a few shots think­ing that the saga was con­cluded by the Ice­land boys. I re­turned to our pa­tio to see Hock in full Chuck Nor­ris stance shield­ing Josh from dan­ger, things were about to kick off.

I shuf­fled through the gang be­ing pressed for cash and we backed into the room and locked the door. Luck­ily he re­strained from lay­ing them out as I ex­plained that a lo­cal mas­sage does not have a happy end­ing. Bet­ter we take our chances in a cells where we might get a de­cent free mas­sage.

To get out of Dodge Hock had to pay the £200 through the po­lice and pre­ma­turely left a per­fect swell.

Back in Bali we learned that the bike had mirac­u­lously been re­turned, but not Hock's money. Would you be­lieve it, it's hap­pened be­fore in lovely Lakey were they'll still smile when tak­ing your last piece of bread.

* While the ma­jor­ity of the kids, surfers and res­i­dents of the Lakey area are great peo­ple as with all ar­eas of de­vel­op­ing tourism there are al­ways those in the mi­nor­ity that seek to re­ceive vis­i­tors of their money through du­bi­ous means be­cause they see them as easy tar­gets. Go and en­joy by all means, but talk to other trav­ellers be aware of the scams and pit­falls. Sup­port those that run le­git­i­mate busi­ness prac­tises. It would be a trav­esty if they were to suf­fer be­cause a of a few crim­i­nals.

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