Java Jaunt

Mar 28, 2016 by     No Comments    Posted under: Uncategorized

A quick Easter side trip to visit my oldest and best friends in Indonesia led to an out of town adventure. Up at 3am to avoid the hellishly famous Jakarta traffic, we drove 3 hours across mountains and through jungle to get to Sawana. Once, not lomg ago, a quiet fishing village, it is now the favorite destination for hordes of motorcycle “gangs”,  selfie scene seekers, and a handful of intrepid surfers.

Our purpose for going was to surf together, something that we have been doing for nearly 40 years. Some of my best memories are of surf adventures with Luke and Jake and their dad John, who unfortunately wasn’t able to join us to celebrate his 80th birthday due to a bit of a fall and diminished eyesight, but who was certainly with us in spirit as we recounted his bravery riding a surf ski across the rocky pinnacle of death at this break a mere 5 years ago.

One thing that is striking as we headed to the coast is how populous Indonesia is, and no matter what the time there are always people out doing something – setting up fruit stalls, sweeping, praying, or simly milling about. This is life as it no longer exists in the western world – villagers toiling tirelessly in rice paddies, come all weather, without industrial relations rules. Comversely, they cam be really good at a skill many of us have lost – doing absolutely nothing. Sitting on a bamboo or concrete slab watching the world go by is entertainment enough.

Indonesia, like most of Asia, has always emraced the utalitarian benefits of push amd motor bikes. There are millions upon millions wherever you look. What is newer is the huge movement of people who ride with others in gangs to mountain tops or ocean vistas, more to achieve the ultimate selfie than to reak some sort of ill behaved havok. Some of these gangs are young kids being taught to ride, often decked out in offroad gear while riding scooters and bikes that are designed for the city and would struggle getting thru a patch of mud. Other gangs look like something out of a Mad Max film, riding weird contraptions and only black clothes amd masks to look bad ass while keeping the ever present Indo pollution from their lungs. These tourimg gamgs mix in with a sea of humanity in motorized movement, including entire families perched on an ancient and under-powered scooters. To someone who rides its awesome to see.

We got our own ride too. Despite the early arrival just at light, the Sawana town was already packed. Parking in a large grass field, we each jumped on the back of a scooter with our boards under our arms, and had the adeed adventure of being drive across rough and narrow pathways, sand, and a tin bridge, all the way dodging the many walkers looking for the ideal selfie spot, and bikes coming the other way.

After a couple of kilometers we came to the point, marked by two rocky pinnacles rising from the ocean, topped with jungle foliage, and a left hander reeling down the point with 3 guys out. Gingerly walking over sharp volcanic rock to get to a launch pad, we leapt into the 28 degrees celsius water and paddled into the zone for a 3 hour surf, dominated by Jake as the goddess of the ocean at this magical place (who allegedly will suck you to the depths if you were green) granted him perfect timing and pristine waves. Sitting out there, in the warm ocean, with the strength of the Indo sun already apparent, looking back to the jungle, the rocky shore, fishing boats further down the beach, and the occasional music or laughter drifting from the beach out to us, i was struck by how much these moments have shaped my life and how important they are to my soul. The combination of nature, water, adventure, and remoteness but shared with close friends makes me feel whole and at peace.

Afterwards we sat on a rough hewn wooden bench, and were served fresh coconuts, coffee and early morning Bintangs to those who wanted to celebrate a fine day early, from a smiling local lady operating from a simple wood shack. Looking out, with a surprisingly excellent coffee in hand (Luke claimed it was the famous kopee lewak “cats bum” coffee) amd watching Lukes buddy tearing up the left by himself was one of those perfect moments.

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