By Martin Yelland
Indonesia – In the days prior to the internet, printed magazines were in many sports the only way of seeing what was going on globally, as well as the occasional VHS that made it to the UK. It was during this time that I first saw a photo of one of Bali’s most fabled waves, ‘Padang Padang’ and fell in love with her green curves.
I can still remember that image, firmly ingrained into my minds eye, a beautiful green barrel winding down the shallow reef. The place looked amazing, but definitely a place of contrasts. During the many trips I have now taken across Sumbawa, Bali and Sumatra, I can safely say that a trip to Indo will also be a trip of contrasts, many extreme highs, but also some dark lows, but that’s the nature of the beast. Surfwise the Bukit peninsula is one of the best places ever for consistent quality surf.
“Just me and my mates and a small group of Hawaiians surfing uncrowded perfection all day until the dark and the sharks forced us out”
If you get bored of the crowds and partying on Bali, then a short plane or boat ride is all that stands by you and potentially a dream set up. When I was doing some filming off of Sumbawa in 2007 our boat rocked up at a lesser known spot and we lucked into some perfect bodyboarding waves, and with Jacob Romero in our crew my video camera never left my hands. That was my best memory of Indo. Just me and my mates and a small group of Hawaiians surfing uncrowded perfection all day until the dark and the sharks forced us out. I recently went back to Bali with my girlfriend and did some of the tourist stuff that I had never bothered with before and had a great time. I would highly recommend Bali to non surfers / partners as there is loads of cool things to do and see. The artistic town of Ubud in the centre of the island was a real highlight of our trip, as was the short boat ride to Gili Air. Gili T is party central if you’re into that scene, whereas we offered for calmness and snorkelled with some huge turtles off the unspoilt and tranquil Gili Meno. We had a nightmare stay on Lombok, our digs were more like a POW camp than a homestay, and the power cuts, mosquitoes and outside toilets in full view of a 24 hour building site really do bring back some hideous memories – but checking out and then into a lush hotel with air con and watching Mr Bean in subtitles was an ultimate high! Like I said, a place of contrasts. I will definitely return to the ‘island of the gods’ in the future, and highly recommend Indo as a surfing & non surfing destination.