My surf coaching has taken me to many different places around Australia and the World. I have been lucky enough to meet some great people along the journey and surfed some amazing waves. I haven't been every where yet but I am working on it. I will try to share some of my experiences on this blog.
Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Banda Aceh 2013
do I start, and please cut me some slack on my writing coz I only just passed
fifth form English back in 1970 and only because the one novel we had to review
at exam time was fortunately for me also a movie. The extra study I did was to
ask a few A grade students the difference between the book and the movie.
Bingo! Question one right there. I winged the rest and Voila, pass mark at 52%. The missing 48% was or were ?? transitive
verbs, correct tense and the like.
So back to
Aceh, there is good news and sadly bad news, but I will get to that later, just
to set the scene which is quite different from any other surf destination you
may end up in.
Sitting in the line up with a fiery
red Sumatran sunset in twenty eight degree water, small hollow lefts running
down the coral reef and an A frame across the channel.A ramshackle warung sits on the beach in
front of a golf course. Hard to tell it’s a golf course, not your average
garden variety manicured greens and pro shop deal but it is green and there
where people with golf clubs walking around on it along with the odd cow and a
family of goats. There is clear view of a cement factory across the river that
looks like the Helms Deep fortress from Lord of the Rings. It is eerily quiet
with the only noise from the imam on the loud speaker from the local mosque
conducting evening prayer. I am not big on any formalised religion but an imam
can sound pretty cool as it drifts over the water. Mind you sometimes the noise
from those loud speakers is not dissimilar to raucous sound a cat makes with
its tail caught under a rocking chair.
Biggest wave of the trip
travelling around Indo since the mid seventies I found Banda Aceh pretty mellow
and damn interesting. Sharia law is part of life here and to foreigners that
means no bikinis for the girls and under the counter beer. Definitely no
spirits. Don't get too upset if there are limited supplies, one shopkeeper got
sent to the big house for eight years just having eight cartons for sale on his
premises. That’s one year per carton, case, box or slab depending where you
come from. There are also rumours this will become law throughout Indo. Another
one is women should only ride side saddle on a motor bike. Given women are
often on the back of a scooter holding two kids, five live chickens and the
weeks groceries I reckon these laws are a tad impractical and will struggle get
through parliament. Mind you Indonesian law can change daily.
You may be
wondering why I am blabbing about a secret surf destination in Indo. Two
reasons, last time I checked my Google analysis blog Info I only had about a
hundred hits. Twenty five of those were from me and apart from you the rest
were from my dear 87 year old Mum's senior citizens 'how to use a computer
class'. Second is Aceh ain't no secret. The bad news is Lhoknga can hold around
20 -25 guys. There were fifty odd tourists including Aussies, Euros, Seth
Efricans and Americans and 20 odd locals when I was there squabbling over 2-3
ft short waves. Granted they where hollow fun little runners but if you a surf
nazi the frustration factor will kick in big time before the end of day one. If
you like to spend time absorbing the Indonesian culture and can handle doing
two or three airports there is plenty to do and see cruising around checking
the markets, snorkelling and scoping a different area you will enjoy the
of culture and the values of sharia law, tourism etc I did see the proud Aussie
exhibition at 10.30 am on Australia Day here. One really pissed unit dive
bombing a plastic toddler’s pool half full of water without spilling his beer.
'Way to Go'. Pretty sure some of the locals where starting to think eight years
in the big house for selling grog was light on.
are not heavy and only turn on in a short two month season around January. The
rest of the time is onshore. Anything over head high is considered an epic
swell. Waist high is the norm and be prepared to hang for a swell. Locals are
super friendly although a few of the surfing variety don't share waves all that
at Udi's place, awesome hospitality, only basic rooms with a fan and a
trickling version of a shower but a five minute walk to the beach, great food
(try the BBQ fish) and coffee. Speaking of coffee, Aceh coffee rules. If you
want to ante up you can splurge of coffee lewak. A lewak is a small cat like
animal that seeks out the best coffee beans in the wild and eats them and only
digests the beans outer skin before crapping them out. You give them a wash and
roast them up as per normal and it is a great drop. It is expensive and
unfortunately the latest trend is to capture a lewak and feed them as many
beans as possible. The poor animal doesn't have a chance to select the best
beans as it would in the wild but that's progress for you!!
Padang food is a treat and you gotta try the Rendang. It is beef curry slow
cooked by mama for a week or two but Woo hoo taste bud sensation. I should add
it may take a few days for those taste buds to regrow after the Rendang chilly hit
has killed them. You can even score a Magnum or Cornetto at the local super
to travel around, plenty of buses and scooters or Yudi will organise a car for
you. The roads are great. There has been a massive rebuild here after the
horrific tsunami in 2004. They stared with roads and mosques, although I
suspect the other way round. There are tsunami evacuation signs everywhere but
the nearest hills that surround the area look at least a half marathon away, if
another one came I couldn't tell you where to head because it is flat as a shit
cartershat in between those hills.Maybe a mask and snorkel while sitting on
your board ready to kiss your arse good bye might work.
hundred and fifty thousand people lost the lives due to the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.
Tsunami damaged hills
That is almost
the ammount of supporters at three AFL grand final days at the MCG. Another perspective
is more people tragically perished from this Tsunami than all the US soldier fatalities in The American
revolutionary war, World War One, Korean, Vietnam, Afgan and Iraq wars
want to end this little story on a downer though, the place is up and running
and a credit to the Acehnese.I visited
here with my Russian buddies, old and new. A big Spicey Bar (thanks) to Alena.
I learnt six more Russian words and forgot twenty three other ones. It's a
complex rich language. I did learn Russians don't have green with envy in the
vocabulary rather white and black envy. Pretty handy to know these sorts of
probably won't be back in hurry but we had a blast soaking up the culture despite
the fickle crowded waves. Hope you have a better perspective of the place now
when you are considering how to spend you surf travel dollar and if you ever decide to check it out remember to decline any business offer
to start a lewak coffee venture or more importantly a bottle shop.