Good times in Indonesia, rashes and challenging bus/ferry rides notwithstanding.
I got to Bali on New Year's Eve and decided to stay in Jimbaran, far away from Kuta Beach, the tourist hotspot and site of the nightclub bombings a few years ago. Not much of a partier these days, I had an early and very fresh and tasty seafood dinner on the beach in Jimabaran and then went to my room across the street from the restaurant and crashed before 10. The most exciting thing that happened to me at midnight was my digital watch beeping. Happy New Year!...Zzzzzzz.
In the morning I woke up and went shopping for a surfboard with Cyrus, the Maui-born expat guide I had hired to put me into some waves while I was there. There is lots of good surfing in Indonesia, but waves can be fickle depending on wind direction, swell size and direction, tides, and myriad other mysterious factors. Cyrus was there to sort all this out and give me some pointers in the water as well. The weather and waves weren't really cooperating in Bali, so we, along with Cyrus' brother, Nat, went exploring Sumbawa -- two islands and more than a day's worth of driving and ferry rides to the east. After taking a couple days off to deal with a pretty intense rash I had developed from the bedbug incident nine days prior, we were off.
I wasn't sure at first if the rash was from the bites, an allergy to the bites, or an allergy to the pesticide that I doused all my gear in to kill the little bastards and any of their evil hell-spawn that might be lurking up in my business. After googling around for a few minutes, I found out that a reaction to the bites, often confused with a case of ordinary hives, is common and can take as long as nine days to manifest . The telltale signs of bedbug bites are three red marks in a row or cluster (known grimly among bug-attack aficionados as "breakfast, lunch, and dinner"). I definitely had some of these, but I also had more itchy, red bumps than I would have thought possible for all of them to be actual bites. It was so gross, I was straight trippin'. I went to see a doctor in Bali who for $15 prescribed me some Claritin and an anti-inflammatory to go with the Benadryl nightcaps I was chugging before bed, and the whole thing cleared up in about two days.
So, back to surfing... we scored waves in east Sumbawa at a place called Lakey Beach, where there are four or five breaks within walking distance of each other. The main break right out front is called Lakey Peak. As its name suggests, it breaks in one well-defined spot and peels off in both directions, yielding both rights and lefts. Next to Lakey Peak is Lakey Pipe, named after the famous and way more intense Bonzai Pipeline in Oahu. Lakey Pipe is a hollow lefthand point break that kind of wraps around a reef. Other breaks in the area include Cobblestones, Nungas, and Periscopes but I didn't make it to these. Swell-wise, we got about two really good days in Lakey and about five decent ones. The winds generally didn't cooperate, but for the most part the waves held up, although I was told by others that when it's really good, it's a totally different experience -- more like the juicy perfection you see in the surf videos and magazines. Being a surfer from Texas, I'm generally pretty happy if there is anything to ride at all, so I was psyched just to be there. I definitely got to work on my tube-riding a little bit (pulled into a few, just didn't quite pull out of any), something that I don't really get an opportunity to do at the Surfside jetty.
Cyrus had a car, so getting there was uneventful, but he and Nat left before I did so I was on my own getting back to Bali from Sumbawa. That amounted to me riding a bus and two ferries over a 24 hour period. The ferries were OK in that they didn't sink, which is about all one can ask, I suppose. The seas were high, though, so there was an inordinate amount of hurl all over the decks where people sat, but I avoided these massive puddles of chunder mainly by hanging out with the crew who were trolling for tuna with hand lines over the sides. The bus portion of the trip was more trying. It required slightly more than the typical levels of patience I reserve for these occasions to deal with the nightmarish music blaring through blown-out speakers on max volume for the duration of the journey, most of which took place in the middle of the night. Complicating matters, the cassette kept jamming in the tape deck and the bus driver would practically stop the bus and/or swerve into oncoming traffic trying to get the thing working again. God forbid we should actually have five minutes of peace and quiet (much less, get to Bali on time) when we could be listening to what sounded like an amateurish Indonesian Barry Manilow accompanied by a 1980s Casio keyboard drum track on full blast at 6am. Everyone else looked like they thought this was completely normal. Well, we didn't get to Bali on time, but I did make my flight to Australia. Woohoo!