Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ripcurling Cosmos and Highlights

I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list.

- Susan Sontag

"When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don't know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in..."

- D.H. Lawrence

See photos of Surfing Kuta and Rip Curl Pro Search

See photos of Last Days of Bali...

We were all very happy to get back to Kuta the next day...or more rather, the surfing, beach and nightlife! That night, we went for dinner at our usual place and then to Ocean Beach for the FREE FLOW – free flow is 2 hours of free drinks...not of the watered down variety - very popular! Marj and I danced ourselves into a frenzy, as we always did. I don't think I have ever had so much cardio what with all the surf days and boogie nights. We called it an early night so we could get a good surf day in before Marj left.

The next eve, Julien got some snacks and drinks and we had a floor picnic at d'Kubu to say goodbye to Marj. We went out for dinner and then to Paddy’s, a nightclub on Legian Street for one last night together. The 6 of us danced, took pics of each other, made fun and hung out. Marj and I went off to the Bounty later in the evening and danced til our heart's content.

We shared one last banana pancake together the next morning before she left and said our goodbyes. I wondered when I would see her again and what this leg of my journey would have been like without her. Marj and I had created a real female bond, one I had been lacking in my life and made stronger by our love for surfing, eating, drinking tea over endless conversation, dancing several consecutive hours until reaching complete exhaustion, traveling together and sharing the same digs for most of the previous 2 months in Bali. There have been many amazing things to come out of this journey, but the friendships made along the way, will be embedded in my mind and heart for years to come.

But as they say, every exit is an entry to something new. Lindsay, my extremely tall, provocative, outspoken, rambunctious, fabulously good looking friend arrived a few days later to continue on with the surf/dance debauchery. Lindsay is a writer, so we are collaborating on a contribution to Geist magazine using my photos and her scribblings from Bali! See her website here:

On August 1 – I caught the biggest wave YET! This feeling is one that is difficult to put into words. It happens so quickly but the high remains for days, making you crave bigger and better waves. It is not hard to see why surfing becomes so addictive and has officially been declared a religion.

At night, I would lie awake and could still feel the momentum of the waves rocking me back and forth until falling into a deep slumber. Gliding along on the ocean's memory is understanding the power of nature, a catalyst in experiencing a unity with the universe and being totally immersed in the moment while everything else disappears around you.

I got a tattoo 7 years ago - a Celtic swirl, meaning, 'To rise above the material world and become one with the cosmos." I didn't know it then, but this would be the most accurate description of what the act of surfing means to me now.

Please read 'West of Jesus: Surfing, Science and the Origin of Belief' by Steven Kotler. Surfer or not, if you are the slight bit interested in science or religion, you will be more than enlightened and entertained.

Ernesto was always around to give me his constructive feedback – 'you look like a gorilla when you surf!' He was always after me to keep my hands up but I always had them flailing below me. I was just excited to stay on my board and graduate from surfing whitewash to REAL waves!

There were also days when I questioned whether I belonged on a board or not. I suffered numerous accidents and injuries while surfing as well: a broken finger, water in my ear canal, bruises, scratches, near drownings, collisions with other boards and my own, scrapes, broken leashes etc. These are the moments when you are reminded of who the boss is. But you keep getting back on the board despite the bad days you might have because it's all forgotten once you get back up again. And you always can get back up again.

Dan made his way back to Bali so we got to catch a few more sunrises and dances together. I was so happy to see him again – was sort of like seeing an old, familiar friend after having so many fleeting friendships on the traveling circuit.

As my flight to NZ drew closer, that feeling crept up on me - sort of like when you started seeing the back to school commercials on TV signifying that summer would be over soon. I knew inevitably that I would have to move on but it was going to be really hard to bid that charmed life adieu.

Ernesto, Rikkard and I took in some of the Rip Curl Pro Search at Padang Padang. The likes of Kelly Slater and Andy Irons were competing, but it was Bruce Irons, Andy's little brother, who claimed the trophy. There was some nice looking glass there - I had some serious lens envy and dreamed of what it might be like to couple my photography with surfing someday - ahhh a girl can dream.

Padang Padang is near Uluwatu, a famous temple, dedicated to the spirits of the sea, and known for the monkeys hanging about. Ernesto and I explored the temple which looms 70 meters above the Indian Ocean, and enjoyed the seascape. I avoided the monkeys this time around after my near death encounter at the monkey sanctuary!

SIDESTORY (you may not relate to this if you're male, but the females out there will! There was also a funny bikini waxing incident - funny NOW but not so funny at the time and not really fitting for a public blog):

I must mention doing one of the stupidest things I had done in Asia yet – I got my hair highlighted! I had been wanting to do it since I came to Bali and kept putting it off because I was afraid of what they might do to me . I was just going to go to Gloria Jean's to edit photos as I did every morning. I walked by one salon and resisted and then the next one, but the next had 3 extremely friendly ladies in front that said hello to me. They lured me in and had me sit down...and once you are sitting – well good luck getting out of there!

Perhaps deep down I knew it could end really bad but I had a small flicker of hope that it just might turn out ok. No more risky than getting my hair cut in Cambodia – which turned out a little lop sided but better than I thought!

After about 10 minutes of highlighting, she asked me if that was ‘good’? Ummmm....she had highlighted about 5 pieces and we had agreed on all over highlights. This scenario replayed itself several times with me having to ask her to add more. She of course then had to mention that 100,000 rupiah is very 'cheap cheap' for what I wanted. This is when I knew things were not going to end happily, for either party.

When going to the salon at home, I look forward to kicking back with a coffee and a magazine and listening to cool tunes....this was just plain stressful and SCARY.

When she washed it out and I sat down in front of the mirror, I kept my eyes closed for a long time, imagining the worst, so that perhaps the reality would then seem not quite so bad. It didn’t work. I opened my eyes to sheer horror. This was the most ungodly orange colour I had ever laid eyes on.

I asked her to shut off the hairdryer, moved ahead in my seat and all that I could say was, ‘IT'S ORANGE!’. I followed that up with, ‘It looks....awful!’ I pointed to the lady on the poster with the beautiful ash blonde hair and asked if my hair looked anything like that? She of course had the upper hand because she replied in Balinese again and I had no idea what she said, therefore could not come up with any kind of response that would mean anything. She then grabbed one of the foils and shook it in my face while I assume saying some not so nice things to me. She was PISSED. But so was I! I again had to remind myself, ‘T.I.A.!’ ...'This is Asia’. I made a motion to get out of my chair and she put her hand on the handle of the door and placed her body firmly in front. Apparently, I wasn’t going ANYWHERE.

She phoned her boss and went OFF on the phone. I then asked to speak to her boss who was surprisingly very apologetic and suggested I pay half – I agreed, threw the bill on the counter and hightailed it out of there!

As with all of my stories about previous conflicts with the locals, it's not the money, it's the principal! I went straight to my guest house and wrapped my hair in scarves until I could get my hands on some dye – another lesson learned in SE Asia (the hard way)!

Lindsay, Ernesto, Rikkard and his lovely and beautiful Balinese girlfriend, Ratih and I went out for dinner before my departure. Julien and Tom had left a few days prior and we were the only ones left. Ernesto walked me to Legian to hail a cab so I could catch an overnight flight to Sydney, Australia.

I said goodbye to Ernesto - one of the sweetest, most considerate, completely chivalrous, intelligent and passionate males I have ever met. He restored my faith that their are some good guys out there and I feel so lucky to have met him.

Farewell to warm waves, cheap food, boogie nights, beachy days, living in a bathing suit and sarrong, being surrounded by flowers, art and new friends...heaven on earth. I was upset, but so grateful to have been given this gift. I looked forward to what adventures would lie before me on the Shaky Isles...goodbye to my new friends and hello to a new country, climate and old friends.

I think that wherever your journey takes you, there are new gods waiting there, with divine patience -- and laughter.

- Susan M. Watkins

1 comment:

Michael said...

Wow. Those are some beautiful photos. It reminds me of what makes Bali special and the many cultures and people that come together.