During the Easter holidays, 12 lucky students and 4 staff departed for the wave mecca of Bali, Indonesia, for the third instalment of the St Andrew’s High Performance Surf Camp. Mother nature had other ideas about our arrival to Denpasar Airport and orchestrated a severe thunderstorm which prevented our plan from landing. A diversion to Surabaya, Java, for a 30hr delay had us scathing as an entire day of our trip was lost however as with all travel, we keep reminding ourselves that the sleep deprived journey was just as important as the destination. Full credit to our students for dealing with this hiccup like seasoned travellers.
Our accommodation in Bali was set in the green rice paddies on the East coast of the island within a stone’s throw of the infamous Keramas right hander. Having this world class wave on our doorstep was an absolute privilege as our surfers awoke from their travel induced comas and proceeded to administer their Sunny coast surf flair on the local line up. After a quick refuel of the local rice dish Nasi Goreng from our trusty chefs at the Nirmala guest house, we embarked on an afternoon adventure to the neighbouring wave of Cucukan. Another quality 2ft session ensued and with the gills sufficiently flushed with salt water the final stench of airplane was washed away and our adventure was well under way.
With a waning swell forecast the first few days of our trip were spent hunting waves at the renowned swell magnets of the Bukit peninsula. Our legendary drivers arrived at our guest house each morning and proceeded to play their own game of surfboard Tetris as they loaded our board coffins onto the rackless roofs for our journey down south. Looking around the van during the drive I was greeted with gaping jaws and raised eyebrows as those who hadn’t experienced driving in a developing country before got their first taste of the lawless flow that is Balinese traffic.
The region of Pandawa provided us with several days of overhead surf, minimal crowds and tasty lunch time treats in the local Warungs that lie nestled in the shoreline of the massive limestone cliffs. It’s amazing to see the development of this area over the years as another massive hotel undergoes construction and the road entrance is clogged by tourist busses queuing to pay the newly finished toll. Nonetheless, our surfers enjoyed themselves, progressed their surfing experience on a reef break and settled nicely into the surf, eat, sleep routine.
When the last remnants of the swell finally subsided, a lay day was called and we piled into the vans once again and headed inland. On the way to the volcanic crater of Mt Batur we veered off from the rice paddies into the rainforest to enjoy some freshly brewed Kopi Kuwak and tucked into some Pisang Goreng (deep fried banana). Enjoying the view over the crater and with Mt Batur and Mt Agung towering in the background at some 3000+ meters, we were able to view the villages skirting the volcanic lake. These villages bore special significance for our crew as they were the beneficiaries of the water filters we had fund raised to purchase and deliver to the Waves4Water team on the ground in Bali. We were thrilled that our efforts will add to previous campaigns that will provide over 500 people in the remote communities with access to clean drinking water for the next 5 years. This ongoing partnership is something that we as the surfing community are immensely proud of.
As the temperature chilled off and the grey clouds began to rumble, we jumped aboard our freshly hired mountain bikes of questionable reliability and bombed down the trails of the country side. Villages and breathtaking vistas whipped by as we negotiated the mud clogged rice paddies with varied success. After another killer lunch featuring the local delicacies, we scoped out a local waterfall and hiked down to its base for a well-earned swim.
Fired up with a promising surf forecast for the back end of our time on the island, we capitalised on some beautiful early morning conditions and scored pumping waves at the breaks of Nusa Dua, Serangan and the jewel in the Balinese crown; Uluwatu. Our surfers will never forget their first high tide paddle out through the cave of ulus with the pulsing swell slamming into the walls of the cliffs creating a surreal and exhilarating experience. Topping this off with a sunset dinner at “Single Fin” whilst watching a few of our own chargers brave the low tide tubes of the race track will remain etched in the memory bank for a lifetime.
This camp has marked the third time our surfers have been able to visit and donate much needed supplies to the Jodie O’Shea Orphanage in near Sanur. On our maiden voyage to the island back in 2013 we heard the harrowing stories and constant battles these young children had faced over the years. It was extremely humbling experience catching up with these young kids some 4 years on and fantastic to see the orphanage thriving from the donations of those more fortunate. Our surfers represented themselves and the college in a fantastic fashion as they interacted and played with the kids for an afternoon that added a whole new perspective to how fortunate we are back home.
Capping off on what was an actioned packed trip of waves and cultural experiences, the team were not done just yet. Upon returning to our guest house one evening we noticed the swell had increased and the onshore winds starting to weaken… so down we marched with our boards waxed and ready for an actioned packed hour of night surfing! For a meagre fee to the Komune surf resort the local lifeguards switched on the powerful flood lights illuminating the break for our charging hopefuls as they pulled into the perfect 4ft barrels grinding their way down the reef!
The surfing community at St Andrew’s has grown immensely over the years and the values and positive vibes we instil in our program is clearly evident in this fine group of young surfers who embarked on this adventure. Trips like these are so much more than just an opportunity to surf different waves as travel opens the mind to a different way of life and gives valuable perspective to our modern day lives. Thanks to the staff - Mr Piper, Mr Bowen and Mrs Cooksley for giving up their time to accompany the team and we look forward to a repeat performance in 2019!