It's been soooo long!‎ And how much I've been longing for this opportunity?!
I'm taking at least two months off from work now and am finally able to write a proper article for Air Esky.
Yeah, there has been a lot of water under the bridge in the past several months; mostly flooding caused by my recent contract-work with a notorious Japanese‎ IT company. Huh... Anyway, it's all good now and I'm also good :-)

Apart from my chaotic work, not much has changed in my life for a while except the fact that two new funky ladies have joined me recently. The photo below shows my history in romance for the past few years and I'm reintroducing all my gals to you in chronological order as follows:

Air Esky - My Quiver of 2017

* The wooden one (5'8) is the oldest I have been with‎ since 2013. Shaped by me and glassed by Patrick in Cape Town, and aptly named "The Egg". She is quite chunky (and quite heavy too)‎ and will probably be with me for the rest of my life.

* The yellowish BOA‎ (5'6) is the second oldest. Shaped by BOA's owner Juan‎ in Panama in 2014. She is my favourite without a doubt as she is light, agile, tough (EPS-made) and can handle waves up to double overhead. Amongst all these boards I've been spending time with her the most. No wonder the lamination has gone yellow, and she probably needs Botox sooner than later.

* The most conventional-looking one (5'8), placed center in the pic, was bought second-hand in 2015 in Japan. Only small dents sustained on the top and bottom decks at first, but I crashed her with a stupid long-boarder only on our second date in Irago... Not as light or agile as the BOA, but it does its job when she feels like it.

* The shortest Tomo Vader (5'3) was bought brand-new two months ago through an online shop in the USA. She was meant to be the replacement for the BOA as the latter is aging, but this Vader has completely different characteristics: super-responsive, fast and light, but not as easy for take-off as the BOA. Plus, nothing was learned from my expensive lesson before with Firewire. Instead, I unwisely give this one another try. Regardless, I need to spend more time with this lady from now on. And hopefully, I will not snap her.

* The Santa Cruz (6'1), placed far right and the longest one in the pic, was bought second-hand just this week‎ in Japan. Haven't surfed her yet‎. Her Epoxy-skin makes herself the toughest amongst all these boards and she is meant to be my semi-gun when the surf is big, though it'll be very rare for me to ask her for a date as long as I surf around Irago‎. But "just in case", you know what I mean?

So so so, I'm actually not in Japan now. I'm sitting in the terminal of Medan airport and waiting for my last connecting flight to the island (offshore of Sumatra, Indonesia). This time I've accompanied two of my ladies, the BOA and the newcomer - Santa Cruz (6'1). And let's see what the tallest lady can really do with me on those world-class waves!

I'll give you more reports of our dates when I come back from the island.
Hope you are all happy and catching good waves :-)


A hazy mind and a hazy sky.

Although it is my 9th or 10th visit to this island, I have never been to the north eastern part of it before. I am finally making it now together with my friend from Durban by a rented TOYOTA Yaris.

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Not expecting what is ahead of us and also not knowing what sort of crap / trouble we might get along the way. My friend Jem and I are here for one thing: Off the beaten track. And ideally, nobody is in the water except us.

Then out of the blue, on this very particular day (December 30th), we came across this little river-mouth just outside a tiny village; not that major river-mouth on the east coast. We were at the North East coast.

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The water was pristine and the wind was so gentle. We jumped out of our car and paddled out with no hesitation but with a few scratches on our feet from those rough-surface boulders....
The waves were so punchy and breaking so close to the shore. Every time we fell off our boards, we touched the bottom instantly and the next set-wave sucked us in and dragged us away mercilessly. But whatever happened to us on each wave, we emerged from the foamie, smiling and laughing: We were having fun with our mother nature.

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One single session.
It has already made this trip worthwhile and all is clear now :-)

The best present for my 40th birthday.

It was almost seven years ago when I last scored decent waves at this spot.

One of my surfie friends from New Zealand and I were just cruising around and hoping to find an uncrowded spot, ideally less than 10 guys in the water; Please note that a fairly well-known spot here in Japan could attract more than 100 guys! Then we happened to bump into it so unexpectedly with absolutely no guys in the water.
It was really by accident and by luck too as it could only be good when certain conditions were met such as wind directions, swell-size, tides and, of course, the bank; a mass of sand under the water. It was all coincident for us and felt like we won a small lotto then.

We kept going back to it whenever "the certain conditions" were going to be met for this spot. Yeah, there were occasionally two or three other guys paddling out too, but it was never like the crossing of Shibuya Hachikou-mae in Tokyo.
We were always stoked to drive past all the zoos and ridicule those who had no clue of this spot if they had ever made an effort to look beyond their too-familiar waters.
By summer in the following year, however, the bank was gone and I left Japan for my RTW trip indefinitely.

So this was all seven years ago and I eventually came back from my vagabonding journey two years ago.
As I mentioned earlier in this article, this is Japan, you know?! Sooooo densely populated and fad-oriented in everything and everywhere. Moreover, this year's super unusual weather pattern with ZERO typhoons until early July only seemed to fuel Japan’s surf scene; Everybody was dying for a wave. Any wave.
Very fortunately, our Pacific typhoon generator suddenly came back on from mid-July and the shortage of any ridable waves became a good nightmare of the past.

I had forgotten about this spot. But thanks to the crowds in every single spot now, while I was being surrounded by all grumpy J-surfers one day, all the good fun sessions that I had seven years ago re-surfaced in my memory. I impulsively paddled back in, got into my car with my board in the back and dashed to the spot which I aptly named “No Name” seven years ago.

And my intuition was right.

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The bank has come back alive.
The waves are fun and often pretty hollow and powerful.
And above all, I have had them ALL to myself so far this summer.

Can't stop grinning :-)

This year so far there has only been one Typhoon, so-called Nepartak. But this No.1 didn't even give us any tiny pulse here in Aichi, it went straight to my beloved T instead.... I truly believe that this is the after-effect of El Niño, causing an astronomical number of flat-days or days with only knee-high waves here while there appear to be two intense hurricanes emerging and heading to Hawaii at the time of writing this article. Bizarre!

Thanks to the lovely El Niño. I have nothing to report this month.
And I just bore you even further with some of the captured images during my time in the island off Sumatra this May as below (Keep scrolling down! You will see my SUPER manoeuvre.)

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Into A Baaaarrrrreeeeel !

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And Here Comes A Nice Shoulder !

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Slaaaaaaaaaaaashhh !

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And My Super Manoeuvreeeeeee !

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"Every time you go surfing.
That's what you were born for.
That's the peak of your life."
by Bruce Gold

Thanks for watching :-)

My belated post for Air Esky this month. It took me a while to get back to the daily grind after spending my time in that tropical island.
I think I'm still day-dreaming about all those waves....

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It all started with three planes to catch from Nagoya, Japan. And the one in the above photo was the third plane to catch. The flight was less than an hour from mainland Sumatra, but my travel wasn't over then yet.
After getting off this plane and having a usual Yes-No-Yes-No negotiation with an apparent "cab driver" outside the airport, I took a ride in his rusty van to my last destination for IDR 200,000 (about USD15.00).
The road was often bumpy and it took me three and a half hours to get there, passing quite a few dangerously overloaded trucks as well as motor cyclists without their helmets on. I left Nagoya 6:00AM on the previous day and my watch was ticking almost into 18:00PM on my arrival. Huhh...

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Thanks to Kyoko, who I went surfing with in Central America and J-Bay a few years ago. She gave me tips for accommodation in the village. No negotiations with any lazy promoters of shabby Losmens (Indo-style B&B) were needed and I walked straight to this lovely guest-house “Molani Homestay”.

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Lucky me! They only had two rooms for guests and one of them was available when I arrived.
What was also lucky of me was that the room was only IDR60,000 (about USD5.00 *note: As of June 2016) per night while other nearby Losmens and surf-camps were offering at least IDR200,000 (Crazy!)
Molani Homestay is definitely the cheapest guest-house I have ever stayed in my whole life.

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It wasn't only such a super low price that Molani had to offer, but was also located right by the shore, facing just between the main break and an outside point called Indicator.
Most of my time while in this remote village was either spent in my hammock reading or listening to my favourite music or just surfing out there.

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Food in and around the village wasn't really a problem for me (personally), although it was painfully limited both in the number of restaurants and in their menus.
Nasi Goreng at a decent local restaurant cost between IDR20,000 and 25,000 (about USD1.50) while a cup of Indo coffee was about IDR5,000 on average.

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A great pity was that there was no Nasi Campur, my to-die-for Indo dish, at any restaurants in this village; Absolutely none! Does anybody know why...?
It might be hard for Westerners and non-rice eaters because the main dish was predominantly rice or else noodles here, and only a couple of restaurants were serving "Western food" such as a pizza, burger, none of which I ever needed to try.
The photo below was our special dinner one night as Niko, an American surfer who was staying in the next room at Molani with his girlfriend Freddy, bought a bunch of Tunas at a local fish-market and then Taanelama and Jenny (the owners of Molani) cooked them up for us. Yummy!

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Surfing-wise, winds were never ever an issue and even the crowd wasn't really a problem at all during my time except when a couple of Japanese surfers made a snowball for my ride or when they were right in my way: マナー悪いよ、日本人サーファーさん!
Otherwise, a few cheeky local grommets could be bothering us in the water only had the waves been small enough for them. Hahaha

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With no exaggeration, the waves here were flawless: Almost as perfect as those in J-Bay, minus the distance; J-Bay is undoubtedly much longer.
Notably, what is actually superior here is the swell-consistency: It must be all year-round. Furthermore, unlike many legendary Indo breaks, you can surf here at all stages of tides. Amazing!

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All in all, everything is equatorial at this part of the planet - the weather, vegetation, food, people and waves.
Even after nearly 40 years passed since its first prominence in the '70s, I confirmed that this island was still a little paradise for surfers. No wonder I'm already looking at my calendar for my next visit.

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