It was not in my itinerary to surf here at all, but only to stop by for my connecting flights between Nagoya and Singapore, from which I had to take two more flights to my final destination: Refer to the previous article for more details about my time in Indo in August.

In fact, it was just my compulsiveness or I was rather willingly sucked into this country as Typhoon No.18, aka Talim, was intensifying more and more in southern Japan. Moreover, my last connecting flight to Nagoya was to punch through this typhoon and I didn't want a bumpy ride.

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Anyway, I simply ditched my last flight bound for Nagoya, nicely asked the airline's staff to drop my bags, hurriedly exited the airport with my bulky luggage in hand and calmly found myself riding a late-night train bound for a little sea-side town on the north-east coast where my friend Jem and I had visited by car previously.

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Unlike many typhoons which normally jet through Japan within two to three days, Talim was predicted to hover around Okinawa for at least a couple of days until it was going to set off to the north-east slowly afterwards.
While this weather-pattern agitated many non-surfers, it excited us - surfers. And I was lucky enough to be stopping here as Talim was "flying away from" not "flying close to" where I touched down. Also, I was lucky enough to have taken an extension of some time off from my work :D

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My tracking skills for this lady were not bad. 5ft+ waves were already reaching here with very light offshore breeze in the next morning.

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There was a surfable beach right in front of the hostel I checked in, but it appeared to be a little too big for the beach then.
Dread, a staff member of the hostel, who I had met earlier this year kindly drove me and a French guest around to find a good spot to surf in the morning. And we ended up surfing at this beach shown in the photo below.

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Waves were about 3ft on a set and it got quite crowded later. Funnily enough, this was the spot Jem and I surfed on our previous trip with nobody else around and we found it very creepy then.

Over the next three days the swell was consistent and waves were coming non-stop. I normally travel to this country during winter (December ~ early March), which is the main season for surfing in this country, but thanks to Talim, there was no shortage of waves here this time (mid September), although the crowd wasn't minimum.

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So so so, up until right here in this article, it all sounds like a lucky Esky scoring typhoon-waves after a great relaxing time spent in Indo and seemingly a happy ending ever after, right?

But No!

Just two days before I was going to fly back to Japan, in broad daylight at the beach located in front of the hostel,

I broke my right eardrum while surfing alone....


Well, it was a double-up wave and I was slightly taking it too easy and did a casual duck-dive for the first bump. Sure enough, the second bump hit me quite hard and it threw me out.
It all could have been a simple wipe-out, but because I was too reluctant to deal with the hit, I landed vertically on the surface of the water from the right-side of my face first. Ouch!

"Bang!!!" was the last thing my right ear heard of....

Being washing-machined in the wipe-out, I knew straight away: "Ah, my eardrum must be ruptured!"
It was such a weird noise coming internally, not externally. And if not ruptured, the ear was damaged in some degree at least because I instantly became partially deaf. The photo below shows the crime-scene.

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Despite this incident, I was somewhat still very reluctant to take any actions upon it or try to get out of the water immediately. I kept on surfing a few more waves. And believe it or not, I was stupid enough to have one more session before sunset because the waves were too good to be missed! I eventually had to pay the price....
My right ear became quite sore by the evening and I realized that it was bleeding a bit.

The next morning, my initial plan was to check a beach-break with a small river-mouth located 20min north by train. But not a single chance for it now.
Instead, Dread super-kindly gave me a lift back to the capital and dropped me off right in front of one of the country's best hospitals.

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According to my doctor, there was a hole in my right eardrum and I would have to take "great care" of it by keeping it dry at all times. I was given an ear-drop for anti-infection and needed to put a drop or two into my right ear twice a day for the next few days.
My doctor also told me that there was very little I could do for it and that I would just have to wait for weeks (or sometimes months) to have it naturally healed.

Well, I took this whole ordeal as if our mother nature told me off: "Esky, you've had way too many waves for pleasure. Now you stay out of the water for a while!"

母なる大自然には敵いません 😌

Needless to say, it's never ever fun to have any injuries. And it's even worse when it occurs while travelling.
As a matter of fact, this isn't the fist time for me: Having to use crutches in Senegal in 2011, having the nose of my surfboard stuck on my head in Sri Lanka in 2013 and so on. Nonetheless, I've always been so fortunate enough to have other people selflessly helping me out, and this time it was Dread, the guy on the second right in the photo below. Massive thanks to him!

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So so so, this is how my surf-trip in 2017 ended.

Did I have my right eardrum completely healed by now?

I don't know. Because I cannot see it and I haven't seen a doctor for it since I came back to Japan. But I have no more pain in the ear and I go back surfing now 😜

Oh, by the way, the below is a local-style ice cream that I never knew of despite having visited this country numerous times before.
Dread and Sachiko, the woman in the above photo, took me out for dinner one night and we had this treat afterwards. The green leaf is coriander (日本語: パクチー) and the powdery stuff is crushed peanuts.

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Yes, coriander with ice cream over a Vietnamese spring roll to wrap them all up.
It really melted me down!

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Rain is one of my most favourite words in English. Not only do I like the sound of it, I also just like rain itself :-)

My previous visit to this island in May last year required me to take three flights. Whereas, this time I had to take four different flights from Nagoya (via Taipei.) I was super exhausted by the time I landed at the airport of my final destination, but was delighted with the heat, humidity and this tropical rain. Welcoming-rain!

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What was even more welcoming than the rain was the waves. These photos below were taken on my very first day right after my taxi-driver dropped me off.
Even though I knew that a good-size swell was reaching here, I still couldn't believe my eyes. It was FIRING!

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You might think: "Oh, a nice 5-foot plus wave!" Yes, height-wise. But photos can never tell you the energy and power of those waves.
For the first few days during my time in this island the swell was super consistent. It was at least 5 to 8ft with the period between 15 and 18 seconds: Once you paddle out there, you thoroughly feel it; Heavy and unforgiving. If you ever fail your take-off, your life might be over then....
Additionally, when a set came through, each wave was squarish and looking almost tidal. It even made me think that this could have been what surfing would be like in big Cloudbreak or Teahupo'o. Neither of them I haven't surfed. Yet...

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In fact, rain kept bucketing down for quite a few days in a row with power-cuts to follow and some murky water flushing out from rivers into the bay, so even this rain-lover became fed up with it.
Evidently enough, on a couple of days the water wasn't only brown, but was also stinky and tasty. Yuck! No wonder we saw quite a few big fish swimming around.

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Time and tide wait for no man.
Fortunately, the brown water didn't stay long in the bay. However, as the weather gradually improved, the swell dropped in size quite dramatically too, and no more huge swells came afterwards. Ahh...

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Nonetheless, it never ever became flat and there were a few days with only waves breaking on the inside as shown in the photo below. It was still heaps of fun riding these kiddie waves, going both left and right.
Considering that the wave-quality was at least 10 times better than an average day in Irago, I never took it for granted and it was also great to surf with those cheeky local grommets.

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Despite spending four weeks in total on this island this time, unlike my previous trip to this island last year, no photos of me riding waves for this trip; I just couldn't be bothered to ask photographers to take some by always negotiating how much each photo was, you know what I mean?

My routine was super simple: surf at sunrise, have breakfast, surf again or swing in a hammock to read, have very light lunch (or only fruit and thick Indo-coffee), surf again before sunset, go out for dinner with my new surf-buddies and go to bed by 10PM. I never felt this much healthier than ever before!

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I caught sooooo many waves and was able to practice with my forehand surfing a lot, which was my top priority for this trip.
No injury, no Indo-belly, no surf-rage, no arak but just tons of rain.

Another happy trip :-)

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Oh, by the way, lots of people asked me what kind of food that I had while I was on the island. So here is my answer:
Apart from all usual Indo meals such as Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice) and Mie Goreng (Fried Noodles), I've had lots of half Thai-style half Indian-style curry. Or else I had this delicious noodle soup called Misop. This was mind-blowing!

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Moreover, tons of fruits to be had every single day such as bananas, pineapples and papayas: Papayas are the best after I come in from my surf-session under the blazing sun.
I now seriously wonder why a decent-size papaya could cost us more than 10 dollars in Japan?!

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Well, this article is so boring, right?

Don't you worry! Because I didn't finish my trip only in Indonesia this time. Out of my itinerary I dropped in on another island by cancelling my last connecting flight back to Nagoya three weeks ago due to Typhoon No 18 hovering around in the Pacific then. And that's when an incident occurred to me and I've been partially deaf now....

More stories to come. So stay tuned!

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 :-)