After travelling and surfing with my blue Al Merrick 6'1 for nearly two years during this RTW trip, I accidentally went straight with it to a big rock near the exit-keyhole two days ago. It was high-tide and waves kept coming; I was a little careless then.
The photos below show the autopsy of the board.




It's always sorely heart-breaking when I get a ding on or snap my own board.
This Al Merrick was made of epoxy and I would still have a chance (a slim chance?) to have it repaired, but I decided to ditch it for good and buy a new one (I actually gave it away to a local boy here in J-Bay). Surfboards in South Africa are so cheap. So why not?!

My next partner is a Firewire Hellfire 5'8 as shown in the photo below. This quiver is as light as a feather and almost as durable as epoxy. I will love it from now on for sure.


Gratitude to my blue girlfriend for her great company on my RTW trip! I've caught many epic waves with her.




From this year 2012 the Billabong Pro J-Bay is unwisely downgraded from a WCT event to a WQS event despite the fact that the quality of waves here is as great as ever before.
No detailed report is ever disclosed from main sponsor Billabong for this downgrade, but many South Africans suspect that it is due to Billabong's recent financial turmoil. Such a pity!


Meanwhile, Kyoko just flew from Brazil to South Africa and came straight to J-Bay to see the contest and to catch up with me. We first met in El Salvador in September last year, and here we are now.
It was great to catch up with her again! And thanks very much for cooking delicious Japanese curry, Kyoko!!


Regardless of the downgrade of the contest, waves in J-Bay are pumping now and all pros and amateurs have gathered here for this annual event.


It's ridiculously apparent in the water which guys are pros and which guys aren't. Pros are driving their boards like Formula Ones, ripping waves like Kung-Fu masters, and flying over waves like stealth fighters. Just insane to watch how they surf!



Combined with the beauty of waves in J-Bay, their surfing is almost like a piece of art.


Unfortunately (and fortunately, too), I will leave J-Bay for Durban tomorrow. I planned my departure date to be just before this WQS event would kick off simply because there are too many guys in the water and in town now. It's a little too hectic for my liking and I'd rather keep surfing somewhere else than just sitting on the beach and watching how the contest goes.


Anyway, I cannot thank J-Bay enough. It's such a magnetic spot for all surfers and I've learnt a lot from this legendary place. I'll definitely come back here in the near future!


By the way, the only true local of J-Bay is Mr.Bruce Gold.


The last time I was in Durban, I stayed in Happy Hippo Backpackers located in Durban Central (near Addington Beach), but this time I went to Ansteys Beach Backpackers located in Bluff, the south of Durban. The above photo shows how it looks like from Ansteys Beach Backpackers.

My reason for coming to stay in Bluff was to see a famous break called Cave Rock, about a 5-minute walk from Ansteys Beach Backpackers.


Unfortunately, Cave Rock never showed what it was reputed to be while I was staying at Ansteys. The swells weren't big enough and the wind direction wasn't quite right for Cave Rock then. However, I was still able to catch a few waves one day at the beach break in front of the backpackers.


Durban has actually become one of my favourite cities now: it's very warm (can be sticky hot in summer), urbanized enough, multi-cultural enough with nice and cheap African food and Indian food around, but minus the high crime-rate.


South Africa was never in my itinerary until the last minute of my stay in Senegal, but I'm now absolutely delighted to come this far from there.
South Africa itself along with all the surfers who I met in the past few months really opened up my eyes and made me truly love surfing more than ever.


Many thanks to my friend Jeremy who came to pick me up at Durban airport, let me stay at his flat for my first week in Durban, took me out for a few day-trips on the north coast for surfing, and taught me many things about South Africa. Without him I wouldn't have had such a great time in this country. Shot Jem!


Now my next destination is.... Switzerland!


I've been invited to my Japanese friend's wedding in Winterthur (near Zurich). She is marrying to a Swiss guy in a few days. So there'll be lots of food, drinks and chocolate to be had from now on. Yeahhh!
My only concern at the moment is that everything will be bloody expensive in Europe, especially in Switzerland. And there will be no surfing for a while....


There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. (By Nelson Mandela)

Next Destination >>>

I flew from Johannesburg to Zurich via Doha by Qatar Airways, and as soon as I arrived in Zurich's international airport, Jonas came to greet me there. He is the boyfriend and will be the husband of my Japanese friend Yumemi.
We took a local train from the airport to Winterthur where Yumemi and Jonas were having their wedding over the weekend.


The weather was fine in Winterthur. It was dry and hot during the day but it cooled down a bit at night.
The photo below shows Jonas's friends' flat where I crash while in Winterthur for free of charge. Lucky me!


As a shabby backpacker to suddenly attend someone's wedding required me to make one effort in particular. It was to ask my mum to send me my suit, tie, shirt, and shinning leather shoes from Japan, all of which I hadn't worn for more than two years. Fortunately (after Skyping with my mum for a few times in advance), I got them all here in Winterthur just for the wedding. The photo below shows Yumemi in kimono and me. She looks fabulous!


In the past I've attended my friends' weddings in USA, in Belgium, in Australia and many in Japan. Each one of them was different from others, depending on their nationalities, their religions, their budgets, etc. I always enjoy taking part of it and observing how things take place then.

Yumemi and Jonas's wedding was a little unique in a way that they seemed to have no religious thing involved, but an official sign-up to be made in front of the municipality and us. It only took half an hour or so. A new Swiss-style, I guess (?)


Their wedding ceremony turned out to be super-simple, but little did all of the participants in this ceremony know that the after-party was about to go off like big fireworks at a very nice cottage located just outside Winterthur.
The photo below shows Jonas and Yumemi just after the official sign-up. They are married now!


What I found really good in their after-party was that the whole cottage with a nice backyard was rented over the weekend for us. There were a big kitchen with all kitchen equipment, tables and chairs in a big living room, three bathrooms, and many bedrooms upstairs in which we would eventually crash for the night. No drink and drive!


The party was fun. Everybody was quiet in the beginning, but we became louder and louder with music, lots of food, desserts, beer, wine, and laughter.




After midnight the party eventually turned into karaoke with dancing and it seemed to go on forever. I stayed up till 2am or so but felt too old to keep up with young ones. Hahaha! Yumemi and Jonas were still having a great time.



Happy wedding to Yumemi and Jonas.
Thank you very very much for having me today.


My Swiss friend Luzia lives in Lucern, about 40min by train from Winterthur.
Today I caught up with her and she drove me to one of the tiny European countries called Liechtenstein on a day-trip.
The photo below shows the car Luzia booked for us today. It was a car-sharing scheme which a few companies in Japan also introduced in major cities recently. Quite economical and convenient if you live in a city where this sharing system is thoroughly implemented. My home-town Kasugai also has this system now, but only two cars are available.... Useless!


Luzia and I used to share an old three-story house on Richard St. in Vancouver, Canada in 2004 with eight other people. I still can't believe that ten of us in total stayed together in the same place in cold miserable Vancouver back then. I was young and broke at that time.
I've known Luzia ever since then and we actually met up again in December 2009 when I was on a business trip to Europe. So it was my second reunion with her this time.

It took us just over an hour to Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein. It was cloudy and drizzling when we arrived there, but it cleared up by midday.


Schloss Vaduz is located in Vaduz and is home to the royal family of Liechtenstein. You can never miss this castle as it's built over a hill and it's the biggest landmark in Vaduz.
The photo below shows Luzia and me with the castle behind us.


Later we walked into a cafe for lunch. It was just a casual cafe to have a decent meal. Nothing fancy then, and Luzia and I had a drink and a meal for each, but our bill turned out to be almost 70 dollars. Ouch!


!!!!! Note !!!!!
Don't forget to bring your passport with you. You can get a stamp of Liechtenstein at the tourist office in Vaduz. I forgot to bring mine today. So I got it on a piece of paper instead. Ahhh....