After having all my senses nearly killed by hectic India I escaped to a much mellower and more adorable Hindu place - Bali in November 2012. This transition was almost a joke to me and it even made me wonder if my time in India was real.
Well, it was real. And due to the intensity of it I thought that my articles about India should be the final entry of my "blog-like" online travel diary - Air Esky. Additionally, it was often quite difficult to find an Internet connection in developing countries. It was very time-consuming to upload pictures and articles on a regular basis, too (I have no idea how other travellers keep their blogs up-to-date. Are they really travelling?)
Despite having all these hassles, I must admit that Air Esky has actually kept me going and has kept me on an even keel. It's a great means to see myself objectively while travelling is a heavily subjective thing.

"Where are / were you, Esky?" is a frequent question amongst my friends and my family. I actually went back to Japan in December 2012 to catch up with my buddies and to see my dentist. But as soon as I fulfilled my immense appetite for Sushi, I became extremely itchy for more travelling and more surfing. Thus, I left for Taiwan in January 2013 and continued my way through South East Asia for the first half of 2013. The most notable event during my time in SE Asia was that I met a Colombian woman in a little sea-side town called Da Nang, Vietnam in February and then we travelled together through northern Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia. She was very attractive and super energetic, so my thought of "I might like waves more than women" was proved to be just completely delusional.
Wherever we went, we had so much fun and so much laughter together, but unfortunately, an all-travellers' common problem caught us in the end; our individual goals were dividing our path as she intended to be a yoga teacher in Colombia and I wanted to follow my surf-oriented itinerary. I'm sorry, Eli.


Confused and uncertain about my own decision to be a solo-traveller again, I landed in South Africa in mid June. Although there were a number of reasons for me to visit South Africa for the second time, those who knew me well could easily tell why I went back there again: it was simply for surfing.
While I made a few road trips for Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique in August, most of my time from June onwards was well spent on surfing after surfing somewhere in South Africa.


Yes, I hear you say that the water can be icy and there are no vegan sharks in many parts of South Africa's coastline. But there was something about that country I was helplessly attracted to such as quality waves, cheap surfboards, tight and strong surf communities, and high standards amongst local surfers. The more I surfed there, the even more I wanted to surf and the better I wanted to be as a surfer.
My enthusiasm in surfing continuously grew more than ever and eventually led me to one shaper in Cape Town - Mr. Patrick Burnett who was specialising in creating hollow-wood surfboards.


I neither had any deep knowledge nor any experiences in shaping surfboards, plus I had never worked with my hands previously apart from typing computer-keyboards. Yet making a surfboard with wood for the very first time in my life under Patrick's expert guidance turned out to be so enjoyable: Tons of clamps to be used and lots of hand-planing as well as sand-papering to be done (and so much effort to be made, too!) Each process wasn't only to shape a board, but it was also to breathe new life into it. I'm not sure if I would've felt this way with a conventional PU blank....






Furthermore, this board-building workshop with Patrick unexpectedly brought a whole new perception of surfboards to me. Up until very recently every time I purchased or looked at a surfboard, I was only thinking of how I wanted to ride it and how I could ride it. Whereas, I now put more of my focus on how the water should flow through the rails, the tail and the bottom-deck of each surfboard. It feels like I've finally realised one of the most fundamental things in surfing; the water-flow.







It took me a bit longer than initially scheduled for the completion of my own board (Many thanks to Patrick for being so patient with me.) And what came out in the end was a beautiful organic-looking 5'8 Egg with a single/twin fin set-up.


Have I already taken it out in the water...?

Of course, I have!

Our first date was the morning of December 5th at Wedge in Durban with clean 3ft A-frame waves. I was super excited but nervous at the same time to take my Egg with a single-fin on out there, but it all took me by surprise because paddling in and taking off on the very first wave was so much smoother and easier than expected; I just went down the line, made a super gentle bottom-turn and kept cruising till the wave eventually became white-waters. It was as sensational as the moment that I caught and rode the very first wave in my life a long time ago. Unforgettable!

Still so much to describe about building and shaping a surfboard with wood. In fact, the best way for you to know what it's really like is to actually do it. (Please check Burnett Wood Surfboards here for more details.)
Trust me. It'll be a great experience for you and it might even become your life-time hobby afterwards.


My stay in South Africa this time was very fruitful and quite sharky (it's a long story), and my South African tourist visa of max 180 days finally ran out on December 8th.

At the time of writing this very article on January 1st, 2014, I find myself in N'Gor island, Senegal in order to avenge my utterly painful experience with sea-urchins during my last visit here in 2011.
It has been windy, but the surf's been quite consistent around N'Gor and Dakar. I've already scored quite a few punchy hollow waves at legendary Quakam (I broke my Firewire then!) and some 6 to 8ft heavy bumpy waves at N'Gor Right. And so far I've had no thorn of nasty sea-urchins yet!

It has been almost three and a half years since I started living only with my backpack and a couple of surfboards. I never initially planned it this long. It's just happened so. And while I don't know how much longer I can continue living this way, one thing for certain is that my passion for surfing remains intact and strong. My next destination after Senegal will be Morocco followed by either Canary Islands or Central / South America again.

Oh, what about the fate of Air Esky???
Well, as much as I'd like to keep myself stealthy, I will try to regularly update it from now on in 2014. No promise, though :-)

People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware. (By Alan Kay)

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