· By Maria Nilsson
Java ‘The Jungle Book’
Have you ever read Kipling’s fiction ‘The Jungle Book’? Do you dream of visiting unchartered places, like the ones you see in your parents’ photo albums? How about uncrowded waves?
Well, that's what we did when we visited Java. Getting there is a simple 8-hour journey from the closest major airport, however a bus load of people, their surf boards and no roof racks on the vans, makes for a more complicated and adventurous trip!
Our ears were popping as we lost altitude weaving down the hills of Java, making our way to the sea to the small coastal village we were destined to visit. As we slowly approached the village, we were met by dense jungle, bursting with endless palm trees, fringing a lime stone river. The edge of the river was scattered with fisherman and pastel coloured homes strewn with harvested rice from the sun drenched rice patties on the other side of the road. The fog of the evening was starting to set on the river as our eyes feasted on this taste of what was to come.
We arrived to the point break we had been impatiently waiting to see and went for a quick sunset surf.
The water of the Indian ocean, in all its glory, was hot! Once described as womb water, making you feel sleepy on entering, but keeping us warm and allowing us to surf before the sun rose and after it set everyday.
The days were filled with plates of gado-gado, banana pancakes, a bit of nasi goreng and fresh coconuts and Javanese coffee on the side. It was a relaxing, sun and surfed filled adventure.
The surf was magical to say the least. It was more than just a sand point with perfect, long, peeling waves, under the shade of trees. Every morning we woke up in anticipation for some swell, ran down the stairs of the home stay we booked out, grabbed our boards and headed down to the warm water under a silver sky. One by one we woke and paddled out all under the slow spell of this coast.
As the sun rose over the volcanoes in the distance, the sky turned a multitude of brightly coloured rays and gradually climbed higher in the sky bringing on the day and the unwavering heat.
The afternoon looked like the morning but in rewind. We would surf into the darkness, the sky would change from blue to gold, pink to purple all the while the phosphorescent glowed beneath us like we were surfing in the stars. The moon hung like a lazy crescent and the mosques surrounding the bay sung out their Indonesian Muslim prayer keeping our minds present in the magic of where we were and what we were doing. The experience was heavenly.
At the point we surfed on long boards and surf mats. When we visited other beach breaks we surfed various single fins, hulls and foamies. A moped ride away was a consistent reef break, where the beach was lined with palm trees and fishing boats. The reef was speckled in an array of colours and was a peaky fun wave for all types of surfers and gurfers. We went left, we went right, we went straight ahead, up and down and all around getting sun burnt in the process.
Another ‘bowly’ reef break that we took a car ride to was much heavier and out of the way meaning our crowd had it all to ourselves. It was fun and an awesome wave to test our tricks! The sunburn was worth it, however the sea lice was almost unbearable and the trip back up the beach in the middle of the day scorched our soft feet much to the joy of our drivers and local fishermen! Opposite this seemingly deserted break was a shack selling many Indonesian delights such as cold coconuts, deep fried delicious tofu dumplings, Pocari Sweat and Bang Bangs. The fishermen were stoked to have us there as we brought them out of fresh lobster and crab daily.
Aside from the awesome waves, we visited crystal clear waterfalls and canyons, ate delicious traditional food, rode mopeds over hanging bamboo bridges for 2000 rupiah a journey and mingled with the very kind and clever people and the beautiful scenery of Java. It was a magical experience; like something you would read in a kids’ storybook. Mowgli was there, he watched us from afar.
Written by Sunny Sarah Townend
Photos by Giang Alam Wardani @gianggawphoto