Surf in Nias [Sumatra / Indonesia] English Version
INDONÉSIA 2010 (November/December 2010 – By Paty e Rô) Trip to IndoSurf
INDONESIA 2010 (November/December 2010 – By Paty and Rô)
The trip was all perfect, though Indonesia is to surf, we made several other things during our days there. Everything changes greatly from one island to the other, and to tell better, and maybe help someone who is planning to travel over there, I decided to describe the trip as if it was a diary, making comments as the opportunity arises. To make it possible I wrote down all the information at a travel book from addresses, people's names, telephone numbers till prices of things. I will write as Paty, in the first person to lose less time, but Roger will help a lot too. We hope to help someone with this, without forgetting that our references are from the year of 2010. Have a nice trip ..
Nias (Pulau Nias) is very nice, the wave is perfect, very good weather. It is a place for those who surf because it is all you have to do there. Those who do not surf has to at least like the sport and to be with someone who surfs. It is a peak internationally known . Asu and Bawa are also very close to Nias, but we haven't been there.
Nias has a population of 756,762 inhabitants and is the largest of 131 islands located in northern Sumatra. Teluk Dalam and Gunungsitoli are the two most known cities from there. Gunungsitoli is where is located the airport where you arrive coming from Medan.
There are some cultural festivals on the island as war dances, and there is a lot of music. The predominant religion is Protestantism, but there is part of Muslim and Catholic population.
The buildings in Nias villages have singular architecture, and there is some concern in making buildings that can stand up to earthquakes and tsunamis. In 2004, a tsunami with big waves of 10 meters hit the island. In 2005 an earthquake generated a new catastrophe. The landscape of the island after the tsunami and the earthquake changed a lot, exposing some areas of coral that were once under water and also flooding areas that were dry in the past.
You can reach Nias by sea or by plane, but I imagine that by sea is very complicated. When you go by plane, the flight leaves from Medan (North Sumatra) to Gunungsitoli (South Sumatra). At the airport several drivers are waiting for the tourists, who are mostly surfers going to Sorake Beach, Lagundri Bay. The amount charged to take to the lodge varies slightly from Rp 200,000.00 to Rp 400,000. (which would be 20 to 40 dollars)
The peak to surf in Nias is Sorake Beach, but there are other possibilities, less known. The Sorake wave is a perfect right one. To reach the peak just fall into the Keyhole (deeper are at one point of the reef) and swim to the left, so you get smoothly behind the waves. Just drop, enjoy, and when leaving the wave paddle a little to the right to join the watercourse and go back to the peak.
Arriving Medan is not glamourous. Nobody respects queues, or elderly or children, women, etc. People pile up, and are usually touching other people and even pushing. Their culture is like that. The flight we had from Medan to Gunungsitoli was very close to the scheduled time for our landing in Medan, but it had a delay of an hour and a half. We were trying to find out information on the balcony of Air Wings Cia , but it was impossible. No one knew about forecast for takeoff, and they invented any excuse to get rid of us. The fear was losing the transportation we had already scheduled at the Internet, that would take us from the airport to the lodge. The Medan-Gunungsitoli flying looked like a chartered bus, but it was good and lasted 50 minutes, in the airplane with propellers.
We arrived Nias late afternoon. The airport is tiny, with no structure. The plane maneuver in the small runway after landing and back to the terminal. Arriving at the airport was very good because we could see that we were in the right place, close to nature and tranquility, but some stress situation occured when we took the lugage because obviously there were no bagagge carousel, but a bunch of people in a room where the bags were separated by wooden benches. We had to beg someone to see our tickets in the middle of the crowd and deliver our bags.
When a plane arrives it is a big event, and business opportunity to people, so a lot of drivers enter the terminal providing transportation, which gets to be boring. Luckily we had already found our driver and we didn't have to think of anything or negotiate prices. We payed too much, as we have seen other transportations for Rp 200,000.00 (US $ 20),wile we payed Rp 400,000.00 (US $ 40) .The trip from the airport to Sorake Beach - Lagundri Bay takes about three hours in a very crazy little road in the middle of villages and coconut trees. During some stretches were thousands of motorcicles, and people walking in the middle of the bumpy road. Talking and mostly understanding their English at first was difficult, but then we just got used and talked comfortable with anyone coming from anywhere. We listenned to Nias music during the road, and then the driver (who was the nephew of the owner of the hostel) left us with his pen drive, to copy the songs.
Halfway I asked the driver to stop at some place to eat something and use a toilet. That's funny saying toilet when referring to that !! In the restaurant where we used the bathroom, it was also one hole at the floor and without unloading. Just got worse compared to Medan airport because of the slime on the floor and the fear of slipping and getting dirty. The girls who attended the restaurant looked curious to us all the time, until one of them succumbed and came touch my hair. That was just the beginning, because during the rest of the trip was like that all the time. There was not much to eat there, and Ro asked for noodles (kind of noodles but with water) and I only had a coffee. Terrible. A lot of powder in a glass of hot water. They do not strain out the coffee, so for me it was bizarre. Well, I used this word a few times during this trip.
We traveled up to 9 P.M. when we arrived at Keyhole Surf Camp. The hostel is in front of the coral bench and takes its name for being there the point that is used to enter the sea, the keyhole. The owner is Timmy, and he and his family take care of everything. At the website (www.niaskeyholesurfcamp.com) he lists a number of services they offer. We left things in our room and we asked him for a dinner . We talked with two guys who were watching surf DVDs there, and they said the swell was small but tending to increase in the next days. We ate chicken fingers with sweet and sour vegetables, rice and chips for Rp 45,000.00 per person ($ 4.5). It was quite tasty.
The guest room was simple, with a fan, but with bathroom like ours. I heard that in other hostels sometimes the bathroom was with the vase on the floor in their style. The shower was open with no curtain and the water sometimes did not smell very good, so, except for bathing, we use al the time bottle of water even to brush your teeth. My side of the bed was beside the wall and there was a big window, serving for me to spy when he woke up with the noise of the rain. On the first night Timmy came to pass us some guidance on what to do if there were tsunami alarm.
We lose sleep early (6:00 AM). We woke uo to take a look and we were happy with what we saw. The entrance to the sea is in front of the hostel, and you have to paddle to the peak almost without diving into water. We ordered breakfast (Rp 47,000.00 - $ 4.7 for 2 chocolates, 2 toasted, 1 juice) Using the shoes for walking at the reefs was easy to get to the point where we jump at sea.
Reaching the peak there was a small crowd of nice people. Everyone greets already by far in a good vibe. We talked a lot with all of them and got some tips. I got my first wave, and for me the waves were a little to big, but I could stay even though.
To exit the sea you can go to the beach or to the keyhole. We chose the second option and it was good. We had lunch at Timmys. We ate chicken with rice, mashed potatoes and Coke (Rp 55,000.00 - U$ 5.5). We took a nap and then we went surfing again. Ro fell at the keyhole and I ended up taking some pictures. I was afraid to get dark until we leave the water and to not see the reef. When the light was bad, I went to sit in the lodge ladder with André (one of the Brazilians who we met) and we talked a lot about Indonesia.
We woke up early again, we had breakfast (Rp 47,000.00 - $ 4.5) and went to the sea. Today I entered for taking pictures with the waterproof camera. There was a guy filming at the sea and I relied a little on his position, but ended up getting a little farther for fear of being swallowed by the waves. We made some good photos, and the sea today helped: it was tubular, allowing multiple barrels photos.
It was a little hard only to leave the sea, because I had to go behind the waves to reach the keyhole and the waves almost led me forward. I had to paddle very strong. I went out to take pictures out of the water.
After lunch (Rs 90,000.00 - US $ 9.0) while Rô slept I took care of the the photos. We didn't fall again, we were lazy and it was raining. In the late afternoon we had a wonderful sunset. We walked on the beach and made some very good pictures. Before going to bed Andre went to see the photos. He heard that the village was in Tsunami alert. I noticed that the locals were not even here. I was afraid and slept poorly. It rained during all night.
We woke up early again but there were no waves (almost flat). We had breakfast and arranged to go to Teluk Dalam with André to try to getting some money at the ATM. The money machine was broken. We walked there (Jalam Jalam as they say) and went to the supermarket. On the way we took a ride with the woman of the lodge.
Teluk Dalam is a honking chaos, dirty, with amounts of people and animals. Lots of tents in the street, a messy port and many children with school uniform. Everyone greets us. People looked at me because of being a woman and having blond hair. Children crowded around us.
To get back to Sorake Beach we took a kind of bus, which is an open little truck, that costs Rp 5,000.00 (US $ 0.5) per person. It's funny the reaction of the girls who got up on the bus and saw André and Ro. They were shy and embarrassed, they liked the boys. I took some pictures of them. The bus stopped to leave things in the house of a woman who works for the government and has a high-level home. We talked a little with her while unloading irons she had ordered. When we were about to go she said she wanted to adopt me. We left and had another stop, this time for the driver to have an ice cream, and then another one for another order of delivery. Funny.
That was a scary night. I got out of bed for several times because of the noise of the rain. It rained hard, and the sound of the rain looked like a giant wave passing underneath the hostel terrace. In one of those momentseven Rô got scared and ran to take a look at the balcony. At that moment I was convinced that it was a tsunami and my legs just melt. We saw it was just a heavy rain and went back to sleep. We woke up early to eat breakfast and try to go to the Secret spot we had talked the day behind with the guys. It seemed that would not happen, but then Andre came calling. Alan arrived with three motorcicles. Ro drove one of them and I was on his back. We paid about Rp 50,000.00 ($ 5) each motorcilce rental and something else to have Alan as a guide and the coconut water we had at the beach.
The adventure is pretty crazy because the road took about an hour in a motorcycle without helmet with unusual scenes. We understand that everyone here horn, but it is not stress! We saw people walking all the time on the road, poor bridges that sometimes made us get off the motorcicle to pass, geese crossing queued, fighting cock cage at the side of road, a woman washing clothes in one of the tracks using asphalt, pig crossing, children drawing on the road with pieces of stone. Also had a runway covered with rice drying after harvest. Of course all the time, as we passed people stopped doing things to look and greet us. We were real aliens. The paisage was amazing, with rice paddies on both sides of the way, and the houses of the villages, in their own styles. We went through one of the villages where the houses were built as if they were boats. Cool. It was an hour ride of a great adventure.
We arrived at the Secret Spot, and soon people began to crowd around us, mostly young children and some women. They were all curious with us beeing there, and funny they did not stop to face us and smile. Everybody went surfing and I was on top of coral making photos. The view of the beach, completely desert and virgin clear water, was so nice. The waves were lefts. I went into the sea, but only to wash the soul, and I ended up not surfing. For leaving the sea Ro got a very good right, and was excited and did not realize that was going over the coral. When he realized he was lying on the reef and ended up scraping a little bit. He was very lucky because he didn`t get too hurt.
After everyone left the water we had a coconut water that one of the natives brought. I found a very beautiful shell at the sand. One of the little girls saw my joy at finding the shell and she brought me a number of other equal shells. Two minutes later other little kids and even a mother also decided to give me more shells ... The result: I am collecting shells as I did as a child!
We continued walking for a few minutes on the reef across the beach to get to a spot where there is a little lagoon. It was cool, we took several pictures, but Rô sprained his right knee making a photo of the coral, which caused a lot of problems later in our of trip.
We arrived at the lagoon, and it was really amazing ... transparent water, deep within the coral, urchins and full of colorful fish. We stayed swimming there for a long time. Then we came back to pick up the motos and travel back home.
We woke up early, but Roger's knee was hurting a lot and we needed to get money, so we decided to go to Teluk Dalam. Again we took that kind of a "bus" that made a long way through the villages. We went to different places, two or three villages, including one with those houses imitating boat. In Teluk Dalam we could not get some money, then we went to the supermarket and we left. We had lunch at the inn of Andre and stayed lazy for a while. Thiago and another friend of us came to talk to us, and give us some tips for the rest of the trip.We asked for Rosalina ( a woman who offers massages) to make a special massage at the knee of Roger. She has done it for over an hour. She spent such an oil made with banana leaf, chewed, spat and passed at him, made some prayers, bandaged and asked him to come back two more times.
During dinner at Keyhole there was a couple of Japanese friends of Timmy. We talked during a long time with them. Very friendly. We slept late.
There was a boring rain during almost all day and the swell had not arrived. The Japanese couple was surfing and Ro went to make some pictures of them. When he showed them the images, both of them loved it, thanked a lot. Rô recorded a CD for them with pictures and a little film he edited quickly. Later they called us because they wanted to give a gift to each. Timmy told us that the Japanese (Tokura) was one of the first guys to surf Nias. Ro had for the second time, treatment with Rosalina, and said he was feeling better.
This was another day of laziness. Ro did not go surfing because of his knee problem, and there was no swell anyway, so he used his time to teach a little photography for a boy of Nias who had 11 years old and seemeds to be very responsible with a good mind. It was funny that while Ro was there with the boy, the guys around them didn't respected the class! They kept coming, talking, and eating a meal beside them with your hands.
After the class, Santos (photographer I met in the water) brought the movie he had made to Roger. He wanted to charge for the film, but did not have much images so we exchanged the filming for a beer! We packed our things and went for the best way to go to the airport. We researched prices and we had a better offer at the inn next door. (Rp 300,000.00 - $ 30).
We left the hostel at 3:30 AM to get at 6:30 AM to the airport Gunung Sitoli of Nias. The crazy driver took a friend along, and we were listening to Nias music all the way.
The airport was something surreal. There was nobody, no lights, people waiting outside. Suddenly they turned on the lights, without saying anything, but we guessed it was time to check in. We went to the counter, left luggage and just told us to sit in the lobby. We saw people going to the airplane and as no one came to talk with us Rô went to check whether we should stay right there or enter the airplane.He discovered we needed to pay the fee boarding and go to another hall. We arrived in Medan and the connection (transfer to another airport) was instantaneous.The flight was delayed, and we were walking at the airport full of people smoking and not respecting at all the signs of not smoking. They even have smoking areas, which are a separated glass , but nobody respected. Also, it seems that everyone in Jakarta smokes.