“A man with a dyed pink mullet (hairstyle) filleting fish with a large clever, winked at me, “you love rock and roll” he said, then proceeded to do an air guitar solo to Led Zeppelin with his meat clever and slamming it down chopping the fishes head off as a finale. A hesitant smile and a half raised wave, I backed off down a side alley :where was everyone? Coming to realise that I was on my own, lost in a town deep in southern Sumatra.
We were on the Annual Animal Team action shoot scouting for lifestyle locations with Alan Stokes, Jobe Harriss, Filmer Tim Davies, Drone pilot Alexander Ioan Rees and myself the photographer.
Finally I got a glimpse of one of my group, I could see Jobe through a crack in the wall of a ramshackle old building, he was there arm locked with a beast of a man, a local, what has he got us in to I thought, checking all escape routes for a quick exit if something was to go down, I moved towards the doorway, then I heard “come in” from a voice I recognised, it was Stokesy.
I entered the hazy smoke filled room to find Stokesy and Tim were watching as Jobe grappled with this giant of a man,
“is everything cool” I ask the boys, “Yeah, Jobe is arm wrestling!” Tim proclaimed! The arm wrestler shouts while drumming his chest “I was Sumatran Javelin Champ”. Turns out he was also a massive UK football fan and wanted to practice his English. We were in the town of Krui, not a place frequented by many westerners, the locals were intrigued as to why we had come to their little town. We’re here to surf said Stokesy, “thank you for visiting, our town welcomes you”. Said the Javelin Champ with a friendly smile.
Washed down with a glass of super sweet Indonesian Coffee and with a more relaxed approach, the mind which had made people’s gestures seem sinister didn’t seem sinister at all anymore. Our tour of the town carried on, testing local delicacies and having pictures taken with the locals, we were in real Indonesia, not a tourist front, no hawkers and people asking for money, just friendly inquisitive locals proud that we have visited their local town.
For our 10 day stay we were based at The Mandiri Beach club, right on Mandiri beach, the magnet for waves in the area, with pitching A frames every day, it’s a good indicator as to what the area is doing for waves at any given time. When the waves drop at the beach you head south to the Left hand Points and when it gets too big on the beach you head to the Reefs around Krui which has a multitude of Left and right reef breaks, and if it really gets big you head up the coast.
We knew the swell was going to kick in the next day and too big for the area so we decided to go up the coast. As with any new surf video that accompanies a trip you have to have a bit of drone footage to take the video up to the next level, sounds easy but in reality they are a nightmare, with only 9 minutes of flying time per battery, timing is the key.
5 batteries with a total of 45 minutes flying time wouldn’t be good for a whole days filming so Alex bought a small generator from the local shops to charge up the batteries through the day. It was a good plan, until the location with the best surf meant a 30 minute trek down the side of a cliff and across a paddy field – not good in Indo heat!
Finally down to the bottom Alex set up the drone, we were on an ‘A’ frame reef break with playfully fun lefts and rights, perfect as we had one natural footed surfer and one goofy.
Our best laid plane had a bit of a glitch as it turned out none of us had an ounce of knowledge about running a generator, this came to light when we heard a big popping noise followed by sparks and flames, unfortunately the generator didn’t seem to be able to regulate the power and too much power was running through to the battery charges blowing them up causing a fire, so the big effort to get the genny down was inin vain and then to rub salt in to the wound the wind pick up, too strong to fly the Drone but at least it was air time for Stokesy and Jobe.
It’s always a bit hectic the first few days of a trip wanting to see and surf every wave in the near vicinity especially when your on a commercial shoot with limited time and then, you get in rhythm with the local life! You’ve sussed out the tides and winds and routine kicks in, early surf, tea time, lunch, afternoon nap, de-waxing the board, changing fins, golden session surf, food, beer, random chats about your exploits and world travel with fellow guests. You make chums that you’ll never see again but leave a lasting memory like on this trip Rod and Glen from the Gold Coast Australia, amazing characters and real genuine guy’s with a world of stories but limited vocabulary, every second word was a F##k or bloody c###t. They kept us entertained in the evenings.”
Photos and Words by JASON FEAST