Surfing takes us to far away places that other people just don’t go and once we get there, it pushes us a little deeper into the wild. We all love to go a little feral, you know; not shaving, hiking through fields, taking rented tuk tuks down dodgy dirt roads in search of waves, taking nature poo’s, that kind of thing. It’s half of the fun of surf travel; the adventure…
Picture a perfect slab spitting mad pits at the edge of the desert, then imagine hobbling all the way back to your Suzuki Jimny with a foot full of urchins which ends up ruining your trip.
Surfing off the beaten track and going a bit feral means you’ll usually score uncrowded waves, but lack of crowds usually means the area is not particularly fit for sustaining human life, so expect some extreme shit.
I’m not one of those annoying traveler-types who reckon they got a flight to Bali for £150 and lived there for 6 months off 19p a day, but I’ve traveled a bit and made some stupid mistakes, so here’s some advice on things to watch and take care of whilst going a bit feral or whilst away on a long haul trip and staying a while:
1. Stubbed toes and foot cuts
Stubbed toes, mini-cuts on your foot, bits of skin right next to your toenail that you’ve picked too far whilst baked on Moroccan hash; all very minor complaints when you’re at home but nothing messes up a trip more than injuring your foot. Foot protection aka shoes are an ancient idea that have proved popular over the years, because they work. So please abandon any hippy ideals and invest in a decent pair of beach sandals, crocs, flip flops, even trail shoes and look after those babies.
Have a few holiday beers with some salty plane food on a 10hr plus air-conditioned flight and you will be setting yourself up for an unpleasant start. Surfing all day, sweating buckets at breakfast and just having a 2litre bottle of water to keep you going and you will get dehydrated. I’ve seen
my girlfriend Jasmine people fainting and losing the plot through not keeping fluid levels topped up, so sip water all day and in between supping nectar at night. I will always drink a litre before bed to help keep me hydrated through the night and a litre immediately on waking to get my organs going.
My worst ever tropical experience was when I got Bacterial Meningitis in Costa Rica and thought I was going to die. I’m not exactly sure how you get meningitis but mine manifested from a chest infection that I ignored and left for ages due to smoking a few too many post-surf Pal Mal’s, so basically keep on top of your overall health, because when you get ill whilst away, it’s terrifying.
4. Drugs are baaaad
If you’re a bit of a stoner that’s almost fine in today’s society, but in Bali the Police could literally rip your head off for smoking the reefer so just try to be careful getting baked abroad. With regards to harder substances, we’re all adults here, it’s not cool and getting mugged for coke money in Central America is something you really don’t want to happen. Life is cheap in some places…
If you think English Coppers are bad then wait til you get into a sticky situation with a Balinese policeman who earns less in a year than you do in a week. These guys will stitch you up or sting you and the only thing going for a Westerner in a Kuta prison is your height and nothing to look forward to but your parents re-mortgaging their house to pay for your bail and legal fees. Don’t get yourself into stupid situations and if you do find yourself in a spot of bother, money talks. Apparently £10,000 is the current drug bribe rate for the police to turn a blind eye…
I like dogs, a lot. I mean look at that little fleabag cuddling Jas, gorgeos. But it is a fact that overseas, dogs can carry rabies, so if they look a bit dodgy, either steer clear or be a complete hero and take them to an animal shelter if they are in real trouble. This place in Sri Lanka does absolutely amazing work with animals.
(no disgusting image necessary)
7. Sea ulcers
Warm tropical oceans contain much more bacteria than our own cold seas. This means that any cut you get stands a chance of ulcerating and taking on a life of its own. Make sure you clean all the sand out of your cuts after surfing, let them dry and air on land, drench them with iodine or rinse with hydrogen peroxide. It won’t help healing, but a few drops of superglue will stop the ulcer spreading for the remainder of your trip, just don’t do a Mullins and try to super glue your leg together after falling down a flight of stairs.
If it’s your first big trip away from home, you may find the street hustlers quite intimidating, but basically don’t buy anything or even appear interested. There’s nothing you need from these guys, but if you show the slightest hint of interest, they’ll be in your pockets like a rat up a drainpipe and they are bloody good at their jobs. I remember buying a hideous silver necklace off some guy in Kuta, essentially spanking a days budget to look like a tool.
Or Arak. You will loose a couple of mornings and a few million brain-cells to this stuff. Mostly it’s just cheap alcoholic water with some colourings thrown in. Proper spirits are imported and cost a lot, so your cocktails will be laced with cheap jungle juice even if it is poured from a brand name bottle and the hangovers really are from hell. Stay hydrated if you drink this junk or just try and stay sensible and enjoy a few cold local beers and don’t go too mental.
This is seriously heavy stuff. It’s like a semi-solid, non-fizzy version of Red Bull and all over South East Asia. It’s a brutal energy drink that has to be laced with pure speed as it gets your heart racing like mad and makes you gurn. Once I saw a mate sweating from his lips after drinking this stuff, I didn’t even know this was possible. Whatever you do, do not mix it with cheap vodka (Arak) or you could actually give yourself a heart attack and don’t even be tempted for a shot before a surf, have a banana…
Next week’s blog is going to be on how to survive corrupt traffic cops in South East Asia.