Hard times on the beach
21.04.2012 - 02.05.2012 30 °C
Day 205: Pangandaran, Java, Indonesia 21/04/2012
Up and about earlyish, no messing about with cheese and chocolate sandwiches this morning as breakfast is a darn sight better in noodle form. We grab a tuk-tuk to the train station and after swinging by Dunkin Donuts we find ourselves on a pleasant and clean train carriage, with comfortable seats and ample leg room (for Gemma). Unlike the train we saw yesterday with hundreds of people crammed on the roof, this one is fairly empty. We both fall asleep and sweat profusely.
Arrive in Bandung after about three hours, where we catch a cab to the bus station (quite a way out of town) and are on the bus to Pangandaran for about three quid each. Bargain, particularly when one considers that it ends up taking eight hours to get there, not the five hours we were expecting. Eventually arrive after what seems to have been a very, very long day. We make the short walk into the town from the bus station, bizarrely having to pay a toll to get into the town, a first for us. There are lots of youths hanging around the street ragging their motorbikes up and down (is this the 1950s?) but we eventually get through all these young people having fun and find ourselves a nice room at a bargain price. Dinner then bed.
Day 206: Pangandaran, Java, Indonesia 22/04/2012
Fully recovered from yesterday's journey and after a quick breakfast, we are on the beach for elevenish. Whilst not the very best beach we have been to it is still very nice and the complete lack of tourists, Indonesian or otherwise, makes it seem even better. We do very little at the beach other than sun ourselves and after a beautifully uneventful day we head back to shower.
With it being the weekend we find somewhere to skype - a restaurant where the proprietor brings out his (German?!) laptop, allowing us to speak to the people back at home. In the search for normality we so love on our travels, we notice that the restauranteur has a number of portraits of himself in some extremely strange poses dotted around the walls of the establishment. My personal fave is the one of him with the gold, diamonte encrusted staff, sunglasses and bowler hat. Couldn't make it up. A quick tea after skype before heading back to the room.
Day 207: Pangandaran, Java, Indonesia 23/04/2012
Breakfast on the porch again before we head to the internet cafe - where annoyingly all the computers are set up on the floor - to send Cesca a Moonpig birthday card for her 21st. A very cheap and cheerful lunch from here before setting up shop at the same point on the beach as yesterday. Again we move slower than a Geoff Boycott innings and after seemingly hundreds of games of Uno and shithead I go for a haircut (where I am a bit of a novelty - don't think they have ever seen hair bleached blonde by the sun in there before) and then we head back and shower.
Tea encompasses a strange fried potato/chicken pakora thing for me and some greasy fried rice for Gemma before we head to the supermarket for some real culinary delights - Bintang beer, peanut Cha-Cha's (M&M-alikes) and apple jelly sweets.
Day 208: Pangandaran, Java, Indonesia 24/04/2012
Back to the beach again today (surprise) and after allowing my fresh tats a few days to heal, I am itching to put the skills I learned and honed so well in Hikkaduwa back to the test. However, the term once bitten, twice shy springs to mind as I ensure that I take adequate precautions to combat sunburn. Rent a board and realise that surfing is like riding a bike (and my mum likes to remind me I am no good at that either - nearly failed my cycling proficiency apparently). In all honesty, I feel I am doing ok on the board (still find it hard work paddling out against the waves) but after a brief rest after lunch I am laid up for the rest of the day as the end of the board is damaged by the leash (has clearly happened before). The man I rent from is fine about it and I even manage to negotiate a discount for the next day's rental.
Tea happens at the crazy portrait man's restaurant and despite being a ropey portrait subject he is a surprisingly good chef. Another night of uno and cards and reading. Life is hard.
Day 209: Pangandaran, Java, Indonesia 25/04/2012
Beach after breakfast, where unfortunately I cannot find the surfboard rental man from yesterday. Manage to rent from somewhere else (no insurance I am grumpily told) and am soon back in the sea. Have a great day with some incredible local surfers and feel that I could make a reasonable surfer yet if I was to devote this much time to it in future...wishful thinking I think...
After completely knackering myself out we head back to the room and then out for tea. Gemma discovers a great little shack where she has barbecued chicken cooked roadside (with a fan assisted barbecue grill). The fan looks like it may have been a bit close to the flames a few times before (the melted plastic is a bit of a giveaway) and seeing the liberal doses of lighter fluid dispensed by the old man cooking it is clear why this is the case. Accompanying my noodles and Gemma's BBQ chicken we end up with a plate of spaghetti and amazingly the three dinners with drinks come to well under four pounds! I daresay we will come back, especially given the welcome given by the old couple who run the place.
Day 210: Pangandaran, Java, Indonesia 26/04/2012
For maybe the second time on the trip I wake up earlier than Gemma and sit outside the room reading, before making it to the beach early enough to catch the cheaper board rental man, my friend Ang. Don't find him. Loads of locals surfing. Back to room.
Breakfast with sleepy head then back to the beach, where I do find the man himself this time, giving a lesson in the sea. He has left me a board in the bar apparently...how annoying that I didn't take it earlier! I spend all day in the sea again surfing and, I feel, progressing nicely, whilst Gemma lays on the beach topping up her filthy tan...
After a full day in the water (more and more knackering) and Gemma's full day in the sun (apparently more and more tiring as well!) we head back to the room and wash the black sand off of us. Head back to the roadside barbecue place and after BBQ fish for me and 'super meatballs' for Gem we grab some beers and head back to the room.
Day 211: Pangandaran, Java, Indonesia 27/04/2012
Continue our arduous routine of breakfast then beach - straight into the sea for me again, straight to the sunlounger for Gem. Some big waves today and strong currents see me end up about 400 metres down the beach. Pot noodles are meant to make for a cheap lunch but rip off drinks brings it all to the same level as normal...false economy I daresay.
After lunch, and whilst sitting in the shade, I am befriended by a rather odd Dutch gentleman who tells me early that he would take no offence if I told him to 'f*ck off'. After five minutes I really begin to wish I had done, especially after he tells me Gemma is looking 'provocative' and that he wants to 'mount a horse'...weirdo.
Waves are very strong in the afternoon and my leash snaps, leaving me to swim against the tide to reach the beach. End of surfing for me today. In parallel to our morning routine, we now have an evening routine, where we eat at the shack then grab refreshments to consume back at the ranch to a game of Uno.
Day 212: Pangandaran, Java, Indonesia 28/04/2012
Another tough day at the beach. Resume our normal spot on the sunloungers and I give the surfing another bash. A very frustrating day in the water, as I seem to spend the whole time paddling on the spot, trying in vain to get to the 'outside', beyond the breaking point of the waves. Easier said than done and I am wholly disappointed by the morning's efforts (read throw toys from pram).
An early tea at the old couple's place and we get onto skype, catching up with a few of the old faces back home. I also search online for any available advice on how to paddle a surfboard against the current...
Back to the ranch where - shock horror - we have a neighbour! The only other person we have seen there in days.
Day 213: Pangandaran, Java, Indonesia 29/04/2012
Get up early today to beat the tide and get some good surfing in and am on the beach for 8ish. Find the board - no leash! How annoying. With it being Sunday and before the hottest part of the day, there are hundreds of Indonesian tourists on the beach. Head back for breakfast, then back to the beach, where it emerges the surfboard leash was behind the bar all along.
Have a quality twenty minutes surfing before disaster strikes when I am ragged by a huge wave and pushed under the water. Despite a brief disorientation this is not a problem until I reach the surface and discover the board is in two pieces! Twenty quid later I am on another board but by now the currents and tide make paddling out difficult...
After lunch and spending a lot of the afternoon reading on the beach, I head back into the water, catch a few waves and am happy again. Another evening of skype before dinner then another uneventful evening back at the room.
Day 214: Pangandaran, Java, Indonesia 30/04/2012
Another early morning surfing again today. Some fairly gentle waves but after yesterday am a little wary at first. Soon catch some reasonable waves before I head back for some breakfast after tweaking the groin.
Banana pancakes and a bit of R&R back at the room - we are both knackered for some reason. We take a walk to the market in search of a new speaker cable and then lunch.
After spending the last few days in the water beating the body up we take a nap and the overcast weather gives us a bit of time away from the beach. Gemma somehow draws her kip out for three hours...an early night follows.
Day 215: Pangandaran, Java, Indonesia 01/05/2012
First day out of the water for some time and the body aches all over, sore groin and a few cuts and bruises equate to a lie in. We have a quiet day - lie on the beach, have lunch then a few afternoon beers. Head to the bookshop in the evening and change the books we have finished before tea. Tough day all round.