Escaping the Christchurch Winter!


We arrived in Denpassar Bali to the smell of clove cigarettes and that rich humid air of the tropics, to discover our bags had been lost in transit somewhere in Brisbane! Somewhat disappointed but happy that the bags went missing and not us, we meandered our way to Keramas on the east coast of Bali through the hordes of scooters and apparently brand new cars. Over the duration of the trip I saw nothing but shiny, impeccable cars, hard to believe with the traffic! As we drifted through a giant round-about I caught a glimpse of the giant Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue, a relatively recent addition to Bali.

Two days later, we had our bags and with an early flight the next morning to Bima, Sumbawa, we decided to stay close to the airport in Kuta. The evening was spent watching the sunset with our new friend from East Timor (who spoke five languages!) and anticipating what lay ahead in Sumbawa.

Bima is a remote city on the eastern coast of Sumbawa in Indonesia’s West Nusa Tenggara. The airport is small and only has 1-2 planes on the tarmac at one time. Bima was noticeably hotter compared to Bali and the forecast was predicting mid 30’s for the entire week of our stay. There was no trouble with our bags this time and I lead the way out of the airport straight into a tug of war with a porter. This can be quite a good money-making scheme for the locals and this time, it worked on me!

During the two-hour rally from the airport to Lakey Peak there were no injuries or deaths. Even though during the drive, it almost felt inevitable considering all the overtaking on blind corners and speeding through small villages where there were children and goats playing on the road! We passed a group of construction workers lugging around stone in the stifling mid-day heat with ciggies hanging out the corners of their mouths. For an office worker it looked like hell on earth, but these guys just smiled and waved.

Lakey Peak is an isolated small seaside village mainly made up of a series of homestays and warungs. There are several surf breaks in close proximity, some being more easily accessible on scooter. The food is amazing including sashimi, seafood curries, mei goreng, nasi campur, and fresh chocolate and banana donuts every day from the Donut Lady for 50 cents each, a favorite of many travelers!

To leave your scooter at one of the more popular surf breaks requires a small donation to the local shaman who watches over your gear and brings you overall good karma. He has been known to care for surfers’ reef cuts by sucking the blood from wound and spitting out the potential infection. Fortunately, I didn’t require his services!

After an epic week of surf and weather it was time to get back to Bali and then on to home. It turned out our fight had been cancelled back to Denpassar and the next day only half of the bags booked for the flight could fit on the small airplane. Luck being on our side this time, our bags joined us on the plane and I enjoyed the last two days in Bali with no hassles before flying home with my sunburn keeping me warm as I adjusted back to the cold Christchurch winter!

-Luke O’Neill

Published on Monday, October 7th, 2019