Bali: blue waters and big waves

Hey blog followers!

For the past two weeks, Rusty and I have been making our way around the island of Bali, surfing and free diving whenever we come across areas with clean waves and quality fish. Before we embarked on our adventure around the South Pacific, we knew fairly little about Indonesia, besides its plentiful left hand point breaks, difficult free diving conditions, and tasty food.  It has definitely been an eye opening experience for us both, but it’s nothing that our past travels haven’t prepared us for: living in remote villages in Fiji, driving 2500 kilometers on the left side of the road in Australia…  Now, we’re living and eating like the Balinese and driving around the crazy streets of Bali by moped!

After arriving in Denpasar late at night, we decided to check out Kuta to see why everyone told us to stay away…  We quickly found out why and fled town to meet up with our friends Guido and Maddie in Balian Beach, a quiet little surf town in Eastern Bali. We spent three days here, surfing fun, relatively uncrowded waves and exploring the coast by motor bike. We were quickly introduced to the most popular Balinese dishes, Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and Nasi Campor (fried noodles), which usually runs about $1.20-$3.00 depending how touristy the area is.  The waves at Balian were great place for us to get comfortable on before heading to Bukit Peninsula, where the waves were faster, hollower and more crowded.
Jamming three surfboards, two spearguns, four backpacks and ourselves in a van, the four of us booked it to Bukit to catch the swell that was rolling in the following day.  For the next 3 days, Rusty, Guido, and I caught some of the longest and best left hand waves any of us had ever caught.  By the end of our stay here, we found ourselves getting very picky with waves, probably because we had a dozen world class breaks within scooter distance!  We parted with Guido and began the next leg of our adventure.
We met up with the world renown Balinese speargun maker, Andre Wickasana, at his shop in Denpasar, where he showed us his speargun making process and gave us some dive spot recommendations.  Within 12 hours, we were swimming with massive fish!  The dive conditions of Indo lived up to their expectations as being difficult and dangerous.  At one point, I saw Rusty being sucked down by a down current as his float was tombstoning on the surface.  As I was figuring out how I’d pull him up to the surface, I was sucked into a mini whirlpool and started spinning wildly in circles, getting all tangled in our floatlines!
I took only one shot at a Dogtooth Tuna.  He was around 50 kilograms and I thought I had him in the bag.  We were drifting along a 20 meter ledge in a high current and he came in close to check out our flashers.  I placed a solid shot behind the gills, he took me for a ride, then the stainless steel broke on my slip tip and I lost the fish I’ve been waiting so long to catch!  Hopefully I’ll get another opportunity this trip to land that monster doggie that has haunted my dreams for so long!
Sadly, August 11th came along all too soon and Rusty and I parted ways as he headed back to Denpasar to catch his flight home to the real world.  We had an awesome trip together and managed to do so much in so many places; it had its ups and thankfully not so many downs! Thinking back on it, we didn’t spend more than 30 minutes apart from each other for six weeks!
After being left all alone in the streets of Bali, I met up with some like-minded American spearfishermen and we went for a shore dive by scooter.  Since my speargun was in shambles after bending two shafts, breaking a slip tip, and cutting all my shooting lines, I decided to shoot photos on this dive instead of shooting fish!
Here are a handfull of photos from the past two weeks in Bali:

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Sean
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The Land of Oz

Hello blog followers (Mom and Mrs. Lieppman)! Sean and I have now wrapped up the second successful leg of our journey. The last ten days, we have been road trippin’ up and down the East coast of Australia and having a blast. I feel like I have been here for a month as so much has happened. I don’t want to fill up the blog with too many words, but there are a few stories that we want to share while they are still fresh in our memories:

Arrival- We arrived in Brisbane around 7pm and quickly made our way to Port MacQuarie to meet up with Travis Corken, our Australian friend we met in Fiji. We hopped in our rental car–a baby blue Hyundai hatchback– and started the seven hour trek down the coast. After stopping to sleep at a rest stop that night, we made it to Port by 9am the next day. We went to go find waves near the house, and ended up exploring all up and down the area. We also took the oppurtunity to eat some of the area’s best food, including the “most addictive” meat pies in Australia… I love meat pies. Anyways, we drove miles and miles down a wide open beach in Travis’ badass truck and eventually decided to surf Crescent Head. It’s a long right point with a really fun wave that occasionally lined up with really long rides. After surfing, the Corken’s cooked up a delicious Australian barbeque and we ate to our heart’s content. Their hospitality was unreal and we are so stoked we got to spend time with such a great family!

Massive beach burnouts

Our wonderful hosts, the Corken’s

Baby Blue in all her glory

Australian Chainsaw Massacre- We wanted to stay in Port MacQuarie longer, but, being drifters, we had to be on our way. We were exhausted from the night before, but set out anyway and booked it straight for Coff’s Harbour, a beach town a few hours north. I quickly dozed off as Sean drove us up the coast. Unfortunately, we weren’t going up the coast…

We had missed the on-ramp to the freeway and had instead drove inland for about 200 kilometers. It was starting to get dark when we realized where we were, and we decided that a night in the Australian bush wouldn’t be so bad. We passed a sign for a campsite and decided to make our way to the camp. We took a dirt road a few kilometers off the highway, but didn’t see the site, just some creepy abandoned buildings. When the road dead-ended we thought that maybe the creepy abandoned buildings were the campsite. We slowly approached the buildings as a light drizzle began to fall. It was almost completely dark now, and we realized that the buildings were not abandoned. One of the buildings had a light on and we saws a figure standing near the window. Sean, being friendly and naive, rolled down the window and waved to it… no response. We watched each other for about ten seconds. I was driving at this point and I have seen too many horror movies where innocent, young adults get chased around the wilderness and murdered by deranged psychopaths. I put Baby Blue (the name we gave to our car) in top gear and gunned it out of there. We made it back to the coast and eventually found a nice, safe parking lot to sleep in. I had nightmares.

Camp Slaughter

Brisbane- On our way up the coast, we had a bunch of Adventures. We surfed the Superbank in Coolangatta and got some great waves, we met up with friends on the Sunshine Coast, and we sampled meat pies from all over. We eventually made it back to Brisbane to spend the night with Sean’s homestay family, the Adam’s, whom he lived with last time he was in Australia. The amazing hospitality of Australians continued as the Adam’s took us in like we were their own.

Sending the adorable Adam’s children off to school

A highlight from Brisbane was going to the Koala sanctuary in town. We watched koalas sleeping, a platypus swimming, a bunch of crazy-looking birds, and best of all, we got to cuddle with kangaroos!

Spooning with Roos

Koalas are like tiny, grandpa bears

Splendour- That brought us up to our final weekend in Australia. Months ago, when planning the trip, Sean realized that our stay in Australia coincided with a massive music festival called Spendour in the Grass. After unsuccessfully trying to buy tickets online (it sold out in 20 minutes), we decided to wing it and show up to the festival unannounced and see what happened. We drove from Brisbane down to Byron Bay; a cool, hippie town on the beach where Splendour was being held. We parked our car a mile or two from the festival and walked over to try and figure something out. After unsuccessfully trying to find a way in, we saw a lot of volunteers that worked at the festival and were given tickets for their services. We asked the head of the group if we could work and explained we came all the way from California to come to Splendour. She told us that our best chance was to come for the early shift the following morning and fill in if someone missed their shift. We agreed, half-excited, half disappointed that we were gonna miss the first day completely, and only have a glimmer of hope to see anything at all. We got back to our car and drank a beer at a bar nearby. We noticed that the music from the festival was pretty loud and didn’t seem that far away. We decided to get a closer listen…
We walked down a lonely road in the direction of the music. It got a bit louder. We stepped over a gap in a barbwire fence on the side of the road. We trudged through this swampy field of tall grass towards these tall trees. All the while, the music was getting louder. It was just about dusk as we ventured into the trees and began trudging through ankle deep mud and water. We had to cross a small stream, then another, then another. At this point, we had gone too far to go back, and we could now hear the roars of the crowd up ahead. We saw the end of the tree line and next to it, a river, about 20 meters across. We quickly decided the only way to cross it was to strip down butt-naked and walk across it with our clothes (and phones and cameras) above our head. As stupid as that sounds, we did it and it worked perfectly! Once across, we threw our clothes back on and saw lights!! We sprinted toward the lights and got to the festival fence. We decided we had to hop it. The fence was about 8 feet high and there was security all over so we decided to find a more secluded spot. After hiking through more trees, fleeing from guards with flashlights who could definitely hear us cracking every branch in our vicinity, we arrived at a quiet spot with only one guard in sight.

We were crouched in the bushes, covered in mud, had cuts and scrapes all over our bodies, and had no chance of going back the way we came. It was do or die. A security car drove past and we waited a few seconds then bolted towards the music. It must have been the adrenaline, but I felt like I hurdled the 8 foot fence. I looked to my left and Sean was with me. We casually/quickly walked towards the tents on the inside, hopped through a crack and emerged in the mass of people; victorious. Sean and I were both reeling with excitement and the rest of the night we danced away to Spiderbait, The  Shins, At the Drive In, Explosions in the Sky, and Jack White. It was truly epic.
The next morning, we showed up for the volunteer morning shift, we quickly got volunteer jobs cleaning the artist VIP section, we ate some of Jack White’s leftovers and then we were given two free tickets. The last 36 hours we had been surviving mostly off two minute noodles and Mother– the Australian equivalent to Red Bull (its kinda like if Red Bull drank a bunch of Red Bull). We went in after our shift and danced more than I thought humanly possible. The second day, Tame Impala and The Beautiful Girls stood out as performances. Mostly though, we just showed off our moves on the many dance floors…
We broke a lot of hearts.

The first thing we saw once we got in to Splendour

Steve!

Splendour in the Mud 2012 Trademark

It was probably the most fun I have ever had, but after two wild nights of dancing and sleeping in our tiny car, Sean and I were both relieved to leave.

The hottest things to hit Australia since meat pies

Next stop: Bali!!!!! Keep the adventures coming!

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When the Clouds Broke Over Cloudbreak

Hey Everyone!

Since our last blog post, Rusty and I have been spending our time exploring the main island, Viti Levu, and immersing ourselves in the Fijian culture.  After 7 full days in the village on Kadavu, we decided to hang out with our Aussie friends on the Coral Coast before they headed home, but when the rain came, we fled for the sunny side of the island with the goal of surfing Cloudbreak once the weather passed.

For the past 7 days, Rusty, our new Aussie friend, Mitch, and I have made ourselves at home in a backpackers community on the coast of Nadi.  The three of us rented a house near the beach for US$30 per night, where we could catch boats to Tavarua conveniently. Rusty and I kept a close eye on the weather and swell and planned to surf Cloudbreak towards the end of the week.  Until the swell filled in, we spent our time lounging around in hammocks, hanging with the locals, making coconut shell carvings, drinking kava, and walking the streets of Nadi in search of hole in the wall Indian food!

On our first day at Cloudbreak, the sun never broke through and the swell was a little smaller than expected, but nonetheless, we had a great time surfing perfect waist to chest-high waves, then spearfishing along the reef edge to catch a few fish for dinner (barracuda, blackspot snapper, trevally, and parrotfish).

On our second day out, the sun decided to show itself and we lucked out with perfect overhead waves with a slight offshore wind. I caught some of the best waves of my life and after getting my share of waves, I threw my fins on and took a few photos and videos in the lineup!  I don’t think the still photos quite do it justice, but the memory of huge stand-up barrels, one after another, will forever be imprinted in my mind.

After spending a month diving breathtaking coral reefs, living in villages on secluded islands, and surfing the best waves of my life, it was hard to say goodbye to Fiji and all of our new friends, but we had a lot to look forward to on our next chapter of the trip, Australia!

Moce!   (goodbye in Fijian)

Sean & Rusty

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Nightly kava at Bamboo Backpackers

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Our First Blog Post!!!

Hey Everyone! Welcome to our South Pacific travel blog, Kaiwai Adventures.  Kaiwai is a Fijian word meaning ‘people of the sea’.  Since our entire trip revolves around the ocean, we thought it would be fitting.

Sean and I just returned from 7 days in a remote village on Kadavu, the fourth largest island of the Fijian archipelago. We came to Kadavu for its pristine coral reefs and clean waves. While in Fiji 1 1/2 years ago, Sean met some Fijians from Kadavu and was able to organize our stay in their village. We lived in a small hut stuffed with three Australians and four Americans.

Preparing for our sevusevu (gift offering) ceremony with the chief

The Australian guys were super agro spearfishermen that Sean met the week earlier and were coincidentally staying in the same village. These guys travel the world in search of massive pelagic fish species. In fact, during their stay in Fiji, they managed to break one fiji and one world record.  The other two Americans were our buds Bassel and Shane who came with us on an overnight ferry from Fiji’s capital city, Suva. Knowing that we would be living with other in close quarters for quite some time, we all became good friends very quickly.

Everyone was really into spearfishing, and it became clear early on that this leg of our trip would be primarily devoted to killing fish and providing for the village.

The days were pretty simple, we would wake up, take a boat to the reef and go spearfish for three hours, come in for lunch, go back out for three more hours, and then come in for dinner. It’s pretty difficult to get bored in the village because there was always so much to see and do. We filled our spare time with touch rugby, hiking, playing with the village kids, and soaking in the hot springs.

My first Coral Trout!

We would come in with our catch and the Fijians would divide it up and cook it for dinner. There were over 300 people in the village, but luckily the Australians were consistently catching wahoo and tuna that were 50+ lbs. If it wasn’t for them, the villagers probably would have eaten us (just kidding).

Travis (one of the Australians) coming up from a deep dive

It was so cool being in the village and seeing people live so differently than I’m used to. Everyone was happy all the time, always waving and saying the essential “bula!” when you walk by. The kids were awesome too. Some of them had probably never seen white people before- let alone a ginger- and they were always yelling “cudalani” (or something like that) that basically meant “white person.” They were constantly running up to us, grabbing us or holding our hands. So cute! They also never cried!

The Village Schoolchildren doing their morning toothbrush. Why don’t we do that!?

It wasn’t the harshest living conditions you could imagine, but it was definitely roughing it for me. Almost everyone got sick at one point, and it would basically knock you out for 24 hours. I won’t go into detail, but there was a lot of vomit involved.

Despite being relieved to leave and take a hot shower, I missed the village and the people right away. We had an amazing first week and I hope it sets the tone for the remainder of the trip! Next up- we don’t know!

Bula!

Rusty and Sean

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