Winter Flashbacks

December 30th, 2012 – Salish Sea, British Columbia

It’s cold here. Tired and seeking warmth, I close my eyes and fade away into my mind for memories of the past year. Here’s a bit of what I uncovered in my head when I was listening to this song…

Inspired by Noah Cohen’s 2012 Innersection entry.

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Coming Unstuck – Today’s Travel Inspiration

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“There was once a man who became unstuck in the world. He took the wind for a map. He took the sky for a clock and he set off with no destination. He was never lost.” -Castles in the Sky

One of the greatest things about surfing is that it so naturally goes hand in hand with travel.

I’ve just emerged from a month in Bangladesh, where we surfed nearly every single day. And while Bangla’s waves can hardly compare to the world-class breaks of Indonesia where I spent the previous 2 months, it has consistent swell and the beach breaks can get as fun as anywhere. But here it wasn’t about the quality of waves but the adventure: walking through villages where the locals were dumbfounded at never having seen this ‘surfboard’ thing before, exploring the coastline, finding and surfing unnamed breaks near the Burmese border, just you and your friend, the first and only people to ever have surfed these breaks. This is what made it so memorable. Surfers are adventurous, DIY types – it’s always been a part of the culture since the days of The Endless SummerMorning of the Earth and The Forgotten of Santosha. You have to be. The search for waves has led me to places off the beaten path that I never would have ended up otherwise. But whether you’re a surfer or not, I recommend the surf-travel movies Sipping Jetstreams and Castles in the Sky. I hope they’ll stir the wanderer in your soul and inspire you to walk out the door on that next unexpected, unforeseen adventure.

Happy trails:)

Song: The Summer We Raised You by Years around the Sun

Gearing up for a mission in Cox’s Bazaar. Destination: St Martin’s Island, Bangladesh’s southernmost point, next to Burma.

Boarding the ferry at Teknaf, stoked for exploration and uncharted waves.

Bengali boats in the hazy-bronze light of the late afternoon.

Commandeering a fishing boat to access distant reef breaks. The locals were amazed and confused.

Late sun and traditional fishing boats on an inlet near the Burmese (Myanmar) border.

Far from Home.

“We’re far from St. Bruno right now…”

If the scene isn’t forever etched in my memory, then the feeling sure will be.

We avoid the garbage and puddles, before stepping out into the oncoming traffic. It’s something I’ve learnt to do without hesitation by now: the crossing of a busy asian street. The trick is to just walk slowly and confidently and let the river of smoky, puttering scooters and bemos flow around you.

We dodge the traffic mêlée without incident. The smells of the central market hang in the hot, humid air, overpowering the smell of street garbage and exhaust fumes that is ever-present in SouthEastAsia. The haunting sound of the dhuhr adhan (the muslim midday call for prayer) drifts from some unseen loudspeakers high above the scene; it adds a sort of calmness and timelessness that blankets the car horns and bustling activity below. Buildings built in the traditional Minangkabao (West Sumatran) style of rumah gadang (upsweeping roofs symbolizing bull horns) dominate the low skyline at the market entrance, some still damaged from a shattering 7.6 magnitude earthquake 2 years ago.

We’re in Padang: a port city on the South-West coast of Sumatra. We’ve come to the central market – a place where you can find just about anything – to buy a machète (to be used for cutting open coconuts… but we’ll get to that another time) and other assorted supplies. There’s nothing out on the islands, everything we’ll need to bring.

“I’m filled with a familiar feeling – a feeling I’ll never forget…  It is the true feeling of adventure – that anything is possible – and it never ceases to excite me to the point of bursting.”

The colourful stalls of the market appear and we are swallowed by the bustle of activity – vendors, horse-drawn carriages, fruit stalls, fake watches…

I soak it all in. I’m filled with a familiar feeling – a feeling I’ll never forget. It’s the same feeling I had 6 years ago when I first stepped off the rickety tin plane into Laos. The feeling that returned when I stepped off the plane in Kuala Lumpur this past May, and the humidity and smells of Asia first hit you. It is the true feeling of adventure – that anything is possible – and it never ceases to excite me to the point of bursting.

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The dugout boat is tippy: it’s full of all our gear, construction supplies and 8 people (us, a local family and our new Indo friend Sironi). The puttery outboard steers off the muddy river into a narrow side channel. As we glide through the muddy backwaters of the Mentawai jungle, Phil turns to me: “Dude, we’re out there…”

My heart is filled with excitement.

venturing to Nyang Nyang in the Mentawai Islands, Indian Ocean


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