My first trip to Bali in June 1999 was an intense learning experience. It didn’t necessarily have to be that way but my friend Dave told my other friend the wrong time to get us at the airport so we didn’t have the luxury of a ride and a hotel waiting for us. Accounts vary, of course. Either way, we are standing out front of the airport at 9:40 at night 12,000 miles from home with no idea of what the f**k (heck) to do. Luckily everyone is really friendly so we get a cab to Kuta and find a rather nice hotel for $39/ night. Later we find out that if we waited another 10 minutes, our friends would have been there to whisk us off to our luxury accommodations for a third the price. The next morning we are hell bent on getting to Ulu Watu by dawn. Ron runs out on the street and gets a bemo in no time and we are off. The first thing we see is a building on fire billowing black smoke. Since it is not our hotel, we keep driving. We get to Ulu’s and it is cranking but manageable. In one of the many leaps of faith, we leave our stuff at one of the warungs lining the cliff while we surf. Turns out, one of the fringe benefits for travelers to Bali is that the Hindu faith views theft as blasphemous and so my $700 in camera gear is being protected by the Gods and the nice ladies trying to sell me fried noodles.
Now, about 15 years ago I was at Studio drive in Cayucos, ‘showing off’ for my friend as he waded out. I went for a roll on a dredging left but instead of landing on my stomach, I kind of landed on my side. Apparently this landing was like getting kicked in the side by some punk as you fall down on the floor in the mosh pit at a Slayer show. The result was that I broke a rib and turned a vertebra in my back from a cube to a trapezoid in less than a second. It only hurt when I breathed so it was cool after about 4 weeks of suffering. Ever since, my ribs tend to pop out of my spine when I do things like sneeze or sit on an airplane for a 21 hour flight to Bali.
We are the only ones out at Ulu’s and it is about 6-10’+ with some mysto cloud break outside rolling through occasionally. The conditions are pretty good and the tide is high. Not thinking, I am out on a Dow core board that is strangely soft and floppy with the warm water. I take off on my first wave that is not so good, pull in, land on my side and destroy my back. I might have shed a tear in pain and self-pity. I am in denial and try to surf for another 45 minutes on the smaller ones. For consolation, Dave calls me a pu**y for sitting on the inside. Everything I do has a risk-based assessment associated with it. I know how bad things can get. Today is a good example. I have a pretty high threshold for pain from this kind of crap, but I realize it is time to head in. Somehow I climb the ladder and cliff back to the top with my stuff and slowly sit into a chair. A toothless old lady is going surfer to surfer to offer a back massage. She starts kneading their tanned flesh with her strong bony hands and they cower in fear. “Get away!” She comes to me and I say, “get busy”. 45 minutes and $1 later, I am feeling a lot better. The next day I am done. But I am not going to sit at the hotel so I join Ron and Dave out to Green Ball. It is double overhead plus and pretty heavy. I find a nice spot to take pictures. I end up getting another massage by 2 nice ladies in a sea cave with a great shady view of my pals trying not to drown. 30 minutes, 2 sarongs and $3 later, I am feeling pretty good.
Glenn Policare shows up the next day and we head to Padang Padang for more organ donation. If you recall the opening scene in his first video project called 801 or something, you will see a shot of me walking down the beach (so I could climb up the cliff to take some pictures of the action). The narrator informs the public that I flew half way around the world to “look for shells, while Ron et al. surfed”. If you look closely, you will notice how every hobbled step I take is done with a burning rod driving into my side. Let’s just get the record straight. Unfortunately for him, we are in the land of Karmic retribution. (See next episode “Chicken Sushi”)
Bali ’99 – Mark Morey