In November 2009 I was part of a 4 member South African team that was invited to explore the untouched Solok Selatan region of West Sumatra along with 4 other Indonesian paddlers. We managed to paddle several first descents and had a very exciting and successful trip. This year I will visit Indonesia once again, with the same local Indonesian paddlers, but this time alone.

Joining up once again with Toto Triwindarto, he has kindly invited me to stay at his home in Purbalingga, Central Java. From here we will drive out to paddle some already run rivers, as well as possibly a first descent or two or three. He says there are some sections of the rivers which have never been explored because they are very tight and committing gorges… Could be fun.  Conditions for the rivers are not at their best at the moment. It’s at the end of the rainy season and the rivers are low. I was well aware of this before I planned the trip and booked the tickets. However my mission was not to purely kayak and try to kill myself. I wanted a relaxing holiday with some kayaking and also quite important to me, to get some fishing in. A few weekends ago I got myself a nice lightweight 4-piece travel rod and upgraded on a new Daiwa spinning reel. As I’ve been fishing all my life and enjoy it, I thought what the hell, why not try out some rivers and a little reef fishing while I’m there.

Looking up I noticed I used the following words in a sentence - ‘planned the trip’. Well, it seems this is actually a blatant lie if I think about it. There has been zero planning; none at all. The ‘plan’ is quite simple. I fly out 8 April, land the night of 9 April and stay over in Yogyakarta before taking a 5 hour bus ride to Toto’s house on 10 April. From there we have no plan. We’ll simply take each day as it comes, paddling when and where we can, and hopefully also throw in a short road trip to visit a surf spot or two for some fun in the boats and probably, yes you guessed it, fishing. Toto has also roped me into talking at a high school as part of some cultural exchange/English interaction so that is also on the agenda :-)

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West Sumatra 2009 – photo by Celliers Kruger. Sumatra 09 CK 00 (464)_E1 copy

West Sumatra 2009 – photo by Celliers Kruger West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_0016_E1_CR copy

When we arrived at the airport in West Sumatra 2009. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_0643_E1 copy

West Sumatra 2009. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1201_E1 copy

West Sumatra 2009. Photo by Andrew Kellett. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1251_E1 copyWest Sumatra 2009. Photo by Hugh du Preez. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_1353_E1 copy

West Sumatra 2009. West_Sumatra_Nov_2009_2268_E1_CR copyWest Sumatra 2009.

Eventually on the 24th of April I’ll fly from Yogyakarta to Denpasar the capital of Bali, leaving Toto and the gang behind. No not for kayaking, but for some relaxation (maybe fishing) and bodyboarding. The 24th is also Rini’s birthday, wife of my very good friend Rob Weyer, and they’ll be there... They are also having an Indonesian style wedding on 28 April and I’ll be best man for Rob there, so that’ll definitely be an occasion to look forward to! We are all staying at the same hotel and I suspect it to be quite an excellent trip. I’ve seen so photos of the waves there and being a very avid bodyboarder I cannot wait to sample spots like Padang Padang. Dream stuff!!! On the afternoon of 29 April I fly out again and by about 16:30 on 30 April I’m back home, hitting work 2 May. Luckily my job is pretty awesome so I don’t dread heading back. The only unpleasant part is having to unpack everything into my new place that I bought. The deeds office is taking their time and I only have 4 working days next week to sign the final document to take ownership and was hoping to move things across the Friday and Saturday before my trip. Oh well. It’s a bomb place though. 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, ground floor exactly on the beach! It’s a 20 second walk to get to the waves from my sliding doors. With 46 square metre double garage. What more can a man ask for? Life is excellent….   :-)

I believe the trip will be really awesome. I’ve been to Indonesia before so I know roughly what to expect. Over the last while I’ve been honing my photography skills a bit more and invested in a new body, a remote flash and a few new lenses so I think you might find slightly better photos this time round. Well, maybe :) And I know a few people do read my ramblings but the majority of folk just like pretty pictures, and let’s face it, so do I. Whilst the kayaking itself won’t be of the highest caliber or the most extreme, I’ve never been a paddler like that and never will be. I’m perfectly happy with what I paddle and have enough skill to get down some rivers and most important to me is the people I paddle with, and I know I’ll be in excellent company once again with the friendly and simply outstanding Indonesians. I cannot wait. Only 4 days left of work!

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Photography by: Adrian Tregoning. Unless otherwise stated.
Words by: Adrian Tregoning.