Surf City Lakey Peak, Sumbawa’s Chillest Beach
Doris had an odd way of reassuring me that the surf at Lakey Peak, Sumbawa was safe for a beginner at surfing. Almost as odd as a young Javanese surfer with a discernible Australian accent who calls himself Doris.
“Wait until 2pm when the tide has risen but don’t go out too late or the current will pull you out to sea”, Doris cautioned.
He continued, “Don’t go over there on the left, there’s a gnarly rip that will suck you in”. ” Hang right, but not too far, the surf is razor sharp there and will take your face off if you go under”.
With a lowered disconcerting voice, I pressed: “Thanks for the tip, where do I go then?”
“That middle bit, where you see two, half submerged shells of buildings where the waves break against them. It’s safe there. ”
Doris then whips out his cellphone and asks me to come over. “Take a look at this, my friend had an accident while surfing out there last week.”
It wasn’t a pretty sight. There, was a picture of a reckless adolescent’s forehead, flesh horizontally parted at the forehead. There wasn’t a lot of blood. The split edges, parallel to each other fell uncomfortably deep into his forehead; the faces of each surface white, like the rise of cliffs just outside the town. In the depths of the wound that was wide enough to let in sufficient light, I could see a flash of silver from the exposed sinew. I felt my knees buckling. I could never have been a doctor even if I wanted, feeling quirmish, my head was feeling light.
“OK!” Doris commanded, snapping me out of my almost overwhelming discomfort and thrust a red surfboard into my hands. “Now go, and don’t come back dead, haha.” With a chuckle and a wave of a fist with an extended thumb and pinkie, he turned around and busied himself in the hotel kitchen. I took a final photo and penned an epithet, just in case and then, I jumped into the water.
Jump In, The Water’s Fine
In the water, the slightest swell felt like a 100 ft surge, especially at the top. Just lying prone on the board and letting the wave take you to the end of its course was a rush. It’s noisy, the roar of the rushing water thundered above all other sounds except perhaps the nervous bass drum thumps of the heart that causes the whole body to quiver. But, I’ve always been more motivated by new experiences than fear, so I try to stand. And then, I fall; repeatedly and, I drink enough water to offset the ballast on the Titanic. I decide to head back, lest I overstretch my luck and reasonably satisfied that I made attempts to stand.
A broken paradise
Leaky Peak, on Sumbawa Island, a part of the vast Indonesian Archipelago counts surfing amongst several other attractions such as the stratovolcano, Tambora and the sweetest corn in the land, as its claims to fame. It has the air of a dystopian idyll; the handful of hotels have perimeter walls crumbling in places, the broken neon signs are left shattered and to the disposal of arachnids, house lizards and ants looking to scavenge for scraps. The only access road, obviously once a proud black tarred welcome mat into the seaside resort area now lies in a state of disrepair with only 1 of the 2 lanes intact to allow traffic to pass – not that it sees much beyond 2 wheelers. Amongst the decaying, almost decrepit state of the tourist strip, is a hardcore community of surfers- mostly Australian who have come for the world famous waves and not having high expectations beyond several bottles of Beer Bintang in the evenings.
Feeling a little like a part of Australia, the residents around Lakey Peak speak with the same almost unintelligible accent. There is also a cultivated, laid-back atmosphere throughout the town that builds on its surf city reputation. That is, exactly the charm of the place; a little weather beaten, a little rough around the edges, a little in want for more amenities but is also unpretentious, carefree, genuine and exudes a cheerful simplicity. The lines between customer and staff does not exist here, local and foreign does not hold weight and neither does race or wealth ( largely because this place caters to the young, footloose and fancy free).
Beyond the Surf Strip
If you make the trip here, make sure you have your own wheels. A moped will do just fine and fit in perfectly with the pace of life. Trundle own the one horse road, and take in country life – all two nostrils full of cut grass, salt spray and cow pat. Wander through cattle paths and corn fields you might meet a cow herder who calls out to her charges in their own words. Roam the spaces between the houses along the beach and say hello to the fishermen fixing up your boat, you might be invited for tea and biscuits. Further down the single road, past the resort, beyond the town, the land rises up into a cliff with spectacular sunset views. There’s likely to be no one else except for the occasional local motorcycle commuter, so bring along your significant other or your best friend because you’ll want to share the effortless charm that Lakey Peak has plenty of.