Bali: Fear and boarding

TRAVELLING back to Bali ? in light of recent events ? left me feeling just a little anxious.

My wife ensured that our shared suitcase was padlocked as were my dual board bags, carrying four surfboards.

When we arrived at the now famous airport, I prepared myself for the ultimate shakedown but after paying our visa tax ($25 US each) Megan and I sailed through the customs area without any questions.

Not that we had anything to worry about.

But after the Corby factor, it was with a sense of relief that we successfully passed through to be greeted by our loyal local Balinese driver known as OE (pronounced o ay).

We checked into our Kuta hotel opposite the beach at Halfways (between Kuta and Legian beach and the HQ for the Kuta Karnvial).

As the sun set over the small beachbreaks there was just enough time to shower and watch the second State of Origin at a venue known as the Stadium.

Bali is two hours behind Australia and the game was already into the second half.

We joined ex-pat Australian and Billabong Indonesia manager, Paul Anderson, in a standing-room-only capacity crowd, predominantly cheering NSW holidaymakers, who were in overdrive.

An indication that there weren't too many Queenslanders in Bali.

The look on Paul's (known as Gringo) face, who is a for- mer Queenslander, said it all and I knew that the mighty maroons were in trouble.

Former Novocastrian and now Gold Coast resident Paul Parkes, a WQS competitor greeted me on arrival and said he was on holidays as 'Joey' set up another second half try.

Parkesy just smiled at me and joined the Cockroach Crowd who were understandably over the top with joy.

Meanwhile I was having a straight coke and Gringo briefed me on the third annual Kuta Karnival (June 25 - July 3) of which I have been invited to compete in the legends, longboards and retro events.

Back in 1980, I competed in the first Bali Professional event, on the then World Tour, along with ol' mate Russell "Mumbles" Lewis, now an international surf coach.

I talked Russ into coming over for the KK and organised to pick him up at the airport that night after the footy.

We only just made it through the holiday traffic to arrive on time for his flight but there was no sign of him.

About one hour later Russell appeared as the last passenger off and he looked mightily relieved to see us.

The poor bugger - unlike us - had been through the security wringer.

When Russell checked into Brisbane airport, the security dogs swooped on his board covers and customs led him away for a check of the boards.

"They asked me to unlock my board bags as there was strange smell, possibly a bomb smell that had triggered off the dogs!"

Russell promptly agreed but his next nightmare was that the key to the padlocks would not open the board bags so customs had to pull out the bolt cutters.

Russ said: "In the end they knew that it had been a false alarm and I put it down to my Dad's cats who must have given the boards a bit of an ammonia spray when the boards were under his house!"

Luckily Russell arrived early to check-in.

But then when he arrived in Bali, the customs and bag carriers must have seen Mumbles coming and he was asked all sorts of questions and then asked to pay two bag carriers 100,000 rupiah, about $30, each to clear customs!

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