Roundup Indonesia: Surfing, Skulls and Dragons

Indonesia Roundup-1My Indonesia journey was one of very different facets. It all started with about three weeks of intensive surfing on the island of gods, Bali. That I would come here for surfing was already set before I even left home. I just wanted to get some practice and finally improve my surfing which is so hard to do when you are from a country like Germany. That being said, this quest turned out to be harder than I hoped for. The waves were often either too big (and that’s massive), too small or it was too windy to go out. At the same time the crowd factor was insane. Of course, I was there during peak season so what should I have expected. But having been there already once before, it really seemed like surfing has just exploded. Sometimes the lineups were so full, that it even got dangerous paddling out. I was involved in a couple of incidents myself and witnessed a couple of more from close by. So in terms of the surfing itself, my stint on the island leaves me with mixed feelings at the least. I reckon, that there are places in this world which offer good surfing as well but without all the hassle that Bali inevitably comes along with. And my plan is to explore some of those before returning to Bali. And if I do someday, it definitely won’t be during peak season.

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Kelly Slater at the Oakley Pro. Looks a bit different than above ;)

Kelly Slater exiting a barrel at the Oakley Pro. Looks a bit different than above, doesn’t it ….

However, at the same time the island still has its charm being great people, a cool lifestyle and, you can’t deny that, an abundance of available surf spots within close distance. Just riding the scooter across the island every day and living an easy life true to the motto “eat, sleep, surf” was great and I wouldn’t want to miss that for anything. For me, Bali was sort of a love / hate relationship but I am very much content with it now.

Sunset at Batu Bolong Beach.

Sunset at Batu Bolong Beach.

Looking for the spot.

Looking for the spot.

At one point I was ready to leave however. The explorer in me wanted to be acknowledged again so I took off to Sulawesi. A trip which was supposed to bring me away from the hordes of tourists and into a world less touristy and developed. And this is exactly what I found in Sulawesi. Traveling there was a true adventure although it still was easier than I had expected. The long transportation days took their toll but were more than rewarding. From great diving, pristine and remote islands with dream beaches to the rough and rugged Tanah Toraja with its crazy funeral ceremonies, elaborate grave sites and the amazing landscapes – Sulawesi was a true highlight of Indonesia and of my whole trip so far. The fact that English is not widely spoken in this region also forced me to learn a little bit of Bahasa Indonesia, the country’s main language. By the end, I was actually able to get by well and even get to know people. It made the traveling so much more worthwhile but was also just essential to manage certain situations. The language is easy to pick up and can just encourage everybody with plans of going to get a phrasebook and learn those basics. It will surely reward you with some memorable moments.

Dusk at Bunaken, North Sulawesi.

Dusk at Bunaken, North Sulawesi.

Funeral Ceremony in Tanah Toraja.

Funeral Ceremony in Tanah Toraja.

Skulls and Bones,

Skulls and Bones,

Impressions from Sulawesi.

Impressions from Sulawesi.

I was the attraction at the waterfall in Tentena.

I was the attraction at the waterfall in Tentena.

The trip was topped off with the best diving I have ever done in my life. Diving Komodo was a trip and for the first time I felt like “Ok, this is what real diving is all about”. I wish I could have done more dives there and I am sure that I will return one day. Maybe even for those intriguing live-aboard cruises. Flores had another highlight waiting and that was seeing those famous dragons from up close. What a rush. Flores itself was beautiful. I only had time for short bike trip but the scenery was so nice that I wish I could have traveled all the way across. Maybe that is also a plan for another journey…



Made some new friends on the road to Ruteng.

Made some new friends on the road to Ruteng.

Coming back from Ruteng and approaching Labuan Bajo.

Coming back from Ruteng and approaching Labuan Bajo.

All in all the Indonesia trip was very varied and full of very different highlights. I guess that was what made it so unforgettable. I will also remember the many friendly kids on the way and the smiles on their faces. The kids were always the first ones who approached me, no matter where I was. Generally the friendliness and cheerfulness of the people was a very distinct feature of my Indonesia experience – at least in those parts I have visited. I hope the people can keep their smiles on their faces and their happiness in their hearts for when I will return some day.



In terms of health, this trip was rather suboptimal. I stepped into a sea urchin, got stung by a highly jellyfish, had food poisoning and caught a cold. But yeah, I survived everything and now I have a few more stories to tell. You should always try to find the good side of things, even if they appear like a big pile of shit at first sight.

Where I have been:
7 days Canggu, Bali
7 days Medewi, Bali
9 days, Canggu, Bali
1 day Manado, Sulawesi
5 days Bunaken, Sulawesi
1 day Manado, Sulawesi
3 days Kadidiri, Togean Islands, Sulawesi
2 days Tentena, Sulawesi
4 days Tanah Toraja, Sulawesi
3 days Pantai Bira, Sulawesi
1 day Makassar, Sulawesi
5 days Labuan Bajo, Flores
1 day Ruteng, Flores
8 days Canggu, Bali

Transportation used:
Taxi, Scooter, Plane, Small Ferry, Big Ferry, Huge Ferry, Private Cars, Public Buses, Minivans

The people, Strange rites and sites in Tanah Toraja, Surfing, Diving, The fact that I learned some Indonesian

Crowded lineups and stupid people of all sorts endangering others while surfing, Bali Hipsters

Types of accommodation:
Surfcamp, Homestay, Private Room, Nightbus, Ferry, Hotel, Bungalow

Diving Komodo, Scoring some good waves on Bali, Seeing dragons

Being stung by a jellyfish followed by 4 hours of indescribable agony

Photos shot and kept on file:

What’s next:
A short stint in Singapore to see good friends and then 3 weeks Malaysia.

Below I put a selection of my favorite Indonesia pictures. I hope you enjoyed my reports and the accompanying photographs. I will try to keep the updates coming regularly. In the meantime feel free to message me or share your thoughts about your experiences traveling Laos or traveling in general. Thanks all for stopping by and the positive feedback. That really keeps me motivated.

Categories: Indonesia, Roundups | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

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22 thoughts on “Roundup Indonesia: Surfing, Skulls and Dragons

  1. It was fun following you adventure around Indonesia 🙂

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Hehe thanks for following. It was a really nice trip. Probably one of the better countries I have traveled so far. Greetings from KL.

  2. peter montgomery

    great adventure Philipp , only been to bali in indonesia [ like another 20 million aussies ] and i was not fussed [ that was 1984 ] . far too many of my countrymen there .
    we will be in biri from the 21st sept , big party at villa amor on the 22nd .

    all the best

    regards peter

    • Hi Peter. What’s the party occasion? I think if you have not liked Bali back then, you wont even less right now.It is so busy and packed with your countrymen. I am not sure if I will ever return. Have fun at the party and have a cold San Mig for me! Phiipp

  3. Great post and awesome pictures!

  4. Surfing, Skulls and Dragons? Sounds like from a dream tbh 🙂 Oh and is that kid smoking in that picture? lovely post 😉

    • Hi Fred, thanks for your feedback. I really appreciate it. And yeah that kid was smoking a cigarette. While it was doing it, some adults where standing around laughing while I took the picture. Different world 😉

  5. Pingback: Underwater Heaven, Bunaken Island | Gisel's

  6. sounds amazing! I’m going backpacking there in the beginning of march so it’s nice to get info from your blog 🙂

    • Hi Maxine, glad you liked my little report. I am sure you will have a very nice trip in March. How long will you stay and what does your itinerary look like then? Cheers, Philipp

      • Staying for 2-3 months. Itinerary is very vague at this point, because I just arrived in Thailand and I’m still trying to figure out my time here! But I know I want to go to as many places as possible.

    • Hey Maxine, 2-3 months sounds very good. Have fun and enjoy. If you need some travel tips or help in terms of possible itineraries, just let me know. Always glad to help. Cheers, Philipp

  7. Melina

    Breathtaking pictures!

    • Hi Melina, welcome and thanks for stopping by my blog. Thanks for your compliment, glad you like my pictures. Have you been to Asia or any plans of going? Cheers, Philipp

  8. Hi, I was wondering whether you know of any surfing part in Sulawesi?

    • Hey there, to be honest I haven’t come across any surfing spots while in Sulawesi and I crossed the whole island. However, as I traveled along the coast, I saw what looked like some promising breaks. But yeah, I was in a minivan, no chance to really check it out. I think, if you have the time, Sulawesi might make for a nice and exciting surfing safari which maybe let you discover some hidden gems…. Let me know if you find something 😉

  9. Your photos are amazing!

    • Thanks so much, glad you liked my photographs. Always trying to capture the moment but the Philippines just offer a lot of great photo opportunities …..

  10. I’m headed there for two months in October/November. I don’t’ really have a plan. Thanks for sharing all your photos and stories. It will help us in planning and gives me something to look forward to as I work these next 5 weeks!

    • Wow, that sounds great Jeff. I am a bit jelous. Let me know how it goes. It’s great how you find the time to travel so often…something I still need to achieve. Cheers and happy travels …

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