No skiing for TimmyP thus far. In lieu, I have been in Bali, Indonesia since September. Here are some stories:
Early January, a couple friends and I traveled to Aceh, the northernmost province on the island of Sumatra. Get a map out! Aceh claims itself as, “The gateway of Islam to Indonesia” – ergo, devoutly Muslim. Sharia law is imposed. On Friday afternoons, when all men are to be praying at mosque and women at home, the Islamic Police — Muslim equivalent of nuns – patrol the streets, with megaphones and all. No beer as well. Historically the province is fiercely independent. The Aech rebels (GAM) fought the Indonesian military since the 70s. The fighting more or less ended with the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 in which 60000 people in the capital city of Banda Aceh were killed.
Despite its history and appearances, the place is pretty laid back. Its citizens are extremely hospitable and friendly. Sharia is not all that enforced. Friends joked around about hiding out of view from the Islamic Police. I only saw two burkas. Uncharacteristic for Indonesia, Banda Aceh is clean and organized, and traffic flows smoothly. And we did find beer
Our friend and guide in town, Riva often played on his Blackberry, and said “Oh Fuck Shit Man!” as his go-to exclamation. But he did have to pray five times a day. Here, he gets us some coconuts from a lady with a machete.
Wave-wise, there was not a whole lot to choose from. With small swell surfing was limited Lhoknga Beach. There was a small reef right and reef left. But most of the time was spent on a punchy A-frame. With a small take-off zone and a handful of local kids with the place dialed, I inevitably cut off a few people.