Post thanks to Gath Nicholls find out more about his surfing travels here
I just spent 11 days in Karang Nyimbor hotel near Krui in South Sumatra with a couple of mates and I thought I’d share my experience and some tips on staying here.
Organisation and travel:
How you get to Indonesia is up to you but we arrived via Singapore and Sumatra and then got a connection (with Garuda Air) to Bandar Lampung airport, whereupon we were collected by a taxi organised by the hotel.
We organised the whole trip with Steve, the hotel’s agent, who’s contactable through the website and Facebook. He was helpful in figuring out what to expect and what to bring etc. TIP: Steve’s email address is only on Facebook, not the website.
When you arrive in Indonesian airports you will get accosted by porters who will try to carry your stuff for money – not worth it if you ask me, so don’t let them take your bags unless you want to pay for the privilege.
You should hopefully be met by your taxi driver outside of Bandar Lampung airport (make sure you confirm arrival/departure dates with Steve to be passed on before you arrive) and then it’s a good 5/6 hour drive over the mountains to get to the camp. It was a bit of a shock experiencing how people drive over here but you get used to it! We stopped for a refreshing coffee about half way along and stopped to buy drinks too – just ask your driver if you need to stop. TIP: We drove through a torrential downpour over the mountains and it soaked our board bags on the roof so if you’re packing clothes in yours like I did prepare for them to get wet possibly.
When you get to the hotel you should be met by the lovely manager Lina, who will show you to your cabins and get you settled. TIP: I’d recommend going for the bamboo cabins over the cheaper accommodation. At US$35/day including three meals it’s not going to break the bank and they’re nice rooms. You’ll get two good mosquito netted beds per cabin and they have a good ensuite bathroom. You can buy toilet paper if you need it but I’ve actually grown to love the hose cleaning method they have here – I reckon we should embrace it in the west!
Despite what the website says the place has pretty decent WiFi so that’s good.
You’ll get three solid meals a day here and there’s an Indo Maret (small supermarket) just 10 minutes down the road so you won’t be going hungry. Breakfast is either an omelette with toast, a couple of ‘jaffles’ (toasted egg sandwiches) or banana pancakes and lunch and dinner are a variety of tasty Indonesian offering, mostly fish though. TIP: You can buy 2L bottles of ‘Pocari Sweat’ (an isotonic drink) from Indomaret for about US$0.9 and it’s worth drinking to keep your fluids and salts up. TIP: They provide clean water from a water cooler that you can fill up from but don’t drink the tap water. We didn’t get sick surprisingly but your mileage may vary! You can get a cold 750ml Bintang at the hotel for about US$3 which is a pretty good deal.
Transport around the area:
Lina can organise scooters for you for about US$6.5 per day and we just got some for the whole time. You’ll need them to get around and they come with board racks. TIP: Take care strapping your board on in a such a way that it doesn’t rub on the rack – I got a pressure ding from the board touching the rack. We didn’t get helmets but it’d probably be a good idea. TIP: Don’t leave anything valuable in your scooter when you park outside of the camp as local kids will crack the seat open and steal it. My scooter had a removable panel inside the seat above the battery though that I would keep a bit of money under and that never got stolen. Take your key with you out in the surf – the local kids will dig all around your scooter trying to find it if you bury it.
You can fill up your scooter either at the petrol stations dotted around or from locals that sell it on the side of the road. Petrol was about US$0.8/L and you’ll probably need about 2L to fill a scooter – pretty economical!
When riding around it’s good to give a warning honk when you’re overtaking someone and to listen for people overtaking you. It’s not much fun riding through bug swarms at night time so don’t leave it too late to head home! The roads suck for the most part around here; it’s like driving on the moon so just take your time.
The locals are for the most part really friendly and helpful. The local kids will hassle you for money all the time but you can just say ‘tidak money’ (no money) and they’ll get the idea. I think people overstate the need to blend in to local culture (covering up etc) – I think they have a pretty good idea of what westerners are like over here and you don’t need to walk on eggshells etc – just be polite and respectful and you’ll be fine.
There’s a honking left hand point break over a reef just in front of the hotel that barrels top to bottom on a good day. The break is shared by a few other surf camps so it’s usually pretty busy but just wait your turn and don’t get caught on the inside! We found it was best to head out around the corner to the left of the hotel to avoid a currenty area. Just ask someone who’s already there and they’ll let you know. TIP: Be aware of black urchins in the reef as you walk out. They seem to be in patches so they can be avoided but I stood on one on the first day it sucked!
If you want something less reefy there are good beach breaks along Mandiri Beach to the north and there’s also a good peak at Krui (called Krui Peak unsurprisingly). We travelled south a bit and found some other good beachies and a pretty fun reef break. We didn’t bother going up to Jenny’s right as it’s about three hour’s hard scootering to get there. There are some maps here to get your bearings but just ask for advice and you’ll figure it out.
Health and safety: Bring a reasonable first aid kit with you (dressings, bandages, antiseptic cream, alcohol wipes, gloves) and be diligent with antiseptic cream on whatever cuts you get… and yes, you will get cuts. There’s a good nurse in nearby Biha that stitched up a good fin cut I got – Lina can take you there by car should the need arise. Be sure to get a receipt from the nurse if you need to claim travel insurance. Mossies come out at night and they don’t make any noise so be sure to use a high level DEET repellent and cover up. I’m on anti malarial pills too so we’
ll see if I end up with Malaria…fingers crossed. Don’t surf near river mouths as they can harbour typhoid and other nasty things. We saw one snake whilst here but I don’t know what kind of threat the pose; don’t go thrashing about the jungle I guess.
As an indication we stayed here for 11 days and spent about US$450-500 I think all up. Accommodation and food are rolled in for about US$350 and then we probably spent an extra 100 on beers and snacks and scooter rental etc. TIP: You can cash out at Krui with a Mastercard but not Visa and the nearest Visa ATM is three hours away.
It’s been a fantastic 11 days, we surfed our nips off, didn’t get too badly cut up, didn’t shit ourselves and it’s been a great adventure all round. I’d heartily recommend Karang Nyimbor Hotel to anyone that’s considering the area – the staff are very welcoming, facilities excellent and the surf cranks down here. Good luck and bon voyage!