Tag Archives: Nusa Dua

The Hamster Rides Again

After a few weeks spent tearing up the skies above Nusa Dua and keeping the fine folks who brew Bintang in business, Alan and I packed up our gliders and headed to the gorgeous Balinese village of Candidasa to continue our adventure. Within minutes of hitting town we were up on the hill, launching out over the sparkling ocean. Alright, I went into a tree first, but after a while I managed a half-decent launch and climbed into the sky. As a flying site, Candi is one of the best of the planet. With a 400m cliff jutting out of the water, it’s easy to rise to 700 or 800 metres, which offers not only a top view but the option to practice all sorts of fun stuff like wingovers and spirals without worrying about splatting into the ground. It’s an awesome spot, and I was stoked to be able to test my new-found skills and experience at a place where, just one year ago, I was terrified to fly. Al and I landed after a few hours and raced back to our luxurious hotel, the Puri Oka, to have sex with each other meet up with the notorious Richard ‘The Hamster’ Ham, who blazed a path of destruction through Candidasa last year. A big fan of a good knee-up and known to get legless at any opportunity, I couldn’t wait to smash a bucket bucketload of Bintangs with him. Hamster’s the sort of bloke you’d expect to find swigging metho-and-Fanta cocktails and shitting in his neighbour’s letterbox, so I was surprised when he sashayed into the Puri Oka wearing clown pants and carrying a yoga mat under one heavily-tattooed arm. “Point me towards the nearest gluten-free lentil burger, and then I’m going to re-align my chakra in the spirt dojo upstairs,” he lisped, while Al and I exchanged astonished glances. “Oh, and from now on you can call me Ocean. The power of my positivity ebbs and flows across the planet.” I thought he was taking the piss, but Hamster did indeed order a bland, salad-stuffed meal, while lambasting Al and I for tucking into chips and schnitzels. As he continued to dribble on about healthy diets and the power of positivity, I couldn’t help feeling like I’d lost a mate and gained a hippy imbecile. When he started praising the Black Lives Matter movement and passionately talking about the importance of gay marriage, I realised I had to put my foot down. I ordered three large Bintangs, hoping Hamster would have one and return to form, but I was left heartbroken.

“I’ll have a glass of tap water, served at room temperture, but only if it’s been sourced ecologically,” he minced, before looking up an astology app on his phone. Al and I decided we’d seen enough, and took matters into our own hands. Al, a former professional wrestler (under the name Balls Sackington), took Hamster down and prised his mouth open. “I abhor violence!” Hamster tried to splutter, but I stepped over him and poured a full bottle of Bintang into his mouth. From the way he shook and struggled, you’d think I’d poured acid down his throat. The effect, however, was just what I’d hoped for. As soon as he calmed down, Hamster reached into his pants, scratched his balls, perved at a hot chick walking by in a bikini, and told me to get him another fuckin’ beer or he’d smash me. He had a couple of icy cold Bintangs in his hands within seconds, and was soon on his way to oblivion. The Hamster was back and better than ever! He started cracking jokes and snapping the bras on any girl who made the mistake of walking past him. We ended up in town at a disco, with Hamster gyrating in an incredibly sensual manner, and he soon worked up such a sweat that he needed to remove his clothes or risk a nasty case of spontaneous human combustion. His disrobing caused girls to rush the dancefloor, and in their lustful rage they managed to tear all of my clothes off, too. They left my undies on for reasons I can’t quite explain, so try to overlook that obvious loophole in my story. I swear this is true, though. Anyway, long story short, after I boned half a dozen babes and Hamster resisted because he’s gay a happily married man, we needed to rehydrate, so we swaggered over to the nearest Alfamart for a drink. “Oh no, not you fuckwits again,” said the little bloke behind the counter, recalling a similar incident 12 months earlier that almost got us kicked out of Indonesia. “But what happen to the one of you? Weren’t you a fat cunt last time? But this other man with the tattoo, he is still sexy. I dream of him every night.” We managed to get the shop assistant to stop wanking for long enough to take our photo, then raced out of there before we could be arrested. As we hurtled down the street, we saw Al arm-wrestling a lesbian and dragged him home with us, leaving the locals of Candidasa wondering which Hindu god they’d pissed off enough to deserve another visit from the Flying Hamster.

Thelma and Louise Go Flying

If there’s a more inspirational film than the 1991 classic Thelma & Louise, I’m yet to see it. The tale of two lesbians who smoke some poor bloke and then travel all over the place in a fancy car before driving it off a cliff provides lessons that we should all live by. Also, Geena Davis was pretty hot back then. So when Al, who looks a little like Geena in the right light, asked me to fly into uncharted territory with him, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

We were cruising around above Pandawa Beach, when the wind shifted south and we realised we could start edging further and further around the bottom of the Balinese coast. Kilometres of rugged and remote beaches lay begging to be explored, and before long we found ourselves cruising through uncharted territory. The height we found was extraordinary, and it was exciting to escape from the restraints of the popular flying sites.

It’s a beautiful part of the world, with shear cliffs topped by million-dollar houses and exclusive resorts. Bikini-clad babes looked up from their expensive cocktails to watch us float by, most likely hoping that we would land nearby and pop in for a shag. But Al and I had eyes only for each other the end of the island, so we kept pushing forward. There were a few dodgy moments, but we stuck together and made it work.

“How far are we going to go?” I asked, my voice trembling.

“To the end of the world, baby,” came the unwavering reply. “To the end of the world… together.” The landscape became even wilder and more amazing as we swept past stunning beaches and misty mountains. Finally, we reached the headland that marked the start of Uluwatu, on the western coast of the island. We’d made it as far as two brave pilots could ever hope, and swung around to start the long, slow slog back to launch. The sun was fading and the headwind was powerful, but we knew we could make it.

Unfortunately, just like in Thelma & Louise, this story was not to have a happy ending. Coming back around a monstrous headland, we ran into wild rotor that threw us around and sent us scuttling towards the beach hundreds of metres below.

“Looks like we’re going down on each other,” Al called over the radion.

“Don’t you mean we’re going down together?” I asked, sure that he’d simply made a linguistic fuck up.

“Erm, yes, I guess that’s it,” he replied slimily.

I fluttered to the ground next to an ancient shipwreck, and looked around at a beach seemingly untouched by the hand of man.

I was packing up my gear and wondering how the hell I’d get out of there, when a funny little man wearing oven mitts climbed out of a nearby bush and started talking to me in broken Engrish. I thought he was a local hobo and was about to brush him, when I noticed he was plucking his wing out of a nearby bush. He introduced himself as Lee, from Japan, and an instant bond was formed between us. I saw him as a mentor; he saw me as the son he’d never had.

Even though our landing spot was as remote as the chances of Penny Wong taking out the next Miss Universe competition, it’s never hard to get a beer in Bali, so Al and I relaxed with a few Bintangs while Lee kicked back with a cocktail served in a coconut, complete with tiny umbrella and extravagant crazy straw to suck it through. It was a surreal vision in such an out-of-the-way spot.

It was fortunate that we rehydrated, because the climb back up the cliff was steep enough to have a Nepalese sherpa calling it quits. When we finally made it to the top we were treated to a (well-deserved) hero’s welcome by the local villagers, who showered us with love and affection and free nasi goreng. It was the best day of my life… until I caught Al and Lee walking out from behind a tree with guilty looks on their faces. I was crushed.

What a fuckin’ day! It was an epic journey and one of the most memorable flights I’ve had. Al and I pushed our limits and tested our skills, and we were rewarded with stunning views and an effort that we can be truly proud of. Every day of flying in Bali is brilliant, but that afternoon spent high above the beaches of southern Bali has to top it all. And after having some time to reflect on what happened, I wish Al and Lee all the best in the future. Keep flying high, you crazy kids.

Final landing

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After nearly three weeks flying through the buoyant skies of Bali, from Nusa Dua to Candidasa, it’s time to pack up my wing and get out of here. During my time here I’ve ridden on dodgy motorbikes, danced in the street, met cool people, eaten weird food, been chased by monkeys, chased women, upset the locals, been hauled around in a rape truck, and sunk more bottles of Bintang than my liver wants to remember.

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It’s been a truly special few weeks that I will carry with me forever. But it’s time to move on, and there’s a plane waiting to take me to Korea, so that I can explore another strange land and get myself into trouble with a different set of locals. More than anything, I just want to sleep, because me and Rich got on the Bintangs last night and I didn’t make it to bed until 2:30am. The best bit is, it wasn’t my bed (and it wasn’t Rich’s. either, before you come to conclusions).

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Big thanks to everyone who made the tour so fucking awesome. Mark and Chris from Cloudbase, who organised it all. My mates old and new, who drank with me until two in the morning most nights (you’ve gotta love the fact paragliding is an afternoon sport). The Indos who cooked me food and brought me cold beer on command. And the Hindu Wind Gods, who certainly came to the party. Right, I’m off, see you all in Korea!

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Trees-ed to meet you!

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I haven’t received many standing ovations in my life. There was the time I came third in the under-8 boys mini tramp competition at Gosford Youth Centre a few decades ago, the day I came second in a pie-eating contest, and that’s about it. Even the ovation I received from impressed onlookers after scoring with a big-titted water nymph after paragliding didn’t really happen – I stole the story from my sexy Brazilian friend Ricardo, who can’t walk down the street without a conga line of  super models forming behind him.

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I should enter this shot in a photography comp. It would win and I could use the prizemoney to buy beer

So I was shocked but delighted to be met by roaring applause upon returning to my hotel tonight after another hard day of flying. Had I broken a long standing distance record? Had I impressed everyone with my aerial trickery? Maybe they were simply exhibiting belated appreciation of my dancing skills? Nup. I just landed my wing in a fuckin’ tree.

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Gettin’ higher than a first year yooni student

Unusually, it wasn’t a great day of flying. The Hindu Wind Gods must’ve slept in, and by 3 o’clock I was resigned to killing a few Bintangs and listening to the Raiders lose on the wireless. But when the wind did turn up, I was the hill, back to the setting sun and wing slicing through the evening air.

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Perfect form on launch (it’ not me, obviously)

It was a strange flight. There was a wedding going on in one of the hotels below, and if I’d flown any lower I could’ve zipped in and grabbed a canape and the phone number of one of the bridesmaids before scooting off. They decided to release thousands of balloons shortly after I launched, which created a wacky diversion for the crew. At least they didn’t release a whole bunch of doves.

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Heading for the temple

The ride didn’t last long (words the majority of my ex-girlfriends have spoken at some point) and I had to make a run to the beach after half an hour or so. It was a fun end to a brilliant week, and only a clean landing stood between me and a night of drinking icy cold Bintangs and dancing on tables while Indonesian men threw money at me with my mates. Just aim it at the huuuge patch of sand and we’re sweet.

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This is Rudi, an Indonesian dude who spent the entire afternoon taking selfies in front of us as we stood around. He probably has a photo of me and him as his Facebook profile pic

Yep, I ended up hanging my lovely wing over a bloody bush. It sounds a bit sexy, but it really wasn’t. While I wasn’t hurt, the bush was huge and spiky, and the lines of my glider were as wrapped up in it as a housewife is in the adventures of Ellen DeGeneres and her fellow gay ladies. It was going to take some seriously high-tech actions to get it out.

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Poor Kenny!

Enter Hamster and a styrofoam boat he stole off some locals and proceeded to destroy, and Jed with a massive length of bamboo that the locals probably use to beat infidels. As funny as the situation was, the boys really went out of their way to help me, which is just the way the paragliding community works, and I can’t thank them enough for it. Hamster, I owe you a beer or three. Jed, a Cornetto is on its way.

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Go, Hamster, go!

And so, when we turned up at the hotel, late and cut up and tired, the rest of the crew were washed and ready to head out – after letting me known how much they appreciated my efforts to wrap my wing around the biggest bush on the beach. It was embarrassing but also a great laugh, and a funny way to top off a day that showed off what paragliding is really all about – just getting out there and having fun with your mates.

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Photobombed by an albino

My wing was fine, which was just as well because the next day was to offer something very, very special.

Romeo of the skies

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Another day in Bali, another two-and-a-half hours souring through the big blue above Nusa Dua with my buddies from Cloudbase Paragliding. And I’ll tell ya, making it through a few hours’ of glorious flying was a bit of a surprise because I’ve been married to my toilet for the last couple of days and there aren’t too many brascos up there.

The conditions were brilliant and we were all able to get awesome height, towering over the cliffs of Pyong as we surfed the wind. There were fewer kamikaze Japs, more space, and plenty of opportunities to check out the reefs and temples from a few hundred metres above.

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When the wind picked up I was forced to take refuge on the beach – an exciting battle in itself, as I crawled the last kilometre at a speed slower than a Sydney Traoins rattler, before finally touching down just metres from where a beautiful young lady was swimming. Her tanned body seemed at one with the waves, and her face looked like something you’d kiss until your lips became numb and dropped off.

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I packed up my wing as quickly as possible and sauntered over to the girl, who was visibly impressed by my dramatic entrance. I tossed my helmet onto the sand, ripped off my shirt, stepped into the azure water and splashed over to the bikini-clad babe.
“Yeah, I descended from the heavens just to say hello to you,” I said nonchalantly. “No biggie.”

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The lass was understandably impressed, and there was an unmistakable electricity between us. She looked unbelievably good in a two-piece that made no attempt to cover her astonishing body, and the way she smiled at me told me there was a future for us. We kissed briefly and she told me to meet her at that same spot at 8pm.

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When I returned to the shore, a cluster of my fellow flyers gave me a standing ovation and offered high-fives and thumbs-up. I can’t recall how many called me a legend or the best dude they’ve ever met – but it was certainly in excess of five. I tried to explain that it was just another day in my life but they wouldn’t have it, showering me in free beer and chairing me off into the sunset. I spent the evening being hailed a hero by all who met me – I’m over here with some of the greatest paragliders in Australia, but to them, my achievements at the beach were all that mattered.

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I went back to that special spot at 8pm, flowers clutched in my hand, an excited look on my face, and love in my heart. And there she was, the girl of my dreams, kissing a chubby Indonesian bloke in the silvery moonlight. He looked at me, his ceremonial headdress draped over one eye, and laughed. I was crushed. I threw the flowers onto the sand and trudged into the night, alone with my sadness.

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My Cloudbase chums of Rich, Al and Jed took me out for pizza to cheer me up, where they assured me that I remain an inspiration to them. But their words were hollow and the pizza tasted sour. I’d found and lost love in the most dramatic way possible, but as I gobbled that last slice of pepperoni pizza and wiped sauce from from chin (pizza sauce, I should clarify), I realised that it wasn’t all bad – because life’s always good when you’re paragliding.

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Paragliding in paradise

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Forget about lying in the sun  and save the ladyboys for another day, because it’s time to get stuck into what I came to Bali to do – a shitload of paragliding. And thanks to the legends at Cloudbase and the Hindu Wind Gods, that’s exactly what’s been happening.

The skies above Nusa Dua have been swarming with gliders for weeks, and when our crew rocked up it made for a bloody awesome spectacle. There were as many as 37 pilots in the air at a time, and I’ve never even seen that many at the same time. Once I made it into the air, though, it was incredible, and I never wanted to come back down. I soared over resorts (I spent a lot of time above one in particular, because there was a really good-looking sheila lying by the pool), beaches and temples.

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There are also some mad Chinaman and kamikaze Japs flying around attached to glorified shopping bags, with little concern for their welfare. The same rules apply in the air as they do when driving – just stay the fuck away from the Asians, because they’re only ever a minute away from doing something stupid, and you’ll be sweet. While it took a bit of getting used to, learning how to fly in difficult conditions is important when it comes to becoming a better pilot.

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I’ve already clocked three-and-a-half hours of flight time over the first two days, which is mental, and that number is going to grow massively over the next two weeks. I’ve also made my first-ever top landing attempt (an utter failure) and my second (a massive success that brought tears to the eyes of all who witnessed it – and a few ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the local female paragliding groupies).

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Those watching on included a little Indo bloke who hangs out on the hill selling DVDs (of course), cigarettes (not surprising) and Viagra (whaaaaaaaat?) Honestly, mate, the last thing I want to worry about whilst avoiding suicidal Chinamen at 100m above the ground is maintaining an erection.

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After a very long day of flying, the crew piled into buses, Bintangs in hand, and headed back to our resort, where we had a quick splash in the pool and then piled back into buses, fresh Bintangs in hand, and rolled out to dinner. It was lucky the company was so good, because the meals took about an hour to arrive, and the bill about an hour and a half to settle. Ah well, it’s a small price to pay to be able to paraglide in such a fuckin’ great place.

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