Tag Archives: sports

Sweet like Candi

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Candidasa is a mystical land full of ancient temples, turquoise beach, and angry monkeys, but the only way to truly appreciate it is from the air. This isolated collection of beaches along the Balinese coast have provided me with an aerial playground that has proven to be nothing short of mind-blowing and life-changing. In short, this place is fucking amazing.

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The launch is unusual in itself, because it’s located on a peanut plantation overlooking the sea. Locals chatter and laugh among themselves, while dogs root each other in the scrub. Once off the ground,the flight is as daunting as it is awe-inspiring, with the whole world opening up  beneath my glider.

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It’s a big hill that reaches far into the Oriental sky, and the ride up there took me over thick jungle and screeching monkeys. Far above me dozens of gliders soared through the sky, and it was a surreal experience making the slow ascension to the ‘bubble’ where they hung together at the peak of the world. It was truly breathtaking stuff.

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I’m not going to lie, I was absolutely shitting myself during my first flight in Candi. It took me half an hour to pluck up the courage to take my hands off my brakes long enough to turn on my vario. But despite feeling like it was my first flight all over again, that first climb to the roof of Bali is something I will never forget. It was epic, and truly life-changing.

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I got so much height that I made it to cloudbase for the very first time – and even swung my glider through the clouds a few times, which was a heart-stopping experience. Never have I been surrounded by so much beauty, with the freedom to explore it all (well, never outside of a Thai knock shop).

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The landing is on a long stretch of black sand, dotted with traditional fishing boats. There’s a tiny village seeming untouched by the western world, full of children who think dead chickens make excellent toys and topless women who are really good at balancing stuff on their heads. There are also icy cold beers, making it the perfect place to land (as long as it’s not on one of the boats).

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There’s only one way to celebrate such an epic day, and that’s with a dozen Bintangs and a bunch of good mates. There are plenty of great places to drink beer by the water in Candi, with all sorts of tiny bars and warungs. There are more restaurants in the hills surrounding and along the main road, where bars boast awful Asian cover bands with long hair and only a rudimentary grasp of the concept of music.

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I even got lucky with a big-titted local. She’s the quiet type and and a bit on the heavy side (and I also suspect she’s a stoner), but I feel like this could be the start of a long, loving relationship…

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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.