My legs and arms are sore.
Muscles I haven’t used for a while are aching and it hurts a bit when walk around.
I returned this afternoon from a surfing trip with some mates who like me, live here on the Island. It is something we do only occasionally now but I wished we did more often. We left Singapore on Friday afternoon and drove to the west coast of Malaysia. Where we go is an off-the-beaten-path beach that few people know about.
It is our secret place.
The last 20 miles or so are driven down a track that the jungle has mostly taken back and the way is rutted and bumpy.
A four-wheel drive is required.
The beach is shaded with palm trees and the sand is snow white. The turquoise blue water has waves that break left-handed over a sand bank that sits a hundred or so meters offshore. It suits me well as I am a goofy foot.
I will not explain what a goofy foot is as I simply couldn’t be bothered.
Other surfers will know what I mean.
I have surfed many times with the friends I went away with. We have surfed together in Indonesia and South Africa and Japan and Australia – and it is the main thing that binds us. We all grew up on beaches but we are otherwise quite different people – as should be the case.
No two persons are alike but there are synergies and passions and a sort of synchronicity with things that on occasion brings people together.
Coherence is a funny thing.
It is wonderful too.
I treasure such moments.
I really do
Surfing to me – and I think to my mates as well - is a Zen type experience. It is not a sport but it is a fleeting state when you momentarily harness the pulse and the energy of the ocean. On the instant when you capture and ride a swell - there is a oneness with it.
The ocean that is.
It is both an exhilarating and a soothing experience where the outside world disappears.
For me it is a sense of belonging.
It is really nice.
The disconnection from the world when we go to the secret beach is prepossessing too. There is no mobile phone reception and we all like that.
We sleep on the beach and light a fire at night – not because it is cold – on the contrary – we live in the tropics. We do it because it is cozy - and to cook of course. Mosquito repellent is mandatory but effective and we take basic supplies of water and food staples. Quite often we fish and eat what we catch but on this occasion we grabbed some fish and fruit and vegetables from the local village. One of the boys is a chef at a pretty famous restaurant on the Island and he happily whips us up dinner and lunch.
We pluck mangoes from the jungle for our breakfast.
We gorge ourselves on them.
I love sleeping on the beach and it reminds me of my childhood days when we would do the same thing. We would boil up mussels scraped from the rocks and dive and catch crayfish and boil them too and we would laugh a lot.
Those were the days.
Even though sleep is usually my enemy, after a day in the surf slumber is easy. It is deep too. I am easily lulled by the wash of the waves on the beach. The breaking waves seductively whisper to me and the voice of the ocean is endless.
It is a seductive and soothing and sensuous sound.
It is perpetual too.
The torpor we all experience is a splendid thing and we wake fresh and invigorated.
Apart from the surfing and the sleeping on the beach it is the conversations that I have with the mates that I like the most. I often wonder what girls talk about when they go away together and I am sure it is quite different from what blokes chat about.
With this particular group and on this particular occasion we talked about the futility of wars and the meaning of life. Two amongst us were South Africans who were children in the times of apartheid. I was enthralled when they talked of the cruelty that they experienced and were a part of - and their description of the joy that erupted when De Clerk released Mandela and how the anger and the tension and the injustice of the nation dissipated.
I asked a lot of questions - as I am prone to do.
It was frightening and fascinating.
We talked about the conflicts in Gaza and the Ukraine and Afghanistan and the horror of the Malaysian Airline plane that was shot from the sky. We pondered about man’s inhumanity to man and the abhorrence of violence. We talked too about love and hope and music and books and we conversed too about innovation technology and the environment. We laughed quite a bit as well as we remembered moments of joy we had shared on other trips.
Riding other waves.
Before we all fell to sleep we all sat quietly for a while looking out at the splendor of the ocean and I think reflecting on who we were and what was our place in the world.
I did anyway.
Before sleep engulfed me I stared at the stars in the sky and I took in their beauty. We don’t see them in Singapore for the unnatural illuminations hide them from us. I felt a state I can only describe as contentment - but it was much more than that – as I knew with absolute certainty that the stars were watching me.
They were watching over me.
We all awoke at dawn as the red-pink sun broke over the horizon. The shriek of monkeys and the squawk of birds from the jungle roused us. As we shook sleep from our eyes and we peeled and gorged ourselves on the wicked mangoes we had picked the day before, we saw dark storm clouds gather in the distance and coming our way. We saw flashes of lightning and heard crackles of thunder.
Wiping mango juice from our faces we grinned knowingly at each other. Not a word was said as we quickly waxed our boards, fixed our leg-ropes and half trotted to the sea. The water calmed as we paddled out and the rain started to fall – slowly at first and then in driving sheets.
The swell was big and clean and we caught wave after wave while bolts crepitated the sky and peels of thunder boomed.
It was a magical moment.
It was a perfect climax.
When the storm passed we paddled in and toweled ourselves down and we drove back to Singapore – mostly in silence.
We were enraptured I think in waves of rumination.
I am enraptured still.