What would you trade for perfect waves? If you’re a true surfer, the answer to this question should have your firstborn child sweating in their boots.
In times of plenty, this is a question of money and annual leave, with ~safety~ a haze in the background. That’s what travel insurance is for, after all, and you didn’t need that plasma TV anyway.
But we’re currently under the boot of a pandemic, with many would-be globe trotters sitting at home, board bags gathering mould and tropical wax smirking on the shelf.
If you wish to travel now, you need to take into account swathes of legal and geopolitical dynamics, figuring out whether your home country will let you leave, whether the place you want to go will let you in, and whether your home country will take you back.
That’s before we get into the risks of being forced to shell out to fly home in business class (a phenomenon which has affected many Australians returning from abroad in recent months).
Suffice to say: most citizens with regular jobs are not keen to risk their health, their reputation (see: travel shaming) and their annual leave on what could easily turn out to be a botched mission.
There are others, however, who make a living from flitting around the world surfing perfect waves, and have the time and financial resources for continuing to do so to be worth their while in 2020.
And – as the following clips of 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater show – it’s not so much a case of “even now” as “especially now” as the waves in Bali appear to be pumping, with significantly less crowds than usual.
Kelly was recently spotted surfing Uluwatu and Padang Padang and footage of his exploits has been uploaded to Instagram by both the Surfers Of Bali and Stab Magazine accounts.
Underneath the clip posted by Stab Magazine, various comments expressed their surprise and jealousy Kelly Slater was able to jet off to surf in Bali.
“Under what permit was Kelly allowed into Country?”
“Yes I’ve been going to Bali up to 4 times a year chasing swells and holidays for almost 30 years and it’s killing me my family and I can’t go this year. We are missing seeing our friends the relaxing fun times and the perfect waves. Then you see the goat just romps in.”
Underneath the Surfers Of Bali video, one commenter was furious: “The fucking world is suppose to be shut down…double standards the fuckers.”
Under both posts these types of comments led to discussions on exactly how one would, hypothetically, get into Indonesia right now.
“Speak to kandui villas. They can get you in for a price,” one said (a claim that appears to check out).
Another said you can “get a business sponsorship from a local firm.”
“As a long-term expat living in Indonesia,” another remarked, “it’s just standard procedure. If you got the coin you can do whatever you like… Basically!”
“There’s a class of visa that applies to professional sports people, coaches, entertainers etc. benefits of being the GOAT too.”
“But I agree it’s disrespectful to the greater community that just because you’ve got some sort of reckoning you’re good to go, that’s bullshit. Especially whilst so many people are restricted by this plandemic! Hard moral grounds right here and I do not agree.”
Others were more succinct: “dolla dolla bill yall!!!”
Others were more forgiving, with one asking, “How is Slats NOT a diplomat to Indo?” and another saying: “He’s the [GOAT]. He should be allowed. He’s earned that.”
The general consensus can perhaps be summed up with the following comment: “not that hard to get in especially over JKT. Question is how you get back.”
Further videos show Kelly Slater isn’t the only professional surfer enjoying late-season Indonesia, on (what would appear to be) business.
This all comes after Bali considered letting international visitors (including Australians) visit from September, but ultimately decided to ban foreign tourists for the rest of 2020 over the virus (leading credence to the claims Kelly must be there on business).