Apolcaypse Never

Last week I ventured to the little known town of Baler on the eastern coast of North Luzon in order to indulge in some of the areas famed waves, aided by a large and cumbersome surfboard. The only thing that Baler is known for is that it was the location for the ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’ scene in Apocalypse Now, where the army commander forces his boys to surf during a particularly nasty bout of napalming of the local village. Today there is little remnants of those heady days of firebombing and death (simulated only, of course). Baler is a town that is wonderful, slow paced and friendly but, unfortunately, that didn’t extend to the weather while I was there and the day I took my camera out with me was certainly not the best to reflect the beauty of the area.

A lovely house in Baler town

A view up towards Charlie's Point on a breezy day

With nothing but a fading memory of poor surfing practice in Australia over 5 years ago I waded cautiously into the wind beaten surf  on an afternoon where none of the locals seemed keen to venture out. The woman in the surf rental shop assured me it was just because it was cold, however I was aware of only a humid and positively balmy feel to the air, I figured it was more to do with the relentless wind and rain that was stopping them, because the waves looked perfect. Five minutes in and I had been paddling hard, gulping down several mouthfuls of sea water but progressing steadily to the point where the waves stop smashing you and you can sit and ponder, waiting for the perfect wave to pick you up and take you towards the shore. Suddenly a large wave knocked me off my board and, to my dismay, I fell into water that came up only to my nipples. I turned around and noted dispiritedly that I had traveled perhaps 20 metres from the shore. I sighed, jumped aboard and paddled on.

Fifty minutes later I returned to the surf shop, tired but excited. After the initial difficulty and fear I had managed to get the hang of paddling out and then turning, catching a wave and falling wildly and extravagantly into the water. I repeated this several times and then, with the rain still belting down and figuring that I’d given even the most hardened of locals a run for their money, in terms of foolish effort alone, decided to call it a day.


Unfortunately that was all the surfing I did in Baler as there was no cash point in the town and I didnt have enough money to rent a board again, so I moved on to the place I am currently residing, back with my friend in the mountains.

Two days ago we ventured down to a local waterhole which I had visited when I came here before. That time I was ill and the 10 metre jump into the pool below was a no go for me. Well, with my body and mind in tip top form I spoke eagerly, almost arrogantly, to both Gerald and the other WWOOFers about how I would do the jump this time.

“Oh it’s not so high really is it?” said Luke, an Australian WWOOFer, with an easy tone as he edged towards me, and the ledge I was standing on. Luke had come up to the jump point because I needed some encouragement in fulfilling my boasts. The problem for me was not the height, it was the two huge plants that had grown in the way of the flight path over the past three months. I just couldn’t get my head around having to jump through them.

“Let me get up to there, where you are…Ah, maybe it is pretty high” said Luke, somewhat more soberly.

“Do you want me to count you down from three?” I asked him cautiously. He had, to my relief, somehow taken up the role of being the first to jump, a role which I handed over to him with skill and guile.

“Ok, I’m gonna go” he said and sure enough, Splash. ‘Well, with that out of the way I have little choice’ I thought and followed him over. A slight brush with some leaves on the way down and I was submerged, happy and adrenaline fuelled, “I’m gonna do one more!” I said.

When I got back up to the top all I could think was, “Why, exactly, did I decide to come back up?”

The view from the jump, the waterhole is just to the right.

The waterhole

Here is a link to an interesting little article on meditation: http://ambud.net/mindfulnes/

Some of the guys I did Vipassana with, after being able to talk!


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