Surf Photography – Lepas Episode 2 – ‘The Road to Ijen’
At the end of 2016, surf photographer Troy Lyndon Massey headed for Indonesia.
The aim was always to make a surf photographer web-series that goes beyond picturesque landscapes and perfect surf. For the ocean to be the lead roll, to show the sustenance it provides us and the freedom and peace it gives us as a place of refuge, no matter whether you’re rich, poor, local or tourist.
Upon meeting various people, the month-long trip turned into an adventure over 3 years with some of the most influential surfers and artists today. Creating pieces for some of the biggest brands and stadiums in California, United States.
All the while, establishing displays of surf photography all over the world.
Today in surfing and surf photography alike, there is a lot of emphasis on who is surfing the heaviest wave, doing the biggest airs, carving the highest spray and what’s the best equipment.
At its core, surfing has always truly been about scoring epic waves with friends and having fun. Adventures for swells that sometimes don’t materialize but instead take you on a whole different experience to areas and cultures you never knew existed.
Lepas which stands for ‘Free’ in the Bahasa Indonesia language aims to document these adventures.
Along the way filming the culture, landscape and surf. Portraying cultural qualities, the importance of community and helping each other.
Episode 2 – The Road to Ijen
Surf Photography Mission
As a Surf photographer, the plan was to head up from South Bali and over on the Gilimanuk barge to Java and down to the fabled surf break of G-land. Chasing a swell that was going to provide exceptional opportunity for shots of waves.
But, unfortunately the national park guard wouldn’t allow us into the area of Resort Rowobend0. I guess the g-land camps pay them off to control the break and the days of freesurfing this area like your Mike Boyum are long gone.
Although we didn’t get the picturesque surf photographs I had envisioned, It turned out to be for the best as what we came across next was by far the most humbling experience of my life to date.
We came across Nati, a 14 year old boy that climbed over 100 palm trees a day. He climbed the palms and re-cut the branch every day ensuring the sap continues to fill the buckets.
After his hard day of work, he took us to further into the jungle were his family offered ground space to rest and to see their process of refining the sap into ‘gula merah’ which is Indonesian for coconut sugar.
They use dried palm and husks to fuel the traditional clay fire-oven. Heating the sap until it thickens. Then it is stirred in a separate bowl, dried, crushed and granulated. The taste was incredible. We all sat around talking and just being stoked on each other’s company.
As we left, our presence was humbled by the Ancestral trees that lined this Javanese jungle. Some Hundreds, maybe thousands of years old.
We were on the road again….the road to Ijen.
As our time with Nati and his family drew to a close. We decided to head inland towards a sulfuric Volcano named Ijen.
We started climbing at 1:30am, Gringo Pato and I hiked through the night, finally reaching the summit just on sunrise.
After witnessing Nati’s lifestyle and discovering the life expectancy of sulphur miners in Ijen was no more than age 50, We left with a new perspective on things.
Home to Surf South Bali
With word of a small swell coming into Bali we decided to head home to spend some quality time surfing with Friends and family. This also meant I’d finally get an opportunity to do what i love most, Surf photography.
All of a sudden, it didn’t matter we didn’t score G-land. That’s sometimes how a surf trip goes, it’s the journey and the people that make it.
We were grateful. Grateful for what we had.