Stab Magazine | Harrison Roach’s Guide To Staying Sane In Remote Indonesia
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Harrison Roach’s Guide To Staying Sane In Remote Indonesia

And related stories from behind the ‘South To Sian’ film.

cinema // Jul 15, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

“In a time where there are fences around everything, and we are denied the instinct of self-preservation, it is difficult to find a place free from rules and restrictions, but not yet impossible.” Harrison Roach narrates as the frame widens revealing two men on dirt bikes blazing off towards a distant volcano, a tail of black ash behind them. South To Sian, Dustin Humphrey’s latest film, documents the two-year-long Indonesian expedition of Harrison and pal Zye Norris. With their 1970s four-wheel-drive, one tent and a broad-spectrum quiver, the pair surf ridiculously fine waves, explore active volcanos and blast around on their Deus two-wheelers seeking a return to the traditional surf adventure. The full feature just dropped through Garage Entertainment, so if you’re looking to dive straight into it, head here. 

Harrison, a well spoken fellow, writes and narrates the words you’ll hear throughout the film, bringing added context and feels to the piece. After a short exchange with the man, Stab compiled a few key learnings from his off-piste Indonesian wanderings:

Drive a reliable vehicle. Though it may get mega likes on Instagram, a European car made forty years ago will not deliver in sub-par rural Indonesian transport infrastructure. Keep it practical!

“Our car was really old and I don’t think it appreciated how much stuff we weighed it down with. Especially the bikes. The engine and suspension might have handled the load when it was in its prime, but its prime was at least a few decades before we got to it. We always made it work in the end but it was a constant struggle keeping the thing going.”

06 18 LOMBOK CAR003204

Looks tough enough, but she’s been wearing for years.

1 Lombok South To Sian Wall Photos158

The right vehicle can get you here.

Pack fruity boards. Not as many as Harrison and Zye did on this trip. But, if you’re off-grid and the swell pulls a Harry Houdini on you then a fun board or two can keep things entertaining. Just remember to switch back when the energy returns.

“The waves in Indonesia are so diverse. It made it easy to switch the boards up. I loved rolling up to waves I hadn’t seen before, wondering what board would suit and knowing that I had almost every base covered. I rode them all. There were plenty of times however, that I paddled out on the wrong one.”

1 Sumatra South To Sian Photos104

“I rode them all.”

1 Bingin South To Sian Photos78

Fun boards are highly entertaining, unless it’s heaving…

Visit volcanos (preferably on motorcycle). Because #nature! And, riding bikes anywhere is liberating. Multiply that by one hundred when you’re tearing apart the black ash walls of an ancient volcano. You might even have a transcendental experience similar to Mr Roach…

“Sitting on the edge of an active volcano. It was humbling, exciting and plain fucking scary. There was something about staring into the crater that made me feel weird. I started questioning what I was doing with my life and whether any of it meant anything and all that crap… it was like the volcano was sitting there going ‘mate, I’ve had more molten orgasms then you’ve had hours in your life.’ Maybe I was high off the stench of the sulphur or something, but that was definitely the most memorable part of the trip.”

01 Bromo South To Sian 48

“It was like riding a motorbike through a maze of snake runs. So. Much. Fun.”

01 Bromo South To Sian 8

Can think of worse ways to kill time on the flat days.

Surf. That’s why you’re there in the first place, right?

“The Best quality was probably on Lombok but we got waves all over the place. We surfed a slabby little right in the middle of nowhere with Lewie Buddons, that stands out as one of the most fun sessions of surf we had. It was cool because there were no other surfers around for hundreds of kilometres.”

1 Lombok South To Sian Wall Photos2

Those logistical headaches? Gone.

Lombok Harrison Roach Woody Gooch

Two years in Indonesia and you’re going to get it this good. If you’re game…

Try not to get injured. When things get dark and you’re hours away from an emergency room, you’ll be forced to trust the assistance of those lacking experience and worst of all, no chemical escape from the pain.

“I dislocated my shoulder in South Sumatra, which was shit. I had a three hundred meter struggle to get in. On the beach was this nice guy from the Gold Coast who said he knew all about shoulders. He saw it all the time on the field when he used to play Rugby League, he reckoned anyway… To cut a long story short, my doctor tells me I had my shoulder put back in in the worst way possible, and I dribbled on Lewie’s foot in the process.”

1 West Coast South To Sian Photos116

“I definitely don’t miss the Pop Mie diet but watching the film makes me wish I was out in the middle of nowhere surfing good waves with friends.”

Enough teasing? Watch the full feature here:

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