Lotta guys go to Nicaragua once a year. Others, to the North Shore for a couple weeks in the winter. Some guys can pull a month in the summer between semesters and the devoted ones with those transient kind of jobs might pull off two to three months in Indo (after a year of stacking cash). Then there’s the guys, like Encinitas’ Scotty Hammonds, that push the motherf–kin’ “One-way” button on KAYAK.com. Guys like Scotty that wondered, “What if I left…and just stayed?” Scotty — who now lives in Bali — took the proper steps to ease into ex-pat life, and did just that. Best way to make a surf trip last? Live there. —Beau Flemister
SURFING: Before you moved to Bali, how’d you manage to scrimp and save to get to good waves?
Scotty Hammonds: When I turned 18, I was old enough to get a valet job in Cardiff, so I parked cars for the summer, saved up some money and went to Indonesia for a month. I came home and lost my shifts, which was expected because you can’t just fuck off for a month and expect to keep your job. [laughs] But after that, I started doing surf lessons, saved up some more money and went to Hawaii and to Mainland Mex a few times. Then I worked in a warehouse for a couple years. I’d do that job in the winter and then surf lessons in the summer, then I’d go back to Indo and score for a couple months. Pretty much all the money I’d make would go to saving for a trip and every year I’d go a little longer — two months, then three months, then four months. Then about two years ago, me and a couple of buddies were kind of hitting a wall at home. So we all decided to get Australian work visas to go there and make some money — money we’d save to go to Indo. We moved to North Stradbroke Island and found jobs working at the local pub. Back home, minimum wage was like $9 or $10; but out there, my starting wages at the pub was $25 a hour. We were freaking out.
So you quickly became a bartender — how long did you do that for?
Well, I was a bartender for a little while and then got a job driving a vehicle called The Pub Bus, which is the bus that takes people from a hotel in town to the bar and then back to the hotel. Basically, all my friends would be on it and I’d be trying to take them home late at night, but most of them were too drunk to remember where their houses were. And, there’s only, like, 20 streets on the island. [laughs] I even got another job at a different hotel, basically as a housekeeper, making beds and stuff. But I’d always have time to surf before and after work. After 10 months of doing that, eating mie goreng and meat pies and drinking tap water, I left for Bali.
That must’ve been great. No benders though, right?
[laughs] Just a small bender, then I escaped the Kuta vortex and did a bunch of strike missions over to Lombok and Sumbawa. Then I ended up meeting my girlfriend in Bali and got a job here doing sales and advertising for Bali Alternative Media. I’ve been doing that for the last eight months.
That look like something you’d want to do for a while?
Well, it’s been really fun and my lifestyle is amazing here in Indo. Transitioning to working in Bali has been interesting [laughs]. But I’ve been learning the language (Bahasa Indonesia) and I’m stoked on it. I don’t really think too far ahead, more one day at a time, as cliché as that sounds.
Anywhere else you’re interested in visiting?
Before Indonesia, I’d been to Europe, like, France, Spain and Sweden. Also, Fiji, Mex, Ecuador and Costa Rica. Everyone’s got their thing. There’s the Centro-America guys, Mainland Mex guys; I’ve kinda been stuck on Indo. There’s so many unsung heroes that have moved away a long time ago and never came back. It’s so sick to see people who are bummed at their job, get a work visa in Oz and make the jump. You just gotta buy that ticket, you know?
Any crazy recent travel stories?
The usual Indo stuff. Like, down in Rote, a few of us were trying to get a ferry boat across this open ocean strait, but the ferry schedule was off, so we found a guy that had a boat to cross it. The boat ended up being no bigger than 15 by 3 feet, with a 15 outboard motor on it. There were no rows or seats or safety jackets and we did a pretty long open ocean crossing. So dangerous. Of course all the local Indonesians we’re like, “Ah, we’re fine.” We ended up meeting some guys afterward that did the same crossing, got flipped by the swells and were stranded at sea for, like, eight hours. Easily could’ve been us.
Outliers is a column from managing editor, Beau Flemister, about everyday surfers who’ve rearranged their lives in pursuit of scoring around the world.