Excerpt: Tracks #573 – The Hell Zone by Matt George

By Matt George
The Ujong Kulon National Park of Java, Indonesia is rated as a category II National Park.Which means it could kill you.

If not from Krakatoa blowing its stack, then maybe from the Tsunami that rake the region in relative anonymity. Or maybe the underwater landslides. Or the earthquakes. Or the crocodiles. Or the leopards. Or maybe from one of the last Javan tigers whose roars are rumored to still be heard here. The good news, is that you won’t face any danger from the rhinoceros. A smaller, docile, Javan species. The last wild ones on earth. There are about 40 of them left in the park. Counted a while back when a few rhino poachers became extinct after an Indonesian Special Forces ‘training sweep’.

There are a few small islands in the park. The
little sisters of Krakatoa. One is known as ‘Princes Island’. And if you’re game, and if you know how to surf on your inside right rail and if you have
t the balls and the right passport, this is where
 you will find the double-rectified, guaranteed, photographically certified ride of your whole goddamned life. Of course, this experience will be more transitory than you have imagined, or could imagine. Because for those seeking more than six seconds in the most roaring, molten blue lava-pouring right barrel on the planet, the exercise is futile. Because you do not come to this specific wave to actually make the wave. In fact, you don’t come here to make anything but a man of yourself.

Check out the compelling footage from the trip  

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The wave itself is a hydraulic hammer on an anvil made of live coral. Watched over by rare silvery gibbon, horned banteng, Javan lutung, crab-eating macaques, Sumatran dholes, Javan mouse-deer, smooth-coated otters, over 72 species
of reptiles and amphibians, mostly poisonous, and over 240 species of endangered birds. All who stare out unseen from the malarial jungle
at man’s folly upon the waves. And above all, it
 is those mosquito-borne malarial viruses that make photographs of the wave from land so rare. Besides, say most photographers, it would just look like bigger, gnarlier Nias anyway. So why risk it?

Of course, any mention of this remote island must include a conversation about Krakatoa. When it exploded in 1883, the resulting Tsunami wiped out just about everything. The tiny coastal villages where small groups of fishing families clung to 
life. Their ragged coastal crops, the entire island for that matter, was buried under two feet of ash. Everybody cleared out after that. Well, almost everybody. Because when the first people decided to return to Princes Island, they made a startling discovery. On Mount Raska, the 330 metre tall volcanic intrusion that thrusts up in the interior like an old molar, a worn Hindu statue of Ganesh was found. This statue was dated back to the first century. Unlike any pre-Islamic statue found before. its small size and markings gave evidence of an ancient island people, very small in size.
But no bones or remains of these people were found. However, etchings of Tsunami and erupting volcanoes were. By most hardscrabble villagers of today is a belief, since no remains have been found, that these small, shy people still exist on Princes Island. Surviving through the ages. And they are blamed for all manner of mischief and theft, even surprise pregnancies that occur today. Taking the time to know things like this illustrates that surfing these waters means being a long way from everything you know. And the key is to realise this and to have the patience for it. For a few sacred, futile waves, to leave your past behind and to get in touch with whatever it is that drives you to the edge of the continents.





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