I can’t even remember what year it was…thinking maybe early 90’s. I was 20 or so and surfing in Indonesia turned from a dream to a reality – good times. We would fly into Denpasar, stay a couple of days then on another plane to more remote Indonesia. Surfing and a love of travel led us to many remote places – West Java, Sumatra, Sumbawa, the Philipphines, Fiji, central America… Different cultures have always fascinated me and every trip I’d do the obligatory shell hunt. My favourite place in southern Sumbawa was a stretch of reef/beach that went for 10’s of kilometres. Every year I would hire a bike and drive to the end of the road and a little village called Nunga Dora – still horse and cart there, people living in tribal houses off the ground – amazing little village. The road ended here and it turned to goat track where the farmers would take their buffalo to a river mouth to bath and feed. Beyond that was endless beach where reef started at the waterline – it was a seashell gold mine. I would walk the hight tide line on the beach with a dozen or so village kids finding amazing clams, cowries and the find of finds – Nautilus shells.
I once on a trip to Panaitan Island between Sumatra and West Java lugged home a huge Giant clam (i think they are illegal to bring home now – mine was old and well and truly dead of course). Another year I stupidly brang back 50kgs of Indonesian sculpture – an actual tribal seat from Sumba – How I got away with that (total baggage weighed 80kgs) is another story, I was young and it was a time before airlines got Nazi on baggage allowances and even before Indonesians didn’t see an opportunity for a bribe…and I probably looked young and innocent.
Well I am still doing it today, but on a larger slightly more organised scale I hope…but still enjoying it. Not as many shell hunts these days though – i think I have enough anyway, but loving the pieces we source and the places we go.