The winter waves of Korea on the shores of the East Sea, especially are great: both in intensity and size. But it’s cold. So cold you’d feel you’ve aged a year after spending only an hour in the waters. Not that I am still a boy, but still… So, it’s only natural I find myself looking for a flight down south, somewhere warm, when it’s starting to get chilly. It’s almost a habit; a couple time a month, looking for tickets, no plans whatsoever. Every time I hear someone saying, “the weather’s wonderful and the waves are amazing there,” I have my hand on the mouse, clicking fiercely on ticketing sites. Again, as the season turns to winter, my friends ask me where I’ll be spending this winter as if it’s a proper greeting, as if I don’t belong in Korea during winters. As I look into the map of southern hemisphere, I try to tell myself I would ‘forget about the costs and go somewhere completely new,’ but my hand makes meaningless clicks that lead to no conclusion.

Eventually, I let my friends decide where we’d go this time. Hell, they know where’s where better than I do. I’ll just pay my share and they’ll do all the planning. It was decided that we’ll spend this winter trip in Sumbawa. Sumbawa is the second island to the east of Bali. I already thought it’d be a long way there, since we had to go via Bali. I also heard that Rain and Kim Tae-hee, a celebrity couple in Korea, had spent their honeymoon there. They stayed in the eastern part of the island, and we’ll be staying in the western part. Honeymoon versus surf trip. A couple versus 10 dudes.

It was only a couple of weeks into 2017 when I started packing. This is something I do every year, but this time it was different, because I never traveled before with, well, 10 dudes. Packing wasn’t much of a hassle; I’m good at getting things in place. Bali was our gathering place. It wasn’t before we finally met up when I first heard how we’re getting to Sumbawa. Fly to Lombok, right next to Bali. Drive across Lombok to the eastern edge of the island. Then, sail across to the western edge of Sumbawa. I was already starting to miss back home. There was still a long journey ahead of us.

It took us almost half a day to get to the middle of nowhere called Sumbawa. We had to drive into the island for about an hour without seeing a single street light. The first light we saw in the island came from the very place we were supposed to stay in. It was bright, but we were too tired to brighten up.

That was how the first day of our trip went by.