Padang and Captain Tony

One of the greatest things about traveling is the chance to meet other people. People who are so different from you. People with different language and accent. They tell stories, with their voices and their eyes. Interesting stories that stay with you forever and ever. That's simply priceless!

My first encounter with the beautiful Padang happened in August 2005. It was my first ever assignment as a travel journalist. I was a fresh graduate with a backpack full of excitement for the new world that I was entering then. I was extremely excited for getting the chance to get into an airplane and actually flew to West Sumatra. I knew that it would be the first of so many great adventures in my life.

The band that played on the annual boat competition in Padang

A girl dressed in West Sumatra traditional outfit

I was there with other journalists. We were invited by the Ministry of Tourism and among the agenda, we had to do a coverage on an annual boat competition, visit Pesisir Selatan and also Bukittinggi. I was so new with what I was doing there. But I remembered that I was so excited in hunting for the best pictures and talking with everybody. I shared laugh with old men in the band that played when I was watching the boat competition in Padang and took pictures of kids in their festival costumes. But the one person that made a huge impression on me was a "bule" (westerner) named Tony "Doris" Eltherington whom I met in a boat trip from Pesisir Selatan back to Padang.

Tony was about 50 years old (I think). An Australian. He was the captain of Indies Trader, the luxurious boat that took us back to Padang after visiting Pesisir Selatan. Having no intention in getting into small chit chats with the other journalists, I went up and sat beside Tony. At first Tony was not exactly your typical lovable Captain who would gladly share his stories or doing small talks about the weather. He was more of a pirate type of captain, with a husky voice and an accent that was so hard to understand. But the next thing I knew we were talking about so many things. And the pirate voice was no longer a problem.

Tony had been living in Indonesia since the '70s. The Indies Trader usually took surfers that want to surf around Indonesia. Tony's speciality was the Mentawais, on the north of Padang. He insisted me on going there someday. According to him, it was one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Tony was in love with Indonesia. That was why we could spend the 2 hours trip just talking and keeping our eyes at the small fishermen boats so that The Indies Trader would not hit any of them. Tony was friendly with the fishermen. They share the same respect for the ocean and toward each other. It was a great trip, simply because I found a new friend in the middle of the ocean.

After I got back home, I bumped into an article about Tony on the internet. It turned out that he was a professional surfer. More than that, he was a legend. He was a real legend in surfing. Who would've guessed? Not me...

That was the only time I met Tony. We exchanged phone numbers and occasionally checked on each other's up dates. But we had lost contact about a year ago. Hmm.. I wonder if he's still keeping an eye on those little fishermen boat. I surely hope so.. Hope you're doing great, Tony.

Me and Tony


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