In the local Malay dialect, “Bono” means “truth”. For the river peoplein this Sumatran backwater, as truly and surlely as the sun rises in the east, they know the Bono will appera on the full moon. It will surge upriver. It will take jungle, it will take earth, and it will occasinally take one of their own. But today, the Bono will be surfed.
Blue and salty has been traded for brown and brackish. No one really knows what they’ve signed up for. Tidal bores are waist-high novelties, hardly worth trekking up a wild equatorial river for. But fuelled by the biggest moon in 20 years, this Bono promises to be different.
The surfers wake up in the tiny river town to wailing from the minarets and cacophony of sparrows, whose nest the local farm for soup. The river mist hangs thick, eerie. “I think the locals were very superstitious about the wave,” states Ted Grambeau. “I heard one guy explain the story of the seven ghost. I assumed the seven ghost refer to people who’ve been taken by the wave. There was quite a drame at one stage because one of the local guys had publicly described the Bono as ‘just a wave’ and is causes a big problem with the rest of the village. Because the wave has taken so many lives over the years he was in a lot of trouble for almost dismissing it as ‘just a wave’. This is not just a wave.”
The Bono snakes its way up the Kampar. Sandbars and tributaries sculpt perfectly fleeting form. The Bono shapeshifts. An unbroken mile-wide line of whitewater suddenly disappears into deep water, only to reappear a mile upriver as a conga line of 15 spinning lefthand barrels. It will transform further upriver into a pair of adjacent riverbank tubes. “Can I compare it to anything else I’ve surfed?” Tom Curren asked himself. “It was a surreal experience. Unique. It was kind of cool. You’d be sitting there and it’d be really quite then you’d see it there off in the distance. It looks like a mirage, kind of.”
Ten days after the mesmerizing trailer (cut to the hypnotic “Love Like A Sunset” by Phoenix) dropped to the tune of nearly a quarter of a million views, the wait is over…. and the Seven Ghosts are revealed.