Timor

(abbreviated post)

Yay, time to pick up Lucinda from the shippers.

So, hearing the bike is ready, we head off to the customs office at the docks to get our Timor Carnet exit stamped. The view of the dock from the office. Another ship
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That done, back to the shipper’s. We do more paperwork and pay for the receiving. Then off to see another customs guy who inspects the Carnet, etc. and off we go to break the seal on the container
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A forklift empties crates and finally at the back, three bikes
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The Aussie kids have decided to do the day in a different order and I’m in first place, which means having to roll their bikes out to get to Lucinda.

Three RTW bikes. Awesome
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Our Timor-Leste visa is now on a short fuse and we have to be quick.

So here’s Timor-Leste and Indonesia. We’re going to be riding up the western crescent
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The island is Indonesia to the west, Timor-Leste to east. Garmin map, so no border shown
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The day’s track, riding along the coast away from Dili
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Climbing above the water on terrible but fun roads
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That’s our road on the hillside
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Small villages, and rice
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Beautiful
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Big trees aren’t usual but are sculptural when they occur
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Open dry plains between the hills, with cattle tracks
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Fishing is the thing all along the coast. The boats have a converted outboard and a large gill net
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Our first gas station. Out of town, gas is sold in liter bottles roadside
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After spending two days out in the east, it’s time to head for the Indonesian border
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The road follows the coast for a while
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The road is sometimes dirt, sometimes sort-of paved
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Past old Portuguese buildings
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Lunch time. I’ve been looking forward to getting into the Asian roadside lunchtime lifestyle, where you meet and talk to people and test your immunity to local bugs
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Fish is the thing. It’s fantastic. Spicy, semi-dry, and pretty packets of rice. I watch the locals to see how it’s done. Easy: fork to pull the fish apart then fingers, pinching off chunks of rice and pushing stuff around with it
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We’re not sure why, but there are cane hoops through all the villages
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Typical Timorese homes
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More Timorese humour: We’re riding along, minding our own business, when we get to roadblock: kids. They’ve put some small logs on the road and are waving us down a detour
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It’s a lousy old track and would be deep mud in the rain. But we follow it, already clued in to what’s going on
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And out the other side. We look back, the road’s clear, and of course it’s a prank
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The Timor-Leste border. Piece of cake, everyone laughing and having a good time
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Then the Indonesian border. Although it’s reasonably organized, it’s the most complex land crossing yet. The order: Bike customs and Carnet completion, with careful inspection of the document in case it’s bogus. Vehicle registration docs, etc. Immigration, which is an interview and careful paperwork inspection. Customs, and gear teardown, bike and personal belongings. Then a detailed police interview with two cops, who gave me a fruit juice because it may take a while. But they’re all really nice and want photos of themselves and Lucinda
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One more thing: Now we’re in Indonesia, the objective is to get to Belawan, Sumatra, maybe 6 or 7000K away, without incident. Based on the unanimous agreement of previous riders, this is the hardest country to ride through with the possible exception of India. Java in particular, where there are 140 million people travelling on not so many roads. So we’re going to be focused on the ride, planning the routes and days well, and cultural immersion will have to come second.

So, back on the road. It’s completely random. This path fits a truck, because one pulled in behind me and patiently waited and waved as I rushed back to continue
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That night my first Indonesian B&B. Guys hanging out staring at Lucinda. This is an uncomfortable reality in Indonesia and eyes are on you the whole time
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Miles of this and lots of waterlilies. The rainy season is mostly over. One of the benefits of a looong time in Australia is the weather timing for the next 6 months is perfect
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The further west we got, the better the roads
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Our second night, in Sasi. A small chaotic town
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At the home stay, military police wanted photos
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The last day on Timor
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Mountainous and cool. It’s been brutal. Very hot and very humid
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Through various small towns
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And eventually over the last mountains to the coast
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Trucks being washed in the river. A sight we’ve missed
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Then it rained hard
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Then into Kupang, where we had to wait 5 days for a ferry to Flores, the next island west
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On Sunday, we headed down to the ferry terminal 4 hours early. It’s the ferry from Hell. Anyway, all’s pretty cheery as we wait
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Wow, this kid has a helmet on. Most don’t
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In Indonesia every cop is your friend, if you’ve obeyed RTW rule #1
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The always colorful trucks. This is the standard size, quite small
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Amen, brother
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And on we go. The panniers, now only 70% full, have 6 bottles of water and various food we grabbed-and-bagged at the roadside in them
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It’s sooo hot when we pile in you can’t breath. The locals all look calm
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In fact judging from these kids you’d never guess what was ahead. There are about 500 hundred of us on a small ship with one passenger room and a small deck, and 15 to 17 hours ahead of us
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Leaving the dock
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Later, at night, up on deck later they’re asleep or playing cards. It’s not so hot up here, maybe only 90F/ but we don’t want to crash here
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So we buy a straw mat from a vendor, roll it out on the steel deck next to Lucinda, read from the iPad for a few hours and sleep in our riding suit for padding
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The crossing from Timor to Flores is roughly up the center of this map
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