Style matters and no one can ever match the style of the early riding pioneers like Ted Simon or Helge Pedersen. Really great style rides might include never going home, never taking an airplane.
Anyway I happily went home and took airplanes, again. A friend of mine the other day called it moto-tourism.
Anyway, the second plane broke down in a hilarious way, just as the pilot was taxiing for the runway in Manila so we stayed there for 24 hours
They have interesting buses in Manila, but. The Guatemalans would see these buses as Godless wrecks and the Phillipinos would think camionetas de pollos were modded by effeminates. One of those two would have it completely wrong
We had an email from a close friend recently, which turned into a discussion, asking for a really big favour if we ever got to Manila. She asked that I spring, heist, bribe, or do whatever has to be done to free a long-suffering elephant called Mali from the zoo here. Can you believe Townsend at times.
I’ve heard various things about Manila and wished it had been on the route after this short glimpse. We had a very strong first impression.
Anyway, despite the airline screwups, the airport had great wifi at MNL, for Blitz
Then, 42 hours later, home.
My traditional home view, for a reason too long to get into, looking west down Georgia from Granville. I’ve paused and looked down this street from here for more than half a century
Walked across the Burrard Street bridge a couple of times
Was a bit surprised at the huge number of new pot shops that have sprung up everywhere. This one had an incredible selection of food in the fridges. The sales guy gave me a warning about the cupcakes, said whoa, be careful of those
And of course the world’s best cocktails. The bartender dialing it in. Been a very long time since we’ve seen this kind of attention to service. Since we were last in Vancouver actually, nothing similar since. I’ve got a theory about this, but it can wait
Then, too soon, we headed back. This time it was difficult.
Through Narita with the new bike seat, there
To KL with the new bike seat
The longer you’re away from Vancouver the more you appreciate it. I’m extremely grateful for what has turned out to be a much more important walk-about than I anticipated, tough and low times (there have been a few) included. So thanks to however it happened.
The last push to Belawan, outside of Medan before our extended visa runs out. As mentioned before, there’s no real problem with me running over and paying the fine, but Lucinda has to be out before that date or things get very complicated.
Bukittinggi to Padang Sidempuan
A fantastic start out of Bukittingghi, through mountains
Fast curvy roads in mostly good condition
No houses until it flattened, then colour
And rice fields
I stayed a while to watch an ox navigate a tight corner
Ducks looked on
And then the equator. Pic in the last post
Through the tallest trees we’ve seen here
One of the countless rivers. Oh, we found out why there are few lakes
Most towns have their own version of a taxi it seems. These were mini. Scooters plus cab
Time for our twice-daily coconut. The roadside stalls look like this
They hack one off and square it, then off with the top
A girl pours the water into a jug then scoops out the pulp. No doubt everyone has done this, but anyway
In a bag with a straw and a smile. About 10 cents
Padang Sidempuan to Parapat
The toughest riding day in Sumatra. Out of the typical town
And over some hills. This was a great ride for about 30 miles
Then down again, and followed a river
Then all hell broke loose. Nothing wrong with the dirt in this pic, but the next 60 miles was over paths, rubble, everything but road
Until we got close to the biggest lake in Sumatra, Lake Toba
Another truck in the ditch. More on this later
Fires burning everywhere
This is Sumatra
Lake Toba’s main outflow
Parapat to Medan
After maybe 20 miles, we hit the most developed road we’ve ridden in Indonesia, the whole way into Medan. Medan was 3 hours of stop-start traffic
Medan to Belawan (and back)
Lucinda’s getting a famous boat, an ‘onion boat’ across the straight to Malaysia. All riders who travel the length of Sumatra take this weekly boat, owned by a Mr Lim. There’s no other practical option. We have a tough ride for about 3 hours through Medan to Belawan, the port. It’s only 27 miles. We find his office
The traditional thing to do is to take a photo of the bike lift into the boat. But we’ll be damned if we’re going to come back the next day through the traffic, it’s easier to steal a photo from Steph of her lift, from here link
Our track through Timor-Leste and Indonesia, the green line
Timor-Leste / Indonesia
1) 3666 miles / 5903 K
2) The Muslim call to prayer. Starting at between 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning, hourly until 7:00 in the evening, the call to prayer is always there. In a small town there may be 5 mosques all broadcasting, through speakers, the call to prayer. It’s often intense. Some people have a problem with this, but we thought it was beautiful. And when we first heard it, the morning we arrived in Lavantura, it sounded like a straight, legitimate, prayer to God, precise destination unimportant
3) One of the strongest impressions (this was a ride first, cultural immersion did not happen, save Jogja) are of course the difficulty of the volume, speed and behaviour of the millions of vehicles on the road. Many riders describe the locals as crazy and the riding chaotic. In a way we don’t think anything could be further from the truth. We thought the riders and drivers were the best and safest we’ve seen so far. The reason we saw buses and trucks in the ditch or worse was because sometimes the dimensions of the road and the vehicles occupying a given section just don’t work out in reality. Other than that they’re brilliant. We never saw a bike or car accident, or even contact, ever.
Also, we never saw a rider shoulder check, not once. In fact many of the bikes don’t have mirrors. They flow and behave with the spatial sense of a school of fish, fast mixed in with slow.
The secret: it’s based on trust, everyone is responsible equally for making it work. It felt like an important social comment, but maybe we’re reading too much into it. Indonesia, despite the population felt like a country with its act in order. Despite the difficulties and how seriously tiring it was, we loved the riding after we’d figured it out. But we’ve also described the riding as a shitshow, which is also true.
Lucinda thrived in the circumstances. A big cut-and-thrust enduro was the perfect solution. You had size and sound presence, and were torque-ier (sp?) and more accurate than anything else on the road, and a solid dirt bike for when the road got ugly, which was often.
The second impression is shared with every other rider: the Indonesians are almost universally outgoing and friendly, they actively want to talk to you, take photos of each other, admire the bike, ask questions if they speak some english, smiling the whole while like you’re an old friend. This fades a bit in Sumatra though. But the high point of the ride this way, by far. There were a lot of other thoughts about the whole thing, but we sped through thinking it felt upbeat and optimistic. Helped along by debt to GDP at a comfy 25%.
Another beautiful map from Sandalmelik. Malaysia to the right
Preamble: We have a visa expiry date to beat. This is a little complicated because we have to get Lucinda cleared by Customs, at which point they need to see my passport, otherwise we could be late and pay a daily fine of about $20. If we get it wrong, all hell breaks loose. So it’s a firm date, and there’s only a little slack. We have to ride methodically with only one day of dallying (today). A bee-line, unfortunately, but not on the major highway.
Plus, the below is scary given the distance ahead. Thrashed by hard braking on Java, but some life left. How much, who knows. We’ll be keeping a close eye on it, not using our front brake except in emergencies, and keeping our fingers crossed since there’s no choice and as yet no back-up plan
Features of riding in Sumatra: They have what they call ‘pirates’ here. So no riding at night. The robbery-or-worse rate is high. If you’re solo. Because of this, we’re sticking to a specific destinations plan which makes for some short days and some long. The roads are supposed to be very rough. Although after 5 days of riding them we’d say they’re fine, just not great at times, so they must be bad ahead. Lastly, despite the rainy season being over, when it rains here late afternoon it’s an apocalypse. So we’re planning accordingly.
The first short day out of Java, across on the 2 hour ferry and into Sumatra
Then to Kotabumi
Nothing to write about today, a fairly busy day of traffic through continuous towns. ‘Sumatra’ sounds nice and countryside-like, but the latest headcount in 2010 was 50 million, so maybe 55 million now, on this island with so few roads
Lots of chickens around
The next day to Lahat
After the first few hours, this was a beautiful and interesting day. There are still trucks continuously. You can see an overtaker here coming down the open lane. This is what it’s like whether you’re riding at him or not. You just have to get out of the way, off the road if need be, but 99% of the time there’s just enough of a gap on the shoulder, often never more than inches. I have no idea what people do with panniers wider than their bars
Into the country for a while
Through our first traditional village. Very creative
So most of the houses are drying things out the front. We stop and ask these ladies if we can get a close photo, in the usual charades way. There’s a misunderstanding. Or my riding suit smells. Which it does, but I thought I was far enough away
But we get a close shot anyway. Coffee. Or copi, here. I eat one and it’s a bit tasteless
We think they lay them out and rake them daily, taking them in at night
Through more towns
An imposing avenue, not sure of what
Wild banana. The fruit are about 4″ long
There are loud explosions going off in the distance, sometimes many at once, very interesting. At the next town there’s a large military exercise going on somewhere in the valley beyond we can’t see from here. People are gathered in groups watching the troops and trucks
As we ride out-of-town a half-dozen gunships pass overhead going in our direction!
I recognize them at once
Soviet MI24 or MI35 Hind. Wow, nice! A fierce gunship. I’ve played this helicopter a lot in C.H.A.O.S., an MMO, often remotely with my eldest daughter
The Indonesian Wiki. They have 6 and they’re all here! Must be a major exercise
But now we play World of tanks Blitz, a much harder, very sophisticated, MMO. Below is my favorite tank, the tier 10 Soviet IS-4. My game name is wages_of_sin, so if you friend me on the Asian server we can platoon a game if you see me online! Notice my clean, stripped-down HUD
We’re in Indonesia so we can play when we want to. They have free fast wifi everywhere, even in darkest Sumatra. Kind of the opposite of New Zealand and Australia, where the internet is like debt is to Greece: they kind of understood the critical importance of not cocking it up, but cocked it up hugely anyway, and are now on the knife-edge of being banished from the modern world until they get their shit together. Which nicely ties into this photo. I guess cable hasn’t made it this far quite yet, so every home has a huge dish. Go Sumatra!
Then miles of this
At about the midpoint we climb twisties up and over some mountains for an hour
And more miles of this
We think these are rumah gadang but without the spires (later), traditional homes owned by the women and passed down to their daughters
The next day to Sarolangun
Lovely, though very hot and humid
Ox cool off in the water. They can sort of swim with just their nostrils showing
More dredging, this time for rocks, possibly the same rocks as come up here in a sec
This is a fish farm with the most enormous water lilies we’ve ever seen
The blooms are at least a foot across, the whole plant maybe 15 or 20
A couple of locals who we think own the farm
Later on we see these guys with troughs full of rocks and water, next to a river
They make jewellery from them. So I bought a small rock from them for 10,000 rupiah (about 90 cents, I got ripped off but whatever) which if we don’t loose it we’ll make three things out of one day
Another big town. We never stop at towns for lunch because of the crowds Lucinda draws, really
This was a water break and look what happened, arrggh. Except they’re the nicest kids you could ever meet
Another town. Tiring, because they’re big
And back into the country. This looks just like El Salvador
To Muara Bungo
A horrible day. No scenery to speak of, tons of traffic. A bus off the road. We’ve seen a few of these. The buses are the fastest vehicles and are the most aggressive. To be feared
But on the main street of Muara Bungo, an orchid in a tree
Up close. A beauty
Then to Bukittinggi
A difficult first half, then through some hills for about 30 miles
Gassed up with a nice view
Rice in spaced rows, we haven’t seen this before
This building is the classic Sumatran spired rumah gadang. For more on this, here’s the wiki
Then it flattened out to this
Along a lake for about 10 miles. There are very few lakes in Sumatra relative to the amount of rainfall. We haven’t found out why yet. It just drains out via the rivers without gathering anywhere. But this is a big one
to see a truck that shot off a corner into a field. Lots of these
We’re headed to the coast road to try and avoid the madness. It’s quiet but broken pavement in long sections. Much better than inland
At a river we see boats anchored and dredging with small nets on poles
Bringing them, loaded, to shore. This guy’s done this before, he knows the wave height within an inch, or he’s sunk, so that’s very cool
And shovelling the dredgings in relays into trucks. What’s in the river sediment, we wondered
Back onto a great stretch
And cut back north to the city. Not so bad, only about 4 hours of pure hell at the beginning and end. Another city section avoided
The idea’s now to avoid the coming ultra-high-density part of Java as we get closer to Jakarta.
This is a recent rider’s description of Java:
There is just too much traffic volume for the tiny two lane highways. It does not matter what road you take or direction there is gridlock traffic. Because of this the roads are extremely dangerous and full of drivers with a suicide wish. Until now I was unaware that Indonesians had special vision because it seems that they can see or believe they can see around blind corners and over hills. I cannot tell you how many hundreds of times I had someone driving directly into me while trying to pass lines of traffic. And because of this I knew it was only a matter of time before something bad could happen.
And then he got sideswiped and crashed. Fortunately no injuries.
Most Java ride reports read like this.
The next big hazard is the city of Bandung. It can day a whole day of complete misery trying to get through. Plus there’s the stopping, if you can, to let an overheated engine cool down. Just not worth it we think. So I endure a day of hard riding along this track to a small village just an hour (of what I’m hoping is zero traffic) out of Bandung, to sneak up on the city while it’s asleep
Half way through the day we grab street food beside a bike wash and indulge Lucinda in a shampoo
We arrive at our village exhausted, again. Wow, this island is a serious rite of passage.
The next day’s track
We eat immediately we arrive, crash, and set the alarm for 1:30 am.
Out of the village
Through the countryside
The road is broken or missing for the whole descent off the hillside to the city. A bit sketchy at times
Into Bandung, the unavoidable bottleneck that’s ruined many rider days or rides. The city is alive at 3:00 am
Our carefully set up GPS track is upset when we hit a ‘cars only’ section of road. We haven’t set up the settings on the new (replacement) Garmin to avoid toll roads, etc. So we bounce off one, double back and have to re-set the route at the side of the road
Fires are burning along the roadside. We stop at one for a water break. Obviously we wouldn’t do this anywhere in Latin America. Or Sumatra, coming up. More on that another time. But tonight we think we’ll take the risk. These guys are plenty surprised to see this rider stop and say ‘Hi !’ like a lost (which I’m not) idiot (which I may be) in the middle of the night, downtown Bandung
They’ve been watching Barcelona play on TV
Then we’re through, feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. Dawn at an increasingly rare green spot
Then there’s hell to pay again. But we find quiet streets occasionally
This town doesn’t have the safest feel to it. Two dudes not smiling, which is unusual. Better move on then
The riding is pure chaos for the next 4 hours until our destination on the coast. Here’s the landlady
Our next idea was to take the long loop around Jakarta, despite being told two days ago the road is ‘bad’. There is a more direct line, but I’d rather ride a bad road than ride through Bogor, another Java traffic nightmare. If we can do this, we’ve avoided every big city other than Yogyakarta, which will be an accomplishment.
The day’s track
The climb out of the village of Cisolok was the steepest pavement, both up and down, we’ve ever ridden. Ever. Up top, through a small village
And into the countryside
Just a few cultivated areas
Then the trouble started. Indonesian for ‘warning’, and you see these everywhere, is HATI – HATI…!
The road turned to dirt. At a water stop, more instant friends
The it started to rain. It looked like it had rained up here the previous night. So slick, but not bad
About 30 miles of slipperiness and broken road along the coast
Over a bridge
Past a very serious looking building, two Muslim girls showing great riding skills, as all Indonesians do
I stop for a few minutes here to watch the scooters navigate the potholes. They can’t splash or risk muddying their wive’s outfits, so they wander around with great care
Indonesia, amazing. Beautiful moto culture
Then after maybe another 20 miles of hellish road, we hit an elevated section of concrete
It’s strange and wonderful, sometimes up 2 feet from the ground
But a lot of the time, it’s just one lane. The question is which lane to ride on. It’s not clear. so we wait sometimes until another scooter comes along and take one of the little ramps up, or down
Sometimes we have to wait
Unlucky truck fell off the soft side
But all joking aside, there was also about 20 miles of the below stuff, endless small problems, some deepish mud, but never long stretches, and a further 30 miles of on-the-pegs completely broken road. It was a challenge because it was unrelenting. Lucinda doesn’t like going down in mud and so far, after accumulated miles of it together, hasn’t. In everything else we’ve crashed, but so far not mud. Mysterious
But we broke out at this intersection, a village with only an excuse for a road
Then a few miles later we were away, onto some of that big twin concrete, down to the ocean and along the coastline to our next destination.
Bogor avoided, but what a day.
143K in 7 hours 20 minutes. Java!
We took two days to do some planning. Sumatra is big, much bigger than Java. Also, after Indonesia, things get complicated and we needed to get ahead of the curve, even though I’ve been working on aspects of it for a couple of months.
Onto the ferry at Merak, headed for Lampung, Sumatra
Kids will jump on the bike at the slightest invitation. The Dads think this is hilarious
On the ferry, this. The first complete coverage we’ve seen in Indonesia
The Sumatra dock
First road shot. An hour after this we were stuck in 10 miles of gridlock, riding sidewalks, splitting lanes. But this is a bottleneck. Also, this is the main highway that runs the length of Sumatra on the east side. We won’t be riding this road after today
The first day’s track, including the ferry over from Bali and the ride from Goris.
We’ve saved talking about this until now, but Indonesia and Java in particular are famed and feared by long distance riders for the density, speed and all around craziness of the traffic. Java’s been called 1500 km’s of stop-start, death-defying riding. Now that I’ve had a dose of it, I agree. It’s very difficult. Three of the recent riders through had accidents.
I heard that was no speed limit in Indonesia, but that’s turned out to not be true. It’s 80km/hr, blanket. But it’s completely irrelevant, if there’s a chance for people to make progress when possible by going as fast as is possible, they do. The overtaking is incredible, it’s happening all the time, by trucks, buses but mostly bikes. Overtaking is done on road width, with no regard to oncoming traffic. Bikes are ignored in the equation, you’re forced to the shoulder continuously by cars and trucks coming down your lane, fast and suddenly. Bikes all around you are shooting for gaps 100% of the time. It’s like a high stakes video game.
So the first day above was all-around lousy. It had been bad on the previous islands in sections, but now it’s getting serious. But as I approached Lumajang, our first destination, things quieted down and we could finally stop for a photo
The town. Arrived exhausted
The second day was a short ride up to Mount Bromo. Fortunately the last half, up the mountain, was quiet as it’s a more-or-less a dead-end. The first half was murder
The climb up Bromo was excellent. Tight hairpins on a small road most of the way. The day’s elevation chart. Click for numbers
Nearing the top
The final village just a couple of hundred yards from the cauldron
Which looked like this. That cauldron in the middle is active and smoking
It was fantastic riding on a kind of packed volcanic sand with deep loose pools
4X4’s having a great time
The next day we headed down to the start of what we hope would be a diversion around the worst of the traffic ahead
But after getting off the mountain it was hell for 100 miles and took us most of the day to Tulugagung
But there were small green spaces
Mostly it was like this, a small road with cars, trucks and bikes racing flat out
We stopped for lunch and met another group of Kawasaki Versys riders. Great guys, and I peppered them with route questions…
The next day to Yogyakarta was the best day’s riding in Indonesia
We’re determined to stay as west as possible
Soon the traffic thinned and we headed across a final flat into the hills
The villages were tidier here. It felt affluent
Most flat areas were planted with various crops
More here than meets the eye, the benefits of building over a riverside when possible
Hot and humid
A few of these
And back to the ocean
Yogyakarta felt very different: sophisticated, wealthy, interesting. We met some great people, riders. No idea what they do in the day, but I know what they do at night. Whoa, I’ll never forget. Crazier and crazier. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Since you’re undoubtedly reading this, thank you my friends.
During the day, we toured around in one of these
Hilarious that they alone have the right to go the wrong way down one-way streets. You get to see rider’s faces close up
We took a day trip to Prambanan, a huge1200 year old Hindu temple. To read about it, here’s the Wiki link, so no boring lecture
Restored in various stages from earthquake damage
Each non-original block was marked with a steel stud
Everywhere people were posing for photos. Everyone in Indonesia is beautiful
Kids always on their smartphones everywhere. Facebook is as prevalent here as at home
The temples were built for Brahma, Angsa, Vishnu, Garuda, Nandi and the biggest for Shiva, God of Gods
In each of the temples was a room with the corresponding statue
At the base of each statue was a Lotus motif
And the outer walls were crenellated with Lotus shapes
The second temple is the 9th century Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, about an hour outside of Yogyakarta
Hard to get a great view approaching it
Non-Indonesians (me, at right) had to wear a blue decorated sarong. Looked great with my Billabong shirt
The temple. For the full story, here’s the Wiki link
The ride up to the 5 hour ferry on the right, and the ride down to Denpasar on the left
The Bali ferry, and fishermen
On we go
Bali from the boat
Denpasar was crazy. It’s a big holiday destination for Australians.
But a good spot to get photos of parents taking their kids to school in the morning on scooters
We would have skipped this town all together but we’ve got an appointment at the BMW dealer. There’s enough money here to sell $70,000 bikes.
The epoxy has held! Hooray, disaster avoided. The dealer is professional, the mechanics skilled and fast replacing the fuel pump assembly. The staff behave, as to be expected, like new friends. A highly recommended stop
Second day’s track. We been warned that the quickest route, the coast road is busy and difficult so we ride through the center of the Island on a smaller road
Leaving Denpasar. The riding is pretty difficult at times, but we’ll get to that in the first Java post
Then into the hills
Past a Mosque. Indonesia is the largest Muslim democracy in the world. The major religions are Muslim 86%, Christian 9%, Hindu 2%. The Hindu population is largely concentrated on Bali, where, according to Wiki, 90% of the Balinese identify themselves as Hindu
Through another town
Into the country
Water stop and liter-bottle gas station
Roughly in the center of the island, on this road, villages are more concentrated
There are many old structures that look like meeting places, that we’re guessing are Hindu
A back street in a small village
Not sure what this is, but it’s ornate and looks very old
A beautiful home
Back into the countryside
Rice fields everywhere
Many looked like they were between crops
Back on the coast, there were monkeys everywhere. These were larger than the ones we saw earlier. Not very shy. They have a disconcerting habit of having frequent sex with themselves
I came back from a short walk and this one was trying to get into my tank bag
Finally to the town of Goris where I found a great place in a banyan forest
I wanted to see Menjangan island, for the best snorkelling in Bali, if not the world, they say with frequency here. Off we went
Here. It’s in a national park
There’s a magnificent statue of Ganesha looking out to sea
Countless fish live on the narrow rim of coral next to an abyssal drop off. Poor photo, but there are thousands of fish in this shot
Incredible, never seen anything like it. It’s claimed this is one of the top 5 spots in the world
I spent two days here and could easily stayed a month
Looking over the edge into the abyss
Then over to Java
The distance across the straight is short, you can see buildings on Java, but the ferries crawl over at maybe 3 or 4 knots, maybe 10 on the water at any time.
We’d met some Indonesian riders on the ferry, down from Jakarta on a riding holiday. They’re on Kawasaki Versys. Taxes on imported motorcycles are as extreme as in parts of South America here. A new BMW 1200GSA costs $70,000US I’m told a couple of weeks later. Amazingly there are quite a few in Jakarta, we hear. The Versys is the affordable ADV choice and they have big clubs for the bike up on Java.
We ride off the ferry together in Sape, which is a bit of a dive
These guys are behind schedule and going to do a night ride the whole way through. Apparently they did a 20 hour ride previously. Way behind what I ever want to do. But we set of together to Bima. I’m riding at the rear and after about 20 minutes the route they’re riding doesn’t agree with my GPS track. So I wave one rider down and say I’m going the other way. I was wrong, and ending up chasing them and not catching them later.
The next day’s track
A typical small Indonesian town
And at one point when I stop for water, monkeys come out of the forest to check us out. They don’t get too close, just close enough for a good look. They’re about the size of a cat, unafraid and quiet
Then down to the coast
To a fishing village. It seems all the coastal villages are fishing villages
It’s extremely beautiful.
The green/yellow together are a recurring them, not sure why yet
The yellow/green that jars somehow
Little fish about 3″ long, flat. They smell great drying here
I get back to Lucinda and of course, new friends
Great ride along the coast
To the ferry
A monster line-up. I walk to the front and by some amazing coincidence there are the Brothers Reid. We’re like lost friends and have a big hug
Leaving Sumbawa. Sorry about the shortage of photos
The track over to Lombok
Lombok’s small. We hung out with the Brothers Reid, drank beer and went snorkelling. Sounds pretty cushy, I know. But ahead a week or so is a part of the world every rider is afraid of, so the quiet before the storm
Here’s Flores, the second island up the chain. The black and white insert map is useful. It’s an interesting location in the world, kindof not where we’d normally expect to find ourselves, I’ve been thinking
Here’s our track across the island, 3 days riding but about 10 days total, longer because of 2 things/small problems
After the ferry-trip-from-hell we headed west through the forest on a good, small road
And stopped at a huge pile of husks
Walked over to investigate
It’s the first time on this ride we’ve been comfortable taking people pictures. Somehow it’s a positive here
Chocolate, as it turns out!
They chop them, strip out the nuts inside
One of the group gets up and shows me a tree across the road. I thank him profusely for going to the trouble. We later learn there’s no end to the generosity in Indonesia
Into the mountains
Lots of water everywhere
After a few hours, down to the ocean
Hot, humid and still
The beach is entirely coral
We end up at a place on the ocean, picture postcard beautiful
The beach and a tree
Up in the mountains we started smelling gas. The back of the air box is wet. Uh oh
We know exactly what the problem is. The gas must be coming from the fuel pump. And the broken part must be the re-call part dealt with by an unnamed BMW dealer (not BM Motorcycles) we recently visited. they’ve screwed up the recall fix. I saw this coming.
So, first to test it. Photo dry
Start the engine and it leaks. Damn
So after a few quick calls we find out there’s no good fix without a new flange and the best possible thing to do is epoxy it. This is unlikely to work as the flange is under 3bar/50 psi of pressure. But we go into the small town, buy some supplies, clean and sand the parts, cross our fingers and cover the area in epoxy. Much to our surprise we find there’s a BMW shop in Bali, just a couple of weeks away and organize new parts.
In the interim we take the opportunity to extend our visa to 60 days, which is a huge nightmare. Five days, five visits, a new sponsor, fingerprints, photographs, unbelievable. But anyway.
Then we’re off again. Twisties through the mountains
Stop for lunch here because
Across the street there’s a guy doing haircuts. You sit on the chair, or in this case on a rock, pull on a pair of silver pants, yup, and he gives you a quick trim. They both smoke ciggies while this is happening
Back into the mountains
It looks like the Indonesia in travel books, lovely
The villages are tightly clustered, tin-roofed homes
Here’s a guy filling up with a liter bottle street side. Rack of gas behind. Haven’t done this yet, but looking forward to it
Later, construction and chaos, also fun
Back at the ocean after staying in Ende
The mountains today are covered in bamboo forests
A local bus
Fields and one of Indonesia’s billion volcanoes, most of which are always going off
Here’s another thing. In the country when you stop, kids on motos also stop to chat in whatever english they know, to ask for photos and to look at Lucinda
Later we pass through a small village
Where men are dressed in what we guess are traditional warrior outfits, and they whip each other, hard, like here
Two guys about to start, with their whips
Back into the mountains
Another kid stops when we stop. He’s a bit crazy, but cool
Hey, wild Datura!
Into the town of Rutang
Gassing up the regular way. This is a mid-sized line up. There are 65 million motorcycles and scooters, now growing by 7 million bikes a year on these Indonesian islands. The population is 250 million
This is maybe the typical Flores scene. You ride through hours of this, very nice
Road to the left and right
While we’re here, passing kids
And a passing family. The little kids rarely wear helmets and often they’re 4 on a scooter. More on this later
Through small villages
And over the last mountain to famous little Labuan Bajo
The town, well-known for one thing in particular
Off we go to see the famous resident
Pass local ships
This gorgeous old thing, wow, nice veranda
We ride out for about 40 minutes
Past fishing villages
To here, Rinca
Across dry flats. It’s stupendously hot
There’s something asleep in the shadow there. About 8 feet long
We go off exploring
The guide is unhinged, but great
We look in dry stream beds
And here we go: a baby Komodo Dragon. About 2 feet long
And a giant. About 6 feet long
Later, at the flats, one searches for crabs
Then we’re off to an amazing place, Kanawa Island
It’s about 10 acres, with a dock and a beautiful beach
There’s a special hotel here, cabins, a kitchen/restaurant and isolation
Guests read under trees, miles away from everything, on their own island/beach. So if you really want to get away from it all, this might be it. The downside is that it’s standard primitive by western standards, so the loos are trough-and-bucket for instance
Snorkelling time. Our boat
Maybe 80 feet of visibility
Fast predator fish pass us And schools of thousands
Then back sadly. So we do it all two days in a row