Archive for the ‘Indonesia’ Category


Yes. With a little break, it’s time for another video – probably my second to last one.. Indonesia and Timor Leste are beautiful. A fantastic end to the trip before the last leg in Australia. I hope you like the video!


‘Look! Dolphins!’
Cycling in the evening light, the road was flat along grassy plains next to the beach, and, there they were – 10 metres off shore – lots and lots of dolphins.

Our camping spot

Our camping spot

This morning I woke to the sound of the monks singing. They sing all the time, even just walking through the mission. Happy people. I even ventured into the church service this morning. The church is immaculate as are the whole church grounds – such a stark contrast to the village outside. The wealth of the church and the religious life must be very attractive. The young students seem happy – their passion for religion makes them happy, which makes me happy. Such passion has brought the church, and help for the local people into these remote places. The passion has also brought Christianity.

Today Clement asked me what I ate in Iran. Like with faces and with clothes, I only remember if I like something or not – if it was tasty or not. He was shocked at my lack of memory of this – for him a very important part of life. He has told about a Swiss cycling companion he had, and how they spent hours reminiscing what they ate in great detail. For me, I remember different things. I guess this may shock lots of cyclists, as eating is an important part of the cycling experience for many. I spent the afternoon thinking about this – is this strange? I have never liked cooking, and when at home by myself, I usually went to minimum effort to make something I wouldn’t offer to anyone else (like toast and marmite). I don’t know – I was happy enough.

We decided to camp near the dolphins today, and I have put up the hammock on the beach between two trees. Dinner was bread and tuna, and a desert of a brilliant starry sky with two shooting stars.

Sunset

Sunset


‘We have wine.’
The priest opened up the cabinet and moved the camoflage to the side.
‘God has brought us together tonight to share food, wine and each other’s company.’
Out came a big cask of wine from Portugal. Welcome to Timor Leste.

From the coastal road

From the coastal road

Today was an easy day – a non-steep road, mostly good, down to the coast. We had a long internet stop to catch up with our friends and family, and an easy crossing (visa free) into country number 33 – Timor Leste.

We are sleeping in a catholic school on the beach, after being welcomed in by the head-priest. Yes, there are crocodiles here too – so no swimming.. ☺


I stood there on the muddy slope, my sandles brown and slimy from the mud, stationary with the bike. Trying to move forward my feet would slip in the sandles, the sandles would slip on the slope, and the wheels would slide back to whence they came. So I was stuck there. Then came a bus from above. I was in its way but couldn’t move. Out jumped two strapping lads and pushed me up and forward, out of the bus’s way. This road was meant to be ‘bagus’ (great). It was a mud-bath.

The beach

The beach

Our lovely hosts last night

Our lovely hosts last night

The crocodile beach

The crocodile beach

Our day started as yesterday’s had ended. Pushing our bikes up rocky steep roads to amazing viewpoints before bumping our way down again. A short interlude of nice road allowed us to make more kilometres than yesterday before a short 3km stretch of slime took 1.5 hours.

We arrived, slimy and muddy, at a church, and were welcomed by the people there, and taken to the pastor’s house which is being built. We were given food to eat and water and coffee to drink. Again, such lovely people!

The church family

The church family


‘Dorong! Dorong!’ (push)
I scream at the top of my voice as the kids push me and my bike up the super-steep hill.
‘Dorong! Dorong!’ cries Clement as his kids push him up. We are neck and neck, like jockeys in a horse race.
Today was steep. Today was drenching rain. Today was spectacular views over the most amazing turquoise water. Oh – and did I mention – it was steep!

It was steep!

It was steep!

We didn’t really get going today – stopping every 5km when the rain got too heavy. I tried my first betel nut that everyone has been chewing. With the rain pouring down outside, the whole village gathered around as we bit off some of the fruit, took some of the white powder, and chewed. The taste was intense, and bitter. I couldn’t take it for too long.

Our friends during the rain shower

Our friends during the rain shower

We arrived at the only town in the area to see the most amazing coloured sea. There were areas of brown, areas of bright turquoise, areas of normal blue, and areas of the deepest blue – all to the backdrop of dense dark clouds. It was beautiful.

The amazing blue water

The amazing blue water

The blue sea

The blue sea

The blue sea

The blue sea

Then the road climbed, and my goodness it was steep. Up 300m into the heavens, and down 300m. Up 600m then down 600m. Up another 500m then down. At the top we could gasp in awe at the magic coast of beautiful water and steep mountains dropping to the sea.

The view from above

The view from above

Steep

Steep

The village kids drove me insane, following me as I crawled up the mountains. They were much faster walking that I was cycling. And others putted along on their motorbikes. None wanted to be photographed but followed doggedly. We were the most interesting thing that had happened all week. Then Clement had the brilliant idea of putting them to work. So they pushed us up the hills, sometimes at a sprint.

This part of Indonesia is one of the poorest places I’ve seen. The lean-tos made of grass must get blown over regularly. People just sit on the side of the road watching time pass by. We finished today with another 10km of steep road left, staying the night next to the sea (with the crocodiles) in a little house with a lovely family.

They are beautiful people and desperately poor. I brought out the biscuits which they only accepted for the children. I cooked some pasta that Clement had on a fire they had made in an outhouse. Again, they only accepted some of it for the children.
They brought a chicken in from outside. Later, by the fire, it had had its neck broken. It is going to be fried. I fear they are giving us almost the last food they have. I will give them some money tomorrow. They can buy some food – this time for the whole family.

Today was an amazing and intense day. This is what cycle touring is all about.


‘Bisa bernang?’ (Can we swim?)
‘Tidak!’
Snapping the arms together, we understood there are crocodiles here.
Ouch.

The plains in Timor

The plains in Timor

The countryside in Timor feels more like Australia. It looks drier, and the vegetation less rich. I think Timor soil has the same root as Australia’s, and it makes for a more familiar feeling. Timor is also very poor. People say it when they talk to us. There is no industry and they see little help from Jakarta. We cycled through flat plains before the coast lined with little straw huts and road shaped straw huts at the back. I asked what the round huts were for – food storage – corn.

Today it is Clement’s turn to be sick and not bursting with energy. I think his race across Flores gave it to him, and he just needs a bit of time to recover. We stopped earlyish and are staying in a police station. They offered us the local wine to try, but we just collapsed into bed.

Hut between the trees

Hut between the trees

A watery environment

A watery environment

Huts

Huts


I didn’t sleep well on the boat, and spent most of the day procrastinating before stopping at 3 to have an afternoon sleep before an evening sleep. Then Clement wrote. His boat arrived at 5 in the evening – not 5 in the morning. We had an evening of catching up and preparing for the cycle through Timor.

Resting place

Resting place

After eating two meals and fixing my flat tyre in front of a large audience at the harbour, I cycled, stopped and ate, cycled, stopped and had my hair cut. I then cycled, stopped and ate, and stopped to sleep. I was not ready for the hills ahead. Time for a rest.

Tomorrow Clement and I will start our cycle in Timor proper.