Posts Tagged ‘Borneo’


Today we had nothing to do. No distant place to reach. So, we just relaxed, watched an amazing sunrise, caused laughter at my inability to open a coconut and to tie agar agar onto a rope, were invited for some wonderful meals, and cycled with the Tarakan cycling community. Not bad for a day of doing nothing.

Sunrise

Sunrise

I opened my eyes to see the first light from our sleeping place in an open hut on stilts above the beach. The water was calm, the clouds were incredible and it was getting lighter. The clouds transformed before our eyes, grew and moved, and changed colour to orange – one after the next. On the horizon was a big storm, which moved slowly across the sea, before our eyes.

We had visitors in our hut – a bird trapped inside the mosquito net (so clearly the net could only stop very big mosquitos), and lots of people from the village. They helped us get some coconuts from the trees, and watched on with amusement as I tried to open the coconut with the machete.

As we were leaving, we were invited by a group of women to join them. They were sitting around a pile of seaweed, and were tying it to ropes. The people from the village harvest the seaweed, and dry it in the sun. The women were preparing the next generation of seaweed – these ropes were to be placed in the sea, and will be ready for harvest in 2 weeks.

Harvesting seaweed

Harvesting seaweed

Will is staying in a hotel in the town, having some alone time. Clement and I met him for a few hours for lunch before continuing to.. destination unknown. We ended up in a little village half way to the ferry tomorrow, meeting the whole village, being introduced to the cycling community, receiving a new cycling tricot as a gift, and having a lovely meal of smoked fish. We are sleeping in an empty room at the school, all ready to meet the students tomorrow morning and possibly be interviewed by a TV news crew.

Tomorrow is (finally) the boat to Sulawesi!

Clement is a superstar

Clement is a superstar


‘Let’s wait.’
‘No, let’s catch the boat a little south of here and continue on south in Borneo.’
We all changed our minds back and forth like the light of a firefly. All the options were not optimal, and it took us all morning to discover them. Chaos boat travel in Indonesia.

Indecision

Indecision

‘Besok (tomorrow)’
‘Not from here.’
‘At 6 in the evening.’
It has taken 4 days to get from Tawau to Tarakan (which takes 3 hours with a fast boat). We waited 2 days in Tawau, then caught a boat to just over the border in Indonesia – Nunakan. We waited there a day, cycled to the other side of the island, and took a night ferry to Tarakan. We then cycled across the Tarakan island to find that the next boat to Tolitoli in Surawesi leaves in two days. All the way we were told all sorts of different information. Anything could be true.

Going with the flow, we find ourselves camped in a little hut on the beach on Tarakan island next to Borneo. Hopefully the boat to Sulawesi will leave the day after tomorrow.. ☺

Near our humble abode

Near our humble abode

Near our humble abode

Near our humble abode

Our own private concert

Our own private concert


‘Do you want this? My chicken is too spicy?’ Will pushed his meal towards Clement to eat.
‘It’s fish,’ replied Clement.
Will blushed. In the last week he has mistaken both pork and now fish for chicken. They must have interesting chickens in Ireland.

Endless palm plantations

Endless palm plantations

Today I passed 32000km from Eindhoven. I’m getting dangerously near the end..

32000km

32000km

Palm plantations, palm plantations, as far as the eye can see. Covering the rolling hills to eternity. The road remained challengingly up and down until 30km before Tawau, so a sweaty affair, cooled off once by a torrential downpour.

Endless palm plantations

Endless palm plantations

In Tawau it was time for an air-conditioned hotel, and a day off waiting for the boat to Indonesia. Bliss.


‘If you want to see the endangered species, you need to go to the logging areas,’ he said. ‘There are security guards there, and the poor people can’t poach the wildlife and send to China for medicine.’
Sitting on the balcony looking over the organic farm in the middle of the Borneo forest, we were nearly brought to tears several times. Our time in Borneo never ceases to amaze.

Our lovely host

Our lovely host

We heard of kidnappings and criminality near the Phillipines. We heard of sustainable logging, palm plantations and how they are bringing people out of poverty. We also heard stories of arranged marriages of very young women – personal stories that touch the heart.

Today was also a day of scaling great heights. For me, the modest ascent to a tree house perched at the top of a very tall forest tree. For Clement and Will, the more adventurous climb to the top of a telecom tower.

The tree house

The tree house

View from the top

View from the top

Looking down

Looking down

Clement at the top

Clement at the top

All in all, we didn’t cycle much, but the kilometres done were hot and hilly. We found it getting dark in the middle of the palm oil plantations before the coast, and are sleeping in a plantation village, drenched in sweat in the sweltering heat.


I jumped up out of my slumber at the café table to the sound of the pouring rain. My bike needed to be put under cover. When I went to sleep the sun was beating down in the dense forest, hilly landscape. Now the heavens had opened up and it was cold. The weather changes from one second to the next in the tropical rainforest in the depths of Borneo.

Waiting for the rain

Waiting for the rain

Afternoon snooze

Afternoon snooze

Today was a hot slog through the dense jungle. Contrary to expectations, there was a café after 30km and another after 50km – ideal for escaping from the heat, and rehydrating after the endless up and down. The effort is really worth it. The forest is beautiful, and was spectacular in the evening sun.

The jungle road

The jungle road

The jungle road

The jungle road

We’re staying with the kind owners of an organic farm, watching the bugs the size of small birds crashing into the roof next to the light. The mosquito net will be especially needed tonight – this is malaria and dengue fever territory.

The flies were big

The flies were big

Using the mosquito and kitten net

Using the mosquito and kitten net


‘Don’t shower naked here, or you will go blind!’
We needed to go inside to shower in the school.
‘The people in the village may curse you – and you will go blind.’
Not only naked showering could result in a blindness curse, but also running over chickens without paying compensation. Ten ringgits should be enough, though.

The road

The road

Expecting unrelenting steep hills in the blazing sun, we left early to get some distance before the heat started. The desperately steep hills didn’t come (except for one hard climb), and it wasn’t desperately hot either – hence the 112km today. We are now in the depths of Borneo in the mountainous forest. The bugs are chirping outside – and some of them are BIG.


‘My arms were burning. I was changing arms every 20 metres, and then I grabbed with both hands, steering the bike by shifting my weight on the saddle.’
Clement took a lift grabbing onto a truck, pulling the bike with his bare hands up the incredibly steep road.

18%

18%

The sun was pounding down and the heat was intense. The road turned a corner and started it’s incredible ascent of 1500m in just over 10km. The sweat poured down off me and I drank and drank. I drank 10 litres getting to the top, pushing my bike most of the way to avoid the cramp that was developing. This is the steep Borneo I was waiting for. It’s a challenge, and I lugged my bike all the way up there.

Slalom cycling

Slalom cycling

Mountain view

Mountain view

We met up with Will after parting ways a few days ago, to find ourselves being interviewed by a journalist that had seen him cycling into Keningau. We are spending the night in a city hall, dancing with the village kids to the beat pounding from the huge loudspeaker. I joined in. Hehe

Sunset

Sunset

Kids dancing

Kids dancing

Sunrise at the beach

Sunrise at the beach