Posts Tagged ‘Ende’


‘I practice my English by counting the Bule (foreigners) that pass,’ she said as we sat in the little shop on the side of the road.
‘Wow!’ I replied. ‘I practice my Indonesian by counting the number of hello misters. How many bule have you seen today?’
‘One,’ she replied nodding to me.
‘Ah!’ I replied.

River

River

I certainly would have beaten her one bule. I wasn’t counting but there might have been one hello mister every minute or so averaged out over the day – still, nothing like yesterday. Today was a late start after searching (and finding) the screw that broke on my saddle, and taking it for another welding job. It was kind of nice being forced to sleep in – I couldn’t leave until the shops opened and my bike was fixed.

Saddle repairs

Saddle repairs

My destination was the village at the bottom of the famous Kelimutu volcanic crater lakes. A short day with a 1200m climb and a drop to the village where I was able to set up my tent next to the river.
I followed a river all the way up, passing lovely little villages and paddy fields.

Village

Village

Hut

Hut

Tomorrow morning I’ll leave at 3 for an ascent to the crater.


I closed the hotel door and collapsed on the bed. Today was intense. The ‘hello mister’ density was staggering. I felt the poverty of the people. I gasped in awe at the beauty of the landscape. I passed 35000km, and my saddle broke in front of a hotel.

35000km

35000km

Everyone says ‘hello mister’, mostly followed with ‘ke mana?’ or ‘where you go?’ Cars pass, roll down with windows and ask this, they cry it from busses, from the crowd of people packed into trailers or from motorbikes. They usually honk to reinforce the greeting.
They cry ‘hello mister’ from the side of the road – kids, fathers, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers. When playing kids spot me, someone screams out ‘BULE!’ (foreigner), or ‘TOURIST!’, and then there is a chorus of hysterical screaming ‘MISTER! MISTER! MISTER!’. Then I hear the frantic patter of feet behind me as the kids rush to catch me. If I’m on a downhill I just whoosh away, but on the uphill I have them follow me, asking me where I am going or crying ‘My name is! My name is!’
Sometimes I hear a slow motorbike following me at my speed just behind me, or next to me. Several times they followed me for minutes – in silence after all the standard questions have been exhausted. Stopping does not deter them – they stop too. Taking a piss in front of them doesn’t deter them. They wait patiently.

Some interested kids

Some interested kids

Lots of kids cry out ‘Money! Money!’ I thought – just mischievous kids. Sometimes I stopped and asked them for money – saying I thought they said they had money for me. When I pulled in to a collection of houses at the beach, I was taking in the scenery and taking some photos with the kids buzzing around the bike, when the father came up and asked for money to fix his electric saw. My spur of the moment reaction was to say I didn’t have any. Later they daughter was telling me in Indonesian how Flores is much poorer than the rest of Indonesia. There is no industry here, and no way to make money. ‘Life is not good,’ she said. The family live in what looks like paradise to western eyes – on a beautiful beach lined with coconut trees, with turquoise blue water lapping the shore. They live in a ramshackle lean-to which may also look idyllic to a westerner – if one doesn’t have to live in it. It left me thinking as I pulled away on my Rolls Royce of bicycles, with the GoPro mounted and all the accessories exuding wealth. I wish I had given the father some money to fix his saw. It probably would have only cost a few dollars, and it would have made him very happy.

The beach

The beach

The road was amazing, descending down to the beach with mountains everywhere. The coastal road was to die for – hugging the coast, and then rising and falling 50m at a time – around each crag and over each headland.

Mountain view

Mountain view

View of the sea

View of the sea

The beach before Ende

The beach before Ende

The beach road

The beach road

In the beachside village

In the beachside village

The ‘hello misters’ rose to a crescendo as I approached the town of Ende. I just needed to get away. I wanted to avoid a hotel today, but I just needed out. I pulled up to the first hotel – down a small alley. Surrounded by a crowd of kids, I tried to turn the bike 180 degrees by lifting on the saddle and the handlebars when I found the road was a dead-end. CRACK! The saddle snapped. ‘Where you from, mister!’ ‘Where you go mister!’ ‘MISTER!’

I’ll fix the bike tomorrow. Tonight the door is locked and I’m inside – alone. Sometimes the hermit in me wins out – and that is OK.