Posts Tagged ‘Java’


When we returned from the crater at about 7am, we had another sleep, marking my change of days. I started cycling at 1 careering down the super-steep mountain back to the heat. A slow boat to Bali saw me with only an hour of sunlight to try to eat some of the kilometres to Denpasar. I should make it there tomorrow.

Steep on the way down

Steep on the way down

The road down was mighty steep. I was able to test my new brakes as I hurtled down through the beautiful, green rain forest. I said goodbye to Harry who is going to a little island tonight, and I’m on the bigger island of Bali, camping in a lovely restaurant on a beach.

On the way down

On the way down

On the way down

On the way down


They cheered and jeered from far and wide. ‘Tidak pakai baju’ (not wearing clothes). ‘En poile,’ cried the French couple. Amongst the cries of ‘DINGIN!’ – cold – I realised just how different my body is. It was 2am, and I could power up to the top of the volcano crater in the dark. I passed everyone, rugged up like they were going to the arctic, but, my clothes were already drenched in sweat. Hence my decision – tidak pakai baju – and hence all the (quite fun) attention. (I was still wearing pants.)

Sunrise at Ijen

Sunrise at Ijen

What a reward after the super-hard climb. Blue light making the sulphur fumes look like flames of blue fire. Miners knocking off blocks of solid sulphur and trapsing back up out of the crater, passing all the exhausted tourists. And then the most spectacular sunrise – one side looking out over the coast and across to Bali, and on the other side a volcanic lake. When the wind died, the volcanic fumes created a dense fog, and we could make angel shadows, playing with the morning sunlight. Everyone put on their gas masks and reminded me of my favourite Doctor Who story. It’s dangerous – I was told by the guys trying to sell gas masks. Most Indonesians weren’t wearing one though.

Sunrise at Ijen

Sunrise at Ijen

Angel

Angel

The fumes rise

The fumes rise

These volcanos are hard work – but so beautiful. As we climbed Ijen, we passed through so many different climate zones with different vegetation – from rice fields to sugar cane to coffee to forest. We climbed to 1600m, dropped to 1100m and climbed to 1900m. Totally exhausted we arrived in the dark at the camp-site and collapsed. I set up my tent – the first time I could use it for months. It’s not too hot at 1900m.

On the way up

On the way up

On the way up

On the way up

On the way up

On the way up

On the way up

On the way up

On the way up

On the way up

It’s nice to not be the one to stop demanding food. Clement is never hungry. Harry is – at about the same time that I am. We were crawling our way uphill through the forest. No sign of people. No restaurants. Time for cooking. We got quite some attention from the people coming past on their motorbikes on the way to the top of the volcano. It was good we ate – there was another 7km of steep climbing before the first big drop.

Before the drop

Before the drop

Tomorrow is Bali. Yay!


There he was – Bob Marley, walking along the side of the road, stark naked, his penis swaying as he walked. A walking stick in hand, and a little frilly black lace piece of fabric wedged between his arse cheeks was all he had in the way of clothes. ‘Are there lots of naked Bob Marleys in Indonesia?’ I asked. ‘Some,’ was the reply. There seemed little interest in this strange dredlocked man. Indonesia has all kinds of people.

The beach

The beach

Today we visited some more welding stations – they’re everywhere in Indonesia to fix the millions of motorbikes buzzing around. I met with Harry several times during the afternoon as he walked and hitched his way to the bike shop in Bondowoso where his back hub was finally fixed. With all our technical problems we’re meeting the cycling community of East Java.

Bike shop in Bondowoso

Bike shop in Bondowoso

This morning we met up with our friends from the bike shop in Probolinggo for breakfast and a ride to a beautiful little beach. The main road was busy and dangerous, plied by trucks and busses – all in a hurry. The view on the side of the road was spectacular – although it was an effort to cross the road to photograph it.

RIce fields

RIce fields

Beach

Beach

And yet another new fruit – a relative of the coconut. They have a very strange tasting fermented drink made from its juice. Eating the fruit, you pull the geletounous segments out from shell. Weird.

New fruit

New fruit

We are now (hopefully) ready to scale the Ijen volcano and see the ‘blue fire’. Looking forward to it!


Today I acquired new skills – braking without brakes. I used my shoes to slow me down, and I walked a lot coming down the volcano. I am now the proud owner of standard brakes. Maybe having fancy everything on my expensive bike that noone can fix is not always the best strategy..

Bike team in Probolinggo

Bike team in Probolinggo

I left our place of sleep in the park ranger’s office to look out over Bromo as the sun was rising. I thought – ‘that can’t be snow – it is cold but not that cold.’ I looked up – it was raining ash. Looking over the edge of the mountain before it dropped down to the sandy volcanic plains below, I watched Bromo spew ash up into the heavens above.

Bromo

Bromo

When I was able to stop, I took some photos of the descent. It was very beautiful.

Descent from Bromo

Descent from Bromo

Descent from Bromo

Descent from Bromo

Thanks to the bike team in Probolinggo who helped both me and Harry out with our ailing bikes. Great work!

Bike repairs in Probolinggo

Bike repairs in Probolinggo


The alarm went at 4:45 and we joined the hoards that had arrived while we slept and saw the sunrise over the stunning volcanic landscape. Today was sun, views, super steep roads, and failing brakes. After a sojourn across the sand plains and a climb to the bellowing crater, we called it a day as the rain set in. I don’t want to die on the way down careering out of control in the rain.

Stairway down from Bromo

Stairway down from Bromo

The alarm roused us out of our sleep to see the streams of people passing our little prayer hut, going to the viewing area to see the sunrise. The view was, indeed, spectacular. Flat, sandy plains with huge volcano craters bursting out at incredible angles. One of the craters was bellowing smoke – its clouds turned orange in the beautiful morning light. A few hours later everyone was gone, and we cooked our breakfast in peace in the bright sunshine, looking out over the plains miles below.

Bromo in the morning

Bromo in the morning

Coming down from the heights to the sand plains is incredible. The road is so steep, and the views are so spectacular. We made our way to, and climbed a crater billowing out ash. Near the crest of the crater you can hear the booms of each cloud of ash being expelled into the air.

Steep mountains rising from the plains

Steep mountains rising from the plains

My hydraulic brakes have given up the ghost. The oil has been leaking, and now they hardly work at all. I replaced the brake pads (again) to try to get the most of what was left, and walked my bike down the steepest parts today. As no-one can service the brakes here, I have decided to change them for normal, standard brakes, but first, I need to get down from Bromo to a bike shop on the coast. As the rain started again this afternoon, I decided it was too dangerous to go down to the coast, and am staying in the nice, cool heights for another night.


‘You shouldn’t cycle to the summit alone,’ he said.
Clement and I looked on with a puzzled look.
‘It’s spooky. Ghosts!’
Scaling the 2700m volcano from sea-level is usually a multi-day affair – or involves some night cycling to get to the top for sunrise.

Cold

Cold

The plan of attack was to cycle to Wonokitri at 2000m and stop for the evening. Then it is a further 10km steep climb in the dark to get to the summit.

Clement and I were joined by Harry – an Indonesian cyclist from Bandung. Our climb was rather adventurous. Harry’s crank snapped, and he had it welded back together several times before catching a lift to Wonokitri for more serious welding. Clement and I continued alone, and met up with him again in the evening for the final nocturnal ascent.
Clement and I were laughing at the beginning – ‘when does the steep part start?’ The road seemed like a gentle climb compared to the slopes we have been scaling on the other Indonesian islands. The climb became adventurous when the rain started and it got very cold. It was not steep (at first), but it went on and on and on. Even with the rain and cold I was on the verge of getting cramp – luckily I was spared of it, though. We huddled around a fire as the evening light faded, listening to the cold rain pouring down outside.

The last kilometres to Wonotikri were in the dark and rain with only my head torch (my bike dynamo has stopped working). My brakes also stopped working – oil had been leaking from my hydraulic brakes, and in the rain, they no longer work.

We ran into Harry again sheltering from the rain in the dark in front of the welding shop. Almost everything was closed in the village and I felt a bit miserable and cold. I found a small, cold restaurant where I downed a fried rice before returning to the shelter and snuggling in my sleeping bag before the final nocturnal ascent. Clement woke me up at 10pm and I put on my drenched, cold cycling shirt, and the three of us headed off into the night. It was super steep. Clement scooted on ahead while Harry and I pushed our bikes up the final 10km to the summit.

Pushing up the ever steeper road, I would stop to get by breathing rate down. There was silence and darkness. Absolute, emcompassing silence. As the road weaved its way up the mountain we were rewarded with the most spectacular views. Far below I saw the lights on the plain, and the shadow of a huge volcano looming behind. Stopping to absorb in the view, it was a silent, awe-inspiring experience. We finally made it to the top. There was hugging all round and then huddling in a little prayer room for dawn.

Ascent

Ascent

It was good to meet Cak and his friends again in Sijoardo, just south of Surabaya. We were there for a big cycling event where cyclists came from far and wide to share cycling stories and exchange information. Clement and I gave a little talk, and I even inflicted some of my singing on the poor audience. ☺

Friends in Sidaorjo

Friends in Sidaorjo


Every Thursday morning in year 8 at school I felt the dread rising to choke me – my woodwork class. The wooden pencil case I made had holes so big the pencils fell through. My dread is similar in fixing my bike, and today I watched as my bike was dismantled for a flight to Pontinak in Borneo. Will I be able to put it together again?

Dismantling the bike

Dismantling the bike

My plans of going to Borneo are now concrete – a flight to Pontinak in Kalimantan where I will meet Clement to cycle to Kuching in Malaysia. There, we will meet Will, who I cycled with in Tajikistan. This will be a side-trip of a couple of months on two islands in Indonesia I dreamed about when I was a kid – Borneo and Sulawesi. But, first, the bike needs to survive the flight. It now sits, dismantled, in a box. I did a bike maintenance course before embarking on this trip – still, the fear of this technical reassembly exercise is present. ☺

Thanks Cak and all his friends in and on the way to Surabaya. Amazing hospitality and help by everyone! And very interesting conversations. You have made my last days in Java (this time) great!