Posts Tagged ‘Sumatra’


We left the main drag in search of the little white road on the paper map. The road that isn’t on Google Maps, but, luckily does exist. It’s a bumpy affair through the palm plantations well off the beaten track. And, here we find ourselves, in a little village staying with our flamboyant host.

In the palm plantation

In the palm plantation

Today, being less steep, meant there was more time for talking, which we did in abundance. At different places with views over the sea we stopped and talked and ate. All good past-times for cyclists. Sleeping is another good past-time for cyclists, and that is what I’m going to do now..


Clement likes challenges, and today he gave me one that he knew would be hard – as a challenge should be. Cycle 1000km without a map, without GPS and without tracking my route. This challenge reached deep into my being. I can’t do that. Why not? I don’t know.

View from our lunch spot at the 28000km mark.

View from our lunch spot at the 28000km mark.

Today was exhausting. 100km of up and down and up and down, through the palm plantations and the forest, passing near the sea, but only touching it once. That one time we hit the sea was exactly when I passed 28000km.

28000km swim

28000km swim

The Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean

We stopped in a village at the end of the day, and were immediately invited in to stay. The whole village descended on our place, and we had about 50 people surrounding us in an orgy of selfies. The level of excitement was incredible. I don’t think the kids will sleep for a week!


‘Have you got some of that Viagra?’ Clement asked.
I looked at him in disbelief.
‘You know, that Viagra you used the other day.’
Mmm.
‘That jelly to help with my shorts rubbing.’
‘Aaaah. Vaseline.’
Viagra is not part of my assortment of medications on this trip. ☺

The Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean

Again, we were fed like kings this morning by our lovely hosts – all ready for the kilometre eating planned for today. Today saw us cycle along the coast, and through the palm plantations in a hilly, undulating landscape. We ended up sleeping in the police station.


Indonesian language lesson – the numbers. Exercise number one: count the number of ‘Hello mister’ in 30 minutes. Answer: 62 ‘Hello mister’ in 30 minutes. Also 34 ‘Hello mister’ in 17 minutes before Clement got a flat tyre. Exercise number two – people counting: I counted 27 people watching Clement fixing the tyre – all in Indonesian!

Some spectators

Some spectators

Today we descended on a bumpy road through the dense forest to the sound of tropical birds hooting and monkeys screaming. It was beautiful and so peaceful.

Rainforest

Rainforest

Rainforest

Rainforest

Our quest of reaching 100km each day to make it to Jakarta in time will be difficult. In the mountains we had constant steep roads. On the eastern plains we had heat. Today we had a torrential downpour for a few hours, which I think is quite normal on the west coast.

Shower

Shower

Our strategy from now on is to cycle when it’s dry, only stopping for water and thrusting some food down our throats with great haste. We will cycle until the torrential downpour actually starts (not just when the sky turns black – we may still be able to cycle another 15 minutes) and stop at the next restaurant (which is invariably within 500 metres). Our days will consist of an early start with a two hour torrential downpour break sometime in the afternoon. The elements will dictate our day – the ultimate in going with the flow.

We stopped at a school today to camp, and were invited in by the headmaster to eat and stay at his house. Again, such lovely people!


Sumatra keeps surprising. We left our camp in the coffee plantation and climbed through the forest, bathed in sun, with the monkeys hooting all around, and the beautiful volcano imposing in the heavens. Then we passed onto a high plateau with tea plantations as far as the eye could see. The day’s end saw us ascend into the mountains again in the drizzle.

The road upwards

The road upwards

This ride in Sumatra is amazing. The views are stunning, the food is great, and the ‘Hello Mister’ frequency is very high. Selfie shots abound, and gaggles of giggling girls pull over, parking their motorscooters around us and take turns in taking selfies. I never know the answer to ‘where you go?’. The answer is always ‘over there.’

Tomorrow it’s down to the heat on the coast. Hopefully it is a little less steep there, and we can break the 100km again.

Towards the volcano

Towards the volcano

The beautiful mountains

The beautiful mountains

The volcano

The volcano

Volcano

Volcano


The valley was beautiful, downhill, as Clement and I stood on the back of a pick-up truck, transporting my bike and Clement’s sick bike to the next bike shop. Once on the bike again, today, I lacked energy. The endless ups and downs (several hundred metre climbs and drops) were not inspiring me today, even though the landscape was beautiful. I guess I can’t be bursting with energy every day.

Clement on the back of the truck

Clement on the back of the truck

Beautiful river

Beautiful river

Tea plantation

Tea plantation

We find ourselves tonight in a half built house surrounded by coffee plants, and a few papaya trees. The crickets are out in force, which brings me back to camping in Australia in my youth. I’m in the same hemisphere as that youth now!


I counted fifteen people gathered around us in the little pergoda on the side of the road. Clement’s bike was inverted and we were looking at his wheel. A bicycle expert with teeth pointing in all directions was the first to arrive, and after tapping my bike and feeling the tyres, he started working on Clement’s bike.

Our bike repair place

Our bike repair place

Three washers were added to the back axle to compensate for a bolt ground smooth by some, as yet to be discovered problem. The gears were then readjusted to compensate for the washers. All explanations during the repairs were done by the waving of arms and pointing. Thank-you, kind gentleman, for helping where Clement’s and my technical skills were inadequate.
We fear, however, the problem will return. Clement needs a new axle, maybe a new hub, and a new gear cable that is now frayed.

We woke this morning to hear the pouring rain, and then went back to sleep. One’s desire to cycle diminishes when one contemplates getting that wet. Also, Clement’s panniers are not very waterproof anymore, apparently. When we finally woke up, we were offered another incredible breakfast, including a self picked cocoa fruit from the tree just outside the door.

My first cocoa fruit

My first cocoa fruit

By ten we were on the road, cycling at snail pace up an incredibly steep, unrelenting road. We were cycling up the side of a volcano, we discovered later, when we spotted the volcano evacuation signs.

Volcano evacuation

Volcano evacuation

At the top was a beautiful high altitude volcanic lake with an amazingly steep road climbing and falling through fields of temperate weather vegetables, above the lake and below the volcano.

High lake

High lake

High lake

High lake

It was steep

It was steep

We are camping at a bus food stop about a kilometre from the fateful pergoda.