I finally received my 6th Island bracelet, to complete the set of bracelets from each of the islands we have cycled so far – Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa and Flores . It was hard work; I had to climb 6646m from sea level (Labuan Bajo) to sea level (Ende) to complete my mission! In Ende I eventually went out with Gerald to inspect the top attraction of the town, a small, battery powered, portable carousel with two young kids riding proud their carts. On the way back we stopped at a small shop with all kind of ‘Chinese jewelry’ and lots of wooden statues, batik and other things. There were a few items, that looked nice and different than the Chinese ‘plastic art’. Nobody was in the shop so we called for assistance. Two young girls were obviously attracted by the strange male voices and came over from the associated house. Very shy they entered the shop to find us two. A few words exchanged and I was ‘engaged’ with Sri, when she tied the bracelet to my wrist, amusedly watched by her friend Isra. To me it is always a surprise how relaxed and open minded everything is in this country and how easy you make contact and friends. A few words Bahasa Indonesia combined with English and all doors are wide open. After a final group photo Gerald and I were back out into the darkness to return to our hotel.
|Bajawa to Ende|
|Σ Time:||255:39 h|
|Σ km:||5135 km||Temp:||15/42 °C|
|Up:||1098 m||Σ Up:||63119 m||Down:||2246 m|
|Calories:||2048 kcal||Σ kcal:||118771 kcal|
|Conditions:||Cool in the morning on higher altitude. Hot in the afternoon approaching the coast. Scenic roads and smoking volcanoes, riding through fertile lands and dense forests.|
After the 2 days of immense climbing this was an easier cycling day. Although there were no real big climbs, the coastal rollers at the last 30 km to Ende added up to 1100m at days end. The downhill in the morning to sea level was a treat. The active and smoking volcano Ebulobo was our companion for almost the whole day, as we seemed to circumvent him. As the sun moved higher the light got better and so the picturesque of the landscape. At one corner I was waiting almost 20 minutes for the riders to pass. Just when I climbed down from my view point, Henry and Nellie (today’s sweeps) raced by, stopped and Henry and I continued our ‘Indonesian Adventure’ of experiencing and enjoying the nature and colorful scenery of these diverse islands for quite a distance. Dry and deserted areas changing into rainforest and fertile fields within miles. Here in Eastern Flores you can already see a touch of Papua, e.g. in the faces of the people. Almost all day I got the friendly, well known ‘Hello Miss/Mister’, ‘Bule-Bule’, or ‘Touri’. Only a few kids and young adults practiced their ‘bad’ English, with expressions I will not repeat. The ‘smilie ball’ at my bike seat post is always an eye catcher, when ever I pass a group I hear the giggling and a ‘bola-bola’. Motorcyclists passing me giving a ‘thumbs up’ with a big smile. Christian singing can be heard from churches in almost every village on this Sunday morning. I stopped at a church and was immediately surrounded by a large number of youngsters, which were outside the church and followed the ceremony via the speaker. The church was filled to the last seat. The whole village seems to go to church. What a contrast to the churches in the western world, nowadays. Throughout Indonesia I have never seen an adult slapping a child. However here in the catholic part, an elderly man – dressed in a Bavarian (Barbarian) Bayern Munich shirt – had a long stick and used it to hit the kids, to chase them away. Although I told him to stop it and that all is o.k. (tidak apa apa) he seemed to like his whipping job . Is this the Christian influence? I never saw such ‘guards’ in the Muslim part of the country. After lunch there was a large portion of gravel on the downhill. The ride along the coast was stunning. The roaring of the waves that ponder onto the pebble beach and throwing the spray of water wide into the air. At 1:30pm I arrived in Ende, took a short detour along the beach front to scan for opportunities to buy my Flores bracelet before heading up short uphill towards the airport where we stay in the only nice place in town. I had no luck at this time, but later this evening …
Too bad that we were on a tight schedule today and I couldn’t spend more time on he road. We had to be in Ende in the early afternoon, to load our bicycles and bags onto a truck, that carries it over to Timor on a ferry. We are going to fly to Kupang the day after tomorrow. So it means 2 rest days in Ende and another in Kupang, before we finish our Indonesian part of Trans-Oceania with 4 cycling days to Dili.
Our 3 drivers, Dhanu, Sulis and Yudha, who supported us excellent around the clock, since the first day in Sumatra in August, have unfortunately already left us in Ende/East Flores, as we continue to Timor by plane and get a new crew for the 4 days on Timor and Timor-Leste.
You guys were great!!!!We wished you could have stayed longer with us; preferably until Sydney!We will miss you and your hospitality, your infectious smiles, the encouraging words and cheerful wishes sending us into the tough cycling days or at lunch. Without you the tour would have been not the same. Thanks again / Terima Kasih
All the best to you. Have a safe trip home to Yogya.
The road architects and engineers did a wonderful job to design and layout the road to Bajawa. It is more like an artwork, than civil engineering that the long stretch of tar paints into the scenic landscape. On 25kms it gradually meanders from sea level along a scenic valley, formed by a giant volcano and its satellites to find it way to Bajawa in 1200m altitude. It is a constant up, no intermediate drops into valleys cut by creeks or rivers, no bridges to cross followed by steep re-climbs. Every corner of the numberless switchbacks revealing a fantastic view – back to the ocean in the south, the giant volcano to the east or the mountains to the west. What a treat, even after a long day in the saddle. Enjoy- and unforgettable. We are soon going to miss the diversity of the Indonesian landscapes!
Who volunteers to count the switchbacks and corners?
|Ruteng to Bajara|
|Date:||10-11-2014||Time:||07:21 h||Σ Time:||250:17 h|
|Distance:||135 km||Σ km:||5010 km||Temp:||19/43 °C|
|Up:||2265 m||Σ Up:||62021 m||Down:||2178 m|
|Calories:||2911 kcal||Σ kcal:||116723 kcal|
|Conditions:||Hot and very scenic. Roads perfect, except a 2km section, where Cristiano’s ants did not finish the polishing.|
Another long, hot and tough cycling day. After yesterday’s 3200m up, we had ‘only’ 2200m elevation gain, today! However the ‘Big W’ wasn’t less of a challenge. It’s 25 km and 1200m final climb to Bajawa at the end of the 135 km stage, required the last energy reserves. The morning started with a quick 500m climb over a 1350m shoulder, followed by an endless (35km) downhill to sea level. What a relief for the legs, still recovering from yesterday’s workout. Several stops to enjoy the scenery and to take some photos slowed down my descend. Temperature climbed into the 40th Celsius, by the time I arrived at lunch, which was setup on the peek in the center of the W, to allow for an easy continuation before the final climb. Getting around the corner opened the view of the Indian Ocean and a giant volcano on the east side of the island. Camelbak and bottles were refilled in the last village before the ascend to Bajawa. Sulis waited with extra water at some point of the climb. My legs felt still strong and progress on the hill was faster than anticipated. At the 110km mark at already 500m I was passed by the van, which stopped around the corner to set out the ‘sweep’. Chelsea was the ‘lucky’ winner to attack the climb from this point, as the slower riders did not continue after lunch or finally got on the van at the foot of the climb. I continued my pace and reached the top at about 4pm. Bucket shower and a good dinner completed the day.
Tomorrow is an easier day to Ende, from where we fly over to Kupang on Timor. Only 1100m of climbs and more than 2000m of downhill. 3 rest days will give the body enough time to recover for the final 3 days in Timor and Timor-Leste before we head off for Australia and leave the Indonesian mountains behind …
|Labuan Bajo to Ruteng|
|Σ Time:||242:55 h|
|Σ km:||4875 km||Temp:||20/44 °C|
|Up:||3283 m!||Σ Up:||59756 m||Down:||2162 m|
|Calories:||3806 kcal||Σ kcal:||113812 kcal|
|Conditions:||The long feared 3000+ meter of climbs day. Roads mostly perfect and new tarred, but some section broken. Temperatures high in the afternoon. Climbs not too steep. Some windy parts.|
Alarm got off at 4:45am for an early start into a supposed to be long cycling day. Breakfast at 5:45 and on the road at 6am. Once out of Labuan Bajo, we spent all day on the Trans Flores Hwy, a mostly good paved and narrow road winding itself through the central mountainous region. The climbs were almost evenly spread between the morning section and after lunch. However, the temperature met its high after noon, with 44°C and no shade available with the sun in its zenith. It was a very scenic ride along the mountain ridges. Slow uphills followed by fast descends. However, there was a negative change in the attitude of some of the Indonesian people. We got the first rocks thrown on us by young kids and bad English expressions yelled at us. Furthermore begging for money and pens is everywhere. However these are exceptions, the friendly ‘Hellos’ still a majority. In Ruteng we were immediately surrounded by scholars, who collected signatures from foreigners in their notepads. So we had an autograph session, at the door steps to our hotel and later on we were accompanied into town by youngsters. They approached us from all sides, wanting to shake hands and ask for our names and country. In most cases they only seem to know 2 to 3 English phrases and don’t seem to be interested in the answers and cannot answer simple questions.
Only 2 more riding days, before we leave Flores in Ende and fly out to Kupang to continue in Timor.
|Dompu to Sape & Labuan Bajo (Flores)|
|Date:||07-10-2014||Time:||05:02 h||Σ Time:||234:50 h|
|Σ km:||4746 km
|Up:||1092 m||Σ Up:||56473 m||Down:||1087 m|
|Calories:||2073 kcal||Σ kcal:||110006 kcal|
|Conditions:||A short 108 km riding day to the ferry port. And even shorter 4 km the next day from the Flores port to the hotel. However a 6h ferry ride (calm sea), with a 2 hours departure delay due to loading problems made it a long stage.|
Someone must have removed the fast gears of yesterday’s long distance ride. Somehow I was going on real slow motion … well, mostly on purpose, as my DLR was again in the handlebar bag. I was riding with Henry again, which meant a lot of stops to enjoy sceneries, get drugged from the infinite numbers of different green you see and inhale the smells of the fruits and veggies of the fields. A longer stop a ‘Little Las Vegas’ and a school made the day. No hurry, as we stay directly at the ferry port over night, with a scheduled departure at 9am the next day. I even stopped at a sea salt field and harvested fresh ‘Garam’ for Hanns, who is always in need to ‘spice’ up his food. Eric, Gerald, Stirling and I got the VIP ‘Dance Room’ suite for the night. Don’t envy us, it was a basic accommodation. No toilet seat, but a showerhead and a bucket. Stirling reserved the only available bed for himself. We 3 got so-called mattresses, which were as thin as a bed sheet and indescribable filthy. Thus we had to call Danu, our driver to get access to our camping gear and unroll the thermarests and sleeping bag liners. Late breakfast at 7am, as the ferry is supposed to leave at 9am earliest (we will find out later why there is no real schedule). An ‘undefined’ German in the group spread rumors the night, that there is no beer allowed on the ferry, and luggage will be inspected (like in Sudan). In the morning brain cells were spinning wild to create ideas how to smuggle beer on board and keep it cold during the 6+ hours ride. At the end it was harder to access the beer in the van than to get it wrapped and on board, as the vans were parked so tight that one had to climb over roofs of cars and seats of motorcycles to get to them and eventually get to the bags with the ‘smuggled’ goods. Even after the beer was finished the Smugglers were taking all efforts to remove the evidence of their ‘wrong doing’ and they distributed the empty bottles in all available trash bins on board. Unloading the ferry was much easier. We were first in, thus going first out. 4 km to the Hotel and back to paradise at the beach, which unlimited beer and bottled wine. 1 Rest day in Labuan Bajo, before we will have the longest climb of the tour – 3200m accumulated for the day. No scuba diving this time, no mountain hiking. I developed another cold at the last 2 hotels with AC. Luckily the aircon time is soon to be over and tenting is on. No more room sharing, compromises, etc. I’m master of my own comfort!
The ferry left with 2 hours delay at 11am. Loading was not as chaotic as the Aswan ferry to Wadi Halfa, but also a nice game to watch. Bicycles and motorcycles where shifted around to use the available space as efficiently as possible. A huge truck with a generator hardly made it around the corners and over the humps into the hull. Smaller vans were coming, unloaded and left again. Then there were 2 huge trucks, pilled up to the sky. It was immediately obvious, that they exceeded the max. height and had to be partially unloaded from the top of the stack. No idea, why these trucks are not measured the night before and made ready to fit. Everyone lines up as early as possible, since there is only 1 ferry a day, and once full, you have to wait another day.
Good news. My phone situation will improve. I get a new S4A in Darwin from Canada, delivered by my TdA fellow riders Ursula & Rae, who will join the tour in Australia. And there may be a chance to reincarnate my ‘brick’ at a phone clinic in Darwin, too. Thanks to my Doomsday fellow David, who researched the address for me and is also prepared to join us in Darwin.