Trip Start Jul 29, 2007
Trip End Dec 20, 2008

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hello everybody! How are all you nine to fivers and retirees doing? Absolutely rockin'?

I been doing semi-ok since we left Kuala Lumpur a few weeks ago. Me and Elke did a 'big push' (ridiculous distances) on to Singapore making it in just two and a half days. 160Km got us to Melaka, which is a historic trading port in the region, so we ditched our bags in a hotel and quickly shot around town getting photos of anything slightly amusing in the fading light. Big day, slept well.

The next day we had no fixed destination to aim for so we just pedaled until our asses were sore. I edged Elke along with my philosophy of, 'the more we do today, the less we do tomorrow', and, "You've gotta do a 200km ride, those English lads I met in India haven't even done one". We were a couple of kms short of our bi-hundy so we rode up and down the main street pretending we were looking for the best hotel until our odo's, read 201km! I had indeed ridden her ass a little too hard though and she flinched with pain every time my finger wiped antiseptic cream on the the red ring of rash. Goodnight nurse!

The next day should have been a straight forward 30km to the Singapore border, then a 30km zoom into the city. Easy. Not so. We go through the motorcycle lane at Singapore immigration. Its jammed with hundreds of motorcycles backed up which, i thought would make for a good photo. I shoot one of Elke frowning in the jamb and just after I'm taking it, I notice a 'no photography' sign. Elke pulls her camera out and shoots back. I've got a really worried look on my face, fearing apprehension. There was none.... for about 10 or 15 minutes. Then... 'young boy with gun' singles me out and tells me to step aside and wait for big chief to arrive. I decided the best way out was to admit to taking a photo but then explaining that the signage needed to be earlier. It worked but Big Chief not happy, i had to delete the photo. Not really disappointed with the loss of a picture, Elke still had hers but they didn't pick her up taking it on cctv, no, it was more of an embarrassment thing in front of all these other motorcyclists, being bored as hell in the que, of course they're gonna stare my way for entertainment. Facking rubbernecks!

Things weren't going steadily over in the Elke camp either. Something about her passport not being able to scan in on the computer. Another wait for another big chief with heaps of badges & décor in recognition of his importance. A good half hour this time. It seemed to take forever to get through immigration. At least Elke wasn't in a position to give me shit about my troubles at border control, it was 1-all.

'Welcome to Singapore where we make you feel like a criminal have a nice day'.

The only consolation was that we got waved straight through customs where other motorcycles in the ‛nothing to declare' lane were being stopped and searched.

We popped out of customs in front of a highway entrance leading to the city centre. There were no ‛no bicycles' signs around, and a policeman sitting in a patrol box watching us, so we took the motorway without any protest from him.

It was wide and smooth and went fairly well until i skipped the turn-off for the city centre and we started heading out west. The next off-ramp was on the right hand side, the only one around like this, and we had to take it. Crossing 4 lanes of speeding motorway traffic was pretty uncool. I found a big enough gap alright but one taxi driver felt the need to blast on his horn to express his dis-approval.

I later apologised to Elke for putting our lives in danger to such a degree and re-thought my philosophy on using expressways; Possibly a good idea from city to city but definitely a no-no in and around cities.

Accommodation was a little tricky here, some sort of sporting event being on in town had no vacancy problems everywhere. Elke didn't want to stay in dorm accommodation for our final nights together, which i agreed with, but it still bought about some strange sort of argument that, you'd have to be a girl to understand, because i still don't. We stayed in a shithole for the first night but then found a nice double room for SGD$65 for the rest.

After settling in, we ringed a list of tourist attractions on a city map which we scored for free. A few more temples and mosques started boring the crap outta me, I seen enough of those facking god worshipping things by now anyway, but in between them was the architecture, tidy parks, trees galore and just the general neatness of the place that got most of the attention of my camera lens. Little Pentax was doing a bit of over-time today. It reminded me a lot of Dubai.

I posted yet another broken camera and other accumulated shat back home via Singapore post. As i filled out the paper work, i pondered how many hours in total I'd spent filling out these forms, and more depressingly, how much money I'd spent doing so.

Afterwards, we negotiated the MRT and a bus to get us to the Singapore Zoo. Quite a reputable zoo on the world scale and it didn't really disappoint either. The highlight for us being the ‛working elephants' show (not the massive Kangaroo balls) where they showed us how they move massive logs, squirt the audience with water (did Elephants ever get used in the fire-fighting industry?), and a few other balancing and delicate tricks as well.

This day was sponsered by Elke's mum. She'd heard that we were going separate ways and offered to let me and Elke run amok with one of her credit cards for a day or two. We didn't take the piss on such a generous offer but after the zoo admission, we decided to round it up to the nearest hundred. Thank-you Mrs K, you absolutely rock!

Apparently, Singapore's national sport is 'shopping'. Coming here and not going shopping is like going to church and not hearing god speak, or going to the pub and not having a beer. So off we went, into the main street where all the malls and plaza's are, pretty plain compared to what i was expecting, and emerged about 3 -4 hours later having spent a grand total of $19 (roadmap of Sumatra) plus lunch. Didn't we do well?

I'd promised Elke a couple of drinks with her before we went our separate ways, so on the way home we stopped in at a bar on the river. There was live rugby on the TV, England vs NZ, i knew nothing about it until i saw it, and i liked what i saw. 20-0 to NZ well before half time.

We settled in and i sipped slowly on one of the most expensive beers ($10 and that's in happy hour) I've ever had in my life, while explaining the object of the game to Elke.

Sunday the 22nd I saw Elke off at the airport, a little sad after 3 months of breathing each other. She was on here way to Jakarta to start riding towards Bali from there. I'd put my foot down, "I'm riding Indonesia alone" I told her, as I'd almost forgotten about the freedom and many merits of cycling alone. I'd hoped she'd ride around Bali, or fly back to Europe and do a couple of thousand kilometers there where i hoped she'd be a whole lot safer. Now i worry myself sick about her. That backfired on me.

I spend the next two days using ferries and a bus with a chunder-filled isle to get to Pekanbaru. It's the nearest city to Singapore on Sumatra, the shortest hop across the water on a boat. It's inland a good 100kms but on a river which, i assumed the ferry would chug on up, but at the ticket office the guy says something about a bus transfer. Yep, turned out he was right, everybody got off at the coast and jammed into these two pint size buses...

Some days pedaling is really hard work, its sweaty and uncomfortable in the saddle and i watch jealously as other tourists woosh past in air cond buses in total comfort, arriving at their destinations hours before me, getting the best accommodation snips available, laeving me with the leftovers. But that all changed today. The driver of one of those little half size buses did fairly well to slow down and swerve across the road to avoid most of the massive pot-holes but he couldn't keep down a few of he kids stomachs. I'd be lying if i said 3 little kiddies threw up so I'll say there was only 2. The driving habits here seem similar to the Viet style road-code when the potholes disappeared and things stepped up a notch there was plenty of overtaking trucks on blind corners and using the horn as our only means of safety. Well, I'm writing this, so you can see i lived to tell the tale. 5 hours on a cramped chunder-filled smokey lumpy bumpy bus took away all my jealously of ‛those other travelers'.

Man this was gonna be no easy task, after the luxuries that the last 3 countries had to offer in terms of travelers facilities, this place was definitely letting me know I'm back in a 'developing country'.

So with 'beer and partying at Kuta Beach' on my mind, I go hell-bent-for-leather to get out of this place... for the first 3 days. The roads are away from the mountains depicted on my map, down on the grassy green plains (I'd hoped) but talk about hills Trev. Jesus christ! Up and down all day long. It felt like i was getting nowhere. I was doing big enough distances each day but the effort i had to put in was taking it's toll on my body. By the end of the 3rd day i could hardly move. My head ached constantly for the next 4 days as i laid in bed and stared at the walls and the ugly cant in the mirror on the opposite side of the room staring straight back at me. Dismay.

Meanwhile, Elke's having a great time, nice short rides, good roads, friendly people, other travelers to talk to, sights to see, safe as houses...arhhh jealous!

I unfolded my map. Sumatra is facking huge. It just got me even more depressed when i looked at the distances i had to travel. I could put my bike on the roof of a bus, and jamb myself in there with all the vomiting locals. Scary thought, that would still take days just to get to Jakarta. The only thing to do was to keep chipping away at the stone, bit by bit, day by day. It worked, i got here (Jakarta) in the end, as my strength got up and my appetite came back, i was covering more & more kilometers each day.

One thing that made it really hard all day, every day, was the stiff headwind. I wished it would just fack off, same with all the boys that ride their motorcycles beside me for some entertainment through their towns. Yeah, I attract a lot of attention over here, in Singapore you've gotta go cutting cars off on the Expressways for that to happen.

So much entertainment that one young fellah with his Muslim girl on the back of his bike rode past rubbernecking it for far too long coming into a corner. I saw it coming and he didn't turn around until he saw the horrified expression on my face. Off the road, dropped down into a big depression of soft dirt, ramped out the other side, flew through the air, landed on their front wheel right in front of two logs that just happened to be laying there, and endoed it, the robed girl landing on top of the young fellah taking a slight bump on the head. No broken bones, no blood. Bloody lucky to walk away. Maybe a tad too young to be on the motorcycle anyway (I see about 10 year old kids riding them occasionally here), hence the age restriction we have back home, it's not for nothing. ‶Let the girl ride, mate″ i thought.

One day I get two separate incidences of girls wanting their photo's taken with me. One of them passes me in her van, scarf wearer seated beside her. She jumps out, tells me to stop, gets a ‛cozy' photo of us, asks for my address, so i give her my email, then when i shake her hand farewell, she pulls it to her face, and half kisses it, half rubs it all over her left cheek. Strange lady, three times the size she should be. - "Unmighty lord, if you're really up there, and you're the one responsible for sending all these fat chicks my way, as per your sense of humour, I'm gonna knock you out when I meet you"!

Now i can look back at the 'mare that was Sumatra and understand why other cycle tourists leave it out. Great if you love hills, hate other travelers (there aren't any), and don't mind celebrity status. "Hey mister", "hey mister" "hey mister". Thats all i get all day long from the locals who seem to do nothing all day but sit around on the side of the road, waiting for life to pass them by so they can meet "Hey Mister Allah". I'm starting to notice a pattern in these 3rd world countries, where the stage of development seems to be in proportion to the amount of work getting done, indicated by these blokes whose occupation is indeed 'sit around all day yelling "hello mister"'.

With everyone wanting my attention all day every day, it hasn't taken me long to start ignoring the "Hey misters". Some people that i cant ignore though are the police. They have massive big flash stations and offices and uniforms, a little dis-proportionate to the wealth of the rest of the country. Maybe a good career for average Joe if an Indonesian national. So when i ride past large groups of police (who also seem to do a lot of sitting around all day) and they blow the whistle on me and/or wave me in, i obey their authority. Sometimes they can't speak english, get all embarrassed because i cant speak any Indonesian, and wave me on. Most times though, we get through the questions together, and when one of them does speak English, I'm constantly getting told to be aware of 'bandit activities' between certain towns, and certain areas. And when i come through a place where they know a lot of crime happens, they always ask me did i see anything / anyone acting suspicious? Well, I guess I'm a sitting duck on a bike for highway robbers, but I'm always a little over-suspicious, 'on the back foot' with everyone that stops for a chat anyway. I'm ready to teach bad people not to fack with Kiwis, ready to take out the ol' #7 and start swinging, ready to hand out a little free 'corrective behavioral activity' of my own. Unless they've a gun of course, in which case they walk away with everything, and I (hopefully) walk away with my life, a great deal for both parties.

But these Indonesian police can't be knocked, they're staying well ahead of their game since the 2005 Bali bombing. I get news from my bro that they've arrested a whole bunch of dirka dirka dirka jihad terrorists, found and confiscated a whole bunch of weapons and bombs just in the last week or so. I flick on the TV (when i occasionally have one in my room) and although i cant understand a word they're saying (apart from 'terrorists' and 'anti-terror') the pics are confirming what i been told. You guys probably know more about whats gone on here than i do. But i do know and appreciate that busting these arse-hole's assholes, has saved a lot of lives, possibly even mine, and I'm truly grateful of the efforts of the Indonesian police, and their informants.
Arriving at Tebingtinggi... I got to me destination by 1ish i felt like id been averaging 15Km/hr for the last couple of hours so the trip to Lahat was definatly off. When I rolled in to the city centre, there was this massive police presence inside the Police station grounds. Half a dozen army style tents with all the policemen's roll-mats inside and a whole array of armored vehicles outside, including a battle-truck looking thing with a water cannon mounted on top, all looking straight off the showroom floor in mat grey with bright yellow wheels. There must be something exciting going on in town, there were red and white and green flags everywhere in the streets which all looked a little political. I stopped outside and ignored all the 'Hey Mistas' until i heard one coming from inside the fence. I went over and learned that indeed some sort of political party was in town. "The place was safe" so no need to worry. 'Pull the wool over the Farang's eyes, are those armed machinery's just for joyriding in then?' I thought. To ensure my safety they told me not to ride through a place called Muarasalang because of crime and bandit activity in the area. This was before they understood in which direction i was riding. I'd just passed through there a couple of hours ago and i didn't see no bandits though.

The 'Trans Sumatra Highway' is shown as a thick red line on my map. The only thick red line running the entire length of the country, through the middle, north to south. When i finally popped off one of the back-roads from Pekanbaru and met up with it, i wasn't sure if i was on it or not. A single lane each way, all the way. No hard shoulder. In places it had more craters than the moon, sometimes it was unsealed, and the gradient seemed to get pretty close to vertical sometimes. 'Trans-Sumatran-Highway is just so mis-leading and i wish they'd labeled it something like 'The Traders Trail' or 'The Old Buffalo Track'.
3rd July...

Describing the road to Lahat is a little tricky. It was definitely the worst stretch of road I've ridden on in the whole trip. Hills that i struggled to crawl up in 1st gear mixed with broken, potholed rocky unsealed shat. To say for mile after mile would be an exaggeration. The hills definitely never ceased but I'd get a km of newly sealed smooth tar-mac, alternating with a km of satans driveway.

And then my luck changed... Lunch at Lahat was a tenner, the roads flattened out and, after what i'd been through this morning, gliding along at 20k+ just seemed effortless. Everything seemed so damn tidy from here on, the towns were clean, the houses neat, the people seemed to all be working instead of sitting / laying around yelling out "Hey Mister" all day. And then there was the map saying 'Mauraenim 67Kms', fack the map when the road stone markers are counting down from 45 or so. 22K's off my day, save that for later thank-you -very -much have a nice day.

After finding dead bugs under the pillow of the first hotel I checked out today, I met an off duty policeman in the streets while on my way to check out the second. He must have mis-understood me when i told him it was dirty, and goes "Ok, follow me" about 2km of struggling to keep up with his putt-putt we arrive outside this imperial looking mansion. "Ah err, i usually ride straight past a hotel that looks like this, I reckon the price of rooms here start at about 200k. I like to pay between 40 to 60k" I explained. He wanted to check anyway for his own curiosity so went in and returned a minute later with the price list. My guess was wrong. They started at 350k. Bit of an effort all for nothing. No worries though he dragged me back into town, just around the corner from where I met him, to another hotel. God it was like having my mother there. He had to do everything for me, in the worry that the language barrier would leave me sleeping on the streets or something. Strangely enough this has been the only hotel in Sumatra that has charged me a 5000Rp 'services charge'. Hmmm Coincidence? Or something more sinister?

We met up later for dinner. "I'm gonna prayer, then I'll meet you in the lobby" he texts. "Say hi to Allah for me" I replied. It went down well over dinner, He'd passed my message on and that opened the discussion up to discussing religion, which I love doing. Very tactfully and respectfully though. He found it amazing that i had none and pointed out that in Indonesia, you must belong to a religious group; Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or whatever. How facked is that? Your government makes it law that you must devote your life to some god that doesn't exist! I guess in Islamic countries, you have even less choice.

Martapura... I'm chowing down my curry chicken (it's spicy enough to be somewhere on the verge of tollerable) and rice tonight, getting right into it with my hands like the locals do. The Rumah Makan (room for food) owner is sitting there with her two daughters glancing over and giggling. She points to me, then to her nose. Oh fack i'm thinking, ive gone overboard. Time to dip the fingertips into the small bowl of water provided, get as much mess off the fingers as this method allows and give the nose a bit of a wipe to get off the offending grain of rice or whatever it was that's important enough to justify sign-language mid-meal. A couple of minutes later i'm forking the last bits in to get the chili pain over-with, i look up and she's still pointing noses out. Another quick frantic but thorough rub and i look over for clearance and now she's pointing at her daughters flat little noses and making 'small' signs. She then points back at me and makes a gesture that can only be interpreted as 'Pinnocio'. Ohhh shit, "where's the nearest plastic surgeon"? The embarrassing bit is me thinking there's enough food stuck on it to cause a blockage or something. Oh the hilarity.

I was not expecting to meet anyone that could speak any english out here, but in every town i stayed, the english speakers would approach and bombard me with a standard line of questions; "Where are you going"? "Where are you from"? "How old are you"? "Are you married"? "why are younot married?" "Why are you traveling by bicycle". It's the last one that has the greatest variety of answers, so i started to make a little list:

List of reasons for riding from one side of the world to the other: The same reason the chicken crossed the road.
Because earth is tiny. I wouldn't bother if we lived on Jupiter.
The Devil told me to do it.
God told me to do it.
It's my 'mid-life crisis' project, i hope you like it.
To gain independence from oil usage, so i don't have to invade Texas or Alaska. It would be easy though, just convince the United Nations that USA has weapons of mass destruction. Even though, I probably wouldn't get UN approval for the invasion, but i'd invade anyway... yeah, bit of an illegal war! I'd hope the rest of the world wouldn't mind, would turn a blind eye, watch passively through my own independent news crews which may or may not be biased and one-sided, while my 'smart' missiles tear civilian families bodies and lives apart forever (ah er oops). Hopefully I could borrow Tony's and John's military, i hear they lend them out to any facking monkey for a rim job a day.
To see if i can do it.
For a bit of exercise.
To experience the countries i visit on a very 'up-close' and personal and challenging level. For Examples; Smelling the blooming country side flowers, choking on congested city air pollution, shivering all night in the altitudes of the Iranian desert, sweating like a catholic priest in a primary school in the dusty hot pot of Cambodia. Riding around glistening crystal Swiss lakes and alongside turds bobbing in the rivers of India. Noticing nations of environmentally conscious people and those whose national pass-time seems to be roadside dumping.
Because i want to. I wouldn't be doing it if i didn't want to.
For a good enough excuse to not have to work for a whole year.
Because walking would take too long.
To avoid jet-lag.

I'm sure to think of a few more to post while i'm riding out on those hot "hey mister" roads between towns. I finally made it to the resort town of Kalianda, 30km from the ferry port, a few days ago. I walked into the hotel reception and saw a white guy sitting there. It almost scared me, something i'm not used to. It made me realise this was the first time in my life, and will probably be the only time I'll have been over two weeks without seeing another Euro. I'd done 6 days of ball-squashing yakka in a row and needed and well deserved a days rest. Rest it was, i didn't even get down to the beach, only venturing out of my room for food because of the fear of more "Hey mister" attacks. Relentless. I just get 'hey mistered' by everyone.

On the way to Kalianda... The road kinda hugged the flat, near- water coastline for a while before climbing up this hellish hill. It was steep, but two lanes each way. Chaos.... The slow crawling trucks would use the middle lane, forcing all the speeding traffic to cut inside, uncomfortably close to me. I grab hold of the back of one but, typically, it's belching thick black diesel fumes, darkening the suns rays, so I let go and grab another slightly less smoky one. It gets half way up and then there's one stopped, broken down, right in the middle of the inner lane. Some trucks are going right around it, others are cutting into the outside (my) lane, while mechanics lay under it fixing the problem. Too much going on here. I let go and play it safe which involves extra hard pedaling in that hot sun. I'm now ¾ of the way up and notice a motorcyclist nearing the top come a cropper. How the fack did that happen? 'No one hit him' I'm thinking when a split second later, a second motorbike a lot closer to me instantly hits the floor and slides a little before stopping. Eh? What the fack? An invisible force field Captain Spok? Then i notice the meter wide strip of shiny oil all the way up. Oil slick! Up ahead the dudes are holding their bodies on their sore bits, bit pick up their bikes and push them to one side. The near dude walks back and grabs one jandle. I'm nearing his first one that flicked off in the accident so i stop and pick it up and frisbee it up to him. I got to understand how they crapped off, man this shat was like ice. I tried pedaling but my back wheel just spun. I put it in a higher gear and got my weight over the back wheel. I could have done a pretty impressive burnout here but this was dangerzone, no time for fooling, and no time for calling the police trying to explain whats happened. I'm struggling getting anything else but "Hey mister" out of the whole facking island so far. Yeah I've decided next time someone asks me if I speak Bahasa Indonesia, I'm gonna say "Yes, of course; Mister mister mister mister mister mister mister mister mister mister mister mister" in a whole range of tones and inflexions, with pauses here and there, to simulate my experiences of roadside conversations as i ride on past. So yeah, no! I'm not gonna try organising a truckload of sand to get sprinkled across the slick.
Now the road starts to hook right and now I've gotta watch my back to make sure something else doesn't come speeding up, get two wheels in the mucky-muck, come sliding across and take me out.
Nearing the top, I wander how long it's been there for, how many others had spudded over in it before, and should i go and sit up on the bank above and make videos of others coming to grief, the sort of stuff everyone loves to watch, but no! That would be immoral. Get outta there Graham!
Early one morning... 4:30am I'm woken to the sound of some Indo rock. It's coming from inside the hotel and its rediculously loud. Should i go out there, kick down some doors and smash up some cheap but effective stereo gear- movie hero style? I'm thinking. Nah, then it'll be too hard to get back to sleep. I'll be as amped as the tunes. Besides, it aint half bad. The good heavy riff ends and then they play a couple of ballads which must have soothingly allowed me to drift back to sleep. I can only assume that the hotel owner is a hard rocking non-muslim and, if the muzzies have the right to pollute the sound waves at that hour, so does anyone.

Later... Lunchtime was cool today. A small group of muslim ladies served me my food with love, the most delicious 'queish' type thing and a curried salad with rice, then they charged me fack all for it. I've been eating at the wrong places. Outside they were preparing spices on a cloth, de-cloving whole garlics. I explained that I had a really bad cold and asked if I could buy a whole garlic. They handed me one and wouldn't take the money I was waving at them. Then one of them gets up, washes a bit of ginger and a clove of garlic and instructs me to eat them both together and wash them down with water. As soon as I bit into them I hoped I hadn't mis-interpreted her. The taste was...er... interesting, glad i had an abundance of water.

Later, I pull over and decide my cold's annoying me enough to justify another huge clove of garlic. I got the dummist idea in my head that if I could swallow one whole, I wouldn't get that horrible raw garlic taste in my mouth. OWW! It got stuck after the first swallow. I guzzled at my waterbottle until it dislodged and got to wherever it was meant to be. That facking hurt! 'I dont know how those pornstars swallow whole cocks like they do' i immediately thought. But yeah I'd hate to have passed by a million crazy asian drivers without a single accident, and then be found dead on the roadside, 'choked on a vegetable'.

It wasn't all tears today. After I went for food I tracked down a fixed-price supermarket which I noticed a few of on the way into town, and managed to rack up a bill of 106,000. This obviously doesn't happen too often here as all the staff are laughing (not a lot of customers here). When I'm nearly all done, ol' mate serving me chucks a bag full of sugar in with it. "No no, thats not mine!" I say. "Booniss" he says. Nice gesture but what the fack am I gonna do with a bag of sugar? Elke loves the shat, continuously dropping a couple of cubes into her water bottles all day. But I aint Elke so I try to give it to the staff but they insist I take it. Outside the door I offer it to a young scarf bearer who looks at me like I'm some kind of freak. The young dude that pulls up on his cycle is a taker though, and disappears into the shop with it. Winner! Not so fast! Before I've loaded up my bike with the newly acclaimed goodies, the manager comes out this time with it in a plastic bag. (Pointing to me) "Boonis, you boonis". These guys are either not getting the idea that I don't want it, or must think I don't know what it is for and want me to take it home and try this sweet gift of Indonesia for the very first time.

08-07-08 151 Kms to Jakarta. Got away to a good ol'6 oclock start but it still didn't take all that long to over heat in the cool morning air as the much despised 'Trans-Sumatran-Highway' gave me a 33Km sending off in typical up-hill style. I stopped briefly for a photo going down the other side towards the ferry port and captured the diesels struggling up the hill the other way, absolutely hosing the air with thick black charcoal fumes. I reckon something like 80% of the trucks engines are in this sort of condition. "Maintenance be facked".
There was no such thing as a ferry ticket for bicycles. Buses, trucks, cars, motorbikes and passengers yes, bikes, no, so they just waved me through. Facking sweet! 'Give the white face something for free' is reverse philosophy in these parts, and I'd have rather paid the $3 just to stop me worrying about being caught without a ticket. It was no worries though.
As i waited another 45minutes for the ferry to load up with a few more cars and passengers, i watched as a couple of little kids jumped over the side into the murky brown water for money. Hell of a current there too, people would chuck screwed up 1000Rp notes (about 10 cents) and they'd swim over and grab them. They'd also chuck over whatever rubbish they'd just finished eating or drinking out of like it was no facking problem. 'Yeah just throw it over and let mother ocean deal with it, she'll clean up after us so my grandchildren can still swim in clean water, can still eat from the ocean a couple of generations down the line'. This was really shittin me as i noticed it happening for the whole couple of hours i was on the boat. And then there's the 'firehose' size pipe pumping thick black liquid out the side into the water, leaving a black 'slick' all the way from Sumatra to Java. I thought 'surely not every ship in the world is making this much mess.' If so, multiply this rate of pollution by a million and one can understand why whales are doing suicide missions onto our beaches all around the globe. They may be like 'suicide protesters', like those extreme protesters we hear of every now and then that set themselves on fire to express some kind of political view.

This seems to be another nation that just doesn't give a fack about living in a sty. I see bus drivers, passengers, any one on the road, they just 'heave ho, out the window she goes'. "We're real happy and proud to live in a shat- littered country". What a nation of 'wrongers'.
As the boat approaches the dock in Merak i look into the green harbour waters and see a whole fleet of plastic bags, some about a meter under the water, others floating on top. It's my facking planet too! Littering the land is a problem 'they' have to live with. Littering the ocean is everybody's and every fishies problem. Global ocean currents take one countries pile of trash from their back door and deliver it right to another countries front door. How much does this suck? Whatever country is on the receiving end of New Zealand's current gets 4 million people throwing fuck-all into our shining waters. Whoever is on the receiving end of Indonesia's 'sewer pipe' gets 225 million people's (all obviously unaware or un-phased of the consequences of their actions) discarded 'treasures'.

What the fack are they teaching kids in skool here? And with a massive portion of the nation being Muslim, how can they find an interpretation instructing them to kill WESTERN infidels, but cant seem to find anything in Mohamad's writings about living in clean surroundings (except for "you must wash your feet before entering a mosque").

So there's urgent need for environmental education in certain countries. Hopefully someone from my country with a few clues and a bit of political sway can tap the Indonesian minister of education AND minister of environmental affairs on the shoulder and say "Now listen here mate...." Or maybe they already have. Or maybe they just get chauffered around in gleaming Mercedes's and don't get to see the 'real world' the parts that the adventurous backpacker sees everyday, but doesn't have the 'clout' to get anything done about it.

I didn't get off the ferry 'till 11ish. Buggar, this Island's riddled with 'Hey Misters' disease too. I make a beeline for the Jakarta - Merak toll road entrance but as i'm riding towards the booths, there's dudes up ahead signaling me to turn around. Nothing gained, nothing lost either. Now i was gonna have to take the rough, congested 'b' road that zig-zags across the toll road all the way to Jakarta, adding on a good 20km to the distance. I rode 20km then had Mc D's for lunch. By 12:30 i had about 110km to go. This was gonna be a toughy. 'Skid skid', I high-tailed it, flat out all the way, sacrificing a little bit of safety for speed in the congested towns along the way.

The sun got lower and lower all afternoon until it disappeared. That didn't leave me a fack of a lot of time to find the budget backpacker area in a city of 25Km diameter. Luckily my mappage and the road signage were good. I covered the last couple of kilometers under streetlight with the excellent directions of all the locals that i stopped to ask. Time for hotel sampling again;

#1) Mohammad wearing the prayer hat shows me a room with a double mattress almost on the floor and a mandi (bathroom with tank of water which you scoop out and pour over yourself instead of showering) down the end of a hallway. Hmmm

In my hast to far excel the offerings here, i ride away forgetting my handlebar bag is open. In the dim street lighting, i cant quite make out the actual size of the speed hump here until i hit it with my front wheel. Its big. Big enough for the bag lid to open enough for little Pentax, camera number five to take a small flight. Some people just don't learn do they? I picked it up, closed the battery cover and hoped like hell. Later on i test it. Gees those Pentax's are tough little numbers. Resilient. Brilliant. Unlike it's bozo owner.

#2) Nicks Corner Hostel. My guidebook says nothing about this place being a whorehouse. Now, I know in my last blog i joked about staying in whorehouses, but the truth is, i haven't a clue what one looks like (unless one of my anonymous mates is dragging me into one)(you know who you are you naughty bastard). But now walk in the door, park my bike in the lobby and am looking at the room price tariff on the wall when some short fat ugly thing wearing heaps of make up asks what i want. "one of these budget rooms please" she takes a liking to me. Her and all her other friends floating around are giggling their heads off among questions about me. She takes me by the arm, the whole arm, with her head resting on what's left of my bicep and leads me to the room. Now i'm getting an idea of what's going on here, and the room is shit and i subtly express my extreme dis-interest, but I can see the funny side of things here. She leads me to the ladies dorm. It has a mandi, about 6 beds, and a make-up table covered in ladies make-up. "This very cheap, this only 30,000, you can stay in here with us" "Yearrr I have a few other places to look at" i tell her as i walk back over towards my bike, dragging her along as she still hasn't let go of my arm. "You must come back and stay with us in the dorm, promise?" she's still tryin'. "God, how many times can you play the same joke on me and still expect it to be funny? You boring bastard!"

#3) I got no plan now so disappear behind the wall of the shop next door to consult me guidebook for a 3rd suggestion when a lady in a bar across the road yells out "Are you looking for a room?" "How much?" i ask "50" "Ok, I look". It's a pretty impressive cafe and she leads me past the toilets, up some stairs to a freshly renovated spotless room with two single beds, clean linen, a fan, a shower, and for the first time in Indonesia, no mosquitoes! Value! Sold.

I order up a pasta and a large bottle of Bintang, my 3rd beer in 6 weeks (don't try that at home) while i wait for the key to turn up. The beer tasted good, a little home-brewish but went down bloody fast. When i returned to my room, i looked in the mirror and felt sorry for the people that had given me directions, showed me rooms (except for superwhore) or served me food. My face was black. Diesel fume black. I try not to think of the state of my lungs which had been working overtime today to haul me all that way before dark. I showered, curled up on my bed and drifted off to sleep with some Wednesday 13 on my ipod.

I go downstairs for breakfast this morning and order a set breakfast with a pot of coffee. They only give me one sachet of sugar....

If anyone wants to give me a call or sms, I got an Indonesian number number now, try;+62 81270389121, and if you don't get through, it's probably because I'm pedaling hard between cities, try again later.

Well all, and all the new people who have joined 'Story time with Graham', great to see you actually read down this far without losing interest. I've sensored a lot of my dairy entries this time as its just inappropriate for some of our younger readers. And it's helped keep things a little more brief.

Take care wherever you are!

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