Sekongkang, Indonesia: Jungle Bike

Trip Start Jul 28, 2013
Trip End Feb 06, 2014

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Flag of Indonesia  , West Nusa Tenggara,
Sunday, January 12, 2014

It is apparent the four of us suffer from short term memory loss as having vowed to never EVER travel in the back of a pickup not 24 hrs before, by lunch time the next day we found ourselves doing exactly that. At least this driver appeared to have half a brain cell and drove like he wanted to see another day.

Turning off the tarmac and onto a dirt road we pulled into Santai Beach Bungalows located on the outskirts of Sekongkang. A row of six rooms were on a big stretch of green grass that led straight onto the sand of a massive half moon bay. Behind those were another six or so cheaper rooms. With the girls given free reign the decision was made to stay in the more spacious and expensive sea view rooms. At A$15 a night it was still considered a bargain! A few steps back from the sand was an open restaurant with bamboo day beds, a dilapidated table tennis, pool table and fridge full of beer which, on a very Muslim island, was worth it's weight in gold.

Our room, although simple, had a double bed covered by a mosquito net, a fresh water shower with table and chairs on a little verandah. It also had a family of hornets living in the bathroom which took pleasure in trying to dive bomb us each time we entered. We lasted as cohabiters for one night. The next morning Sam decided to show them who was boss by bringing out a flipflop and proceeding to play hornet cricket. One down, two down, three down. Doh I've missed out. Bet he's out grabbing his mates. Sure enough more came and by the end of the innings 7 big massive killer hornets lay sprawled on the floor. He also smashed their nests on the back of the door and under the sink. It was quite funny watching the little buggars look either side of the door for their now demolished home.

Having a surfer in our midst, Marc, our main purpose for staying was to sniff out surf breaks and swimmable beaches. With Santai being home to some world class breaks we were on the right path and no sooner had we dumped our stuff Marc was racing towards the surf with board under arm. I love a good wave but these looked monstrous. Not a chance in hell I would be paddling out there as I would probably find myself washed up on a beach in Darwin.

To get to another section of the beach you had to cross a rivermouth. Simple enough, but not when you're nearing Australia and the thought of crocodiles start popping into your head. Yes, yes, I know we're still a long way off but when the water is a murky brown and you can't see the bottom, god knows what's lurking beneath. Hardening up I edged forward and we were all soon stood on the opposite side unscathed.

Meeting Marc on the otherside we waded to a rocky outcrop just off the shore. Creeping around a gap in the middle we watched crabs scuttle along rocks whilst waves washed up against them. Walking a little further out to get some photos we were caught unawares by the tide rolling in and waves sweeping straight through. Seeing my black very unwaterproof bag dangling from a rock with my iPad in it and a whole load of water underneath sent me scurrying back at a rapid rate. Well done me for at least stringing it from a high rock and not placing it on the sand!

Having pretty much the whole bay (and accommodation) to ourselves we spent a lot of time in the restaurant sprawled out across chairs gazing out to sea or slipping into a lazy doze. The food was remarkably good and staff super nice so we chatted with them, played pool and sipped beers. They liked to play cards and smear the losers face with chalk so we soon took to doing the same with pool... just when my winning streak ceased and losing one began.

One day we hired motorbikes to explore further afield and ended up on a winding road surrounded by jungle. Getting slightly concerned about the possibility of running out of fuel we were pleased to stumble across a random little town. Filled up we made a few dead end turns off road before finally discovering one which led to a beach. By no means pristine but good enough for a dip and cool off.

We tried to find another beach on our way back but managed to either take a wrong turn or miss a turn as we ended up on a "short cut" route through the jungle to Maluk. And when I say jungle I mean a dirt track through the jungle with not a proper road in sight. Had it not been for a few locals coming from the opposite direction we probably would have tuned back but with Marc and Maaike as backup and vice versa we threw caution to the wind and stuck with it. At times the dirt track turned into a mud bath causing Sam to lose a flipflop more than once.

Sam "Howie, I've lost a flipflop."
Amber "What do you want me to do about it?"
Sam "Well get off and get it"

So off the bike I hop treading as lightly as I could into a mud pit to go fetch Sam's flipflop

Sam "No! Don't just try to pull it out. You'll blow the toe."
Amber "Well I ain't putting my whole hand in that!"

Sure enough the flipflop blows and I end up putting my whole hand in to retrieve it. The things you do for love. I was then left with muddy handprints down my leg in and effort to get all the muck off.

If it wasn't the mud baths that caught us out it was a few sticky deep tracks leading down or up from a river bed. A few times Maaike and I thought it best to get off and walk. Another Sam decided to floor it but didn't realise how deep the river was so slammed on the breaks when water went flying up around us. All caught on film by Maaike which was rather entertaining to watch afterwards. Marc and Maaike had the pleasure of a goanna scaring the shit out of them as it darted across their path. Darn things sound more like velociraptor's crashing through the trees than a lizard.

To say it was a highly entertaining journey would be an understatement. The locals we met along the way thought it was hilarious, as did we. I'm sure it would have been a relatively easy drive on a dirt bike but perhaps not on scooter. Miraculously neither bike nor us suffered any injury which was result enough.

There was another half moon bay just around the corner from where we were staying called Tropicals so we swung in there on the way back and then revisited it a few more times over our stay. With a bright blue lagoon leading out to surf breaks it was a perfect place for Marc to paddle out whilst Maaike, Sam and I lounged in waist deep water. On his return Marc made a race track for hermet crabs so we spent some time betting on that. Mine won. Sam had to put in about five as they were all crap. Marc's scaled the wall backwards and Maaike's eventually followed. There was even a little bridge they could use as a shortcut. I tell you, hermet crab racing is set to be the next big thing and will surely be coming soon to a TAB or William Hill near you!

Exhausted from all the excitement we retired to the one and only hotel/restaurant on the bay. A beautiful and no doubt incredibly expensive place to stay complete with sparkling swimming pool and immaculate grass stretching down to the sand. Beer and food was ok but with an extra 21% added on for tax and service it worked out a lot more expensive than our place. Plus they wouldn't allow us to use the pool or the wifi even after ordering lunch and drinks. Snobby bastidos. It wasn't like the place was full. On one day we didn't see anyone and on the other we saw four people. Surely it's better to get use out of a pool than to leave it sitting there all pristine. In demonstration we made sure we sprawled our stuff everywhere and made a right mess of the restaurant.

Some other exciting news was me being allowed to drive the motorbike, TWICE, with Sam on back as passenger. I even went off road (on purpose and not by accident by the way!) I probably wouldn't give Mick Doohan a run for his money but at least I didn't crash. I wonder if that counts towards my driving experience in obtaining a license...! I'm sure I'll get one, one day.

There was an influx of people on our last night so our once sleepy little restaurant was a hive of teenage activity. Ok so they weren't exactly teenagers but they were discussing 21st birthdays, body shots, playing beer pong and walking around with bottles of Jim Beam. We hung around for a bit playing pool but with an early start the next day sensibility took over and we soon retired to leave them to it.

Being such a beautiful, chilled out, relaxing place I think we all would have been happy to stay there for a few more days. Had we known what a nightmare journey we would endure the next day we most definitely would have!!


Hotel: Santai Beach Bungalow IDR 150,000 (A$15)
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