This island is stunning, very green and nowhere flat, it changes a lot from Australia. While I was able to cycle an average of 125km per day in Australia, here I’ve been stuck around 60km and my time on the bike here was longer than in Australia. Most of the passes are up to 1200 meters high but you don’t climb it in one go. There is heaps of climbs and slopes to go up again after that. The most difficult here is to climb up to 15% climbs with 35°C and around 80% of humidity. In this case I was able to do 200meters, stop for a rest, 200 meters, stop… this was making me sweating so much. Luckily, there was the afternoon rains to drop down the temperature and clean my sweat.
The people here are very kind and welcoming. Very few are speaking english but with my basic in Indonesian language we were able to have basic greetings. Kids are awesome, they ran after me and it was such an attraction for the m to see a bulé (tourist) Some of them asked for money but replying in Indonesian no money make them stop begging instantly.
04/10/2016 – Real first day cycling in Indonesia
I was planning to leave early but I finally left at 9:45am and it’s already very hot. After 20km the temp is 40°C with this humidity I’m felling very bad. My heart is bumping so strongly in my chest I already drunk almost 1.5liter of water after only an hour. I bought 3 mangoes, I’ll have a break in the shade of a tree to have a rest and eat the mangoes.
All the small villages I’m cycling through are very friendly all the kids run by the road and scream “Halo Mister!” It’s a full time job to reply them all and I don’t want to be rude to any of them so I do my best. For now I’m following the coast and it’s very pleasant. The road is by black sand beaches and sometime famous blue stones beaches.
I stopped to buy a phone card in a small town and I wanted them to activate it for me but it was such a difficult thing to let them understand it. The little kid was calling me bulé which is what every kid do but the family was feeling embarrassed by this. It seems that bulé is a bit rude.
Crazy climbing for 20km. When I stop to setup the camp, Ansel came to me and told me that he is living 5km away. As he doesn’t speak english it was a bit difficult to communicate together. I can sleep at his house. I’m really tired but I accept. His 5km were finally 15km. His family welcomed me very warmly. I’ve been able to get a shower. It wasn’t so different from the boat as it is buckets of water. It felt so good! Then they offered me dinner even if I told them that I wasn’t hungry because I ate before. Men were in one room and women in an other one. But finally everyone ended up together. They are catholic and asked me if I was I said that I don’t have a religion. It looks like here everyone has a religion and it is very important. Then came the time of the the photo session, it was great fun. All the family live together. 3 generations in the same house.
05/10/2016 – climbing a volcano
80km of climbing up in two days. Here it’s never flat, it’s either 8km/h climbing or 45km/h down sometimes up to 65km/h without even having to pedal. No need to say that 98% of my time is around 8km/h. I need to stop often due to the very hard sun and high humidity. I’m feeling weak and don’t have any power in my legs. Kids are starting to ask for money. I drunk 4.5liters of water. Crossed many villages. Never saw any accident but I stopped to rest in a turn. A guy saw me he was so excited to see a tourist, he waved at me and keep watching me while turning, I replied and saw him driving literally out of the road and almost crashed his scooter. It was like in a movie and it make me laugh so much! Then another guy driving crazy on his motorbike almost hit a car driving in the middle of the road in the opposite way. This must happen so many times.
06/10/2016 – The reward!
Long way down. 30km downhill that was great, I had one spoke broken again. I will soon end up with my rear wheel with only new spokes. My brake pads will need to be replaced soon. After 8000km they did a good job but the downhills here will finish them. I had a long stop for lunch. When I came in, a bus of Czech people were having lunch and they were amazed to see me here cycling under this temperature. I know some Czech words so they were surprised when I said ahoy (hello) and Piekny den (have a good day). I ate a rendang with rice, it is beef cooked West Sumatra style, it gives me so much energy. As I stayed long time in , they offered me 3 pisang seh it’s a mix of banana with something else and it’s rolled into a banana tree leaf. It’s just delicious and so refreshing. They gave me some extra for the trip. I can feel the difference from Bajawa, here the air is very warm and humid. I finished at night. As I don’t have lights anymore, I cycled in the total dark but even with this kids were able to spot me. And everyone else. They might be able to see in the dark. Then automatically scooters stay behind me at my slow pace to light me the road and to protect me from the cars. They are very kind! Tonight, I found a new thing when kids ask money, I give them lollies instead and they are happy. I stay in the cheapest hotel so far. No toilet paper anymore. Here you use water for everything. I’ve been out for dinner. The hotel is a bit far from the town center where there is restaurants. But one street further I saw a man trailer selling bakso (meatballs). I came and asked. I ate with a family. They were all sitting on the ground but wanted me to sit on a chair. I declined as it was more comfy to eat on the ground. They laugh and we had fun trying to communicate without speaking the same language. I’m sometime feeling like an alien. When I say I go to Labuhan bajo every one thinks I’m crazy. Well I know this feeling already as it was already the case in Australia. In comparison with the Australian desert I think this is even harder physically.
07/10/2016 – Finally, the rain!
Today was maybe one of the hardest day I’ve been through since I started. I say maybe because in the end I remember more the good times. It started well in Borong. It’s a town famous for their donuts. This morning for breakfast I had the choice between a packet of milk biscuits for 7000 or donuts for 1000 each… which is 10 cents of Australian dollars. I took 4. The start of the cycling was great. Then it started to climb and the sun was strong. It kept climbing for the next 50km. I had to stop several times as I could feel my heart beating so strongly in my chest and my breath was difficult. My pace for this trip was below 10kmh. Some parts were even hard for cars to get through. I met Sony while having a break, he is working in an office in Borong and he is on his way home. He offered me a coffee and some biscuits. As it started to rain he wanted to give me a rain jacket. I declined saying that i was dreaming of water drop from the sky since a few days now.
The rain got stronger and stronger for more than 2 hours. There was waves on the road. I’m now cycling in a river against the current. Totally soaked and happy because now I don’t need to stop anymore. The time was flying and didn’t make any big progress tho. But then a slope. Unexpected. I’ve been cycling down for more than 10km! So good. Then up again all the way to Ruteng. I came in the first hotel I found. Rima hotel. Here, i met three other french, a girl from the same city as me she used to live 500meters from where I used to live and another guy from the town next door. Marly le Roi. Finally the last french was born the same day as me. Two German girl are here as well and one of them spent 6 months in Wanaka working on the ski fields. The world is so small. In Rima I’ve got a good internet and a huge bedroom for 20$/night. I think I’ll take a day off tomorrow as my body is hardly recovering for the last few days.
09/10/2016 – back on the road
Today I’m going back on the road after a day off. This morning I’m feeling lonely in my hotel room and keep postponing the time to start. All my stuffs are still wet from two days ago. Outside, it’s hectic, there is always someone to say hi or chat with but still I’m feeling lonely. My body is tired and my mind is foggy. I don’t really know what I want in life right now and where I am heading to. I would love to have a month off and stop running after the time because of the visas expiration. I must keep going. Meditation is my best friend to clear that cloudy inside sky. I know that feelings are just visitors it comes then go so I just have to be patient I guess.
When I’ve been taking my bike to load it, I found a second touring bicycle parked by mine. It was Beat’s one. He was having breakfast a bit further and we started to chat about bike touring and life. We finally spent 1h30 and he gave me some good advices to find the profile of the roads etc… he is almost 70 years old but look like he is 55 and he is touring every year from 5 weeks up to 2 months since 30 years. He is a flute player. He used to play in an orchestra but didn’t like to be under pressure all the time so he became a teacher which he loves more.
The day has been good finally. On the way a car overtook me and people were screaming Alex!!! I was really surprised and I discovered faces of my friends met at Ruteng Hotel the first night! Funny! I finally arrived to my destination before night and before I knew it. When I stop to have a late lunch at 4.30pm I asked them how far is Malwatar and she didn’t understand my question. Not because my Indonesian was too bad but because I was already in Malwatar!
Tomorrow might be my last stretch before to reach Labuan Bajo. But a serious one it Ill be my last hard climbing day on Flores!
10/10/2016 – Labuan Bajo!
This morning, I decided to start early because I have 60km and a last pass to climb. It’s 800meters which is not to bad and the climb spread on 10km only. It’s been hard, very hard again. Steep as but by taking the time and stopping often I made it! Almost on top, It started to rain and I was lucky this time to find a little restaurant to eat and stay covered from the rain while outside it’s been wild for more than 1 hour.
When you climb and you want to now if you are near the top, the best is to look for big antennas. I reached it just after the lunch break. Had a small slope then it climbed again to another antenna. I was at Labuan Bajo by 5:50pm. Booked a bed in a backpacker. I had the choice between a $5 room with nice view but full and no AC or the same for $8 with AC. Choice has been made quickly so much nicer to sleep fresh!!
I met Sabine, a french traveler, and we went to drink some beers with other french people she’s been diving with. Here most of the western people are into diving. It looks like it’s the paradise for diving. It seems perfect for some GoPro shots. After that I had a big crisis of urticaria. All my body was covered with big red ugly spots. I took few tablets and luckily Sabine’s mother is a dermatologist. She told me it will last for 24h max then it will disappear as quick as it came.
I might take the boat to Lombok on Wednesday or Sunday because I will maybe go on a trip to a small island before that…
Indonesia part 1 done! Stay tuned for the next islands!
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