Kuripan to Bintuhan 85km
So much building in Indonesia looks incomplete. Today we found out why. If you are rich, you pay for a skilled tradesman to build for you. The build takes three or four months. Everyone else does it themself, with the help of family and friends. And because you are not rich, you need to accumulate all the building materials. So you start collecting boulders from the rivers and mountains, or huge chunks of coral off the beach, for your foundations. You go to the beach or the volcano and collect sand for your bricks and mortar. You cut trees out of the forest and mill it with a chainsaw. And you store it all around your existing dwelling, until you have time, and enough friends to get the various jobs done. You need a few to help dig the foundations out...by hand. You need others to help move the heavy stuff on to the site. Then you make your bricks. Some even make their own tiles. You throw a few planks together to frame up the house, then throw the tiles on (it looks distinctly shakey with very little bracing), and then as quickly as you can, you throw some brick walls up, just in case the framing won't hold up the roofing. You dont need to bother with reinforcing, because that just complicates things, and there haven't been any earthquakes since April. You throw in a few doors and windows, doors don't have to be square, and windows don't necessarily need glass..... and hey presto, in three years or so you've got a house. Wiring, plumbing, and flooring, can be added later...or not. Don't need insulation. Don't need heating. Don't need a ceiling. Tart it up later as you can afford it, with tiles on front veranda, furniture, gas bottle, and a toilet hole. Easy as Bro.
Today we woke at Jenni's Homestay at Kuripan, early. Graham told me we had torrential rain overnight ( I don't know why he doesn't yet sleep like a long distance cyclist? He was really stuffed yesterday. I certainly didn't hear any rain). Then before we were completely packed up our banana pancakes and sweet tea arrived...yummy.
We're told we have 30km of gentle hills, then flat for the rest of the day. Our priority today is to find a money machine. We have less than $20 between us. We head out of the village, avoiding the first hill, by following a minor road around the coast. It's beautiful, groomed like a golf course by grazing water buffalo, and the high tide has washed all the rubbish away. The kids are heading to school.....so the Hello Misters are pretty intense.
The hills were rolling. Nothing too big, and the scenery was superb, for the first 30km. Then we had a climb. Initially it didn't look too bad, but there must have been 20 false summits, and it was a tad warm. Finally the top. I sit and wait for Graham. I've taken my long sleeved silk top off, and have my hiviz on...with the zip low. I'm sitting with grandad on his porch when grandma, dad and the kids return from shopping on the scooter. Dad informs me quickly that it is unseemly for me to have my boobs exposed....ooooops. Then Graham turns up with his CanTeen top flapping, completely open......ooooops. Stupid foreigners.
We thought we had done all the climbing, but the road followed a ridge, which means short downhills, followed by short intense, teasing uphills. But now we are in a National Park. Jungle. There are very few vehicles, and the jungle is noisy. Monkeys, birds, insects, and I'm sure, tigers, rhinos, elephants, tapirs, a bird that sounds like a grinder, and another like a kitchen whizz. Finally we get the downhill.
Twice I spot monkeys scampering off the roa, in front of me. Then I'm leaning into a very fast, blind, left hand curve. A large male monkey is quietly sauntering up the roadside white line. How I didn't head butt him I don't know. Adventure. You never know what's around the next corner.
We stop at a truck stop for lunch. The local dance teacher spots us, and decides to come and help the lone staff member, by translating our needs. She is a rather good looking, solo mother, who doesn't like Indonesian men any more, and is looking for a European husband. I'm pretty sure she fancied my tall good looking companion, but to save complications at Chch Airport when Chrissie arrived to pick him up, I stepped in and distracted her, while Graham did a runner. Her conversation was interesting, but somehow her translation of no Chilli, no hot, got miss interpreted. We had HOT food, with a HOT lady.
We are told 10kms more rolling hills, then flat. We are yet to get reliable info. The next 25kms were almost all flat, along a lovely coastline. The Hello Misters were growing in intensity. From all ages. It's almost like they've never seen a white skin before. Kids were running to the roadside to yell encouragement to us, to high five us, and often to run beside us.
We meet one young man, perhaps 12 years old, riding a bike. He had a cycling tshirt, very good English, and was not shy. He rode beside us, followed by lots of his mates. He insisted that he show us their "beautiful beach", and it was, big fierce waves, and cleaned by Mother Nature. A lovely young man.
We arrive at a small fishing village. The sea is calm, and a beautiful blue, and the tide is in. The beach is remarkably clean, and the sand is white. The teenagers are cheeky and noisy, but we reckon our bikes will be secure as they are highly visible. We both go for a swim. It is lovely. Just below body temperature, so refreshing, and I could laze away here for the rest of the day....but we have kms to ride...... If only all the other beaches in Indonesia were so pleasant.
Oh bother. 5km from our hoped for stop, and we have some uphill. Still they're not too tough, and it doesn't take long before we are looking for a Loseman. Then Bastian stops us. Come to my house for coffee. Okay. He points out a Loseman and a bank as we follow him to his home. We are invited into his house by his father. Food and tea is presented....... And now we are going to a family wedding this evening.
Looking for somewhere to sleep we are overrun by kids. They are racing us down the side streets on their bikes. They crowd around the hotels doors. They block the traffic lane. We each have to shake each ones hand before they will disperse and leave us alone.
The ATMs will not dish out any money on any of our cards. The first two Losemen will cost us more than we have cash to pay for, the cold tile floor for free is an option, but has no security, and then Graham finds a Hotel....$15, yippee, $5 left for a meal and water..... Ingenious idea. Go to the flashest hotel, (its not the Ritz, but it must be almost 1 star) and exchange US dollars for Rupees. They are reluctant at first, but I inflate the exchange rate, and offer to take less.....and we have a deal. Yahoo. We have money for another day of adventure....
The wedding. Bastian picks us up on his scooter, we are three up... We are introduced to family, given cake, water (no alcohol remember), and given special status seats, front row and padded. The decor is amazing, the colours amongst the women amazing, and the music is loud. Bastian introduces us to lots of people. The entertainment seems to be members of the congregation, going up on stage and singing. One guy we were introduced to is....oh bother...the MC. He has just announced that Graham and Grum from NZ are coming up to sing. Where did that come from? I'm hopeless without words, and as Fletch will tell you, not so flash with them. We managed a song, and then the congregation made a substantial donation to CanTeen, as long as we didn't sing another...... Then we got dragged up on stage again......to dance with the men. Women and men don't dance together. Oh no I don't believe it. Now we're on stage being photographed with the bride and groom...... The party is going to go through the night. We've escaped. I was scared that Graham would catch the bride's bouquet.