Tegalbuleud to Ciparay 50km
This really is the land of the Scooter. I'm sure I'll encounter them in other countries, but this is the first country that Fiona and I have ridden amongst them, and they will be one of the lasting memories of Indonesia.
Most of the Scooters and Motor Bikes are pretty small, under 200cc, but they come in such a variety of shapes and sizes, and are used to carry almost anything you can think of. Yesterday I watched a couple of guys load four huge sugar sacks of groceries on a platform on the back seat of a scooter, I don't know how it moved, or how the rider kept his balance, but it wa all in a days work for them.
Other things I've seen include: A man, his lady, and his baby, with a full grown Labrador, perched on the back seat, with its paws on the lady's shoulders, A scooter with two guys, dragging 10 lengths of reinforcing rod behind them, Numerous times, scooters with 2m X 2m displays of multi coloured wool, or something similar, So many times, families of up to five, including babies, squeezed on to a scooter, School girls, three on a scooter, the back two sitting side saddle, relaxed as, waving and smiling at the crazy NZ cyclist, as they zoom past, Very, very often, youngsters that look no older than 10 or 11, driving, while Mum, Dad, or someone much older, sits on the back, the females often side saddle, and quite comfortable to be chauffeured. More often than not, noone is wearing helmets, or maybe Dad is, but none of the kids or women.
The bikes have so many modifications, or missing bits. The boys in the boonies, where I've spent the last week, seem to think a muffler is just excess weight, resulting in some ear bashing for all they pass. Some have really high handle bars, reminding me of the ape hangers we rode as kids. A lot are not registered. No number plates. Many have race numbers, maybe because that's cool. Today, one young fellah, with a very noisy bike, passed me four times. It wasn't until the fourth time, that I realized why the bike looked so strange...no seat, he was sitting low, on the framing.
And kids will be kids. In one village today one youngster was perfecting his wheel stands on his vespa....no helmet of course, and on the main road in amongst traffic. And what about after dark? No lights? No problem. The roads are narrow. There is no shoulder or footpath, but lots of people walk, carrying bulky items, taking up heaps of road space. So after dark, no one has torches or reflective gear, I just can't understand how people aren't knocked off the road. And to add to the fear factor, the scooters with no lights. You hear them coming, and hope they can see more than you can. So many types of adventure, here in Indonesia.
I had some followers today. A group of school kids, probably about 11 or 12 years old, out for a blast in between lessons, whipped back and forward past me for about 5km, cheering me on. They eventually waited for me at the top of a hill, where they gave me a cheer, and raced back to class.
Another guy ushered me for about 5km as well. I'm not sure whether he was the sheriff, ushering me out of town, or a concerned citizen, but he sat right behind me, going up a 5km hill, occasionally coming abreast and chatting. When I got to the summit, he said goodbye, and returned downhill.
I will certainly remember Indonesia for the friendliness as well. I stopped for a break today, and a guy came and dragged me over to a seat. His wife turned up with a sweet tea, and we chatted. He wanted me to stay in his village, and he was keen to show me the turtles laying on the beach. I might have stayed, but it was 9am, and what was I going to do until dark, in a small, remote, quiet village for all those hours.....? Thanks for the offer my friend.
Talking about hours. I don't know how they did it, but I'm sure, that at the ungodly hour of 4am, someone snuck a speaker from the mosque in to my room, and let blast with the Call to Prayer. I woke up. Some of the villages have young folk making the Call to Prayer. I've gotta say, they're not very musical either. I don't think I'll ever get used to this five times a day happening.
Couldn't find a decent breakfast place open, so bought a couple of bread rolls from Indomarket. Unfortunately, they will filled with some sort of chocolate, not really what I expected. Yesterday I'd had Nasi Goreng, but made the mistake of eating the standard slices of cucumber that come with it. Cucumber burps all day. Not pleasant.
Only cycled 50km today. I'm heading away from the coast, and have been climbing all day, heading away from the quiet rural, fishing villages, back towards the cities, and the amount of traffic has increased dramatically. After the big day yesterday, the hills are taking their toll. No worries. Have a week to get to Jakarta.