Coming over the jungle pass yesterday was pretty similar to crossing over one of the South Island passes to the West Coast. We seemingly have left behind crowds, modern technology, rush and bustle, and the chaos of the city. From the time we were offered a bed (or should I say a spot on a big bench, that was very creaky, and exposed to the elements, and to diesel engines warming up, and full on head lights, and noisy truckers playing stereos) at the Truckers Stop restaurant, every thing seemed a lot more relaxed. Well they were for me. I didn't hear or see any of the above. I slept. Graham A witnessed it all. But then I had the benefit of my eXped mat from Bivouac Outdoors. Graham was on the hard creaky boards.....
In the morning, back on our bikes there were a few rolling ups and downs, and then we hit the coastal flats, and the riding was fairly pleasant, if you don't count the heat. We started to glimpse views of the beach. The locals were, if possible, even more friendly. Hello Misters coming every couple of hundred metres. Graham A shouldered them all, stopped and shook hands with heaps of kids, took
hundreds of photos, and posed for as many. A real trooper. I casually rode along, enjoying being the invisible partner. As a result, when I was summoned to a view of the beach because it was "lovely", Graham was a little behind. The "lovely" boys who called me over were on a two day holiday from their jobs as hairdressers. They were very excited when my very tall friend arrived. Lots of photos were taken. "Now one giving me a hug". Hmmmm. Graham and I are learning lots. We are, however, still not sure why we startled the young couple who were apparently stripping cocao (Indonesia chocolate) in the bushes....
This coast is a very popular surfing area, so the locals are reasonably used to westerners. They are not used to seeing people on cycles however, and the opportunity to stop us, shake hands, and chat is just too much. Kids were racing across from the front porch to the road to say Gidday. A couple of young fellas jumped on cycles, and raced along with us. Others jumped up and down excitedly until we stopped, high fived tgem, and took photos.
The houses are not very grand here, in fact seem very basic. However, there are some Hindu living here, and many of them have very elaborate private temples. But all the people seem very
relaxed and content, or is that just because they were sitting out of the sun, on their porch, in the breeze, while we were out in the midday sun, cycling. Western idiots?
We were hot, and the distances between Indomarets seems to have grown, an indication of the smaller population in this area of Sumatra. We had plenty of water, but it was at least body heat. We had stopped at one beach, thinking that a plunge in the sea would be refreshing .... "disappointed", was Grahams comment. The sea was warmer than body temperature. I noticed that there were kids coming towards us on scooters. School was out. If there was a school, there would probably be an Indomaret. The heat is bouncing up from the tarmac, burning our faces. The race is on..... Yes an Indomaret. "Disappointed" again. No power. All the ice creams are a melted sludge in the bottom of the freezer. We manage to find two bottles of refreshment, just marginally colder than room temperature.....bliss.
All of a sudden we are spotting westerners on scooters, fitted with surfboard racks. We are directed to Lovina Surf Resort. A few Aussies and Kiwis, but at $18 each a night, we decide to cycle the last 15km to Krui. The road is "being repaired",
so a little rutted and bumpy, but $15 for two at Loseman Janitra suits us just fine, and they have a cook on site..... Cool shower, laundry, food, cold drinks, rest... we're staying two nights.
Today we meet a local who really impressed us. We were looking for wifi or Internet, but the whole coast seems to have lost connection, the Indomarets all have no power, and none of the ATMs are working. Yep sounds like the Coast. Anyway this guy follows us to the beach. He had been in Bandar Lampung last week and seen me, and was impressed that we had made it over the hill, so came to chat. An ex teacher, of English, and Headmaster, who has left the formal education system because of the corruption. Apparently it is very common for people to "buy" their Teaching Qualifications, and then "buy" their teaching position. They go to school each day, get paid a handsome wage, but have no skills or idea how to teach. Very sad. Anyway, our hero, now teaches private lessons, often unpaid, trying to improve the chances of the local kids.
Our new friend is also very upset with the environmental awareness of Indonesian's. Graham and I agree. Here in Krui is a very nice beach, but there is just so much litter along the beach, it is
not an attractive place to visit. I intend to introduce our new Indonesia friend, to an Englishman we meet yesterday, who intends to set up a Charity to try and get the beaches clean. Guys. Send me your email address. I'm sure you could do great things together.
It's a little bit of a dilemma, a conflict. I am passing through this area, that has potential to be an extremely beautiful attraction. Do the surfers, other western visitor, and I, give the message to the locals, that it is okay for there to be so much litter on the beach, just because we are here visiting? Or should we stay away because of the litter? Apparently the surf is really great which makes it difficult. It is such a huge pity that the mindset of the locals does not include "keep it clean". I wish our two heros the best in their quest to tidy up the coast.
Wifi back on tonight. I got to talk to Juliet. It's midnight in NZ and she's asleep, but I'm convinced she's glad to hear from me. Who knows where we might end up tomorrow night. The West Coast Adventure continues.