Purbayani To Tegalbuleud 108km
The SW corner of Java is a forgotten gem. They've forgotten to fix the roads. They've forgotten to provide electricity to everyone. They've forgotten about Internet. And tourists have forgotten how amazing this area is....Mind you if I was traveling in a car, with top speed of 100km plus, and was reduced to 10km because of the road surface, I too may have forgotten to come this way. On a bike, however, 10km is not such a bad speed.
I do have to change my mind though. Today, the roads were as bad as I've seen anywhere in the world. I hope I don't see too much worse. But that's part of the adventure, and if it keeps trucks, cars, buses and tourists away, it suits me fine.
Fiona has been holding up well. The Ortlieb Panniers are better than new, but the extra large bottle cage lost its elastic loop, somewhere...... Can still use it though, by turning the bottle upside down. I will need to keep a good check on stuff, nuts, screws, bolts, if I encounter too much more of these sort of road conditions.
Today, probably 50km, was nothing but potholes and big gravel. Had a scarey moment early on. A truck, with only a couple of empty pallets on its tray, was wheel spinning up a gravelly hill. Passed me, throwing stones everywhere, and then ran out of grunt. Suddenly, he was backing down the hill, to have another go. Fiona and I lept to the right hand side ditch....and lived to tell the tale.
I had a great day yesterday, chilling at the beach. I was watching the fishermen bringing in their boats, and catch. They were experts at using the breakers to help beach the boats. All sorts of locals came down to help out, swimming barrels out to the boats, carrying stuff up to the market, and lifting the boats up above the high tide mark. Everyone seemed to leave the beach with a hand fill of fish. I was even offered some. In between boats, the locals all came and sat with me to chat. I was offered cigarettes, water, fish, cigarettes again, and told to go swimming. I was invited to eat with a couple of families and to visit homes for a tea. Lovely people.
I was in fact reluctant to leave this lovely fishing village this morning. The steep climb out of the village didn't help either, but I was fill of Nasi Goreng, and feeling rested, so headed out. Stopped at the IndoMarket (Convenience come small Supermarket) The local copper, left his traffic control spot to come and chat. Even the coppers are nice.
I wasn't sure where I was heading today, just west. And what an amazing day it was. Fishing villages, hill villages. Rotten roads. Fantastic views. Lovely people. I was getting pretty warm, and had decided that I needed to get down to the beach for a swim, but for km after km, there was no beach access. So I decided, next clean river, I was having a dip. Found a river. Nice and clean, and with access to the water, next to a big fishing net. Went on down, and asked if it was okay to swim. Fisherman said sure, but perhaps I should wait until "reptile" finishes. A couple of those huge lizards, 1.5m long, were swimming around the nets. Suddenly, the need to swim vanished. Back up to the road, and a splash of water over the head.....
Yesterday, I was talking to a fisherman with "no english". Another guy turned up, and I chatted to him as well. Next minute, the original guy starts asking me questions in English sentences, but with words in the wrong order, and crazy grammar. He has an Indonesian/English translation app. Why haven't I got one? We have fun sorting out answers to his crazy questions.
There's a lot of timber being taken out of the forests in this area. At times today, both sides of the road were piled with trees cut to manageable, by hand, lengths. Many of them were close to mills, and were being cut into timber for building. Nothing seems to be treated, just trimmed, perhaps sanded or planned, and nailed. Builders come and sort through huge unorganized piles of timber, and take what they need. I'm sure Mr Stanton would have a ball here, sorting through a pile.
By 90km today, I was looking for a town and somewhere to sleep. The road seemed to be taking me away from where I thought I should be heading. At least it was mainly along a ridge, that seemed to have way too much uphill. I stopped a couple of times to check my GPS. The road at times today certainly didn't feel like a main road. Think of a rutted and stoney Lake Sumner road, but with locals houses and business's every 100m. It was lovely though, beautiful forests, and almost every tree was being tapped for its sap. I'm unsure what for. They didn't look like palm trees, for Palm oil. Certainly weren't Maple. I don't know what rubber trees look like. But they all had a spiral groove, and a cup attached.
So I was pleased to reach Tegalbuleud. Had to ask a few locals before I found a Losman. Trouble was, it looked shut. Went back and asked again. A young Security guy solved the problem. Found some keys, found a staff number, and I'm in. $5. I'm the only client. No staff, just a bunch of keys, and "see you in the morning". I'm feed, washed, and under my mossie net. The 7pm Call to Prayer is done....how come the mosque is always less than 100m from the Losman? I can rest until 5am.... When the next Call to Prayer happens. Am missing my daily Skype with Ju. Maybe tomorrow.