Pangandaran to Cikalong 75km
I'm unsure what I witnessed this morning, but what ever it was it involved moving truck loadsa people in the opposite direction to me. And I mean truck loads. For almost two hours, trucks of all sizes came towards me, loaded with people. Big four wheel drive vehicles were included, and they all seemed crampacked with people. Some of the small trucks had 12 to 20 on the back. Some of the larger ones must have had 50 persons on board, peering though the slats like cattle do. Many of the trucks had loud speaker systems, that were blaring out music, that the passengers were singing along to, and they were all dressed up, and seemingly happy, so I'm presuming it wasn't forced relocations...... Maybe, being Sunday, they were just heading for the beach? But there were a lot of them.
I was heading west, along the coast, to who knows where. I thought I might call in to see the acclaimed "Green Canyon". It's been described as "beautifully tranquil", and while I was in Pangandaran, I had been offered several guided day trips to see this wondrous site. On arrival.....a huge car park full of tour buses, with all the accompanying t shirt, food and souvenir stalls. Hundreds of people were being ushered on to long river boats and heading up stream. No way was it going to be tranquil. I'll give it a miss. I stood on a bridge, and within 10 minutes, counted 20 long boats heading to the tranquil canyon....oh well. I saved 200,000R.
As usual, lots of scooters out and about, but today I saw several with the passenger carrying some sort of TV aerial. Apparently it's some type of orienteering, treasure hunt, similar to Geocaching, except the point sends out a radio signal that you have to locate. In the old Russian states they call it Fox Hunting. These guys were racing.
Also was passed by at least three groups of Motor Bike Tours. You can tell the difference. These guys have much bigger bikes, and were all carrying back packs.
The roads along the coast were all severely damaged in the Tsunami. They're being fixed, but slowly. The bits that have been done are amazing. The bits not done are rougher than the road to Tennyson in summer. Anton warned me that they might be bad, and a scooter rider came up beside me and told me my route wasn't the best, but I expect I'll get worse at some stage of my Global ride. I was able to pass and stay ahead of a bus that couldn't go faster than 10 kph. Anyway, because of the state of the road, the traffic was very light, which made for excellent riding....I loved it.
They are building the new road with huge concrete slabs, almost half a metre above the old road level. Some parts were only half done, so traffic, what there was, was one lane.....but Fiona and I were able to ride the slabs, rather than bounce through the corregations...perfect. Most the rest of the time though, it was dodge and swerve around the pot holes.
There was lots of evidence of Tsunami damage. In places whole settlements had been destroyed, and haven't been rebuilt. And this made for some excellent sites for camping.......but I've been warned so many times that I shouldn't. The danger is not animals, snakes, or tsunami, but humans. A real shame. Mind you, when I saw the giant lizard, probably 1.50m long and 30cm high, crossing the road in front if me, it sort of dampened the enthusiasm.
The beaches are amazing. Great surf, black sand, and noone about. I was tempted to swim, but this in fact a dangerous coastline, so I just paddled, as the Indonesians do, no deeper than my knees.
There are not many towns along this stretch. In fact this corner of Java is the least populated of the whole island, another reason I'm enjoying the riding. So when I'd done 75km, and a small town appeared, I thought it prudent to look for a bed. I'm in a Losman, not a hotel, less flash than a motel, but I'm comfortable. I've really enjoyed the day. Amazing scenery, both beaches and jungle, interesting riding, and not much traffic. May it continue.