Solo to Yogyakarta 65km
I left the homestay and it's fantastic pool early to beat the heat of the day. The plan was to meet my Warmshowers host at the main gate to the airport at 2 pm, so I knew I had plenty of time for the 60 odd km. Yogy and Solo are two reasonably sized cities, with a history of Kings, kingdoms, temples and such, much visited by tourists, and seemingly almost joined together. The one major road between them is very busy, and was not very pleasant to ride, although twice there was almost a "bike lane". Once it turned out to be a security barrier around a military base, but the other almost genuine, but cramped fill of scooters, cars trying to park, rickshaws, and side walk stalls.
I stopped for some food and a couple of locals recommended "soto" which turned out to be a sort of light noodle soup. A good find, but I was worried about the quality of the ice in the iced tea that arrived, when I thought I'd ordered a nice looking bread roll to go with the soup.
I was keen to try and get some money from a bank or ATM at the airport. I'd tried a few days earlier and almost had my card eaten, with no money being got out. My reasoning for the airport was the chances of finding someone to help who might speak English would be better, should there be a problem. As it was, no money resulted, and the thought, from a young lady in the bank was that I needed to find a certain type of bank that had six figure pin number instead of the standard four we use in NZ. I headed out of the airport with three unusable bank cards, $100 in local currency and 800 days of a 900 day adventure still to run. Hmmmm.
Anton, not his standard Muslim name, but so much easier for me to say and remember, my warm showers host, was waitng for me at the airport gates. I followed him through the traffic and a maze of tiny streets and lanes to his house. It is fairly discomforting being so out of tune with your actual location. I dared not loose him.
Anton is a Cycling Blogger. He rides routes in Indonesia, them writes about them for others to follow. Local manufacturers provide him with gear to use and he writes writes on the gear. Not a hugely lucrative occupation, but one he is very passionate about. I hope to be able to stay with him a couple of days, and get some advice on which way to go from here.
I am once again ahead of schedule, and have several spare days to fill, before Graham A meets me in Sumatra. The plan is shaping that I will ride a circuitous route to Jakarta, I didn't really want to go there because it is very very busy, then fly to Singapore for a night, so as I can renew my Indonesiania visa. Then I will cycle to the ferry to Sumatra to meet Graham.
So far, staying with Anton has been a delight. His English is reasonably good, and he has been able to explain so much. Outside his gate is a food stall. In the morning, 7am, a couple set it up and cook and sell breakfast type food, Indonesian style. That's rice or noodles with all sorts of add ins. When they have sold out, they cook some more rice, and do brunch. Normally they do a third round...lunch, then they pack up and go home. Around 5pm, a totally different guy turns up. He erects his stall on the same spot and cooks up evening food....rice, noodles and lots of other stuff. He trades until about midnight, then packs up and goes home. Immediately across the road, five metres away, three other families do exactly the same. If we don't like these stalls, we walk 50m to the next corner to a different stall with different food. All the stalls are extremely busy, and sell out every day. Meals, that you feel really fill after, cost about $1. I shouted four of us dinner.....it cost me $2...big spender Grum.
All day, mobile vendors, normally carts on push bikes or motor bikes move up and down the streets....sort of like Mr Whipey. Depending on their "noise" you can work out what they sell. Knock, knock, knock on wood is the bread boy. Ding ding ding of the bell is the meatballs. La, lala la, is the Ice cream. Chinka Chinka Chinka, is the hot drinks. Dong dong dong is the Nasi Goreng. So much to learn. I can now order for myself: Jeruk Panas, hot orange juice; Lotek, peanut sauce salad, Gado gado, some other type of salad.....and then I start getting confused.....but I'm working on it.
Anton is mentoring a young man, 13 year old Rian. Rian is a climber, and has competed in several national age group competitions, and has done particularly well.....3rd in Indonesia. If any of my climbing friends can think of a way we could help Rian make international contacts in the climbing world, that may be able to help him with his passion, please let me know. He is also a keen cyclist, and although he rides a bike with a 26" front wheel and a 24" back wheel, he really loves being out cycling. Anton is teaching him to be a guide, and Rian is taking my being here as an opportunity to practice both his English and his guiding skills.
Antons girlfriend, Agitya, is studying to be a pre school teacher. As with so many Indonesian, she is shy to practice her English, but I have been attempting to break down the barrier that English teachers here seem to build.....proper grammar must be used, compared with, let's help the foreigner even though our vocabulary is not huge. Anton and Agitya intend to get married next year but until then they cannot live together, and in fact Agitya must not even cook in his kitchen. They are an anomaly here in Indonesia, as they both love to cycle, or walk, rather than use a scooter.
Yesterday it was so hot, and Ju commented that I was looking a bit scruffy, so I went to a local barber for a shave... Its a bit scarey being attacked by a guy with a cutthroat shaver, but for $1.50 I am now clean shaven. Feels great.
We also went for a bike ride around some local sites. Rian guided. Being a Sunday, there were many more cyclists on the road, and the traffic initially wasn't quite as busy. We visited an old Bridge, crossing a salt water river, and visited a Holy cave used by Hindus for many years. Next were some caves built by the Japanese to store weapons in WWII, followed by a sacred hill, which legend says covers a buried temple with lots of gold. The boys were a bit annoyed that locals were now charging for people to bike to this site, as Anton's blog was what was attracting the cyclists. Locals taking every new opportunity....
The lessons and learning continue. One day soon I must hop on my bike and go touring.