I have joined a mad Irishman on a cycling trip around the world.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

From Horrors to Holidays to the Himalayas!

I am very bad, I've let the blog fall by the wayside again. Party this is due to a relaxing break at home where nothing to do with cycling ever crossed my mind, and partly because I was worried I wouldn't be able to find any positive things to say about cycling in Indonesia. But now I feel enough time has passed for me to talk about our time there without getting very cross all over again. Perhaps.

I found cycling in Indonesia anything but relaxing or enjoyable a lot of the time. Arriving in Sumatra it was immediately apparent that we were in another LOUD country. Very loud. And busy. Very very busy. People were very friendly but almost aggressively so. Everyone shouted "HELLO MISTERRRRRR!" all the day long, getting louder and more irate if we didn't shout back. It gets tiring, especially when climbing one of Sumatra's billion or so volcanoes. We also had our photos taken at least ten times a day, with or without permission. That also got tiring fairly quickly.

Good and quiet road for Sumatra
Not such a good road in Sumatra with Polish Przemek, our companion for a few weeks
An array of fried dishes for lunch
Crossing the equator up a volcano somewhere
And going down a volcano somewhere
Rather beautiful traditional house with mother of pearl inlay
Fixing a puncture draws a crowd
Beautiful Mt. Kerinci
And up we go
Lunch time
School kids watching our elevenses
This is what you get for avoiding the volcano
The sun sets on Julian's 31st year

I am so not
Hurray! Leaving Sumatra with high hopes for Java
Things didn't improve in Java which is very densely populated with only two main roads. Shouts of "HELLO MISTER!" turned into "TOURISSSSST!" or "BULLYYYYY!" which means foreigner which were infinitely worse. The volcanoes seemed steeper, the roads busier and the traffic more mental. We were run off the road by crazy bus drivers more than once and I am ashamed to admit to swearing freely at the mini-bus drivers all the day long. Luckily, or unluckily, they thought I was being friendly and waved back. This didn't improve my temper.

Jakarta's botanical gardens
Letting someone else do the peddling in Jakarta 
A wedding procession we came across
Papayas on a papaya tree
A somewhat customised scooter, an alternative to cycle touring 
Working in the rice paddy
I did clock my 20,000 kms in Java, but this was twenty minutes after the kitten I had rescued from the roadside and carried in my handlebar bag for three days desperately trying to find it a caring home had given up the ghost so I didn't feel much like celebrating.

All in all I didn't enjoy Sumatra or Java much. We did do our fastest 4000kms ever in seven weeks or so and both lost about four kilos in the process, perhaps due to refusing to eat fried chicken and there not being much else. But wait! Enough feeling sorry for myself because just across the water was Bali! I took control of the map then and refused to cycle up any more bloody volcanoes. We enjoyed a leisurely couple of weeks circumnavigating the island and exploring it's beautiful beaches. We celebrated the purchase of a new air compressor with a group of Balinese Boys by drinking palm wine until the early hours, we dived the wreck of the US war ship SS Liberty, and we were invited to stay with a family on a very exclusive locals only beach and watched the fishermen bringing in the daily catch for our breakfast.

A typical road in Java
A typical road in Bali
This is more like it
Standard Balinese sunset
Dressed for the Monkey Temple
The Dutch Cyclist with frangipani flower
The boats bringing in...
Breakfast!
Julian and our host
Traditional dancing at the Balinese cultural festival
More boats
Beautiful waters
Sunset
Preparing to leave
And so ended our time in Indonesia. We flew back to Thailand to drop the bikes off at Bok Bok and flew home for our holiday. A very happy Julia met us at Heathrow and whisked us off to the Bafta ceremony of Grandpa Suschitzky. Julian flew to Ireland and I spent the next month in luxury and comfort, digging on Mum's allotment, cycling in France with my brother Toby, drinking in Brighton with my brother Ben and generally eating A LOT. It was great. We had a great party for Grandpa's 100th birthday and I cooked enough potatoes for at least two hundred hungry cyclists. It must be the Jewish mother in me.

Now we're back in Asia, in Nepal to be precise, not quite ready to get back on the bike but ready for some serious trekking in the Himalayas. My legs are scared...