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Old 05-01-2012, 12:15 AM   #181
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Gee guys, I just told her what you said. Maybe I shouldn't have, eh?

OK.... I've been experimenting. I've been travelling with a tiny Netbook computer... a little ASUS Eee thingamy that drives me nuts. Typing on it is a nightmare with my big fingers... the touchpad bounces the cursor everywhere and so on. Its only got 1Gb of memory so there's not a lot I can do with it.... I'm no teckie, so I'm not blaming it for that.

I've just backed up all my photos onto my desktop and I flicked a couple of shots into Photoshop (I prefer to see things as they come off the camera btw) but at least I could extract some data.

Here's the run from Tuktuk on Lake Toba up to Berastagi... the back way - that's around the island shore first, then up the escarpment.



Not a bad climb up the escarpment there eh? I did a bigger one than that in Vietnam a couple of years ago. We dropped almost 6,000' in 20 - 25 km. It was the new road from DaLat down towards Nha Trang. A fabulous bit of track.

... and, having access to a video editing program, I grabbed a still from one of the early videos. This is crossing Nolan's Creek on the Old Telegraph Track, up on Cape York. Its the only one we carried the KTM across... and we only did that because Peter had drowned his Tenere and we'd had to pool all our spare oil to get him mobile again. If any of us had sunk in and got water in the oil... we'd have been in trouble



Being able to do things like this is tempting me to take the much gruntier Notebook back with me rather than the Netbook... but it won't fit in the tankbag and I know I really shouldn't.
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Old 05-07-2012, 06:55 AM   #182
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Whoo hoo... back to the bike tomorrow.

I just weighed the freight... two tyres and my clothes.... 20kg. (shhh don't look at the backpack - I got on a KLM flight once with IIRC 45kg in the cabin bag). I figured that I better put the new chain in the bag though, rather than try and get it into the cabin.

Rang the guesthouse yesterday.... "I remind you" he says. Good, thinks me... you've got my bike and gear. "Get my email?" "No... email kaput." OK... I'm coming on Tuesday. arghhh.

Sold a job today too... damn client (G'day if you're watching... take the "damn" in the nicest sense please) doesn't quite trust me that my son can nail it, so he wants me back to work on it too. Bugger. It is a problem actually... Thailand doesn't do the carnet shit... so its 1 month in country and that's it. Try doing a return trip during that one month and things get scary. Never mind... work has its benefits and I'll run for the border if I have to. The job is fascinating - really out there - and there won't be a day I won't mull it over. Let's see if my son can communicate.

So... tomorrow.... fly... Wednesday... oil / chain / whatever.... Thursday... ride.

The chain has about 14,500 hard km on it. Very hard km. I didn't like the noises it was making, so it will be interesting to see how it looks when I ditch it.
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Old 05-07-2012, 01:09 PM   #183
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Are you replacing sprockets too?
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Old 05-07-2012, 03:12 PM   #184
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Wow. Ive just spent a very enjoyable 2 hours going through your pages. Thanks very much.
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Old 05-08-2012, 03:51 AM   #185
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peter13 View Post
Wow. Ive just spent a very enjoyable 2 hours going through your pages. Thanks very much.
Speed reader!
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Old 05-08-2012, 08:20 PM   #186
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleepy John View Post
Are you replacing sprockets too?
I know I should, but I'm not. I might whack the smaller 16t front sprocket back on though, particularly if there's any wear on the 17t.... its only done 3,000km. I re-fitted the 17t for the run from Cairns to Darwin and numerous times since, I've wished the 16t was back on. I'm running +3 on the back... a 47t Chaingangs sprocket which looked OK so I'll be naughty and keep running it.

I flew into Medan last night on the tail of a massive thunderstorm. The lightning as we descended was simply stunning. I was rather grateful the flight wasn't an hour earlier. Saw plenty of big branches on the ground during the taxi ride back to JJ's Guesthouse.. so I was doubly grateful. I wish I had photos, but don't. Its amazing how dehydrated you can get flying - I had a couple of bottles of water during the flights and then went through 2 litres overnight. I'll remember my earplugs tonight. The traffic quietened down a bit around 2am until, oh, maybe 5am.

Interesting experience with Customs in Malaysia - I had to transit through Kuala Lumpur to get back to Sumatra. There was a border guard grabbing all the returning locals with cardboard cartons - making them open them. Suitcases went straight through, every cardboard carton got opened (says he making a mental note).... anyhow, she spotted my two new knobbies... "new?" .... there's another tip... if anyone's skint, scuff them up a bit..... "Yes.... but I'm taking them to Indonesia in 3 hours time"... and I shoved my ticket under her nose. That got me through, but I gather she was going to hit me up for import duty otherwise. No such problem in Indonesia... but the tyres were a source of great interest to all the locals. Lots of comments and touching. Speaking of touching... five interactions with Customs during the trip, but the only lot that went the grope were the Aussies. That plus an explosives check.

OK... time to go do things. I've already decided I'll probably stay an extra night here though. No point rushing things. Time to go do the chain, oil, etc and follow up on some other things.
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Old 05-09-2012, 05:38 PM   #187
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Well, we tied one on a bit last night.... although I was "home" by midnight.

It took me a little while to get back into "Asia" mode yesterday. I was chasing up some stuff at a private hospital here... trying to find out the details to follow up on their cataract operations. My blood ended up boiling at about the two hour mark so rather than do a western dummy spit, I left and have reverted to email comms. I'd managed to find a brochure by then.... so at least that's a start... and I wandered through their eye care section by myself. Nice place, Much nicer than the Sydney hospital where my son had his appendix out a couple of weeks ago



I went around the corner from the hospital for a bit of lunch and got bounced by three beggar kids.... all with bowls in their hands. I refused the money request, but fed them. Not exactly a "last of the big spenders" moment... lunch cost me $6.40 for all four of us. Chicken, rice, vegies and an avocado and chocolate shake. Yep. $1.60 each.



Quite a polished little begging troupe. Siblings. Mum does laundry, Dad's a soldier. They wouldn't discuss school... but a woman at the next table said they weren't at school "because they are beggars" - what's a bloke supposed to do? Give them anything and you encourage begging success, encourage them to not go to school. I dunno? So... the food arrived, they were about to hop into it and they remembered it was time to give a prayer of thanks for the food. A bit contrived, I thought. Then, when I whipped out the camera for that photo... all three of them whipped away their begging bowls that had been on the table.

So, somewhat disgruntled, I told myself to get back into Asia mode. I stopped off at the international hotel the ladies at the next table had told me to call into. Had a coffee that cost one third of what the four full meals and drinks had cost. I'm sure I could find a coffee here for one tenth of what it cost. Try finding that range of pricing in the west.

Off to find a bike shop. Stopped at the first one I found. ITHINK Services. Nice bunch of guys and quite an intelligent and thorough young mechanic. He wasn't too good with the oil catch tray though....



We (I helped) installed a new chain, did the oil and filter, new brake pads and a few other little bits. I've gone back to 16/47 gearing which will be better in the traffic. Didn't try it out for wheelies as I had no front brake most of the way back to JJs Guesthouse.... a trip that would have been half the distance if I'd followed my nose rather than the Garmin's instructions. The old chain wasn't too bad but I'm happier to know its new again. The rear sprocket was fine.... and it was about then I realised I'd forgotten to get a new countershaft oil seal. Oh well... it hasn't been dripping, so???? In fact, I've only seen it drip once,

I scored a much needed massage in the hairdressers near the bike shop. I walked in and some lady wandering around in a bra with a towel draped around her just about had a fit (she'd just had her hair washed). I attracted a bit of attention... its curtains closed so you can get into a set of far too tight boxers.... and they were all trying to see what they could through the gaps - sorry girls,,,, no show here.... then its curtains open for the massage... and a few phone photos I think.

So... the hangover? Well, no hangover really, but a few jugs of Guiness went down the hatch. I invited the bike shop guys and hairdressing girls (they are friends of each other) to the Karaoke bar. Some of the girls could really sing.... some of the guys, less so. I even had a go. Everyone had fun and in true modest Asian style, the girls snuck off home ahead of the guys. No seeing them home safely... its apparently better to let them get home themselves.



In a strange twist, the girl on the right of the photo is from the same village back at Lake Toba as the family that made Connie and I a coffee. The village where the blind guy is. Small world eh.
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:42 AM   #188
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A rather unusual day today... I finally got around to pulling the headlight housing and repairing it. Its done quite well given the way we cobbled it together, and considering that it took the full impact of the bike when I cartwheeled on Cape York. The gusseting on the spine gave way... not enough carbon in the fillet.



I headed down to ITHINK bike shop again... using local transport. Cheap as chips...



You have to love these guys. There were cops around doing helmet checks, so this one threw his helmet on as we got towards the coppers...



I was going to do the work on the casing, but I turned my back and one of the guys was into it.



Oh well, best to support the local workers. I'd brought some carbon fibre and epoxy back with me, We (he) laid it up and then we braced it with some big zipties I'd brought over too. Job done. I'm going to build a different version of this at some stage... with better light throw adjustment and a better box to retain the wiring. Its been one of the best additions to the Super Enduro though. It sure throws some light.



The repair's a bit agricultural, but I couldn't give a rat's arse about that at this stage.

I knew I'd find a worthy recipient for the Two Wheels posters that came with the mag I bought to read on the plane over. You reckon he'd smile though, eh?

Should I mention that I spent most of the day with the girls? A two hour massage ($10) while I waited for the glue to dry on the bike bits, another hour foot/leg massage in the evening after I went back to sort out my internet access problems, and then they washed my hair and gave me a one hour head massage,,, for $1. Hmmm 4 hours in one day... sets a record. Record low price too. Ita, Amy and what'sisname and I went down to the Merderka Walk for dinner. Lovely... and cheap. I'd been there with the Dutch girls and we didn't like it much... it makes all the difference to have some lights on, no sun and a crowd.



You have to love a girl (figuratively speaking) who has Playboy ears on her phone



Amy and Ita....



I battled bureaucracy again today too. The Roads mob in NSW (RMS) won't renew my rego without an inspection, despite me having had it inspected 6 months ago (you only need one inspection a year)... and they referred me to the local consulate for assistance - because you can't get inspections here. Yep... it shut two years ago. Thanks for nothing, turkeys. I'm going to write to the Minister. It won't solve anything... but at least I'll have the red tape issue raised within the Ministers Office. The UK have this one sorted... so why can't we?
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:48 AM   #189
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just open my inbox from your massage, sorry cant met up with you, maybe another time in another place we can met

good trip in medan
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Old 05-11-2012, 03:56 AM   #190
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There's two ways of looking at today. It was either shitful, or brilliant.

I missed a very young kid today by millimetres. Not inches, but millimetres. I thought she was gone. I still don't know how I missed her. I was beside an SUV and this kid... maybe 5 yo,,,, no more... and maybe less, ran out from in front of the car beside me. He only just missed her... I don't think he even saw her. I went full brakes and "ooched" away from her. She disappeared out of sight just off centre... in front of me.... within millimetres of my tyre... and I'm damned if I know how I missed her with the tank, pegs and luggage.

It reminded me of a startled cat on the road... she was running at full speed. I didn't see her come out the side.... and I was still sideways 15 metres later. I didn't stop - I don't think I'd have wanted to get back on the bike if I stopped. All I know is that I didn't hit her.

The day got much better after that. My two virgin rear tubes are now not. Yep... two punctures. The first and the second of the trip. What was, at 3 1/2 hours, going to be a 4 hour trip is now 8 and counting. I'm on the ferry to Samosir Island... in the rain.

I am going to have a stiff drink tonight. Or two.
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Old 05-11-2012, 03:58 AM   #191
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Oh yeah... and my rear brake caliper is now pissing fluid. Is it possible that I hit the brakes so hard that the seal blew from that? Fat chance of getting 5.1 brake fluid here.
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:19 PM   #192
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Lake Toba is one of my favourite places. As much as I don't want to come back here without a bike, I'll warn my wife now... I want to bring her here for a holiday - even without a bike.

I've been here four nights now, but finally made progess late yesterday with the hopital and I'm back to Medan tomorrow with Kader and his daughter Sarma to see the eye surgeon. The surgeon wouldn't book Kader in for an operation without seeing him first. He's worried that he won't be able to treat him, as he's been blind for 20 years. Fingers crossed here.

Back to that later. Let me add some photos of the trip down here. I'm still super jumpy after that kid running across the four lanes of traffic, but that was a real strange one. Kids are normally so good with the road here. It sure shook me up... and I did have a double Black Label as soon as I checked in (one scotch and two beers was it... I don't think getting pissed would have helped). I said above that my brake caliper was leaking. It was the master cylinder. Its giving the occasional drip but should be OK. I was worried because I have zero chance of getting DOT 5.1 brake fluid here, but my son tells me I can mix anything non-silicone in,(ie other than 5.0). DOT 3 and 4 and 5.1 are glycol based. The boiling temp will drop... but that's better than no brakes at all.

On the way down, I passed another rider and we both turned back. Chris is Swiss, riding for there - intending to get home by October.



Here's where I ended up doing the first puncture repair - within sight of Tuktuk across the lake. I walked the bike until I found a rock... flagged down a couple of locals to help me lift it up and gave them a couple of bucks each.



Here's the second repair. At a truck stop. Got there by pumping the tyre up a few times and taking it easy. This was about 14 km from where I had to catch the ferry



I took that shot because UHD tubes are supposed to be unrepairable. The tyre guy roughed it up with a rotary burr and glued a bit of tube on, using a big screw press to do it. It's done some tough roads since.... real tough - big nasty rocks and potholes, two-up at speed. Speaking of speed... I've kept it down to 140 max and normally no more than 100 because of that tube repair. My GPS said I got up to 255kph on the way down from Medan... which is bullshit of course. I can recall hitting 140 once and I've never taken the SE over 185.

On Saturday, I took the photos I'd taken last time out to Kader's family house. They live in a small traditional Batak village on the slopes of Samosir Island in Lake Toba. The village is called Huta Bolon - Sosortolong. Their house is 120 years old.

Here's Kader's daugher, Sarma, who speaks a bit of English, and his wife checking out the photos.



... and a bucketload of kids



When I ride in to Huta Bolon now, there's a swarm of kids converge on Kader's house.

I only had half a dozen Koalas with me... nowhere near enough.



I was sitting next to this woman, a neighbour... and that boy kept helping himself to the milk. He was none too gentle on the buttons and I turned around to an eyeful at one stage, so I smiled and wagged my finger at her. She laughed and showed me that the shirt was stuffed. Turns out its her only shirt, so when I went in to get some credit on Sarma's phone (so she could ring me.... too poor to make calls), we picked up this shirt for her - and some antiseptic for a kid with a big flap of skin hanging off his hand.



When we explained to Kader what we were going to do, he was dumbfounded. Happily dumbfounded I might add. He asked about the money and I explained it was a gift from some Australians. That led to several offers of brides for my sons which were graciously declined.

Dealing with the hospital has been "fun" in the typical sense of dealing with Indonesian bureaucracy. Couldn't raise anyone on Saturday. Made contact on Monday. Was promised a call from the surgeon by midday... started chasing them at 4.... they wouldn't take my call.... but they then, at least rang Sarma and we sorted out getting to Medan.

... more later.
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Old 05-15-2012, 06:17 AM   #193
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I caught up here at Tuktuk (Lake Toba) with a couple of women who'd been staying at JJ's in Medan when I was there. Here's Denise... in case you miss it, she's a Pom



She's only being friendly for the photo, btw... she's married and so am I... she's in Sumatra with her niece, a Dutch woman damn near Denise's age. Denise has lived in the Netherlands for years... and the place she stayed at in Toba is run by a Dutch woman who married a Batak guy 30 years ago and stayed on. Denise and Sue have moved on now, but I decided to move over to where they were. Its a much nicer feeling place... very multicultural. I think there were 8 of us around the table the other day and there wasn't a duplicate nationality among us. French, Dutch, English, Aussie, German, Swede, Indonesian and American. Amazing actually.

Here's Sue. She's not married, but I am.



The place is called Tuk Tuk Timbul. I lashed out and got a bungalow with hot water for an extra dollar a night. That takes it to $5. The only downside is no wifi, but the owner will loan her USB stick. I got mine fixed (again) today. I haven't uploaded the view from my verandah yet... but the Lake is just metres away and the view is stunning.

Here's a shot from the restaurant



I reckon its miles better than Carolina's - where I was paying 3 times as much. The hot water wasn't. I asked for the blocked toilet to be fixed twice... it wasn't. Back to my old view of hotels here... smaller and cheaper are better.

One of the staff at TT Timbul was looking at my bike a couple of days ago when I came over to see Denise and Sue and asked me "you take me around Samosir?" Yeah, why not.... so I came back the next day at a time I'd agreed with D&S (10am)... and found they'd set out on their rentascooters at 8:30. Good thing too... they never got over 40kph all day. This was a couple of hours earlier than I'd agreed with Dewi (the cook)... and I discovered she had cold feet. Her boss was asleep.... she had to wait to double check with her... and so on. I nearly pulled the pin on it, but I wanted to try and cross over the top of Samosir... and having someone with the language on board would be good. The boss, when she emerged at midday wasn't over-keen, but we managed to get away.... provided I got the cook back before guests wanted dinner.

We never got over the top... the locals turned us back a couple of times when we were about half way up, telling us we couldn't get through. My GPS wasn't helping. Its had me about 400 metres out in the lake at times... and it had none of the internal roads on it. This was as high as we got... about 250 metres above lake level which is, IIRC 1050m above sea level.

Its rice harvest time and this lot were working hard, manually threshing the rice so they could bag it.



I've since found some tourists who made it across on rentascooters... and they said it was horrific. In other words, it sounds like fun. I might try it when I get back from Medan again. I eventually found a signposted road on this side of the island... so I've at least got a known starting point.

Dewi was a bit worried about her reputation... and I couldn't get her off the bike after she got a "knowing look" from a couple of guys. They were wrong... but it didn't stop her worrying. If I wanted photos, this was what happened....



No wee break even. Its a very conservative society. She's not from here. Has only been here a couple of months, here for the work. The wages are shocking btw... $1.70 a day. More on that later, I'm off to the pub for dinner and the band.

I decided at the last minute today to leave the bike here, at the village, and go with Kader and Sarma to the hospital in Medan by taxi. Its a six hour drive... and its $6.50 each. I was getting worried about what would happen if I got another flat tyre or delayed. They haven't been to the city before... and whilst they will be staying with relatives, I really don't think they'd handle the whole hospital experience.

Cheers... its off to the pub
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:54 AM   #194
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The whole hospital experience didn't work out too well.

Kader's eyes are stuffed... it isn't just the cataracts, he's been blind too long and there are other issues.... too much pressure in them, etc. Kader, Sarma and me were shattered. Travelling down with him gave me a better understanding of what the blind have to deal with in a country like this.

I've picked up a bug - running a bit of a fever, but got some attention from a friend's friend... Nola, who is a head nurse. I'm staying over in Medan and plan to head back to Lake Toba again tomorrow.
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Old 05-17-2012, 01:13 AM   #195
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Mate it's a shame about Kader's eyes, but you tried, shit I go to these sort of places and want to help but don't know were to begin
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