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Old 05-01-2012, 09:12 PM   #16
bokad OP
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Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Wherever it is warm.
Oddometer: 395
Some random notes
-----------------
Indonesia is without a doubt the dirtiest place I've been. Too many people in too little space. Add in the bad habits of just tossing trash on the ground and the result is disastrous. I don't think they mind though. It seems common to burn a pile of plastic and other toxic rubbish at the curb and sit down next to it, down wind, with the fumes in your face. It's impossible to describe some of the sights and smells we encounter. Sometimes it's really like driving through a garbage dump.

This is also a terrible country for a manual transmission. Especially a clunky, hard to find neutral one like the Ural. Always shifting, down shifting, clutching, looking for neutral. 1000 times a day.

I really like the looks of the Ural but it's just sooo much hassle and inconvenience. Finnicky and underpowered. If I did this trip again I'd do it with a different bike. Buy the Ural sidecar and bolt it on to something else. Or buy something local and leave it at the border when I leave. Could have bought two brand new 150cc Yamaha bikes for what it cost just to ship the Ural.

Actually, a scooter is the ideal vehicle here. It's what they have so everything is designed around it. Bridges and paths too small for a regular bike but perfect for scooter. You'll never need to go faster than a scooter can go anyway. And I see them driving them in incredible places. Across rivers and over bolders. Places that we need a 4wd jeep to get to. But the mighty scooter is light enough and thin enough that it makes it everywhere.


I like his hat. I like his cart.


Members of a Vespa group.


Beceks and homeless dude.


When it rains my Ural turns in to a steam train.


Hey kids, say thanks to your dads for lifting us out of that mud.
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:19 PM   #17
Frey Bentos
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Brilliant read chap! Keep it coming.
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:29 PM   #18
bokad OP
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9 April 2012
-----------------------------------------
Around Bandongan and Magelang.

The hotel is a lovely village retreat owned by a French guy and his Indonesian wife. I can see a volcano out my window.
Driving in town we're waved over by a member of the local motorcycle antique club. I'm disappointed to tell him the Ural is new.
Nevertheless he comes by the hotel later to introduce his club and their bikes. Just amazingly friendly people. They take us out to dinner. Cool bikes as well. Things you wouldn't expect to find here. A BMW, Jawa, and BSA all from the 50's. Harley from the 60's. A few others. A Czech made bike called Jawa (pronounced Java) on the island of Java. Isn't that great! I'm happy to see some real bikes after all those scooters.



People want to pose with Anna so I take the pictures.


Stuff on scooters!


Coming home from school


Cool bikes, cool people.


BMW, BSA, Ural
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:37 PM   #19
bokad OP
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About bikers in Indonesia
-----------------------------------------
I really repsect the bikers that I have met here. They're devoted to their machines in a way that surpasses most of our passions.
When I choose to ride an interesting bike I'm not sacrificing anything. I can still afford a practical car. I can have my interesting bike and one that is more usable, comfortable, reliable, economical. I'm not giving anything up. With the bikers in Indonesia they are making a choice. There isn't enough money for everything. They ride what they ride at the expense of other things they could have had. So if you see a guy on something other than a scooter chances are he loves his machine and has made sacrifices to be on it. I admire that.



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Old 05-01-2012, 09:51 PM   #20
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10 April 2012
-----------------------------------------
To Borobudur and beyond!

Finally to see the temple. Sunrise comes early unfortunately. But we will have the temple mostly to ourselves.

Then a ride up the side of the farm covered volcano. Amazing to see kids that walk 2km down/up hill to school and back.

It helps my mood alot. It's hard to be grouchy when you wave and smile and shout hello 100 times a day. Everyone wants to say hello.
We go up the mountain until the Ural can go no more. It's steep and narrow and clogged with stuff. We know that if we get stopped we'll never get going again and have to inch down backwards before turning around.


Temple, volcano, sunrise. Check check check!


Obligatory funny self pictures


There is a Budha statue inside each of these many stuppas


And some more Budha statues for good measure


This is what rice planting looks like. Now you know.


Up and up.
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Old 05-02-2012, 01:05 AM   #21
bokad OP
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About the rain
---------------
In theory there is a rainy and dry season in Indonesia. I think it's more like a very rainy and somewhat less rainy but still wet season. And when it rains, it comes in buckets. For hours. Usually starting in the early afternoon. If you're sitting inside somewhere, listening to the beating against a thatched roof, then it's very relaxing and beautiful. If you're driving it's a very damp experience. If you're driving up hill then you're fighting against an angry river. Ariver raging from one side of the road to the other and carrying all sorts of debris with it. Masking large holes in the asphalt and sometimes pulling the mountain down on the road or the road down the mountain. You can pull over and wait tillit passes but you may be waiting for hours. I think we've found all the mystery leaks now. The trunk and luggage stay dry. The jugs on my Ural steam profusely in the rain. I like that.
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Old 05-02-2012, 01:39 AM   #22
Donmanolo
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Uzhasniy...!

Subscribed...this is just brilliant..!


(as is the choice of name for the beast, Uzhasniy indeed )
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:05 AM   #23
bokad OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donmanolo View Post
Uzhasniy indeed )
When I first decided to buy a Ural I came up with all sorts of cool Russian-esque names. Sputnik (travelling companion or satellite), Brodyachaya Sobaka (stray dog), Kroota (cool). But the day I bought it and clumsily rode it home for 5 hours, all I could think was "terrible"
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:07 AM   #24
bokad OP
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About the driving
------------------
Driving in Indoesia is a special sort of hell. I've ridden in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam. It's worse here. Magnitudes worse. It's stressful, dangerous, uncomfortable, and slow. If I had known just how bad it would be I would have made a trip somewhere else.

On a decent day, with aggresive passing, we manage an average speed of 33km/h (20mph). If it's not a decent day and no good opportunities for passing then it can be much slower. Sure you can go faster at times. But never for a sustained period. You might burst to 50 or even a screaming 70km/h but then you'll get stuck behind an uphill mammoth truck at 15km/h. Or a train. Or an accident.

No amount of description or video or pictures could accurately describe it. But I'll try.

First, imagine a place like England or Germany or a crowded US state.
Now remove all the interstates, autobahns, two lane, and divied highways. There is none of that here. Just a narrow single lane in each direction. No dedicated entries or exits. No turning lanes. No road shoulder. So a narrow street lines with businesses and houses for miles. There is no special place for pulling over to pick up passengers or fixing a flat, or making a turn across traffic. Because there are no highways, all the traffic that belongs there is on these secondary roads instead. Hurtling busses. Mammoth size trucks, people trying to drive as fast as possible between cities.

Just to make it a little more spicy, picture traffic that you've never seen in your country. A 10 year old transporting his younger brother on a scooter while yacking on cell phone. Sprinting and darting in who knows what directions. A grandfather peddling a wide and incredibly slow becek bicycle taxi. Three generations of family in one horse drawn cart. Someone walking and pushing a snack wagon. Trucks so lumberous and overloaded on the sides and top that they have to drive in the middle of the road or run in to the tops and sides of trees. Agricultural vehicles bristling with pointy metal things. And people just carelessly walking.

None of these things are where they should be. Slow things don't stay to the side where they are easily avoided.
Mix all these things, big and small, fast and slow, in to one narrow road.
And everyone seems to drive without any awarness of the vehicles around them. Someone stuck at 10km/h thinks nothing of pulling in front of 50km/h traffic. Large slow trucks will occupy the oncoming lane (your lane) to pass another large slow truck. They flash their lights to say "I know it's you're lane but I'm coming so you better move". Nobody is TRYING to injure you or themselves but they're definitely putting very little effort in to avoiding it.

So you've pictured (ex Germany). Removed the interstates, put all the large trucks on secondary roads, added in horses and children on motorcycles and pedestrians. Removed driver education. Removed turns lanes and shoulders.

And finally but crucially, increase the population density 500%. So crowded that there is no room for error.

But things do happen. You come around a corner at speed (and by speed I mean 30mph) and suddenly grandpa and his becek are in the middle of the road. You slam on the brakes to avoid rolling over his antique tin cycle and he doesn't even notice. You are stuck behind a ginormous truck grinding along at 20km/h. You can't see anything in the front or to the side. Just this huge truck posterior. You cautiously edge out to pass. You accelerate. Then mid way through the pass this monster suddenly swerves to avoid a pothole or scooter or horse. He swerves without ever looking beside him, and you're forced in to the ditch. You are stuck behind a slow moving vehicle. The minvian behind you is therefore stuck behind you. He attempts to pass, even though it's obviouly not clear. He's just accelerating and hoping there's nothing around the corner. He's parallel with you now. But there is something, a hurtling oncoming buss, so he weaves back, forcing himself in to the space you were occupying. Running you over or forcing you to the side.

There's a thousand different permutations. All come from the same origins. A maddening cocktail. Too many people, not enough space, bad infrastructure, traffic types that should never mix.


It was the second week here. The first time (in all my miles travelled and 60 countries visited) I've ever seen a fresh body on the road. And what I thought was "huh, I'm surprised we didn't see this sooner".

I hate driving here. I dread it. It's a chore, not a pleasure. I wouldn't recommend self drive here to anyone. You're damn near the smallest dog in the yard and those big boys will think nothing of squashing you. Car and driver are so cheap to hire here anyway. I dream of returning with a freight train of a truck. Hundreds of tons and steel and motor. Annihilating all those busses and trucks and vans and cars that carelessly tried to kill me. Seriosuly, I dream of it.

The best solution is to drive at night. You miss the scenery and you might bleed for awhile after an accident (like when you hit that dark 50lb bag of rice on the road ) before someone else comes along, but god it's smooth sailing. 99% less traffic and cool air. Double the speeds you can make during the day. You have the road and all those glorious curves to yourself.

I hope it gets better. It has to. I'm too stubborn to quit and the only way out of Indonesia is to continue through Indonesia.

I hate driving here.


The view often looks like this for extended periods of time. Can't see anything to the front or the other lane. If you try to back off a bit to leave some safety space or get a better view, the [$%^!@#] behind you will quickly pass then wedge in in front of you. Thus leaving you one car further back and still not safety zone. Notice also that the truck is well over the center line. You could maybe pass on the right but not if he swerves to avoid something in his lane. It's not so bad though. Sometimes they are loaded a few feet taller and drive exactly in the center.


We also spend a lot of time viewing this. The one advantage of being behind a large truck is that at least it acts like a shield and you can be sure not to have a problem with oncoming traffic in your lane.

bokad screwed with this post 05-03-2012 at 08:19 AM
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:18 AM   #25
bokad OP
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11 April 2012
--------------------------------
Bandongan to Kaliurang (Hargo Binangun on Google Maps)
60km

This is where famous mount Merapi. Deadliest or biggest or most active or most something or other Volcano in the world.

Uneventful day. Thank god. Google maps is pretty poor for Indonesia and frequently takes us to the wrong city and through some abandoned roads but we made it without drama. Again, thanks god, I need the break.

Kaliurang is a mountain resort town near Yogyakarta. Has been since early colonial times. There's about a thousand guest houses.


Google says this is the best route.


Guest house has a nice summer cottage feel.


Some careless person has spilled jelly all over the volcano map


This is an alligator snapping turtle. Belongs with the dinosaurs. So ugly I thought it was a stone sculpture. Doesn't belong in Indonesia. Awesome decoration.
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:27 AM   #26
bokad OP
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12 April 2012
--------------
Trek to see Merapi.

Another one of those wake up numbingly early to see the beautiful sunrise type expeditions. Hike before dawn. Terrible idea.

Apparently the name translates as Mountain of Fire. Nice....



This was a thick forest until the 2010 eruption wiped it out (and some villages too) . Just a few hulks now. Grass comes back quickly though.


This was a thick forest until the 2010 eruption wiped it out (and some villages too) . Just a few hulks now. Grass comes back quickly though.


The eruption was so big it blew of several million tons of it's own cone


This lava river is much older. The guide says there are magic earth crystals in the lava and you should rub your feet on them for energy. I'm a skeptic (and an ass), so I left my boots on.
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:50 AM   #27
bokad OP
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13 April 2012
---------------
Kaliurang to Yogyakarta.
26km

All downhill. I coasted in neutral the entire way. Felt wonderful.

They say Yogyakarta is the cultureal capital of Java.

At tall man in a short country walks in to many spider webs.

If you like fried rice (nasi foreng), Indonesia is the place to be!

If I don't learn patience Indonesia will probably kill me. Certainly I'm not going to change her.

We've been 'alone' so long and now so many foreign tourists. I exciteadly (and literally) point out all the white people to Anna. I introduce myself to people stupidly like I've just wandered out of a decade of jungle isolation. I'm sooo exuberant to see them. And they all think I'm weird.


Excellent


What's a sexy girl like you doing in a hippy backpacker hang out like this?


Come with me...


The king's socks.
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Old 05-02-2012, 03:03 AM   #28
bokad OP
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14 April 2012
---------------
Around Yogyakarta

The primary product of Yogya is batik, which is some sort of hand painted clothing.
The secondary is construction of shops to hold the batik to sell to you.
The third product is ten times too many becek drivers to hassle you and drive you to the batik shop so they can get their comission.

Other things in Yogyakarta:
A crummy palace where you can see the king's socks.
Lots of tourists.
Touts, scammers, and harassers to serve the tourists.
An animal market where you can buy an owl, monkey, or pink chicken.

A shout out and thanks to the Yamaha lovers group of Yogya. Like all bikers in Indonesia they are superb. Helped me to fix some swinging luggage too.

I hear there is a sizable antique group in Yogya but sadly we didn't cross paths and I was in a hurry to get the hell away from all these people.


Hundreds of these crooks everywhere.


It's art!


chirp chirp


Who are you looking at! Anna said it would be a bad idea to buy a monkey or an owl. What a sour Sally!


Also art!


One of the cool guys from the Yamaha lovers group. He's not a vampire, really.
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Old 05-02-2012, 03:06 AM   #29
bokad OP
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------------------------------------
15 April 2012
Yogyakarta to Malang
357km

I saw the 'stuff' in the center of the road first. Maybe a busted open crate or some lost bags of rice. It was dark, hard to tell. Traffic slowed and someone was waving us around the debris. All sorts of things fall off of trucks and scooters here. Then I noticed the crumpled motorcycle on the left. Only it took me a moment to realize it was a motorcycle. I'd never seen one in quite this shape before. Like it was some delicate paper origami that been crushed in hand and tossed aside. "Huh", I thought, not understanding. Slowing down to pass the mess my eyes followed the pool of fluid from the motorcycle back to the center of the road and a heap of news papers. "Strange", I thought, still not realizing what events had made this odd diorama of broken motorcycle, spilt papers, and crowd standing round. Why don't they move this stuff off the road? And then, the newspapers suddenly took shape, and I understood why they were there, what they were covering, and why they couldn't be moved. I've never seen a scene like this before the ambulance and police arrive. Before the accident is cordoned off and what has happened is obvious. It's a terrible jump in the second from curiously looking at a pile of papers in the road to understanding what you're seeing. It certainly makes an impression.

R.I.P. to the rider.


The roads here are congested. Single lane filled with big and small. Fast and slow. All dancing and weaving around each other with just a few cm to spare.
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Old 05-02-2012, 03:17 AM   #30
bokad OP
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-----------------------------------
15 April 2012
Yogyakarta to Malang
357km

I was determined to make this in one day and proud to say we did. It took until 1am but it's the longest distance we've covered at one go. After 2100 the roads were beautiful. Smooth, slithering, devoid of other cars. We rocketed past mosques, farms, volcanos, and mountain resorts. We rolled in to a city of empty wide boulevards. It felt marvelous. The best 4 hours of driving in Indonesia ever.


There was hours of twisting road like this. It made me soooo happy.


Love it

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