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Old 03-23-2012, 08:21 AM   #136
inferno_robe
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lovin' this post. looking forward to more posts! The number of RRs for Indonesia is severely lacking, but this RR has proven to be a blast. Ride safe on the roads! Be careful of theft in Malaysia though.
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Old 03-23-2012, 09:55 AM   #137
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Shall do. Haven't had the slightest worries here....

OK... let's try and patch a report together... what with me being in relax and repair mode all day today... let's catch up on the last few days, Its Nyepi Day here apparently. I asked about getting my specs repaired (I rode off without putting them back on... which didn't do them any good, but we found all the bits (I'd asked a local to help me find this guesthouse because Mr Gamin wasn't coping... and I was sick of its circling technique)... and was told that wouldn't happen today. I was told I can do my visa though... updated later to couldn't do, so I can't figure it out. I seriously don't get it. Nyepi Day is a Balinese thing.... and I'm a long way from Bali. A long way. The woman who told me about it, Siri (anyone with an iPhone 4s should smile at that.... all I can say is that this Siri is far nicer that the Apple variety)... anyhow Siri is Javanese, working in Sumatra.... and she couldn't tell me, so, I'll need to do some more digging to get to the bottom of why something in Bali is stuffing me around here.

I do know, I'm not going anywhere. My arms are almost dropping off.... and this guesthouse is a little slice of heaven. The staff are just wonderful - and the building is new.... a rebuild after the 2006 Panang earthquake... but damaged in the big one in 2009 which I believe killed more than 6,000 people - with cracks right across the floor. Back to my arms... yesterday's road... all 600km of it was truly the most outrageous example of a road.

The scenery and the people I met were brilliant... although the scourge of Sumatra was evident for a lot of it.... Palm Oil plantations. Much of this island has been deforested - to grab the timber and to plant Palm Oil and the like.

I learnt something interesting over the last couple of days. I kept smelling these absolutely horrible places as I went through village after village and I had myself convinced that it was the local abbotoirs... it really was the smell of death.... and I kept seeing trucks with these bales of offal on them. I was wondering what the hell they were doing with it. I couldn't look too closely - number one priority being to survive out there... but yesterday, it clicked. Its raw rubber from rubber tree plantations.... and it stinks. It really, really stinks.

One thing I should have photographed, but didn't was a wonderful little fishing village. I've got a very vivid mental image of it, but its one I can't share. At the time, I knew I was going to have trouble making it to Panang (600km is really two days travel over here, not one... and the locals were blown away when I told them I'd come from Bengkulu to Panang in one day). So... it was a wide creek backwater and the boats on the water, on the banks and under construction were totally different to anything I've seen in Asia so far. There were both flat nosed punts and one under construction with a pointed bow. The were slab-sided and cross-planked. I really should have stopped. Yesterday was about making miles though. I took 20 minutes for lunch... about 5 x 5 minute water stops - and maybe a dozen quick, 1 minute stops where the helmet didn't even come off.

Today.... is smell the roses day. Oh yeah... speaking of smells.... there's a dead cat in my bags I think... its laundry day


This place never ceases to amaze me. I got another couple of hours sleep yesterday after the loud part of the adjacent Mosque service finished at 5am (4:30am start, always)... and I've faithfully followed the picture instructions in my bathroom to sit on the toilet... not stand on the rim and squat.... I wonder how many people cracked their skulls before they put up the instructions?... and then, at breakfast.... the bread is green. Pea green. Tastes OK... I was game for whatever the sprinkles are that go with it, but the butter looked a bit ancient... so I passed on that.

The cuisine around here is Padang style. I ate at a Sate Padang street stall the other night in Bengkulu. Spicy stuff, has me worried with my food allergies - even the fried soybean cakes are laced with chilli.



... and the lovely ladies at reception



I did mention that I'm in the world's most populous Muslim nation, didn't I? They truly are lovely people. I wish our mob at home could be so welcoming of strangers

A couple of quick photos from the trip into Bengkulu

Some earthquake damage... by no means the worst ((the worst means both hands on the bars... no photos)



Some engineering geniuses. They wanted me to stop... and about 40 of them were swarming all around me,








I'm betting they have some handling issues... but that won't worry them

Here's the ambulance I got stopped for. I followed it for a few km... I actually think it may have been a funeral procession... but I'm really not sure. That's three ambulance guys hanging out the back... the bus was chockers... young, old and everywhere in between



The poor bastards in the truck accident I saw - I've zoomed in on it. It was a bloody long way, almost vertical... at least 50 metres. My guess would be brake failure and a missed gear shift... and away she went. It looke like they hit the rock wall, trying to stop... but...



It finally clicked why there's so many rugrats here.... no booze, so what's a bloke to do?

.... that said, I spotted Bintang in the fridge here last night. Had two. Best beers I've ever had.

Siri tells me she's checked... no go with the Gubbies... they're off today too. I'm a minimum of two days (probably 3) from an exit point.... but I'd like to keep smelling the roses too, so it looks like it'll be a close run thing getting out of Indonesia. I can't afford to risk it, hanging around here until Monday... and I don't know if I'll find Imigrassi again until I get to Medang - which rates high in the list of 'what's the worst place you've ever visited' apparently.

The thought of a quick trip to Malaysia tomorrow is rising in the stakes. Malaysian GP on the 25th... back here with a fresh visa on the 26th.... then a week up my sleeve.... but cutting it fine on the run to the airport for my work trip back home. I suppose I could always leave the bike in Indonesia and do it more leisurely when I get back in early May? Decisions, decisions..... and as pointed out earlier (before I strung this all together).... I'm off to the GP.


A funny thing just happened on the way back from the bank while I was stringing the GP deal together.... I was tootling up a one way street the wrong way, following a woman on a scooter.... then we passed a cop... he pointed at her... ignored me. Next thing, the cop, on his motorbike flew past me at about Mach 2. The woman had already scarpered at a rate of knots. I got stuck into it a bit to see if I could observe the action, but they were gone. I've got no idea whether he caught her.

OK... let's get back on track, before I have to go figure out what documentation I'll need to take to convince the border doubters to let me back in.

A couple of observations that don't have photos. A few days back, I sheltered at a mosque during a rain dump and wandered over the road to a roadside stall to get a bottle of water. There was a kid there who was the most extremely cross-eyed I'd ever seen. Cheery kid, getting on with it, but one has to wonder how many (presumably) correctable defects like this are out there. One sees a lot of disabilities - like the guy I saw the other day with 1' long limbs.... that you just don't see at home. Talking to the World Bank guys over dinner in Jakarta, a couple of things came up. Indonesia's health doesn't match its income level. Its health/health care is far below where it should be. It also has one of the highest open defecation rates in the world.... which ain't good. With the government spending over a third of its income subsidising fuel, its had a hard time finding funds... and this April 1 increase in fuel costs of 33% to 60c litre should allow some progress... albeit with some pain.

Something funny happened on the highway, something I really wish I'd had the video on for. I was in the zone, hammering along on a good road and suddenly something was flying through the air just above me. A damn monkey swung across the road in an overhanging tree.... not far above me either. Sheesh... talk about making me jump. Apart from the National Park... its the only one I've seen on Sumatra. (Sumbawa had them all over the place)

So, back on the road, I stopped to take a shot of the bike with this monument



and just had to take this construction shot as well



No reinforcing, no real levels, no real thickness to it either. I guess it comes with a full GF warranty too?

I know we aren't supposed to post nipple photos, but I was quite taken with this one



I rode down to the river to take a look at this operation. Gravel / pebble mining.



Lots and lots of rivers on the main road north... many of them with continual rapids



The rice is ripe. Lots of scooters on the road with a big bundle of harvested rice on the back too

Did I post this one already? A building that's had a dose of hair restorer



That's the support structure for the erection of the next floor. I'd call it a waste of good timber

I liked these bamboo wharves - I'm guessing they were for fishing from



I've seen a bit of this going on what with the fuel shortage



One coasting, being pushed by the other

One damn big mosque.



How long? 20'? Sure, I can carry that



Ahhh, petrol. You want petrol... queue up for it.,,,, its in short supply because everyone is hoarding it.



I've seen scooters with 10 x 20 litre containers of petrol strapped on to them. Every damn container in the country is being filled up because the price is going from 45c to 60c litre on April 1. I've not had to endure this... but I've been topping up every 100km or so. I pulled up at a queue with about 60 bikes ahead of me again yesterday... and got swept to the front. I objected a few times, but everyone insisted. I did the $20 to the attendant for an $8 fill... and told him to use the rest on the bikes in the queue. I thought I was going to get kissed.

I went to leave... and... no eyeglasses. I'd rolled the bike around past the queue, having already taken off the tattered gloves, glasses and helmet... and I'd obviously dropped the glasses. I walked the terrain a couple of times and had given up when the security guy grabbed me and took me to the nearby foodstall and handed me my glasses. I tried to give him a tenner ($1 = 10,000 rupiah), but he wouldn't take it. The cop who was there to ensure no hassles was standing behind me. I really don't think it was a con.... someone had handed them in. I haven't met a nasty person yet in this country. I even had a stallholder refuse my money yesterday... I'm a guest here.


I mentioned the stinky rubber earlier - here's a truckload of it



Heading in to Bengkulu, I'd got to the dehydrated, exhausted stage and pulled up at this truck stop on one of the mountain ranges for another bottle of water and a kopi (coffee). One thing I noticed was a soft area (thin plywood floor) at the back with plenty of cushions. I'd seen it at a couple of "restaurants" on the road. Not quite a "losmen" but a good fallback for a snooze if caught out on the road. I've heard nasty stories... but maybe sleeping with my machete in my hand..... ??? I'm trying to avoid getting caught in the middle of nowhere, but seriously, I wouldn't be concerned.



Coming in to town (Bengkulu), I spotted the KTM dealer.



The owner was chuffed... and insisted on me bringing the bike in for a closer shot



KTM eh?


So, the big day's ride... Bengkulu to Padang. 381km according to Mr Garmin... but that will be as the crow flies. It turned out to be 600km. In Oz, a bloke can do 600 in 5 hours, if he sneaks it along a bit. It took me 11 1/2 crushing hours here. At one stage, 3 hours in, a guy told me I had 14 more hours ahead of me. I put the race face on and got into it. I didn't get away early, I had some maintenance to do. An oil top-up first... which means I've got no spare oil left. I also discovered that I was down to one bolt holding on my luggage rack. I hadn't loctited it on, because I've had to take it off a few times. I've just lost my third indicator off the left side - still have the third one on the right, for example. No big dramas there... its just rattly if I haven't got the load on. the whole thing is designed to take the load and move it to the strong part of the subframe... which it does, even without bolts. I haven't weighed my luggage, but with spares, etc, its around 40kg... and I've had 55kg passengers ride sitting on it... so it works. The seat holds it in place, even without bolts. Another week on it before the trip and it'd have been heaps better too. Mk2 will be the ducks nuts.

The security guard was keen to try the bike on for size... but it didn't quite work out for him



I met some more engineering geniuses on the road. They asked for, and got, money... but I was a bit stingy, only gave them enough for 1 litre of racing fuel. I should have done something a bit better, but I had my 'make miles' mindset happening and didn't want to get off my bike



There seems to be a real contest around here to see who can put the highest handlebars on a Vespa





The road was seriously good in parts, but they were few and far between. That's a palm oil plantation btw

This was the best of it... and I got over 160kph for a while... but thoughts of lumbering animals slowed me down

I've seen quite a few of these town meetings going on as I've come up the island - all with government cars in attendance... and one had a very large, very senior police presence.



Everyone's in there in their finest clothes

Palm oil plantations as far as the eye can see here.



... and a crappy one of a rubber plantation... taken at speed. The trees often had their little cup attached and the trees were scarified from harvesting the rubber




I've got to post this bloke's photo - he's the only driver in Sumatra who didn't move entirely to the wrong side of the road when there was a pothole. I want a paintball gun.. or a ballbearing gun.... or just a gun.



Mr Squiggle paints the road lines. I've got heaps of shots of this sort of stuff. How much does this damn road surface move?



Here's the roadside stall where the owner didn't want to take my money for a bottle of water. I insisted though... and gave the change to a couple of kids, which he loved.



I wanted to get a photo of some of the really young kids riding scooters - I reckon I've seen 9 year olds out there on the highway, 2 up or more - but I was cautious of scaring them.



I dunno what happened here... but we ended up on the beach for a while. I'll admit to being a hoon and leaving a bloody great roostertail



OK, this looks interesting



Just watch the first step, eh?



I got to Padang in the dark and had to stop to get my Lonely Planet out... Mr Garmin isn't up on the local hotels, and got mobbed, as usual.



All up, in 600km, I got run off the road 3 times, that's situations where my side of the road was fully occupied by someone going the other way, and they had nowhere to go. The last one was in the dark, making it harder to recognise.... but a bus is a bus.... and I simply headed into the grass ditch.... at speed. Wasn't even close.... missed the bus by 10 feet. There were dozens more times where we went three wide.... where those going the other way were nice enough to make a bit of room for me.

So far on this trip, I've done, I think, about 8,500 miles on the KTM, another 1,500 miles with it on a trailer behind the car... and maybe another 10,000 air miles. My rear tyre is starting to look sad again... with less than 2,000 miles on it. Its a definite replacement by KL.
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Old 03-23-2012, 11:44 AM   #138
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Great stuff

All caught up and can't wait for more, thanks for taking us along.
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Old 03-23-2012, 11:29 PM   #139
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Great update
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Old 03-24-2012, 05:34 PM   #140
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Bigfella View Post


.
Maybe you need a big pair of fiamms to wake the dead as you past people whom treat you like this?! I knew a guy who had 2 pairs as the vibes on his 640 kept putting them out of action. Guess your 950 doesn't have that problem. Keep up the great RR!
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:44 PM   #141
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OK... I've been busy, I've been to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) - for the Grand Prix - then been absolutely wowed by the majesty of the Petronas Towers - sat at "the Library" - a themed restaurant - for a couple of $10 Guinesses and ate the last of their kitchen's food around midnight... a quick 3 hours kip... then the taxi ride from hell and back to earthquake central, Padang in Sumatra.

I really like Padang, but sitting talking to the Spice Homestay owners, Siri and Putri, I've, yet again, and for the final chance, missed the sunset down at the beach... 200 metres away. You nong Ian. It was Siri's 38th birthday in two days time, so we had a bit of a nosh-up dinner. "You like crab?" Is the Ayotollah a Muslim? Didn't get it though... Monday night was a problem.,,, crab restaurant shut.

Speaking of being a nong. On the flight to Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, we did the slowest takeoff roll I've ever experienced (saving gas?) and then snapped the lovely beach scene... then, started in on my first Sudoku puzzle for a month. 10 minutes later, I glanced out the window and it was the most spectacular scenery I've ever seen from a plane (been on a lot of planes in a lot of countries too). Lake Maninjau. Guess where I decided to go next..... Lake Maninjau - 44 hairpin bends on the way down into the caldera. It wasn't on the agenda until I flew over it on the way to and from KL. It really is the most beautiful scene I've ever seen out of a plane's window.

From wiki - The Maninjau caldera was formed around 52,000 years ago.Deposits from the eruption have been found in a radial distribution around Maninjau extending up to 50 km to the east, 75 km to the southeast, and west to the present coastline. The deposits are estimated to be distributed over 8500 km² and have a volume of 220–250 km³. The caldera has a length of 20 km and a width of 8 km.

Incidentally,I was wracking my brain the other day trying to remember whether the bike had 12k or 14k on it when I left... I'm almost certain it was 14,020 km. The Cape York leg (Bern's place to the Tip and return) was 3,000km. The bike clicked over 27,500km a couple of days back. I fitted new tyres in Bali at 24,000 - the rear is going to be totally bald by the time I get to KL again - the knobs are all cracked but I haven't thrown any that I've noticed but there are some small chunks gone.. The Mitas EO9 I fitted to the front seems to be doing a lot better than the last front tyre I had... I may get as far as Bangkok on it. The last front was done at 3,000 km.... less than 2,000 miles.

What nails the fronts is all the hard braking.... and at times there's some very, very hard braking going on. I've been trying to keep the rear one from spinning up most of the time... but sometimes I've had to.... eg, overtaking up the left, sometimes the climb back onto the bitumen gets a bit high and you have to flick the tail around to get a better angle back onto the hard - I had the bike protest a bit the other day when I didn't do that - meaning it wanted to fall over, which wouldn't be a good look, eh? 'specially not right in front of a truck.

OK here's a few shots from KL -

...one from the GP2 race.... we had the big screen to show us what was going on



It was slippery out there in the GP...



This is just before they stopped the race. It would have been diabolical to be in the following cars down the straight



and the rain did get heavier just after they red flagged it. It was dark too




It wasn't all cars.... although, having flown my son over for the race... I had to decline an invite for a night out with a Mexican guy I shared a cab with on the Saturday. He's a mate of Perez, who came second... and the night before the race, he was going to the Beach Club with some motoring journalists. Not the done thing to take one's son to what it seems is a huge brothel... although, talking to an Aussie expat later on she said it isn't too bad.



and just to show that we didn't go there just for the cars... we also took in the pretty lights. Street scene outside our hotel



Just to balance out the cars... here's some fishing boats from a village down near Bengkulu. I pulled the DSLR out of the tank bag for these (a rare event when I'm making miles... it takes a couple of minutes.... I normally just shoot with the P&S that is hanging off my chest armour)

This isn't the inslet these boats were in... but it gives an idea of the setup. There's dozens of these creeks opening out into the surf... and the local fishermen head out these. They get a decent size surf break that they have to get out through too



They moor up along the creek banks



At this particular location there was some brand new infrastructure... concrete wharf, nice shaded shelter. Looked very much like a foreign aid project to me.... possibly replacing damage from one of the earthquakes or storms. I did a coastal infrastructure job in Oz a year or two back and this setup was right up there when it comes to decent infrastructure.... and the locals here sure as hell couldn't have afforded it by themselves. Good to see....



Same boat... there was water being thrown out of the bilge... something's going on in there...



Ahhh... a bilge rat... with a bucket



And, one more ....



Interesting planking on that dinghy




Here's the lady who runs a street stall just near my homestay...



I had a coffee there with the guys the other day. The bucket just to the right of the fence upright is the one they washed my coffee glass up in... Hmmm... love that black scum ring.



Who needs a truck? These guys don't



Last


After dinner, I gave my camera to Putri and she went around snapping away merrily for a while. She wanted to keep it....



The Spice Homestay really is a home away from home. Siri and Putri are sisters.



Siri, on the left, used to work on Sirius 1935 - a 62' staysail schooner which was the first Aussie boat to circumnavigate (1935-37).. She's based in Thailand now.

This place has had nothing but waxheads staying here for the 3 nights I've been here. The islands off here are a truly fabulous surfing destination. We (Putri and I) wandered down to Pak Agus' again and got half a dozen very large prawns and a couple of fresh fish... she went straight to the eyes to select them, of course.... BBQ'd over red hot charcoals - marinated nicely. Packed in brown paper for the 100m walk back to Spice Homestay... The girls told me why he's so good (Pak Agus that is)... his spices are great, but they still allow the fish flavor to survive. We ate Padang style... some vege's done by the girls, some rice - and with nothing but our right hand as implements. Pack it all together between thumb and fingers and who needs a fork?


Padang fish and prawns being cooked.



Siri was happy



Siri had ordered in some treats for desert. One of which was a tapioca pastry ball. Reminds me of Grandma's tapioca puddings.


A couple more Padang shots

This one reminds me of being a kid in Coffs Harbour. The Jetty there was a regular haunt



This girl was quite scared of the gangplank... she was crawling down it until she saw me with the camera



One of the ferries that head out to the surfing mecca... the Mentawai Islands. Its a 12 hour trip... done at night.




I got to Lake Maninjau and its.....Houston, we have a problem! Not quite the same magnitude.... but its a PITA. My countershaft oil seal is gone... its leaking oil. Oil is in scarce supply here.... or at least the right sort of oil is. Just lost a screw out of my helmet visor too... a nuisance... but fixed at the second bike shop I visited.

I checked in, nice and early at a pleasant litle hotel right on the shore of Lake Maninjau.... that bloody great crater lake. Sitting on the verandah, about 3' above the lake with waves lapping at the shore. Lovely. It must've been a big bang that created this lake. A real big bang.

I just met my first other western bikes on the road since leaving Oz (Keith & Ellen don't count.. they were on the same ship and we didn't meet up on the road).. A Finn riding a G650 BMW (has ridden to here from Finland), riding with a Japanese guy on a Honda Africa Twin. They'd just checked out my hotel, but were looking for something in the $5 range. I was happy at $25 for Hotel Tan Dirih.

The ride down the caldera rim was great... each hairpin was numbered in a countdown. Lots and lots of monkeys on the road. Came across a couple of young locals licking their wounds... they'd come a cropper. "Too fast?" Yes. Bit of blood, but nothing too bad... the worst of it will heal in a couple of weeks (knees, feet - wearing thongs, of course... no helmets)

Plenty of photos and lots of video to come - including me being waved past by a Highway Patrol car with its lights flashing - I was going quicker than him, and he had no problems with that. Unfortunately, he video camera was covered in diesel from the trucks... so I won't post all that video, I'll save it until I can edit it. I undertook a couple of other cops... but the third one I tried it on got snooty and the passenger waved me back.

I got caught, I needed to do some work for a client. The view from my "office" was stunning and there was a fisherman paddling his canoe around in front of me. Again... I have photos, but the internet connection has been weak. I sure won't be emailing this 23Mb Word document to the client... just the edits.

I had brekkie on the shore of the absolutely beautiful Lake Maninjau with a German chap, who is here to close down their office after earthquake reconstruction work from the 2009 quake. He tells me the official death toll on that one was 1,500, but the "real toll" was 2,500 - 3,000. Most of his work up here in the Maninjau caldera was slip-related. They'd had a lot of heavy rain at the time of the quake. The scars are very apparent on the caldera slopes across the lake. One part of the caldera isn't able to be re-built on.

I was going to try and sneak in to the camp that was created for the people who had to be relocated. Thousands of them... into a camp with tiny semi-permanent housing. Each family apparently got a 2m x 3m shack - three years ago. The limited toilet facilities failed. There was a lot of rape of young girls.... and not many happy campers. The locals I spoke to, I couldn't get through to on this... not sure why. It was the German guy's area and he'd told me about it ... but he wasn't around to direct me to it.

I also had some interesting conversations with people who live in Padang during my 3 days there. An Aussie guy "Shoey" who owns a surf charter boat (nice one too, ex Japanese patrol boat - huey.com.au ). The last big one, 2009, almost claimed his wife. He was saying that a stroke of the pen meant she lived.... while 16 others died.... her university class was divided into two.... one half Tues, the other, Wednesday. The other half didn't make it. Other than fault lines running along rural roads, well out of town - and some cracks running across tiled floors, I didn't see any signs of it... 3 years later. Siri, my hostess at the homestay, said that the reconstruction was driven by the local Chinese people. They didn't want any signs of it left.... for business reasons, so they made it happen. She said its very different in Aceh, further up the island... where there are still very visible signs of the earlier 2006 quake and tsunami.... and no Chinese community.

I mentioned this to my German friend and he said "Yes, the Chinese are certainly making their influence spread".


Mur, the sister of the owner of the best little nook restaurant in town (Bagus Cafe) took me on a ride around the inside of the caldera, a 50km lap of the lake. She and her sister were concerned about her reputation, so her brother in law dropped her off 3km down the road and away we went. She picked up the best communications method pretty quickly and started thumping me on the shoulder whenever I went over 100kph.... but we hit the rough stuff soon enough.

Here's the detour we took onto a headland that juts out into Lake Maninjau




Warning... there is a swear word there, I had a bit of difficulty getting onto one section with some sharp-edged concrete on a particularly steep bit with overhanging sticks. It doesn't look nasty in the video, of course.... but such is life. The bit at the very end is me releasing the pressure from the fuel tank. Its a serious problem I have to fix. That's petrol spewing out everywhere past an o ring on the fuel level sensor. The new cap the tank manufacturer sent me is worse than the old one.

Mur had been telling me the tigers don't eat many people around here, but they are here. Two years ago one killed a farmer up the road a bit; just taking his heart and eyes apparently. I got some decent shots around the lake... with the little camera, so I'll go see if I can upload some now over brekkie. I'm hoping for a decent view of the big smoker volcano just near here. I've moved on to Bukittinggi and am heading for Lake Toba.


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Old 03-28-2012, 08:44 PM   #142
Saso
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I love these updates. My heroes grace the pages of Ride reports and you, for sure, are one of them.
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Old 03-29-2012, 04:30 PM   #143
The Bigfella OP
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Thanks Saso.... don't know that I can handle words like "hero" though.... but gee, don't let me stop you - incidentally, this RR is my report in to my kids too, supposedly.... my middle kid, Pete, who came to the GP confessed he'd only been reading my emails.

Bandwidth where I am this morning is pretty limited. There's zero wifi showing and my dongle is showing its lowest grunt level. But here goes, I'll do some catching up.

I got asked an interesting question by an American friend earlier.... about how much of the hospitality I've received do I believe is genuine hospitality, not because I'm a "wealthy foreigner"?

I'd say the vast majority of it is genuine. I've had a couple of instances where people have tried to take advantage of that wealthy foreigner bit... jumped in on a dinner invite for someone else for example, but only a couple that I can genuinely recall... both in Bali, where its a real tourist town. Of all the guides I've used, I can only think of one that was chasing the dollar more than trying to make sure we saw what we wanted.

I can think of four occasions straight off the top of my head where people have refused money - and three of those were for commercial services (buying a bottle of water in a tiny roadside stall, guiding fees x 2) and the 4th was the family I stayed with in Baron, Java.

There's no doubt, I've had people ask for money... eg the kids with the Vespa racing machines. I put money in the offering tin several times yesterday... but none of them had anything to do with hospitality. For example, I put my 30c change from dinner in the local mosque building fund.... but I do that a little bit conspicuously in towns like this one. Its very, very traditional Muslim and I don'tthink it hurts for them to know that a non-Muslim will help. No beer.


A Spanish guy who arrived on a 1200GSA last night,headed in the other direction isn't getting the same reaction... he's complaining about prices, wanting beer, etc. Its a dry town. Very dry... and he made it clear he wants to get pissed. I'd rather leave people thankful that the infidel contributed something. I saw the same thing back in Timor-Leste with a 68 year old woman (born Hungary, raised Argentina, lives America now).... she's been travelling for years and she really, really pissed people off. I saw her fail to get what she wanted time after time and in the end, the guy running the backpackers told her there were no beds available when she wanted to extend her stay there. Similar thing with the Belgian guy who rode his pushbike through Indonesia during Ramadan - he stopped and ate his lunch on the steps of the local Mosque every day. I'd say the fact he survived, doing that, was a show of genuine hospitality.

I'm sure glad I'm not riding the Spaniard's GSA. Its at least a foot wider than my bike - which means he's got problems in the traffic.... he's got grunt, but can't use it because of his bike's size and weight. He's got 9,500km on his tyres and they look like they've got at least that left. My rear won't make 5,000 before its bald (last front and rear were gone at 3,000).... and to get life like that out of his tyres, he's riding like grandma - following buses. He probably spends at least triple the time I do in the clouds of black diesel smoke (it showed on his face last night).

Incidentally, I threw 2,000 rupiah (20c) in the tin for some young guys clearing a fallen tree off the road today. The guy asked for more. I smiled said "no, no... need it for others down the road" and got a smile and thank you from the guy - can't blame him for trying eh?

I've been warned time and again about criminals, etc... but I've not encountered a single problem to date. I've had the bike swamped with people when I've had bags open... and I've been worried about light fingers... but nope. By the same token, my bike is in the lobby tonight... the Spaniard's is outside. I didn't ask to bring it in... the hotelier suggested it.


So... that's as much as I can think of to try and come up with anything where money has dictated. Take Lake Maninjau. My guide (oops, that's three now) didn't ask for, or get, money. She did it because we got on well during my time in the cafe and that night when they put on a movie for us... and I'd asked her if she'd show me around.... that's despite organising tours being part of her/her sister's business.... and she was happy to do it for free.

Things like that dinner with Siri and Putri... not their idea. Entirely my suggestion... I'd been genuinely impressed by their attitude. eg, they'd stored my bike and gear at no charge while I went to Malaysia.... they got up at 5am to cook me breakfast that day, etc. Siri and I got on really well (keep yer minds above yer navels) and I was happy to reciprocate. She's asked me to keep in touch and I'll drop her an email in a week or two. That's genuine friendship in my book. It ain't gunna happen at this hotel though.

Another one... my visit to Smile's family. My "relationship" with Smile was based on her and Dianita being in a restaurant when I walked in with a mutual friend - and I discovered she was going out with an Australian guy I know, who is up there every couple of weeks. I ended up inviting the three of them to dinner later.... and a fourth person, who I didn't invite, tagged along ... but I didn't mind too much. I asked her about her kids. She told me the story. I asked if I could visit them. When I got there, I invited grandma and the kids out, they were going to cook, but I didn't want to impose and was happy to treat them to something they most certainly wouldn't do normally... When I was leaving the next day, I pushed some money into grandma's hand.... and had it returned. I stuffed it somewhere she couldn't reach without a chair... smiled at her and told her it was for the kids. Young Kiky had certainly won my heart... she's a vibrant, intelligent 9 year old... and neither she nor grandma had been exposed to "wealthy foreigners".... and I wish I could have left more than the $30 that I did.

I interact with as many of the local people I can every day. I end up on at least a dozen mobile phone cameras every day too. I'm guessing its my handsome face, my intelligence and my wit and humour that has all these ladies falling at my feet.... because it sure isn't my wallet. Seriously though... there's a difference between the last town and this.... the young women there came running up, asking for photos... here, they hid... fascinating difference.

OK.... while I've got a tad of bandwidth... Here's some of the infrastructure around Padang... Don't cut the corners... or, you'll drop a metre or so in a hurry



This security fence was in Padang too. Those spikes - many of them bent out at an angle - are about eye level



Jumping forward to Lake Maninjau now... here's a couple of bridges we encountered doing our lap of the Lake. There were dozens of these





This lady was smoking tiny fish out of the caldera lake (Maninjau)



This isn't dad or even granddad taking the kids home from school He's a commercial bike "taxi" and he's getting paid to drive them home. Most kids walk. Young ones like this always in pairs, holding hands. It seems to keep them safe


`
Continuing on the lap of the lake theme... here's the lovely Mur. Her hand's nowhere near my wallet



I do believe she had difficulty seeing over my shoulder though.



If I'm not mistaken, this one shows some of the landslides from the earthquake 3 years ago



... and one of only two bridges we saw being rebuilt



I'll leave it at that for now.... don't want to push my luck with this connection and lose yet another posting attempt. The sun's about to come up and I want to get of the road early.... although I'm not looking forward to my visit to the Mandi. I seriously doubt my ability to fit into the dunny... its a squeezed in Turkish squatter... there's slime on the floor in there and there's definitely slime in the bottom of the Mandi.
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Old 04-01-2012, 05:18 PM   #144
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OK... let's see if we can catch up a little. Its been an interesting few days with some hard riding and interesting sights.

So... back to my lap of Lake Maninjau. This is a new house going up in one of the earthquake affected areas



Some of the more intensive aquaculture developments on the Lake.



I've read that there are some pollution effects becoming apparent on this lake. Lake Toba has them too and we ate fish from one when some local fishermen we stopped to talk to plonked a couple of plates in front of us... and refused to let us pay for it. They said the Swiss introduced the aquaculture technique here.

The two Japanese chaps I met - one has ridden here from Finland, the other from Japan



Those guys were on road tyres. You wouldn't catch me here on road tyres in a pink fit. I've had to head "bush" too many times. I've had my cruising face on when riding lately, rather than my race face... and even then, there's still some pretty quick stops required at times... and at others, you don't bother stopping... you just ride off the road.

I saw my first Korean car the other day... a Hyundai. The vast majority of cars here are Toyotas and the other Japanese brands. I don't know if they manufacture here, but Honda is opening its 4th motorcycle factory here. There were 8 million motorbikes sold in Indonesia last year and they are anticipating more sales... as Indo has 1 motorbike per 7 people and neighbouring countries have 1 per 3.

This thing, btw, is a Toyota. Cute eh



Back to Lake Maninjau. Here's fish being packed for shipping. Live. I presume the gas is oxygen... although it may just be air. Brownish cylinder top... that'd be air, wouldn't it? Oxy is blue IIRC. I saw a guy on a scooter carrying on of these large cylinders crossways on the footrest area... about 10" above the road.... any sort of incident and the valve would be gone.



This isn't a very good shot... but it gave me the heebie jeebies... Two guys in a sawmill. That log he's running through was about 8" square and I'd reckon over 20' long. One guy holding it... freehand. No fence or guards on the saw.... Ughh.



Nearly back to the start point... and time for Mur to get off and protect her reputation. Lovely lady, but unfortunately, she's decided she likes me and keeps sending me messages. I'd swapped phone numbers to arrange the pickup out of town. Hmmm.



Maybe I should have done one of the organised tours, rather than asking Mur to show me around and buying her lunch?

Hmmm... just noticed the wording on that sign "We offer the one thing that everybody wants".... and seeing my missus (and kids) read this.... No Dear, she isn't following me home. There's no sin in this place!

A couple more Lake Maninjau shots from my hotel - Hotel Tan Dirih. Not a bad place btw.



Same view, wider out, in the morning




Checking the traps







I did a quick run to Bukittinggi



The hope was that the next day I could get a crack at one of the three volcanos that surround the town... one of which is a smoker, but it pelted down and the volcanoes were cloud-covered in the morning




Nope... not riding up that one... nor this one



So, I headed north for Lake Toba. I wasn't expecting, nor trying to do it in one hit.... but I didn't have a clue where I'd find accomodation. I struck rain a couple of times and pulled in at this shop to wait one cloudburst out... and to rehydrate



... and found myself being entered onto numerous mobile phones again



There was a pretty grotty "house" opposite that place... with three little kids who were running away every time I pointed the camera their way. A very poor family. I grabbed three bottles of orange juice - I'm the last of the big spenders, that cost $1.80 - and took them over to the kids.... so all the adolescent girls started pointing at themselves, "me, me".... nah... smiled, shook my head - they laughed and off I went.

The road got grotty and on one of the slower mountain passes, I spotted this. A waterwheel genset - I took a nice video of it, but for some silly reason held the camera sideways. I'll post it if anyone wants to see it... with their head cranked over...



A couple on a nice new KTM (a local scooter brand... not the KTM I'm riding).. who I'd just passed, tooted as they went by. 200 metres and 3 corners later, I was second on the scene. She was up, he wasn't.... and he didn't look happy. I did the thumb up, thumb down, shoulder shrug... and got a thumb down. Busted leg from the look of it. Scooter was pretty well scraped up. Sign language continued and the passenger said they'd be OK... someone had gone for help. As it turned out, there was a small town a couple of km further up.... and there was a Red Cross sign there. I didn't take any photo... he was in enough pain without someone taking a photo of it. I'd had no trouble at all on that road btw. I ended up having a few, easily caught, slides... on both wet and dry roads... the latter with a smooth surface and a bit of sandy dust around. Nothing to worry about, but reason enough to keep the race face in the bag.

I spotted these guys in one of the rivers and thought at first it was a water pumping operation.



I realised later, in town, that it was a gold mining operation.


I tried "nearest lodging" with Mr Garmin... and got a comedy show instead. What a hoot. Mr Garmin wanted me to go across this



The locals further up the road pointed up the road for a "losmen" (hotel)... and I eventually found one in a grotty little town. One of the few side roads on the way had this lot loading up for a trip into the hills. It was sure getting crowded on that truck



There were a lot of memorials on the ride through this part of Sumatra. All, I think, related to 1945 independence fighting..



Some guys, asking for money for clearing a tree off the road. I kicked in a little bit... the guy pointed to my stash of small notes (I'm not pulling out a wallet with more in it than these guys will see in a year...).... and asked for more. Hey... what's wrong with 20c?... I said "no... no... this for the next guys"... and the guy smiled and nodded and thanked me "Terimakasih"... I gave him a "same same" (you're welcome) and was off.



Found myself rather happy to find this five star establishment. $13 for my room. El Conquistador, the Spaniard on a GSA 1200 who arrived later... a miserable sod who whinged and moaned about every price paid $12 for his much smaller room. His style of bartering doesn't work.... and it pisses people off.



I took a photo of the "bathroom"... but don't seem to have uploaded it. I might later. It had a Turkish squat... in a tiny space that, well, you don't need the details... let's just say it was interesting... and the mandi (large water reservoir) was full of slime... and the floor was slime covered too. I had a bucket shower out of the tap.... with nice brown water.


So... I stopped for the night in Kotanopan. Its a very conservative Muslim town. Vespa scooters with sidecars everywhere... the local taxis.



I didn't see a single other type of bike with these sidecars... in this town. The next town had all small motorbikes with these sidecars, then the next town again... back to Vespas, then the next... motorbikes.

Weird little things... but I guess it rains a lot



Most of them have some sort of car badge attached... mainly Mercedes Benz badges, but I also saw Suzuki and Toyota... all on Vespas



I took a photo of this miserable bitch for one reason only. She really pissed me off.



She was trying to attract my attention and was pointing to someone, something that I couldn't see and laughing and carrying on a treat. I went back to see... and it was a young bloke with Downs Syndrome... Poor bugger. I expressed my displeasure to Miss Bitch and smiled at the young bloke and said G'day. The guy must get a real pasting from bitches like her. Truly though, I've seen many disabled people here (my waiter yesterday had legs so twisted, he'd have been in a wheelchair in Oz... then again, they wouldn't be twisted.... they'd have been fixed)... and that's the first sign I've seen of nastiness. I hope that Karma proves to be a real pain in the arse for her.

... and gold mining... I wandered up the street the other way and saw a young bloke grinding up something in a small bowl. I figured he was a pharmacist. Nope. He was grinding up some alluvial gold and the other guy was weighing it up and calculating payments. I asked the guy on my side of the counter if he was a miner and got a nod. It reminded me of when I did a job in the horse racing industry though... and was in the weigh-in room with the racing steward watching the jockeys. Serious stuff. Don't intrude type of stuff. People cheat and if you intrude... watch out.



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Old 04-01-2012, 09:41 PM   #145
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I wandered around Katanopan a bit... my room wasn't that appealing. I was tempted to take a couple of hijabs home for the missus, but wasn't sure what colour to get her



I ate at a fairly large restaurant... the normal type you see on the roads - all the food prepared in the morning, then left on display in bowls out front. I tend to play it a bit safe with these and stick to Ayam (chicken). They'll give you a few bowls of stuff... I've had up to six plates put in front of me at times... and I ate them all until I figured out that they only charge you for what you eat. I had a mother raised in the Depression, who drummed into me stories about starving Biafrans... and always eating everything put in front of you. Sorry Mum....



There were some sad sacks sitting around this place.



The next morning, as I was leaving, the owner called me over for a photo with his family, which I hadn't expected because he'd been a bit cool. This town is pretty much the last Muslim strongpoint for a while... up the road a bit I spotted my first Christian church... and I think there's a bit of tension there. I'd walked in on the owner at just after 6:30 the previous evening, walked up to the counter and said something to him... and he disappeared... dropped to the floor behind the counter. Oops... he was mid prayer. I left my camera on the counter and buggered off outside for 10 minutes. He obviously appreciated my leaving him to it and he was friendlier after that.



El Conquistador, on the other hand... had stormed into the place and didn't seem too popular in any of the places I went with him that evening. He bitched and moaned about every price.... argued over every line item on his bill. His change went into his pocket. Mine had gone into the mosque building fund box. I'm willing to bet he doesn't know what that is. I first heard him when I was in my room uploading photos "Hey, you took my parking space in the lobby"... eh wot?... as he stomped through the place in his boots (mine were outside the front door). I'm sure he's having a wonderful time. He spent half of dinner videoing himself and his food. I ended up sharing stories about him the next day with an English couple who'd had the misfortune to actually ride with him. He doesn't own the bike apparently... its a sponsored ride



I'm pointing at a broken video camera mount on El Conquistador's bike there. He'd lost a GoPro camera that day. Andras had problems with their mounts too. My Contour HD has been fine.

I really was struck by the size of his bike. It was just so fat-arsed that I couldn't believe it.



It would have to slow you down on these roads. I asked him what time he'd left Lake Toba. He did the trip down in 10 1/2 hours or so. I did it going the other way in 8... and I had my cruising face on, not my race face... and I stopped heaps of times... including a long lunch, several coffee stops, photo stops...

Here's El Conquistador 'imself.



Ahhh - here's the photo of my slimy dunny at that hotel. Photobucket has shuffled my photos for me.... I uploaded about 80 when I got to Lake Toba.



Appealing eh?

So... off I went, destination Lake Toba. I'd already missed getting a photo of me crossing the Equator the day before - apparently there's a line painted across the road, but I missed that... I did see a small memorial, but thought it was an early warning that it was coming up.... and I wasn't interested in turning back when I realised it wasn't

I did spot the first Christian church.



This was one of the last big mosques... but there is some crossover



I've mentioned to a couple of groups of Christians that I've been talking to since then that the Muslims I've met have all been good. They don't seem to agree.

I did spot an earthquake resettlement camp. Tiny shacks. I'd been told that most are 2 metres x 3 metres for a family... and that the toilets for the camp couldn't cope.



I spotted a naked kid - about 10 - 12 years old taking a dump into the gutter beside the road. The gutter had flowing water at least... but 50 metres down the road, there was a woman doing her washing in it too. Hmmm.




I didn't stop... just shot some photos on the way through... I'm guessing this is the camp the German NGO guy was talking about. A lot of unhappy people, young girls being raped, etc.

The road varied quite a lot. I got the imperial ton happening in one stretch... and in others, I was picking my way through massive potholes in first gear. My Garmin decided to stuff my track for the day up... and I ended up with 3 tracks.... of around 80, 89 and 219 kilometres... with average moving speeds of 57, 53 and 40 kmh - but the last one included a slow ferry ride. The first 30km out of Silbolga took me about 1 1/2 hours. It was a really chopped out bit of road.

I snapped this shot of a dozen young kids on an outfit



.... but missed one with about 15 older boys on it going the other way. You couldn't have got another thing on it.

I had to stop plenty of times for trucks taking up all my bit of the road. Situation normal. The drivers like to know where their drivers side wheel is.... and everything else will sort itself out. I ended up diving to the other side of the road when I saw them on right hand corners (for me)... and passing them on their side of the road... because they never use it.



Oops. I stopped on the other side of the temporary bridge and threw some money in the rebuilding fund... and a cop I hadn't seen popped out from behind a rock and thanked me.



Same place... the locals down for a bath and to do the washing. You see this absolutely everywhere



One of the better sections of road. I can guarantee you I was holding my breath here... This camera doesn't really pick up the smoke well.... but this truck was a belcher. I've got a video that shows it, but the bandwidth here's a bit narrow. I uploaded a short video last night and it took damn near 5 hours to do.



This was a lovely little inlet when I got out of the mountains and back to the coast near Silbolga.



As mentioned, the road back up the hill was fun.





This is Sibolga from the climb up the hill.... looking back to the coast.



This lovely ran a road stall where I grabbed a coffee and a couple of bread rolls.... there being no breakfast available back in Kotanopan



She asked me where I was going... "Danau Toba... you come too?" She laughed , shook her head and showed me she was pregnant. She kept trying to flog me some fruit



Plenty of it around



This is just typical of how they drive here.... and why I scoot up the left so often. They haven't got a hope in hell of getting past, but they block it for everyone else too.



I've finally figured out what the right side indicator is for....

For guys like that... its "I'm going to pass... so bugger off if you are behind me"

For the truck in front its "It isn't safe to pass"... or "I'm overtaking" and sometimes its "It is safe to pass" ... and very occasionaly its "I'm turning right" Yep.... all of those

For a bike riding on the left side of the road its "I'm going slow... pass me"... or "I'm going to spear off across the road (but mostly not, because they mostly don't indicate when they are going to do that)... or "I've forgotten its on"... or whatever.

In other words... ignore them, use the horn... and smack their mirror if they squeeze you. The local response for guys who squeeze you is to face your hand backwards and give a few squeezing motions.... presumably its something to do with testicles. I prefer to bang their mirror... although there was one bus that I banged with my handlebars.

Lots of white water rivers





A funny thing happened to me on the way to Lake Toba. I couldn't get brekkie in Kotanoban - had to make do with a coffee... then another coffee on the road, and a water, and... so on. Finally, I spotted a restaurant that was packed. It'd just taken me about 90 minutes to go 25 -30 km across some rather interesting "roads".... and I hadn't been dawdling.

Anyhow, I saw a packed restaurant in the middle of nowhere... up in the hills.... so I did a u turn and went back. I got mobbed and with appropriate sign language, plates of food appeared. Some sort of dead animal that had lots of arteries and gristle. Dark meat. - First thing I was offered was some home brew petrol of some sort.... with a smile and "Christian" but I said no... and got water. They kept wanting me to try it, given they knew I'd just come several thousand km through Muslim territory... but I held firm.

Anyhow, about 40 or so people - all adults - mobbed me... photos and "where from... how old... name... etc" I knocked back two plates of meat, a big one of rice, some soup and some veges - and two cups of water and one bottle of water. When all was said and done... I asked "brappa?".... how much? Much consternation... an exercise book was produced, but they wanted me to write in it... so I put my name and home town in.... Nope... that wasn't it. Then someone with a smidgen of English says "this a big party... no pay price... you give what you want" I could have walked out for 50c... and they'd have been fine... So - was that hospitality laid on for a wealthy foreigner? Not in the slightest. The last thing mentioned was money - and it was me that did it... Seriously... these people love meeting foreigners and it isn't for the money.

Here's the guys in Christian land.... pissed, of course. This is the party where I stopped for lunch. I kept refusing the home brew hooch... I still had a long way to ride....





This lady didn't want her photo taken at first... and then eventually came over and threw her arms around me for a photo.



They kept throwing food at me... and I had to protest several times. Its presumably buffalo



Quite nice, whatever it was... plenty of arteries and gristle though.


I ended up passing these guys a few times, what with various stops




Chilli, anyone?



The other side of this hill was more interesting... but hey... that's two u-turns to get a photo. Its in-situ brick making on the hill.



More schoolkids on their way home. Try this in Oz or the US



More sh!tty roads



It started to rain again and I threw on the poncho and kept at it. It appears my poncho isn't designed for 120kph... its a tad shredded now. Eventually I spotted Lake Toba .... and an hour or so later, I was still not at the ferry out to Samosir island. I eventually got there and finally got a cop with a submachine gun to let me take his photo



Locally made gun apparently

I tried to roll onto one of the passenger ferries, but the skipper said "bike too big" and I got sent around to the vehicle ferry... and got to wait for an hour






Samosir is apparently the world’s largest island within an island, set in the world’s largest volcanic lake, in the world’s largest volcano crater caused by the world’s largest volcanic eruption!!


Nice ride over on the ferry... and I was first off... whilst the ferry was still moving. Should have turned the video on for that one.







Some girls from Banda Aceh on the ferry, down here for a holiday



The ferry crew, getting pissed on home brew hooch. They invited me in and passed the bottle, but I declined again. It isn't a bad brew.... but I'm not sure I want to share the bottle these days....



A bit of blurb about Toba. Pretty impressive place.



My Garmin failed the test again... I asked if for lodgings on the island... and it couldn't find any. The place is crawling with hotels and homestays. I'm at Caroline's... one of the most popular places.... and I'm in the top level room IIRC... at $15 a night. I just spoke to a bloke who's paying $3 elsewhere. Incidentally, unlike El Conquistador, I have zero sponsorships... and I don't want any. If Garmin offered me a sponsorship deal I'd tell them to stick it sideways where the sun don't shine. Their SE Asia map product is shit.


I pulled into Caroline's and saw 3 bikes. This is Andy's, a Pom who got his licence 4 years ago and hit the road. That's a GS650 or whatever BMW was calling the single cylinder 650 then (I've got a '94 F650 Funduro... which I gave my son)



Andy's been getting around a bit



Also there... hiding their bikes under a tarpaulin.. were Lisa and Simon Thomas (2ridetheworld.com) who've been on the road for 10 years.

I had dinner and brekkie with them... and then they headed off towards Australia. Lisa and Simon have a deadline they have to be in Australia for, which I think is a pity... they won't have the chance to poke around some of the lovely parts of Indonesia and Timor-Leste. I've just decided today that I'm not heading for Malaysia yet. I've got a flight out of KL on April 8... but I'm leaving the bike here in Indonesia for another poke around the northern part of Sumatra when I get back here on May 8.

The three of them bolted together in the morning. I couldn't believe how much gear they were wearing... Lisa and Simon had full Touratech undersuits and oversuits on. They'd have been very comfortable I guess... but I'm happy running light and don't mind getting wet. I was cool when riding in here... wet and at a bit of altitude, but not shivering cold. Lisa's bike (another 650 BM) and Simon's (an 1100GS) weigh 320kg and 350kg. My 950SE is going to be a lot lighter than that when I eventually find a weighstation... I'm guessing around 250... 260 loaded and fueled.



.... and my road profile is one hell of a lot narrower



I really liked their carbonfibre helmets.... although I don't want to be riding in goggles.



I'm loving it here at Caroline's... although my hot water isn't - its footy guernsey territory at times... and blanket at night sometimes too, so hot water would be nice.

One of the local birds, in the trees off the balcony. I'm sitting in the open restaurant, 30' above the lake and about 20' back from it. Went for a swim in it yesterday. Very pleasant temperature.




The day before yesterday was wet...



but I got some exploring in. Yesteray started out beautiful... and the American woman, Connie, who has braved the back of the Super Enduro and I did some great exploring... and then got totally drenched. Totally. No real worry, except I was wearing my shoes, not my boots... and they are still soaked.

We walked around the peninsular we are on at Tuk Tuk, on Samosir Island... and, of course, stayed drug free



Someone I know... not me... has tried the magic mushrooms here.... but I remember all my mates chucking their guts up on them when we were at school. No thanks. My friend said she had visions of zebras and the like. Nah... I'll stick to a couple of Bintangs

We called in at a salon and had a facial and head/shoulder massage each. I have to say, I appreciated the facial... there was a lot of diesel in my skin.

The local Batak houses are interesting. They are higher at the rear, where the children sleep, than at the front, where Dad sleeps... because the fathers want their children to rise higher in life than he did.






We took in a local dance show... which was mildly interesting. The girls looked a bit bored... and as soon as they finished, without exception, they dived for their mobile phones and Facebook



We bolted at intermission



... and headed up to the Reggae Guesthouse. Nothing was happening... but we asked about live music... and all the local lads grabbed an instrument

... and five minutes later, about a dozen of them were at it. Fabulous.



... the rest of the gang



No cover charge... but we had a Bintang or two.

Late in the afternoon, when the rain had gone, Connie and I decided to go find the tomb of King Sidabutar. We eventually made two unsuccessful expeditions, over two days before finally finding it. No signs... and a distinct lack of distance sense when locals talk to you. They point directions. That late afternoon trip, we found what we thought was a sign to the tomb and a +/- 9km distance on it. We were already 2km past it as it turned out... and we headed down this rugged track. Really rugged. 30' puddles... slippery mud, slippery smooth rocks... and so on. With us wearing street gear (and helmets). Connie told me yesterday that she'd been thinking that if she survived that trip she was never getting on the bike again... but now she's enjoying it.... and is really impressed with how the locals have a different attitude to us because we're on the bike.

So... 10km down the track... I pulled up at a local small Warung (pub/restaurant)... and asked about the tombs... as I'd done several times... with no luck on the way. "No... in Tomok". Oops. I did a u-turn and thought... bugger it, let's say G'day... so we slipped and slid our way up to the Warung and got welcomed in.

We ordered a Bintang... although the local guys had been thrusting cups of home brew at us... and it took a bit of organising to get the Bintang instead. I gave it to Connie and got into the local brew



Next thing we knew, there's a plate of the most delicious fish in front of us. These guys are local Batak fishermen.... working on aquaculture setups a few hundred metres away from the Warung. The Swiss introduced the aquaculture here a few years back. The fish we were eating was fresh out of one of the pens that afternoon.

That fish went south and another appeared. Bloody delicious with a lovely fresh chilli sauce



Great food, great company



Plenty of guys there... and a couple of women - the cook, who I think owned the Warung and another woman (maybe she owned it?)



Here's the cook



One of the lads




He was a cool dude with his cigarette tucked in that gap

I don't know the story behind the Indian Turtledoves on platforms in the roof... I know I shoot the bastards at home ... they don't visit my place any more and the local, native pigeons have returned to my area. I hate these feral bastards



I asked "Brappa" (how much) and got a horrified look from the main man. No, no... no pay. I pointed at the Bintang and he shrugged and reluctantly said 30,000 rupiah ($3 for a 600ml, large bottle)... and pointed at the fish and said "no pay". OK, thanks mate. Much appreciated. Lovely hospitality. Interesting too, because he'd already asked me how much I paid for my camera... 27,000,000 rupiah. His jaw dropped on that one. Guaranteed more than he makes in a year.... maybe two (fishermen are poor here).

By this stage, it was dark outside... and we had the ride home, 10k on the track from hell and another 5-10k from there on local roads. I had one headlight hanging from a single bolt (I've got zero bolts holding my luggage rack on, I've lost tools because the tool bag has rubbed through and somehow they've escaped from under the seat and there's bound to be more.... I've lost my third left rear indicator... and so on.... Did I mention the roads here are rough?)... and it was an interesting trip back. I got sick of going sideways... I reckon because I was going too slow, so I got into it and caught up to a local guy and followed his lines through the puddles and potholes.... until he stopped at a Warung. Unbelievably, I then came up on a local guy riding with no lights. He appreciated mine... and got into it, and I followed him to his local Warung... and eventually we made town in one piece... albeit rather muddy.

... and that's where I'm up to with photos. I've got more to upload. We did the tourist bit yesterday... but we're off for a massage soon... and I want to go buy this bronze walking stick I saw yesterday.
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Old 04-01-2012, 09:52 PM   #146
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Here's a little one from yesterday. Still on Samosir Island on Lake Toba. A little Batak village that isn't on the tourist trail, we stumbled in after some wrong directions.... we'd been looking for the King's tomb.

We got invited in for coffee and a chat by a lovely family.


They really were lovely. Mum was off working somewhere. Dad, 58 is blind. Cataracts in both eyes and they can't afford the $800 for the operation to fix it. I'll see if we can organise something back in Oz.
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:27 AM   #147
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poop.... I've lost my 3G internet dongle. How's a guy supposed to keep things up to date without a dongle? I'm headed off a little ways tomorrow to check out a volcano that Connie told me is good value, then off to see the Orangutans a bit further north... then into Medan, where I should be able to get a new dongle

I've arranged lock-up storage for my gear and bike in Medan... and will fly out of there on April 8 and back in on May 8 or 9.... with a new countershaft seal and maybe even a new chain. Definitely a new tyre. Air travel over here is so damn cheap. Medan to Kuala Lumpur was doable for $60... I ended up paying $83 for a prime time flight. I really didn't want to be chasing my tail and end up being stranded with the bike on a ship and me needing to be back in Oz for client meetings.
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Old 04-04-2012, 08:01 PM   #148
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I go riding for 3 weeks and come back to pages and pages to read and catch up on!

It makes a good read, thanks for taking the time to write it up

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Old 04-06-2012, 12:44 AM   #149
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My pleasure Glen...

This will be a mostly non-visual update until next week sometime..... I'm having some internet access problems. One of the restaurant staff at Danua Toba picked up my dongle and, whilst I eventually got it back, I'm thinking she may have abused it. I lost internet access - put another 100,000 rupiah on it... supposed to be 5,000 a day for access (50c)... but its all gone 2 days later...

...so... I'm across the road from my guesthouse in Medan... at KFC, using the Colonel's freewifi. Not sure how long I can take sitting at a KFC with kids birthday parties going on.

Re cameras - I've upgraded from the near-dead S6100 Nikon point and shoot to a Nikon AW100 - which, funnily enough, is made in Indonesia. Unfortunately, the destruction manual is Indonesian only.... but it seems to be a ripper. Its waterproof to 33' and shockproof to 5'. I wonder how it stands up to bull elephants... my guess is that he'd have busted this one too.

I’m in Medan now. My bike is wedged into the living room at the guesthouse…. and that’s where I think I’ll leave it for the next month while I duck home and quieten a few client nerves. The bike's where the guesthouse owner wants it…. and given we dragged it around on the tiles to get it there, I’d rather grab local transport for the next few days than try and get it out again. He likes bikes and he absolutely insisted I bring it inside last night.

Yesterday’s ride was good… but nerve wracking, not because of all the buses running me off the road, but because I was carrying my new bronze walking stick… and its wider than my handlebars. That's something I do not like one little bit. I seriously wouldn’t like riding a bike like El Conquistador’s or any of the others I’ve seen…where the panniers are a good 6-8” wider than the handlebars. You might as well drive a car instead

I ran with the wider part of the walking stick out on the left yesterday…. The “near side” as the English would say. That meant I had to give an extra 6” width to everyone I was overtaking… and given I clipped mirrors with a small truck I overtook the day before, it took some adjustment on my part. Riding here is all about gap management.... riding into and through small gaps.... I’m glad I changed the extra overhang to the left side compared to having it on the right, like the previous day… I was having a really good 90 – 100 kmh dice with a local when a bus going the other way decided to overtake. I squeezed past, hard on the brakes but still doing 45 kmh - three wide on the bitumen. I’d have gone bush if the overhang had been on the bus’s side… rather than risk getting smashed to pieces by the walking stick. I went bush for three army trucks on the run from Danua (Lake) Toba, where I bought this bronze monstrosity, to Berastagi. I never saw the local again after that bus, so I don’t know if he’s a bus mascot now or whether he went bush…. Or hopefully, just reached his destination.

So, back to Danau Toba. What a truly magnificent place. I posted a photo with the key statistics earlier IIRC. From when I first got to its shores – halfway across one end, until I reached the ferry to Samosir Island, which leaves from halfway up the lake, I rode hard for well over an hour. Its one big lake.... 87km long and its deep too… I’ve seen it listed as 450 metres deep and 525 m…. and so on. I believe the eruption that created it 74,000 years ago had a significant effect on the world’s population. I had a great time there. To use her words, I "hooked up" with an American woman, Connie... and we explored the island and its attractions together. I always thought 'hooked up' had a physical connotation... and apart from the fact that riding two-up on a big dirt bike on rough roads is, shall we say, a bit physical,... we made good travelling companions.... but only good travelling companions.

Connie commented at one stage on what a different reception we got from locals, with us being on the bike rather than the reception she normally got. She was amazed. She also said that she'd resolved on the first day... when we ended up slithering and sliding down a horrible road in the dark.... that if she lived through the experience, she was never getting on the KTM again. She relented, changed her riding style - and loved it from then on. She'd been tensing for bumps, rather than going with the flow.

The back country ride I did from Danau Toba to Berastagi was interesting.... I stopped to get some chow in a small town - ended up getting a coffee... which turned out to be tea (can't win them all) and three boiled eggs (can't win many some days) and had a good, if stilted, "conversation" with the locals - two of whom were whallopers - one packing, in plain clothes. There was a guy there dressed in rags, filthy... really, really filthy - who stayed outside the cafe. He was very dark skinned... much darker than the others and they shunned him a bit. I don't know the whole story there... but he refused my offer of food... but asked for money. I tried to get into my gear, but couldn't get to any clothes without a total unpack in the rain and mud... so he missed out on a new shirt. I gave him some cash as I was leaving.... and got a lot of thumbs ups and nods from the locals.. the same ones who had been giving the guy a bit of a ribbing. Buggered if I know? Here's the lads..



I did the 177km (according to my GPS) from Danau Toba to Berastagi in 3 hours 49 minutes moving... but a lot longer than that overall. I moved from Toba, after 4 nights there, to Berastagi.... and spent two nights in this strangely deserted hotel... there was just me and someone in the next room the first night.... and there's also over 100 villas there... 1 of which was occupied. Weird. Nice location though... on the lower slopes of a nice volcano - with another one not far away.

Anyhow, I'd been warned the back way was broken and twisty... but I wasn't expecting to find a wormhole to another galaxy...



I'd picked that as just another pothole to jump and was concentrating on my line through the big puddle and broken road before it when I spotted some reinforcing rod sticking up... tried to change lines, realised I wasn't going to make it and and went for the brakes. I stopped a metre short.... slid to a halt with the front wheel turned and locked and damn near dropped the bike.... just managed to hold it.

I backed away to get the photo.... but that hole is about 18" wide and over 3 feet deep. It wouldn't have been nice.

I'll upload the rest of my Lake Toba and Sibayak volcano photos... along with a few from Medan - when I get home early next week. I've "hooked up" with a young Dutch girl... in the non-physical sense... a tiny slip of a thing, Hanna.... and we, and two Dutch guys went out and got wet last night (big tropical dump of rain). Another friend of Hanna's is flying in about now, so we should have a bit of a Good Friday party happening tonight... although the other guys have flown out.

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Old 04-06-2012, 01:17 AM   #150
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I've really been enjoying this RR and in particular the insight you give into the lives and culture of some of our nearest neighbours.

BTW I recently scored the AW100 to compliment my aging D70 and so far am very happy with it. I have the manuals in PDF format if you'd like a copy.
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