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Old 11-16-2011, 06:22 PM   #31
Good ol days my arse
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Originally Posted by The Bigfella View Post
Thanks. I just had a quick scroll through and couldn't see any that weren't working. Maybe its just my shorthand at times? I've seen a couple of comments that might imply a photo, but there isn't one. I'll see if I can modify my writing. Meanwhile... I've got some photos to process.

Works today, go figure?

Keen to see how you get that big Katoom into Vietnam!

Feb 2014, currently travelling the America's on a Tiger 800XC
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Old 11-16-2011, 08:07 PM   #32
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Yeah... I'm keen to see how I get it into Vietnam too! I know how it can be done, but its a matter of making it fit with the rest of what I want to do in Laos as well. I did over 3,000 km in Vietnam in June/July last year, but that was on a scooter that I bought there - so no border crossing. If I can get back in, which means having a guide meet me at the border at least (supposedly to travel with me, but there's ways around that) I don't want to re-cover old ground on the roads, but I do want to visit the family that had us come stay with them in the hills near Sapa - so I'd plan to cross the border near Dien Bien Phu and try for a back roads trip to Sapa.

OK... back to Timor-Leste. I've mentioned a few times about the anarchy on the roads there. Here's an example. We'd just loaded the girls on to the minibus after doing some work at the youth centre and this bloke hitched a ride. We caught up to him a few kms down the road... still hanging on to the bus

At one stage, we saw a kid riding a scooter with his mum on the back, then coming back without her and he couldn't have been more than 9 years old. Really quite an amazing place.

This is an Aussie army officer (far left) and 3 Kiwi soldiers who were having some interesting talks with local leaders. We sat in on the talks, mainly because they were being held where we were staying, but the Lieutenant approached as afterwards and asked us to keep our lips sealed on the details… which is fair enough. That is the local school yard that they landed in. The pilot pulled out an RC chopper and did a demo for the school kids… gee he could fly it well.... but he'd get shot if he tried that near schoolkids in Oz I reckon.

This is the road out from Mt Ramelau (or more precisely from Hato Bullico, the village below the mountain).

We saw a few of these community meeting places - sometimes a long way from villages.

This one is right up near the summit of Mt Ramelau and apparently they get 7,000 - 8,000 locals up there once or twice a year for festivals

Here's the guys on mountain ponies that I mentioned. They really did give us a run for our money on the way out.

And a few local guys out hunting. The spears were all metal. You never know whether to pull up and say G'day when you see something like this, but I did... and never once felt threatened.

There was a school on the way out, so I stopped - and was mobbed in seconds

... and back on the main north-south road. The scenery was stunning

One minute the road is bitumen,

but you never could be certain that it didn't have massive holes in it just past the apex... or that a 4WD wasn't overtaking another on your side around a blind corner, or... You really do have to ride a couple of tenths slower over there

... and of course, there's always a bit of produce on the road

For those that don't know where their morning cup of coffee comes from... here's one of the local plantations. Starbucks are sourcing from here I believe.

I mentioned that we were looking for the wreck of the original HMAS Voyager at Betano. She ran aground in 1942 whilst unloading reinforcements for the Aussie Army's Sparrow Force. The Japanese bombers got her before they could get her off and she was lost. Here's pretty much all that remains.... that little bit of wreckage a few hundred metres past that bagged creek entrance.

I did some off road exploring, trying to get closer - I didn't want to walk down the beach and leave the bike and all my gear... but I got stymied by the creek

The Lonely Planet for T-L mentions 3 people having been taken by crocs in the month before they went through the south, so.... I chickened out. I saw the wreckage... from a distance.... and we headed for Suai.

The river where the bridge was out turned out to be a lot less bothersome than the Lonely Planet would have you believe. I guess it'd be different in the wet season

The road did its normal good one minute, crappy the next thing

This bridge doesn't look too bad eh?

Hmmm.... not so good from the other direction

... and here's me getting mobbed again while I waited for Andras to come back to the intersection so we could take the right road....

... and when he got back, it was only a few km to Suai... where we spent two nights with the nuns at a convent.
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Old 11-17-2011, 09:15 PM   #33
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Damn... a computer crash just wiped out a half done post. I wish I could figure out how to get the whole post done in Word... and to get videos to show as other than just a link.

Speaking of which... here's a couple of videos. First up... the croc that I posted a while back. It was in the Katherine River... a little freshie, about 8' long and we fed it some sausages

and a quick one of the bike on the move

and finally, overtaking a 98-wheeler.

Now... back to Timor-Leste. Here we are, plotting our options with Alipio, at the first decent map of the place we'd seen.... on a restaurant wall in Baucau. Alipio gets around a bit and was able to tell us where we were likely to get through

Oh... and a bit of the street art at Baucau

We tried hard to get a decent map once we got back to Dili, but the best we could do was a couple of photos of an atlas at the Xanana Gusmao Reading Room

This was the key one... it showed that there was a southern road from Suai to the border... and it gave us the way north if we failed to get through there.

Dan, at the East Timor Backpackers thought that someone had got through on a pushbike, but didn't know of anyone else having done it. Andras did some searching, but apart from coming up with the name of the place (Salele) couldn't find any info on getting across. Everyone else told us that it was only for locals and that they didn't process vehicle documentation ... so we tried it. Our photographed map totally ignored Indonesia btw... anyone would think it was just ocean looking at the map. We were going to take that minor track down to the bottom left.

Here's my "tracks covered" in Timor-Leste. The trip east of Baucau and down through Lospalos was with Keith and Ellen in the 4WD but the rest of it (apart from Atauro) was on the KTM. Andras did all bar the bit east of Baucau and the little loop that included Ermera.

The dotted blue was our rough plan after Suai. So... into Suai we went, including yet another "bridge-out" diversion across this little structure. It rattled and shook a bit... and I was thinking about how I weighed double anything else that crosses it as I went across... but it was OK

We checked in at the local convent, having tried a couple of other places. The Lonely Planet suggestion was closed for renovations... and besides, I like the look of ladies in uniform

There was a pretty major construction project going on next door.... a cathedral

No security of course... wander through at your leisure...

We wandered up the street and had a look through the markets and met some of the local lads.

This lady was a bit isolated at the markets... no near neighbours. If you could smell the aroma, you'd know why. Yum... dried fish

As usual, some of the locals wanted their photo taken with me

This young fella across from the markets was into the Arak... mixed with coke or beer or something. He was feeling the effects. We sat down with the guys and had a chat. Arak is a local clear spirit made from palm tree flowers. I've heard, but not seen myself, that a scooter engine will run on it. I've also heard of brain damage from it too - an Aussie girl cooked her brain a couple of weeks ago on some that had methyl alcohol on it. We tried it when he cracked a new bottle. I'll stick to beer or single malt thanks.

We ended up wandering off, but I spotted a shop where we could grab a carton of beer... and figured it was worth buying the lads a drink. We took it back, sat it down, ripped the top off... and no-one moved. I pointed to it and then them... and 5 seconds later, it was gone. It was all Andras could do to snap a quick shot....

The guys were all as keen as mustard to check out our bikes, so on Sunday morning we headed back up and I took one of them for a ride. Nothing dramatic... the bike was still on cold oil and the roads there are rather potholed.

All his mates were impressed

We had a day to kill, waiting for the border to open on Monday morning, so it was off to Suai Loro, on the coast, for a look see. Plenty of traditional style housing down there

We decided we'd park and walk to the beach, rather than ride.

Lots of burnt out buildings at the beach from the troubles of the last couple of decades

... and plenty of traditional style boats

These guys were quite friendly and their daughters were swimming in the ocean behind us... but we'll have no more rudie nudie photos, eh

That's about as far as we went.

and it was back to town

I've mentioned "UN Goons" a few times. This guy is actually an Aussie cop up there on secondment. We'd met him in the local upmarket restaurant the night before... and had spoken to him just before I snapped this. Its pretty typical of the reaction of the UN lot... windows up, driving around.... not exactly making friends with the locals.

Now... speaking of the troubles. Two days after the independence referendum in late 1999, the militia killed a couple of hundred people in church where we were staying. Here's one of the memorials, just outside our accommodation.

It was a bit funny staying there. There was a girl's college there too... about 15' from our room... so the senior nuns had an eagle eye on us... making sure we were good lads.

We were the first people to stay there in over a month (we had to register in the book... someone from the NZ consulate was the previous guest)... and when they finally found the key to unlock the bathroom, I ended up feeling a bit guilty. There was no water in the drums (there was plumbing... but like several other places we stayed outside Dili, it didn't work) so the nuns got some of the junior girls to cart water and fill them up. Child slave labor if you ask me. Same thing for our laundry... the kids did it.
A man should only do the work that is required of him. To do more is a form of greed.

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Old 11-17-2011, 11:49 PM   #34
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Great RR!

I've got to ask, how big of a fella are ya?

Thanks for sharing about a country I knew nothing about prior to reading your story.
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Old 11-17-2011, 11:54 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by SMC View Post
I've got to ask, how big of a fella are ya?

I`ve been thinking of asking the same thing myself, but didn`t want to appear impolite.
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Old 11-18-2011, 03:19 AM   #36
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How big? Not that big these days I guess... that's just a nickname that a client used to call me.

I'm 2 metres tall in my boots... 6' 6"
A man should only do the work that is required of him. To do more is a form of greed.

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Old 11-18-2011, 05:33 AM   #37
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Hey Bigfella
great RR and great and interesting photos
You are dead right about the UN goons,,had a mate there flying choppers,,
he couldnt believe the wastefulness and ignorance of the UN..

looking at doing the route you are taking but in reverse
When I leave Dubai permanently,looking at riding bike back to OZ through asia,Indon,
Timor,Darwin and home to cairns,,

Please if you can give us a good decription of the border crossings,,handy to know..
awaiting for your next update

all the best
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Old 11-18-2011, 10:25 PM   #38
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Here's one of the bikes the local lads were riding.

There's some two strokes running around putting out massive amounts of noise ... without much happening in the way of speed.

So, fresh and early on the Monday, we headed out to the first checkpoint at the Salele border crossing between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. Andras rode straight past, but I stopped for a photo and the lads were happy to pose for me

I take it these guys are the second line of defence - to pick up anyone who bolts through the border post.

On the way out, we came up behind this army truck on the narrow road. I'd seen it the previous day (when I snapped this shot)..

The back of it was chockers with armed troops and I wasn't quite game to sneak off a photo with all those rifles in plain sight. Eventually, the soldiers in the back waved us past... right into a concrete culvert. I squirted it and got past in the dirt. I'm damned if I know how Andras didn't hit the culvert.

When we got to the border post at Salele, we had to wait until the Immigration guy got there. There were plenty of others standing around, but nah... we had to wait. Then we had three processes to go through. Immigration, Customs and Police.... each in their own little area.



Police - or are they army? Police I think on the Timor-Leste side.

Andras didn't have a photocopy of his registration papers for them and for a moment I thought they were going to make us go back to town to get one, but we'd been getting on quite well with them, so they let us through. You definitely need photocopies of licences, passports, rego papers, etc.

The Customs guys on both sides of the border had no idea what-so-ever what a Carnet was. We had to show them where and what they had to write, sign, stamp and retain.

While we were finishing up on the Timor-Leste side, the Immigration guy was stuffing around on his bike - pulling wheelies, etc. When we finished, he came across the bridge over the river... the border... to the Indonesian side and showed us which huts we had to visit, in which order. I had a drag race with him... which I won rather easily.

So, here we are, on the Indonesian side.

We did the Army and Immigration post and then we settled in to wait

... and wait. The Customs guy wasn't there. They had to phone him and get him out to the border, which took maybe another 90 minutes or so.

The Army guy was interesting. I asked him where he was from - he spoke good English - and it was Bali. He worked through his form and then looked at me "Ever been to Timor before?" No... said I, then, smiling he asked "In the Army maybe?" No. I wonder what he'd have done if I'd said yes? I hadn't btw.

Eventually, the Customs guy turned up. He didn't speak any English and we'd just got up to speed with Tetun... which is useless in Indonesia, so it wasn't that easy. He filled in our Customs declaration... the "no I'm not carrying anything nasty" form... which was entirely in Indonesian, and showed us where to sign. Yeah, OK.

He then got out a form which had things like "30%... etc ... 130%" on it and I started to worry. It looked like he was looking for import duty... and at 130% that's about $20,000 for me... so we kept at it with the Carnet and he eventually caught on and ripped up the other form. I'm pretty sure that wouldn't happen up at the main border crossing, on the northern road.

Anyhow, we were through. No real problems. We'd headed to this border crossing expecting to be turned back and told to go to the main one, based on what others had said. No-one pushing for bribes, just a relaxed, no hassles process. We went in smiling and they all responded. We also just kept showing them where to stamp the Carnet and they eventually cottoned on. We never showed the slightest concern that they didn't know what they were doing (which they certainly didn't in some cases)... so, no loss of face, no hassles, lots of handshakes and thank-you.

No requests for bribes... incidentally, I got stung last year when I discovered water damage on my passport photo... from sweat... and it cost me to get across one border on mainland Asia

So, off we went. The locals on the Indonesian side were really quite different to the Timor-Leste side. For the first 15km or so, no-one returned our waves. Quite strange really. They eventually loosened up. This wasn't too far from the border. Gotta use that free drying surface eh?

We kept asking folks at intersections the way to Kupang and following their directions. The roads weren't too bad, but they did disintegrate to crappy dirt at times. This was the normal condition... although there were plenty of tight twisties too

I shot this one in one of the medium sized towns we went through

When we got maybe 25-35% of the way down the island, the locals directed us north and we went up some goat tracks across the two mountain ranges between there and the main Dili-Kupang road. It was starting to get a bit late and we started to get into it a bit. A bit much, we both decided later. We were fanging it.

We got into Kupang just before dusk. I snapped this shot from the hotel carpark while Andras negotiated a couple of rooms.

I dunno why, but he got a room about five times as nice as mine, at the same price as mine. This bloke was wandering past out the front at some stage

That night, Charlie found us at a pub. He ended up being our guide/fixer for the next three days. More on him later. Next episode... Andras gets us in the poo with the secret police.
A man should only do the work that is required of him. To do more is a form of greed.

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Old 11-23-2011, 05:49 PM   #39
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Sheesh... I just had a quick look through and saw that I hadn't posted my arty farty sunset shot from Dili. Too many photos....

So there... its posted. One thing about this trip... the sunsets have always been worth watching.

While I'm back in Timor-Leste, so to speak, I see that Andras has uploaded one of my helmet cam videos. I'm stuffed if I can figure out how to embed the videos on this forum though.... Here's the link

It shows a bit of life in an East Timorese town. Its my helmet cam which was on while we were trying to find a room in Manatuto. The video was starting to suffer from dust intrusion by then. Funny thing was it was at least another hour until we finally found a room... in the priest's quarters at the Catholic Church. Cheapest room of the trip - at $5 ea, although my bed collapsed at about 3am... and the plumbing didn't work, and there was no mosquito mesh... and plenty of mossies... and the priest was making eyes at Ilia, and... not a bad town actually.


OK, back to Indonesia. We did a two-day trip to Rote Island without the bikes.... we'd have taken them, but they could only get scooters on to this ferry

Charlie took us on a bit of a tour of the island. Its quite large, but only has a few thousand people living on it.

All the surfers are out there... its about $1.50 a ride on a local boat... or walk out over the reef.

While on Rote, we got checked out by the undercover cops at midnight.

I was in bed at the time, but Andras got bailed up and had to provide my name and nationality to them as part of his interrogation... and they wouldn't let him go until he showed his Hungarian passport. They had him pegged as an Iranian trying to get on an illegal entry boat to Oz.... despite having a 3 year Aussie work permit in his passport. They sent off SMS messages and logged in on their laptops to check it all out before they gave up.... all in the middle of the night.

Rote is becoming a big surfing destination and there's plenty of old Aussie surfers out there... and the sunset was just fabulous. Here's a couple of Andras shots on Rote Island

The pigs were everywhere on the beach... this one found a tasty morsel... a hammerhead shark head

and a few of mine. The infrastructure out there has had a bit of a beating

and I'm not sure how our OH&S inspectors would view this...

Speaking of OH&S, you had to be a little bit aware if wandering around pissed at night. This uncovered well was a nice tripping height... it had walls about 2' high and it was about 4' across nicely located between the restaurant/bar and the rooms

Speaking of the rooms. Andras at his. Nice ADV salute

The beach was nice

Now, the sunset. We were at a $20 a night resort... but 100 metres away there was a $200 a night resort... with a lovely sunset bar, so we wandered up there. I really don't know how he did it... but the sun appears to be shining out Andras' arse....

A man should only do the work that is required of him. To do more is a form of greed.

Ride through Oz and Asia

The Bigfella screwed with this post 11-23-2011 at 05:58 PM
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Old 11-23-2011, 06:55 PM   #40
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We only had one more day in Kupang after we got back from Rote. Charlie helped us get a bit sorted out for travelling in Indonesia. He took us up to a computer shop in the hills and we both got un-locked dongles with sim cards to give us 3G internet and local sim cards for our phones. The 3G was $10 for two months unlimited.... which sort of illustrates how we get ripped off at home.

We paid about $35 or so for both bikes and the two of us at the ticket counter. Then Charlie arranged a cabin for us after we boarded... the way that worked was that the second mate got booted from his cabin and we got it, he wasn't happy, but given his demeanor improved after we left Kupang, some of the $70 we handed over obviously made its way to him. You can't buy a ticket for these cabins btw... its all done via the skipper.

Oh yeah... we had to get our tickets stamped by the cops before boarding. They suggested that an administration fee should be paid. Our guide suggested $5 each. Hmmm.

This was the type of ferry we travelled from Kupang, West Timor to Larantuka, Flores on. A 15 hour journey, arriving just after dawn. We'd just left the dock on our ferry, pretty much the same as this one when I took this.

Speaking of the dock... as mentioned in the post on Rote, maritime infrastructure gets a bit of a beating over here

Here's my bike being loaded...

.... and a bit later on.

No... none of that is mine.

This is the cabin we scored ..... complete with photos of the second mate's wife and kids.

The crew were happy for us to visit the bridge - although they didn't speak English, so we didn't make too much of a nuisance of ourselves.

... but I did end up in the Captain's chair to enjoy the sunset

The ferry was chockers, of course. Full of vehicles and people absolutely everywhere.

Speaking of it being chockers. Guess where all these guys slept. Yep. Right there. Spreadeagled everywhere across the ropes.

We kicked in another $10 to eat with the crew. "Bear in mind its no restaurant" was the warning our guide had given us. The food wasn't bad... but you had to keep your eyes open to keep the cockroaches and cats off your plate. We got things like rice, fish soup, chicken... etc.

These guys cooked up some rice and eggs which went downstairs for the other passengers. We were a bit concerned about the amount of fuel they spilt everywhere getting this all working.

Yep... all those eggs went in at one go. The trays went straight overboard, of course.

If I said "rust bucket" in relation to these ferries, you might not really believe me... but seriously, I spent a while trying to figure out how deep the rust holes were in some of the deck plates. Very deep. This is another one that I caught, but it gives you an idea....

.... and that got us to the absolutely fabulous island of Flores. It was interesting watching the ferry push through the fog pre-dawn... blasting its horn and swinging a light... knowing we were in a narrow channel between the islands.

Anyhow, we made it around dawn and we blasted off to Moni, about 270km down the island, with only a stop in Maumere for lunch. It was pleasant riding, fairly twisty, but nothing too bad

I had a bit of a dice with one of the locals in a twisty section, then roared past him, coming off the lip of a bridge with my front wheel well off the deck at 140 kph... I'd have loved to have seen the look on his face.

We were pretty knackered when we got to Moni... after the overnighter on the ferry and the full day's ride. We checked out a few places and settled on one of the smaller ones. We had a guy show us a twin room that was OK and I was in the mood for a beer... so, I offered him one too. He sat down with us and I noticed another local guy hanging around, so I offered him one too.

It turned out the second guy, Fransiscus, was a guide and he'd been looking for an opportunity to offer his services - but I beat him to it by buying him the beer. We got talking, then he suggested my bike needed a bath, so he took off and got some detergent and brushes... and of all things some shampoo... which he gave it a final wash with. All this was done using the water flowing down the gutter.

Two and a half days later, he was refusing to take money from us for his guiding services, because he was our friend..... but we'll get to that later.
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Old 11-23-2011, 08:23 PM   #41
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An excellent adventure

I think you guys left Cairns for the tip just after we got back to Cairns.

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Old 11-23-2011, 09:37 PM   #42
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Awesome !!!!!

Awesome ride report and stunning photographs - keep it coming !!!! I did northern Laos earlier this year and northern Vietnam last year - can't wait to read about your exploits around there
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Old 11-24-2011, 01:23 AM   #43
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Old 11-24-2011, 03:43 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by goroka View Post
An excellent adventure

I think you guys left Cairns for the tip just after we got back to Cairns.

Yep... good fun, with so many different flavours to it. We left Cairns after lunch on August 1st

Originally Posted by Vince_WA View Post
Awesome ride report and stunning photographs - keep it coming !!!! I did northern Laos earlier this year and northern Vietnam last year - can't wait to read about your exploits around there
Yes... I'm looking forward to Laos... but so far, I haven't got there... I'm working on it... I reckon I'll get to Laos around early March. I did have 7 weeks in Cambodia and Vietnam last year... and I'll sneak that into this RR too, once I get up to date. Here's a sneak preview from Vietnam

.... and one of the friends I'd like to revisit if I can sneak the Katoom in...

But enough of that... I need to write up my couple of days around Moni, Flores... which just happens to be where Kelimutu is.... the fabulous National Park with the three crater lakes

A man should only do the work that is required of him. To do more is a form of greed.

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Old 11-24-2011, 06:42 AM   #45
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Really interesting RR, many thanks for taking to the time to post so much detail of this part of the world. I like your writing style. Can you give us an idea of your overall trip route? Just curious why you chose a large bike like the 950 for mostly SE Asia trip where bikes are much smaller. Guess it was just 'your bike'?!
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