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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by cejnys, Sep 26, 2014.
I love the openness and hospitality RTW riders find everywhere.
^^^ I find it fascinating, too. I've noted before how Rad seems to have a knack for finding cool folks. He must be charming in person.
(interestingly, when I put in Rad, Lauren comes up on my phone as a suggestion)
I wonder if perhaps some of the seemingly prodigious hospitality toward travelers in general is somehow related to the fact that the traveler is merely coming through and unlikely to stick around.
Also, and perhaps oddly, the greater hospitality often seems to be taking place in some of the poorest areas. In trying to surmise why this might be, one, perhaps they rely more on each other; and two, perhaps they have less to lose. I'm really not sure what the mechanisms are but the trend does seem evident.
I really felt for you Rad when you were talking about getting weak and feeling sick. I know it's something that happened earlier but still, it really puts you in an unpleasant and vulnerable spot. Hopefully your feeling better was the end of it. You didn't describe any symptoms beyond feeling weak and a fever, so then it doesn't fit the profile of a typical stomach bug. All good now?
Also interesting how some of the best scenery seems to be in less affluent areas.
That's a cool story, I love reading about all your adventures, keep it up!!
Yeah from my experience poorest people are more likely to help and share their resources. Its kind of weird because they invite you for a dinner and offer something that they don't eat often because they don't have money to buy it. They are trying to treat you as a special guest and show their hospitality. I am not sure why this totally disappeared from the first world countries. Hosting a total stranger sounds just like a crazy idea. I guess in "developed" countries everyone is trying to protect their money and personal space, and a stranger represents a threat.
There is also a clear correlation between level of tourism and hospitality of locals. It was very obvious when visiting Thailand. Hospitality of locals is nearly non existing, most of the locals see you as a target to get some $$$. From my experience Thailand was the worst from that respect.
On the other side the country with most hospitable people was Iran. There is not even close second place. People there were extremely nice and always wanted to help. Sometimes they were even begging to be able to host me; crazy I know! Iranians say that a guest is their god. Tourism in Iran is just picking up and talking to many travelers about Iranian, everyone is very curious whether their hospitality survives with more and more people visiting their country.
Btw all the symptoms of my weakness disappeared and I am feeling good now
After leaving the local family we headed towards our next destination which was Kelimutu national park. I felt much better and could enjoy beauty of the island. Lush forests and green rice fields were absolutely everywhere; from all the Indonesian islands I like Flores the most
We arrived to Kelimutu NP quite late, it was already dark when we were riding up; our plan was clear, we wanted to camp as close to volcano craters as possible. When reaching the entrance gate we slowed down a bit, then I saw that the gate was open so I screamed at Matthias "GO!" and we rode through. We knew that the park closes at around 6pm and nobody can enter after. We were lucky that they did not expect anyone and kept the gate open.
When we arrived to the parking area, nobody was there and everything was closed. That was a good sign. We left our bikes at the parking lot and walked to the first volcano crater to enjoy a beer while watching a moon rise. The whole area transformed fast whit the moon coming up.
I was trying to make some photos but it was a bit challenging to capture the atmosphere
this was about 5 seconds exposure shot, it was actually much darker
this is how it actually looked like sitting on a 100 meters high crater
After we finished our beer we went back to the bikes to get our camping gear. We were nearly ready to leave, we needed about one more minute to leave ad disappear in darkness of the forest when suddenly a bunch or rangers steamed in. Most of them were holding machetes and they were not smiling. They were actually quite pissed off. When we saw them we tried to run into a close forest but they could see us so they could easily follow us.
I was like fuck that was close; we needed one more minute and they would never see us. I was pissed off, I was really looking forward to sleep on a volcano crater.
We tried to talk to the rangers which proved to be ineffective. They were not in a good mood. After about 40 min we gave up arguing with them and packed our stuff to go back to the gate which was about 4km.
Because they could not keep up with us on a way down I made another plan. I wanted to find a small road or a path where we would hide and let them pass us, then we would ride back up. We were trying extremely hard to find such a place for our bikes, unfortunately we could not find anything. If I had a smaller bike it would be much easier to hide, with our two monsters it was impossible. I was gutted when we returned back to the entrance gate.
Not far away from the gate we found a place where to hang our hammock and called it a day. At the end the view was pretty nice too
The next morning we went back up to the volcano to check out the craters. Each of the craters created a lake, interesting part is that each lake has different color. That's mainly caused by chemical reactions that are happening inside of each lake
this photo shows only two lakes, the third one is totally black and it is a bit further on the right side
I managed to squeeze all three on this panoramic photo
After taking few photos there was nothing else to look at so we jumped on our bikes and headed towards one of the most beautiful beachs in Indonesia
Riding through Flores was just great, the whole place is very green which I really enjoyed
When we made it to Koka beach we met few locals and that was all. The whole place was totally empty. It felt like being in a paradise. Its actually quite difficult to get there. There is not any close airport, so to visit this beach tourists have to take ferry from Sumbawa to Labuan Bajo and then drive a day or two until they get here
Finding place for camping was easier than ever
This was a small restaurant run by a local guy; every evening they offered a fresh fish with soup, bottle of water and banana for about $3
Normally you have a dog or a cat running around a restaurant......in this restaurant it was a chicken. I tried to find out how much would it cost to get it for a dinner.....the owner did not find it funny
Another thing I really love about Flores is that criminality doesn't really exists. You can leave your stuff on the bike and it will be there the next morning
Flores looks beautifully fertile. That it's too complicated to get to for most tourists is a boon. And the population isn't dense. Those are big contributing factors for low crime.
I can imagine those crater lakes are amazing in person. "photosphere" is pretty good for making memories of those kind of places. Maybe your phone has that.
Last night there was news of North Korea (surprise). When they showed their country's newscast, there was a mountain lake image similar to that crater lake in the backdrop. It looked cheesily done, though. But there must be some national pride regarding some area within. And no, please don't try to sneak in there!!
that would be a challenge; I need to talk to my brother Ed about this, we may need to cover each others back, and probably change my texas number plate
It was nice knowin' ya ...
I am not really beach person so the next day we jumped on our bikes and headed into mountains. Flores has many to offer; even though they are trying to improve their infrastructure and most roads are quite new, there are many that are still dirty and fun, especially in mountains.
Taking lithe 250 through these roads can be pretty relaxing; with fully loaded 990 or GS is good adrenalin; these were actually nice parts
Everywhere in Flores people were amazing; very warm and happy. It was very poor part of Indonesia but that did not stop people enjoy their lives
Nearly every kid walking on a side of the road wanted "side five", or they just were waving at us
I did not want to rush through Flores so we took it easy and enjoyed views and small villages. Each of them has a basic market where you can get good selection of veggies and fish. For our next dinner we picked both and headed to a beach to set up a camp
If I remember it correctly this was some kind of tuna and they were asking 3.5 usd for the whole fish. It was too big for us so we picked a bit smaller fish for 60 cents each
Finding place to camp is extremely easy in Flores; you just pick a dirt road which is following the coast until you find a good spot
This time we found white sand beach with few trees that create a nice shade
We had plenty of time to enjoy the spot and try some survival techniques; it looks much easier than it actually is. After about two hours we were not able to start a fire
At the end we used a lighter to make our dinner; put the fish on couple of sticks and enjoyed the evening
I'm impressed that you have a tray in your luggage.
Wow, that’s pretty good observation DavidM1! Yeah it’s like a cheap small plastic tray, I got it very early into the trip because I needed a chopping board when cooking. It’s really handy and it doesn’t take any space. This is one of the things I would not travel without; together with my Swiss knife with a wine opener !!
The next day we made it to the final destination on the Flores island. From a small city called Larantuca we were planning to take an overnight ferry to the last Indonesian island on my trip.
The challenge we were facing was to get onto the ferry. Everywhere else it would be extremely easy; a day prior to departure you would go to an office or on-line and buy a ticket. Then you would just relax until about 3 hours before departure when you would move to the port for loading the ferry.
Indonesians like it a bit more challenging; they don't sell tickets on-line and the ticket office opens during morning hours at the day when the ferry leaves (it leaves twice a week at 12pm). This would be fine if we did not know that this ferry ALWAYS sells out and there are ALWAYS many bikes that don't make it on the ferry because its full.
We did not want to leave our departure to a good luck so we went to the port at around 10pm night before and were planning to camp there. When I was about to set up my hammock, tenths of scooters started coming to the port. I was like fuck thats crazy how early they were coming to secure their place on the ferry.
Immediately I stopped setting up my camp spot, packed everything and went to the area where people started gathering.
One thing I learned during my travel was not to trust random strangers about directions and any kind of schedule. Most of the time they have no clue and just want to give you an answer for a sake of giving you an answer.
Anyway it felt confusing when so many people flooded the port; when I started asking around they told me that most of the people were waiting for their relatives that should be arriving on a ferry from Kupang. They also assured me that the ticket office was opening at 9am and that the ferry leaves back to Kupang at 12pm. When I asked different people they mostly told me the same so I was leaning towards believing it. Nevertheless I was still doubting whether we could get tickets and make it on the ferry, so I parked my bike in the middle of this chaos and tried to sleep on my bike
At around 1am the ferry from Kupang arrived and most of the people that earlier showed up disappeared. That was a good sign, my hope that we would make it on the ferry increased. Sleeping on the bike proved to be very uncomfortable so I moved to stairs in front of the ticket office which was still closed at around 2am. I just through my Klim jacket on the stairs and slept on it. Surprisingly I had pretty deep sleep because when I woke up the door was already open and there was a queue to get a ticket; all the people were standing right next to me and watching me waking up. I was like shit thats crazy, I could not believe I did not wake up earlier, good thing was that I just stood up and was already in a queue.
10 min later I was holding a ticket and all looked good.
They started loading the ferry at around 9 am, all the trucks had to reverse inside
Good bye Flores, my favorite Indonesian island
The ferry was filing up fast
At the end there was not a free space for even a smallest scooter. The ferry was totally packed. As usually many bikes and cars did not make it and had to wait few days for another one.
Sitting arrangements for overnight ferry were not the best
So I took my air-mattress and crashed between seats on the top deck
People around had a similar idea
One point when I went back to the bikes I found a local guy sleeping on Matthias's bike; he looked like he was having one of the best dreams so I let him to enjoy GS seat
Something that would be unimaginable in the western world; people here are using every free space to make their journey more comfortable
I felt a bit sad when taking this photo; did I tell you that I really liked Flores
We arrived to Kupang around 4am; offloading a ferry is always very hectic
Because we arrived to Kupang very early we rode about 2km away from the port and found good place for few more hours of sleep
Then we packed our stuff again and went into the town to find a place to sleep. I really needed a shower again, it has been a while since my last one and people around me could smell it. We did not have any food on the ferry so we were VERY hungry. In Indonesia its very easy to get good and cheap food. You just need to find a decent looking "warung" then you het a pile of rice with veggies and chicken for about $1.5
Visit of Kupang can be summarized in few points; I don't want to go into much detail because I don't like that city:
- we purchased stuff for bikes cleaning in East Timor (much cheaper in Indonesia)
- Matthias had to buy a new phone
- my Klim riding jacket was gone
Of course I cannot forget about meeting another around the world rider Geoff; if I remember correctly he has been riding for about 3 years and it sounded that he was not planning to stop anytime soon. He did not have his bike with him, it was a shame because I really wanted to see it. He was riding AJP PR7 and he was very happy with it.
Even though I hated Kupang it was very hard to leave the city because I knew that my KLIM jacket was still somewhere there and that I was leaving without it; plus riding in my shirt oly was not the same as having the jacket on......
The first day we made it to a small waterfall Air Terjun Oehala; to be honest it was nothing special. It was good camping spot but thats was it all
There was actually one very cool thing in this place; it was a family that was living right next to the parking lot. They had a very small and simple house but huge hearts as most Indonesian people have
They invited us inside for a breakfast and offered local boiled potatoes that tasted little bit like boiled yuca and coffee
Once again they did not have much but they were extremely happy to share whatever they had
Nice reports. Some of that Flores stuff reminded me of South America.
So, you had your jacket when waiting to buy ferry tickets out of Flores, it was after that in Kupang when you lost it?
(Sorry it just seems so long ago so you must have been that far behind in reporting. Where are you now and did you get a jacket?)
Ater first day of riding through West Timor it was easy to see huge change in environment; coming from very green Flores it suddenly felt like being in Africa. Trees changed and the whole island looked very dry.
One point we stopped for a lunch in one of the warungs that are everywhere around the streets. After about 20 minutes a western looking guy walked in with a motorcycle helmet in his hand. He introduced himself as Tom from Germany. He joined us for a lunch and shared his story; he was touring Indonesia on his 125 Honda. Then he asked whether he could join us for a little bit. I was quite curious how easy/difficult would it be for him to keep up with us.
Our next destination was very old traditional village in the middle of West Timor mountains. We could get pretty close to it with our bikes and then walk the last few hundred meters. We arrived late and could stay in the first hut at an entrance of the village
It was really cool village; there were 6 families still living there. The whole village was spread over a small hill.
We had a chance to meet one family; the youngest girl could speak a bit of English so we had basic conversation. They offered to make a coffee for us which was really nice from them. In cases like this I like to pay for the coffee; most of the time they don't want to accept money. It was pretty obvious that they are living with very small budget and every little money help them quite a lot, so I forced them to accept the money.
We stayed few hours in the village and enjoyed a peaceful atmosphere. Then we packed or stuff and started moving towards the East Timor border.
Tom was not one of these youngsters that fly to Asia, buy a small bike and then crush during their first week of riding. He owned few dirt bikes before and he knew how to ride them, and I could see that even on his little honda. He was able to keep up most of the time; sometimes when there was a bigger hill he struggled but on a normal twisty road he could stay with us.
We tried to test how fast his bike goes; pretty impressing for tiny honda
We made it to the border around 15 min to 4pm; very quickly we learnt that the border was closing at 4pm. First the officers did not want to let us through because they believed we would not be able to get to the other side. This was Tom's last day of visa so he really needed to leave Indonesia otherwise he would have to pay around 20usd/day for overstaying his visa. All three of us pushed really hard and eventually made it through.
When we were about to leave the Indonesian part and enter East Timor we learned that their border was already closed and there was a gate.
This situation got me quite excited because I always wanted to camp between borders and suddenly I was in a situation where this was the only option.
First I walked around and looked for a place where I could hang my hammock. There were few pols around but then I walked into a brand new building which was right next to the barrier; immediately I knew that I would not be using my hammock that night.
There was newly done bathroom, electricity sockets and perfect place where to put a sleeping mat.
Even though the border was already closed, surprisingly there were many people going to take photos to the East Timor border and then back. Lucky for us it was always bunch of girls with one guy. We pulled out our cooking gear and made some tea and coffee to host them. We wanted to get some arak, which is local alcohol made out of rice. It it absolutely disgusting but locals like it and mainly it is very cheap. You can get one liter for about $2. We tried everything but nobody had it for sale
we even managed to do a bit of laundry and used the barrier for drying our t-shirts
Some more girls showed up and wanted to take photo with us
For some weird reason they came only to me and insisted that I have to wear another magic string. I was trying to tell them that I was absolutely fine and there was not any reason to get another one. I probably need to give some to my brother Ed, I think he may need one or two after his return back to US
There was even pretty good internet so I could do the rr update
when was the time to sleep I just crushed behind a counter
I woke up and the coffee was ready (Mathias was an early bird); I quickly checked the barrier which was still closed so I could relax and slowly wake up
about 30 min later when everything was packed the barrier was still down but a solider showed up which was promising.
exactly at 9am the barrier went up and we were ready to finally leave Indonesia. On the other side there was a lorry from East Timor already waiting
and then I was on my way to country #71; I really enjoyed my first night at a border. I know that this may have been very lucky coincidence mainly because I did not have any issues leaving one country and enter the next one
There were only two things I really wanted to do at the East Timor border
- take this photo.....btw how do you like my new riding jacket?
and stock up on some supplies; this duty free shop was legendary - vodka for $11 usd, rum for $12 and tequila for $13 (on both sides of the border the prices are about 6 times higher); you can see I was pretty happy
It looks perfectly breathable
Your incident at the border reminds me when I wanted to visit the unknown outland for the first time in my life with my small moped (Sachs 502). I could pass the swiss border but was stopped at the Austrian side because I had no green card. (The 14 year old boy never heard of that.) Back at the Swiss border they suspected that I have done something illegal with my Sachs and wasn't allowed to enter my own country.
Amazing experiences! Very inspiring, too. Makes me think that rather than ride home after completing my South America tour, maybe send the bike someplace else.
O quedarse mejor.