Wrong Way To Kathmandu - A Sidecar Misadventure - Part 2 - Indonesian Island Hopping

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by bokad, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. Dekatria

    Dekatria Ad Astra Per Aspera

    Joined:
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    Gotta love them hacks, especially this one. Amazingly cool sidecar :thumb love the other pics too!
    #21
  2. Bumpy ahead

    Bumpy ahead Bumpy Ahead

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    I'm native of Indonesia but have not ride that far... Splendid bokad! Keep it coming.
    #22
  3. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

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    Thanks. As I have realized, Indonesia is a better country for to tour by boat than a motorcycle! :) So many islands. We'll keep pressing though. In Timor now and Sulawesi next.

    p.s. The riding in Flores is FANTASTIC is you ever get there.

    #23
  4. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

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    9 July 2012
    --------------
    Dili, East Timor (Timor Leste)

    I'm getting ahead of myself here (and behind in my updates).

    We crossed in to East Timor a few days ago. I was really prepared to not like this place but it has been FANTASTIC.
    After 3 months in Indonesia is was great just to be in a new country. We celebrated by cutting open a watermelon we brought all the way from Kupang in the West. I can't even think now where we found room to stash it. For some reason it was yellow inside. Dili has a strong UN and NGO (aid agencies) presence. That's means lots of very white girls with very blond hair, western food, and plenty of booze. The first night we (I) overindulged with an entire pizza, a basket of onion rings, a couple drinks, and a loooong hot shower. Apparently there is unlimited hot water here. Like I said, fantastic!


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    Celebrating the East Timor border crossing in the traditional way, with a smuggled yellow watermelon. :)

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    REALLY fresh roadside fish in the countryside.

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    Lovely around Dili

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    Jesus watches over Dili


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    This Norwegian guy rode his Royal Enfield all the way from Kathmandu Nepal to East Timor (our reverse route!) with little planning, almost no motorcycle experience, and 0 mechanical skills. I admire that!
    #24
  5. cantseejack

    cantseejack woop woop

    Joined:
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    I know that very well -- all the worse on a long trip in the middle of who-knows where and no idea where the nearest aid is going to come from. God speed you on your travels; we're following (and jealous of!) you guys. :)
    #25
  6. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

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    Thanks! We've gotten quite a bit further than what the ride report says. Just need to update it!
    #26
  7. blackborow

    blackborow n00b

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    Kootenays
    Thanks for the report, looking forward to the rest.
    #27
  8. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

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    15 June 2012
    --------------
    Ende, Flores

    We are in Ende to grab the ferry to Kupang in Timor where our new swingarm awaits (courtesy of Ural who also paid for the shipping). Unfortunately this is not to be. We get diferent answers from each person that we talk to. Ende has three ports and each one is autonomous, no connection or information with the others. We make the rounds to all three to sort out the situation. This is frustrating. The answers range from "yes, it is coming tomorrow" to "no, there was never a ferry from here to Kupang". Eventually we figure everything out with the help from a visiting doctor from Jakarta (we were really glad to meet someone from Java again). One port has a ferry to Kupang but it doesn't take cargo or vehicles. The second port used to have a ferry to Kupang but a ship sank there near the dock over a year ago, blocking access to large boats. The third port does still have ferry service to Kupang and it takes vehicles but.... the boat has been broken for the last few weeks and no one is sure when it will be repaired. So, we're boned. We'll just have to drive the rest of the way to Larantuka on the Ende of Flores and get the ferry that still (hopefully) goes from there to Kupang.

    Anna decides to take a vacation to Thailand and we'll meet up again in Timor. This is fine with me since I won't worry so much about my precious cargo and it will be less stress on the bad swing arm.

    I decide to tune up the bike a bit. Playing musical spokes draws a large and smiling crowd, amused by the wrench banging on the spokes like a glockenspiel.

    There are very very few foreigners in Ende. We did meet an Aussie guy that is bicycling his way across Timor and Flores. His calf muscles were ginormous. Going up and down these hills is hard on a powered vehicle, I can't even imagine how difficult it is on a bicycle. This is his "vacation". I feel like a wuss just thinking about this guy.

    Took a sunset ride along the coast. After all the recent shit I really needed this. It's relaxing and beautiful. It reminds me why I love to ride. It's been such a slog, I haven't felt that in awhile.

    We met Doddy, an ethnic Chinese guy (they seem to be over represented in Indonesia's business world) from Jakarta. He owns a small restaurant and his brother has a bakery across the street. His English was excellent. I don't know exactly why but I really enjoyed his company and came back several nights just to chat. It was nice to conect with someone.

    We have a very difficult time in Ende. We wince everytime we have to go outside or walk down the street. Something is wrong with many of the people here. We feel like circus freaks. People constantly shout at us, follow us, stare at us, touch us, making strange whooping noises and bounce around like monkeys when we pass by. Day or night, there isn't a moment of peace when we are in public. When we need to go to eat or to the harbour, we mentally prep ourselves to run the gauntlet. We've had issues in other cities but it reaches it's peak here. Walking down a market street we reach a limit and can't cope with the rude attention and noise anymore. We walk back to the bike. We're both feeling a bit emotional and trying to talk each other down. Then some guy with a flower pot on his head who has been staring at us from across the street walks over and stands closer for a better look, maybe 3 feet away. He just sits there and stares at us with a slack jawed face. Anna shouts at him to f-off and go away. He doesn't get it, he just stares stupidly. We're not humans to these people. We're some kind of species or freak show. None of the normal standards of conduct or decency apply to us.
    I've had a revelation about all this recently. Will have to do a more detailed post on the subject later.

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    Sunset on the black sand beach near one of the ports.

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    Sunset on the black sand beach near one of the ports. I was amazed that this guy managed to launch that little canoe through the rolling waves.

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    Soccer on the black sand beach.

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    It was a real pleasure to talk with Doddy. A normal guy amongst jackals.
    #28
  9. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

    Joined:
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    16 June 2012
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    Kelimutu, Flores

    Kelimutu, near Ende, is famous for it's ever changing tri-colored crater lakes. Basically three volcano craters turned in to lakes, each a different and always changing color. This place gets alot of hype. It's good bit of exercise and a nice view but no more so than 100 other places in Indoesia. On the day we went two of the lakes were the same color. Do I sound underwhelmed? On the up side there was wild monkeys.

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    Two colored lakes doesn't sound nearly as exciting as three colored lakes.

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    Two colored lakes doesn't sound nearly as exciting as three colored lakes.

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    Two colored lakes doesn't sound nearly as exciting as three colored lakes.

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    At the viewpoint

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    Well, at least there was wild monkeys.
    #29
  10. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

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    Flores is Catholic
    ---------------------
    Flores, Indonesia

    Java is Muslim, Bali is Hindu, Flores is Catholic, just FYI.
    Every island in Indoesia seems to have a different religion. The result of trading partners, power influence, and colonial times.


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    Catholic church near Maumere, Flores.

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    Small village church near Larantuka, Flores
    #30
  11. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

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    18 June 2012
    --------------
    Ende to Larantuka (Flores) via Maumere
    ~ 280km


    Anna is on vacation and it's just me and Mr Ural on the way to Larantuka at the end of Flores.

    This section is the best driving I've had so far in Indonesia. Smooth road, curvy but not too curvy, few cars, beautiful scenery. I even hit 100km/h (60mph) in one place, an Indonesia first! These roads would be twice the pleasure on two wheels.
    Anna doesn't weigh much but it seems to be a tipping point for the Ural. Without her it handles better than it has in the rest of the trip. With her it's like driving an overloaded land boat, steering is a constant struggle. Together we are too much for poor Mr Ural.

    Some of the locals drive their bikes with inspiring skill. They've been doing it since they were 8. And only two wheels, never a car. Scooter or bike every day for their entire life. The machine is an extension of their body, and they know their local roads in an out.
    I follow a guy driving a small bike with a 7 cell chicken coop straddling the bike. He manages the turns at a speed I could barely manage to follow on a proper bike. Even with the high/wide load and chickens flopping about his balance is excellent. He knows I'm following him (he was following me before) and stops periodically for me to catch up.

    The Ural has always gotten strange looks but on this stretch people react in fear when it rumbles in to sight.

    "Villagers are panicked by this green monster and it's black clad master descending upon them. Men leap in the ditch, mothers grip their children tightly, scooters swerve precariously. Eyes are wide and jaws dangle. They've never seen a beast like this, they react on instinct."

    This is all true, men literally leap off the road in to piles of rocks on the side. I check myself in the mirror several times to make sure I'm not the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

    The driving is so good that I don't think about anything else. The trip is powered by two tanks of gas, half a pack of crackers, and a couple cigarettes.
    Snacks and cigarettes are a great way to make friends by the way.

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    Leave your bike for a minute and they are on it!

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    Small fishing/farming village between Maumere and Larantuka, Flores. My fave section of road.

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    Small fishing/farming village between Maumere and Larantuka, Flores. My fave section of road.

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    Small fishing/farming village between Maumere and Larantuka, Flores. My fave section of road.

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    One of these is a live crab. That's good camoflage!

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    On the road between Maumere and Larantuka.

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    On the road between Maumere and Larantuka.

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    On the road between Maumere and Larantuka.
    Moments before they all leapt in to the grass as I rumbled by.


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    On the road between Maumere and Larantuka. Mmmmm...soooo smooth!

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    On the road between Maumere and Larantuka. Mmmmm...soooo smooth!

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    On the road between Maumere and Larantuka.

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    On the road between Maumere and Larantuka. They do alot of work by hand here.

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    Oddly enough the busses here consistently have better paint and sound system than any other vehicle on the road

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    Fisherman's cove near Larantuka.
    #31
  12. Vince_WA

    Vince_WA Rides badly :)

    Joined:
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    788
    Location:
    Tapping, WA
    Brilliant ride report and photos - can't wait for the next instalment :1drink

    I was toying with the idea of doing a similar trip on a Ural after discovering the thrill of sidecaring with a GSX1400/DJP outfit, but your mechanical woes are bit challenging for a non-mechanic like myself. I'm not sure the GSX is the right answer either ...

    Best of luck for your ongoing adventures :clap
    #32
  13. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

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    Thanks! Hope you'll do your trip, whatever the bike, and share it with lots of pics :)
    #33
  14. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

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    Indonesian Police
    ------------------

    A few days ago I almost rammed a police patrol at good speed. I swerved to the shoulder, slammed on the brakes, and fishtailed over an empty fruit stand. If he didn't have his turn signal on it was 50% my fault. If he did have it on then it was 100% my fault. I prefer to believe he didn't. I didn't realize it was a cop until after I had come to a stop and was getting off the bike to 'chat' with the driver. There was a little internal sigh when I saw the emblem on his door. I checked my attitude, smiled, and walked over. He smiled back, gave my a hearty forearm grip shake and said 'Hati Hati' (caution). That was it. No yelling, no fine, no BS. Try that in any other country and see how it goes!

    In reading other people's Indonesian trip reports, the police are usually not mentioned in a positive light.
    And I should say that cops, in general, do not like me. There must be some sort of permanent disrespectful smirk on my face. It pisses them off from Florida to Frankfurt. In 4 months in Indonesia I've talked to the police ~4 times. I've never been singled out to be pulled over. Either they were stopping and checking everyone or I was doing something wrong. All my permits and licenses are up to date. Never had a problem. Never paid a bribe or fine. This despite occasionally going the wrong way down the street and other mishaps. Ditto for customs and immigration. There was a plain clothes cop that stopped to help us when our swing arm broke on Flores. I TRIED to give him something for his help and he wouldn't take it. I had palmed a note in my hand and tried to do the shake and pass. His hand RECOILED when he felt the money. I felt bad for even offering.

    Maybe they like my smirk here! :)
    #34
  15. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

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    19 June 2012
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    Larantuka, Flores

    The ferry to Kupang, Timor left today so I'm going to be hanging out for four days waiting for the next one. I decide to rough it a bit and choose a cheap hotel for $10/night. It's a bit...ummm...'austere'. Austere like no blanket, no pillow, and the mattress is firm and concave. Lonely Planet recommended though! There's also some sort of fumes that give me a wicked head ache. With visions of mysterious hotel deaths (seems to happen alot in Thailand) in my head I flee to some place better. Better as in less fumes but more cockroaches.

    There is a cold water basin that you scoop a bucket in to and then pour over yourself to shower. It's a magnet for ants. WHEN there is water I'm washing in a frigid dead ant soup. They are small ants though and I just don't care anymore. This is the BEST hotel in town. I just try to keep them out of my hair. When they get in my coffee I drink them too. Months in Indonesia will do that to you, no point in fighting it. Soon I’ll be sleeping in a ball on the floor. See what happens when you go away Anna?

    I like Larantuka about as much as Ende. Ya.... not much. Still lots of unwanted attention. It's annoying during the day (especially those damn kids that poked me with a stick. Seriously, a stick, like "what is it? I don't know, it's really white. Is it dangerous? Hey, poke it with that stick and see if it moves...". Also the guy at the pier that put his arm around my waist) but at night I feel super uncomfortable on the street alone. Even the friendly people are a bit menacing. Like those thuggish drunks on the street that wanted me to hang with them and weren't doing well with accepting "no".

    With Anna away I get some female attention. Still, if 10 people tell me I'm handsome in a day, 9 of them are dudes. Damnit!

    The beach here is a dump. Literally. Kids wade through the trash barefoot and shirtless. They don't care. Most here don't think anything of it. Living filthy is just normal. I can't get in to it. I throw a cigarette on the ground and feel guilty 10 steps later, coming back to pick it up. Not that it makes any difference.

    I did meet one nice local guy. Or he met me. English teacher at the highschool. Took me home to meet his family, etc... Nice guy.

    I'm gonna be happy to get on that ferry when it comes. I'm going to show at 6am just so there is no chance of missing it and being here longer. I hate sitting still.

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    This place gives me headaches but I dig the ramshackle tin roof look.

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    This place gives me headaches but I dig the ramshackle tin roof look.

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    Obviously there was no mirror in my hotel room.
    In Larantuka 10% of the people that call me handsome are girls! That's a massive increase over previous cities!

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    Dump truck art.

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    Trash beach.

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    Trash beach.

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    The main street.

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    Vegetable stall on the main street.

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    Local English teacher.
    I've noticed that people often happen to wear the most American piece of clothing they have when I'm coming over.

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    Driving pylons for a new pier.

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    I love the smell of fish in the morning (and noon and night)!
    #35
  16. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    397
    Location:
    Polska
    22 June 2012
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    Larantuka, Flores to Kupang, Timor

    The road to Timor. Well, it's not a road exactly but you can drive, sort of.

    I arrived for the ferry 6 hours early. Good thing too as it was already filling up and if you don't claim your spot then you end up under a truck or on the floor next to the toilet. Not how you want to spend the next 24 hours. So you get there early, mark your territory, and build a little camp. Folded up clothes for pillow here, snacks over there, bag of stuff to keep close so it doesn't get stolen, etc...

    Instead of seats this boat was configured with a supersize sort of bunk bed. Two flat metal level platforms without about 3 feet of crawlspace between top and bottom. At least you could lay down. Mostly. People are pretty packed in. Reminded me a bit of WWII internment barracks I'd seen. I choose the top bunk, later on this proves to be incredibly wise.

    It looks full, you think they couldn't possibly get any more people on, but they do. Eventually the engines fire up, vibrating the entire hull in a relaxing low frequency hum, and you shudder away from the pier. Then the real fun begins!

    The ferry is a little moving village, complete with camps, musicians, animals, pots and pans. It begins the trip looking like a poor but respectable shanty town. Within 6 hours it's more squalid refugee camp. There seems to only one trash can for 300+ people. I'm surprised at the number of people who DON'T throw their trash overboard in to the ocean. Instead they just toss it on the ground. Soon the ground is covered with ramen noodle cups, cigarette butts, chicken bones, and all manner of plastic and packaging. Not consolidated in any way, just scattered as if it had rained from the sky. The filth doesn't seem to bother anyone but me. God I'm glad I'm on the top bunk.

    The bathroom (as ferry bathrooms always are) begins in questionable condition and quickly degrades to cesspit. 300 peasants eating spicy rice and chicken, 3 bathrooms, you do the math.... There is a 6" lip at the floor of the door that keeps liquids and 'stuff' from sloshing out of the bathroom. So it collects in a murky pool instead. Wearing my tall riding boots it reaches a point where I couldn't even step inside without getting soggy socks. I'll just hold it, it's only another 8 hours, right? Anyway, I think something might be living in there. Remember the scene from Star Wars scene where Luke, Leia, and the rest of the crew all jump in a garbage chute? Exactly.

    As the only white man within 100 nautical miles I also acquire a few stalkers.
    Some of them speak pretty decent English. But oddly they don't understand "I'd like to just relax and read and be alone now". It's a bit awkward to be sitting very tightly between two guys who stare intently at your laptop, your ipad, and everything else that you do. It's even more awkward when they are little touchy.
    Some of them ask annoying questions.

    M: Do you know Chuck Norris?
    B: No, sorry.
    M: Do you know Bruce Lee?
    B: No, I think he's dead.
    M: Do you know Obama?
    B: No, we're not really in the same social circle.
    M: Do you know Arnold Schwartzenegger?
    B: Yes, fabulous guy, best friend, talk with him all the time
    M: Do you know 50 Cent?
    B: Oh for F#ck sakes!

    Some of them insist that you drink poison from a plastic bottle.

    Some of them are creepy. "Show me some pictures of your girlfriend." ... "show me more pictures of your girlfriend" ...

    But you are trapped. It's a two deck ferry and there is no escape. Subtle to direct 'leave me alone' statements will not be understand. They will find you, no matter what corner you hide in.

    There were three adorable little girls (annoying, but adorable) that spoke some English. They were nice but tended to crawl all over you. Like a cat, if you are reading they managed to put themselves between you and the book.

    When we finally reached Kupang I was relieved. It seemed there was a real risk of the volume of trash exceeding the volume of the boat.


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    The road to Timor

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    Super old school shout in this pipe to reach the engine room.

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    Stock up on supplies before setting sail

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    The lower bunk, before it got all icky.

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    I admit these girls were adorable. That guy on the left wore his helmet the entire trip.

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    I admit these girls were adorable
    #36
  17. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2011
    Oddometer:
    397
    Location:
    Polska
    23 June 2012
    --------------
    Kupang, Timor

    The new swing arm from Ural won't be available from DHl until Monday (not being on a regualr schedule I really hate the of nothing getting done on weekends).

    Wasted the whole day on Wikipedia. Mainly on esoteric bits of Soviet history. Good times!
    #37
  18. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

    Joined:
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    397
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    Polska
    Anna pics from Flores
    --------------

    Just sorted through these so lets put them up before we get to far in to Timor.

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    Machinist in Labuan Bajo making some modifications to the top box cargo rack.
    The vibration and swinging weight had finally cracked the mounts.

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    Heading out of Labuan Bajo

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    Our dive master dressed in his island standard long distance touring gear.

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    Stopping for a rest is impossible. Even in the countryside you'll quickly attract visitors and if you're thinking about a relaxing sit, cigarette, and crackers in a small village, forget about it! You'll be mobbed within 60 seconds. Lots of noise, lots of touching, everyone crowding in.
    I understand it. This is a once in the lifetime event for these people. Never again will they see a big white pirate, his Russian babe, and their funny contraption. I'd be excited too. Hell, they may never even see a white man again.
    Still, sometimes I would just like a rest with peace and quiet.


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    Stopping for a rest is impossible. Even in the countryside you'll quickly attract visitors and if you're thinking about a relaxing sit, cigarette, and crackers in a small village, forget about it! You'll be mobbed within 60 seconds. Lots of noise, lots of touching, everyone crowding in.
    I understand it. This is a once in the lifetime event for these people. Never again will they see a big white pirate, his Russian babe, and their funny contraption. I'd be excited too. Hell, they may never even see a white man again.
    Still, sometimes I would just like a rest with peace and quiet.

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    In Bajawa Anna found a puppy and threatened to kidnap it. I was afraid I was going to have to take the dog or leave Anna.

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    Vampires of Bajawa

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    Typical restaurant (Rumah Makan).

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    Rusted tin roofs. These became standard after Bali.

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    :)

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    Had some welding done here.
    Colorful!

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    This sign says we are very definitely not getting the boat from Ende to Kupang.

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    Excellent!
    #38
  19. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2011
    Oddometer:
    397
    Location:
    Polska
    Still on Flores
    --------------

    I don't know exactly when it happened but some day, many miles ago, polite curiosity mysteriously disappeared.
    Now we have this. If you stop for gas (or anything else) people gather around and gapingly stare.
    Then they start taking pictures. None of the polite distance or international standard gesturing of "mind if I take your photo". Just walk up, stick the camera in your face without acknowledging you, then walk away. Sometimes they start touching. I want to shout at these people. I've tried. It's pointless though. They don't understand why you are upset, it just draws more attention. I tried to stick my camera in their face as a sign of the obvious rudeness of it but they didn't get that either.

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    #39
  20. bokad

    bokad Difficult Child

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2011
    Oddometer:
    397
    Location:
    Polska
    24 August 2012
    --------------
    I left Indonesia about a month ago to take care of some things at home. Now in Bangkok, updating all the past and procrastinating about going back.
    There may be a darker, more cynical and sarcastic tone to the updates. It was a long time coming but basically we've just reached a point where we stopped caring about trying to be nice. There was a large part of Indonesia where we just hated how we were treated and wouldn't even want to leave our hotel to find dinner. Will detail that later.

    I'm sure it all sounds rather mean spirited. Don't get me wrong, some (most) of the people are absolutely fantastic and normal. We just encountered too many of the kind that weren't and it's left a strong impression. I held it back for awhile out of some sort of white colonial guilt and fear of being a "bad tourist" but I finally discussed with some travelers who had similar experiences so now I'm just going to be direct.

    I've ridden rural Vietnam, Thailand, and a few other "we don't see many foreigners" kind of places. I know what normal behavior looks like in those scenarios. Everything was fine on Java and Bali and then BAM! What we've been experiencing is WAY out of whack with anything I've seen before.
    #40