Wrong way to Kathmandu - Ural Explorations
Was sitting in a small town Florida bar, had a few too many (those old people mix em strong!), and that Bob Seger "Katmandu" song came on. Seemed like a great idea, just to say you've driven to Kathmandu. So...
We started the trip about a month ago to ride our Ural from Papua New Guinea to Kathmandu, Nepal.
That was the plan in general anyway. We've started in the wrong direction. Began in Indonesia and drove away from Nepal. But will still go to PNG then back across Indo to Nepal. The going has been slow. We may not make Nepal at all. Or we we may get there and decide to keep going all the way back to Russia. The only limitation is our patience and endurance.
It felt weak to post anything before we had some miles behind us. So it's been a month now and we've made it from Jakarta to Bali. We're slow travelers you see.
I write poorly and mostly for my own lossy memory. Some thoughts may be unrefined, blunt, offensive, or repetitious.
I'm known to whine, whinge, bitch, and complain. I'm may also be opinionated and prone to stereotyping.
Encouragement, comments, and angry rants all welcome and appreciated.
Read this post about great Indonesian people:
And this one about the special hell of driving here:
Part one of this trip has concluded, part two can be found here:
Best Of Shown As Pins On A Map:
All Photos (900 and counting!):
Proposed route with my excellent Microsoft Paint skills.
Boxed and ready to fly!
If you want to spend time with some pretty girl on your trip, it's safest bring your own!
Decent wall map of Indonesia. At the Sampoerna cigarette factory in Surabaya.
Thanks for your post. I'm guessing you must be from Oz
hi amigos........this gone a be amazing RR........keep goin!!!!!:D
Love Hate List
Will edit this as my running post of equipment and things that I love and hate. Mostly about gear and circumstances.
* Cardo Systems ScalaRider G4 - Intercom and bluetooth system. Only had it 5 months and it has stopped working completely. *Was flaky and required frequent reboots before that. Cardo was completely unhelpful with the warranty. Am replacing with another brand.
* Indonesian People - Amazingly friendly and helpful. They say that all bikers are brothers and they mean it!
* My Ural - it looks VERY cool, carries lots of stuff.
* Samsung Galaxy SII Phone - Has taken more drops and wetness than it should and still going!
* Canon PowerShot SX230 HS camera - great picture quality, 14x zoom, built in GPS, not too big. Perfect for travel.
* TireGard Trike Wireless Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Never have to get my hands dirty for routine tire pressure check again. Did that glass I just ran over puncture the tube? Now I know with a quick glance. Don't even have to stop rolling.
* Indonesian roads/driving/drivers - just complete shit. Worse than Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc... I don't recommend anyone to drive here. Completely unenjoyable.
* My Ural - Poor quality control, needs lots of adjusting/modification straight from the factory. Terrible rear drum brakes. Only 4 gears. 1st gear not low enough to stop/start on a moderate hill. 2wd difficult to engage while stopped. Neutral hard to find.
* iPhone 4S - got boned from dampness, not even real water, like a wet finger on the top of the phone. Built in map application sucks, doesn't even have directional arrow. Short battery.
We're Canadian-American and Russian.
30 March 2012
After some delays and troubles we are finally rolling in Jakarta. So glad to get started!
Jakarta traffic is "interesting". Doubly so with a sidecar on the right side. Think flying bats or a school a school or erratic fish. Scooters zip around and between the cars like a swarm of bees. These drivers have some balls, and an amazing mental understanding of the exact size of their vehicle and how far the handlebars or bumpers extend, etc... Always coming so close but rarely touching.
There are some other posts on advrider and horizons unlimited under the same username about the experience with shipping and customs and etc...
Our first experience with the incredible friendliness of Indonesian people came in assembling the bike. I'd put a post on the forums about a place to decrate and put together the bike in Jakarta. I got an e-mail a day later. A local girl had got my info from someone who got it from someone else, etc... She offered her garage and her boyfriends labor to put the bike together. In the rain, without a forklift, and substituting muscle for tools, we got it down off the truck and assembled in half a day.
Big thanks go to Gene and Ken at Holopaw who helped enormously with preparation.
I don't know what kind of pics can say "I'm here". Maybe the Ural on the rim of a Volcano filled with coffee beans and being driven by a Komodo dragon? Anyway, just getting started so not much for now.
Clearing customs wasn't so bad.
Forklift would be nice. Also it's raining.
Ural is a new attraction here
These guys are awesome
There are alot of people in Indonesia. 237 million alot. Making it the 4th (after China, India, and the USA) most populous country in the world. Java, the the main island, is one of the most densly populated places on earth. 5x as many people per square/kilometer than Germany or the US state of Virginia. The sheer numberof people in such a small space will be key to our experience here.
Jakarta (like all third world mega cities) has an interesting combination of super rich and super poor. Where we stayed in was green, clean, wide open spaces, and super modern. We took a walk one day. There was a wall at the end of our street. A tall concrete wall with a small hobbit sized opening. We stepped through and crossed in to another world. Poor Jakarta. Incredibly crowded. Dirty. Piles of stinking trash. Zombie cats. Garbage and people and smells everywhere. Too many people in too small a space. I thought it was interesting they had built this wall with a small hole (I assume to let day laborers back and forth so they could cut my nice grass) to separate the worlds. No direct access by road though. Just one tiny hole.
No pictures from the poor side. It didn't feel right to shove my camera at a dirty child wallowing in a pile of trash. It was super disturbing though.
Can you guess which side is rich and which is poor?
Fancy new Jakarta
Ojek (scooter taxi) drivers
2 April 2012
Jakarta to Padalarang 2 (near Bandung) via Jonggol.
Today was complete shit!
The traffic was shit (it took us five hours to go 25 miles but never really stops long enough to rest your hands or find neutral. Just constant clutch and gas control)!
The weather was shit (boiling steamy hot while we were crawling through traffic then darkness and pouring rain as soon as the road opened up)!
My bike was shit (luggage broke off, problems with heat)!
A lesson about luggage planning, don't put your passport or valuables in something that might come off!
My headset (Cardo Systems ScalaRider G4) was shit (reboots every time I switch back to music from intercom, WTF)!
Our luck was shit (Anna's brand new iPhone 4S get's boned from just a drop of rain)
We covered 90 miles in 12 hours. My ass, hands, legs and everything else are incredibly sore. They say the road is beautiful on this route but I don't know since we covered most of it in the dark after spending 5 hours in traffic!
And the good side, Anna is pretty patient, everyone we meet is super friendly, and I finally lured a midget in to the sidecar.
I was feeling pretty motivated and clean as we rolled out from the hotel. Conditions soon to change!
No bikes permitted on the toll rod. To the congestion with you! On the good side the police escort to the nearest exit was the fastest we drove all day. Also no fines involved. Bonus!
Going nowhere fast! Hour and hours of this.
Failure to consider Indonesian roads when installing this luggage. It would have come off completely and been lost forever in the dark if some nice biker guy hadn't waved us over.
I love your post about not posting pics of some poor child digging in trash! Dignity is one thing that every human being deserves. We all like a great story, and we love to live the adventure along side those reporting. BUT...I dont feel robbed at all when a simple acknowlegement alone is made about those less fortunate than some of us. Well played!:thumb
3 April 2012
Mason Pine hotel to hospital place (Balai Kesehatan Saguling) by the lake and back.
5 hours. Not alot of km.
We woke up at the luxury hotel we had collapsed in to last night (the only hotel I could find on the map last night at midnight within a few hours drive). Nice views. Feeling renewd and confident. Sun is shining. Everything is green. I look over the map and find a bridge over a lake that may be interesting. Google says it's about 20km and 45 minutes. We set off at 1500. Plenty of time. The rain starts as we exit the parking lot. We follow an ever steeper and bumpier road.
I say road but what I mean is a road that was built (poorly) 50 years ago in a rural mountainous village and then left to the elements. Basically a steep incline and decline of washed out rubbled former asphalt with deep crevices and softball size rocks. Something that would be better if it was just dirt. + Rain. Driving on the dirt village path is faster than on this "road".
We start to have trouble going up hills. The Ural is hot and performing poorly. The gearing isn't low enough. We don't quite make it to the top of a hill. Run out of oomph. The surface is wet and stony. I stand on the brakes but we slide backwards. Finally come to a stop. Still half way up the hill. Have to smoke the clutch, rev to 4000 and let it slip to get enough torque to move up from this tilted stop. Let the clutch out too fast and the bike kicks like a horse, jumps feet to the right, almost throwing us in the ditch. Once you're going, can't slow down. Gotta keep the revs high. Thrown all over the place across the rough surface at speed.
The key it seems is to approach these hills at unsafe speed and never slow down. Sliding backwards down hills is scary. Front disc brake is useless when all the weight is leaning backwards. Rear drum brakes are always useless. Many hairy moments.
The road gets worse, the light gets dimmer. I think about some of the near cliffs we've edged down and realize that going back up seems very unlikely. Gotta press forward, hope for a main road somewhere. It's dark, there's no cell reception, we run out of gas, glad to have that spare 10l can under the trunk. It's not looking so good. We're thumbing through Lonely Planet vocab section to find out how we might ask a rice farmer if we can sleep on his floor and would he please save us stupid white people from ourselves.
We press and press. Finally cross a (Seemingly) huge, wide, smooth road. We take it. Not sure of the exact direction but this road is going somewhere! There's people, petrol, food, cell reception! Joy! Make our way back to the hotel. Dirty, wet, and laughing at our own stupidity.
p.s. Condensation, nature's way of getting water in to water proof places!
No real great pictures. The Ural almost tipping backwards over itself makes for a great photo op but bad time to be fumbling with the camera!
That hotel we found last night is pretty swank!
A rare flat spot and it's not dark yet!
Stopped for a much needed cigarette and coffee at the first post ordeal shop.
Night and home. We look alot better than I remember feeling!
4 April 2012
Mason Pine hotel to hydro-electric dam and back
Today was the first real good day. We went back to the main road from last night. It looked like it woudl have been a beautiful drive in the daylight and I still wanted to see the bridge. The sun was shining, the road was smooth and there was little traffic. Views were beautiful.
The bridge ended up being a large hydroelectric dam. Pretty cool sight.
On the way back we ran in to traffic in the city again. All are equal on Indonesia's slow moving streets. The horse goes as fast as your car. And overheats less :)
It rained in the evening (as it always does) and I helped some frogs to fall in our giant pool. Awesome watching them swim in clear water.
Everyone moves at the same speed in city traffic. And it's probably more comfortable on the horse than the bike.
Corn spread out on the street to dry.
Great driving today
Actually I'm rolling down this hill backwards!
5 April 2012
Mason Pine hotel to Ciwidey.
About 43km and 3 hours.
Today we're going to Ciwidey, which had been our intended destination on the first day from Jakarta before we realised how slow the driving was. Ciwidey has a white sulphurous lave in the cone of an old volcano and also some natural hot springs for bathing. Our first real tourist sight.
Along the way we passed numerous abandoned narrow gauge railway tracks. Sometimes leading straight in to the wall of a building that had been beuilt over them over dangling over the edge of a drop off like rebar from concrete. Somewhere we saw an amazing bridge over a gorge and explored a bit to check it out. Stone arch and iron trestle. It was a railway path that had been turned in to a village sidewalk and inter-village connection by pouring conrete between the rails. People would drive their scooter across or josh with friends on the narrow bridge. It was just the width of the rails and then a long way down to the rocky ricker. No railing or anything else to stop you from a trip and falllll. Pictures don't do justice to how lovely this old iron brige looked spanning the gorge.
We got back on the road and it started to rain. It rains for hours at a time. We're learning to adapt. Finding the luggage and places in the sidecar that leak and taping over them. Storing our rain gear in the most easy access spot.
Arrived in Ciwidey and it wasn't dark yet but still drenching us with rain. We took the first hotel we found, which also got a nod in Lonely Planet. Clean but basic they said. Smells as good as it looks I said. And I'll just hold it till I can go in a restaurant. When we checked out I looked under the bed to see if I had left anything behind. Wish that I hadn't.
At night time we were looking for an ATM and the only one we found was out of service. Some well dressed local saw this, said he was looking for an ATM also and offered to give us a ride. We declined at first as people helping sometimes turns in to a boondoggle. But he persisted and so we got in to his car. Nice car. Turns out he was was from Jakarta and was working on a geo-thermal project here. We drove and drove. Passed through a few villages and in to the dark night. I started to get a little nervous. How far could the next ATM be? It's close he said. The car stopped in another town to ask if there was an ATM there, then kept going. Actually, the driver was driving back to Jakarta tonight. "After the ATM how will you get back to Ciwidey" he asked? Uhhhhh.... Some silence. It's dark and late. I thought it was common sense that if you pick us up you take us back. 30 minutes (and many miles and towns) from the start of the drive we find an ATM. The driver tried to find us a taxi or bus to get back to our town but there's absolutely nothing here. Finally he reluctantly agrees to take us back. I didn't really need cash right now that bad anyway.
Lots of this
It's a long way down and to be honest I'm not a big fan of heights.
10x more beautiful in person
Get used to the buckets of rain, it continues for hours each day.
Sometimes you feel better before you check under the bed.
6 April 2012
Check out of the awful hotel from last night and find something better.
Drive to the white crater lake (Kawah Putih) and hot springs.
The Ural is crapping on me. We turn a corner on a hill and suddenly I don't have any power. Nothing. Even with feathering the clutch I can't keep it moving. We roll to a stop. Then backwards. Finally roll far enough backwards that there is enough room to park on the side where passing mega trucks won't smash us as they round the curve. Even on a relatively flat spot there's not enough oomph to get this box rolling forward again. There's been a fair amount of Ural related stress on this trip. As rolling backwards down mountain roads tends to be. I'd hoped to have just one "relax and see the sights" kind of day. We even got an early start. But it was not to be. Can't imagine what the problem can be as we were going well and then just puttered out when we turned the corner. Maybe there was water sitting in the air box and it slid down to the carb when we turned. Drain the float bowls, let it cool an hour. Start it up. All ok, and roaring on. Just as we're arriving at the parking lot for Kawah Putih it starts to do it again. Probably the fuel air mixture was rich even when we first arrived but now we've crossed some magic altitude (2000 meters) line and when the engine (and air) gets hot it becomes even richer and just sucks. I remove one shim from the carb needles and adjust the low end fuel/air mixture screw to make it leaner. This seems to be the magic fix and removes 70% of the problem. It still runs like a dog going uphill when hot but at least there is enough oomph to keep rolling.
The lake is nice. But there's ALOT of people. Unfortunately we've come on a holiday and it's close to a major city (Bandung). I know week days are usually best to avoid the crowds but this Friday is off for some reason. We are the only foreigners. We feel a bit like rock stars. People stare. Braver ones ask for a picture with these pale people. We don't mind. They get a picture of us and we get one of them. I'm going to start a collection of all the people we've posed with. We've come up with an inside joke to describe the reaction we get. Imagine if 4 black guys with giant afros toured rural Russia in the 1970's in a Cadillac. That's the reaction we get. Lots of staring. I come to believe that this group of people here today may have more pictures of me than my own mother.
I'm famous in Indonesia!
Don't go to major attractions on public holidays.
But the lake is lovely and it's possible to find a quiet spot.
We're also a popular attraction
A very popular one.
Ciwidey to Sukomulyo, Rowokele, Kebumen Regency, Central Java
via Banjaran and Majalaya
298km - 10 hours
It's a strange feeling when you wake up at 7am to the noises of people posing for pictures with your bike outside your hotel window. It's nice to be riding such a unique machine but also there's a bit of "please stop touching that" worry. It happens all the time though and we're getting used to it. Curiosity absolutely trumps personal property here. Even if I park in the middle of a forest and put the rain cover on, I'll come back the next day to find the cover not quite like I left it, one bungee cord missing, and the fuel petcock and kill switch turned to where they should not be. In city parking lots with paid attendants we often turn around after ten paces to look back at the bike and find the attendant and his friend joyously bouncing up and down on it as if they were in a rodeo. Isn't that exactly what I pay you to not do?
I'm super excited about today. We're going to Borobudur, one of those large, lost for for ages to the jungle then rediscovered by an intrepid European being carried on a chair by locals, temple-ish type places.
Also it feels like we are really getting somewhere now. Making time. The farther I get from Jakarta, the larger the gap I see on the map, the better I feel.
It's about 380km from here to there but I think we can make. 'cause I'm naive like that. Slow learner.
The going is slow. When we briefly hit 50km/h (30mph) it feels too fast, like we're careening out of control.
It's dark and darker. It begins to rain alot. I can't see the road. We almost made it. 80km short. Stop for the night.
Exhausted but need dinner. Menu understanding fail. I'll always remember the first time I ate barbecue sheep stomach.
Delicious BBQ sheep stomach
I just like this shot.
And this one too.
8 April 2012
Sukomulyo to Bandongan (near Borobudur)
Short distance today. I'm sure we'll make it in daylight and without rain. Woohoo!
For the most part the roads are ok. Smooth and uncrowded. Beautiful views.
It's the weekend and we see all sorts interesting machines and people. 6 black harley baggers go roaring past. A skin and bones grampa on a scooter with ape hangers and hand built sidecar. Lots of Vespa clubs. Highschool kids on strange three wheeled things so low to the ground that they have to put a tall flag on the rear so they don't disappear under a bus. Like driving a go-kart on the interstate. Crazy becek (peddle bike taxi) drivers. A truck FULL of people going somewhere. Scooters stacked with impossibly large amounts of beans, rice, chickens, bed frames, and anything else you can imagine. As well as many thing you never would.
Finding the hotel wasn't exactly easy. We go up a narrow path that turns in to a narrower path and get stuck turning around. Ural needs to be moving to engage 2wd so you should anticipate and enable it BEFORE you're stuck. Stupid Ural. A group of village men run over to lift us out of the mud before we even ask.
It's a becek
And the crazy driver
These horses keep getting in my way.
Skin and bones grampa on scooter with ape hangers and home made sidecar. Cool!
Skin and bones grampa on scooter with ape hangers and home made sidecar. Cool!
These guys are seriously brave.
Unexpected cart of pointy bamboo spears trying to kill me
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