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Old 07-22-2012, 02:54 AM   #31
bokad OP
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Location: Wherever it is warm.
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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.


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


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


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


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


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


On the road between Maumere and Larantuka.


On the road between Maumere and Larantuka.


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



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


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


On the road between Maumere and Larantuka.


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


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


Fisherman's cove near Larantuka.
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Old 07-23-2012, 10:41 PM   #32
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Brilliant ride report and photos - can't wait for the next instalment

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
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:11 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince_WA View Post
Brilliant ride report and photos - can't wait for the next instalment

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
Thanks! Hope you'll do your trip, whatever the bike, and share it with lots of pics :)
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:12 PM   #34
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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! :)
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Old 07-27-2012, 11:24 PM   #35
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19 June 2012
--------------
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.


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


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


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!


Dump truck art.


Trash beach.


Trash beach.


The main street.


Vegetable stall on the main street.


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.


Driving pylons for a new pier.


I love the smell of fish in the morning (and noon and night)!

bokad screwed with this post 07-28-2012 at 08:25 AM
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:44 PM   #36
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22 June 2012
--------------
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.



The road to Timor


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


Stock up on supplies before setting sail


The lower bunk, before it got all icky.


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


I admit these girls were adorable
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:53 PM   #37
bokad OP
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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!

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Old 08-23-2012, 11:23 PM   #38
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Anna pics from Flores
--------------

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


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


Heading out of Labuan Bajo


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


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.



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.


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.


Vampires of Bajawa


Typical restaurant (Rumah Makan).


Rusted tin roofs. These became standard after Bali.


:)


Had some welding done here.
Colorful!


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


Excellent!
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:34 PM   #39
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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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Old 08-23-2012, 11:40 PM   #40
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24 August 2012
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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.

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Old 08-24-2012, 06:32 PM   #41
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25 June 2012
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Kupang, Timor

I got the swing arm from DHL today with only moderate hassle.
In the space of a few hours I had swapped it out with the old one. This involves removing the final drive, shocks, and a bunch of other stuff. But I managed it by myself in the hotel parking lot. Pretty proud of that. Now if only I could a place to celebrate with a drink.

I give props to Ural for footing the bill and express shipping the part.

Ran in to a traveler that I had already met in Bajawa on Flores. Small world. Not alot of tourists in Kupang so we stand out to each other.
Also met a couple of other nice guys and shared fresh fish dinner at the nightly street market down by the coast.
One of them was German. I'm a complete Germany fan boy and I'm sure he felt a little awkward. Sorry dude!
I'm sure it's happened to you too, when you meet that guy that just wants to gush and gush about how much he loves your country.


Also Anna will return from Thailand soon and that makes me happy.


Swing arm replaced all by myself!



Night market food stall.


Pick it.


Burn it.


Eat it.
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Old 08-25-2012, 03:33 PM   #42
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27 June 2012
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Kupang, Timor

Anna came back!


I think she prefers Thailand.
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Old 08-25-2012, 03:37 PM   #43
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28 June 2012
--------------
Kupang to Soe, Timor

We submitted our visa request to the East Timor embassy in Kupang and headed up the road to Soe to kill a few days while it was processed. Soe is a mountain resort kind of town with lots of traditional villages in the area. It's cccccold up there! But once we get out of Kupang traffic (F you smoke screen dump truck!) the road is nice, smooth, and mostly empty.

There was only one real incident. In general I've gotten used to people acting like complete retards around us. It's like they see us and bodily control goes in to some kind of brain bypass mode. But every so often some asshat really outdoes the rest. It's common for people to shout at us as we drive past to try and get us to stop, flag us down, or to box us in on the road so they can stare or take pictures or whatever. At first I would stop because I thought they wanted to warn us about some road danger ahead or something falling off the bike, etc... But actually they were just idiots that wanted to whoop whoop alot and wanted you to pull over so they could make noises and bounce around. Anyway...this one guy with a kid on the back of his scooter on the way to Soe is really persistent. He starts by tailgating us. Then speeds up to pass before slowing down in front of us and boxing us in. I'm having none of it, I'm pressing forward. So he starts to riding beside us, dangerously close so I don't have room to maneuver. He's making some funny hand signals and I'm just ignoring them. Damn he's persistent. This has been going on for 15 minutes now. Finally he gets the idea to try and run us off the road, start at our front quarter and gradually squeeze us over to the edge. I escape it the first few times but on the third try he's extra pushy, there's no room to maneuver and its either pull over or ram him. So I pull over, thinking "wow, this must be really important for him to endanger our safety and his own, I hope everything is ok". He runs over to us gesticulating wildly. "Photo photo photo photo photo". It's so hard not to punch this smiling idiot in the face. It wouldn't do any good though, he wouldn't understand why I'd done it. To him there's nothing wrong with running someone off the road to take a picture.

I'm sure I sound like a dick. We've been run off the road before with larger vehicles but it was always an 'accident'. They were busy staring at us instead of paying attention to the road. But for someone to do it on purpose? To put us in danger for a petty picture? Could I have pulled over earlier, sure. But it happens so often. If we pulled over everytime someone flagged us down, we'd never get anywhere.


Pleasant path from Kupang to Soe.


Pleasant path from Kupang to Soe.


Pleasant path from Kupang to Soe.


Asshat!
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Old 08-26-2012, 06:11 PM   #44
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29 June 2012
--------------
Around Soe, Timor

There's a bunch of traditional villages around Soe. Each one of them "famous" for their own thing. One of them was supposedly the last headhunters of Timor. Fierce, ever victorious warriors, That was 50+ years ago though and now they just look kinda sad and squalid.
Instead of making traditional clothes for themselves now they sell them to tourists and for that price can buy 10 sets of modern Chinese made clothes.

Still, there were some interesting aspects.


At each village you should give a gift of betel nut, pepper, and lime to the head honcho. Cash donation still required as well though.


A good reminder to wear a seatbelt


Small town store.


A traditional hut. People still live in these, prefer them to more modern dwellings.


The king. No really, that's his title.


The king's homies.


Processing corn. Separating the kernel from the husk. Pretty interesting to watch actually.


Wild cotton.


Cotton made in to yarn.


In one spot you can see wild cotton turned in to yarn for clothes. The first person runs it through some rollers that take out the hard bits. The second thwap thwaps it with a bow to make it all puffy, then the third stretches it out and rolls it on to a spindle. Pay attention, you made need these skills after the (probably Zombie) apocalypse.


In one spot you can see wild cotton turned in to yarn for clothes. The first person runs it through some rollers that take out the hard bits. The second thwap thwaps it with a bow to make it all puffy, then the third stretches it out and rolls it on to a spindle. Pay attention, you made need these skills after the (probably Zombie) apocalypse.


In one spot you can see wild cotton turned in to yarn for clothes. The first person runs it through some rollers that take out the hard bits. The second thwap thwaps it with a bow to make it all puffy, then the third stretches it out and rolls it on to a spindle. Pay attention, you made need these skills after the (probably Zombie) apocalypse.


The result is dyed, dried, and turned in to stuff.
All natural process, even the source of dyes, etc...


The result is dyed, dried, and turned in to stuff.
All natural process, even the source of dyes, etc...
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Old 08-26-2012, 07:55 PM   #45
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Enjoying the report.

Keep up the report. It's great.

"I'm sure I sound like a dick."

... You sound like me actually.
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