Cycling Day 4
07.07.2010 - 07.07.2010 30 °C
We left at 6:30am for the climb up to around 1500m to visit a tea plantation. Although it was not processing at this time, we went up into the fields and took in the views back towards the sea at Makassar from where we had ridden. Sonia went on a horse ride which was a nice diversion from her group responsibility as "leader of the pack" or LOP for the day. A system had developed where we would have a daily appointment as group pacesetter and Sonia did brilliantly in keepng a caring eye on all of our progress as the day went on.
Climbing on further from the tea plantation we stopped to witness the ritual slaughtering of a goat and some chickens. This was part of preparations for a "cutting the hair" ceremony for a newborn baby. Although it was all pretty gruesome, Charlie's farming background allowed him to assist with the skinning process. The ibu (lady) of the house invited us to stay for the celebrations the next day but we obviously had to press on.
Following more discussion about the state of the road, it was decided that we could cycle the intended route but the support vehicles would only go some of the way and double back to meet us at the other side. It was obvious why this was the case as we went along the mountain road as there were numerous landslides where we had to carry the bikes through. This was not without some difficulty but, at various times, local children would assist with these crossings. A local group even used water from a mountain stream to wash the mud off the important bits of the bikes. We also saw an albino child as we went through one of the areas.
Col had told us how the people here would see very few Europeans so we were quite a curiosity. Part of the calling out from the locals all along the way included the words bule (pronounced bool-ay) and belanda (pronounced blunder) but this was particularly frequent in this area. Col explained that "belanda" was the Indonesian word for Dutchmen and "bule" meant albino. Both terms are used to describe people of European appearance. Blunder had already become the group nickname for Marty who was born in Holland.
Following another delicious lunch at a village warung and much chatting with the ibu, we went up some more steep inclines before starting a series of long descents. The views of rice paddies and various farming enterprises were fantastic. Unfortunately, Phillipa and Marty took a tumble on a slippery surface and Sonia was called in to nurse duty to attend to Marty's cut arm. Marty hopped straight back on and Phillipa took a short respite in the van before getting back on when the gradient of the descent lessened a little. Overall though, this beautiful 20 km descent was a reward for the punishing ride up into the mountains.
Due to the road problems, it was on dark by the time we completed the 100kms into Sinjai. The hotel looked alright but was afflicted with some of Indonesia's famous plumbing issues. At first there was little water in the rooms but we managed to splash enough out of the big tub that is in all wet bathrooms to wash ourselves up a bit after the muddy ride. Marty was unsure of how it all worked and announced at dinner that he had, in fact, hopped in the plastic water container in the bathroom. This tended to re-affirm his Belanda(Blunder) nickname and provided for a lot of good-natured banter.
After dinner, we all went for a walk around Sinjai and shouted ourselves an ice-cream in this fairly strictly Muslim "no beer" town.