A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Neil-Sonia

Back to Jakarta

A Night at the Sheraton

overcast 30 °C

After packing up the next day and doing our farewells to the fantastic people who formed our tour group, we flew back to Jakarta and booked into the Sheraton that is next to the airport. This was some welcome luxury and we enjoyed some sitting around. Ben arrived around 7:00pm and we went for a lovely meal at one of the restaurants before Ben and I made use of the pool late at night and Sonia went for a massage. At the restaurant, we were sitting at a large "western-style" dining table. After experiencing the usual Indonesian space allocation for a couple of weeks, we all looked at one another and moved in closer so that we were only using less than a half of the table.
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The next morning, I flew out to Singapore for the journey home while Sonia stayed on with Ben for some more excitement in Central Java.

Posted by Neil-Sonia 23:52 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Last leg into Makassar

Cycling Day 8

sunny 30 °C

After a few issues with the water (plumbing is an ongoing concern in the rural areas), we had an early breakfast and started the final 93km (give or take several as you do in Indonesia) leg into Makassar. The journey was on an undulating road along the coast through rice, seaweed, corn and salt producing areas. We interviewed a group of seaweed farmers gathered under a blue tarp seeding pieces of seaweed onto blue rope. It was hot, stinky work being done by an extended family group, including some very small children. When asked what they were doing, they said they were growing seaweed to sell but had no idea where it ended up or for what it was used. We also interviewed a lady working in the heat by a fire making sticky rice in bamboo. We sampled this and salted duck eggs to go with our tea and then went on to meet and interview a salt farmer.
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Further down the road, we stopped for a delicious rice noodle lunch at a roadside warung and finally rode on in to Makassar after 530km on the bikes. This gave us a fantastic sense of achievement!

After yoga, we had our final dinner with the group where the ritual tipping of the support crew and the speeches and presentations occurred.

Posted by Neil-Sonia 23:43 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

Up to the Waterfall and on to Jeneponto

Cycling Day 7

32 °C

This was my day as the appointed LOP. A number of us (me included) had a bit of a tummy upset at this stage so we had a bit of a shaky start. Kerryn was the most affected of us but was determined and stayed on the bike throughout. The ride was hot, the country was undulating and we needed a few "nail and dipper" stops until we reached a very steep climb up to a waterfall. I was very proud that I was the only rider who stayed on the bike all the way up to the waterfall.
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After a frolick in the waterfall and a picnic lunch, we rode on to Jeneponto which is on the sea and well known for the small horses that are everywhere in the area. We were all pretty tired and enjoyed the seaside hotel that Col had arranged.

Posted by Neil-Sonia 23:30 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

The Rest Day

Cycling Day 6

sunny 28 °C

This was our rest day and, although it was completely lycra-free, "rest" was probably not absolutely accurate. After a later start and breakfast on the over-sea platform, we all got on a boat over to a nearby island for snorkelling. Sonia and I have done very little if any of this before and, although we were hesitant at first, it was very enjoyable as we looked at the reef and saw some colourful fish, corals and the occasional octapus.
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Following this, we were dropped on a sandy white beach near a small village. The warung owner had just built some rooms and Col had some of us helping to investigate this as a potential stopping point for future tours. His house was said to be the first on the island and was held up by stilts sitting on blocks of coral. After tea and snacks of pisan goreng (fried banana) and other delights, we walked down past the mosque through narrow beach streets. Sonia bought herself a locally made sarong.
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Following the trip back to the mainland, we had lunch and went on an excursion to the area where the famous Makassar boats are built. These are amazing structures and the Buginese ones are built to pretty much the same seven sailed design as they have been for centuries. We watched two being built and interviewed the workers. Of the two boats we saw, one was traditional Buginese and the other was being built by request for a "blunder" (a real one) who lived in The Philippines. During the interview, we asked about the value of the Dutchmen's boat. The man working there said it would be worth one billion rupiah (around $130,000). This is not a lot given the sweat and danger that was obviously involved in creating it. I think that this "blunder" may be continuing on with the exploitative traditions of old. There was absolutley zero WH&S in place with a man welding without protection (well, he did close his eyes) and a man with a small drill on the end of a giant shaft that would have spun him into orbit if it were to jam. We walked all over the ships (obviously the union rep didn't mind) and left when part of the bamboo scaffolding fell down around us.
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Again, the over-stimulation was tiring us and we returned to the "resort" for a nap before yoga, beers and dinner.

Posted by Neil-Sonia 23:05 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

On to Cape Bira

Cycling Day 5

sunny 30 °C

Although we were by now quite used to the dawn, midday and dusk prayer calls and generally found them quite atmospheric, what seemed like a competition between several amplifier equipped imams awoke us in time to wash and prepare for more cycling. To complete the cacophony, several roosters and a nearby cow joined in. After leaving our slightly unusual hotel, we were picked up by the entire local constabulary who gave a full police escort out of town. The cavalcade included officers on old Dutch-style police bicycles, at least five motorcycle police, sirens, more officers on point duty, and much interruption to local traffic. At the bridge on the edge of town , they stopped the road entirely for a round of photos with the important cycling delegation from Australia. I don't think there was a lot of pressing police business that morning in Sinjai.
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After again being treated with far more importance than we really deserved, we continued to climb back up through rice fields, up and down valleys, and up some tough hills. I started to feel like I was on the Tour de France as every, village, town, rice paddy, house, workplace, buffalo and horse and cart seemed to include a voice calling out greetings on top note. We are able to go through the salamat pagi/seang/sore process and received many "hello mister", "blunder" and "bule" calls in response. Occasionally, we also would get "I love you" booming out from some unidentifiable source.

As the temperature of the day continued to rise in this coastal area, we stopped at another warung for some really impressive Buginese cakes and had a complex conversation with the ibu and pak. We also stopped at an area where the main occupation is breaking rocks by hand to sell for rp100,000 (around $12) per cubic metre. We also interviewed some clove and cocoa merchants and chewed the cocoa segments.
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The very poor roads and embryonic maintenance procedures were again in evidence as we went on to have a late lunch at a Javanese style warung before finally descending after 104kms to reach Bira.

The accommodation facilities were cliff top cabins looking out at the sea, which was clear and still. We all had a swim which was marvellous at that stage of the day. The cabins were pretty rustic and were surrounded by goats, cats and barking geckos.
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Following yoga on a platform area of the "resort" which started in the dark due to a temporary power failure, we all had some beers which were very welcome. Dinner was on a small platform constructed out from the rocks over the sea. It was wonderful food with the best BBQed fish I have ever eaten.

We then retired exhausted after another intensely stimulating day.

Posted by Neil-Sonia 22:10 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

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