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The End of A Great Trip

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4,278 miles — 4 Islands — 4+ months and my trip is coming to an end. Here is my route of the last 4+ months across the archipelago.

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( All Blog Post Photos © Copyright Bartay )

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I was on Lombok yesterday getting ready to think about heading to the east coast before going over to Western Tenggara, looking over the map I had a Forrest Gump moment. After 4 months of riding and seeing so much of Indonesia and meeting so many wonderful people ….. I just don’t need to see any more of Indonesia right now. So I decided that I will backtrack to the west coast and take the ferry back to Bali. It will be easier to sell the bike and get new air reservations there than going further east. So I will quickly catch the Blog up from where I last left off.

After leaving Yoyga I was heading over to Probolinggo knowing it would take a few days to travel the 390km, little did I know it would start raining and not stop for 3 days. In the rare moment over those couple of days the rain stopped for awhile, I would stop and just admire the lush landscapes surrounded by volcanoes and mountains covered by clouds.

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Probolinggo is the city where the easiest way is to get up to Bromo, which has been spewing ash for almost 3 weeks now. I really want to see a volcano so I’m very excited and looking forward to it. I was thinking about staying in a little guesthouse up on the rim, but decided I’d go to Probolinggo and make Bromo a day trip. It’s only about a 2 ~ 3 hr drive up from Probolinggo so that would be easy.

I found a place to stay, I had my own bathroom and a/c but no hot water. OK, but even though it is so hot in Indonesia, a cold shower in the morning is a major shock. But it was a cute little place and the people were so nice I booked it for three nights. Thought you all might see what we don’t get in the west as notices to guests…

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The next day I clipped my GoPro to my helmet (took a sweatshirt with me) and headed up the mountain to Bromo. It was overcast but not raining so it would be a pleasant ride. As I kept getting higher the clouds that covered the volcano didn’t change, I just got higher and closer to them. As I kept going up in altitude it started to get quite cool and it was kind of drizzling but more surprising it was getting cold. I had to pull over and put that sweatshirt on that I’d bought and never used.

As I kept going, the drizzle would come and go but everything had this eerie white cast to it. Then I realized everything was covered with ash from the volcano. Mixed with the drizzle/rain there was a thick layer of mud/ash on the road and at every switchback the rear tire would swing out from under me. All I could think about was how happy I was to not have the bike fully loaded and trying to navigate this hill. The clouds kept getting thicker and the drizzle was now more of a light rain. There was no one around which created a very strange landscape and quiet. I finally made it to the top and there was a guy in a hut that came out to meet me.

We exchanged hellos then the hand gestures and language dance started. Finally I figured out he was telling me the road was closed. There is a road down into the crater but because the volcano was in the middle of an eruption the road and crater floor was closed. He let me through so I could just go over to the rim to look. I couldn’t see anything past 100 feet, not even the crater floor straight down. Couldn’t see, it was cold, the drizzle was turning more into a solid light rain, so I decided it might be wise to go down the mountain before it really started to rain. Major disappointment… no volcano but all in all I really enjoyed the ride. If I knew how to put video on the blog I’d share it with you. Sorry

I hung around Probolinggo for a couple more days but the weather never really changed so I decided I’d head over to the far eastern point of Java and take the ferry over to Bali. That ended up being a 6 hour ride in the pouring rain that never let up for the entire ride. I spent the night in Ketapang, very close to the ferry, it was late in the afternoon and everything including me was soaking wet. I wanted to unpack everything, hang it all up and let it dry out. My evening was planned.

Bali… it has such a reputation but I had no idea what to expect, really. It was a rather short (1 hr) ferry ride then I immediately got pulled over at the gate by Immigrasi and told to park and go inside. I had a feeling they wanted papers for me and the bike but everything was packed away deep in my bags. Two and half months and I had never been asked for papers. They didn’t speak any English up North so I played dumb. No Bahasa! No Bahasa! so they just shrugged and sent me on my way. I didn’t want to go to Denpasar, I was afraid it might be too touristy, so I thought I’d go right up to Ubud. The ferry from Java is way up North and I didn’t realize how far it was to go the entire way south on the island then up to Ubud, 9 hours on the bike and in the traffic.

Well……. What a shock. I have only seen maybe 6 Caucasian foreigners in the last two and half months and still very conservative dress. Not on Bali. It was mostly Europeans and Aussies wearing bikini and tank tops, shorts, what you’d expect at a beach resort. A cultural shock though from the last three months. I wasn’t very happy being there but after a day or two I was excepting it and at least I could get a haircut, a western meal, and pirated DVD’s of all the new Hollywood movies. What I realized was I wasn’t happy being in the middle of it all, so after 3 days at a homestay in the middle of town  I went up the valley and found a little Homestay. It was about 5 km up the valley from Ubud and a woman, Annie was the housekeeper. I was the only guest and we really hit it off great from the very beginning. Her English was pretty good and my Bahasa was getting better? Not really.

I kept trying to ride up to the volcanos but every day I’d set off, the pouring rain would start up. A couple of times I got caught and would just have to pull over and hang out under an awning until it stopped.

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I did finally make it up and down into both craters and went up and over to the northern side of the island. It was nice always coming home to Annie’s and just totally relaxing so I ended up staying a couple of weeks there. Note: After eating street food and in the back country the last 3 months, I thought I’d try a new, hip, fresh food place in the middle of Ubud for dinner. Got the worst case of food poisoning I’ve had in years. Put me out for 36 hours. Here’s one of the craters that created Bali, the black in the middle is the latest lava flow, about 10 years go.

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I will admit it was nice being able to get a great seared Ahi dinner with all the trimmings for $9, I think I was getting spoiled. I did go check out the Monkey Forrest there in Ubud where I found it amazing that people would let wild monkeys jump up onto their necks. Now I eat street food, go crazy in the wildest places, but wild animals??? But they were so cute and not really threatening, but when they did go crazy someone was there to swat them down.

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It’s just now the time of season for planting the rice fields so most paddy’s have the remnants of the previous crop and those lush green paddies were not a dime a dozen. Maybe another 4 or 5 weeks away. They were starting to turn the paddies, plant the new crop and I thought it might be a great little story, so I stopped and introduced myself as best my hand gestures would allow. Gave the phone to one of the workers and he took a snap. You can go see the story at the web site by clicking here.

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Typical ‘car wash’ in Ubud was usually just a guy on the side of the road with a bucket of water and soap. But extremely nice kids, even if they didn’t do a great job.

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It was time, again, to renew my visa so that meant Denpasar where there were Immigration offices. I thought I’d go down there and stay till I got it renewed and then take off. I did find a cheap apartment to rent by the week, so I was able to have my very first home cooked dinner in 3 months, so nice! The apartment was in Sanur on the east side of the peninsula but still a major tourist area. It is my taste, but I am at an impasse to understand the draw of Bali. I found it too crowded, the beaches were not clean and the sun so hot you could not lie on the beach. The sand actually burnt your feet just trying to get to the water. At least it was off season so it wasn’t so crowded and things were cheaper than usual. I wanted to look around so I’d take day trips all the time, over to Kuta, down to South Kuta and it was crazy touristy.

One quick mention, I wanted to leave before Bali New Year but couldn’t so I was here in Denpasar, the holiday is a trip to experience. I met two people from the Netherlands so the three of us went to the festival the night before and it was packed. Thousands packed in an outdoor park in the heat and humidity of Bali. But the next day, Bali New Year was the experience. It’s called ‘Quiet Day’ here and it is observed over the entire Island. It is ‘illegal’ to go outside your home or hotel or wherever you are. The ‘special police’ will stop you and escort you back. You are not to make any noise nor turn on lights, all of this for 24 hours. They even totally shut down the International airport for Bali, no landings or takeoffs. They’re serious.

It was great at the beginning, the only noise you could hear were birds and dogs, eerily quiet. But then that night I closed my curtains, tapped the edge so I could cook some noodles and veggies. After only about 15 minutes they started banging on the gate because they could see light at the edge of my curtains. Cereal for dinner and very glad the day was almost over.

I went into so much detail a month or so ago about the troubles I had with Immigrassi renewing my passport in Yogya. I’m not going to go into it now but let it suffice, Yogya was a cake walk compared to Bali. Indonesia does not make it easy to travel here for an extended period of time. There’s a lot of corruption on Bali, which I didn’t run across anywhere else. So the Visa took over 3 weeks to get renewed, a major fiasco but I got it done. I’m now on my way.

The ferry over to Lombok is a long ride, about 4+ hours. There’s no food or water available to purchase onboard so you need to buy it before the ferry leaves. There are a few seats but in a very hot stuffy cabin like area. The middle deck is open but it’s an all steel boat, so I did decide to go ‘First Class’ and paid about $2 for a mattress. Laid it down right next to the rail for the breeze, a bottle of water, some cookies and I’m in heaven for 4 hours.

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Now Lombok, why would you want to go to Bali when Lombok is just an island away. It is beautiful here, the water is much clearer and the beaches cleaner. The food was great, no crowds, alright it was off season, but I loved this place. I first went up to Senggigi, north of Mataram situated right along the beach. It was so relaxing with nice rides along the ocean, up into the jungle, all over the island. When I needed anything major (fixing the bike or a movie) I just headed down to Mataram. Look how clear the water is, that’s all coral along the bottom edge.

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I want to go snorkeling, really bad. I rode the bike up to the far north to look into getting out to the Gili Islands, it’s were all the boats take off from. There are three small islands about 8km off the main island and they’re known for their clear water and snorkeling. It’s off season so it shouldn’t be too bad. When I got there it was quite touristy and still a bit crowded so I totally ended up spoiling myself a day later and splurged for my own boat to take me from Senggigi up to the Gili Islands and go snorkeling around all three islands. So the next morning I went down to the water across the street from my guesthouse and my boat was waiting. It was a small boat with an outrigger, a canopy and a motor. It took about an hour to get up to the islands, what a fabulous day, clear skies and warm water, just me and Dewi.

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Now here’s the funny thing that never crossed my mind, my mustache. It kept the mask from fitting snugly to my face and I kept getting water up my nose and into the mask. I finally figured a work around but it kind of took my other hand to hold it snug.

My biggest problem though was being thin and already having lost 15 lbs while traveling across the archipelago, I could NOT stay down. I would dive and swim, and swim, and swim and I kept rising to the surface, it really was a struggle to stay down. It was so clear and beautiful it was worth every struggle and every penny to get out there. We stopped on Pulau Gili Meno, the middle island, for lunch and I had the entire place right on the beach to myself.

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How beautiful is this? My day trips around Lombok were just beautiful, pleasant,  and not very crowded. It wasn’t deserted but after Bali it was quite empty.

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So here it is, my last night on Lombok and I wanted to share how I walk across the street, go through an Inn to get to the beach where I’ve had many dinners. Just fabulous.

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Tomorrow I’m off to travel back to Bali and then I need to deal with selling the bike and figure out flights to head back towards Jakarta to start the long journey back to the states. It’s been an extremely wonderful four months, saw some great places, met some wonderful people and most importantly… I met me.

 

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This entry was posted in Indonesia.

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