Posts Tagged ‘Java’


Funny English couple on bicycles (2/4/10)

Friday, April 9th, 2010

After a hot day of cycling we found ourselves in a massive wet thunderstorm. The rain came down and we both let ourselves get drenched in lovely cool water. It was sooooo nice to be cool. We’d cycled 98km and with the rain still going and the light starting to fade we stopped to camp. We turned off the highway down a little side alley, in the hope that we might find a spot to put the tent, however we found ourselves in a village. We asked the ladies if there was anywhere we could out our tent for the night, after showing them a photo of a tent they understood. I think the concept of camping is very alien to them (well the way we do it anyway) so even though we can say the correct words in Indonesian they still don’t get it without a picture. Plus we are European and maybe they expect that we would only stay in a hotel.

Well one lady said that we could camp next to her house, in the garden and took us there. We explained what we were doing and had a brief conversation about money and the fact that we are on a tight budget. They said we could camp for free. Then a few more people appeared and after a brief chat they all seemed to think that we should sleep inside – it was raining and too cold outside they said. We went inside and before we knew it half the village turned up, wanting to see who the people on bikes were. I was ushered off to have a shower and Chris set about cooking some food for us. I came back to find Chris with an audience of about 30+ people watching him cook rice and vegetables. It was like live Masterchef, better than TV said one of the men! All the children were sat cross legged on the floor watching his every move. It was very funny because the rice took ages to cook and Chris kept trying it and then putting it back on the stove. Rice is eaten everyday here, at most meals, so they were watching with interest. One lady seemed to be saying telling Chris how to cook it, Chris replied wittily ‘Ah Rice Ingriss’ -  English Rice and she seemed happy with that.

Nobody spoke much english and we had a handful of phrases that we had learnt, but we managed to communicate well. We said the words Terima kasih and bagus a lot (thank you and good) which they found highly amusing, to the point of giving Chris the nickname of Terima kasih!

The family and their community made us so welcome, we felt like guests of honour. Someone appeared with some mineral water for us and then tea and coffee. They gave us pillows, towels and flip flops (our shoes were soaked)! After we had eaten we got everyone together for a photo, they were very excited about this and afterwards i went round with the camera showing all the children and older ladies the photo, zooming in so they could see themselves – they were pleased as punch. Funny thing is none of them look very happy in the photo – so serious, but they were a very friendly, jolly bunch… so you’ll just have to take my word for it :)

Bangil village

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Hello mis stairrrrr! (1/4/10)

Monday, April 5th, 2010

The next morning we had a slow start and Ryo was keen to get going and headed off – after 2 days with us, going at Liz pace i think he was keen to make the most of the cool temperature of the morning and get some kms done. We hoped that we would catch up with him later in the day.

east java

Now on the main highway to Surabya, the traffic was very heavy with dirty trucks, demon driving coaches, bemos and scooters, old rickshaws and slow bicycles. The noise, dirt and plumes of black smoke do not make for very pleasant cycling conditions. Everyone beeps when they overtake, to tell the person ahead that they are overtaking, so continuous beeping alongside the roar of the traffic and ‘hello mistairrrs’ is quite full on. Many of the trucks and cars exhausts fumes are black and i hold my breath as i cycle through it, concerned for my lungs! It’s pretty busy and you need to concentrate a lot, oh and did i mention that the road quality varies, with whole stretches covered in bumps and potholes – fun!

I remember my brother commenting on Marc Beaumont’s BBC documentary (cycled round the world in record time) saying that he spent too much time talking about the condition of the road which was a bit boring, but i can see why he did. It’s the only thing you can think about when you are on a bumpy road, it’s all consuming… thoughts like ”why don’t they resurface it? how did it get to be so bumpy, how long will it last, I hope my panniers don’t come off, why don’t they build some proper roads, ah a smooth bit, oh no more bumps…” rattle round and round your head.

On the upside, lots of people wave at us and smile as they pass us. People on the back of trucks wave and smile, getting very excited to see us, especially when we wave back. Bus loads of school kids wave and shout to us, bursting into fits of giggles when we reply to their questions ‘How are you?’ ‘Bagus!’ (good). The best one is the groups of young punks, all dressed in back riding the back of trucks looking too cool for school who then unexpectedly give us big grins and ask us questions. Plus we see so much either side of the road too. So it’s quite a crazy, albeit interesting, cycle ride with all that going on!

kids swimming in river

We reached Probolinggo and stopped for lunch. It was really hot and we had cycled about 60km. Probolinggo is a busy, bustling town, not very pretty and quite dirty and dusty (from what we saw). After a spot of supermarket shopping, a barrage of enquiries from everyone and some unsuccessful searching for accommodation, we finally found Hotel Bromo and checked in. I was hot, dirty and tired by now, and to be honest in a bit of a bad mood, feeling short tempered and in need of some peace and quiet. Having camped with an audience for the last 3 nights, I just wanted a bed, a fan, some privacy and a chance to wash some clothes – even a small basic a hotel room gives you that. We did a heap of washing, with a scrubbing brush, some soap and cold water, then strung up a washing line in the room and hung everything up to dry – ah clean clothes. It was nice to shut out the world for a bit too and have some time to myself, nice as it is to have so many friendly encounters, a girl needs her space! After some food it was time for some sleep.

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Reflections from Java

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

RyoAfter an interesting stay with a family in north Bali, we headed to Gilimanuk to catch the ferry to Java. On the way we met Ryo, another cycle tourer and caught the ferry with him. Ryo, from Japan, is cycling around the world and has already been on the road for 2 years, he plans to be away for 7 years visiting every continent and as many countries as he can.

Once in Java, having cooked some noodles we headed north and stopped after about 20km to find a place to camp. The 3 of us headed to the local football field and asked a few people if it would be ok to camp. They said yes but warned us that a football match was about to take place so there would be many people arriving shortly. We set up camp away from the actual pitch with an audience of children who surely thought we had landed from out of space – their big long stares and then shy looks away whenever we talked to them. But they gradually got used to us and edged a bit closer to watch us put up our tents and then to watch Ryo cooking.

The footballers arrived and were probably a little bemused that more people we watching us than watching them play! One guy we met seemed to find us funny and kept saying ‘I can not speak any english’ in very clear English and then fell about laughing with his friends, it was pretty amusing. A couple of the lads playing footy came over after their game and chatted to Chris, they promised to come back later with a guitar so we could have a song or two. They did come back, but rather late and we were already set to go to sleep. Chris went out and sat with them briefly, but they were very considerate and said that we should sleep now. They also brought us a bag full of fruit as a gift, so kind!

side road situbondo2With an early start at 4am we were on the road at 6am and climbed up cycling through some hills in the national park, it was pretty and not too steep. We then had a long downhill before reaching flatter roads and towns. By 11am we had cycled 60km, which is pretty good in my book. We stopped in place called Situbondo for lunch, taking over a small part of a little side alley.

So far we have seen no other foreigners or tourists, so us turning up in the first place is unusual, but to be on bikes as well, is a double surprise. We have shouts of ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Hello mis stairrrrr’  or ‘Hello missus’ about once a minute as we cycle and we do our best to reply. People stop to take photos with us, very excited to meet us and others just stand and stare, or tentatively touch the bikes as if to check they are real, it is quite strange being so visible and attracting so much attention. No wonder famous people get pissed off with the paparazzi!

We cycled on and got to a lovely beach called Pasar Putih where we stopped to have a swim and get out of the heat. Beautiful clear warm water and a deserted beach, it was bliss! Then the clouds came in and the rain came down so we cycled on. After 103km we arrived in Besuki. This is the most I have cycled in one day so i was very pleased with myself.

A local family suggested that we could camp near the mini market shop round the corner. We headed there and pulled up. It was next to the police station and the policemen was keen for us to come in. Initially they thought we needed to use the toilet but we explained that we were looking for a place to camp. The police commander introduced himself and said that we could camp at the back of the station, he seemed delighted and very proud to welcome us. The three of us set up and the commander got another man to show us where the shower was and he also fetched a bench for us to sit on. It was still raining and we had to reassure them that our tent would be ok in the rain, they weren’t very convinced!

Chris and I headed out to get some food and have a little explore as it seemed like a nice little town, but before we had got very far the helpful man, who we now realised had been instructed to look after us, came up behind us with his rickshaw and insisted that he take us to a warung to eat. We were not sure that we could refuse, but wondered if this was going to cost us money as we were really quite happy to walk. We jumped in and he proceeded to pedal us 200mtrs round the corner to the local warung, ha, it was quite funny to be taken such a short distance, and no it was curtsey of the police. We were hoping for some nasi goreng or chicken satay, but this little place didn’t have these, and we ended up having some rice and fried fish instead which was nice. Our man had a coffee and then took us back to the tents, so we never did get to explore, but he was very attentive and polite, and so keen to help us.  Tiered I went to bed but Chris stayed up for half an hour and chatted to the police commander before he went out on patrol.

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