I am the original 'Uneasy Rider' .. not especially blessed with much natural motorcycling talent, nor am I a particularly courageous motorcycle rider.
Nevertheless I went 'Right Way Round' New Zealand (at least twice) followed by a wonderful ride around Australia.

Then it was up to southeast Asia, around Indo-China, across southern Central Asia to the Middle East, Asia Minor .. and finally into Europe.

Right Way Round - all the way home .. from New Zealand to England, 2-up on a Honda Transalp.


PROGRESS SO FAR - Distance covered across Western Europe: 6,411 km [3,984 miles] - as at Thursday, October-22nd, 2015

Wednesday 13 June 2012

More Java Cakes

Friday, 1st June

As I was saying, we arrived in Jogja at around 2:00pm and soon afterwards we were greeted by ..

.. Shinta, Andy's girlfriend - Andy being away on consignment making a surfing movie off the coast of  Padang, West Sumatra  - and she kindly couriered us around this vast and culturally very important city for several hours.

Perhaps the most pressing job on the list that afternoon was to get some new eye glasses made-up in one of the local optometrist (an 'Optik'). See, I lost my original pair back in Bondowoso, West Java, some several hundred kilometres back. Fortunately, for some odd reason, I had my Specsavers prescription with me .. dunno why? It turns out that eye test measurements are universally translatable, so it was no problem to have a new pair put together. Frames chosen and lenses fixed, all done and dusted .. all in less than an hour! .. Brilliant.  
"I can see clearly now ..

I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day."

Johnny Nash - 1972



That evening we attended the Oyot Godhong Cabaret Show, which is located in the restaurant rooftop of the House of Raminten. Lasting about an hour it was all good fun, I s'pose, albeit a little too much on the 'camp' side of sexual orientation for my taste. In case you're wondering, that's a bloke up there dancing .. Ooh-er!


Saturday, 2nd

Another full day of Jogja touring, again courtesy of the lovely Shinta; this time accompanied by a couple of Texans from Austin, USA - where everythang's BIGGER - who were both also on 'walkabouts' from their routine American lives.

First stop: The 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple of Borobudur, a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage.

Packed to the gunnels with tourists from all over the world, I couldn't make up my mind if Borobudur has morphed itself into a .. well, a tacky theme park?

At Rp 150,000, the entrance fee is about the same as a whole week's wages for a typical padi field worker. And the touts were the most agressive ones we encountered on Java. "You ARE going to buy my 'I YOGJA' tee-shirt Misteer" .. "or a nice [cheapo] hat" .. "or some cheap postcards" .. "or, or .."

[no I'm friggin' NOT! .. fuggoff .. grrrrr!] 

Two major restoration works have been carried-out on the monument, the first between 1907 and 1911; followed by ..

.. a complete overhaul in a huge restoration between 1975 and 1982.This second colossal project involved around 600 people and cost USD millions. After the renovation was finished, UNESCO listed Borobudur as a World Heritage Site in 1991.

The Borobudur Stupas ..

.. inside of which are Buddha statues, some with their heads knocked, or cut-off. Why beheaded? I'm not sure of the significance of this; I'll do some further research, perhaps.

As I say, Borobudur is teeming with tourists, positively bursting at the seams with 'em (that includes me, I reckon) .. and

.. hard-selling touts and souvenir pushers, which doesn't help the 'sacred monument' image.

Still worth a visit though (just about). I certainly wouldn't want to visit Yogyakarta and not look around the temple; and see first-hand the wonderful feat of restoration engineering. It's worth the admmision price for this aspect alone.


Late afternoon

We went to the southern slopes of Mount Merapi, Gunung Merapi (literally 'Fire Mountain' in Indonesian/Javanese); the most active volcano in Indonesia, which has erupted regularly since the mid-1500s. It is located approximately 28 kilometres (17 mi) north of Yogyakarta city.

On the afternoon of 25 October 2010 Mount Merapi erupted lava from its southern and southeastern slopes .. and continued to erupt until the end of November 2010.The death toll amounted to more than 350, with a further 320,000 displaced.

It's quite a sight!

This used to be a deep valley, now completely filled with lava ash.


Sunday, 3rd

Shinta dropped us at the Kraton or 'Keraton', the Royal Palace where Jogja's Sultan [read: Ruler] lives. We didn't get to see much apart from a few glass exhibitions. Not worth taking any pictures, so ..

..we moved [walked] on to the Sultanese Water Castle ..

.. and down into the underground mosque, guided by some helpful local chap who 'attached' himself to us looking to pick-up some easy rupiah. I had no problem with this, as he clearly knew his stuff, was courtesy to a fault and not trying to rip us off.

Interesting shadows cast throughout

We even managed to pick-up some bargain Batik, which is a wonderfully creative cloth that's traditionally made using a manual wax-resist dyeing technique.

The vendor's opening price was US$100 or around Rp 1,000,000 (approx GB£70).

15 minutes later we had negotiated the price down to Rp 300,000 (GB£21). We took the plunge and bought it .. wondering if we had done the right thing, as ya do.

Checking with some impartial locals afterwards we were assured that it was the genuine article (not a print) and was worth at least Rp 500,000 (GB£35). We had done good!

We'll get this stretched and framed when we get back home. It'll look good on the living room wall.
Returning to Shinta's place by peddle taxi. 3-4 km of 'manpower' from a poor ol' boy with just two rotten yellow teeth in his head - one upper and one lower gum. All for Rp 20,000 [about GB£1.40]

Here's a closer look at the transport.


Monday 4th

Andy, back from his consignment the night before, suggested that we take an 90-minute excursion to the coast at Sundak where he and Shinta have a private beach house.

Nice location!

Local fare served-up with cool milk and creamy flesh from the coconut palms all around.

It's time to formally introduce young Andy:

Originally from Coalville in Leicestershire (around 4 miles from Ellen's home village), Andy has planted more recent roots in Cornwall, the Falmouth and St Austell areas in particular .. so we already had quite a bit in common.

Despite our age differences - Ellen and I are old enough to be Andy & Shinta's parent (by quite a margin) - we nevertheless got on like a house on fire. We really enjoyed their company .. and hope they felt the same way.

Some swimming and snorkelling in a little piece of paradise.

Watching the local seashore gatherers searching amongst the rockpools and seaweed at low tide at the seaward edge of the reef for whatever they could find of value; some clams, octopus .. whatever

A hard life, but WHAT a backdrop to your working day?!


Tuesday, 5th 

On closer inspection of the Alp, Andy, a self-confessed motorbike technocrat (thank goodness), soon discovered that I had lost my LH-side swingarm plate chain tensioner, and the two hex retaining nuts. Bugger!

No worries. Within 30 minutes THE man has knocked-up and improvised substitute ..

.. which fitted perfectly. It'll remain there until I can get a Honda original. But maybe I just won't bother.

And so by late morning it was time to leave our generous hosts, Shinta and Andy, who I'm sure we'll see again one day in Cornwall. Thanks for your time and hospitality guys over the four days we spent in your corner of the world. You're the best .. ;-)


We travelled to Cilicap, about 175 km [110 mi]. And landed on a superb (new) hotel called the Dafam ..

.. with Babes!

Meet the receptionist, Heni .. and

the equally gorgeous Azizah, the hotel's PR consultant.

Yunno, there are rare moments in one's life when, if you snuffed it right there and then on-the-spot, it wouldn't really be all that bad, because the moment would be preserved forever. Flanked by two of the most beautiful young women you can imagine .. was indeed one of those precious moments!


Wed 6th & Thu 7th

Over the next two days we covered around another 600 km [374 mi] through a couple of major full-on cities like Bandung and Bogor, and many more townships westwards along mountainous broken roads. It was very hard work, believe me. Take a look ..

.. including some video footage through Bandung city.
[Click-on the forward play arrow]

After a full seven hours in the saddle, in +30°C and 85% humidity, facing and heading into an endless stream noxious diesel fumes, dust and other airborne shite, you end-up looking like this. Filthy dirty, skin and riding gear covered in soot and dust, hotter than hell.. and totally fooked!


Puncak Pass

In one of our stopovers along the way - Pacet township, at the start of the Puncak Pass - we thought we would 'treat' ourselves to some real street food.

First, chose your grub - king prawns and some sort of unrecognisable fish in our case.

Next, make friends with the chefs du jour, intimating [eh-hem] that a tip could be up for grabs later.

On goes the seafood ..

.. the smoke fanned back into the sizzling meat, to perfection.

And there you have it. 24-36 hours later - complete with the worst doses of diarrhoea and squits Ellen and I have ever suffered from .. simply "flowing through", oh yes!

No more of that stuff for us .. until the next time!


The weekend: Friday 8th - Sunday 10th

We spent the next two days laid-up in a completely forgettable township called Anyer, just west of the Java~~>Sumatra ferry terminal, trying to recover from our bouts of food poisoning.

We had previously made contact with a German couple, Sascha and Kerstin, who are travelling overland in the opposite direction from us, but riding on a very similar Honda motorcycle. They were at this time only 100 km away in Tangerang city, west of Jakarta.  With this mind, we decided that when we felt well enough it would be a great idea to back-track slightly and hook-up with them. So we did.


Monday 11th

What contrasts can be found in Indonesia. I guess most see it as a country trenched in the Third World .. and to a large extent it is, BUT

Parorama – click for full view

.. parts of the major cities are as modern and cultured as anything we have to offer in the West. For example, we met-up with Sascha & Kerstin outside the entrance of one of the biggest and most impressive shopping centres that I have ever seen. Opened to the public just eight months ago, the Summarecon Mall is, [to use an over-quoted expression] bloody awesome!

We spent a really great evening - from around 8:00pm to midnight - with S&K. Exchanging travel stories, ideas .. and even maps. You can follow their travels by visiting their blog at this web address: http://www.rtwbybike.com/

.. and their host and interpreter, Ivan, who is head of the Java Honda Club. Nice bloke - super helpful. Thanks for your guidance Ivan .. ;-)

Live groups playing various genres we all around the Mall. We really enjoyed listening to a Beatles tribute band. They were bloody excellent .. and so far from Liverpool too!


From Ellen's journal: click on this link → East to West Java


Time is pressing on us now. We are exactly halfway through this section of our journey. The island of Sumatra beckons, which is now just over the horizon.

Some worrying news from home too, as my mum has very recently been admitted to hospital after suffering a nasty fall. Needless to say, I am in regular with the family back home; and ready at a moment's notice to drop everything and catch the first available flight home, if this becomes necessary.

The next major international airport on our route after Jakarta will be Padang, West Sumatra. and we'll make every effort to get there within no more than a week after disembarking the Java-Sumatra ferry at Bakauheni.

Stay tuned.




[Just had breakfast]

Actually, we are now in Sumatra, just north of the township of Kalianda. Next stop Kotabumi, located about 140 km north from here. Better get going.


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