Moritz

Moritz, born 1986, the son

Left home at the age of 17, on his first ride, a 125 cc scooter. Managed to turn his love for computers in a respected profession (programmer) and is happy to be able to work where his bike is. Tested speed driving on a Honda Hornet bike, then turned to the offroad section of the motorcycling world. Having spent a volunteer year in Laos, Asia became his second home. Besides the love for traveling he keeps an interest in all kinds of electronics for travel documentation.
Bangkok, Thailand

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.

 Gilbert K. Chesterton

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current distance: 8817km

New Zealand

by Moritz 14. November 2016 15:17


Okay this is getting embarrassing, more than a year that i haven't updated my blog.
Yes, i'm still going!

On 14. November 2016 a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit the south island about 120km North of Christchurch.
Almost 900 aftershocks were recorded in the following 24h.
An even bigger one is long overdue, let's hope those quakes were not just the beginning.

With this happening right now, i thought it would be a good time to show you the beauty of this country.

Back in August 2015 i sent my bike on it's voyage to Valparaiso in Chile (from Brisbane, Australia).
It was getting winter and riding around New Zealand with the bike would have been, well, cold!
I decided to do this country with a camper instead. Tanya was hooked on the idea very quick and flew in from Thailand.

We were about to travel around the south island for one month, got a good deal on the camper as it was low season, here it is:


A Toyota HiAce with a modified top so you could stand. Had a fridge, stove, convertible bed/eating table. All we needed really. I did not like the idea to drive anything bigger than that on those narrow roads.





Hammer Springs, very close the where the current earthquake has struck, i wonder if this bridge survived...


very rough sea, not the place to take a bath


It started sunny and warm


but landscapes changed very quickly into a winter-wonderland


sometimes icy but never as bad that i had to use snow chains  


The view from Mount Hutt, went snowboarding there, tiny compared to most ski areas in the alps but great fun.






The Kiwis did a good job keeping the roads free


This night it had around -8 degrees and -18 in a nearby village, when we woke up there was an icicle hanging down from our sink. The insulation of the van was very bad, same temperature inside as outside. We tried to use as many free camps as possible to keep the costs down, but those nights we stayed on a paid campground we also paid for electricity and used our electric heater, which was really really nice.
Also i found out that i had to use the fridge not to cool things, but to keep things 'unfrozen'. 
My glorious idea to just keep the beer outside because it would be cool enough was not so glorious after all :)


Big smelly seal





Looking for seals...



The stunning view from some fellow overlanders home, they kindly hosted us in beautiful Wanaka


One thing that is really better being in a Campervan vs. Motorbike is that it's so easy to go on hikes, park, jump out, lock van, go. With the bike i rarely do hikes because i can't lock all my stuff and changing gear takes quite some effort.



Short hike to a waterfall, many baby seals along the way



We splurged a bit on a Whale-watching flight in Kaikoura, a town that is now completely cut off from the rest of the country due to the earthquake.




View from the air, plenty of seals on this picture


A whale, unfortunately i can't remember which one


Almost every night we had fantastic clear skies.

New Zealand is probably one of the most photogenic countries I've been to, Snow-caped mountains and never far away from the sea, really hard to beat that. Kiwis are very friendly and welcoming people, i hope they will be able to get their road network fixed very soon so they don't loose too much money on tourism, high season is starting now.

Apologies for the short post without much details, things are keeping me busy, i will leave South America on 2. December direction Cuba, hope to write a big post about the adventures on this continent before that.

Moritz

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Moritz

Australia

by Moritz 13. September 2015 12:48


Australia, i never expected much of it, in my head it was just a very expensive country that has lots of kangaroos and the worst prime minister the world has ever seen (luckily for the Australians, and human race, he got voted out today!).
In total I spent about 3 month there, which is not really long for a country of this size.
I can't say that mainland Australia is raking very high on the countries i traveled so far, but this is just because i dislike developed countries in general. I need a bit of chaos to feel comfortable.
Having said that, there is some awesome riding, wildlife and nature in Australia that is truly unique.

My time in Darwin started with a bit of a shipping odyssey, almost a month delay in total and the most incompetent and unfriendly handling so far, ANL, one of the very big companies in the shipping business is really best to avoid. Unfortunately for the connection Timor-Leste -> Darwin there is no alternative yet.

Luckily a fellow biker took me in for two weeks, on his 5 acre land near Darwin.
Really not a bad view to wake up, beautiful place he had built on his own


Dave also happened to be a good chef, what a welcome dinner.

 
Getting the bike out took almost two weeks, lot's of time to do other stuff :)


Remember the 1 week cleaning marathon in my last post? this is the guy that decides if it's contaminated or not.
Contaminated could mean lots and lots of money, every time he comes to the depot, 170 AUD (around 130 Euro) are due (per 30min!). It's quite strict, he rolls around under the bike with some trolley and flashlight, opens up every part of the luggage, especially the ones hard to clean, toolboxes, tent, shoes...
But all good, he was nice and rather happy that my bike was so clean, less work for him he said.

Besides other bike paperwork i had to get a road worthiness test. No problem, i had ordered some spare parts in advance to Dave's place and the bike was in good condition. I checked lights and breaks before i left for the 20km ride to the check-station,
all good. When they were checking my lights, my rear light didn't work, i couldn't believe it, after all these KMs since Germany i never had a problem with it, and i was sure it was still working 20km ago. They were kind enough to let me check on spot what the problem was, indeed the bulb was blown out. I just couldn't believe this bad luck, fortunately the next service shop was not far and as we are in a big-bike country, my bulb size was readily available.

 
After all the hassle with the bike it was time to say goodbye to my generous host Dave and finally hit the road


A termite mound in Litchfield National Park


First night camping somewhere along the 2800km long Stuart Highway that stretches from Darwin to Port Augusta, it crosses Australia in the middle north<>south. People who like long distance riding on tarmac without any change of landscape, like my dad, must love this one.
I didn't.


Marble rocks, somewhere along the road


Aboriginal art


Good roads, beautiful colors and some small mountain ranges ahead, on the way to Kings Canyon

 
You see about 1 car per hour, so pictures like these are easy to do. i wouldn't try that in Asia.

 
Tarmac gone, for the next 180km it's just dirt. Heavily corrugated stuff with some soft patches in between. Hitting sand with ~90km/h is really testing your nerves. You have to keep a certain speed to get over the corrugations. On the first 2km where i tried a speed of around 60km/h my fuel gauge stopped working, no more rear light, no more turning signals, lost an oil canister (sorry nature)...
Just everything vibrated loose.


First night freecamping, wild horses came to visit during the night.


Lonely roads


Mt. Conner, often mistaken for Ayers rock :)


Uluru, Ayers rock, only from the distance, after riding an 800km detour to come here, i was too cheap to pay the 18$ tourist ripoff price to enter the newly created "National Park" that was declared in a ~5 km radius around the rock.  


A beautiful road train of yet another shipping company i cannot say many good things about.


Overtaking these beasts takes a while on my rather slow Transalp, but the lack of traffic on the Stuart Highway gives you plenty of time.


One of my favorite places in Australia, Coober Pedy. An active opal mining town.

I also tried my luck with noodling, that's how they call the search for Opal in the dumps of the mines here. Didn't find much tongue emoticon

Coober Pedy is the Opal capital of the world, everywhere you can see mining going on. Many people live below-ground to avoid the heat, so did I for a night. An underground campsite, what a special way of camping. A free mine tour was included, the owner explained step by step how to go mining here. Everything from Permits to how to make dynamite was explained in detail. Highly recommended if anyone ever comes to Coober Pedy.

 
on the way to my tent

 
Constant 20 degrees in here, while it's very cold or bloody hot outside.

 
Yes, you get your booze in a paper bag here!

 
Test-drills to check for Opal near Coober Pedy


Access to most mining areas is forbidden nowadays, too may people made a wrong step when taking pictures.


A dry salt lake. I was very surprised to see another car there as it was quite difficult to reach, but turned out they were looking for a geocache hidden on the train tracks :)


You can't see it on this picture, but trains along this track can be incredibly long


An airfield in the Flinders Ranges National Park, there were supposed to be many kangaroos around dusk. They didn't lie, saw about a hundred. They are very shy in the wild, difficult to make a picture without tele-lens


Fantastic tracks in the Flinders Ranges, on Mainland Australia this was by far the best place for riding i found.



riding back to my campsite from the top of a hill.


Emus

 
These guys are serious trouble if you hit one on the road. What i didn't know, there are actually many different roos, small ones, big ones, huge ones, gray ones, white ones, brown ones...

 
it's really quite a funny sight to see these animals hopping around


Okay seen a kangaroo, now it's time to eat one. I went for a Kangaroo burger, but minced meat tastes the same for me, 
no matter if it's kangaroo or pork, beef...


Still in the Flinders!


simply stunning


Unfortunately it was freezing cold, the day before i had to stop riding, 9 degrees and strong wind was a nasty mix.


an opossum

The famous great ocean road next...
 
I thought that's the first snake i saw in Australia, but it turned out to be a legless lizard :)

 
They call(ed) it the London bridge, but the real bridge already collapsed a while ago.


12 Apostels how they look now, about 7 are left, the others have been taken by the sea. Soon the massive tourism complex they built around here will be useless.

 
I only have a 18-55mm lens, animal pictures just don't work out very well, a koala...


 
beautiful birds everywhere

 
Even on my bike.

I reached Melbourne and had to make a decision on how to proceed. I wanted to go to Tasmania, but It was already very cold in Melbourne, Tasmania showed an average of 10 degrees. Back and forth with my decisions, i finally booked the ferry, and god would I have regretted the decision not to go...

 
The Western Explorer, 80km dirt track along the west-coast, i was in the right mood, this ride was amazing. Usually there is always bad weather on the west-coast, i got very lucky...

 
Camping next to a river and bridge, nobody around at all.

 
The next morning was very foggy, gave the ride a really cool feeling

 
Massive trees along the way

 
And a small barge in the end to cross the river. The "Fatman's Barge"

 
Lot's of gold mining has been done here in the past, now the nearby town, that used to be in a gold rush is in fast decay

 
Strange patterns made by the sea

 
A blowhole, I've never seen one before, actually didn't even know the word. Watching it made it very clear.
Waves push water through a small channel and slash it against a wall of rock.

 
Tasmania is small enough that the coast is never far away, therefore a lot of spectacular views during a day of riding.

 
reaching campsites often looked like this...

 
saw this little guy on a morning hike

 
I love shipwrecks


Riding up Mount Wellington, it's just next to Tasmania's main city, Hobart. A really nice city btw.

 
Fresh Oysters anyone? I didn't know the rules, so i did not dare to try, but if you know the area, and Oysters,
you might just take one and slurp it.

 
Bruny Island, could not recommend it enough, on the right side you ride, on the left side you sleep.

 
I felt like i haven't had a real adventure for a while, so i turned into a forest road that had a sign "4WD Only".
It was pretty awesome till...

 
it became rather muddy and...

 
...this

 
The worst spot possible, in the middle of the track, going forward was the same distance as going back, i knew that i didn't like to go back but i also didn't know how bad the road is gonna get if i continue. Nobody is taking this road, at least i haven't seen anyone since i turned into here. There were about 1 1/2 hours of daylight left.
It took a while, but I was able to pick the bike up, strap the ripped off pannier back on it temporarily and continue further.

 
I was taking it very easy then, hoping to still make it out of the forest with some sunlight left


It was too nice to not stop and make a few pictures though


the other end of the track


...i made it, what a relief :)


Just had to find a place to put up my tent, the beach was too sandy, but found something very close...


Some more beautiful riding the next morning


I was always looking for Penguins, never saw any in Australia, but who belong these footsteps to?


A nice free campsite along the Bay of Fires


I like waking up early (and going to bed again after :P)


The ride on the Spirit of Tasmania was a bit more bumpy than last time when i arrived here,
waves reached 3 to 4 meters. The bass strait is notorious for being one of the roughest seas in the world.
I did indeed feel seasick a bit, but i'm not sure if that came from the beers that i had at the bar.


Last ride around town before boarding the ship.


Back on the mainland i continue east.


Curious tent neighbors


cute too


I decided to give night/star pictures another chance with my cam/lens, but i could not get much out of it.


The great pacific road just a bit south of Sydney, even in the rain i enjoyed that one more than the great ocean road. It really goes along the sea, some fantastic views, but unfortunately no stopping for pictures.


Sydney, i like big cities, and that one really made some impressions.


I stayed longer than usual too, when i was riding into the city my clutch cable snapped. The locals weren't really helpful, i had to fix that on spot by myself. After two hours the owner of the Lebanese restaurant i broke down in font of arrived. First thing he said, "do you need some help", i explained him what the problem is, he could not help me with it, but brought me a delicious kebab and a coke and also offered me to sleep in his restaurant if i can't fix it today (it was already dark).
That changed my mood and made the fixing much more relaxed. Luckily the only "spare" that i carried at that time was a russian clutch cable. It would not last for long, but it got me back on the road.


Thanks for the support Antoine


A shipwreck near Sydney, it was supposed to be a temporary location of the wrack, but then plants started growing on it and they decided to leave it there.


It's a place i had found on some "Abandoned Places" website. There is a big community of people who look for abandoned things, Airplanes, Ships, Trains, Buildings, Towns...


The Harbour Bridge in Sydney


Sydney by night


The opera house, wow.


It got similar features as the Allianz arena in Munich, just a bit more sophisticated.


The blue mountains


Fancy a hike?


I was riding a small track along the coast, suddenly there were huge sanddunes next to the road.


Salmon fishing


I'm a star, get me out of here!!
Most of you might know this TV show ("Junglecamp" in Germany), I went to their "secret" filming location "in the jungle", it's a very nice area, but not really "deep in the jungle", got as close as 850m to the camp on more or less public roads.


Nobody was in there but it was already a private road, i might have gotten into some trouble going further. Cameras everywhere.


I tried to go closer to the camp by using some dirt-track, but 850m was as close as i could get.


That's a Big bike!


I'm not sure if this was Brisbane or the sunshine coast, but somewhere along the way.

Brisbane was the last stop for me, the 3 month visa was running out and i decided to finish my Australia trip here. Originally I planned to go to New Zealand with the bike, but it was winter there and i would have had to clean it 100% once again, not to mention the costs to get it there...


With lots of help from another awesome biker, Stef, I manged to get the bike ready for its transport to another continent.
For the first time i had to crate the bike. Wasn't as easy and quick as I had thought.


But we did it, including loading this crate on a small road assistance truck without forklift!


There are so many more stories and pictures about Australia, so many more great people that hosted me,
but i just don't find the time to write this blog post in the length it would deserve.
It's already more than half a year ago when i started riding there, so this is it, i hope you still enjoyed it.

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Moritz

Island hopping - Java to Timor Leste

by Moritz 19. April 2015 19:16


fuer Deutsche Version (Google Uebersetzt) hier klicken

It was a short ferry ride to the next of many islands, Java.
Only 1/3 the size of Sumatra, but 143 Mio. people compared to 50 Mio. 

And it seemed that everybody owned a car, it's known for terrible traffic, so i tried to find a way around the worst (Jakarta),
but failed when i found myself in a 20 km traffic jam because people went for a long weekend and a truck got stuck in the mud blocking both lanes.
I was actually going the opposite direction of the traffic jam, but both lanes had been taken over by people who thought they could overtake some other cars and then never found a spot on their lane again (or they just didn't care). 
So a lot of it i had to ride on the side of the road, through private gardens and standing traffic, it rained a lot, so all turned into mud and got really interesting. Unfortunately no pictures. 

A few days in the crowded Art-Capitol Bandung, where i had a drink in the "Soldatenkaffee", named after a German military cafe in WWII’s occupied Paris. There were many articles about it in German and International media.
When the owner opened it the first time it didn't take long till he got the first death threats and subsequently closed the establishment. About 2 years later it reopened, less offensive, more educational.




One has to understand that in many South-East-Asian countries Hitler is seen as a great conqueror, this is how the youth sees it and to my knowledge this is what they get told in school. Westerners are often surprised by the lack of knowledge about these wars, but how many know about the Khmer rouge and Pol Pot for Example?

After Bandung it was a rather smooth ride to Jogjakarta, where i had to extend my 2 month tourist visa for another month. Took me a week and was the most complicated, stupid, unfriendly visa procedure ever. Not to mention that they take a bio-metric photo, all fingerprints and a digital signature. If someone want's to steal my identity, ask the Indonesian government for all the data you need :/

Around Jogjakarta are some major tourist attractions, Borobudur and Prambanan, each costs around 250.000 rupiah (~18 Euro) for foreigners, which for Indonesia, is an exorbitant high price. Especially if you know that most of the money goes into private pockets and not in the preservation of the sites. I usually try to find ways around (climb a nearby mountain, use a back-entrance etc.), but for those two i could not find a good way...


Borobudur


Prambanan

It's not only about the money, if i pay a high entrance fee for something i start expecting something, way too much usually,
so i would not enjoy it at all and feel bad the whole day for spending that money.

Never mind, it's only 2 of the ~30 temples in that area. The others are usually free or cost ~3000 rupiah (0.25 Euro)

My local biker-friend Munawir brought me to one sitting on top of a mountain, overlooking the city of Jogjakarta, you could see the airport and the planes flying in and out, great! (If someone should go to Yogya, ask the locals for Ijo Temple!)


Sure i came here to see the temple...


With an extended visa in my passport i said goodbye to my programmer friend Daniel and continued south-east, direction coast.

What i did not know was that on the day i arrived in the tiny surfing-town of Pacitan, the biggest Vespa meeting in Indonesia took place. Some folks came thousands of kilometers from other islands, which took them weeks to accomplish. Why? See yourself:

Called a rat bike here in in Indonesia, but it still is a Vespa, more or less anyway...


Not exactly "roadworthy" for western standards, but even Indonesian police was giving them a hard time (well, there is nothing that can't be solved with a few $$$).


Most of them were really dirty (no wonder after the rides they had behind them), so i did fit right in :P

I found a place for the night and took off the next morning, had a great time riding a beautiful mountain road till all of the sudden  a truck-driver decided to crash his truck into my right pannier.
To explain the situation, i was going uphill @~60km/h just after a sharp bend, even being on the left side of my lane (left-side traffic in Indonesia), a small truck came the opposite direction neatly driving on his lane as he suddenly pulled right and straight into me. I assume he wanted to use my lane to drive the bend with higher speed and completely overlooked me. Sight was perfect though.
It ripped off my pannier and crashed the bike, only coming to a halt about 20cm before a several meter drop. Lucky me. 

The "stopper" is a joke, it just moved together with me and the bike.

I was basically unharmed, a few bruises where i hit the ground, nothing really. 
My equipment was in worse shape...





Had the Nikon attached to the front of the pannier that got hit. It still worked, but you had to hold everything together, mounts were broken.


No damage on the truck, he just quickly bent something back


This is the driver, as expected he could not speak a single word of English, but at least he stopped and did not flee the scene.
He also spent the next 4 hours with me trying to hammer the pannier back into shape and provisionally attaching it to the bike.
Unfortunately the rack on the bike was also bent, it took me several days (and attempts) to get things into an OK state.
I also lost most things inside the "kitchen pannier", some things could be bent back (my pots), but others were beyond repair.

I took a day off (sitting in a hotel room watching tv series) and continued my trip.
The highlights of Java were yet to come. 
First was the Bromo Volcano National Park, some really steep muddy track to get into the crater, but then tight black sand, incredibly nice for riding :)


unreal landscape







When i left the crater i met a group of Chinese/Indonesian people with offroad-bikes, buggies and proper 4WDs.
(not something you see very often in Indonesia)
The owner of these, a wealthy businessman, invited me to stay in his guesthouse, which i happily accepted.
He also had an off-road bike factory (production in China and assembly in Indonesia). Was test-riding a fresh production of 100cc monkey bikes :)

After a few days i continued east to Gunung Ijen (Ijen Volcano), which turned out to be my favorite experience on Java. 
It's a volcano complex that has sulfur mining in operation. Sulfur-laden baskets are carried by hand from the crater floor to the next village, miles away.


Blue fire, ignited sulfuric gas


it's a very toxic environment, but nobody has proper gas masks etc. 


The walk up the crater is not the easiest, loose ground and a bit of jumping from stone to stone, these guys do it with up to 100kg on their shoulder!


It's a two hour hike to the next village


Most workers do the whole trip 2 or 3 times a day, each time taking several hours. The weight of around 80-90kg on their shoulders destroys their body, most have a dis-allocated collarbone, a constant open wound and other things.
They earn about 150.000 rupiah (~10 Euro)  per 100 kg Sulfur that they deliver. 
Who thought his job is hard?


what a view

Sun is rising

Another ferry and i reached Bali, where i mysteriously can't find a single picture right now. 
It is certainly not my favorite island for traveling, way too many people (locals and tourists alike) that jam the few roads that exist, party-tourism and much higher prices. But i had to get some work done, so it was a nice, easy place for that matter. 
I also found some great places and fantastic farmer roads, really wonder where these pictures are...
Also worth noting is that Bali is mainly Hindu, not Muslim, which made for a nice change.

Anyway, next ferry, this time a rather rough one -> Lombok. 
I did Lombok in 2 days, nothing special to see for me, the 3726m high active volcano Rinjani was unfortunately closed due to monsoon season. Indonesia's tourism authority is trying to promote Lombok to ease the Tourist flow in Bali a bit, an international airport has been built and a few "tourist towns" were created... 

The next Island i sat foot on was Sumbawa, very different, very quiet, basically no tourism, a good very scenic highway that runs trough it, a lot of horses and nice people.


I wanted to do a loop around a volcano, but all fuel stations that i found were dry, had to turn back...

Buffalos

Leaving the port of Sumbawa, on to the next island, a very special one, Flores!


It was a nice warm night, no cloud in the sky (later on). I put my sleeping mattress on the top deck and slept under the stars.


Port town of Labuhan Bajo, Flores


Flores is famous for the neighboring Komodo Island, that inhabits dragons. Dragons? 


On the way to Rinca Island where the dragons live, a bit closer than Komodo, but with the rough sea this time of the year often the only choice.


A Komodo Dragon, these lizards can be real killers, a short quote from National Geographic:
"When hunting, Komodo dragons rely on camouflage and patience, lying in bushes or tall grasses until a victim passes by. They pounce on their prey with powerful legs and sharp claws, then sink their jagged, shark-like teeth in.

An animal that escapes the jaws of a Komodo won't feel lucky for long. Dragon saliva contains large amounts of bacteria, which poisons their victims, usually within 24 hours. Dragons will calmly follow their bitten prey for miles, using their keen sense of smell to find the corpse. They have huge appetites and have been known to eat up to 80 percent of their body weight in a single feeding."


a typical victim of the dragons


One has to walk around the island with a guide, for protection. If their stories are true then this is more than justified.
A few people (locals) die every year because of dragon attacks they said.


even dragons prefer the beaten path!


a short stop on the way back to Labuhan Bajo. Found a geocache on top of the hill :)


There is one highway trough Flores, a beautiful paved road in good condition.

 
if you leave that highway, roads become really bad. But it was worth leaving it, found some very scenic coastal roads and a hedgehog crossed a totally overgrown path just in front of me. I never stop on bad roads to take a picture, so all roads on the pics look easy :)





In Asia the rural kids that are slightly older than their brothers/sisters always seem to get into a caretaker role very quick.
Almost never I've seen kids fighting which each other. Well, there is not much to fight about anyway.
They have a simple but very happy childhood in my opinion. 

 
These are the local toys, they must teach how to build those in school, have seen similar ones very often


Bena, a traditional village on the foot of Mount Inerie. Unfortunately turned into a tourist attraction (but no mass-tourism here).
Luckily though there were other villages, less impressive on the picture, but more authentic.
By the way, due to the colonization of Flores by the Portuguese in the 16th century, it is Roman-Catholic, not Muslim. 


One of the nicest beaches I've ever found, except for two fisherman nobody there.


Riding into the mist


I met a few travelers on Flores, some been there before and told me they got Malaria when they came the first time. Indeed, Flores is a higher risk level than the other islands that i crossed before. The incubation period of malaria is about 7 to 30 days and the Test is quick and easy i got told. Arriving at the very east of Flores, in Larantuka, i decided to just quickly do that test in the local government hospital. 
 

A nurse took a drop of my blood and told me to wait 30 min. 50 min later i was asked to see the doctor,
who then told me i had Malaria Vivax (the less severe form of Malaria)

 

Enough to make me scared, they gave me a prescription for 2 different pills and a basic guidance how long/often to take them.
Not many people spoke English up there, so i did not feel that it would be a good environment to try out some pills there (the price of 0.50 euro for the pills did not inspire confidence either).
I checked all i could online, sent a mail to my insurance and my uncle who luckily is a doctor, in the evening i went to the travel agent in town to check for flights to Kupang, where they recently opened an international hospital. First they said the airplane would be full but then one seat got vacant while i was still sitting there, already handing my passport over to book it, Vonny, the owner of the shop told me there would be another hospital in town, which might be a bit better. 
She also spoke very good English, so i got more confident to stay in Larantuka and take those pills.
I did not book the flight and went to the Christian Hospital she had mentioned the next morning. (the flight didn't leave anyway, bad weather)
Over there i was greeted by 10 friendly nurses and one Chinese doctor girl, younger than me. They did another test and told me i don't have Malaria.
End of story :)

...Lessons learned, always double check, especially in rural Asian hospitals.
Last thing, Malaria is in fact not a very serious disease anymore if you know it early enough, there are good pills, for the non-severe Malaria Vivax and also the severe Malaria Tropica. Still many people (mostly kids) die from it, because they don't get the pills.


 
I had to wait quite long for the next ferry, it only goes 3 times a week, but was canceled many times due to bad weather (in rainy seasons it often happens that it doesn't go for a month). A 12h crossing, the longest so far.


Many bikers did not talk very highly about these ferry connections, but they crossed in high season when boats are completely overloaded and it's difficult to find a space to sit. Not so in off-season, i always had the deck more or less to myself, even a round of chess with a fellow biker was possible. I enjoyed all of the ferries very much.

In Kupang, West Timor (still Indonesia), i went to a proper Laboratory and checked a few things (wanted to have a 3rd opinion on that malaria stuff). I also had stomach pain for almost all the time in the for 4 Month in Indonesia, thought i give it a try to find out what this is. I did not find out much (all good basically), but Irma, the English speaking nurse that took care of my case showed me one of her favorite places in Kupang, a snorkeling spot under a fish farm out in the sea, very nice.


After all that time in Indonesia, it was time for the next Country (well, actually i could have easily stayed a few years longer :P)

Anyway, more than 9000 km and 8 ferries later, i have left beautiful Indonesia and now entered one of the newest countries in the world, Timor Leste. Only restored independence back in 2002

While probably being the poorest country in Southeast-Asia, it is also the most expensive one. The currency used is US$, which makes it worse if your bank account holds Euros these days.
The country has a very bloody, recent history. Never mentioned in Mainstream European media, but it's worth a
 read: Wikipedia


Welcome to Timor Leste


"On 30 August 1999, in a UN-sponsored referendum, an overwhelming majority of East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia. Immediately following the referendum, anti-independence Timorese militias — organised and supported by the Indonesian military — commenced a punitive scorched-earth campaign. The militias killed approximately 1,400 Timorese and forcibly pushed 300,000 people into West Timor as refugees. The majority of the country's infrastructure was destroyed during this punitive attack."
Even now in 2015, most of Timor Leste's Infrastructure is destroyed. Roads are in terrible condition, but the ride from the border to the capital Dili is one of the most breathtaking coast rides ever.


Cristo Rei beach dili, motorcross track, second highest Christ statue in the world, world-class snorkeling, no tourism, a real paradise!



On the way to a geocache in the mountains. 


Happy kids


The local booze, Arak. You never know if you will get blind or not.


To bring a motorbike into Australia, it has to be 100% clean, no dirt or insects anywhere. 7 full days toothbrush job.
If Australian Quarantine finds something it can get really expensive. Will i pass?


Blue getting strapped into the container, it was about 50 degrees in there!


My bike left on the ANL Dili Trader, but it's the same type of ship.


A few weeks without the bike, i had to get myself something to do. I finally attended my first Hash House Harriers run.
It was a special one too, Valentines Day, Everybody had to wear a red dress. I also got one for 3$ from a local market, 
no pictures :)


The hash house harriers are in almost every bigger city around the world, basically it is a drinking-club with a running problem.
The run went ~7km over steep hills, along smelly sewerage channels and trough the city (much to the amusement of the locals)


During the run are checkpoints, where you fill up with free beer and a bit of water if you need/want.
After the run it's an hour of drinking procedures...

I need to cut this post short now, have to catch my ferry to Tasmania today. It's winter and freezing cold, but i really wanted to visit this Island of Australia.

I spent about 3 weeks in Timor-Leste, most time in Dili, i really loved it. There is almost no tourism and so much to explore.

Next post about Australia :)

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Moritz

Riding the ring of fire - SUMATRA

by Moritz 25. December 2014 16:59

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I'm way behind on my blog as always, but this Island really deserves a long, detailed post.

Sumatra is the sixth largest island in the world and is part of the so called "pacific ring of fire", an area where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. Sumatra alone has around 35 active volcanoes.


I rode almost 5000km in the 2 month i stayed on Sumatra, here is my route:


I arrived early at Belawan port, where i was supposed to pick up Blue from the vegetable boat that brought her over.
With plenty of time before my shipping-agent would meet me, i took a walk into the local morning market.
It was a very rural area, the ground was muddy and full of trash. Fresh fish was sold just next to a huge pile of rubbish.
As there is absolutely no tourism in this area, i was quite an attraction. The old market ladies were shouting all foreign words they had picked up on TV and Radio, Hello "Sweetheart", "Babe", "Handsome", "are you married"... i should have recorded it, very amusing :)

I came across this shop,

and wasn't quite sure what was going on there, why do they have tar and chicken in one place?
But while still asking the question, it suddenly became very clear. As a city kid some things really fall into oblivion.

Half day later, paperwork had been done, enough people were bribed (by the Indonesian shipping-agent),
and i could finally pick her up. Apart from an ant invasion caused by a small fish that landed on my pannier, 
the bike was in perfect condition.
the bad shipping experiences that every overlander can tell stories about, are still a thing of the future for me.

My first day ride took me to the hill town of Berastagi, a place i have some unfinished business with.
In 2010 i was on the way to Sumatra by airplain, when i got the news that the Sinabung Volcano is erupting.
Amazed by the idea to see an erupting volcano i put Berastagi (which is only ~11km from Sinabung) on my itinerary.
Unfortunately i arrived 4 days after the last eruption, i could not see anything but a rather boring mountain.

Well, this time luck was on my side...




I spent a week watching this volcano, often starting around 6am till late.
On average there were about 10 eruptions a day. I got really addicted, i thought maybe there will be an even bigger eruption, maybe i can see lava (i couldn't, it's only visible at night and as it is monsoon season, weather was not on my side).


The Sinabung (2460m) is a stratovolcano, the biggest danger that comes from this kind are the so called "Pyroclastic flows",
fast-moving, avalanche-like, ground-hugging, incandescent mixtures of hot volcanic debris, ash, and gases that can travel at speeds in excess of 160 km/h. 
The ones you see on the pictures above...
On Sinabung they often reach as far as 3km in a westward direction. For that reason there are serious military checkpoints blocking access in a ~3km radius.

On the first day i wanted to have a closer look and to my surprise i was able to drive to the lake at the foot of the mountain without anyone hindering me. As i found out later this is because there are no Pyroclastic flows in that direction. 
But the ash still comes down there so most villages were completely abandoned...



This used to be a school, no one knows when it will be reopened


This picture of a dead Leopard-cat got me some local fame. I asked an Indonesian guide that was very fascinated
by the volcano too, what kind of animal it was. He said he had never seen it before and it is probably a tiger.
*haha*. I tried to explain him that i'm 100% sure it's not a tiger, it has the size of a cat. 
As it became clear that he had no clue, i stopped talking about it.
A few hours later at the guesthouse that i was staying, i talked to a Belgian tourist, he just got told by a local that
"a tiger has been seen". The town is small, that can't be coincidence i thought. Is he really advertising my dead something-cat as a tiger? He was, a bit later he showed up and asked me to print my picture on a A5 Fotopaper and wanted to know more about the location. He also suggested that it must have died from the volcanic ash, while this is probably possible, a dead animal next to a road is most likely caused by a car/truck hitting it.

I wasn't the only one watching the erupting volcano, Metro TV, a local news channel was reporting all day long


I think this girl was from one of the affected villages (some had been evacuated for a long long time). Am i the only one who finds her sexy holding this exhaust?

My guesthouse offered school kids to come over and practice their English with foreigners, which is excellent as they could probably never afford proper English lessons. I tried to explain them a bit about geography and was positively surprised by their fair command of English. The guys took a seat in the back row, but the girls were really eager to learn.


I asked them about their future job plans, if i remember it correctly, from left to right:
Policewoman, Nurse, Doctor, Judge, Doctor.
The guys all wanted to be Soldiers, except for one, he wanted to become a pilot.

I also had to do some small maintenance on my luggage system, i assume the corrugations in Mongolia caused it.



in Indonesia, small fixing shops are never far away, you just have to make sure you tell them exactly what to do.
More on nightmarish fixing stories in a later post about Java...


As aluminum is difficult to weld (or at least it's difficult to find someone who can do it), i had to go with another solution.
I enforced it with a 1mm metal plate. This should do for a while.


Hello? Anyone home?


I ordered some spicy noodles, my cook was taking it very serious. 


A last picture of Sinabung, erupting at sunset.

There is one last story i want to share with you before i move on.
One day i was 
exploring some new roads near the volcano, on my way back, police, ambulance and three trucks full of soldiers passed in the other direction. I didn't think about it a lot and continued, parked the bike at some nice viewpoint close to the volcano. Suddenly a lot of soldiers where running around everywhere, one guy seemed like he fall down the stairs and was screaming like hell, then i realized there were unconscious people lying around (one only 5 meters from me), the soldiers seemed to check their pulses, i had no idea what was going on but it seemed very serious (toxic gases came to mind) so i left in a hurry without asking what's the situation all about.

Well, an hour later i got the information that this was a simulation for the big eruption of Mt. Sinabung that was expected to happen very soon.

Very scary, but if i think about it now, quite funny 


So this was my first week on Sumatra, one could think from now on everything would be rather boring, but Sumatra was going to surprise me a few more times. 

From Berastagi i wanted to go North, through the Gunung Leuser National Park, one of the oldest rainforests in the world.
After a long day with quite some tricky parts (i chose some village roads along the volcano) i arrived Getambe, which is a town on the road that goes through the middle of the jungle. I arrived dry, but it started pooring down the minute i checked into a homestay. It didn't stop till the next morning. Massive amounts of water were coming down.
The next day i got the information that the rain has caused some landslides 5km north and my road (there is only one) was not passable. I extended my stay and went to have a look what happened there...

imagine riding here at night without any streetlights



The jungle has spit out huge trees and tons of mud, it took 3 houses with it, but luckily nobody died that night.


The army already did a good job to clear the road.

Next day i did a trek into the Gunung Leuser National Park, saw Orang Utans, a black Gibbon, some other animals that i don't know the name of, and other nice things...



A very rare ginger species


Not the only one craving for that fish

I continued north, the road was in good condition and extremely scenic.





I'm not sure if i was so smelly or looking funny, but the kids had a great time :)

The next obstacle wasn't to be a long time coming. The night when the heavy rain came down, other places in Sumatra had major landslides too. This one blocked the road for 2 days already, i was lucky to be one of the first motorbikes that could pass, i only had to wait for one hour. 

People there told me that this road (another part) had been impassable for 2 weeks the month before, a road just slipped down the hill completely. I wonder how they fix things like that within 2 weeks, digging further into the mountain is probably not an option in that timeframe.
Now while writing this, I realize it could have actually been that part where you see the bridge in the background. 
This is a timebomb, what they gonna do if more of the road goes down the hill?


It was still extremely steep, on the edge of what i can do with my heavily loaded bike.
On a plus side, i did not have any traffic coming from behind me for the whole day :)

I arrived a town called Takengon, stayed a night in the scariest (and most overpriced) hotel ever.
It reminded me of the movie Shining. I was completely alone till i went to bed, then i woke up around 2am and had a look at my bike, 10 rather expensive cars were parked outside. A love hotel, that explained the terrible state and crazy price.
I started early (unsurprisingly all cars were gone by 5am) and could enjoy the town and lake at sunrise









Remains of an old bridge, you see these a lot on Sumatra. Nature wins.

This day i rode all the way up to Banda Aceh, a city with a lot of history.
Before the boxing day tsunami most people would either not know of this place at all or think about pirates and terrorists.
It was really not the safest place to be, there was a serious separatist movement (GAM), criminal gangs kidnap-for-profit operations and piracy off the Aceh coast.

All this came to an end when the devastating tsunami caused by the 9.0 Magnitude earthquake on 26. December 2004 (exactly 10 years ago) hit Ache province. 
In this region alone, 200.000 lifes were lost, about 600.000 people lost their home. 
2005 Aceh got granted more autonomy and a peace agreement was signed between the Free Aceh Movement and Indonesian government. Piracy stopped completely, as they probably lost all their assets (boats and weapons) and many of them likely died in the waves too.

Here is a picture of how it looked like shortly after the Tsunami
Greg Baker, File/AP Photo

Everyone you talk to here, has lost someone. Friends, family, one guy that i spoke to was the sole survivor of his whole school class. But despite these traumatic events, most people seem very happy with the "new Aceh".
In the years following the Tsunami, international Aid of about $US8 billion was available for Aceh Province alone. They rebuilt everything, bigger better houses, larger streets, new schools and hospitals.
Apart from a few surfers, there is almost no tourism in this part of Sumatra. One of the reasons might be the Sharia law, that is enforced additionally to the Indonesian law. No alcohol, strict cloth regulations at the beaches, early closing times of beach cafes are facts that keep away the big tourist crowds. But it makes Aceh a very interesting destination for the more independent traveler.

I've really fallen in love with this Province and it's people, here are some pictures of Aceh 10 years after the Tsunami... 






Beautiful empty beaches, only a few surfers frequent this place






This boat got pushed inland for almost 3km and came to halt on top of a few houses. Some of the residents could survive by climbing into it. The government bought the land and turned it into a tourist attraction.


Same story for this massive powership


This nice road continues for another 100m and then abruptly ends. I guess it has been washed away and never been rebuilt


Visiting ships that have been turned into tourist attractions is one thing...
This cement freighter (from the cement factory you see in the background) is completely unrelated to the 2004 Tsunami, despite some "journalists" use it in their tsunami articles...
The story here is, there was a storm, the engine(s) failed and it got pushed to shore. This happened around July 2014.
Locals think it is beyond repair and will probably remain there forever. 
For me personally, sights like this, are one of the most interesting things on my travels.




Sunset made the whole setting look like in a war movie






As i mentioned before, only a few surfers come to Banda Aceh (Lhoknga), so i gave it a try too.
I think I managed fine for my first time, it was an easy beach break in beautiful setting.




Indonesian bikers often told me about going to Kilometer Zero, i didn't quite understand what it was in the beginning,
but found out later that for them it is the very start of Indonesia. the northernmost point.
As i planned to cross most of the horizontal length, i thought it would be nice to "start from the beginning"...



It's actually on an Island called Pulau Weh, a short ferry ride from Banda Aceh.
There are also some famous diving/snorkeling spots around.
I haven't seen a lot of earth's amazing underwater-world yet, but the snorkeling i did there was the best so far.
Most corals were dead, but there were thousands of colorful interesting fish swimming around...




These pictures i extracted from the 1h footage that i did with my GoPro, unfortunately the quality is not very good, a video would be nice, but i think i can never finish this blogpost if i start cutting this now.


I found this strange creature, my best guess would be "Muraena", but i really have no idea.
Anyone? (look closely, you can see a mouth and an eye)


Snorkeling wasn't far away, i just had to cross the road from my 10$ guesthouse.

I shipped back to Sumatra and continued along the western coast...

The road went along the Gunung Leuser National Park (that i had crossed through the middle on my way up).
I believe to this point I've seen more than 50 landslides already. Sumatra really remembers you of the forces of nature.


fresh octopus anyone?


Driving in heavy rain is very dangerous, for reasons like this. It was somehow scary to drive over these power cables


It's monsoon season, i got soaked every single day, but at some point i got used to it and enjoyed light-rain rides even more than the sunny bits. People in these houses next to the sea must be used to flooding, i think they were below sea-level.


Only a matter of months till this nice open air toilet will collapse


A remainder of the Acehnese Separatist Movement in Tapaktuan, a bit south of one of the towns hat got almost completely wiped out by the tsunami, Meulaboh. Locals told me a bomb had disabled this vehicle of the Indonesian police.


Finding deserted beaches is an easy task in Indonesia.

Southbound the next destination was Lake Toba, one of the only places on Sumatra that sees a fair amount of tourism.
I had been here before in 2010, so i just relaxed for a few days.

With 100km length and 30km width, it is the largest volcanic lake in the world.
Lake Toba is the site of a massive supervolcanic eruption that occurred 69,000 to 77,000 years ago.
One theory claims that it killed most humans living at that time, but what all scientists agree on is that the eruption of Toba led to a volcanic winter with a worldwide decrease in temperature between 3 to 5 °C, and up to 15 °C in higher latitudes.


Driving down into one of the calderas


The Toba region is home to the mostly christian Batak people, this is one of their traditional houses.
(In XXL)


Temperatures here are much cooler, the lake is on ~900m altitude


 


B1 is the code for Dog meat. B2 is Piglet. Delicacies of the Batak people. There are rumors about cannibalism too (in older times), according to a girl that i met later, who was born on Samosir Island and spoke excellent English, it is very true.


Nice hotel along the way, but not in my budget.

Further south i reached Bukittingi,

where i climbed Mt. Merapi, an active complex volcano.
I started around 7am and almost turned back after 30min, there was a camping spot with a tiger warning sign, i ignored it and continued, a minute later i saw/heard something big was walking through the dense jungle, couldn't spot what it was, but scared me quite a bit. People were telling me before there are tigers, but i believe you must be extremely (un)lucky to see one. Asking more about it afterwards it turns out the climb is even forbidden sometimes, when tigers are in their mating period.

The volcano itself was very spectacular too, standing on the rim of the caldera, you could hear it boiling deep down there, with a smell of rotten eggs (sulfur) all around. Bear Grylls landed here with 2 helicopters a few years ago i heard, lame shortcut :P 


Although there weren't any very difficult parts, for me it was quite exhausting, took me 3 1/2 hours up to the top. 


view of Mt. Singgalang, another volcano in the area. 


multiple small craters around


Constantly steaming, sometimes so much that it was difficult to see where you go. 
A traveler i met later on Java told me he was in the crater area a few years ago when Merapi erupted. They traveled in a small group and the guide decided it would be safer to go down on the other side, which is a multiple-day trek through the jungle, but more or less without any beaten tracks. He did not think of this as a good idea, so he split from the group and tried to get back the way he came. Somehow he managed to find the way and escape the ash, he arrived back at the hotel the same day. The others also made it, but were highly dehydrated when they came out of the jungle 3 days later.


you don't want to fall down there

Sulfur

On the way down it started to rain, i took a shortcut and found myself going down some muddy hill almost vertically.
Only with the help of lianes i managed to not slip down 20m into the river. Took me 4h to get back to where i parked my bike.

I spent quite a few days in Bukittingi, many interesting places to visit in the area...





Harau Valley




You really don't expect a road/bridge construction like this in the middle of Sumatra




I haven't mentioned much about food yet, and as a Thai food spoiled person, it was not always the tastiest,
but they certainly had a lot of interesting things to try...

In Indonesia you usually eat with your hands. Often you get served "all they have", and you only pay for what you ate.
(i did not eat all the food on the picture).
I had Fruit-bat here, interesting, but not as good as the bats that i had years ago in Laos.

Next destination was the Kerinci Volcano, which i did not climb, but it was a very nice sight in the morning

Kerinci Volcano (3805m)


Collecting tea at the foot of Mt. Kerinci


Traffic lights often have no real meaning


Beautiful sunsets on the west coast of Sumatra

 
Sometimes the coastal road really joins the coast, views are usually fantastic when that happens.





Every few years a new road further inland?


The last days on Sumatra my local biker friend Rudy told me a story of an old dutch steamship that has been found at the foot of a mountain near the port to java, in a depth of around 30 meters. It is believed to have been pushed inland by the tsunami that was resulting from the 1883 Krakatoa explosion. I tried to find some English news/research about it, but nothing, only a few Indonesian reports from local newspapers. Felt a little bit like Indiana Jones with the "treasure map" that my friend had drawn for me...

it's the 21st century guys, don't expect palm trees and measurement in common cubit

I followed a 4km rough village road and another 100m on the back of a villagers motorbike (not that i couldn't have walked that). Unfortunately the tunnel that leads to the boat was completely flooded.  
Well, then someone else has to find out about the secrets this ship holds, it's probably full of gold *haha*, spices are more likely...

I found this picture with unknown source, it's a drawing of an old steamship captioned "Ocean Steamship Carried Inland in Sumatra by Tsunami from the Krakatoa Eruption, 1883". Is this the very same one that is now 30m under earth surface? 


There is so much more i could write about, but enough is enough.
Sumatra has been one of the most amazing places on my travels.
I hope one day i can put all the video footage into a short film.

Happy X-Mas from Bali
Moritz

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Moritz

Rainer

Rainer, born 1948, the father

Being a professional road engineer and traffic and transport planner, Rainer keeps an eye on road details and safety issues. Paradoxically, he loves riding straight road sections more than curved ones, and horsepower of his ride doesn’t mean anything to him, but rather fuel consumption. Presently he happily rides an 11 hp scooter at home. His favourite travel destination remains Southwest USA. Low budget travel, especially for the elderly, is dear to his heart.
Petershausen, Germany

Done with indoor complaints,
libraries and querulous criticisms,
strong and content
I travel the open road.

 Walt Whitman