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

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

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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