Lovely Indonesia, but it is time to think about our next chapter…

We rarely had internet connection within the last weeks. This is why you will face a compact update this time which we divided in two chapter: ENJOY!

Bali, not our cup of tea – Lombok, the south and getting picked up on the street next to Mt Rinjani – Sumbawa, the dry and raff spot

From Ubud we started our day trip to Lake Batur, which is at the bottom of the huge caldera from volcanic Gunung Batur (1717m). We were passing rice terraces and as soon as we reached the mountain we got surrounded by a thick mist. Climbing up narrow streets through the plantations we suddenly could see the lake with a bright blue sky in front of us and we spent some time there. On the way back we had a stop at the temple of Tirta Empul where the people can take a bath in the water of the holy spring.

Bali was not really our cup of tea… It is a huge tourism machine where ever you go. The people are mainly money orientated and they easily loose interest in any conversation as soon as they recognize that they cannot make any business with you. We decided to continue as fast as we could to Lombok!

The ferry was just ready to leave when we arrived and we spend the 5 hours on the sun deck together some school kids… getting kissed by the sun. In Lombok we were heading south direction Kuta. Surprisingly we were driving on a brand new 2 line highway. The best road we have seen so far in Indonesia and since a long time we were driving with 100 km per hour – felt like flying ;-)

Kuta is a nice relaxed place where mainly surfer hanging around. The village has several places to stay and we found a nice quiet “family homestay” a little bit further up the hill. There are little shops, coffee bars, restaurants and warungs (little family run kitchens). We found our favorite warung where we got all kind of fresh food for really reasonable prices. It is worth to have a look around as there are plenty of beautiful beaches with clear blue and turquoise water and nearly no people. When we left Kuta direction north we chose a little road which leads further west along the coast line. The road is not the best but you come along wonderful lonely beaches and you catch nice views over the valleys and secluded bays.

Back on the highway we passed Mataram the capital of Lombok and when we reached Senggigi we were just shocked. Full of tourists! We had a short stop at a shop and were immediately surrounded by “businessmen”. It took only a second for the decision to continue. The coastal road climbed up the cliffs and we could see huge resorts down the bays and of course the famous Gili Islands. We continued with the risk that it will be probably hard to find a place for the night…

Around 4 PM a car behind us were giving light signs. When we stopped, the car came next to us and a European looking man was asking us in German where we are going. A little bit confused and surprised we explained we do not know yet and that we are actually looking for a place to stay overnight. The person introduced himself as Roland and said:” Follow me and you will stay the night on the most beautiful campsite in Indonesia”! This sound great and so we followed him the next 30 km along the coast road until Bayan. Here we climbed up for the next 4 km the hill directly towards Gunung Rinjani. Mt Rinjani is the second highest mountain in Indonesia (3726m) which is called “the seat of gods” by the Balinese. Gunung Rinjani was welcoming us with a clear and breathtaking view and after we climbed up the last loops through beautiful rice terraces we were warmly welcomed by Toni, Roland`s wife.

Toni and Roland were exploring for many years the world with their sailing boat “Albatros” and “stranded” up here in this piece of paradise where they created a little oasis. Now we realized they are running a „guesthouse” with a restaurant which is called “Rinjani Mountain Garden” … but Roland said immediately we should not worry and offered us even to stay in one of their bamboo huts which were already prepared for us by Toni.

In the end we spend 3 nights up there and it felt like home. We could exchange some travel experiences with Toni and Roland (and this in German language… more or less, Roland is a Schwabe ;-) and could eat delicious food creations in the restaurant prepared by Toni. She creates lovely German and Asian dishes and for sure you have to try their home breed smoked fish – yummy! And not to forget the homemade bread! Their place is just fitting itself in the nature, with terraces where you can find a fire place, a camp site, a pool which is constantly feed by fresh spring water and several animals around and last but not least these incredible views to all sides: the ocean, the mountain panorama and the rice paddies. And we were lucky to spend the full moon night at the fireplace with “Stockbrot” after watching the beautiful sunset and chatting around with their other guests and their stuff. We are looking forward to meet them again one day in their peace of paradise! Thank you so much again Toni and Roland!!! We already miss you!

We left on the mountain road via Sapi direction ferry port. A great road going up in turns through the villages, jungle parts and we had some great views overlooking the plateau. The ferry to Sumbawa was just a short boat trip, but the atmosphere was different than on all the other ferries we took before… the people were watching us, but not directly, more out of the edge of their eyes. And it took a while longer before they start conversation. Let`s say more carefully. The landscape in Sumbawa looks different, more ruff, more dry. We spend a night in in Sumbawa Besar, where some young guys caught us when we were cruising around. “We know a guy who was here with the same bike like you shortly before” they told us. It was Jannick, a traveller on an Africa Twin which we never met personally but with who we are in contact via internet for a long time already. How funny was that!

The next day we left for Hu`u which is a little village at the south coast where surfer do not have to wait for long times for their next big wave. These really big waves are just coming in constantly one after the other. The atmosphere is really relaxed here and we were lucky to find one of these little hut places with nice neighbors from Australia and some young fellers from New Zealand. It’s a good place for hanging and chatting around, eating coconuts or having a beer or two.

July 14th – Flores – The beautiful green and nearly untouched island – West Timor, last days Indonesia

Our next destination was the ferry port in Sape where should go the daily ferry the next morning. When we arrived somebody told us there is probably an unscheduled ferry going tonight. So we were hanging around together with two girls from Switzerland on their bicycles waiting for information. At around 6 pm they asked us to enter the ferry, nobody else where there so far, and at around 8pm we he could hear the trucks driving in. Finally at 9:30 pm the ferry was leaving full of trucks and with nearly no people on board. Each of us could use a full bench to sleep for the next 8 hours.

When we arrived in Flores, Labuan Bajo, it was still dark but we could see the silhouettes of the Rinca and Komodo islands and many remarkable sailing boats around. After having a coffee in the sunrise the girls continued on their push bikes while we started our search for an accommodation. Having the whole day available we explored the “city” and doing the research for the trips they offer for Komodo or Rinca Island. After bargaining in different places we chose a day trip to Rinca Island for the next day. Early morning we left to Rinca, 2,5 hours, with a wooden boat. We were lucky as there were not many people around and already after the first view meters we spotted one of the dragons. A couple of meters ahead 7 lazy big dragons were hanging around between the wooden local houses – and to be honest: we were pleased that they are lazy and stuffed J. We started our jungle trip with our guide. Some jungle turkeys passed our way and suddenly a huge male dragon came across, smelling around with his tongue… He looked certainly like he could eat a small mouthful and we and the guide had great respect while staying in a 3m distance.

We left Rinca Island to stop on a small island for snorkeling. Here we spend the rest of the day on a small sandy beach and most of the time we were in the water discovering the beautiful reefs under water.

Now it was time for Flores! Straightaway when we left Labuan Bajo the road climbed up the hills in narrow turns along the deep jungle. Flores…. Flora, Flowers… just a wonderful green nearly untouched place and just perfect with the motorbike going up and down the hills in endless turns on more or less perfect roads and with stunning views either to the coast line or the rice terraces or just to the deep wild jungle next to you. The villages we passed looked very gentle. Even though the houses are very simple bamboo huts, they are usually surrounded by flowers and very clean clay yards with a fire place.

We enjoyed every meter riding in Flores. From Ruteng we went north to Reo. Nothing special about Reo but the way down was just lovely.  Heading east we spend a night in Bajawa where we got invited to a local wedding when we arrived. It was the preparation day and Joseph, the brother of the bride, introduced us to everybody and to their tradition. The entire family, about only 300 people :-), came together preparing the food and the drink for the big day for about 3000 guests. Eight pigs got slaughtered beside numerous smaller animals and everybody was busy. Unfortunately we were a bit short in time as we had the appointment for the shipping from Dili to Darwin together with Kanchan and Nick who were ahead of us and therefore we had to refuse the invitation for the big wedding day and we said good bye next morning. On the way to Moni next to Mt Kelimutu some guys stopped next to us when we had a break. They are members of the Indonesian Motorcycle Club and were just coming from Kupang, Timor. Surprisingly they do know Jannick as well and we got of course some contacts for Kupang from them. So funny meeting them in the middle of the jungle…

In Moni we stayed in a “family homestay” and we intended to go up Mt Kelimutu with the sunrise next morning. When the alarm clock was ringing at 4 am it was pouring rain. Every next hour we checked the weather and at 8am it stopped raining and we crawled out of our bed having breakfast on our terrace. Slowly we could see the how the mist was disappearing and after a while the first blue hole in the sky appeared. We drove up the 12km to the parking square. From here it is just a little walk up to the volcanic lakes. We left the main trail and climbed up a rocky wall which led directly to the rim of the first lake. A slight breeze pushed the clouds and the mist away and we had a fantastic view over the first two lakes for about 40 minutes.

Noon we left Moni direction Maumere. On the way we met Brice, a guy from Australia who just started his trip with his Landrover and with whom we were already in contact via a forum (www.horizonsunlimited.com). Along the south coast we stopped for some food and got in touch with a couple we met already at Kelimutu living in Bali and partially in Perth. Probably we will meet them once again in AU ;-)

A bit east of Maumere we settled in a bamboo hut under palm trees at the beach. Time to think about ferry schedules to Timor, recapping Flores while listening to the waves and the wind in the palm trees and having a swim in between…

YES… it seems currently still unreal but soon it will be time to leave South East Asia behind us. After more than 6 month crossing Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and finally Indonesia we have to plan now the next big step: Going to Australia via East Timor.

We adored the beachside, the wide empty beach under palm trees – even though we got attacked once by an unripe coconut. There was a hard sound suddenly between us in the sand “TOCK!!!” and we did not want to imagine how that would be with a full-grown coconut… (Note: more people getting killed by a falling coconut than by shark attacks and lightning’s all together, about 9000 a year worldwide – and usually we take care where we sit down)

Now it was time for Larantuka, the east of Flores, where the ferry to Kupang is going twice a week. We arrived early afternoon and had time enough to gather all essential information, buying some food and water for the next day as well to discover the coastline. There are some nice islands around and we wished to have time for a couple of days more…

When we arrived at the ferry port the next morning the ticket office was already open and we did not had to wait long until we could park and prepare the bike on deck for the 16 hour trip. There were still 2-3 hours to go until the ferry left, but as we heard it gets usually crowded we preferred the opportunity to find a good place for the bike and ourselves… And we were lucky that we did so: it became really packed! The boat is planned for about 300 passenger and we were around 600, additional pigs chicken etc. Every square millimeter was used and it was just impossible to go down to the bike. Luckily we could protect one bench with four seats for us, so Sascha could rest on the floor and Kerstin on the upper level… rest but not sleep as they were playing nonstop extreme loud music. What to say: we survived ;-) And after spending 19 hours on the ferry we finally reached Kupang at sunrise. Most of the hotels were booked but finally we found a place.

Since a long time we had internet access and soon we found out that there are some couch surfing opportunities around in Kupang. We met up with an Australian guy, who is living here since 9 month and we moved finally in a place of an Indonesian guy who is running a wedding shop and as well some apartments where we could move in as he has some free. Great!!! Yesterday evening we got another contact, a German guy who is just building up a hotel business here. We will pass by for a coffee later on the way to the beach. Unfortunately Kerstin got a little stomach problem since yesterday which is limiting our activities a little bit currently.

The countdown is running now… a few more days Indonesia before we will enter East Timor. We could organize already some shopping for cleaning materials and as well some good contacts in Dili.

The journey will have a new chapter