This is Christmas Eve and I have made it to Kupang, Timor, where I shall spend Christmas Day and then head for East Timor on Boxing Day. The last 4 weeks
since I wrote have been action packed, as usual, and a little nerve wracking so I am glad to have a Christmas break and you can be sure I am thinking of you all having that big Christmas dinner and Christmas
pudding and Roses chocolates and wine and beer and liquors etc, etc.... I think it will be just Nasi Gorang for me.
I last wrote from Bali where I was exploring the quieter northern region. Having done the obligatory
laze on Lovina beach I went back to Linda's place where she endeavoured to put me off going to Oz by showing me a video called "Wolf's Creek" all about murders in NW Oz. Very scary stuff and certainly makes
you think about outback travel.
Back in Ubud it was the Bali equivalent of Christmas day and the temples were full of beautiful Balinese, stunningly attired in silk and lace, carrying baskets of food on their heads as
offerings. I borrowed a sarong and went amongst them trying to take photos with my crappy camera.
Some of Linda's friends invited us out to lunch in their traditional house among the paddi fields but we had to cut the
visiting short as I needed to get to the airport to fly to KL for my visa run. I left the bike with the Big Bike club and caught the plane in the evening. As it is only a 2 1/2 hour flight I arrived in time to bed down
with my thermarest on the airport floor and managed a bit of a nap.
Sunny from the bike shop came out the next day with a new engine sprocket for me, which was a big relief. I then flew back and got another 30 day
visa so I could get to East Timor.
The next few days were busy with getting the sprocket fitted, the side stand lengthened (as I had raised the suspension in Thailand and had been battling with a peice of wood
for the stand ever since) and having a general check over in the bike shop of a nice Italian mechanic, Feliciano, who got my back brake working for me again. I then spent a very boozy evening with some expats from the
Big Bike club. I also had two press conferences, organised by Yusi, a nice Javanese woman who I was staying with for a few days. I was interviewed by several newspapers and TV stations and felt like George Bush!
a last ride around catching up with some of the expats who have set up art and craft businesses and met Doug, an ethnomusicologist from Oz who records and plays Balinese Music and dance (as well as other Indonesian
music) He also has a bike and helped me fax off papers to Oz to try and get my Suzy imported there so I have the option of selling it and also retrieving my carnet deposit. I really need to get a smaller bike.
That done and all my emails up to date I was ready to leave Bali and try my luck in Lombock.
The ferry ride was short and sweet and I decided to go out to the SW peninsular, just following my nose. The scenery was
great along the coast road and a lot quieter than Bali so I felt more comfy there. Getting on to some pretty rough road I was just about to turn back when a guy on a smaller bike told me there was a guest house just a
couple of kms more so I followed him and stayed in a little rush mat stilted hut at Sulemans. Going down to the beach to explore I found a delightful harbour area and felt really tranquil. When I returned it was to find
a council meeting going on and I was given food and drink and introduced to some officials. Apparently I had already been seen on TV and was a bit of a celeb.
My tranquillity was soon broken as Sul;eman informed me
that the bike had fallen over in my absence and, on checking it, I found the clutch lever broken. It was my spare so I cursed myself for not trying to get another spare in KL. Suleman and his family drove into Mataram
the next day and took me with them. It is the only big town in Lombok, about 100kms from their village. We went to a few bike shops to try and find something similar but there was nothing. I had to make a decision, do I
try and order a lever from Singapore or KL or even Germany which could take a long time or do I get out the glue. I didn't really have an option, with my visa only having enough time on it to let me ride out I had to
trust in the glue. Fortunately I had kept the other broken lever that went in Sumatra and so I glued both and set off nervously changing gear and praying hard.
I rode north, past the tourist area of Sengiggi beach and
the Gilli islands where everyone goes for snorkelling and parties. I found myself in a traditional Sasak village watching a old woman spinning cotton and then went inland to the small village of Senaru which is one of
the base camps for climbing Mt Rinjani. While looking for a place to stay the clutch gave out so I swapped over, put on the glue and went to the nearest place, which was nice anyway and I managed to organise a short
trip up to the crater with some other people for the next morning. Unfortunately having a guide is now obligatory so I had to arrange this but, as it turned out, the young Chinese Singapore couple I walked with were
charming and the porter carried my tent as we had to spend the night by the crater. I would have liked to have climbed to the summit but it was much further and more costly. Looking down into the turquoise lake nestled
in the crater with its own little volcano within was spectacular enough.
Coming down the next morning I spent a lazy afternoon and left early the following day. I took a small mountain road as I thought it looked more
interesting but it got steeper, narrower and with more broken asphalt and , finally, on an uphill slope the front wheel hit a pot hole and I was off, the bike just about upside-down. With help from the locals I got it
back upright and had to re glue the clutch before backtracking to take the more used coastal road. I now not only had aching legs from the climb but a bruised shoulder so gave myself a day off when I reached the south
coast bay of Kute, Lombock. There I braced myself for the ride to the next island, Sumbawa.