FIRELIGHT FINGERS IN THE RICE
(photos from riding on the north coast of Java)
We hit some flat land, make some miles and a few friends along the way:
- Seeing Bin Laden's name painted on a rickshaw.
- Having a bus start to leave while I am still partially buried in the luggage compartment below fitting our bikes in.
- Barbed wire used as a clothes line.
- Roosters battling on the side of the road.
- Passing through dark countryside at night punctuated by bare florescent tubes and scattered trash fires.
- They decorate their fishing boats here as much as their rickshaws.
- Wiping my face after a day of riding and it comes away coated in sand/dust/grit.
- Meeting Tomas, another bike traveler randomly at a quickie mart while we are riding. He's from Poland and he is doing a three year tour covering the whole world. He already had ridden all of North and South America, Australia, and some other places in Oceania. Needless to say, he had a bit more gear than we did.
- Watching a garbage fire get out of control and spread to the surrounding trees/bushes.
- The crazy frogger-style way of getting on and off buses (local and long distance), only slowing down enough for people to run out into the street (through traffic usually) and jump on/off.
- A lot of the buses have huge airbrushed themed murals on them, ranging from barnyard animals to the NYC skyline to Batman.
- Having my first equipment failure of the trip: one of the p-clamps that attaches my cargo rack to the frame breaks. Luckily I brought spares, but they turn out to be a smaller size. I readjust and hope for the best.
- While Chloe is waiting along the side of the road for some of the crew to catch up one night, a policeman shows up and warns her that it is not safe to be there. He gestures that someone might come along, kill her, and throw her in over the bridge she was waiting at. He hangs out for a while and keeps an eye on things. We're not sure exactly what he was warning her about, maybe people with an issue with a female out alone at night?
- The next day Chloe has a guy riding in an ice cream delivery truck pull alongside and expose himself to her.
- The day after that, a guy directing traffic with a flag on a wooden pole gives Chloe a hard smack across her ass as she rides by. His laughing turns to surprise as Greg rides up following Chloe and kicks the guy in the chest from his tall bike.
- CDs as mud flap reflectors.
- A concrete deer lawn ornament, with a muzzle on it for some reason.
- We'd been lucky with the mosquitos while traveling, going from a dense urban center to the cooler mountains. But in the north coast they caught up with us. . . bad.
- Meeting a friendly couple who follow us for a bit on their scooter. They invite us back to their home to stay for the night and then show us around town the next day.
- The sister of our hosts turns out to be a school teacher, she invites us to visit her elementary school, with the tall bikes. We are treated to a gamelan performance by the students (see below), then Greg, Conrad and Ira ride their tall bikes around the courtyard and let kids take turns on them (with a little assistance). When we leave a small riot breaks out and a few kids get trampled. We heard later that they were okay.
- Afterward we go to the "beach" in town, which turns out to be a weird concrete pier thing you have to pay to go on. the surrounding coast is covered in trash and weird big black bugs. When we leave we are ambushed by a video camera crew from the pier who want to interview us about our visit. "We love garbage beach!"
- A friendly guy on a scooter dropping his wife off to drive around and help us find a place to stay for the night. He didn't want anything in return, just to help.
- Chloe gets bad food poisoning.
- The weird fish-bus-rickshaw.
- Our last stretch of the north coast gets a bit hilly, but every up had a down before it to gain momentum on.
- Equipment failure #2: Some genius thought it would be a good idea to put a set of six large speed bumps right in the middle of a very long and steep road coming out the hills. When I hit them (going pretty fast) it instantly turned my bike into a bucking bronco. I came within an inch of losing control and landing on my face. With my brakes squealing my water bottle launched out of it's cage and off into the oblivion.
- Greg almost getting left by the bus while he was in the W.C. We couldn't stop the driver from leaving, even though I was hanging on the outside of the back entrance yelling at him to stop.
- Pigeon is frequently featured among the animals painted on signs for roadside food stands, along with chicken, fish and duck.
- Favorite dish in Indonesia so far: Gado gado.
- New fruit discovery: Snake fruit.
- This month (Indonesia): Can a man survive on nothing but fried rice for a month?
- Next month (Japan): Can a man survive on nothing but rice balls for a month?
"Minuman" = Drink.
"Susu" = Milk.
"Jeruk" = Orange.
"Teh" = Tea.
"Poci" = Pot.
"Ikan" = Fish.
"Bakar" = Grilled.
"Goreng" = Fried.
"Nasi" = Rice.
"Mei" = Noodle.
"Telur" = Egg.
"Ayam" = Chicken.
"Kambing" = Goat
"Secang" = Some weird sweet herbal bark drink.
"Selamat jalan" = Farewell/we're hitting the road.
The elementary school class performing the gamelan for us.
A traditional Indonesian dancer busking around Semarang.
• The Residents - Kaw-Liga
A band's place in myspace.