From an island to the other

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The place where I spent the last 2 nights was heavenly beautiful and a famous surfing spot. I met very nice people who came here to catch some waves. On my last night, as I was sorting out my stuff in the room, I saw a very strange light through the window, of a really intense red / pink colour. I went out and ran towards the beach, to admire the most beautiful sunset I have seen in my life. I left the following morning, fully rested.


Unfortunately not remotely as good as it was in reality

The day ahead promised to be long. My goal of the day was to leave the island of Sumatra to finally reach that of Java by boat. 318 kilometres were still separating me from where the ferry was located, and the time was getting long on the road. My tyre remained a problem and kept losing air on the way. I decided to randomly make a stop at a Yamaha dealership and try to ask for a hand. Several people were looking at me with their eyes wide open. Finally, one of the managers who could speak a little English came and shook my hand. I showed him the wheel and explained with my usual gestures that the rim was a bit dented and that air was coming out (“bang bang, air out, psshhhht”). He offered me to let his team work on the rim and re-inflate the tyre while we shared a coffee.

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Coffee break with the Yamaha team…

I took pictures with the team, my rim was fixed and my tyre now had the right pressure again. “So …” I asked him before leaving. “Yamaha or BMW… What is the best?”. He pointed his finger at my bike begging me not to reveal his secret.


… and last picture for the road ! 

I finally reached the southern tip of Sumatra and headed towards the ferry. I thought it would take me some time to locate the entrance and find out where the ticket counter was, but everything was really easy and intuitive. The entrance was a kind of toll at the end of the main road where you could directly buy ferry tickets from. You could then pass the barriers, and many guards would kindly point towards the direction to reach the right boat. Once in, you could just park the bike and go about your business for the next 3-4 hours. Going out was just as simple. I had left Sumatra and reached the island of Java.



On and off the ferry to Java

Before going on, I would like to talk again about the condition of the roads in Sumatra by quoting a message from my Australian friend Steve (from Lake Toba), because his description was quite accurate and really funny  :

” Really, calling them a road is an insult to roads. What must the roads of France or Australia think?  They’d be ashamed to be associated with a thing from Sumatra that calls itself a road…Nonsense. Complete mortified nonsense. Indonesians call these murderous things JALAN. I call them HELL. I don’t think that even the Nazis could invent such torture devices as Sumatran roads. And they are mysterious. You never know if the thing just bloody disappears before your eyes or a bath sized hole appears out of NOWHERE.”

I think you can tell someone spent a little bit too much time in Sumatra!

My destination for the evening was Jakarta, the capital city. Night began to fall, and I tried to reach the highway as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, and for the 2nd time of this trip, motorcycles were prohibited on this highway. It meant I had to make a big detour and ride the 135 kilometres that led to the chaotic capital on small and very crowded roads. My headlights died entirely, and I found myself awkwardly holding my flashlight between the palm of my left hand and my handle to illuminate the road. A few minutes later, my only source of light slowly weakened and died. The last hours were hell, and the traffic was a nightmare. I tried to follow vehicles that had the best lights, and finally arrived with a lot of relief at my hostel, where I was greeted very pleasantly.

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A terrifying night ride

The next morning, I was getting ready to meet up with 2 friends that I was longing to finally meet in person. The first to arrive was Mario, an Indonesian friend who did the exact opposite journey of mine : he rode his bike from Indonesia to France, with the help of its sponsors and his spirit of adventure. We were supposed to meet up in Iran, but were unable to. We were together in the same country at the same time, but there was a delay in his trip, which unfortunately spoiled our plans. We promised to try and meet up once I reached Jakarta. We were joined a few minutes later by my second friend, Adi. We had met through a biker forum. It was he who helped me with my itinerary for Sumatra, he who gave me lots of good advice for the Indonesian part of my trip, and he who arrived and smiled widely at the sight of Mario. The two already knew each other, to my surprise. Adi also knew my friend Fajar (met in Bangkok, then at the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, remember?). The motorcycle world is tiny!


Mario and Adi on their bikes

So all three of us went for a ride in the streets of Jakarta and went to a motorcycle shop where I decided to change my brake pads, which were getting pretty worn. The place was very strange:  it was a dark garage full of bikes, and did not look anything like a proper shop. To get to the main shop, you had to go through the garage, cross a house, climb up stairs while noting with astonishment the presence of large land tortoises (that I suspect were the owner’s pets), before finally arriving on the upper floor where a very large shop filled with accessories for motorcycles would appear. We were greeted with big smiles, and I was told that this was my lucky day because the brake pads I was looking for were actually in stock. They explained, later on, that this place was actually an online shop mainly active on the internet, hence the very strange entrance.

DSC_5813_FotorFrom left to right : Adi, the shopkeeper, me and Mario

We spent the afternoon at a coffee shop while they were taking care of my bike. We shared many stories and had an amazing time together. Back at the store, we spent some more time with the people there, who told me that the brake pads were changed with no issues. Adi took the opportunity to get some valuable contacts, and the shopkeepers even gave me a spray to clean my visor. I never thought I would ever need something like this, but I must say that in the end I actually used it more than I want to admit… We went back to the bikes, and said goodbye to each other, happy. I was ready to cross the last piece of land that separated me from my final destination, Bali. A “piece of land” that was still 1200 kilometres long.

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