I had slept the previous night in the small town of Purbalingga. What better destination for this new day that the city of Probolinggo?
I set up my GPS with a lot of attention this morning, and decided not to leave the main roads until my arrival in Bali. It was probably my last big day before reaching the Island of the Gods, and I decided to go a long distance today so that the next one would be a bit shorter.
I left in the morning for a pretty boring day. I rode, I rode again, I rode more, and I rode some more. Time was flying, and I began thinking about my whole adventure. I thought about all the people I had met, all the landscapes and the countries I had crossed… All this would end soon, but I was happy. Proud of me, and happy about the idea of seeing my family again in a few weeks.
I stopped in the evening in a pretty decent hotel somewhere on the road, about fifty kilometers from the city I was aiming at first. I had been driving 11 hours straight and the night was starting to fall dangerously. I had learned my lesson and understood that you should never push too much, and 11 hours felt like a lot. I was greeted by the people at the reception. While I was checking in, a loud noise echoed throughout the lobby. A poor clerk had just ran head first into the bay window that he thought was open. I have always found that sort of video clips very funny on the internet, but seeing it in reality is different, and a bit scary. The poor guy was okay, although his nose was very swollen and he would have to endure his colleagues’ laughter for at least the next decade. I can already imagine the comments, 4 years from now:
“Hey Rio, remember the time you crashed into …”
“Shut up, Rafi”
“Ha ha ha”
I began my last day on the road with a delicious breakfast, and only 225 kms left to get to the ferry to Bali. I decided to take a small break 80 kilometers before the ferry, and had a coffee. While I was drinking, I noticed that the pressure of my rear tire dropped a little. This time, however, I was well equipped. I had bought, a few days after my incident, a little manual bicycle pump of a strange neon pink colour. One should think functional and not visual. Still, it was very helpful, and I was ready to go again.
The road changed dramatically, from the sort of landscape I was now used to see all around Java to something very different. Beautiful yellow-orange trees stood all around the road. It felt like changing season along the way, going from a green and flowery summer vegetation to a beautiful orange autumn and the melancholy that goes with it. A nice way to get to the ferry terminal and say goodbye to Java. The process was very similar to the one from Sumatra to Java: I bought my ticket easily, and boarded the boat.
On the ferry to Bali
I bought myself a coffee and bananas (because I know how to live well…) and spent the one-hour crossing wandering on the upper deck watching Java go away as Bali was getting closer. I felt a real sense of accomplishment, and I was proud. Proud to have proven to myself that this trip was possible, proud to have handled dangerous situations, proud to have had the chance to see so many cultures, to have met so many people who have welcomed with open arms, and proud to have completed my project alone from A to Z. The doors opened, and I was now riding in Bali.
It was already 1 pm, but I decided to try my luck and reach Tampaksiring, the village where the school I have been raising money for is located. Some 130 kms further, I was in front of my final goal : the school, beautifully standing in the middle of the village, but closed. I expected it a bit, and decided to return the next day. I slept in the evening at the hostel I had booked, where I received a friendly welcome. The place was quiet, lovely and away from the hustle and bustle of Kuta (the touristy area of Bali known for its many bars, crowded beaches and large crowds of drunk Australian tourists -well, not only Australian but mostly!- ). They even gave me a free night to support my project! I fell asleep quickly, and woke up at 7:30 am the next day to go back to the school.
In front of the school (already close that day)
The next day was Saturday, and the school was open from 9am to 11am. I decided to go and finally meet the teachers and children. Their welcome could not have been more perfect. The man in charge, Pak Dewa, greeted me first. He introduced me to his assistant Jero Made, as well as a teacher and three French volunteers, who were spending their last day there. I then met all the children, and was introduced to them. They made me repeat greetings in Indonesian, and the children would reply. Pak Dewa is a person with a big heart : he danced, sang and jumped around joyfully with the children. They explained how the school works, and the course of a morning here. I proudly helped distributing the children’s notebooks by calling them one by one. When the class came to an end, we took group pictures with the bike to celebrate the end of my expedition. The children prayed all together, and said goodbye to us by taking our hands and putting them on their forehead. I thanked everyone and left, happy.
This meant the end of my adventure, or almost. My final step was to send the bike back to France, so the next morning I went to the cargo agency to do so. I sorted my stuff to make sure I would leave everything I don’t need on the bike, and went to meet my agent. The motorcycle would be leaving by boat this time. The process was the same as flying it to Kathmandu: they made me empty the tank, dismantle everything I could (mirrors, etc …), and we began packing all the bags in thick bubble wrap. They then proceeded to wrap the bike itself. You could only tell it was a motorcycle by the shape of it now, as it was entirely covered and protected. The employees took all the necessary measurements to create a customised wooden crate, which was built around the bike. I bid farewell to my road partner, and left the cargo place by taxi. My trip was over.
Crating the bike to send it home
A few weeks later, I was back in France. Very few people knew that I would be coming back that soon. I was very happy to see my girlfriend again when she picked me up from the airport. I had done my research, and knew that my uncle would be hosting a dinner for Christmas Eve on the 24th at his place, and that my whole family would be there. I decided not to tell anyone and go there to surprise them all in person. I put on a Santa Claus costume with a white beard that could barely cover my own black beard, rang the bell, and showed up in the living room to the great surprise of all the guests. They applauded me and welcomed me like a king. My parents came and hugged me like I was gone forever. We spent a pleasant Christmas Eve all together.
Surprising the family for Christmas
I was back home. The only remaining step now is to pick up my motorcycle at the port of Marseille on January 18th. and get ready for my next trip.
Total kilometers: around 20900 kms
Countries crossed: 17 countries
Maximum speed: 187 km/h, in Burma
Number of falls: 7
Maximum number of falls on the same day: 3
Number of chicken killed : 1
Favourite music to ride: David Sanborn – Comin’ home baby
Number of ships / ferries taken: 5
Cheapest gasoline: 0.30 cents / liter, Iran