Saturday, 9 August 2008

Day 444 - Weleri

Getting out of Jakarta wasn't as easy as getting into it, my map didn't seem to be working almost from the start, or at least my interpretation of it wasn't working, not helped by very busy roads and one way systems. Still, I turned right at a no right turn junction, right beside 2 policemen blowing their whistles like there was no tomorrow, they just smiled and waved. I followed the compass which lead me to the end of an industrial estate, so I just carried on down a footpath, crossed a railway and amazingly ended up on the right road. Well done compass, sod off map! For some reason I wasn't really up for it on that morning, it was busy, busy, busy, and I got it into my head that it would be like this for a few days. The little people carrier shared taxis were a real pain, they pass then immediately cut me up to stop for a pick up, it really leaves me with 3 options, brake and swerve to the left and plough into the people he is about to pick up, not really fare on them, brake and don't swerve at all and plough into the back of the taxi, not really fare on me or the bike, or brake and swerve to to the right and just hope that passing traffic has either left enough room for me, or that they have room to swerve too. I normally go for option 3, so far it has paid off. But the combination of not having a good day and being severely cut up made me loose my cool. I had to brake hard, swerve right at speed which meant I went a long way out increasing the chances of something hitting me, which thankfully it didn't. I turned around and went back and let's just say I made it very clear that I wasn't entirely happy with his manouever helped by the fact that I gave the driver's door a hefty whack! He knew exactly what I was on about and apologised, at least that is something, though I suspect he will do the same thing again before the day is out. 60k out of Jakarta there at last seemed to be a few less junctions and I even saw something green that reminded me of a field. The night turned into another mosquito night, my favourite. My room was full of them and the staff could do nothing about it, so I doused myself in repellent. It sort of worked, they were all around me, but kept their distance daring each other to go in for an attack. They were annoying me but I thought if they kept their distance I might be able to sleep through, so I tried. I couldn't, they did move in for an attack. I could stand it no longer so went back to reception. They came back with a pump action spray, it was jolly good, within minutes they were falling like flies....oh, hang on a minute. So at last I got some rest, but within an hour or so more were arriving, the night was spent covering up, sweating until I could take it no more, then uncovering and getting bitten until I could take it no more, then covering up......

Come morning I was amazed to find hundreds of mossies dead on the floor, yet there were still plenty airborne, where did they all come from. I was so glad to get out of the place. The day was thankfully more rural, but the road remained busy. I suspect there isn't a road on Java that is not busy. But it was flat and exposed, the headwind that has been with me for so long had a clear run which made things hard work, not that I am one to ever complain, besides its only about another 3000km until I turn out of it! I arrived at Jatibarang and just hoped there was a place to stay otherwise I had another 50k to go to Cirebon. Thankfully there was, a gem of a place, cheap, very well kept and spotlessly clean, though I did spot one mosquito. When I went out there was another mass of bats, I could confirm they were bats this time, a constant stream coming out of a building, a tangled mass of them clinging to an outside wall. I stopped to take a photo and the locals thought it was hilarious when they shat on my head (the bats, not the locals!)

The following morning as I was about to leave the guy in the house opposite saw me and came across for a chat, he's a serious cyclist and took me over to see his bikes, he had 4 all like his massive house, spotless. Well that was about the highlight for that day....what am I saying, I made a great discovery, something you could try yourself at home. Being as there is so little sweet food here and I need a sugar fix, I tried a drink that I have seens other have. You take one strawberry fanta, then put some ice in a glass having first added a large dollop of condensed milk. Thought strawberry fanta was sweet enough already? Think again. This is great as the fanta sits on top of the milk and you can mix it to you own desire, then drink with a straw. I tend to mix it lightly, then you get very different tastes depending on how deep you put the straw in, a sort of strawberries and cream. Wow, one of those and I am away! Whooosh!

Looking at the map todays little schedule was slightly shorter, I believed the map, why not? It wasn't, it was longer, though at least I realised very early on when I saw a kilometer stone. The last couple of days I have passed endless adverts for a chain of cafes, they give a countdown in kilometers, so I thought I would try one. Very nice, very good food, very comfortable and pleasant surroundings, very friendly staff, very empty, in fact only me, very expensive. 30p for a coffee, what is the world coming to! I wont use them again, though they took photos of me and asked me to write a few words with a think pen so that they can frame it and put on the wall at the entrance. Gosh fame, it's tough you know, though I am not sure if was fame for being a long distance cyclist or for just being a customer. So a long day was rewarded with a small town with no hotel, oh joy! I asked around and was told there was a Losmen, a sort of B&B though more of just a B. I found it (photo), but I have to say that it is probably the worst place I have stayed at on this trip, though it has some way to go to match the hotels in Ethiopia. The room is tiny, wooden and with plenty of open bits at the top for the mossies to get in, it's pretty grimey too. The showers in Indonesia are generally a large tiled container in the bathroom full of water that you dip a small bucket into and pour over yourself. Here was much the same though shared, but the tank has fish swimming around in it. There are no locks anywhere so I might find I get back and I have nothing left, though seriously I am sure the people living there are quite trustworthy. The outside is like most hotels here, it looks alot better than it actually is on the inside.

Another couple of traffic rules I have spotted. Firstly, you must give way to anything coming towards you on the wrong carriageway. Secondly, the bike is the lowest of the low. One of my favourite manouvers is by truck and bus drivers. They pull out slowly in front of me so that I have nowhere to go, but the bit I really like is the way they are hanging out of the window with a big smile on their faces as the shout out "HELLO MISTER". How can you get annoyed with that? To them it's not dangerous, it's just what they do.

So what about the weather here? Well I seem to have lost the wet season and I now have wall to wall sunshine, no clouds at all. What's more I am getting sunburnt again, that hasn't happened in ages. It's normally about 29-30 degrees when I set off and reaches about 37 degrees as a maximum. I did I say I wouldn't complain about the wind, well I lied. Each morning I set off and it is still and each day I think "may be this is the day of no wind". It never is. At about 8:30 the wind suddenly appears from nowhere, well, actually from the east, where I am heading to. Ok so its not that bad, but I have to work a reasonable amount harder to go about 3kph slower, that's no justice is it? But what I really hate is the thought that if I was going the other way it would be so, so easy.

Tomorrow I head into the mountains proper, hills and wind, I can hardly wait.


dad said...

So the mossies have used your hair to mop up the blood, or have you had an Indonesian short back and sides. Perhaps you have shown the photo to lessen the shock we will get when you arrive back home. I hope you don't have trouble when you show your passport.

Caff said...

Now listen hair what's going on?

Is this an attempt to scare the mossies off as the chemical repellant doesn't seem to be working?

You will be pleased to know one of my friends thinks it has taken years off you - I'm still undecided!!! :-) xx

sfxpete said...

Hair today, gone tomorrow eh John! About time!!! You look a million times better, if I was gay or a women I'd snap you up!

Pete your old Cap buddy

John Harwood said...

Hi Pete, good to hear from you hope things are still going well. I assume you only dip into the blog every now and then, so the timing was good.

I don't know if you were implying it, but I think I look gay too.

The beard is already back to the short length that I like, but am too lazy to maintain it to, the hair is taking a little longer, but I like that shorter too.

Now get back to work!

All the best,


Basher Barlow said...

Assume you are trying to recreate some Interpol picture here John with this new look or you are trying out for some East End (no not the one near wooton) gang.