2001-11-24 in Flores, Indonesia
Tyre trouble for the tourist traveller

Having reached my most easternmost point in my Indonesian travels at Kelimutu we turned around and started heading back. The first stop was in a mountain-top village called Bajawa, famous for its surrounding tribal villages, volcano and hot springs.

For several reasons Bajawa was a good place to stop. Firstly my tyres which have seen more than their fair share of action are ready for a change. My front tyre has taken me from Bangkok to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore and across six islands in Indonesia. In a mild state of panic I managed to get hold of Andrew Chua, a friend of mine in Singapore and he in turn managed to get BMW Singapore to supply me the much needed new set of tyres. From that point on my new “fairy god-father” Bruno, my Bali-based travelling companion and friend has miraculously arranged the collection in Singapore and the delivery to Bima, one of the bigger towns in Sumbawa, where I am currently stationed waiting for the plane to arrive tomorrow (ainshallah!). Without Bruno’s help I would have been stuck and been forced to hire a truck to get my bike back to Bali from where I plan to fly to Sydney. Long live the kindness of strangers and friends, without people like Andrew and Bruno I would have had a terribly disappointing end to my travels in Indonesia.

Secondly, Louise reckoned it was time that I spent a day off the bike (why??). And once I had complied with this wish she arranged a tour of the local tribal villages with some travellers we had met on the way (Hi Chris and Irena and Steve and Rich!). No sooner had I capitulated when I found myself being thrown around the belly of one of the local vehicles bouncing our way through all the villages and mountainside. As if I needed reminding why I am here on a bike. We were taken to three villages, the first, was interesting only in the juxtaposition of new and old, while the guide was explaining the ancient traditions to us the village boys, in defiance, were blasting out rock music from their thatched hut. The second village offered nothing but a very old lady stoned on betel nut with a young boy observing the comedy unfold (see pic). Finally we arrived in Bena village, a very impressive village set in a breathtaking position (see pic). The village had nothing other than its beauty to offer and soon we were off to have lunch in our guides more modern village. Nothing like a bit of rice and boiled veggies to get the heart pumping (steak, anyone?).

We wound up the afternoon by driving another bump-filled hour to the local hot-springs for a good soak. I found myself pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed a day of travel without my trusty steed. Still, I won't make it a habit.

The next day after being woken at five by the local police doing their exercises and losing my temper with the captain (and consequently waking the rest of the guests of the hotel). It’s all a bit of a blur, but I do remember me shouting something like: “Shut the f… up, we’re all trying to sleep!” quite ironic that this is exactly what woke the rest of the guests. Oops.

I think I have come to the realisation that finally I am ready to leave Asia. I need some time of recuperation in a country that doesn’t wake up to the call of the rooster, or the prayer calls from the minarets, and one that certainly one that doesn’t go to bed with the sun. Did someone say OZ?

the charming view of the tribal village of Bena

one very stoned old lady

natures's jacuzzi - the simple life

most definitely my last volcano for a while

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