Chased, crashed, fell off three times and stranded. Are we there yet?Wednesday, March 11, 2009 12:29
Well pour me a shandy and send me up the maypole, in two days time I’ll be on a dingy to Malaysia…..
But wait, I’m not done with Indonesia yet and if the last week’s anything to go by then anything can, and probably will still happen. In the last seven days me and Dot have been robbed, in a fight, chased by the police, stranded in a ditch, on the deck three times and dragged around school giving lessons in English.
It all began last week in Jogjakarta, the cultural capital of Java. I didn’t like the place very much. I was pursued and hustled and hassled and chased until I’d had enough after just one day. So I got up at five the next morning and rode an hour to an old temple called Borubodor. I get there, go to buy a ticket and see the price… about 10,000 ruppeas, or 70p. “Sorry sir,” the man says, “Your ticket office is next door.” I go next door. ‘VIP, international visitors”. Great, special treatment and a free coffee. The price; 223,000 ruppeas!!! Twenty times as much because I’m Jonny Foreigner. I could have dropped. I said ‘come off it’. But that was the price. Bugger me. Imagine getting to Alton Towers and being charged a fiver if you’ve got an English passport and a hundred if you’ve not. There’d be outrage. I still went. But I wasn’t happy.
Two hours later I was still fuming when I got hit by a bus, well, a bus and a Toyota people carrier. I was cruising along and there was a bus in front going slower than Dot. Nothing unusual, not in Java, so I got to overtake, coast clear, Toyota coming opposite way but plenty of space to squeeze between. I get level with the bus, all good, then the Toyota starts drifting wide. ‘He’s going to hit me, he’s going to hit me I say to myself in the grip of fear… BOOOOF. He hits me, right in the side, the force of which smacks me against the buss I’m now right alongside. So I was like a pinball, ricocheting between this Toyota and a bus at 60km/h. I rode the bull and me and Dot somehow stayed upright.
I look in the mirror. Nobody had stopped so I think sod it, carry on. Twenty minutes later I stop to inspect the damage. My pannier racks on both sides are mangled. they’re welded steel and tough but they’re as crooked as my nose and all wonky. It’s then I start to chuckle. I just imagine the Toyota guy getting home and saying to his wife, ‘boy, you should have seen this motorcyclist, we didn’t half hit him good and proper, poor bugger, I hope he’s alright. Now what’s for dinner”. His wife will say ‘that’s great dear, but have you seen what he’s done to the side of your car?’. Then the man will go outside to find the biggest gauge along the driver’s side of his nice new car. Dot’s even got some of his paint as a souvenir. Same with the bus. He’ll get back to the depot and say, “Ey up Tony, you should have seen this biker, he didn’t half get slammed into my bus.” “That’s great Frank,” Tony will say. “But have you seen what he’s done to your bus. Frank will stamp out his cigarette and walk around the side of his freshly painted bus to see it in tatters, a mess, a ruin. I had to chuckle. Me and Dot took on a Toyota and a bus and won.
We had the same fortune with the police. Later on I was cruising along and came to a red light. I’ll just go straight through, I’m filtering to the left and that’s what they do out here. So I cruise through. Half way across the junction I hear. “TOOOT TOOOOOOOOT. I look in my mirror. It’s the police. Shit. “Dot what do we do, what do we do”. Dot pauses, thinks for a minute, then replies. “Just ride man, just ride…” So we gun it, flat knacker at 80km’h down this back lane with the toot of the whistle disappearing off into the distance. For 10 kays we rode with the throttle wide open. I kept looking in my mirror but nothing, not a siren, not a sound. We’d outrun them, or else they’d taken one look at Dot and thought, ‘no chance, we’ll never catch that.”
So a day of good fortune, sadly matched the next day by karma biting me on the backside. Pulling into a restaurant for lunch I didn’t like the look of it so thought ‘nahhh… I’ll go elsewhere.” So I try a Mission Impossible 2. Full throttle, spin the back wheel to turn in an arc. Only I don’t turn, instead Dot’s front wheel slips on the mud and we drive into the ground while the other diners watch us. So embarrassing. Then later I’m under taking a bus so go off the road into the dirt. All good, past the bus, then try and ride back on to the road, the back wheel catches the curb and we spin round 360 and end up horizontal in the road. The traffic has to wait while we get back up and dust ourselves off. To cap the day off we stay at a hotel that turns out to be brothel. Young women everywhere, and men partying. I locked my door and kept my underpants on for protection. I wasn’t paying for any pussy and neither was Dot.
The next day was better. We crossed to Sumatra and two hours in we meet a biker gang from Jakarta. Very nice they were, inviting me for coffee, which was lovely, and then to their friends house where they were staying that night. I would be their guest of honor. So off we set, me and eight of them, chalk and cheese. They’ve got leathers and elbow pads and knee pads and proper motorbike boots while I’m in Converse, ripped jeans and a t-shirt from H&M. To widen the divide they’ve also got police sirens and klaxons fitted to their bikes, so off we set, lights flashing, horns blaring, me in the middle feeling a right VIP. Anyway, it was a great night, they were a great bunch og guys and gals and it was an honor to meet them. I was even given a jacket with the club badge on the back which, for initiation, we all weed on.
Not really. The next day I wave them goodbye and carry on through Sumatra. Night time comes. No hotels anywhere. There just aren’t in Sumatra. ‘I’ll camp” I say to myself. So far I’d carried my tent form Australia and not once used it in Indonesia because til now I’d considered it too dangerous. But now I’m desperate. After a while I find a perfect spot, off the road and under a wicker canopy no longer in use. I stick up my tent and me and Dot sleep happy beneath a brilliant thunder storm sky. It was magic.
So we try the next trick the next night, only it didn’t go so well. Riding along I see a similar shelter on stilts tucked off the road. Perfect I think. So I ride down the steep bank and along the narrow walking path to the shelter. Inside I’m eaten by mosquitoes and tormented by crickets. I get in my mosquito bag. I get about 3 hours sleep then wake up. I’ve no clue what time it is. All my electrical equipment is dead and my watch is in Sydney. It could be 2am, 3, 4, 6, midnight, who knows. All I knew it was dark, and raining. “Shit”, I think, I’ll never get up that bank in the rain. And I was right. After I packed up in the dark and fumbled around with my bits and bobs I lined Dot up and gunned it. Half way up the bank we stop and sluther back down. On the third attempt I give up and try and walk it up. Again half way. Shit. I’m stranded. Cars must have seen me but no one stopped. It was night time remember.
I tried dragging and pushing at Dot but no good, we’re half way up and stranded. Dripping with sweat I finally think, ‘empty the panniers and box, make it lighter’. And after another half hour of shunting and lifting we make it. Freedom. Sweat. Success. Then Dot won’t start. I kick and kick but nothing. “You bitch,” I scream. “Just f@cking start”. But no. So I start pushing. That’s when a man stops, he speaks no English, me no Indonesian, but we establish that he needs to bump start me, or push. So for what seemed like a kilometer this poor bugger’s pushing me and Dot while she chugs away and finally starts with a cough and a splutter. We didn’t talk the rest of the day. Still not on good speaking terms.
Not even when we fell off again later in the day. Going downhill in the pouring rain there’s a guy in front on his moped. The lorry in front of him brakes. Moped guy locks his back wheel and sluthers all over the place. He pulls over and checks his back end. “What’s up mate, just shit yourself?” I chuckle to myself. Then the lorry brakes for me and instead of locking up the back I lock up the front wheel and down we go. BOOOM. Into the ground. Luckily no one injured and Dot’s ok, but I had to curse the guy on the moped who then cruised by laughing. That’ll teach me.
Last night, to treat myself, I stayed in a hotel where this morning a staff member stole some of my tools. To make things worse I rode a kilometer and got a puncture. The guys at the petrol station pointed it out so I pushed it to the shack next door that doubled as a garage and set to work repairing it. The guy helped with tools etc, and even pointed out the big washer I’d not put back in the wheel. I just thought it was off someone else bike and tossed it to one side. Thankfully he spotted it and put it right. Ta mate.
So that made me later leaving and two hours of hard riding later I was hungry. I stop at the roadside, get some fried rice and these school kids come in. They start talking broken English and one invites to his school just round the corner. “Okay,” I say, not realising that three hours later I would have been dragged around five seperate classrooms to answer questions and explain why I’m dirty and hairy and on a foreign moped to kids who didn’t understand me and just wanted a picture with the white guy. I even had to have lunch with the headmistress and offended everyone by using my left hand in a country where that hand’s still used to wipe your arse.
That was an hour ago and that’s my week. Two days left in Indonesia. Who knows what might happen.
Over and out