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The beach at last, Padang, Muko-Muko, Ferry on to Java, Jakarta!

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After Maninjau, we headed out and again rode through beautiful, green rainforest.  We were itching to see the legendary Sumatera coast since it was so popular with surfers.  After a couple of hours of riding through the rainforest covered mountains, the elevation was gone and rice paddies faded into the ocean! Finally, the beach!  The amazing part was that we had the beach to ourselves.  White sand, blue water, white sand islands, and volcanic mountains in the distance…the beauty of Indonesia really rivaled that of the other beaches we had seen so far in southeast Asia.  We couldn’t get enough of it and kept getting off the bike to take pics…who knows where we’d get to tonight!  At one beach we were surrounded by super excited highschoolers who had come up on a weekend trip.

We decided to get to Moku-Moku or the Bagus Bay area for the night halt.  While I was admiring the coastline, Nick saw a dude and his wife on a scooter  turn out into our lane from the other side of the street after a few trucks had passed.  Usually these scooty guys make a narrow U-turn into our lane but the guy kept on coming and coming.  Not once did he look for us coming.  Nick moved the bike over and over to the extreme left only to find a ditch and houses alongside it.  It was too late and the scooty slammed into the front right of the bike.  Remarkably no one fell including the man and his wife.  Nick got off the bike and started yelling at the guy in Hindi…I guess if we spoke English they would’ve started to hassle us more.  The people that lived in the houses near the ditch had seen it all and the man knew he was at fault.  The lady looked pissed off but probably due to the single casualty.  She had her new, big papaya hanging in a plastic bag off the handlebars of their scooty.  That huge papaya slammed right into our engine and split in half, spilling papaya guts on the engine itself and cooked right on to the metal!  The lady picked up her other half of the papaya off the road flashing me a dirty look.  Well actually, the papaya was not the only casualty…our right side tool tube ended up breaking with the force of the kamikaze attack as well as the dude’s front plastic body to his scooty.  They obviously weren’t bothered too much because they left the broken body on the side of the road and disappeared.  We lingered for a few minutes more and then headed out cursing along the way until we realized wait….didn’t we have the GoPro on?  YES!  Can’t believe we have all of this on tape!!!

This honestly was the first time that we had any sort of major or even minor collision and we couldn’t help but think our bad luck was following us.  It put us in a bad mind space  and we were bummed for the night.  We tried to get some things fixed like our tool tubes and and our side Touratech bag which had ripped in the kamikaze attack as well as getting a tool roll/bag sewn.  We didn’t have much luck except for a nice lady tailor who did a not-so-good job but she was just too sweet and genuine for us to stop her and pay her less.  In the morning we washed the bike and went to a welder who made some plates out of some rusted metal so we could mount the tool tubes.  We stopped on the way in Bengkulu at Fort Marlborough and ate some good but overly priced Padang place.  Padang-style restaurants usually give you steamed rice and then you can choose what you want from an array of curries, meats, omelets, and sambals.  Although we got tired of Padang food, nasi goreng, and mie goreng….I know I’m going to miss it!    We got to Gisting and called it a night…again we were stuck in rain and traffic.  The drive to Bakauheni to catch the ferry to Java was another tough one where the weather took a turn for the worse and we were caught in heavy rains.

Eventually we got to Bakauheni and the ferry to Java left around 3pm that meant we’d get to Java after dark around 5ish.  In the ferry, the scooters were directed to put their bike on the center stand and the ferry workers tried to convince us to do the same, but we insisted we had to put it on the side stand.  For extra stability we strapped the side opposite to the side stand to the rim of the neighboring truck.  Luckily, the air con section of the ferry was literally empty, so we walked right in.  We were surprised to be serenaded by karaoke singing girls in tight jeans and stripper heals with socks.  But despite the major fashion faux paux (I know I’m not one to talk these days but that’s one thing I’ll never do!), the ladies sang extremely well so it was kind of enjoyable!   Little did we know the hell that was waiting for us on the other side of the Sunda Strait…

It started to get dark and we were faced with the mother of all traffic jams a couple of hours outside of Jakarta.   It got dark, there were buses, cars, and scooters jammed into one lane coming and one lane going.  The road itself was full of potholes more than a foot deep.  The scootys and small mini-vans decided to make their own road and made a second lane offroad.  From our previous experience in Delhi, we knew our bike is not happy when it’s stuck in traffic, it started to overheat and we had to pull over.  When it starts to overheat I can feel it near my ankles.  We pulled over for 20 minutes only to get back into the relentless traffic when it started to pour down rain.  We were tired and a bit defeated.  The roads and traffic in Sumatera were rough at times but really nothing too crazy or anything we could really vent about.  But this night tested our patience!  We got to a suburb area that was somewhat close to the BMW Motorrad in Jakarta (needed to get some things done) and asked around at some guest houses only to find them overpriced since they claimed that only the expensive rooms were vacant or we were told that they were full.  Eventually we found something and it was still pouring down.  After a tough day, our morale was a bit bruised but luckily there was a McDonalds down the street that provided us with good ol’ comfort food to ease our stress.

Sumatera had been beautiful, empty beaches, plenty of rainforest, nice people, different religions, interesting villages, …despite our bad luck so far we were enjoying Indonesia and it was easily turning out to be our favorite southeast Asian country so far.  Let’s see how Java measures up…

 

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