Sunday, 19 October 2014

All bikers are equal but some are more equal than others!

I've never been a fan of biker clubs. At least I have never felt the urge to join one. I guess that stems from my early days when biker clubs meant an army of rebels who wore the patch and the patch meant total loyalty and total submission of your rights as an individual to your Chairman. I always found this ironic for people who claimed to be rebels. If your leader said jump you jumped. If your leader said set your hair on fire and pull your teeth out whilst singing "sweet home Alabama" then that was what you would do. New recruits, or prospects who were still to earn their patch would be subjected to all manner of tasks and challenges. Mostly illegal, some downright barbaric. Women were not considered eligible to earn a patch. Women probably had more sense than to even try!

reliving my youth in Medan (Bum bag might have killed it)! 
I hated everything they stood for. Today their club houses still exist but no one really notices them.
Those who are left are holding on to the past while the future has already smashed down the door, stolen their favourite set of Para boots and trampled all over their denim waistcoats.

Whilst this type of MC is being packed away in a box marked "Old Relics" there is still one thing that remains strong -  The eternal smell of Jasmine oil! Nothing can get rid of that!!

Aside from the presence of said clubs, I loved being a biker back then.   The days when we all rode around with loud exhausts, Chopped Z650's and black leathers. I guess I was part of a group as well but we were just a load of bikers having fun together. We were friends. There were no leaders. There were no initiations (although being able to down a pint of snakebite in one, certainly earned you respect. Something I was particularly good at by the way).

Happy faces!
Motorcycle clubs have gained popularity in Asia over the last 10 years. Never more so than in Malaysia and Indonesia where it seems EVERY BIKER has their club or "community". However, these guys are not beer swigging, tattooed rebels as a rule. They don't have initiation ceremonies that I know of and women seem to be welcomed in to the "brotherhoods" as well. Just like the modern day UK clubs, it seems they are a community minded bunch who just like to group together and form an identity. They want to be part of something and this something is represented by their patch and of course the sticker!

Tuak and Durian night
Since arriving in Malaysia and moving over to Sumatra I have so far met with around 15 different clubs (I have a t shirt from each one to prove it!). Apparently I am unusual. Firstly I am a "Lady Biker" and secondly I am a "solo rider" or "fighter rider". I do not belong to a club and I choose to ride alone.

I have learnt the bikers handshake in India, Malaysia and Sumatra. So far Sumatra's has the most
moves but I have had lots of practice! Joining them at the regular Friday night meeting place of Medan, just outside the Mosque, I must have shaken hands with 100 bikers in quick succession! They were a friendly lot and all riding small bikes. The biggest bike there was a 250cc Kawasaki. This stood out as a big bike compared to the others which ranged from 50 to 150cc.

Joining the Honda bikers on Friday night!
All the clubs here tend to group together by bike type. Honda certainly has the monopoly on the market and the most popular is the CB150R. Honda is to Indonesia what Hoover is to the UK (bare with me here). Although Hoover is a brand name, we all tend to call our vacuum cleaners a hoover, whatever the make. This is the same in some parts of Indonesia where motorbikes come under the collective name of Honda. This means that your Honda could actually be a Kawasaki!

There are around 40 MC's in Medan alone. They each have a "leader". There is also a leader of the leaders! This is who I met for dinner yesterday. He seemed like a nice guy although we talked through an interpreter and I was a little annoyed that he had arranged the local press to be there without informing me. He presented me with a pair of trousers of all things. He said he was going to buy me a traditional Indonesian scarf but then decided to go practical! Now that is my kind of thinking!

Tasting the King of Fruits for the first time
This is the place I will always remember for eating the hottest chilli I have ever tasted! I have tried a few local dishes. The Durian fruit (king of fruits) with its pungent smell and unusual texture, Nasi Goreng, a very nice and inoffensive rice dish and my favourite so far, TST. This is actually a drink which consists of tea, raw egg and milk. It sounded and looked pretty revolting but I tried it anyway. It turned out to be delicious and I plan on having much more! I have also tried the local alcoholic drink of Tuak. It tasted like nothing else I have tried before but after a few sips it grows on you! Trust me!

Meeting the ladies
My dish with this particular lunch time was Bakso. It consists of meatballs and noodles amongst other things. I was told to mix in the bag of chilli that came with it. Although I like chilli I was a little wary as I had been warned about Indonesian chillies before. I decided to put in just a small amount and go from there. The first mouthful was fine. The second hit the back of my throat with such force that I struggled to catch my breath! More water was ordered whilst my eyes streamed and locals looked on in amusement. Europeans eh! They just can't hack it!

I will take away many fond memories of Medan but it's time for me to go solo again. Today I have
politely declined all invites and offers.  I will collect the bike tomorrow alone and head out to my first destination alone. The welcome has been wonderful but it can soon become overwhelming as so many people want to meet you or ride with you as an overlander. Here, as in Malaysia, things can quickly become out of your control unless you are very clear on what you want. This requires some repetition. Believe me! The culture is to help but I cannot allow it to take over. Now I just want to ride my bike! Just me and Rhonda. It's good to know there is a network of bikers out there if I need it.

Trying out TST. MMMM!!!
My mission whilst in Indonesia is to see as much wildlife as possible and to check out the countryside. I believe I have a few treats in store. My route will take me fairly close to Mount Sinabung which has been erupting over the last couple of weeks. The latest news is that it has calmed down and so I believe there is nothing to stop me continuing as planned. I have a contact in Jakarta who is providing me with local knowledge to help me make the most of my journey as I head further south. I will then meet with him as I ride in to Jakarta.

Let's hope Rhonda has survived the crossing intact and may Customs be gentle with us!


  1. Durian, eh? You are brave indeed!

  2. come over to Malaysia and ride offroad with me......

    1. Sorry I missed you Iman. Would have loved to do some off road while I was there. Maybe next time. x

  3. Wow sounds like lots of fun. Very cool that the bikes are Hondas and 250 being the biggest, glad cc-itis has caught on over there. In North America it's always the bigger is better scenario and I wish people would explore riding smaller machines a little more.

  4. When you're nearly in Bali, I'll send you a 'suggested' route that avoids the main road to Denpasar (which is ludicrously dangerous and should be avoided -- I mean it!).

    I hope to include: wildlife in the national park (camping possible-ish, but no promises), nice scenic twisty roads with little traffic, good views from mountains, past lakes, the best barbeque ribs in Bali, and cool beers/wifi/beagles to end the day. (no snakebite and black, I'm afraid).

    Either I could ride with you, or you can just take the 'suggestions' and go solo, but the bed, board, beagles and beer still stand.

    1. Thanks. Cant wait to meet the Beagles.......and you of course!!! : 0 )

  5. Sounds like a wonderful time, as always Steph.

    I love Nasi Goreng and can't wait to have it from it's homeland.

    Stay safe and keep us all envious :)

  6. Hey Steph
    Enjoying your blog; been following your adventure for a while. I love Indo. Culture and food. As i recall the wildlife is on the road!:-) Take care and eyes on the road. Vic in BC.

  7. Perhaps let Honda know that I'm buying a new CRF250L solely due to you..much respect - Steve Slaughter (South Africa)