Tuesday, 25 November 2014

20,000 miles and still going!

The last two weeks have been a fitting end to my final leg in Asia. There were some places I just didn't want to leave. The rain forest of Borneo and the jungle school for Orangutans has to be top of the list of all time highlights and I found it extremely difficult to walk away. I hope I can do something in the future to help these little guys. My letter to Santa this year will read:-

Dear Santa

Please adopt me an Orangutan from the BOS Foundation and help raise money for their preservation and welfare. That's all I want this year.......actually that and a large bottle of Singleton

Malt Whiskey.....aaaand.....no....no that's definitely it! 
Many thanks in advance.
PS I don't have a chimney this year but I do have a rather large exhaust pipe so I'll leave your usual on the footpeg! 

Jakarta, held some secret gems too. Not least the people. I had to tear myself away although I still find it hard to imagine how there came to be so many passionate and dedicated bikers when riding there just seems like a daily challenge rather than a pastime! 10 million people live in Jakarta and it would seem that 80% of them ride stepthru's! They are not easy to ride through! Perhaps masochism is the answer. More likely, I guess the traffic has to be faced one way or another and so why not do it with some good old biker attitude. Whatever the reason, I take my helmet off to them for their skill in staying sane amid the constant chaos!

Heading further south, I worked my way along the busy roads to Bandung and then a further 500km to Surakarta. These were long days on Javan roads. Hot, busy and very little to see aside from the back end of a lorry or occasionally the front end as it ran me off the road in its haste to overtake the oncoming flow.  This happened no less than 4 times in 3 days and I was beginning to get a little tired of it. This is usually when I stop at the IndoMarket for an ice cream and this is where I often meet some random people who I chat with while I eat my hard earned Magnum! Indonesians are very friendly people as a rule (unless they are in a truck or on a stepthru) and somehow I find them familiar and easy to talk to time and time again. I have gained many new Facebook friends in the last few days from random meetings which have made me smile on a hard days ride.

From Surakarta I rode to Malang where I was reunited with my GoPro having left it behind in
Jakarta. Luckily the members of the Prides MC jumped in to action with military precision and the parcel arrived before me! Finally I made it up to up to the Volcano which is Mount Bromo. The air here was cooler and I welcomed it with open arms as it refuelled my energy levels. Best of all though was the view as I reached the top of the hill. I got off the bike and looked over the edge to see a vast plain of fine volcanic ash below. I smiled and looked at the guy next to me who was eyeing me up to sell me some coffee and said "Am I allowed to ride on that?" Wide eyed and full of new found energy.
 "Yes" he replied, rather unexpectedly.  I hadn't actually expected him to speak English!
"What anywhere?"
"Yes" he said and smiled, noting my excitement.
Bromo was just what I needed! I didn't need the coffee but I ordered one anyway by way of thanks, although I don't think it was really down to him!

Hotel sorted, Rhonda unpacked and me refuelled with Pacori Sweet and fresh mountain air, I headed down the hill and on to the off road playground!

I rode on the the dark sand tentatively at first. It had been a long time since I had ridden in the dunes of Morocco and I couldn't quite remember how it was going to feel. Of course the trick to riding in sand is to be confident. Give it some speed, don't hesitate and let the bike move underneath you as you stand on the pegs. Don't brake if you can help it and allow your self to glide with the bike.

Some sand is harder to ride and it really takes some conviction to attack it. It's what they call Fesh

Fesh in Morocco. This is really fine soft sand that makes you feel like you are sailing rather than riding. There was plenty of this here as well as long stretches of hard packed stuff. Once I got the hang of it again I was away! I had the bike, I had the playground and I had some really stunning scenery. All that was missing was my music and so I sang really loudly instead! Luckily there was no one around to hear me wail!

The next morning I got up at 4.30am, jumped on Rhonda and headed up some dirt tracks to the highest point I could reach with the bike. This was going to be great! Watching the sunrise in a secluded spot. Just me and Rhonda!

The romantic image was soon shattered as I reached the top of the rocky track only to be greeted by about 30 other people and someone selling tea and noodles! Not quite what I had in mind but it was a beautiful view non the less! Despite this, some of the people there stopped taking pictures of the view and started asking for pictures with me! It was just before 5am! I didn't look my best but I obliged before ordering some tea and finding myself a nice spot to sit amidst the crowd!

Just after leaving Bromo, I hit a big mile stone. Not literally you understand! I hit the 20,000 mile (32,186km) mark.  I felt a sudden surge of excitement as I realised this fact and then promptly stopped for another ice cream to celebrate! Magnums are good for every occasion!

Several hours later I was on the ferry and waving goodbye to Java. On the other side I was due to
meet Jonathan. A British English teacher living in Denpasar. We had spoken many times on email and so I was aware that he had 4 Beagles as well as few cold beers waiting to greet me. Unfortunately I took the wrong road to meet him and ended up around 60Km away from him with a dying battery on my phone and no GPS once again (all the accessory chargers on my bike have stopped working). With a little effort on Jonathans part, we found each other and 14 hours after leaving Bromo I finally arrived at his place in the city.

Jonathan and his wife, Imelda, are clearly very relaxed people and I instantly felt at home. Of course it helped to be surrounded by dogs! This will be my base for the next few days as I sort out the shipping to Australia and prepare for my third continent.

Still going!!!

On a final note I want to send out all my love to Askhar and his wife Anis. He was the guy I mentioned in the last post who had broken his leg after an argument with a truck soon after I left his place in Java. Sadly there were complications and Askhar has had to have his leg amputated. Despite this he and his wife are still smiling and are showing amazing courage in the face of this sudden and enormous change to their life. I cannot imagine what that would be like but I am pretty sure I would not be so brave! I am humbled by their strength of character. Askhar told me before I left that his dream too, was to ride around the world one day. Askhar, I have no doubt that one of your "brothers" is converting a bike for you right now and with the determination you have shown in the last couple of weeks, I know you will do a far better job than me! Thank you for showing me what true strength really is. Go for it mate. I am right behind you all the way just as soon as you're ready. This is just the beginning of your next great adventure. xxxxxxxx



  1. pheweetttt.....go steph go...as far as you can, very nice journey. may god bless you where ever you go.

  2. great read..........keep smiling young lady:-))

  3. safe riding keep safe

  4. Loving the updates, Steph. Keep 'em coming :)

  5. omgosh! you and the Orangutan, simply precious! :D

  6. Lovin' your adventure from afar in snowy Canada. One memory of mine of jakarta was the traffic jams...machet I think they called it. Rock on Steph!! Vic

  7. Hi Steph
    Good to see a bit from your trip in Borneo, I was there exactly a year ago and worked with to measure a Longhouse in 1.5 month.
    We met in Yatz on May 22, along with Michael, if you can remember it?
    I had a great trip tic Central Asia and China and home to the European Union, through Siberia.
    Now I am writing a book on the Silk roads, but have begun to think about a great new travel throughout Siberia and Alaska, and from there South to Central America.
    Continued good trip, I was glad to meet you. .. you are just cool.

    Loving greetings
    John Andersen

    1. Hi John
      Yes I remember. Good to hear from you and that things are going well. Good luck with the book. Not your first if I remember rightly? Let me know when its out. I'd be interested in reading it.
      Good to meet you too. You're not too bad yourself!! ha ha! : 0 )