Sumbawa island

The deck of the car ferry to Sumbawa island reminded me of an alpine house sleeping room. People resting beside each other in a big room full of bunk beds. The ferry is run 24h per day. During the transfer it got dark and when I arrived to Poto Tano on Sumbawa I was keen on finding a place for the night soon. I left the port and stopped at the first “rumah makan” to ask if they have place to sleep as well. They did not, but a policeman bought his dinner there at that moment. He took me with him back to the port and arranged that I could sleep in the police office. The head of the office tried hard to convince me to join him for dinner to the next town. I did not want and I also did not want to join him to watch TV in his private living room. I went to bed soon.
Next morning I started to cycle on Sumbawa. My first impression was, that it is very different from the islands I have seen so far. Dry grasslands cover the hills, many goats wander around on the dusty streets. People do hard work with their bare hands. They work in quarries with the most basic tools and manually thresh the rice. Electric devices are not very common as there is a failure of power every day for hours. Sumbawa is rich of minerals and gold I was told. I read about misharvests and starvation.
The rainy saison should have started. But it was simply unbearable hot, dusty and dry. My skin started to burn even though I was dark brown already. The irradiation was so strong that I went to the next clothes shop to buy something with long sleves to cover up. The only thin, strechable long shirt they had in my size was a pyjama top. With a teddy bear on my chest I felt a bit silly but at least my skin was protected.
I got too much sun one day and ended up in a small warung (restaurant) falling asleep on a bamboo bench. I got fever as always when my body or mind is exposed to some extreme conditions. Luckily I could stay there and during the 3 days I was with them I became a part of the family. Sandara took care of me as if I would have been her own child. She wanted me to stay longer but I had to leave if I wanted to meet up with my friends in Flores soon. In the meantime the rainy saison finally started and streets turn into rivers, meadows into lakes. It’s impressive…
When I was on the bicycle again for the next few days I felt extraordinary weak and dizzy. Health issues can brake a cyclists timetable, motivation and fun. For the last bit on Sumbawa I took a truck to arrive to my friends place on Kanawa island (Komodo National Park) on time.

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Bali

Bali is the most touristic island in Indonesia. I was curious about this island as I have heard a lot about it. Theo and I spend some days cycling along the North and East coast. Sometimes we passed places with interesting spots for scuba diving. There developed a whole infrastructure of shops, guesthouses, restaurants and divecentres. For the rest of the way we cycled through small villages and along the coast. We got the same overwhelming attention as every where else in Indonesia. Sometimes we went out snorkeling and I got exiting about diving soon again. We spend some relaxed days in Ubud. There we walked along the rice fields and talked a lot. I found a place to store my bicycle and Theo got a box for his as he would fly back home soon. On Theos birthday we saw a Balinese dancing show and had a romantic dinner. Next day I was supposed to fly to Kuala Lumpur alone. As he could not extend his Indonesian visa Theo joined me for two days. Our time in Bali was not as free and easy as usually. Emotions directed our conversations and our mind was far too often at our farewell…

In the jungle

After crossing the Thai-Malaysian border I was keen on being in the mountains again. I followed the highway until the first village where I could organise Malaysian Ringgit and adapters for the plugs. Then I turned to the East and cycled for a few days through farmland and villages before the surrounding area turned into rainforest. It was astonishing beautiful especially in the mornings. Dense fog was hanging inbetween the hills and the red morning sun had to fight her way through. The atmosphere was mystical when I opened my tent in the morning.

Unfortunately it was not easy to find a place for camping. Directly beside the street the jungle seemed to be a green wall with no chance to enter. In my first night in Malaysia I approached a small house when it was already dark. I asked the family if I can pinch my tent here and they invited me into their house. Another night I built my tent beside a small palmoil plantage. Was quite surpirised when two policemen came to wake me up at midnight. But they where surprised too and had no idea what to do. I asked them if it is a problem that I camp here and they said yes. Why? Because it is dangerous!!! People tell me this since I left Austria. But I had countless nights in the tent with no problems at all. The policemen and I talked for a while. They seemed to feel uncomfortable. I wounder how they found me as my tent was not visible from the road and it was totaly dark. But I prefered not to ask. Finally they gave me some food and left. For the rest the night was quiet.

The jungle in Malaysia seems to be full of life. Much more than in all the other tropical countries I visited before. Often I saw monkey families crossing the road. Every few kilometer there where dead snakes, lizards and monitors on the road. Sometimes I also saw them alive. Once I even passed the dead body of a  big cat. Maybe a leopard? Now I regret that I did not take a photo of it!

The people told me also about wild elephants and after a while I started to believe them. There where traffic signs about crossing elephants quite often and I saw some tracks which came from huge animals. Also there where colourful birds and butterflies everywhere.

Cycling in this environment was hard sometimes. So hot and humid! But I really love the experiances I made. I met amazing friendly people, saw astonishing landscapes and had delicious food.

For me travelling by bicycle is still the best way to come  in contact with the soul of a country…

Back in crazy Bangkok

On my first day in Bangkok, my friend Marina took me on the motorbike to the Immigration Police, the bike shop and many other places. After 6 month on a remote and peaceful island Bangkok seemed to be other space! The highways, shopping malls and traffic like crazy paralysed me!

I stayed at Marinas and Danis home for one week. They live in a beautiful appartment in a residental neighbourhood.  In the courtyard there is a 100m long pool, a gym, sauna and steambath. First time since long that I enjoyed the luxury of a warm shower and a washing machine. I felt like in a five star resort! Thank you for your hospitality, my friends!!!

Marina and Dani live in Bangkok for a few months since Dani joined the Ayutthaya FC as a professional soccer player. When Dani and his team played a match I had the chance to be in a football stadium for the first time of my life! Exiting atmosphere!
 
After my first shock about beeing in Bangkok was over I took my bicyle and enjoyed to be in the middle of the chaos. Bangkok is a great city for cyclists! Just follow the motorbikes when they squezze their way through the taffic jam, ignore any signs and understand red traffic lights maximum as recommendations!

Bangkok is pure chaos and a gigantic mixture of pomposity, traffic and quiet corners. Irrespective of the area you can buy food everywhere and at any time on the streets.

After my time together with Dani and Marina I moved back to the very centre of Bangkok to spend some days together with Gerd. So I am back in room number 9 of FF Guesthouse like half a year ago before I left to Koh Kood. But even though I like Bangkok I wont have nostalgic feelings when I will leave the city in tomorrow. Cities never make the same deep impression to me as natural evironments. Therefore I am keen on being on the road again! Let the adventure beginn!