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The Flores Bike Adventure

The Flores Bike Adventure 

Destination: East Nusa Tenggara more specifically Maumere. Getting there seemed to be an adventure in itself as we were greeted at Jakarta International airport with a cancelled sign and no real possibility of another flight. Eventually we were loaded bikes and all on to a Garuda flight to Denpassar. Unfortunately we had missed our connecting flight to Maumere. Merpati were decent enough to put us into a hotel for the night.

Next day we were ready to board out Lion air / Wings Air flight to Maumere.

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We arrived in Maumere with about 2 hours left of sunlight. It was straight into assembling the bikes as quickly as we could and hitting the road. We cycled for around 18 km into the fading sunlight to a very modest guset house on the outskirts of maumere on the coast. Dinner and bed!

 

Day 1: 86 km Maumere - Moni: We awoke after a pleasant night sleep at around 5:30am, ate our breakfast and hit the road. The road out of Maumere is pleasant enough although it was a very gradual climb over the tops. We had to make it from the north coast onto the south coast and the climb was relentless. It wasn’t because it was steep it just continued to climb and wind.

We hit Pago just before lunch after a pleasant downhill for around 15 minutes. Pago is a beautiful white sand beach that is practically deserted. You can stay at the bungalows on offer if you feel the need for isolation. We were tempted to stay the night but understood we had to keep cycling to Moni. After nasi gorendg chicken it was back on the bikes for the second leg. Once again we found ourselves slowly climbing what seemed like an endless hill. The scenery around us was breathtaking with the coast on one side and the rolling hills with ric paddies on the other. We eventually arrived in Moni around 4:30pm and found a reasonably priced guesthouse for Rp150, 000.

 

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Day 2: 63 km Moni – Ende : After visiting the magnificent Lakes of Kelimutu we were back on the bikes again. Oh yes we had to climb out of Moni slowly but surely for around 20km. The road was very good and we weren’t bothered by almost any traffic. The road bends and winds until you finally make it to the top where we had a welcomed rest at a fruit market. People were telling us that the downhill was about 25km long and I was ready for some freewheeling! The locals were not wrong as the the descent down into Ende was sublime. We freewhelled for around 25km wondering when we aould have to climb again. There was the occaisional climb but nothing we had experienced on the previous day. We arrived in Ende around 1:00pm and decided to find a guest house just on the outskirts of this dusty town.

 

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Day 3: 79km Ende – Bajawa: this was to be a very emotional day for us. The ride out of Ende was nice enough as the road hugged the coast and treated us to some spectacular views. As I was riding I could see on the horizon the real mountains of Flores that awaited us. Soon enough the winding road began and we started the climb. We stopped at a roadside market and stocked up on local fruits and the ever so needed water. The road continued to climb and we were told “Naik laggi” which means uphill again! I didn’t like this word as it became somewhat demoralizing. We eventually arrived in Bajawa very tired and extremely sweaty around 5:00pm. The night in Bajawa was terribly cold and didn’t boost our morale for the next day.

 

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Day 4: 94km Bajawa – Ruteng: This was another day of climbing right into the interior of Flores’ beautiful landscape. The scenery was stunning with sweeping vistas, volcanoes and very friendly locals that thought we were crazy. At around 12:00pm we had realized that we had only covered around 45km and still had a long way to go. We made a very good decision to flag a bus and load the bikes onto the roof. I was not ashamed at doing this as the climb was relentless and the higher we got, the colder we became. It was strange to be in a tropical country and feel cold like that! We arrived in Ruteng around 3:00pm and managed to find a guesthouse with blankets! (Cold water shower though)

 

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Day 5 143km RutengLabuan Bajo: This had to be the hardest day of cycling I have ever done. Although we had a steady downhill we understood that we would be climbing again. Once at the bottom of a mountain we had to do it all again 3 times! It was like a rollercoaster. We cycled on at a very slow pace until we eventually reached one of many crests. The only difference with this one was thet fact we could see the west coast of Flores and our coveted destination of Labuan bajo at the bottom. The ride down to Labuan was spectacular although many trucks seem to use the road as a car park. We had to maneuver around the trucks and drivers carefully as the road continued to zig zag down the mountain. We arrived in Labuan just before sunset and we were greeted with a spectacular show of colour as the sun said goodbye for the day. We stayed at gardena guest house which is located on the main street in Labuan Bajo.

 

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Total Distance: 465km.

 

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Lombok & Sumbawa

Lombok & Sumbawa

 

What could two English teachers possibly want from a holiday?

Take our hobbies and profession, add them all together and you will come up with The Great Lombok Sumbawa Adventure.

2 Mountain bikes

1 Camera

4 Legs

2 Islands

2 Crazy English Teachers

4 Government Schools

320 English Students

1 Dennis

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Day ONE

Sengigi Lombok to Poto Tano Sumbawa

(102km)

After cycling 80 grueling km across Lombok's mountainous terrain we found ourselves on the ferry going over the Alas strait. The cost of the ferry was only 15,000Rp and a bargain at that. As the ferry approached we could see quite clearly the arid hills of Sumbawa that were awaiting us. The ferry docked just as the sun was setting and we had to find a place to eat and sleep quickly. After a quick look at the map the cold hard truth hit us. It was another 45km to the nearest town with a hotel. Options were limited and the time was running out. We found ourselves in a small warung eating cold rice when all of a sudden a dark figure with a sword and several cows walked in and stood in front of us. 'You sleep, house my, come! Me Dennis.' How could we refuse?

 

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Day TWO

Dennis' House to Sumbawa Besar

(83km)

Sleeping on the floor in a Bamboo hut on stilts and being presented to the village leader was a true sign that our adventure had begun. The hot cup of coffee at 5am brought back some source of life and it was back on the road. We cycled through 5 villages that day and word of two foreigners on bikes was spreading faster than we could cycle. Children lined the side of the roads and cheered us on. The roads were good and we made great time to Sumbawa Besar and a real bed. Dennis telephoned to ask how we were that night, how thoughtful of him.

 

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Day THREE

Sumbawa Besar to Plampang

(66km)

After 12 hours of the deepest sleep you can imagine we left the coast and ventured into the highlands of Sumbawa. The road to Plampang was breathtaking, a sea of green on both sides of us and wildlife jumping out at us, buffalos, snakes, bees, horses and not a scent of pollution in the air. Plus there was never a dull moment as the occasional person driving alongside us and took the opportunity to practice their English at 20km per hour. We reached our destination, which really was a small village in the hills of Sumbawa. That night was spent talking to shocked and confused locals who could not understand why we just hadn't taken the bus. We had 4 missed calls from Dennis that day, how strange!

 

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Day FOUR

Plampang to Dompu

(121km)

The morning started with a visit to Plampang High School. Think of your school but take away the books, the computers, and the posters, in fact take away all the great facilities we take for granted. That was Plampang High School. Yet there was one special thing about that place, the people. We were welcomed and talked to so many wonderfully enthusiastic students and committed teachers. We taught 2 classes which were filled with English activities and games. 'Would you like a pen pal in Jakarta?' We asked. Hands shot up in the air. 'YES!' screamed the students. So the students completed postcards for some lucky students.

Hills? Mountains more like. We shall refer to this as 'THE BIG ONE' or 'THE KILLER'

Back on the bikes and the real work started. The road was now bumpy and every tooth in our mouths rattled with each pothole we hit. This was our make or break day and we soldiered on km after km. At times the only things that kept us going were the people who came running out of their houses to encourage us, and the incredible rolling hills. These rolling hills slowly turned into one big mountain and sadly Dompu was on the other side. This was 'THE BIG ONE' or 'THE KILLER'. Every muscle in our legs ached and our clothes were soaking with sweat. We reached the summit of the mountain as the sun began to set. We had smiles from ear to ear when we saw Dompu below us, far on the hazy horizon. Day turned into night and we cruised down for 5km allowing our legs to cry with delight at not having to pedal any more. Before falling unconscious in bed we noticed we had another 6 missed calls from Dennis, how freaky!

 

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Day FIVE

Dompu to Bima

(60km)

Dompu High School was next on our list and it was non-stop fun and excitement for teachers and students alike. We had communicative activities with as much laughter as you can possibly have in an English class. Again the people were fantastic. After 3 hours it was once again time to jump on the bikes. Well when I say jump, I mean slowly sit and ease into the saddle.

We started at a snails pace as the previous day had taken all our energy. Yet once again the people that cheered and shouted 'hello' 'morning mister' 'bule gila' gave us extra spring. At one point we noticed that we actually had about 30 primary school children running behind us for about 1km. We had to stop and take pictures of these kids' ecstatic faces.

The final part of this massive journey entailed being smuggled aboard a local fisherman's boat and taken across the one km stretch, which is Bima Bay. Yet no day was complete without several missed calls from Dennis, We were starting to get worried!

Total Distance covered: 432km

 

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Day SIX

5 classes at a High School and a Primary School in Bima. We were at this point 2 smelly tired foreigners walking into the classrooms and creating a buzz of excitement throughout the whole school. We had students standing in doorways and looking through windows to see what the sudden blast of action packed English was about.

By now we had become Sumbawan Celebrities. We were being stopped on the streets and asked to come and visit different schools and groups. We kindly accepted one of these offers and went to a local primary schools and put on an impromptu pantomime. It was about an evil monster (played by Rob) a princess (by Rima - Student) and a monkey (by Agus). We are happy to report that the evil monster was killed by the Beautiful Princess and the Brave Monkey. Guess who called after that? Yes you got it, Dennis! Do you think should we change our telephone numbers?

 

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Day SEVEN

Day of rest!

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