Friday, September 26, 2014

Java. Its not just coffee

June 13. Boat trip to Krakatoa.

While consuming many Bingtang with my new French friends the night before, they asked me if I wanted to take a powerboart to Krakatoa with them. I thought this would be a good trip. Plus, How can you say no to snorkeling, an active volcano and 4 hours on a boat with 3 cute French girls, 2 of which are single. The boat itself was about 25 feet long and construction from fiberglass. It had twin 40 hp motors. It was by no means a fast boat, but it wan't slow either. We quickly learned the further back in the boar you sat, the better the ride. The front would rise and fall and hit the waves hard. The back was the pivot point. Krakatoa exploded in 1883 and killed nearly 30,000 people with the ash and resulting tsunami. The 1 island was destroyed and when the ash settled, there were 3 smaller ones. Since then, a new volcano cone has gradually grown in the middle of the other 3 islands. The islands are a park but the rangers will charge you about $200 a person if you want to trekk on the islands. We were told this when we left and the guy who set up the tour said "Since we will only take you to the beach, you shouldn't pay that money. This is just the rangers trying to get money from tourists." Fair enough. I've heard this story before. We circled the "new" island and had some amazing views of the cone. Then anchored near the old island and did some snorkeling. We had lunch on the beach and and got harassed by 2 fairly large Monitor Lizards. They were not to scared of us which makes me believe they are fed by humans often. The beach itself was covered with trash. No wonder the rangers came to hassle the boat captain. They took him away in the boat for about 20 minutes while we finished our lunches and played with some floating rocks. Probably one of the coolest things I've seen in a while. Rocks. That. Float. I was nerding out pretty hard on that. That evening one of the French girls hopped on my bike and we went to get beer. I needed an ATM first so we went looking for that. As soon as we got on the bike, it started to rain. Within 10 minutes the roads were flooded from the huge rain. I found an ATM but none of the stores sold beer. Finally on the way back to the hotel she spotted a small shop with a fridge full of beer. We bought 10 Bingtang and one Guinness for $3 a piece. I was now realizing the magnitude of going from a Sumatra to Java, from a Christian majority to a Muslim majority... Beer is very scarce unless you are in a tourist town. We were proper soaked when we got back to the hotel. But it was a successful mission.

New Friends


I thought this was cool. The evolution of Krakatoa


June 14. To Paluban Ratu Bay. 236 km
Java has close to 141 million people. That is on par with Russia on an island smaller than Florida. Divide this out over the area and Russia only has 5 people per square km. Java on the other hand has a whopping 1180 people per square km. This number is so high its hard to comprehend. It is hard to comprehend until you have ridden a motorcycle in Java. I decided to avoid Jakarta even though I had friends from school who lived there. Since motorcycles are not allowed on the motorway, there is no good way to get in or out of that city on a bike. You just have to suffer with the millions of other scooters. Once again, you don't matter. So I stayed south. I went to the areas where the roads were shit. I avoided cities like the plague. This usually works in most countries. But in Indonesia, maps are sketchy at best. Often times local roads will empty into a rice field or dead end in a small town. If that 50 year old bridge falls into the river, there is no help or hurry to fix it. Local people retire that road without a sign or caution. After all, why would anyone but a local be on this road? By the evening I was winding up and down in the hills of the southern coast. I passed a guest house with about 15 bikes outside and turned around to stop. I figured this would make for an interesting evening. Unfortunately, they didn't have any vacancy left so I continued to the next town. This was a tourist area for people from Jakarta. I stayed at a hotel where I thought I could get some Wifi. They said they had it but after I showered and ate some dinner, a Wifi signal was no where to be found. Of course the desk clerk who told me there was wifi was also no where to be found. As they say It is what it is.

The only uncrowded roads in Java are dirt

Back to civilization

June 15. Paluban Ratu Bay To Bandung.
Its a long day to Bandung but she knows whats waiting for her there. Service and new parts. She is pulling hard to get there. Once again I'm basically riding blind. Maps are sketchy at best. The roads in the GPS map end and start with no warning. It started to rain in the afternoon while I was twisting up and down the mountians toward Bandung. Since it was pouring hard, I was taking it easy. Trucks had been entering the road from local road. They tracked enough clay onto the road to make it an ice rink. I was only in first gear and I felt the ass end start to slide out. I started to tripod with my right leg but after about a second the front went also. I stood up as the bike dropped in the middle of the road. Trying to pick up the bike was difficult in the shit because the tires wanted to slide. Aroudn the corner I stopped and had a coke. It was time to let the rain stop and collect my nerves. By dark I was in Bandung.

3 minutes after going down. Time to wait for a minute or 2 and let the adrenaline settle. 

the wide bashplate keeps the engine/shifter/brake lever safe.

I want one.

Making a "new" offroad scooter

I'm not sure what it was. 

The 2015 Honda HCR. (Hill Climb Racer)

June 16-18 Bandung
In Japan when I rode with some guys from the Gaigan Rider forum. My friend Nick told me he grew up in Bandung and knew the offroad community very well there. Often times people tell me "when you get to bla bla bla I know people who will help you". I take this with a grain of salt normally because people love to talk. I needed a shop where I could rebuild my forks, change my oil and figure out why I was loosing coolant. Nick came through for me huge. The local KTM shop was expecting me and welcomed me with open arms. Thanks again to Made, Daru and the rest of the crew at Katoz KTM in Bandung. You guys are amazing.  
First I rebuilt the forks. I had been carying fork seals and bearings since Chaing Mai becase I knew they needed it. These forks had never had a full rebuild as far as I know. By now there was nearly 110,000 km on them. They were in need for sure. The mechanics and shop people loved to watch my methods to my madness. They laughed as I used a hair drier to heat the fork tube so the bearings came out easy. This was something new to them. But when the bearings pulled out after only a few slides of the fork tube, they nodded with understanding of why I heated them. Its surprising how little heat it actually takes to expand the tube enough for it to slid easy. They didn't have a seal driver so I went searching for one. It came in the form of a soft drink bottle. The little shop near by had many drinks to choose from but Sprite had the best shape and thickest plastic. I said "I'm going to get a drink". He asked, "What do you want? They will bring it here." I had to explain that I was after the container more than the drink itself. A hose clamp secures the plastic to the inner fork tube so the bearings and seals can be "tapped" or "pushed" into place accordingly. Next I changed the oil. This was straight forward. Nothing abnormal on my drain plug or in the screens. They had ordered new waterpump seals because they only had the outer seal for me. I wanted to replace both. For a while I had been loosing coolant and I couldn't figure out why. The 690 doesn't have a "weep hole" like many bikes, so if my seals were bad, coolant was leaking into the oil. I know what happens to oil when water is in it. I nearly wrecked my Aprilia 550 in the Wild West rally because I started mixing oil and water. The milk shake that covered the interior of the motor was not pretty or desired in any form. This required a full rebuild because any bearing surface gets warn quickly when you replace your oil with this frothy mixture. Luckily, I had not seen this in my 690. In fact, I had not seen much evidence of water in my oil at all. A little bit of "cheese" in my breather tube was all. I figured this was due to the wet climate and condensation on cold mornings. We couldn't find a waterpump gasket so I made one from gasket material. This stuff was great and now I'm carrying some with me. First I tried to "tap" the cover onto the material to trace it. This didn't work as well as I would have liked. Some carpentry chalk would have been ideal, but we didn't have any. So with a razor knife I carefully cut the new gasket out with a combination of tracing the old seal and using the cover as a guide for the knife. Holes are easily cut with a drill and the gasket material sandwiched between some other surface like wood or aluminum to keep it from tearing. Soon the bike was back together and I was ready to head out of town. The last night Daru took me out on for some food around the city. I'm pretty sure I have now eaten every part of a chicken in Asia. Except the feet. I never wanted to try the feat. Liver, kidney, stomach, butt, skin, neck, the list goes on. When you put it on a stick and bbq it, most of it is surprisingly good. I tried to snap a few pics of the city from the back of the scoot and it made for a good night.

She took up a lot of space in the shop

Nasty fork seals

Disgusting for oil

Water pump

Old water pump seals

Old and new waterpump gasket

Free t-shirts are always great!

The man! Daru

Every part of the chicken imaginable 

Charcoal coffee

I wanted this shirt. 

June 19. Bandung to Jojakarta 402 km
Leaving the big city was easy to do mentally, but much tougher to actually do. The traffic in Java is horrible on the main roads. Its much quicker to ride the shitty country tracks with potholes then it is to ride on the "good" roads. Easy to pass traffic that cant go more than 30 km/h because of the roads. The main road twisted through the mountains and I came to a place where traffic was backed up for about 10 km. The road was a combination of 4 lane separated and regular 2 lane. Luckily there was gravel on the shoulders that I could move my way up to the front of the line. At one of the last corners at the bottom of the mountain a large truck had blasted through the guard rail and went off into the woods. They were blocking traffic trying to pull it out. The winch truck they had didn't look like it was adequate. But who am I to judge. I got waved past with the scooters and I continued. On the other side, the traffic was backed up the same way. People in trucks at the end of the line came into my lane to go to the front. Only.. there is no room at the front. So I think they are still stuck there. 2 sides of trucks and cars 10 km long. No one once to give up their spot so they just honk and yell. Toward the evening I got on a smaller road that was truly shit. I heard the clang when I ran over a piece of metal in the road. 3 seconds later I had absolutely no pressure in my front tire and I was bouncing the rim off the rocks and potholes at 80 km/h. The hole in my tire was massive. Big enough to put my finger through. What a great way to rune a tire. This entire trip, the only way I have messed up heavy duty tubes is with nails or other metal scrap. I made it into Jojakarta after dark and found a hotel with free wifi, free breakfast and a pool.

The truck is over the bank on the right.

Traffic backed up for 10 km

Not good.

June 19 Jojakarta to Blitar 316 km
In the morning I knew I needed a new front tube. A local motocross shop had Michelin HD tubes for about $45. I was ok paying this price for where I was and what it is. The main roads went north and south and I tried to go straight east on a smaller road. Soon the road ended in a construction area and I had to split off onto another road. The road kept getting smaller and smaller to the point where I was on basically a goat path at the top of a hill. When I stopped to take a picture, I could hear the call to prayer coming from the valley below. So I pressed on and the little track soon turned into a jeep road, then a gravel road, then a paved road and soon I met up with the main highway again. Much further north then I had originally planned. It was originally intended as a "short cut". At least that is how I justify it. It wasn't quicker, it probably wasn't even that much shorter. But it was more interesting, I can tell you that. My goal was to make it to Malang which is a short ride to Mt. Bromo but the sun was setting after I got into Blitar. I stayed in a pretty nice hotel and had a "local" steak for dinner. The flavor was good even if it was a bit chewy. The imported steak from OZ and NZ was 2x and 3x the price.

I'm pretty sure this says "road closed"

Yup. Definitely road closed.

Road getting smaller

and smaller...

and even smaller...

June 20 Blitar to Mt Bromo. 118 km
It took about an hour to get from Blitar to Malang. Then I started taking some small tracks west toward Bromo. When I really started to climb, I went from 620 m to 2200 m in about 10 km. The towns are built on the side of this volcano like hills in SanFran. At the rim of the volcano there was a shack where you had to pay. Price for Locals is about 2 dollars. Price for "Bule" (sounds like boo-lay) is about $20. Isn't that some bs. I argued with them a while but it was no use. I paid for a day pass and went down into the volcano. I had to honk my way past a few Toyota "jeeps" on the way down. I don't think they were used to a proper bike on this road. It doesn't matter what brand an SUV is.. in Indonesia, they will put Jeep on anything. Just like they will put KTM graphics on a Kawasaki KLX 150 and paint the frame orange. Inside the volcano is like a desert but with black sand from the volcanic rock. The riding was amazing. I met 2 girls on 1 scooter floundering in the sand. One was from South Africa and one was from Hungary. They had been riding since midnight the night before to catch the sunrise. Now they were on their way back to Malang. It was about 11 in the morning at this point. We exchanged numbers because they were going to be in Bali soon. I explored some with my gear then decided to find a place to camp. If they were charging me $20 for a day.. I was going to stretch it as long as possible. With my gear stashed in my tent in one corner of the volcano, I could really explore. An EXC or 450 moto would be pretty epic in here lots of small jumps to be had. They probably wouldn't like you roosting everywhere but a guy can dream. The 690 was a big hit with all the local guys who were all on small motos like kawasaki 150s or custom dirtbikes made from scooters/streetbikes. In the evening I rode up and watched the sunset over the volcano.

village on the way up mt. bromo

Local and whitey pricing. (27.500 vs 217.500... about $2.50 vs $20)

Lots of small 150s

Gado Gado! 

Farming on the mountain

Exploring within the crater

This is the shit tent I bought in Sumatra. I was super mad when I took it out and it only had one pole. I thought "Those assholes ripped me off!" Then I realized it was a 1 pole tent and I apologized to the universe for being upset over nothing.


My track in the volcano. Blue was 1st day. Red in the morning. Blue triangle is where I camped. 

June 21. Bromo to Bali. 325 km.
I woke up early to catch the sunrise. My plan was to ride to the highest point on the rim to watch the sunrise. Unfortunately this was also EVERYONE else's plan. 5Km to the top was gridlock of Jeeps. I said screw this and went back around the rim to a better location. It was good but I was at a 90 degree to the sunrise. I rode further around the rim and found the perfect spot. 3 jeeps were parked on the side of the road with some tourists and we all watched the sun poke above the rim on the other side of the volcano. Back at the bike I made another cup of coffee while I busted down camp and looked at the bike. After the 2nd cup of coffee, I was feeling the call of nature. I really needed to crap. I knew I was at least 3 km from anyone so I went behind a rock and dropped my pants. Pants around my ankles, mid-crap, my twig and berries exposed to the world, squatting deep in thought, I look up and see a small local lady, probably in her mid 40s. She walked past my camp and about 20 meters from me. We made eye contact and all I could do is laugh. She laughed and kept walking. I'm not sure where she came from, or where she went. But she now knows way more about my anatomy than she probably ever wants to. I still have to laugh about it. There really is nothing else to do about a situation like that. When I was leaving Bromo, the ranger shack had a cars stopped so I just rode around it. I knew if I stopped they would try to get another $20 for the extra day. I pretended not to see the ranger and just kept riding. The ride down the other side of the volcano was just as amazing as the ride up. They are farming every part of the mountain that they can. The slopes were so steep, I don't know how erosion doesn't wash everything away. I burned some pavement for a couple hundred kms to get to the ferry. I watched the sunset from the ferry as it was pulling away from the dock. It was dark when I left the ferry so I headed to the north coast of Bali. I figured the south Coast to Kuta would be to much traffic. Since it was dark I was using my LEDs if there was no on coming traffic. The BD Onx is crazy bright. Being Indonesia, many scooters don't have lights. I would turn my LEDs off when I first saw headlights then back on when the road was clear in front of me. I flipped them on after a bus went by only to see a poor guy on a scooter with burning retinas squinting and trying not to ride into the ditch. I felt bad but really dude.. if you had any sort of headlight, I would not have blasted you with daylight. That night I met a traveling couple who brought me to an amazing local restaurant. It was about $5 for a very large fresh red snapper bbq'd right in front of us. We each had our own fish and a few beers. We were fed and happy.

Traffic jam trying to get to "the top" to view the sunrise. There was still 5 km to go so I went to another place with way way less people.

Shit coffee with a good view.

I wonder if he burnt his clutch in the sand or on the hill?

Pressing wheel bearings into place

Nasty old front wheel bearings

Spare sprockets are so useful. 

Noah is a band in Jakarta. They were not to happy I wanted a photo. 

Vespa gang 

no need for a side stand. 

Guy who helped me with my flat front tire. He wouldn't take any money. So I gave his kids some coins from Russia.

Sunset on the ferry. Not as good as the one the night before.

So many jokes about this. But which one do you choose?