Pulukan, Bali Indonesia
Java is done and we have reached Bali. Feels really great! For several reasons..
One is that I did not enjoy Java anywhere as much as I expected. It was great to be walking again and slowly making my way towards Sydney, but even though I had been warned about the traffic and crowds on Java, it was worse than I expected… The one saving grace is how happy and welcoming the people are. No matter where we went, we were always greeted with a smile and a never-ending curiosity.
The road we choose (and I do realise that other roads would potentially have shown Java in a much more positive light) was busy, noisy and at times rather dirty. Most of the places we stayed in were good value for what we had to pay, but we did manage to find a few dumps as well. When you are walking it is sometimes not possible to be too choosy, after walking 50 km there is no way you are interested in walking just another 10-15 km to see if the next hotel might be better!
As in many other Asian countries, it was very disheartening to see all the rubbish just dumped along the roadside. That there were goats foraging amongst it for food did not make it any easier…
Nether the less, everything has not been bad, far from it! Indonesia is the first country where I have seen a road sign forbidding hand-drawn carts to enter a section of road. I have seen signs forbidding pedestrians, cyclist or even mopeds, but this was the first hand-cart sign!
At one lunch stop, I even managed to find a motorcycle that I had never heard of before, a Nirwana. 4 cylinder, transverse 90 degree v4 with shaft drive. Sort of an oversized Moto Guzzi.
There was a lot of harvesting going on as we walked through the landscape and what was very interesting was how much of the harvest (in fact of anything that needed to be transported) was moved by bicycle. We were continually passed by bicycles loaded to ridicules extremes with crops.
Java also turned out to be the first time I had to camp out in Asia.Up until now I had always been able to find some cheap accommodation along the road, but as we walked through a state forest in the north-east of Java, we realised that we were not going to make it to the closest town. Not a problem as we both had camping equipment with us and at least I felt that it would be great to use at least some of it after having carried it through most of south-east Asia.
I decided to try to sleep in my hammock, the first time I tried to sleep in it for a full night rather than just having a few hours rest. As we had not had any rain at all in the whole month we have been walking, I was not too worried about not having a roof. But I really, truly, hate mosquitoes and there was no way I was going to sleep in the open. It wasn’t too hard to McGiever my mozzie net to work with the hammock and I spent a comfortable night enjoying the breeze through the trees and watching the stars above. It was more comfortable than I expected even though I move around a lot when I sleep, which was much harder in the hammock and did cause me some concerns. Someone who lies still a bit more than me will probably be even more comfortable. I will not pass judgement just yet, I think I need to spend a few more nights in the hammock to discover if it really is something for me. I have to say though, that I had no pains or aches the next day and felt rested.
When we reached the ferry to Bali, we were able to see the volcano that is erupting for the first time. We hadn’t heard a lot about it and were surprised to find volcanic ash almost everywhere we went. Mt Raung is still venting ash I write this and the airport on Bali has been closed, then opened and then closed again. I hope it settles down before the end of the month so I don’t miss my flight to Darwin!
Mattia is even more concerned as his girlfriend is meant to be flying to Bali to meet him, he is checking the updates continually…
We are now only 3 days from Kuta Beach, 3 days of easy walking. I’m looking forward to some non-walking days in Kuta to do some swimming, organising and planning before I tackle the outback of Australia. Even though I am really looking forward to it, I am also very much aware that it will be the most arduous and secluded part of the-walk.
It will mark the start of some very serious walking!