Day 2 / 3 Tokyo Bike ride

Went back to Ofuna, fetched up the bike and set of for Kamakura. At teh outset, I intended to return the bike to Tokyo, then I realised – whats the rush? Japan has such a low crime rate, people leave their bicycles unlocked and all over the place – I could just head to another train station at the end of the day, park the bicycle and head home.

<p>&amp;lt;a href=”http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/61819388″&amp;gt;Day 2 of 3 Tokyo Ride&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt;&amp;lt;br/&amp;gt;&amp;lt;a href=”http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/?location=Kanagawa Prefecture”&amp;gt;Find more Cycling Routes / Bike Rides in Kanagawa Prefecture&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt;</p>
Oh yeah, why don’t I just take the bike home on the train? Although Japan is a really bike friendly place did I mention your not allowed to take a bike on the train unless it is in a carrier or bag. Helps explain why there are so many foldable bicycles here.
 One of many temples in Kamakura
 The path to enlightenment?
 My temple!
Mt Fuji on the right
Was a wonderful day of cycling today, although the slightly hilly atmosphere killed the battery, which I had been conserving for a while. Plus, also worked out that the train tickets are costing me +$10 each way… Japan is a great place but oh so expensive! 

Day 1 / 3 Tokyo Bike ride

Headed out on Christmas day for a little bike ride on an electric assisted bicycle. Started a bit later than anticipated and whilst the target was Kamakura and the many temples in that area, I was so busy taking in the surrounds – the beautiful narrow streets, bicycle-ways, tiny 2 story houses that just seemed so Japanese for no reason I can describe, I never quite made it!

<p>&amp;amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=”http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/61817050″&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Day 1 of 3 – Tokyo&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;br/&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=”http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/?location=Tokyo”&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Find more Cycling Routes / Bike Rides in Tokyo&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;</p>
The fruit and vegetable markets, the huge factories, the triple layered motorways, the neatness in general. All of it very Japanese. On this beautiful Sunday it was eerie quiet as well, with many of the roads and sidewalks I went on deserted. Then you would go around a corner and the road would be flooded with people and I would have to walk the bicycle. It seems every popular road in Japan has at least 2 or 3 smaller roads directly behind it going in the same direction.
On the road
 A game of baseball on the river flats just before Kawasaki
The woman, the dog, a fag (if you look closely at her left hand!), moccasins, and the shopping.

 Many many streets like these in Tokyo
Top of the hill
 I never got to Kamaura on this day. Lack of direction was probably the reason! So parked the bike at Ofuna station bicycle parking station (cost me $10 for over-night bicycle parking!). Thinking I’ll return to pick it up tomorrow, ride to Kamkura and then back to Tokyo.   

A lil present for Charlotte

It started as a simple map but got a bit cluttered when I added all the trips!
East and West Map yet to come! East Map includes the Maliana Hot Springs trip with dad. The trips are not actually in chronological order, just drawing order!
Trip 1 – To Turiscai and back in the rain. Read the blog post here.
Trip 2 – To Hatu-Builico (oops, wrong name on map!) at night. Climbed Ramalau. Read the blog post here.
Trip 3 – Haha, Whoops! isn’t there something about bad luck and 3’s? Great attention to detail Damian.
Trip 4 – The Energy Needs Assessment with Renato on the back of the bike. Read the blog post here.
Trip 5 & 6 – Two seperate trips to Liqudoe, one when it was red/yellow & dry and once when it was green!
Trip 7 – This weekends planned trip to Hatu-Builico and beyond. Going to be remote! Post soon.

Jaco

It was Timorese Falintil (rememberance) day on 30th August and they get 2 days off to celebrate. That was Tuesday and Wednesday so of course nobody was coming to work Monday. Mega long weekend – just what is needed to make the trek to Jaco Island, one of the few national parks in TL.
Titarala – Far East Timor Island

Due to work departure was delayed until Sunday afternoon, by which time the group had been whittled down to just 3 – Tanya, Marta and myself. The girls had hired a huge Toyota Land-Cruiser Troop Carrier, so I decided to give the Bike a break and ride with them on the bench seat. I took the tent and they put a mattress in the back of the truck. Tanya loved that truck.

We had dinner in Baucau and ran into Will from Mercy Corp. Timor is a small place. Dad had tipped me off he stayed with the Managin Director of Moris Rasik’s nephew the night before. We met him and said hello then headed down the beach to camp. Nice spot but a bit creepy arriving in the dark and whilst tramping around the lagoon (albeit very small) stumbling across a half eaten crocodile warning sign. Swimming the next day was limited to the shallows.

Found this sign while collecting fire-wood in the dark

The Baucau camping spot at sunrise

 We got up early and headed to Jaco the next day. It is on the South Easten tip of Timor Island, about as far as you can go and a nasty decent from Tituala down to Tituala beach. We ran into dad coming the other way and a large group of school girls on the way to Tituala, and gave them all a lift. They hardly stopped screaming  in excitement the whole way.

Teke bulak ten barak
Tituala beach was nice but the guest houses were seriously under-stocked. That night was the high light of the trip though with a nice big fire on the beach, a small but friendly and understated global group, some local rice wine, cheap $3 bottle of whisky and the sound of the waves to lull us to sleep (and high tide to wake some of us up!)

Morning after
 The next day we were out at the island early and I was cooked by about 10am! Bloody Portuguese girls didn’t put sunscreen on once and roasted themselves like very attractive chestnuts, at the end of the day they were still a very toasty caramel brown.The coral was good but I think I managed to pick up a sinus problem in an hour or so of snorkelling and was knocked for six for the rest of the day (and week).

Sea Urchin on Titarala beach

We headed back towards Com that night and arrived just before it got dark. From there the next day we went onto Baucau very early and then turned off to go to Ossu, over the spine and very close to the south coast, to check out a waterfall. We were pushing it and trying to cram a lot into the weekend, but Ossu was nice and we only (just) missed the closing time of the car hire on the return back to Dili

A market stop on the way back to Baucau

On top of the The Spine of Timor on the way to Ossu

It was an action packed trip, with lots of driving .but it was a great chance to gaze out the window at some of the spectacular scenery for a change.

Timorese Wedding!

No it wasn’t mine! 
Went with Renato down to his friends Timorese wedding with Paolo. It was located abiout 30 min out of town in Tibar. Big calico tent of sorts was erected at the back of the families house with the dirt semi cleared and ‘watered’ to keep the dust from the dancing down.  I was surprised to note though that the dancing is 100% formal, all night. They love to dance, but it is latin/portuguese inspired dancing – I think the last time I danced like that was in high-school. And the dancing had rules set by the suco chief – no talking while dancing and no dancing outside the official area! 
It was a complicated social occassion with maybe 400 people in attendance, seats set like a grand-stand around the dance floor. It was pretty cool setup actually, but the rocks didn’t make the dancing any easier – and some of those poor girls were in 2 inch heels that they weren’t used to! 
I asked one girl for a dance, I don’t think she realised how tall I was – she was lucky to reach my chest. Combined with the fact I was wearing my riding boots, and was only 1 of 2 foreigners there she nearly died of embarrassment before she went and sat back down before the song had even finished! After that none of the girls would dance with us! :O

Maliana

Hit the road with dad (almost literally) and a good friend, Maria last weekend.

We headed from Dili to Maliana via the ErMera (inland) road. I had heard that the coast road was better and quicker, but having taken that road a few times before I was keen to take the inland route, plus its typically more fun and more spectacular riding in the mountains.

Would never have thought dad would become a mobile phone addict
Over the mountains, over the bridge and over-night

It was certainly more challenging. The ‘road’ deteriorated drastically passed Er Mera, with some big wash-outs and steep, rocky descents. Not exactly what we were hoping for and certainly not what dad was ready for. After about 6 hrs on the road we were apparently still 1.5 hrs from Maliana, even though we had been told for the last 1.5 hrs that we were 1.5 hrs from Maliana.

So we stayed the night outside of Maliana at a random house. Thankfully the local kiosk was well stocked and I under the watch-full gaze of mum (everybody here calls the matrons of the house-hold ‘mum’) I cooked up a feed of noodles, tuna and egg polished off with timor coffee. Brought back memories of Kayaking in Indonesia, although sleeping on the beach was more comfortable than the concrete floor we had that night. Maria was a trooper and didn’t complain once, even though from Hatolia I was minus a footpeg and a toolkit, even if we didn’t know it at the time.

The family that put us up for the night – Patricio Bereati in Cailaco.
Dad showing of pictures of Charlotte
Wisteria is everywhere here and its beautiful.

Next day we headed into Maliana and onto the Marobo Hot Springs, after taking notes of stores that sell solar cells and touching base with the local Moris Rasik staff. We took confidence in repetitive statements that it was only an hour to Morobo and that the road was ‘ok’. After about 1.5 hrs we started walking because the road would have been nearly impossible to get back up. After a 30 min walk we arrived and it was worth it.

Marobo hot and smelly springs

We didn’t get back onto the main road until nearly 3pm Sunday. Exhausted and relaxed, after about 15min on the road we determined the safest and best thing to do was to ride back to Dili on Monday morning. Dad would continue onto Suai after he recovered a little. So we stayed at a beautiful place in Bobonaro, where they kicked some kids out of a room for us. Had a wonderful conversation with young guy from the village who showed us around town. Bobonaro is a different place, their is a great sense of pride in the homes their, its very beautiful.

We zoomed backed to Dili the next morning on the comparatively heavenly coast road via Balibo. Had hot buns, timor coffee and bananas for breakfast. Beat the hell out of working.

Kiosk kids in Balibo – Fresh warm buns, timor kopi and bananas for breakfast. Brilliant.

Every weekend is supposed to be an adventure, right?

New Blog Map

Check out the new blog map on the right hand side menu bar!

Its not very sophisticated compared to what you can do these days but it still took me 2 hrs to work out! You can click on a location to open the blog post made about that location.

Alternative click here for the nomad-odyssey feed in GoogleMaps!

For an example of a fully interactive travel map check this great blog about a couples 5.5 years spent sailing the world with geo-tagged anchorage locations, blog entries and photos!

Jakarta by Jakartans

A wordy Jakartan summarised my impression of Jakarta aptly with this metaphor:

Jakarta will always be complicated. It is like a Durian. 
Not all the people like Durian because it is big, with spiky, dun coloured skin and has a very strong smell. On the inside though, it has a really soft and moist tissue and taste like heaven. 

Jakarta is just like that. Harsh, rough, and sometimes so raw that some people just can’t accept it. But if your willing to come closer and see the inside of Jakarta, you will find bursts of color, the warmth of the people and the fusion of culture from almost every part of Indonesia.

Thanks Lesthia for summing it up so well, although I’m dissapointed to hear that you have retired your dirty dancing shoes, Hijab and beer bottle swigging attitude from Ally’s ‘Black’ Bar – because that was my other favourite metaphor for Jakarta!

Com

Made a whirl-wind tour of the north coast of Timor all the way to Com and back on the weekend. I went to attend a cultural event, a visit to the traditional place of the people of Com however the elder leading the event got sick before hand and the event didn’t happen.

Kids in Eucusse

 I was invited by Antunes, the Mercy Corp PPI Program leader as he is from Com. So i stayed with his family on Saturday night and returned back to Dili on Sunday. The trip was about the limit of enjoyable riding for me, 6 Hrs each way including plenty of stops. The trip gave me a chance to get a good look at the land-scape outside of the central districts, with just the south districts left to view.

Antunes, his mum and some of his lil cousins
:Portuguese governors house
Kids scaring the birds of the ripe rice

Timor is certainly a beautiful and diverse country. The landscape changes continuously. Stoney mountain fed rivers, with lush rice paddy valleys.

Dry and rocky red hills with spinifex grass clumps. Long, stalky dry grass mountain plains.

Sandy coastal plains with pebble beachs. Magrove outcrops with muddy croc-infested tidal creeks. Volcanic black rock spurs.

Finally, in Com – sandy white beaches with turquoise water and tropical palm back-drops.

Com Jetty at 9pm under the full moon
Com Beach at sunrise

Albums of Photos are now being loaded onto Facebook as it is quicker and more convenient than Picasa.

Turascai

Decided to investigate one of the apparently more remote regions in Timor over the weekend, the Turascai district. The level of concern from some of the other volunteers was endearing but a little surprising. It seems one assumption I had about the development crowd was that they were all mostly adventurous too, but it turns out that is not strictly true.

Left earlyish Saturday morning and had a beautiful ride through the mountains in Aileu district. Not Far from Aileu a brave Timorese flagged me down. Brave because most of them are toos cared to ride the bike in Dili, but this kid wanted a ride and who was I not to oblige. Besides, he would be able to point out my turn-off for me.

Road was fine with some big holes and one particularly bad stretch of roadworks but nothing like what was to come. Not long after I took the turn off for Turascai the road deteriorated into gravel, large rocks (about the size of Charlottes head I reckon, if she has the traditional Fuller boof-head anyway!) and clay but the bike handled it no problems. About at this point my camera also ran out of battery. Don’t give me that look, I charged it the night before! I think the connection must have been poor or the power went out and came back on again when I was asleep! Then I went around the bend and hit Turascais own mini-meterological system – rain and cold wind for the next 24 hrs until I passed the same point on my way out. I should point out that the mountains that pass through the middle of Timor from East to West are substantially, having a couple of peaks around the 3000 mark and one just in excess of 3000 meters high. Thats about the same as Australia’s largest mountain! All in a country smaller than Victoria and only about 100km wide!

The road became very slippery in the rain & I was hungry so I stopped and got some locals to cook me some lunch. As seems the culture, the women did all the work and then sat and watched while the men ate. This process was to repeat itself for the next two meals in Turascai. The plan back-fired as it was raining heavier when I left, but I was buoyed by reports that it wasn’t far and also at seeing two locals go past on the one bike! If they could do it on a 150cc glorified scooter with a pillion passenger I should be fine. And I was. I put the bike down in the mud and rocks twice but in very slow motion.

After an extended tour arounded Turascai sub-district checking out the road quality and existing renewable enrgy technology in place for work I asking for a place to stay in the small village of Beremana abd a few locals politely told me they had no beds available here and that if I didn;t want to freeze I should return to Meremana (the sub-district capital village). The local school teacher there had me introduced to the Suco chief in no time and I was promptly passed along to Salvador, the son of the a building constructor and put up in his nice house with a better bed and dinner than I get in Dili (Although Edy’s cooking is very good!).

I brushed up on my tetutm, he brushed up on his english and we both brushed up on our Indonesian. I found communiciating with these guys easier than communicating with a lot of people in Dili. It might be resentment in Dili, I hope not.

The return trip was interesting. It rained pretty much the whokle time I was in Turascai and the road was very slippery, I burnt a lot of rubber but also learnt a lot about riding through that kind of terrain. On the way home I took a detour off the main road in Aileu and passed down some much steeper roads in a similar condition but because they were dry there was no issue at all with them.

The views all along were breathtaking and the photo’s don’t do the steepness of the mountains or the depth of colour any justice.