Thursday, May 30, 2013

CENTRAL COAST - BRISBANE WATER - 'THE FORESHORE' MTB - 29 May 2013

Another great day! My foot still isn't better so another bike ride is on the cards.



I usually go on rougher tracks but today I thought...why not the waterfront around Brisbane Waters at Gosford.

The track was easy to follow with only a few steeper sections. The variety of landscapes it passed was amazing.

I started at the Gosford Sailing Club enjoying the expanse of the waters. Cycling around it in the warm sun was a pleasure. There were bridges large and small, tunnels, boardwalks, snippets of views around Fagans Bay, long flat stretches and parks. Quite a good ride.


distance     - 19.16 km
time           - 1h 25 minutes
av speed    - 13.5 km/h
max speed - 37.6 km/h


CENTRAL COAST - BRISBANE WATER NP - 'THE QUARRY' - MTB - 26 May 2013

A beautiful sunny and warm day. Perfect for a surf but my foot is recovering from an injury so how about a bike ride.


The Quarry at Brisbane Waters National Park seemed like a good option. I parked just down from Staples Lookout where the speed camera is on Woy Woy Road.

The ground was damp and puddles of water littered the service road. Interestingly, the CES were out testing their vehicles in the quarry. They pushed them through some rough terrain.

 
I zig-zagged my way around the quarry, managing to get my shoes soaked, mud flicked all over me and one stack - fun!

I followed some of the other service roads but after the quarry I wasn't in the mood for them.

Every time I go there it seems slightly different and the large pools of water are a different colour.

 
distance      - 7.92 km
time            - 49 minutes
av speed     - 9.6 km/h
max speed  - 32.1 km/h

Thursday, May 23, 2013

AUSTRALIA - MANLY - HIKE - 10th may 2013

I had to go done to Brookvale to have some repairs done to my van. I had about 6 hours to spare.



I caught a bus to North Steyne then I wandered along the promenade and the beach towards Manly. From there, I walked the coastal path to Shelly Beach. I continued up the hill and great views over Manly and beyond. The path ended in  a dirt track which I followed to a hole in a wall then through the hole to the intersection of some road.




Along the way there were great views, cliffs, a small wetland and WW11 gun battlements. It was a fun walking along the beach, sitting and people watching and scrambling over rocks to reach various summits.

The weather was perfect, I had a great walk and the van was fixed.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

INDONESIA - BALI - BALIAN - April 2013




It’s back to Balian. The car was 400 000R. It’s never like groundhog’s day there as it such a different trip each time.

I stayed at Ayu’s (150 000R) at the beginning but the mosquitoes were relentless. I never had a problem with them before.

I moved next door to Gubug Balian Bungalows 350 000R to 400 000R). It had aircon, better bed, no mosquitoes and a great view. The staff was friendly and helpful. Especially Putu, who drove me to an ATM. It took about 2 hours to find an ATM that worked for my card. We had a couple of informative nice chats.

I hired a motorbike for a day but the main road was too risky with busses and trucks overtaking smaller vehicles in an unsafe manner.

I walked south and north. The south walk is great especially at low tide. There were heaps of locals around to have a chat along the way and the sea cave at the end of the walk is a highlight.

I met a number of other tourists - Steve and Jamie, Gus and Lorraine and a number of others.

Ian and his wife Jenny who own Batu Balian have had a baby. I visited with a present. Ian always has good, insightful and interesting stories to tell.

The food was good as usual thought the beach warungs were in decay due to heavy wave action wiping out their businesses.

 
The surf was good with a number of big days. The shore dump was horrendous at times. I got caught badly twice. The second time, I cut my feet a lot and end up getting an infection (though I treated them diligently) and now I’m on penicillin for a staph infection. The joys of surfing!


Impressions

Relaxing and quiet

Good food

Nice people

Grumpy people

Great walks

That was the end of the Indo trip for April. I’ll be back in August – where to next - Somewhere old and somewhere new.  Let the planning begin!

Friday, May 17, 2013

INDONESIA - LOMBOK - 'THE SOUTH' - April 2013



This part of the trip was a mixture of events.

I started off at Heaven on the Planet.

I arranged a motorbike and checked out the surf breaks on the southern coast but it was tiny. Still, it was a good fun ride.

I left after the first night. Why??? A number of reasons. Firstly, after making a deal with the price of the room and checking three times before I got there, the owners decided to change the deal and charge me more ie April is now high season (there was two of us there). secondly they upgraded to a 'better' room but it rain that night and water poured from the roof all over the room and deck. Luckily, it missed my bag and camera gear. Thirdly, the shower was no stronger than a leaky tap. Fourthly, the surf was flat. So with those reasons I left for Kuta, Lombok. I arranged a car pickup which took most of the day to arrive.

I arrived at Kuta Paradise Bungalows in Kuta, Lombok. On arrival, some guy out the front asked me if I wanted a motorbike. I had said no. I settled into my room and made transport arrangements with Talim. He couldn't finalise the arrangements until we settled with the guy out the front. I was greeted by a  ridiculous barrage of whinging and aggressiveness by the guy which I took no notice of and left it for Talim to sort out. After awhile it was sorted and the guy left. Overall, my the rest of my stay was great. The rooms were clean, comfortable and safe.

Well, it wasn't looking good for the Lombok trip but maybe it was a series of unfortunate events.

Now that I was mobile with a bike, I was able to get around. I had a few surfs and scooted around Kuta and along the coast to the east and the west.

A surfed at Segar a few times. The waves were great with only a few surfers out.

I motorbiked to Awang on another day and caught a boat to Ekas. The swell was bigger but the waves at Outside Ekas were good but sectioning too much. The boat was 300 000R


On a number of days, I biked around the area. The scenery at South Lombok is varied and very pretty - beaches, bays, headlands, massive hills, reefs. The roads were fair to atrocious. While on one trip, I met an old guy whose front yard I parked in (hard to tell track from yard). He wore a conical hat and I was wearing a gath helmet with go pro camera. It would have been a contrasting sight to an observer.


The beach at Kuta was nice and fine for a swim. There were a number of restaurants along the beach. Each one that I ate at had good food. The sellers were in abundance. They asked the 'you buy' routine a number of times, then walk off, return and started again. It was a bit annoying but because it goes on a lot it is best not to react negatively. I was lucky and met Julianna. We had some good chats regarding the luckiness of life and the good that can be found within it no matter what life you have. We made a deal that I would buy from her only on the last day. After the promise, it was easier to dissuade the others.

I met a number of tourists briefly while in Kuta from all parts of the world. They all had a good story to tell.

Impressions

Beautiful scenery.

A motorbike is a must.

Getting to the surf was a journey.

Food was great and cheap.

My first impressions of the locals was that making money from you was an obvious motivation.

My second impression was that the locals took the time to sit and chat.

My third impression of the locals was that they listened thoughtfully.

Selling, which is mainly by kids is relentless at times - if they don't sell, most finish quietly or show annoyance and a rare few are totally rude.

Did I like it???? Hmmm, not sure, there were good points and some not so good points.

In the words of Arny 'I'll be back' as I think I need to give it another go!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

INDONESIA - ROTE - April 2013




In retrospect this was the best part of the trip. It was a new area for me and it had adventure, great surf, good food, and good accommodation - the lot.
I left Kupang at the fast boat harbour. I couldn’t get a VIP ticket (sold out) so I was economy. It was okay below deck but it was very, very hot. At Ba’a harbour, which was a pier, I alighted with great difficulty due to the narrow gangplank and the drop below into the water. Luckily, I was okay. At the end of the pier a van was waiting. The car to Nemberala was 300 000R but another person shared so only 150 000R.

I arrived at Kioan Traditional Village or Lualomba Bungalows and was greeted by Jenet. Jenet ‘s husband David was away. The room was great – clean, firm bed, mozzie net, stand fan, mandi and a small veranda.

400 000R with three meals and one boat trip per day and free mountain bike usage. Dave Ph +6281239478823

I settled in and Jenet showed me the way to the restaurant and beach. Of course coming back, I got took the wrong turn but it was fun cycling around the back roads.

The rest of the time was surfing, eating, sleeping, talking to people and exploring.

I hired a motorbike (50 000R with board racks) and drove for ages on a number of occasions along the relatively flat coastline. There were some great white sand beaches, reefs, small villages and headlands. I stopped at most and had a wander around. I found a number of other surf breaks along the coast. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be a good spot for snorkelling.

The locals were nice people. In Nemberala, they were use to tourists and didn’t pay me much attention though they were friendly. In the outer areas, the kids were thrilled to see you, shout hello and have a small conversation. I chatted me a few older people in Bahasa. Their lives were quiet and relaxed. No one seemed stressed out or too worried about money. A lot of people gathered seaweed, fished or farmed.

Not far from the guesthouse was an outdoor covered kitchen with underground oven. The lady there made gula Rote (like golden syrup) every morning. The oven was pretty cool looking being made under the ground with three open sections for cooking. I bought a litre of the stuff for 20 000R. I had a bit of a taste then gave it away.
Jenet who ran the guesthouse was nice though language could be a problem sometime. Atta her sister worked there and in the restaurant. Shirley and Augustine worked in the restaurant. The food was really good and there was a variety to choose from on the wall menu.

I met another of other tourists and expats – all very nice. I had a number of surfs with Andy, Richard and Adam. Later, Andy and I travelled back to Bali.

The surf was epic – it was had height when I arrived but eventually got very big and stayed like that for a few days before dropping to fun size again. There were a number of breaks but only a few accessible by land. There were a number that could only be reached by boat and the boat wasn’t cheap. So a small crew is needed to share the costs to get to some of the breaks.



Well, it seems after writing that not much happened but sometimes that makes for an epic trip.

A couple of things stood out overall:

It was very hot.

It was hotter on the beach.

On some nights it was so hot that the bed was drenched with perspiration.
Cold beers tasted better there.
Boats weren’t that easy to organise to the surf.
There are hardly any signs pointing out where guesthouses were.
Paths stopped abruptly at times.
The locals were very healthy looking.
It takes two days to get to Rote and two days to get back to Bali.
Jenet was good at getting things arranged – such as boat tickets, transport, etc.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

INDONESIA - WEST TIMOR - KUPANG - april 2013



On my way to Roti, and the only way to Roti is via Kupang in West Timor.

I flew in and out of Kupang on Garuda. On arrival at Kupang, I walked out the exit and to the left was the taxi counter. I paid for the taxi and the taxi driver appeared and away I went.

First stop, the wrong hotel. Using my not so fluent Indo I said I needed to go to the Timor hotel. Naturally enough, he took me to the T-more hotel. I knew it was the wrong hotel straight away as someone opened the car door. After a short discussion, we headed to the Hotel Pantai Timor. We drove along listening to country western music… they love it here… and we arrived at the destination.

At the reception and the staff looked semi terrified! Breaking the ice I asked to see the rooms. The first was bad and the second not so bad except part of the ceiling had caved in. Still, the TV worked so what more could you want.

After settling in, I wandered along the street stopping at the lavalon bar for a beer. It wasn’t too exciting so I moved onwards and reached a number of shops. I met a lot of people here who wanted to practise their English and help me. I looked like a guy that needed help! Anyway, I continued onwards to Teddies square and sat around talking to heaps of University students and enjoyed some corn cobs cooked over the coals. Yum!

I wandered back in the dark., which was okay as the streets were alive.

The next morning was a breakfast I couldn’t eat … and that means it was really really bad!

A taxi and I was at the ferry termina l for the fast boat. I couldn’t get VIP seats so I had to settle for economy. It was okay but it was very, very hot.

The return trip was better in the ferry as I could get VIP seats.

This time I was with Andy a guy I met in Roti. When we got off the ferry at Kupang we were bombarded by high powered transporters. That was okay but none of them had room for boards and bags. We rang Joshua for a car. It was only a short wait and the big J was there.

We stayed at Hotel on the Rocks which was a three star hotel with great rooms. We got the rooms for a great price due to the construction work on parts of the hotel. The morning breakfast was great.

That night, we let Joshua lead us around – massage, dinner and beers. I crashed after that and Andrew ventured onwards.

In the morning there was no sign of him. No mobile answer, no room phone answer and no knock on the door answer. I was a bit worry but reception said that he came back very, very late. Anyway, he had a good night with great stories!

Later we, we flew out from Kupang to Bali. All was going well until I checked in. There was no record of my booking. It took a long while and I sat in the room with the staff.  They smiled at me and I smiled at them and this continued for 45 minutes until I asked am I getting on this plane. Fortunately, at that moment the fax machine came to life and I was confirmed and off, off and way I went.

Kupang impressions

The first person, I met was the taxi driver and he was very helpful and pleasant. After that, everyone I met was great. Most offered to help me (not needed but it didn’t matter) and a lot wanted to test their English. I learned a little of their lives while we chatted around the square. Two girls (in the photo) were studying to become teachers in Islamic schools. They were very happy with their future prospects. Another young lady was studying tourism. She was catholic and from Flores. She missed her family a lot but was proud of her achievements in her course and her position as captain of her year at University. A captain acts as the go-between the students and the lecturers.

Generally the city seems a little untamed and daunting at first but I felt safe wandering around on my own.

The big problem was food. A few restaurants I entered weren’t exactly serving food as the main dish. Teddies bar was okay but not great for food but good for a beer. So picking a good hotel with good food was a priority. If not then bring extra to eat.

Well, now that I feel comfortable with the city, on my return trip I’ll tour around the countryside a bit. There is time to look around due to the compulsory overnight stay in Kupang caused by the scheduling of the fast boat and flights to bali/Kupang.

Kupang in a few words - loved the place in the end with heaps of adventure possibilities.





Monday, May 6, 2013

INDONESIA - BALI - LEGIAN - april 2013


Off to Indonesia again for a month. First stop Bali, Legian.



I use Legian and the Kumala Hotel as my base in Bali so I end up staying there a number of times. So some of the events below are out of order but it makes for easier writing.

The Kumala Hotel in Legian is an easy place to stay. It is cheap with good rooms, friendly staff, nice pools and well maintained gardens. In addition, it is close to facilities that I know – good hot stone massages, Indo food, Italian food, shops for some shopping, banks and the beach.

A frequent drinking hole there for me is the Cocoon. It is a very cool place with cool music and a pool that changes colour. Another drinking hole is the beach.

On the last afternoon, I was in a daze and wandered down and ordered a beer and sat down close to the water’s edge.  I past a few guys sitting on deck chairs who were all very friendly and said hello. Nothing wrong with that but it did seem a bit odd to me. I had a few beers and wondered why I hadn’t been bothered on the beach except by a few very smiley guys. I walked back to pay my bill and all the chairs behind me were filled with guys being very affectionate with each other. Whatever floats your boat but I realised then why there was a lot of smiling guys.

Most afternoons, I spent my time on the beach looking at the sunset. I love the way it is different every time. Sometimes like a burning flare and other times like the flutter of an eyelid.

I ate a lot at the Warung Melati  in jalan 66 which serves muslim food. It was so good and so cheap. The plate gets full to the brim and costs just a few dollars. I like eating with my hand (right of course) and this place is a natural for it.

At one stage, I stayed at the Bali Bliss. It had great rooms but was in the middle of nowhere! Not my type of place.

I asked my friend Nyoman where I should go out one night. He suggested a drag show at Seminyak. It took awhile to find it but I still end up being two hours early. The friendly staff held my hands and tried to lead me in and said ‘come in papa, you can sit with us papa.’ Papa had other plans then and told them I’ll be back later. Fortunately, I didn’t make it back but I had a great time at Kuta at the VIP, Expresso bar, and Sky Garden. The VIP had great bands on a number of nights. The expresso bar looks sleazy and probably is but the band plays music hard with fun songs. The Sky Gardens is a series of bars on various levels with enticing fun dancing and short shows by fire twirlers and go-go dancers.

I noticed that the quality of goods for sale seems to be getting better with more variety. The massage parlours have increased dramatically. I was walking past one near the Jayakarta Hotel and heard the catch cry ‘massage’ with an addition of ‘headjob’. I’ve walked past these places for years and this is the first time I’ve been offered additional services with a pricing schedule.  Sure, I’ve heard it elsewhere but this is the first time in this area.

I did some shopping. I use to enjoy the bargaining but these days I state a fair price and walk on if they don’t accept. This method seems to save a lot of time.

I usually find Legian a place to stay for a short time and move on. This time I was feeling more relaxed and was understanding the place/people more better. I felt a sense of partial empathy for the lives of the shopkeepers, sellers, hawkers, lady boys, beggars and business women more than I have ever felt before. Maybe, I was listening more. My friend Nyoman says ‘I have to be aware as I have to listen out for the bullshit’. This probably true but mix this knowledge with the fact that everyone is a human being and it all seems to fall into place with positive outcomes for everyone.

Sitting on the beach at sunset/sunsrise, the words of an old song sway around and filter through my mind’s eye…

‘Day  comes with its golden eye and warms me as I stumble to your shore
At last I stop I wonder why, so many things about you I enjoy’



KINCUMBA MOUNTAIN & TERRIGAL BEACH - RIDE, WALK AND BIRDY OUTING - 17 AUGUST 2017

I wasn't well yesterday nor much better this morning but by mid morning I felt okay enough to ride my new mountain bike. I decided on ...