Boats and new friends

I’m now sitting by the beach near Maumere on Flores in Indonesia, taking a nice relaxing day after very intermittent sleep over the last 24 hours as I spent more than 12 hours on a ferry crossing over from Kupang and then another few hours driving through the night to get here.

Writing my blog

Near Maumere on Flores, which is this Island right here

Day 12 – Getting to Kupang: Woke up early to get some things off my to do list in the morning (write the previous blog post, finally mount the GPS on my bike so I know where I’m going etc).

Since I was making such good time, and Kupang was only supposed to be a ~4 hour ride, I decided that I could just as well take the scenic route through the mountains instead of just going on the “highway” (highway in rural Indonesia doesn’t mean what you think it means, it’s basically just a road where two cars can barely meet, the only other difference from other roads is that they actually repair the road when it has been washed away in a landslide…) all the way to Kupang.

Anyway. The scenic route turned out to be a great and delightfully challenging idea. Spectacular scenery, some super fun locals who wanted to hang out and really, really, really bad roads. Great opportunity to hone my yet to be perfect offroad riding skills!

Great scenery and fun locals

Really, really, really bad roads (check @on_the_scenic_route on insta for video 🙂 )

About 4 hours later, I actually made it to the highway and after another 2 hours I was in Kupang. I stayed at a hostel called Lavalon (where you should also stay if you ever visit Kupang) and spent the afternoon having a few beers and chatting to the super cool owner Edwin about my trip and his marketing strategy for his little hostel.


Edwin was a little bit confused as to why I had chosen this time of year (the rainy season) to cross Indonesia by motorbike, because “it rains all the time and the ferries don’t always go because of the weather” so I also got a chance to look up the word ‘ignorance’ in Indonesian… (Indonesia was part of my “it’s South East Asia, easiest place in the world to travel, no planning required” group of countries)

Day 13 – I’m on a boat: As I had decided to expect, my (unknown) gamble in the weather paid off and the ferry did go as scheduled on Sunday noon. So I squeezed the bike in with the other bikes and strapped it down and prepared for the 12 hour ferry crossing over to Larantuka (locking all my gear in or onto the bike, buying some water and rice with chicken for lunch).

Bike loaded onto ferry

The next 12 hours was a combination of reading, napping and watching dolphins play next to the ferry. When we finally arrived around midnight, the tide was too high to unload the trucks that were blocking the exit ramp so while I was waiting on the car deck I started chatting to a nice local guy who just came onboard and who spoke decent English. Turns out he was the captain of a local “special police” garrison and had come with his troops to pick up some supplies shipped over from Kupang.

He was very amused by my trip, the inconvenient size of my bike and all my gear and in the end he convinced me to come with them to the next town (Maumere, 3 hours drive away) instead of staying in some shabby guest house in Larantuka where the ferry arrived. Even though it was getting close to 1am there was no arguing with his main point “It’s good. We use siren. Much faster”. Said and done, I rode the 3 hours from Larantuka to Maumere in the middle of the night in a caravan with my new friend in a police car and 6 of his troopers each on a police bike.

My riding crew for the night

When we got to the guesthouse just outside of town that I had booked for the night the reception was obviously closed (it was 4am). But before I figured out what happened my new friend sent one of his guys over to the next door neighbour, woke them up and kindly asked them (kindly, yet armed and in a full black police uniform clearly designed to be intimidating) if I could nap on their porch whilst I waited for the guesthouse to open. That was fine, no problem at all actually. I apologised as best as I could for the inconvenience, but they seemed very amused about the whole thing so I didn’t feel too bad about it in the end.

Back up and running!

Hi everyone,

I’m finally back up and running, a few days later than originally planned. My passport ended up being stuck with my visa application at the Iranian embassy a bit longer than expected, so I only managed to get to Dili in East Timor on the 26th. Which turned out not to be an issue anyway since the container my bike was in wasn’t processed by customs until the 26th anyway, so I wouldn’t have been able to get the bike earlier even if I was there.

Right now I’m in Kefamenanu in Indonesia, just across the border from East Timor, having a refreshing breakfast of rice and noodles.

This is where Timor is on a map

Day 10 (Jan 26th) – arriving in Dili and picking up the bike: I arrived in Dili around 7am on the 26th after a delightful 10pm flight from Melbourne to Darwin, an equally as delightful 1am to 5am layover in Darwin and then a quick 1h 30min hop over to Dili in East Timor. First things first, I went over to the hotel and dropped off all my stuff before starting to figure out how to get my bike.

The process of getting the bike was roughly: Go to ANL (shipping company) depot in the eastern end of town to get shipping documents stamped, then go to the Dili customs office in the western end of town to show them the stamped shipping documents and get the bike Carnet (basically my bike’s passport, more about that in a separate post on trip preparations at some point) stamped, then go back to the ANL depot in the eastern end of town to collect the bike and get more papers stamped. Which was fine by me, because there is nothing I love more than processes and paperwork…

Luckily Dili is tiny (especially by Asian standards) with a population of just under 200 000 people and the weather was great so I went for a nice walk along the waterfront from ANL to customs.

Dili waterfront

Anyway, after I got all the paperwork in order the people at the ANL depot asked me to wait until “the afternoon or tomorrow morning” before a customs officer would come to the depot so they could open my container. So I went back to the hotel and had the first of what will likely be one Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) per day for about a month. There I met Patrick, a stellar Aussie who is also the country manager for ANL, who was celebrating Australia day with a bunch of other Aussies at the bar. He asked me to sit tight whilst he had a few beers and made some phone calls and less than an hour later I was on my way back out to the ANL depot to pick up the bike. Thanks again Patrick!

Bike delivered in one piece at the ANL depot

After that I hung around the bar celebrating Australia day with a bunch of other Aussies who showed up while I was picking up the bike, and a quite a few Bintangs later I went to bed 🙂

Day 11 (Jan 27th) – crossing the border into Indonesia: I had two days total to get from Dili down to Kupang in Indonesia to catch the ferry over to Flores on Sunday 29th, so the first day I would have to make my way through East Timor and a bit into Indonesia to get half way on the ~9 hour journey from Dili to Kupang.

I had heard from the folks at the bar the night before that the road to the Indonesian border will be okay for a bit, then bad for a bit, then really really good for a bit and then absolutely horrible for a bit. It was. All of those things. And it was raining the whole time.

Good road

Bad road

Really really bad road (or perfectly good lake, whichever way you want to look at it)

I did make it to Indonesia eventually, wet and muddy. Next up is another 4-5 hours ride to Kupang and then a 13-15 hour ferry from there to the eastern tip of Flores. Will keep you posted!