• Saturday , 18 November 2017
And the bee goes buzz: Indonesia

And the bee goes buzz: Indonesia

A light in our hotel room started making a funny noise. Ten o’clock at night and the recessed light in the high ceiling began ticking and buzzing with the noise intensifying as the minutes passed, a huge moth perhaps attracted to the light bulb. Awhile later, a couple of inch-long jet-black hornets flew across the room and attacked a second light bulb, we stopped reading our Kindles and silently stared at the ceiling. A third evil looking hornet began attacking yet another light (there are four overhead lights in this room).

The dangerous looking bugs were high up, uninterested in us, and really pissed off at the light bulbs. What were two became four, four became six, and so on. Somehow these hornets were squeezing out of the recessed lighting from the attic above, from the sounds of it there was a lot going on above the ceiling as well as in our room.

Crisis protocols were in order and step one? Turn the damn lights off. Almost instantly the room feel into quiet darkness as the bugs stopped all activity, but now what? Long minutes passed without trouble and we returned to reading our dimly backlit Kindles, bugs are part of life in the tropics, we have grown used to them. Bad call. The first hornet went straight for Shannon’s handheld device, bounced off the screen, and then stung her painfully on the left arm. I turned the overhead lights back on to avert the imminent attack. Now illuminated, our room had over a dozen black hornets attacking all four overhead lights and Shannon’s arm was swelling. I quickly plunged us back into darkness. As motorcyclists we have been stung by bees on every continent of the trip, Shannon’s injury, though painful, was not a crisis; getting rid of our unwanted roommates, however, was mission critical.

In the end, the solution was elegant in its simplicity. We turned on the light in the bathroom while extinguishing all other sources of illumination. Within minutes the swarm moved into the bathroom then we closed the door. No more bees. The following morning all the bees had died from exhaustion, they spent the entire night attacking the light bulb above the toilet. In the nights that followed as soon as the first hornet showed up in our room we extinguished the overhead lights; the bees would stop trying to get in. The rest of our stay in this hotel was uneventful and a thousand miles down the road our lives became downright domesticated once we settled in the capitol city.

Once we arrived in Jakarta our focus was primarily on getting Shannon’s bike repaired. I spent my first week shuttling by taxi to and from the Suzuki shop lending a hand to the mechanics and giving my approval on each step of the engine rebuild. Jakarta is a city for business and not for tourists so there isn’t a lot of sightseeing or leisure activity to be had. Luxury movie theaters were cheap so we caught up on the latest films and our homestay with friends provided a lavish and comfortable base to work from while in Jakarta, we were well looked after.

The motorcycle parts in this photo are a miracle. Parts for our bikes are readily available in the United States or Australia but not in Indonesia, and importing comes with long delays and high import tariffs. We placed the order from Sumatra not expecting any miracles to happen, but luck shined on us, and the parts made it to Jakarta the day before we needed them.

After going for more than 100,000 kilometers Zippy had a wee bit of head congestion. By the time we got the bike to the Suzuki shop in Jakarta the cylinder compression was zero and three of the four valves were leaking past the seats. The piston rings were shot, causing oil to be burned, causing carbon to build up on the valve seat. All together these problems made for an engine that would no longer start.

Once we had the top-end apart we could asses the damage. Fortunately nothing was broken, only parts that had worn past their usable life. We lapped the valves back into spec, put in new piston rings, wristpin/circlips, new valve seals, and fresh gaskets all around.

HeRoe is a factory trained Suzuki mechanic of the highest quality. I began this job thinking I would need to supervise the work but I quickly realized he was a skilled professional, I was slowing him down. In complete trust I handed the job to him. In the end my portion of the labor was the valve adjustments and final assembly once the head was back on.

Working alongside the mechanic in Jakarta. We may come from different cultures, different religions, and different countries but we are brothers none-the-same. I had a rich and wonderful time spending my days in the shop with this wonderful group of guys. Final labor bill for three days work, including the truck to pick us up at the Port of Jakarta, was $45 USD (I supplied all the parts, which were imported from the United States).

It takes a village. Having Zippy break down in Indonesia led to many new friends and experiences that can never be planned in advance. Once again, the interruptions are the adventure.

In the end we spent five weeks in Jakarta with our time punctuated with a fun trip to Sumbawa Island for the Horizons Unlimited Indonesia event and an anti-fun trip to Bangkok to get Shannon’s broken leg treated. Yes, you heard it correct, Shannon broke her leg in Jakarta and it had nothing to do with her motorcycle. In her case, walking proved to be more dangerous than riding.

Horizons Unlimited is a world-wide fraternity of overland travelers. While most participation with this group is done digitally actual physical meetings take place every year all around the globe. We were fortunate to be presenters at the first-ever Horizons Unlimited Travelers Meeting in Indonesia.

In the warm embrace of other overland crazies like ourselves. It is rare in life to be with a large group of strangers and feel such immediate bonding and friendship. The overland traveling community provides us with a worldwide family. We are never happier than the times we can get together and swap stories and revel in our shared interest, regardless of our nationalities or backgrounds.

As a “VIP” presenter I was invited to participate in a ceremony welcoming my family into Sumbawan culture. The island’s governing officials initiated us as honorary citizens of the island. These handmade hats are the real deal; to be given one is a great honor in the culture of this island.

Along with the royal hat Shannon and I were given a handmade wooden model of the the former palace Dalam Loka. Not something we actually have room for on the motorcycle but worth mailing home when we get back to Jakarta.

The HU Indonesia meeting was wildly popular with the Indonesians and they came from all over the country. No single type of motorcycle was dominate at the event with almost every make and model represented. The love of two wheels and a motor was the common bond, not the kind of bike you ride.

New bikes and old, side by side. The joy of motorcycling was infectious and euphoric.

All work and no play makes for a very dull event. Parties, food, and live music were on tap every night.

The creepy mustache I have had forever is making a comeback with the younger generation. Every trend comes back around if you wait long enough.

Our hero. Jeffery Polnaja is the organizer of the HU Indonesia meeting as well as a world famous rider. On April 23, 2006 he embarked on a journey from Jakarta to ride around the world, the first Indonesian to ever do so. By the time Jeffery finished this epic journey he had ridden 420,000 kilometers and passed through 97 countries.

Motorcycle royalty and a wealth of experience packed into one photo. Anita Yusof, Nicole Stavro Espinosa, and Ted Simon at HU Indonesia 2017.

The Saturday night main event, no pressure there, right? HU Indonesia 2017.

Back in Jakarta after the trip to the HU meeting. Cruising the square in old town on colorful bikes is a thing in Jakarta.

Leaving in 36 hours on the bikes to explore East Java until….Shannon broke her leg. A misstep off a small ledge in Jakarta and her ankle rolled to the point of fracturing her fibula. A midnight trip to the emergency room was just the beginning of this saga and by the end we will have traveled to Thailand and back.

It is important to stick to a budget while traveling and we always weigh the pros and cons before spending money. By cutting off Shannon’s cast with a hacksaw blade I saved cab fare to the clinic and the doctor fee. Also, a bit of sage advice; always get a second opinion.
Jakarta: The orthopedic surgeon in Jakarta said surgery was required, the next morning, by him, for $5,000 US cash or credit card, and travel to Bangkok would be dangerous and risky.
Bangkok: The orthopedic surgeon in Bangkok said Shannon’s cast looked like it was made by a child, surgery is absolutely unnecessary and would serve no purpose except to risk infection, and her break will heal 100% by the end of 6 weeks.

Friends from Shannon’s grad school years in Seattle now living abroad: Heather, Rob and their girls Ruby and Ella have been in Jakarta for 5 years.

Once in Jakarta our time on the motorcycles in Asia was drawing to a close and shipping our bikes back to North America ended up taking a lot of time to arrange and execute. The two weeks riding we missed due to Shannon’s injury turned out to be a blessing, in the end we needed the extra time to get all our shipping work done.

Once our crated motorcycles were cleared through customs and our signed Carnet du Passage (CDP) was returned to us we were finished with Jakarta, but, sadly, we were also finished riding our own bikes until we meet up with them again in Canada. Sea freight is a slow way to ship so for the next five weeks we will pass the time in Bali while the bikes plod across the Pacific. I see a scooter rental on the horizon.

It was always our plan to ship from Indonesia to Canada so Shannon’s broken leg did not really affect the overall trip. The reality is that the money we saved for our journey was enough to get us this far and now our savings are nearly depleted, it is time to slowly aim for home.

With Shannon’s broken leg we abruptly lost our last two weeks of riding in Asia, suddenly it was time to ship the bikes to our next destination, British Columbia, Canada. But the broken leg ended up a blessing in disguise. This is the holy month of Ramadan in Muslim Indonesia and everything is moving at half speed. The process of getting our bike onto a ship bound for Canada took longer than we expected and we used all of the extra time the injury gave us.

Getting the bikes “export” quality clean took a long time. I was finding dirt we picked up in Latin America and it seemed no matter how much I scrubbed there was still more grime to be found.

Crating the bikes took a full day and we were required to remove the fuel, oil and batteries. These guys were used to packing expensive furniture and were real fans of putting bubble wrap on everything.

Cargo volume is not an expensive commodity on sea freight, unlike air freight. Our crate was built on the spot and as long as we stayed under five cubic meters everyone was happy.

Tariq and Lydia were the best hosts we could ever ask for. Initially we were staying with them for a short time in Jakarta but when all was said and done we had been with them for over five weeks. We really felt at home living with them for so long and leaving was a sad affair for all of us.

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