15,480 km so far.
After yesterday’s kerfuffle with the incompetent and dishonest folks who run the various public transportation options on Java, there was nothing for it but to get on our bikes and ride.
But first, we enjoyed a hearty and delicious breakfast in the garden at Rumah Wahidin, which we highly recommend if you’re coming this way. From what we’ve seen online, you won’t find another place that comes close to this quality for such a good price (185000 Rp) in Probolinggo.
Then it was onto Highway 1 for almost 100 km of pedalling.
We hadn’t gotten more than a kilometre before Stephen needed to make a stop. Right by the roadside was the local Jokowi headquarters, and Stephen had been wanting a campaign sticker ever since we’d arrived in Indonesia.
The men running the office gave Stephen a handful of stickers and a flag for his bike, making him one very happy cyclist.
The happiness didn’t last long though. If you’re picturing a road that deserves the moniker Highway 1, you’re picturing the wrong thing. The first 25 km were narrow and crowded, and our side of the road was patched, cracked, puckered, and potholed, so we rattled along until I thought my teeth might shake right out of my head.
At our first rest break, Stephen was more than miserable. I, for the first time in about a week, was feeling quite well, so I had high hopes that things would get better.
Luckily, my wishes were granted. The pavement smoothed itself out and the traffic died down the further we got from the city. It is Sunday, and the first full day of Ramadan, so presumably fewer people were out and about than normal. We cruised along quite quickly, making hay while the conditions allowed it, knowing that the road could turn back into a cyclist’s nightmare at any moment.
Just because the roads were quiet, didn’t make the drivers any less idiotic. Today, again, the main rule of the road seemed to be “safety last”. We had plenty of drivers coming straight at us in our lane while overtaking a truck, even though the traffic was clear behind us for miles.
The trucks themselves were less frequent, but no less unpleasant. I realised today that some of them travel in convoy, presumably to decrease their fuel costs. I’d think an oil change and a tune-up might also be effective on that score, but what do I know about trucking in Indonesia?
At one point, I felt something brush across my right hip, and looked up to see two teenaged boys on their scooter laughing their heads off as they sped past. One of them had tried to slap my butt as they drove by.
I am not ashamed to say I gave them the finger. I’m hoping that small gesture managed to communicate that my tight bike shorts are not an invitation to unwanted touching, but rather a high-tech piece of gear designed to enhance my athletic performance (and to protect my butt).
You might think I brought this on myself, since it is not generally acceptable for women to wear revealing or tight clothes in Indonesia. I decided not long after arriving in Asia that I would not comply to any cultural rules that are based solely on sexism, and this is clearly one of those. I dress modestly, but wear the attire that is best for my comfort and health. Also, plenty of women in Indonesia, both Muslim and non-Muslim, walk around in t-shirts and shorts, so there is really no excuse for the bad behaviour of these boys.
Sunday Seaside Drive
For the rest of the day, all was flat and fairly pleasant. We had some pretty views of a huge volcano to our right, and the occasional glimpse of the sea to our left.
Finally, the road became a real seaside route, with the laid-back vibe to match.
I love being near the ocean. I find it immediately calming. During the times when the traffic thinned, I could almost imagine we were winding our way along an little-used seaside road in Europe, as opposed to the main highway on the busiest island in Asia.
Except for the monkeys.
About 25 km out of Situbondo, there was a smattering of resorts and seafood restaurants. It would have made a good place to stop for the evening if we’d planned our route accordingly. Stopping here would, however, make tomorrow’s already long ride just a bit too long. This spot was also the first sign of any open eateries we’d seen all day.
Being Ramadan, all of the little “warung” and food stalls we’d passed had been closed up tight, since no one will be eating until sunset. This made our lunch situation a little tricky. Luckily, Indomaret is still very much open for business, and we satisfied ourselves with chocolate bread and peanut butter sandwiches, oranges, peanuts, and Snickers bars.
We had no idea we were being watched.
That evening, at 5:21pm, Situbondo’s emergency alert system sounded a couple of short blasts. Presumably this signalled sunset and the end of the day’s fast.
All in all, the day ended up being pretty good, and one of the first riding days I have actually enjoyed since we got to Indonesia. Maybe, just maybe, it’s a good thing we couldn’t get on a bus or the train.
Soundtrack: Arcade Fire, The Suburbs | The Beastie Boys, Make Some Noise | Money Mark, Push The Button | Mark Lanegan Band, Bubblegum | The Magnetic Fields, Realism | Loose Fur, Born Again In The USA | Jurassic 5, J5 ♥