How lucky we were to wake up with the ocean gently lapping at your feet, breakfast and then boat visit a couple of the local attractions – swimming with stingless jellyfish (one of only 3 places in the world); snorkelling off pristine beaches over the top of beautiful coral formations alongside colourful fish; and, to finish off, gliding over the edge of small island reef. All this in crystal clear warm water with amazing visibility – it was just like being inside an aquarium.
The afternoon was spent lamenting our sun burnt backs and an impromptu yoga session on the end of the pier, with Colin leading. Just the meditative thing to do as the sun set. After dinner, Alex again organised a late night hunt for the elusive giant coconut crabs (as big as turtles). Sadly none to be found.
Of course, this is not really a ride report sooooo let’s skip now to ….
Day 12 Kadidiri to Ampana to Bunta
We have a massive riding distance to cover today (over 100 km) and yet we were over 2 hours away from the mainland. Accordingly, there was no option but to have breakfast at 5.30 am followed by a speedy boat crossing before the wind made the ocean too choppy. We could not wait to meet Charlie Brown & Artichoke (our drivers) who did not disappoint by having the best morning tea yet – those cakes in Indonesia are really something else. Being on the road by 9 am, just as the heat of the day started, is not ideal and it soon became quite a slug as we continued following the coastline.
Colin surprised us by revealing a nasty steep hill in the middle of the ride with a few “before” and “afters”. There was also roadworks to contend with, so lunch was at the base of this hill, whilst we waited for them to open at 12 noon. Barry entertained the crowd by falling off his bike in front of many spectators. We scored him “3”. The hill actually turned out to be a feature of this ride. Extremely loose gravel, turning into bull dust and the top of the hill completely cut down in an attempt to make the gradient perhaps a little less than 22 degrees, in the midday sun. The bull dust/sand was too much for Phil. Those still standing practised mountain skills contending with local traffic climbing in the opposite direction.
Cruising along the coastline had its challenges, particularly the road condition in places. In one place after some serious rockwork, Phil got a flat and, whilst we patiently waited for the front vehicle to realise that no one was actually following him, a crowd gathered (in the middle of nowhere). We could have sold tickets. The light traffic was brought to a standstill and everyone wanted to help out in some way, even if just to hold the camera.
Some of the villages dried small bait fish by the road. Bev thought she would adopt a local child at an afternoon tea stop. Rayner & ED thought they would check out the soccer competition at one of the passing local schools. They soon became the main attraction and the game had to be put on hold till the mob cleared and our riders could leave.
We stayed at a hotel that was owned by a Chinese family who also owned the only supermarket in town, as well as the wholesale trade for cloves (mostly used in cigarettes), nutmeg flowers, cocoa, coconut oil, and coconut urea used for making the paint used on the brightly coloured houses. His store was the one and only place where we found a freezer containing chocolate ice cream. At $A1.50 for a magnum, Michele – eat your heart out!