Sulawesi – Day 14 Salodik to Luwuk

Our peaceful slumber on mattresses strewn across the floor of an ageing internment camp with mosquitos buzzing in our ears was gently woken when the neighbouring mosque imam burst into full song, along with his son, to greet the day at around 3.30 am.  The sound equipment at volume 11, enabled their soothing voices to bounce off the valley walls ensuring all residents within 30 km would hear their voices perfectly.

This promised to be a fantastic day.  Colin, dressed to kill in his formal shirt, invited the local bike shop owner (also sporting the same formal ride leader’s shirt) to have the Luwuk cycling club ride with us into Luwuk, a distance of about 40 km.  After not inviting them to breakfast, which included the missing vegetables from dinner, we were keen to push off by 7 am, racing 15 km down the hillside.  The Luwuk cycling club spoke highly of Rayner’s prowess & Mike tried, once again, to push his speed towards the sound barrier.

The heat hit us as we coasted along the fishing villages towards Luwuk and Colin found a great place to cool down and have a break.  Most of us were actually drooling for a last great morning tea from Artichoke, however the additional riders must have stretched Colin’s budget so we settled for a banana instead.

Like a grand procession we proceeded into Luwuk and then swung sharply up one side of Luwuk, climbing parallel on the surrounding mountain with the promise of great views from a significant height.  With the heat high and coffee pangs we forced a stop at a restaurant lookout, enjoying coffee as the last of the group (Alex & Barry) caught up.  They were so engrossed in conversation they missed the stop and went down the steep hillside straight into Luwuk. The climb back up had them both learning new Indonesian words.

They say all good things come in threes.  Chris, Bev & Louise followed the lead vehicle from the Luwuk cycling club to the airport hotel.  Meantime the rest of us, who had stopped for a bowl of soup & rice for lunch, tried to work out how to find them again in this large city.  We all looked forward to the promised swim from the modern hotel only to discover that the hotel was 500m up the steepest hill climb yet & no one was keen to go back down from that!  The hotel pool, along with the lift, was still under construction.

Colin put on a grand dinner to celebrate the end of the trip.  Complete with gold bunting around the table, we enjoyed a banana smoothie, a bowl of soup and some rice.  Colin must have thought we put in a great effort because he shouted us a second smoothie.  Some of us shared special moments and we all agreed this was much more than a tour, truly a challenge.   We suspect our certificate is in the mail.