2020 🇺🇸 🇬🇧
Now it is a thing of the past, but for many (especially me) it will remain in our memories as an unforgettable year. I'm going to tell you how the year 2020 ended for me.
I used to go out to do my grocery shopping every Monday and spending the rest of the week confined to home. November made a big difference in my routine. I began to have days when I could walk more than 10 steps without the need to support myself on crutches and my ability to support my own weight on the operated foot increased day by day. This was the month that I was able to feel a little more secure venturing out on the streets riding Meteoro (my moped) beyond my weekly shopping. I knew then, that it was time to get on with my life, get out of Lombok and meet Pegaso (my bicycle) in Bali.
The last week of the month I put up for sale all the things I had bought to cope with my voluntary isolation in order to avoid contagion of Covid while I was recovering from my surgery. Refrigerator, electric stove, pots, pans, blender, rice cooker, knives and all kinds of utensils necessary in a kitchen as well as spices, sauces, flours and everything necessary to cook international menus as I like. I built this special cabinet to fit my small induction cooker with its sink to cook and wash dishes... standing! Here they are used to doing everything squatting. It was beautiful and I felt so sad saying goodbye to it.
These are examples of the photos with which I promoted the sale of my things. I put the price that I paid and the auction price with the description of the item. (There are 2 photos in the slideshow)
I equipped the bathroom with new plumbing to be able to bathe with a shower instead of a bucket.
Those above and hundreds of other items, all the things I needed to get rid of as soon as possible. As you can see, I took photos of them, I put the prices of what they cost me and the auction ones; I uploaded them to my Google Drive and created a gallery. I shared the link with my friends and acquaintances and as I was selling them I was deleting them to keep the gallery updated so people would not come looking for something I already sold.
As the days passed and I saw that they were not selling as fast as I wanted, I decided to use another strategy. Remember the ads a person wore on like this?
Well, with this idea in mind I had one made but in a material like synthetic canvas. One single piece to be fold in half, one half in front of me and the other in my back. I made a cut in the middle of both halves to pass my head through and wear it like a poncho. Here I show you only half, the other if you see it is rolled up.
Translated it says something like: Foreigner leaving Lombok and selling everything. In red the arrow indicating where to park because I was standing right on the side of the road and at the entrance to the parking lot.
This shot, which is very bad by the way, starts on the porch of my house where you can see the parking area while I go to the entrance of it. Once I had crossed the bridge over the canal, at the edge of the paved road, that's where I used to stand, to the left of the entrance opposite the sign on the right. This is a main road with a lot of traffic that connects the north of the island with the capital and the rest of the island.
It took me a couple of weeks to promote my auction gallery to my friends, neighbors and acquaintances in Pemenang village. For a couple of days I became a human advertisement standing on the side of the road to speed things up. Finally, in mid-December, I was able to sell almost everything at ridiculous prices and gave the remainder to my friends, giving preference to newly married young couples and low-income families and individuals. It took me 3 weeks to get rid of all the belongings that are not part of my permanent gig that I use when I ride my bike.
Before leaving Lombok I wanted to circumnavigate the island as I did not do it by bike so I decided to do it with Meteoro. Over time I have saved many points of interest in my maps, shown in green, that I would like to visit on the island.
At first, when I first conceived the idea; how to transport all my belongings in one trip became a great challenge. How do you manage to load 8 pieces of luggage with approximately 100 kilos of weight on a scooter?
In my mind I conceived different ways to do it, over and over I drew them on paper, considering the advantages and disadvantages of each of the possibilities until I finally came up with the final version and the one that I considered the most convenient in terms of costs, security and chances of success. But I couldn't do it alone, it required developing it in a smithy and I needed an interpreter to help me communicate, I would have to wait until I was in Mataram and one of my friends there would help me.
I had to divide my luggage and make 2 trips to move my bags to Mataram, the capital and main city of Lombok. In the end, I loaded Meteoro with the last portion of my belongings, handed over the keys to the house to its new owner, and set off for the city.
At this moment I closed one more chapter of my life.
Once again I sold the things I had bought with great care and nourished the illusion of being at home. I was ready to soar again into the unknown. It was not easy to say goodbye to the small 36 square meters house where I lived for 15 months, to the village of Pemenang, to its people, to my friends, to the local warungs I used to eat at, to everything I experienced and cherished there.
There are 5 photos in the slideshow:
My beloved little house.
One of the many yummy feasts I cooked while I was confined.
The peculiarity of the culture, and its unique beauty. Can you see the white flower on one of the statues?
One of the most memorable adventures I had there and the friends with whom it took place.
Its spectacular landscapes, the most common scenery in Lombok, rice paddies everywhere.
Point A is my home and Point B is my friends' home / office. So you can see where I'm traveling day by day.
I arrived at the home/office of my friends Fikri, Iqbal and the rest of the Telkom team that they used as their work base, here is where I had previously left the first portion of my luggage.
They invited me to have lunch where they would serve Soto Ayam, a chicken noodle soup with vegetables that they know I really like, which one of his classmates' family prepared as a celebration for his graduation from university. When I finished, Fikri helped me find the blacksmith who understood the concept that I designed in my mind to mount all my luggage on the motorcycle. This was the key piece to be able to transport everything at the same time.
Back at their home base they had a business meeting while I packed my luggage. Look how different are the work meetings here, they don't take place inside the house, they are carried out sitting in a Berugak, something like a gazebo or kiosk with the floor raised from the ground where people take off their shoes and sit or lie down. They are everywhere in Lombok.
Once the motorcycle was loaded, I approached the group to say goodbye. Friends and new acquaintances wished me a happy trip.
In the background Meteoro was waiting for me, loaded with all my luggage ready to start the tour of Lombok.
Night was already falling when I gave my cell phone to Fikri so that he would do me the favor of filming the moment of my departure.
From Mataram I headed to Lembar, the port where at the end of my circumnavigation I would board a ferry bound for Bali. There, at Lembar, the family of my friend Iqbar was waiting for me, who would do me the favor of keeping part of my luggage so that I could circumnavigate Lombok a little lighter.
Wadi met me at the entrance to the port and took me to his home, which is located a short distance from there. He introduced me to his nephew, his sister, and his mother. At his house I started sorting my things and packed only what I would take for the next few days' journey and left what would be unnecessary. As I got back to Meteoro, other family members and neighbors began to gather around me curiously as I arranged my luggage and prepared to continue.
When they asked me where I was going, I told them that my plan was to go to Cemare Beach (pronounced Chemare). Wadi offered to take me, he quickly organized his friends and in a matter of minutes we were going on 3 scooters on our way to the beach to spend the night.
You can't imagine how grateful I was that they had offered to take me there. I never imagined that part of the road almost reaching the beach would be so risky. Because it was the rainy season, the dirt road was almost destroyed, bumpy, puddled, at times flooded and with slippery mud across its entire width. If I had gone alone I would not have arrived, I would have returned when I saw the condition of the access road. My biggest fear was that the motorcycle would slip and I would react by slapping my operated foot with force as it had happened to me other times and to hurt myself again, as it had happened to me on other occasions, which would mean that I could not walk for several days and spoil all my plans.
Fortunately that did not happen and we arrived safely at the beach. Despite having barely met, we had a very pleasant evening, we talked a lot, there was never silence, because if we were not talking, we were singing...
Well, maybe at dinnertime.
Here is the link to my very first live Facebook broadcast that night:
These types of meetings are very educational and I love them especially because we enrich each other, they learn about my culture and I from theirs. They taught me new words in Bahasa Indonesia and I helped them improve their English.
I have no idea what time I fell asleep but I remember that it rained in the middle of the night and that woke me up. I noticed that they took refuge in a small food stall with a roof and kept talking and singing. I did not suffer because I was well prepared against rain and mosquitoes (my worst enemy), I slept in my hammock with mosquito net and I anticipated the rain with my tarp covering me.
When I woke up they were already up, they must have slept very little.
I got out of my hammock and started looking around me. I walked around a bit and took some photos and videos.
We broke camp, mounted our motorcycles, and left the place. Here is a sample of the dirt road we passed but now dry, without puddles or mud.
And a bridge that also made me very nervous when crossing it at night. As you will see, it is not easy to do it during the day.
I thanked the boys for the evening together and gave them a sum of money for the expenses they made on my behalf the night before providing the food, we said goodbye and I continued my journey to circumnavigate the island of Lombok.
I stopped at a "warung", that's what food outlets of any size are called. I parked in front, took off my helmet and gloves, grabbed my man bag and walked over. I didn't see anyone at the counter, I looked in the dining room and nothing. How strange, I thought, and my eyes caught something irregular in the background on the ground.
Life on the island is very relaxed, it is very common to see people napping... or just watching the screen on their cell phones. I had to wake them up and feeling very ashamed they fixed their hair and clothes, put on sandals and attended me. I ate delicious but they overpriced the meal when it came to charging.
When I resumed the tour I saw some structures that I had never seen in my life and I asked myself what are these things? Well, I had no idea what they were for but Kevin Costner's movie Waterworld came to mind.
The day passed mostly with sunshine and a few drizzles spread throughout the entire day.
Lombok is very similar to the Pacific coast of Mexico. In many aspects, such as its geography, its tropical climate, its human settlements, its roadside shops and its people reminded me of the roads of Michoacán, Guerrero and Oaxaca. Everything is green with lush vegetation.
Unfortunately that day I traveled many miles to no avail, I wasted gasoline and time because I could not reach my second destination, Desert Point. First Google Maps took me off the main road and onto rather suburban roads like this ...
Nothing strange because I have been on similar ones on other occasions many times. Until Google took me to a point where there was no road to be seen and if it existed, it was surely impassable in my condition. I had to cancel that destination and return because there was no way where to go further.
I jumped to the next point on my map, Mekaki Hill and Mekaki Dream Beach. And again, with little to go, I come across this...
With much apprehension and nerves I managed to pass to the other side because as you can see, there was still water running and the mud was gooey and slippery.
I continued and ran into another landslide. I had the chance to see another rider coming in the opposite direction, his partner got out to cross on foot and I saw how the driver had a hard time crossing the section over a mud ditch that made him stumble several times and about to lose his balance with the huge risk of falling on the hillside.
After they passed, I got off the bike to analyze the situation more closely and I realized that once again luck was not on my side.
Due to the heavy rains there were landslides like the two that I came across, but the latter finally did not dare to continue. I had to go back the way I had come and settle for just seeing the beach from afar, which, being so close, turned out to be so far.
Lombok is predominantly Muslim, so I was struck by passing through this village where obviously its inhabitants were mostly Hindus. The architecture of its buildings is very peculiar. It seems that everything they build such as their houses, businesses or any other construction is based on their religion because it is difficult to differentiate between what is private, public or religious, they all look like temples!
Their roofs are pointy and you will always see small structures at the corners of their property and I don't know why but the gates are a big deal for them, the entrances to their buildings are elaborated and beautiful. Even the entrances to their towns, at the end of the video you will see 2 standing structures by the side of the road, that’s the gate of the village.
I ended up returning to the exact same area that I left that morning.
When I saw that I would not have time to get to any of the nearby points of interest on my map, I gave up, and then more relaxed, I decided to enjoy the road and spent time taking photos along the way. Later I went to a wooden pier to take some photos and when I finished I asked those who were sitting in a Berugak talking if they were the owners to which they answered affirmatively. (6 photos slideshow)
I introduced myself and told them what I do. I asked them if they would allow me to spend the night there, to which they responded affirmatively again. They turned out to be a family, the parents, their son, their daughter-in-law and grandson and also their daughter, a young girl. All of them very kind and polite. We talked about many things, they asked me many questions, the talk was very cordial and entertaining. As evening fell, it was time for them to leave. Dad showed me the bathroom and put a mosquito net and a mat in the Berugak for me. At night I took a shower, brushed my teeth and slept very well, the mosquitoes did not bother me throughout the night.
In Lombok people start the day very early, the first call from the mosques to pray varies a bit and I still do not know why but it is between 3:30 and 4:30 AM at the same time that the roosters begin to wake everybody up with their crowing and the birds chirping, before the sunrise.
That's how Meteoro and I woke up. (2 photos)
Later the son, daughter-in-law and grandson arrived. I thanked everyone and said goodbye.
I tried to get to Panngang beach but again, I ran into problems due to the rains so I continued to the next point on my map, Selong Belanak Beach. A road trip with beautiful scenery through the mountains with ups and downs and many curves. A completely rural area with few settlements that can be called towns and very little infrastructure such as gas stations, supermarkets or restaurants. Only the local people and their few and small establishments necessary for them.
I reached the other side of the island, the south shore and I was feeling hungry so I stopped at the only crossroads in the town just before reaching the beach, and looked for a place to have lunch. After looking at several options, all of them very small, I chose a small warung where I saw that they sold Nasi Campur. It is pronounced Nasi Champur and literally translates as mixed rice but a more accurate meaning would be rice cocktail or cocktail with rice. On a plate they put a portion of white rice in the center and accompany it with 3 or 4 small portions of the different side dishes on display inside a glass cabinet. When you just order it, the dispatcher chooses the options and puts a spoonful of Sambal, the hot Indonesian sauce. Otherwise, one chooses the options that one likes, and that is precisely what I always do, but I never settle for 3 or 4, I always end up with 6 or 7 different things on my plate and a good portion of Sambal is mandatory --for me 😋
I love it! and if they have something with broth I ask for a separate bowl to eat as soup.
Well, there I found a very kind lady, the owner. I saw that she was cooking as lunchtime was approaching, which excited me because that meant I would eat something hot and freshly cooked. I went to the display and saw that there was not a good assortment of options yet, I tried to explain that I was not in a hurry and that I'd rather wait for more things to get cooked. She was more concerned about me waiting than about her business and recommended that I go to another new establishment owned by a relative of hers. I explained to her that my wish was to contribute to her economy for the benefit of her business. She insisted and she walked me to the place because it was a few steps down the street.
In effect, he place looked new, it was obvious the decoration and the menu were more focused on foreigners, and what I wanted was traditional food, bummer! that's what it is, I thought. They told me they didn't have Nasi Campur, I ordered an à la carte dish with orange juice and I was very specific when clarifying that I wanted it pure, without water or ice. I asked to see the stews but my surprise was that everything was frozen, I canceled the order and waited for my juice. They brought it to me and since I saw it at the distance I knew it had water, I took a sip, and indeed, they put water on it. I put it on the table, got up and told them that I did not accept it because it was not what I had ordered and I left.
I returned with the lady and she already had more stews in the window, I chose my options and sat down to enjoy a Nasi Campur as intended. From there I went to the beach, Selong Beach.
Then I continued to Kuta, a surfers village, probably the place where most foreigners visit and reside on the entire island.
Upon arrival I stopped to have a juice. I was chatting with the employees, two young muslim women, we were having fun. Indonesian people love photos, especially selfies. One of them, when she saw me taking photos, asked me to take some of her, she was not shy at all, she began to model 😁
When a client friend of theirs came to eat, he got involved in the conversation we were having and heard that in my travels I look for accommodation with the local people. Turned out this man had a room available in a homestay, he told me I could stay there for 2 nights. It was an offer that I accepted very happy because it meant having my things in a safe place with a key so that I could go out to explore the surroundings without carrying all my luggage. In addition to the comfort of air conditioning, a bathroom with a sitting toilet and a shower yay! With the added convenience of being located in the very center of the village.
I was very excited to be in Kuta because for a year I had not had the opportunity to eat anything of Western origin and I had a huge craving for a real hamburger and fries. The ones sold in Lombok do not use ground beef as we are used to, they use something similar to a thick slice of salami for the burgers and kebabs.
That night I searched on Google Maps where to have something for dinner that was not Asian and after checking the number of stars and reading some reviews of various local establishments I decided to go and have dinner at a place called KRKN.
Arriving at this place made me feel like arriving at an old west canteen, only that the horses were motorized 😊
I found them very busy with a venue almost full as a surfing competition was taking place that weekend.
I read the menu and ordered a Dirty Burger and Parmesan Fries.
Let me tell you, it was something memorable, hard to forget. The whole experience was almost magical, the place, the clientele, the atmosphere, and especially the flavors that I was finally able to enjoy.
I went very, very happy to my room. I turned on the air conditioning, took a relaxing shower, and went to bed. I slept like a baby.
I was invited to a traditional Muslim wedding in the village of Selong, on the east side of the island.
As you can see on the map, I left behind the rugged terrain of jungle, mountains, hills, curves, ups and downs. That day I entered the plains of the island. The landscape became more "urban" if that can be said, because it never stops being rural as there are rice paddies and crops everywhere, wherever one goes. In this video I give you a sample of the roads, the traffic, the landscapes, the architecture and the people along the road on a Sunday.
Parking is always a problem, especially at busy events such as a wedding. I realized it is problem everywhere, even for motorists traveling on 2 wheels. My lifelong habit has always been to seek the shade. I absolutely dislike getting into a hot vehicle or sitting on a seat that will iron my butt. I located a nice shade under a tree, I stopped , turned off the motorcycle and then a person came out to tell me that I could not park there, pointing at the same time in the direction of the other side of the street where other motorcycles were entering. I got on again, started the bike and went to the place. Here you will see the "parking lot" assigned for the event. My friend Fikri parked my bike all the way to the back. In a few minutes that whole area was filled to capacity.
I was struck by seeing police officers in charge of controlling traffic and relieving the congestion that the wedding was causing.
Muslim weddings have a very peculiar tradition. They place a kind of urn at the entrance for guests to deposit a cash gift as they arrive.
A quick overview of the reception.
Next, leave a record of attendance.
Eating food without tables or chairs is most common in Indonesia, whether sitting on the floor or squatting is a normal sight
Of course, the food is abundant and very varied. In this wedding there were 2 identical stations, on both sides of the entrance, first they start with white rice, is the base of any Indonesian meal and essential in the Asian diet. Then noodles, next skewers of Sate (grilled pieces of meat on bamboo sticks), shrimp, vegetables, salads, soup and at the end of the buffet in transparent containers you will see something that they consume a lot here called Kerupuk, (pronounced krupuk) small pieces of flour crackers. Always available in any dining room in Indonesia and in a wide variety of presentations.
At the back of the room was a station with ice cream, desserts, fruits, and drinks. And finally on the right a small station dedicated to the most popular soup in Indonesia called Bakso which is a soup of small meatballs served with vegetables and noodles.
With plate in hand, I went to the adjoining room where there were only chairs, not tables. My friends pulled chairs and we sat in one group. I do not remember how many times I stood up and walked to serve myself again but I ate until I was satisfied. Those who know me know what I mean 😉😋
At the end I made the decision to start a live session on Facebook to show this unique experience to my fellow Westerners. As I was streaming Fikri indicated to me that the ceremony had already begun and he took me to the place where it was happening. I walked to a smaller adjoining room with fewer chairs and in the background a decorated set occupied from left to right by the parents of the groom, the groom, the bride, and the parents of the bride.
Here the link to that live broadcast: https://www.facebook.com/642901751/videos/10157597500656752/
Sitting on the floor a group of men dressed in their own custom. Who offered a musical number with songs that contained promises and oaths to God. Among other things to be good and loving. Always attentive to your new responsibilities to your spouse and in-laws.
When they finished they put on their shoes, said goodbye and left. Pay attention to their outfits, these are their gala dresses that necessarily include something on the head, in this case a kind of small turban opened on the top, although I have seen two other models difficult to describe because they are not hats, or berets, or caps. One of them looks like a small pot or bucket turned upside-down and the other one kind of a knitted beanie, none of their headwear has brims sticking out. A usually black or white camisole, a band or sash with a knot at the waist, and a generally colorful or highly ornate sarong. At the end one of them passed who seemed to have more hierarchy dressed in light colors with something that looked like a sword adjusted in the back.
Immediately after the photo session began on the podium with the couple and their parents.
Each group of family members or friends had to be patient while waiting for their turn. The cycle was somewhat slow, in which one by one they went up to the deck, greeted each of the 6 members, decided how to accommodate themselves, several photos were taken from more than one camera or phone. When everyone was satisfied they turned to talk a bit with the couple and their parents and after what seemed like an eternity they would come down to make way for the next group. And the cycle was repeating itself.
It was very interesting to see the various forms of greeting that they have. The greeting is determined by age and the type of trust you have in the relationship. Look at the beginning of the next video at the young woman who is standing looking towards the podium. 3 other women arrive who have just got off the deck and greet her. Age determined the type of greeting.
The first of them, slightly older, extends her hand, the young woman takes it and brings it to her forehead with a light touch and returns it to the one greeting, then she takes that hand and touches her chest. The second is her peer, a close friend, either classmates or they grew up together and their confidence level is high, they kiss both cheeks and the smiles and expressions are more effusive. The third same as the first. If they are family then the oldest are her aunts and the other her cousin. All of them put their hands to their chests after the greeting. Actually, I believe the gesture requires that the heart must be touched but as women I suppose they avoid touching their breasts in public, men usually do it correctly.
Then observe how are the different greetings with the groom's parents according to the different ages and levels of trust. Here it is worth mentioning that the Covid health protocol had something to do as well, usually with little-known guests like me. Some touch their fingers, there are those who even received an effusive hug and some that the contact was null, from afar.
And finally this couple of girls who were around me since I arrived trying to make small chats practicing their english and who at the time of the photos asked me to take photos of them too. (4 photos)
One point of interest on my map was Tetebatu, a traditional village in the eastern mountains of the island, at the foot of the Rinjani volcano with picturesque landscapes and the first village to receive and promote foreign tourism on the island. My friend Fikri suggested spending the rest of the day there, taking advantage of the fact that he would drop off his friend Nova who lives there.
Unfortunately on this occasion the weather was not on our side and almost arriving we were caught by a heavy rain.
As good 'Indonesians' we put on our raincoats and continued up the mountains hoping it would stop..
My friend Fikri riding and his friend Nova with him.
By now, and after 2 rainy seasons I was used to dealing with downpours. My only concern at the time is that Meteoro had very worn tires, oops! 🥴
Obviously it is uncomfortable to get wet no matter how protected one is, but there is something that bothers me even more, having to carry my backpack on my back, it shocks me! 😖
I usually carry my everyday backpack in the front with the straps crossed on the handlebars. I love traveling like this with it on the motorcycle. But I can't do it in the rain because my backpack gets wet because I can't cover it. So I have to carry it under the raincoat, as you can see here. My backpack with photo and video equipment does have a raincoat and it goes strapped on the seat, behind me, which made it even more uncomfortable to carry the other one on my back because I pushed it up. It did not let it rest on my shoulders and sometimes I went to the right and sometimes to the left.
We arrived in Tetebatu and the rain did not stop.
Nova invited us to come in his house.
It is the typical house on the island of Lombok. Here the houses are very simple where the furniture is conspicuous by its absence. Generally all family activities are carried out on the floor. They cook, eat, wash, rest, and sleep either squatting, sitting, or lying on the floor, mostly on rugs.
The rain did not stop so there was no point in waiting and I decided to go back so that the night would not catch me on the road, much less under rainy conditions.
Sunday, here as in many other places, is a date of great social value. During the day and along the way I went through various social events. This one here, another wedding.
Curiously, rural communities tend to go out on the road to celebrate. It was difficult for me to know what each one of these was about because I still can't recognize them all. Since I have been in Lombok I have passed riding through in the middle of religious holidays, political events and funerals, those I do recognize. But these below I dare not say what they were.
At the end of the day I arrived safely back to Kuta and decided to close it with a flourish. That night I went back to the same place for dinner because I noticed something on the menu that caught my attention the night before, Spicy Lamb Pizza.
Aside from having an accumulated craving for hamburgers, I also had a craving for Italian pizza. So I ordered it and... Mamma mia! Che cosa deliziosa!
That night and that pizza, made me reconsider how lucky I am to be able to travel, to know how to find places of excellent culinary quality and to have the fortune to try unknown foods and others that are familiar to me but with a completely new and different preparation and seasoning.
It was raining and the place was almost empty which gave the maitre d' time to come over and talk to me. When he found out that I had already published a review of my experience in the restaurant on Google Maps, he offered me a dessert in exchange for publishing my review also on Tripadvisor, which I did with pleasure. And with even greater pleasure I ate my dessert.
Indeed, the evening ended with a flourish.
It was time to leave suite 07 at Dedy's Homestay in Kuta, which was very generously offered to me to spend 2 nights at no cost. Now that I recount my stories of what I live I realize how many mistakes I make. I did not take a photo with my benefactor, his name is Bambang Ardiansyah but they call him Ardi. I have decided that from now on I am going to develop the habit of taking a photograph of my benefactors and give them the credit they deserve for their generosity and goodwill towards me, as well as taking a 360 degree photo of every place where I sleep.
Well, that morning I loaded up Meteor.
I left the key, thanked Ardi via WhatsApp as he was working, and left.
The plan was to go to Pink Beach, one of the few beaches in the world with pink sand. Unfortunately the night before I stayed up very late talking to my mother because it was her birthday and I did not get up on time. I had to cancel the pink beach to be able to attend an invitation to have lunch with my friend Idham in Selong, the same town where I attended the wedding the day before.
I share with you a few moments of how beautiful it is to ride a motorcycle on the roads of Lombok.
I was delighted and never tired of seeing these scenes while I was riding around the island. And its people, always smiling, always greeting me, like the lady in blue at the end of the video.
I reached Selong again, at the meeting point indicated by my friend Idham.
From there he took me to Lesehan Elen, a very peculiar place but clearly popular for being a restaurant with outdoor terraces and swimming pools at the same time. Here we are, sitting in one of the many Berugaks in the traditional way but with a small table. We ate to burst.
From there we went to his house.
And later we left heading north towards the mountains to the Tetebatu village. My second attempt to see the place in the hope that the rain does not appear again.
We arrived at the house of his friend Izzi, he assigned me a room that he normally rents to foreign guests and I spent the night there.
We woke up early and set out in search of a picturesque sunrise in the rice fields of Tetebatu.
These were the first days that I began to walk with the help of crutches, but in the rice fields the crutches were of no use to me because between rice paddies people walk on narrow raised dirt paths of scarce 30 cm wide, so I ventured to walk leaning on Izzi's shoulder.
We got to the first point but we couldn't see the sunrise, however this is what I witnessed. A beautiful landscape with cloudy skies.
Izzi, Idham and their friends spent a good part of that morning taking me to places that only locals know how to get to between the villages of Tetebatu and Kembang Kuning.
Here’s a sample of the beauty of this area.
The only thing I regret is not being able to run or at least walk among that greenery as is my custom wherever I go. The following clip has no sound because I took it with the drone and it has not been edited.
Not this one either, but I'm sure you are going to like it.
Throughout the tour, they took me through various routes that are worth showing you so that you can get an idea of what the infrastructure is like on the island. This is the main road that connects the different neighboring villages. It should be noted that it is the first road I see where its inhabitants embellished it with colorful plants and flowers, free of trash and are proud of it. It is not common to see the roads like this.
There were places that we had to go into the village to reach them and these are examples of the community road network. Corridors or narrow paths and without order or planning in most cases.
And back to the main road.
Likewise, we rode among the fields of crops and here’s an example of those roads.
In the afternoon I thanked Izzi for his hospitality and took the souvenir photo.
And I continued my way to the next point of interest. A traditional village called Sembalun. From there on everything was new to me, I had never ventured so far east and northeast of the island.
The way up turned out to be a delight. Well paved, spacious and with many curves as I like it, especially when there are monkeys by the side of the road. Look at the fleeting figures to the left of the screen.
I reached a point with such a steep climb that the bike could not climb any further. The slope was brutal. I stopped at a nearby lookout to think how to solve the predicament. While there I could see how those who know the road accelerated more than normal to be able to pick up speed and clear the slope.
While I was thinking about what to do, other motorists stopped where I was to take photos from the viewpoint. An unfortunate couple forgot we were in monkey territory and their food was taken.
A couple arrived who spoke English and explained my problem to them. He suggested giving him some of my luggage to try myself light in weight. Meteoro had a hard time clearing the slope lightly loaded and I decided to do the most reasonable thing, to cancel Sembalun, because I did not know if I would find other and perhaps worse slopes than this one later, down the road. This being a road without alternative routes, I had to go back the way I came. With this decision the rest of the plan was definitively canceled and the circumnavigation of the island of Lombok would not be completed.
At about 5 o'clock in the afternoon I arrived at Dusun Karang Tengak, the village close to where my friend Kurniawan Pratama "Tama" lives, who was my interpreter for a while. He invited me to spend the night with him and his family.
He asked me to wait for him at the entrance of this village.
He arrived a few minutes later as he was coming from work. We greeted each other with happiness and he motioned for me to follow him. This friend is joy on two feet, always smiling and his contagious laugh is heard more than his words.
At home his mother prepared a simple but delicious dinner for us.
A very long day came to an end. Tama let me sleep in his bedroom, this would be the last night I would sleep in Lombok.
The end of my tour of the island of Lombok has arrived. From now on everything would be the last thing I would do in Lombok, this would be my last day on the island and I was having a hard time assimilating it because I had already taken a lot of affection for everything it offered me.
Tama had to go to work, his mother prepared us a delicious breakfast, for me the last one on the island.
When I finished I began to pack and load Meteoro up, the people of the village began to gather around me.
Here is the link to my third live broadcast from that morning:
Once ready I left for Mataram, the capital of Lombok and its main city.
As I approached the city, the streets and traffic changed. A fallen tree in the middle of the street and government services doing their job caused a traffic jam, welcoming me back to the urban area.
I actually went back to Mataram just to say goodbye to my friends before leaving, one last goodbye.
One last stop, the hospital. A negative Covid test is required to board the ferry to Bali.
Obviously it came out negative and with the result I went to the port of Lembar.
It was already dark, that was always my preference when traveling between Lombok and Bali by ferry. There is less of everything, less heat, less people, less noise, fewer people smoking because most of them fall asleep.
Because it is a very busy road, probably 24 hours a day, with a high percentage of people going to the port or coming from there. Many people stop to consume something in these stalls that remind me a lot of Mexico.
I arrived with my friend Wadi and his sister Winda with whom I left the rest of my luggage for safekeeping while traveling. I packed all my things, thanked them and gave them some gifts for them and the family. I mounted Meteoro and headed to the entrance of the port where I was checked for the result of the Covid test.
I paid my fare and entered the motorcycle waiting area. I was the first to arrive for the next departure, the one at midnight I supposed.
Meteoro is so heavily loaded I can't use the kickstand because it falls over, and I cannot use the centerstand because I cannot lift it with all that weight so I go to one of the columns to lean the bike on it. I dismounted and filmed it while describing it.
That's when I realized that my crutches were missing.
Immediately the memory came to me where I had left them while securing my luggage. In my mind everything became systematic and I went into emergency mode, I knew it was a race against time because families tend to go to bed early and I did not want to miss the boat.
10:40 I checked the time, I did not know exactly what time the departure would be, I assumed 11 PM.
10:43 With great alarm I sent messages to Wadi to help me retrieve them. He did not answer, I also sent messages to his brother and sister, no one answered, it was getting late for a Muslim family that begins the day before dawn.
10:58 Wadi replied, I explained my predicament, he told me that he was not at home but he would call his sister.
11:02 I saw a couple of boys go by next to me in the direction of the boats, they looked so cute in their attire and the way they walk that despite my anguish I could not miss the opportunity to take video of them.
Total silence, time passed and nothing happened.
I saw the pair of Smurfs coming back and I assumed they lived in the neighborhood and were going back home. Armed with my little dominion of Indonesian I dared to explain the problem to them. I showed them photos of Wadi to see if they knew him. They were indeed neighbors. On Google maps I pointed out the location where my crutches were and they agreed to help me. I begged them to hurry up and they left.
11:23 I took this photo. I showed my enormous appreciation in words and gestures and gave a reward to each one. I guess they weren't used to having money because they opened their eyes in surprise, they looked at me as if asking for an explanation, I told them it was for them, they turned to see each other and at the same time they both let a huge smile shine on their faces. They left very happy.
By then they had let those who were waiting with me pass. I was the last one left at the waiting area. I secured the crutches and headed for the boat.
11:39 About to board the ferry.
And just as I arrived to Lombok back in July 2019, so I left. Fully loaded, on 2 wheels and by sea.
12:13 AM the ferry's belly was finally full. It is something impressive how these men accommodate motorcycles, cars and trucks with minimal space between them, almost like using a shoehorn.
I always do the same when boarding, I explore the entire ship. I check all the decks and all the public spaces. I usually don't like being in common areas as Indonesians smoke a lot and there are no regulations against second hand smoke. All the boats I have boarded are different and this one had easy access to the wheelhouse.
12:42 I took this video of the small Hindu altar that they had there.
One of them noticed my presence at the door, opened it and invited me in.
Nobody spoke English in there but they offered me an old worn-out office swivel chair with armrests to sit on and invited me to stay there if I wanted to. With air conditioning? Yes! of course, I thought. It was very interesting to see the many operations of the ship from there and the hierarchy of command that existed between them.
1:07 we passed these other ferries anchored at the mouth of the harbor just before heading out to high sea. Imagine how many vessels the fleet must be to serve the entire country, the fourth most populous, whose extension is greater than that of the US and with more than 17,500 islands.
Something very strange for me, I fell asleep in the chair and woke up when we were already arriving at Padang Bai, a port in the east of Bali.
4:52 I thanked them for their hospitality and walked off the wheelhouse. Due to falling asleep I was unable to take video of the rest of the passenger areas. It is impressive to see how they travel on these ferries. But at least I show you how the passenger cabins are, all awake and many have already left their places and on their way to their vehicles.
5:43 The day was dawning as I advanced along the empty road.
The differences between both islands stand out immediately. Bali is an island with a better infrastructure in all aspects and it shows in its roads, lighting, signs and planning. But where the difference is much more evident is in the culture of each island and especially its predominant religion.
6:09 I seem to have heard that Lombok is known as the island of a thousand mosques and Bali the island of a thousand temples. In Lombok more than 90% of its population is Muslim while in Bali more or less 85% are Hindus. Riding through its streets I realized that immediately because everywhere I go I see monumental representations of their Gods like this one, on a practically empty roundabout at this time.
6:29 I found a city still asleep, with its lonely streets, something very strange in Bali. In a few hours a dense traffic will invade them. The exception is the Pasar, the traditional market, there it was a hive of people.
I finally reached my final destination, Fantasy Island in Uluwatu, at the southern tip of Bali.
And to my surprise I found my host standing in the doorway with his new baby. I stopped in front of him and kept silent waiting for his reaction, he did not know of my arrival, because I wanted to surprise him. He asked me if he could help me with something, he didn't recognize me with my helmet and mask on. I laughed and asked him, don't you recognize me? to which he replied, "I immediately recognized the bike but not you, because I can't see your face."
We greeted each other and I asked him where I should go to unload the motorcycle to which he replied "you are going to stay in the Meditation Room, keep going that way, at the end of the road there is a temple, there you are going to park, I will take you" . I gave him my GoPro and ask him to film me as I hadn't had the opportunity to do it with the bike fully loaded. My arrival was recorded at 7:46 AM on December 24, 2020 and with that a chapter of my life called Lombok was closed and a new one entitled Bali began.
My host goes by Cookie, he is a Swede who has lived in Bali for more than 20 years. We are members of the same church and that is where we met back in May 2019 when I had just arrived in Bali for the first time.
The place is a complex of chapels, spaces and restaurants dedicated solely to weddings called Fantasy Island. This was his business before the pandemic where China's high society came to get married and that the pandemic has ruined since January 15, 2020 when Indonesia closed its borders to nationals of that country. Since then not a single wedding has taken place here. I leave the Google link for you to see photos of the place:
There are many old photos mixed in with the new ones but it will give you an idea of where God brought me this time. I borrowed this photo from that link, dated 2018, when the complex was still under construction, to show you the place in my story.
The complex is huge. Point A is not even correct because the entrance is further out of the photo but it is the closest. The 3-corner ceiling at point A is one of the suites for the brides' Entourage, where the dressmakers, stylists and make up artists do their magic for the brides to look like princesses in the photos and videos. The route that you see in the video is the back of the complex from point A to B. Point B is the entrance of the Hindu temple where I stopped the motorcycle at the end of the video and since then is where Meteoro and Pegaso are parked. To get to my room, I walk through the arrow that points upwards, then I descend a flight of stairs and through the arrow that goes to the left, this is an underground corridor that takes me to point C. Under that grass is the Meditation Room , my refuge since then.
I never get tired of thanking God for being so good to me. My heart is filled with gratitude towards Him for supporting me even in the worst moments of my life.
This is where I spent Christmas Eve. Cookie's new development called Beyond the Cliff that had just opened 12 days before to generate income while there are no weddings.
I regret the quality of the videos, they are very dark because I took them with my phone, I did not know what to expect.
Here is the link to this place, it was the hottest place in all of Bali at Christmas and New Years:
Cookie invited me to his Christmas Eve dinner with his family. The small children as always excited at the foot of the tree.
The calm returned when young and old were entertained with the new toys.
This was my first morning in Bali on December 25th.
Everything here has enormous dimensions. My room is twice the size compared to the 6x6 meter 2 bedroom cottage where I lived in Lombok. I take 20 steps from my bed to the door. Once outside this is my terrace and dining room.
From the door of my room to the toilet that is barely visible at the end of the dark hall (it was cloudy when I took the photo) there are 43 steps, plus another 5 steps to enter the kitchen that is adjoining to the left, behind the 3 windows.
It has 3 features. Above my head a super shower, more like a waterfall. On my left the hand shower with 6 different streams of water and on my sides 6 rotating jets of water that I can direct to any part of my body. I just need the steam or the sauna and a masseuse 😁
In this fantastic place I concluded the year 2020. An incredible year in all aspects. As I have expressed previously, none of this could possibly have happened without the care and protection of my Heavenly Father who undoubtedly looked after me during this difficult period.
Thanks to Him and one of his angels here on earth, Cookie, who somehow received divine inspiration to take me under his wings.
Finally my 𝙃𝙐𝙂𝙀 thanks to all of you who have given me your financial support, despite the fact that for 2 months I could not upload any publication due to events of force majeure. Soon I will explain in a direct message to each of my sponsors, to whom I owe so much for their generosity, the special circumstances that prevented me from fulfilling my commitment to keep them up to date by publishing my experiences. I cannot do it here because they are sensitive issues that I cannot discuss in public. I just want to end by saying that if I am still here alive and well it is thanks to all those mentioned above and those that I publicly acknowledge on my website.
Until next time 🙂