Travelsonabike2 Indonesia This Day 1st-March-2012

This week’s Travelsonabike2 bicycle touring on this day post comes from Indonesia on the 1st-March-2012, and I’m in Indonesia again this week on my way to Australia. It was one of the toughest days of the whole trip.

Thursday, 1st March 2012. Manna to Krui 118 miles.

It was a long day today, thirteen hours peddling and sixteen hours on the road. And not by choice. The day started okay, and I even thought I might have a short day. The roads were being kind to me, with only gentle hills. It was midday, and I’d stopped for something to eat. While eating my food, I noticed a road sign. Krui was only 100km or 60 miles away. That’s good. I thought that might be my overnight stop, and with only sixty miles to go, I’d be there by six o’clock, not quite the short day I’d imagined, but hey, six o’clock is okay.

It started to rain around two this afternoon, which was okay. It cooled me down. But as the rain began, so did the hills. And they got steep, very steep! So steep that I had trouble keeping my front wheel on the ground. And that’s with my front panniers weighing nearly twenty pounds. I had to lean forward over my handlebars just to keep the wheel on the asphalt. It was ridiculously steep.

Not Just Me

Even the trucks couldn’t make it up the hill on their own, and there were plenty of trucks stopped with rocks wedged under their wheels. Preventing them from rolling back down the hill. There was quite a tailback of traffic. The lorries were even doubling up to get to the top of the climb. One lorry would get to the top of the hill. Unhitch his trailer and go back down the hill. He would then hook up to the following lorry in the queue, and together, they’d crawl up the hill.

At the top of the hill, the trucks would part, and the leading lorry would hitch his trailer back up and be on his way. The other truck would then unhitch his load and head back down the hill to help the next truck in line. And so on. I watched this on my many stops as I drudged up this ridiculously steep hill. I certainly couldn’t see it when I was cycling. I was too busy trying to keep my front wheel on the ground.

I struggled past the stopped lorries, zig-zagging up the hill to lessen the incline. As I cycled past, the lorries stopped on the hill some would offer me water. One even offered me a cigarette! I’m not too sure how long the hill was, but it was getting dark by the time I’d reached the top.

Smiling children
Happy children taken in a cafe a few days earlier

It got dark very quickly, as it does in this part of the World. The road had also deteriorated and was now full of potholes. And in the dark, they’re hard to spot. That slowed me right down. Coming down one hill, I missed a pothole, or rather I didn’t. I hit it with such force my rear panniers came off and bounced across the road. I hope my laptop is okay. That was in one of the panniers. I guess I’ll find out the next time I try to use it.

I passed through several villages but no accommodation. Everybody kept saying Krui. There was no choice; I’d have to push on. Camping was out of the question; there wasn’t anywhere to pitch a tent. I was either surrounded by thick jungle or rice fields. And I couldn’t just stop and lay down somewhere it was still raining; the roads resembled rivers more than roads. There was no choice but to push on.

It’s Cold Now

With all this rain, I was soaked through and felt pretty cold. I found a café that was open and decided to stop, on the off chance that they might have some accommodation. Or at least get some hot food to warm up. I got the same reply from the café as I’d got from everywhere else. I needed to get to Krui for somewhere to stop. Still, at least I got something to warm me up. I had a bowl of soup and two or three cups of coffee. I hoped the café owner would pity me and let me sleep in his café. He didn’t. So I set off once more into the dark of night, with the rain still coming down.

I reached Krui just before eleven o’clock and managed to find a hotel. Being so late, nowhere was open, so I had to break into my emergency beer supply tonight. A bottle I’d carried since Malaysia! It’s been a long day; I’m soaked through and worn out but still smiling. Cheers.

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