Dirty Brown Roads and Rooms

Apr 26, 2012 View Comments by

It was raining when we got up–and it rained most of the “very long” day. The road was very muddy in some places, with huge potholes filled with thick, gloopy, ginger-brown mud, making it impossible to gauge just how deep they were. A few heavy thumps into a couple shook us awake! However, I think we must be quite weird as we had fun! Slipping in and out of deep slime holes, rattling over rocks, and trying our hardest to pass even more heavy trucks than we’d done over the last couple of days. We’ve been swearing at them—loudly! Well, it makes me feel better. These smelly, dirty, painfully slow trucks are a pain in the backside, and whilst trying to negotiate your way around them you get surrounded by a swarm of irritating mopeds. Argh!

We’d been going a few hours before Andy needed his “I need fuel” stop. Nope, not gas for his bike, but food for his belly. My God, for a slim guy he eats loads . . . no wonder he loved Thailand. We also needed to sit out of the rain for a short while. (Yep—it was still raining.) So, we ended up dripping into a very small café in a tiny village. It was amazing; the locals were all so happy to see us. The men in the café who were playing dominoes and smoking and just basically chilling out seemed to be quite intrigued that a woman could ride such a big bike. When I took off my helmet, I could hear the exclamations, and even though I didn’t understand what they were saying, it was the tone of surprise that made me smile. Then came along all of the local school kids, and within seconds of stopping we were surrounded! Kids everywhere love bikes, especially big fat red ones and very noisy blue ones! I was surprised at first how shy these kids were, and it was only when Simon and Andy began goofing about that they started to laugh and realize that we weren’t spacemen from another planet. BTW, the coffee was great. Local Sumatran coffee, thick, black, and sweet. Just remember, don’t stir it!

The whole day it rained, and you can believe that I was bloody freezing when we were in the mountains! The rain came down so fast we didn’t have enough time to pull on our over-suits. It’s the first time in ages that I’ve been that cold, and in a weird way it’s quite nice, especially after being so hot and sweaty day in and day out. It was a great ride, though—not boring, straight roads but roads that made us concentrate and enjoy the ride. It’s been a long time.

We arrived at Natama hotel in the middle of nowhere at around 5 p.m. We got a room for 220,000 Rp ($22, not that cheap here) and the three of us shared. The room was dire. I have to wonder just how much more of a dump we would have gotten if we’d paid less! Cockroaches roamed the floor (in gangs), mosquitoes dive-bombed us the moment we opened the door, and the sticky pillows on the rank double-bed were stinking the room out. Andy threw his wonderfully stained extra mattress on the creepy-crawly floor.

We have seen a subtle change as we rode through the countryside today, from churches to mosques, which means a 5 a.m. call to prayer to wake us up—no alarms needed to be set. No beer anywhere tonight, either! Shame, I could murder one.

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About the author

In May 2003, we left our jobs, sold everything, and on 2 BMW motorcycles, set off to see the world. Nothing but a motorcycle can get you to the places and in touch with the people we have had the pleasure of spending time with. We’ve turned what was once a weekend hobby into a way of life that we wouldn’t trade for anything, and have no intention of ending anytime soon.