“There are hundreds of thousands of islands. Each one, a world in miniature. A microcosm of our living planet.”
And so begins Sir David Attenborough at the start of his new documentary series, Planet Earth II.
Is there anything better than a new David Attenborough series? Seeing the advances in technology, production and storytelling in his 2016 production is captivating. The awesome, brilliant, clever, dependable, evergreen, friendly, inspirational, jolly, knowledgeable, likeable, magnificent, noble, old, passionate, questioning, revered, sensible, tireless, unique, visionary, warm, xenodochial, yeared, zoological David Attenborough.
Islands is the first episode of the series. Which is apt because in a weeks’ time, I’ll have finished my first year of ESL teaching (big shout out to my class. What legends. I’ve had so much fun teaching you. Do a little bit of study each day over the holidays and I’ll see you next year – in our new building. Which looks really good, by the way. The teachers had a tour last week. The classrooms are big! Bigger than our current ones!), be done with adjectives, comparatives, prepositions and pronouns and I’ll be at the Tullamarine airport about to fly to the island of Timor. Then, if all goes to plan I’ll be doing a bit of cycling and catching a ferry to Flores, and then Komodo (whose dragons are featured within the first ten minutes of the episode), Sumbawa, Lombok and finally Bali.
I’ve given myself about five weeks to cover around 2000 kilometres and fly back to Melbourne from Denpasar on Rachel’s birthday which happens to be the same day that Donald Trump will take the Oath of Office and become America’s 45th president. I’ll then have a holiday after a holiday, and spend a week decompressing, before starting teaching again ten days later.
I’ve been diligently planning: routes, distances (and differences in elevation!!), accommodation options, ferry schedules and sightseeing opportunities. I’ve been updating my gear too, and given all those hills I have been really thinking about the weight.
Some things are returning. I’m taking the panniers and front handlebar bag I’ve had for a number of years. Like last time, I’m taking a Steripen wand to clean tap water, and a Garmin 510 as my main map. The 525 gram Canon 650D that I lugged from Bangkok to HCM has been replaced with a much more sensible 118 gram Go Pro. I’ve upgraded and downsized my rain jacket to a tiny Montane which packs into its own pocket. Let’s hope it’s the waterproof breathable fabric it’s supposed to be given it will be wet season – which I’m really looking forward to. Everything will look green and lush.
Here’s a map of my proposed route.
How do you say nice day for a ride in Tetum and Bahasa?