Friday, 23 Dec, 2016.
While today won’t be my most challenging day in terms of terrain, it will be the longest this trip so far at over 100 kilometres. As I’m walking to the dining room for breakfast I think to myself how I’ll go at getting four bread rolls, instead of the expected two. I needn’t have worried. It’s a buffet breakfast of rice, soup, omelette and coffee. I fill up.
Take a photo of the hotel as I’m leaving and notice it’s got, like so many businesses in Indonesia, a cigarette company logo on its sign. And speaking of big tobacco somebody call the cancer council because today I was smoking. 107 kilometres in six and a half hours at and average of 16.5 km/h. Unfortunately I don’t have the ride logged as my Garmin froze literally seconds before I was about to press stop/save. Nooooo. Why????? Don’t fail me!!! I dig your work. There’s still so much more to log.
(It appears to be ok now.)
On my way, while taking a rest by the side of the road eating pineapple and mango and handing out stickers I’m passed by another cyclist! I wave, he waves, and that’s that. As I’m cycling into Kupang I’m wondering whether he was headed to the same hostel, the Lavalon run by Edwin, an Indonesian movie star from the 80s with an extensive knowledge of all things touristy in not just Kupang, but Flores, Komodo etc.
The cyclist was headed there, arriving slightly after me having stopped for food. Chilean Ben spent 2016 living in Melbourne and had done parts of the same route I had in arriving here. It was great to compare intel, share stories, and to just have a chat in English.
Saturday 24 Dec, 2016
I try and visit the NTT museum but it’s closed. Successful in finding a screw for my cleat though from the bike shop two doors down from Lavalon. He gives it to me for free. I say I’ll buy a spare tube. He says he doesn’t have my size. I say you might want to stock it and some other parts because you are in a good position to piggyback from the city’s #1 hostel. He agrees.
Ben catches a ferry to the east of Flores. He has more time than I do and is spending the next six months making his way to Mongolia. I’ll be keeping up to date with his journey through his Facebook blog. He texts me saying he ran into difficulty. Edwin had assured us you just waltz up and pay for a ticket as you get on the boat but this wasn’t the case. The port masters weren’t letting him in without a ticket. They sent him back to the Pelni ticket office to buy one.
At this news I immediately jumped on my bike and rode to the ticket office. I was told tomorrow’s ship to Ende was fully booked but that there were still tickets for today’s. Ben’s. Leaving in two hours. Going to Larantuka. 215kms east (remembering I’m traveling west) of where I wanted to be, Ende.
I had a decision to make. Race back to Lavalon, pack my bags and ride like the wind to make today’s ferry or…. Well, I wasn’t sure what I’d do. The next ferry to Flores after tomorrow’s isn’t for a week. I could fly to Bali perhaps. And backtrack some of my journey. I told Edwin the situation as I was packing. Relax, he said. Just rock up and buy your ticket tomorrow. It won’t be full.
What to do? What to do? His information was clearly out of date and directly contradicted Ben’s experience. On the other hand Larantuka is not really where I want to be. I decided to stay, and test my luck tomorrow at the wharf.
I was a bit anxious and had a beer (for $5!) at Lavalon and then beautiful bbq fish at a night market walking distance (keep going past the bike shop, 200 metres on your left) for dinner.
And there you are. All caught up.
I’m writing this Christmas day and in a couple of hours will cycle to the ferry that will take me to Ende. I haven’t got a ticket but Edwin assures me they never say no to people. A ship is not like a plane, he says. There is always room for one more. I hope so.
Merry Christmas to all.