D105 . Dec 14 . Overtaking whatever !

So, previously on MyScenicRailway: fed up with the Java distances, roads and heavy rains we have decided we would leave Probolinggo as quickly as possible and ride as long as we can. Not as easy at is sounds considering what we have to overtake…

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And, as you can see below, I am SUPER FED UP !!!

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Even though we have seen some nice things on our way, such as that beautiful beach of java, next to Situbondo.

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So, yes, at the end of the day, it is worth the effort : )

Fueling your scooter in Indonesia

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In Bali, and in Java, you only find gas stations in big cities.
To usefully complement the network, it looks like every single person having a house by the road sells fuel as well. they showcase 1 liter and 2 liters glass bottles on wood shelves.

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No need to share the same language, they would immediately understand why you stop by. You think there’s nobody around, but after a couple of seconds someone pops up – Like below, in Bali.

Or here, in Java, when we were lost in the fields, around Walu Utu.
This woman was selling benzine, as they call in in Java, but she was also having a cow and was drying corn in the garden. A local conglomerate !

In regular gas stations, 1 liter would cost 5000 Rupees, and 7000 Rupees in those small shops. For your information, 12 000 Rupees stand for 1 Euro…
To complement their revenues, most of those shops also sell snacks and water. Very useful. As we were desperately trying to reach the Bromo mountains, we bought waffles in one of those shops. Our only meal that very day…

D104 – Dec 13 – Reaching the Bromo Graal ?

So, remember ? We had a nice morning in Watu Ulo. He left the shore quickly, though, as we have a long road ahead of us to reach the Bromo volcano before sunset.

We start following the GPS, and once again we get lost in the fields, riding on rocks and muds trails for ever.

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we make an unexpected encounter in one of those villages. As we are hesitating at crossroads, one woman who was sit in the grass starts to talk to us in English.
She explains that her former employer taught her English.
As we put some sun cream on our arms, she tells us she would like her skin to be whiter. We tell her it goes the other way around in Europe, where everyone would like to be tanned. We compare our arms and have a nice piece of laughing – A very welcomed one in regard of what is still ahead of us.

The above video is going to be a little bit long to download – 20 Mo – but worth watching as it gives a good insight on how the South Java countryside looks like. Small houses, corn drying in the gardens, grass carried on bicycles, veiled women, mosque’ songs which resonate all over the villages…
After reading different guide books, I was expecting Java people wouldn’t be that friendly, even a little bit aggressive toward Westerners. We faced the total opposite. Those villagers seemed very curious about us, always smiling at us, always trying to help us. We were women without men, driving, with shorts and tee-shirts, but to them we were just funny characters. Besides, tourists generally stay in Bali or big Java cities. So, where we were trying to explain we had come there, by scooter, from Bali, they were quite surprised and happy.

After three hours of mud paths, we finally got to meet a regular road. Unfortunately, that’s when the monsoon rain started to fall. We had no other choice but stopping one more time. Destiny made us stand in front of a stationery shop…

Soon enough, the owners came to see us, they wanted pictures of us, with them.
Then they offered coffee, then cooked pancakes for us.
We even entered their house to use their bathroom.

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One hour later, we started to think we would never reach the Bromo mountains before sunset. Safer would be to reach the coast, where the rain is usually less heavy.

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We decide we would stop in Probolinggo. The road seems straight.
Indeed, it is straight. Though, we had to overtake at least one hundred truck on our way. Worse that Paris’ ring at 8 AM. A dangerous and very demanding exercise.

We will reach an hotel grey from tailpipes’ smoke, soaked to the skin, and worn out….

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D104 . Dec 13 . Waking up in Watu Ulo

After our never-ending mud trails, after a night among mosquitos and frogs, we got our reward the next morning : the amazing beach of Watu Ulo…

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In the days of Japanese occupation, the mountains around Watu Ulo Beach used as reinforcements defenses and reconnaissance enemy soldiers who wanted to infiltrate the mainland via the beach.

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Indonesia is made of 17 000 islands, meaning 80 000 km of shore !

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More than one million Indonesians work in the fish sector…
Paradoxically, many Indonesians are afraid of water – a refuge for demons and evil spirits –  and do not know swimming!

The sun is beating hard and we have a long way ahead of us to reach the Bromo volcano by tonight, so we don’t stay long, pack our things, and hit the road again…

D103 . Dec 12 . Reaching Watu Ulo

On Tuesday, we were supposed to give back our scooters and get an old Volkswagen car to explore Java. I’ve been smart enough to TRY the car before giving back the scooters. OK, the car looked great, red, vintage, cabriolet… BUT: very large, no power steering (whereas we make u-turns very often, as we miss the right street every second time), brake pedal one kilometer from my feet, even to turn the car key in the key hole I have to use my two hands. No, definitely, this car is too demanding, we will keep the scooters.

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The travel agency tells us this is going to be fine. We spend our last night in the paradise below, in the middle of Balinese rice terraces…

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On Wednesday, we reach Bali West Coast, catch a ferry, and spend the night right on the other side, on Java. We wake up early on Thursday, in 150 km we should reach Watu Ulo…

Tough morning : mountain roads under the rain
Tough lunch time : countryside roads under the rain
Tough afternoon : smaller countryside roads…

We keep following the GPS and around 4PM we enter small fields roads.
Everything is quiet. Farmers are working in the corn fields. At the beginning they stare at us  a bit surprised but when we smile at them they get warmer.

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We take pictures, we know we are not far from the hotel. Only a few kilometers left, the GPS says. Still, our progress is slower, as rocks are on our way – Not very easy with small scooters wheels.

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First we thought that being shacked on a scooter was really the worst experience.
That was before we experienced mud slides.

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Of course, for this part I don’t have photo proof points, as I was too focused on driving.
The GPS sent us to the forest, the one you can imagine at the end of the above path. Difficult. Michelle almost felt in the road side. I was afraid the forest would be infested with mosquitos. But more than that, the forest was on the hill… No way we could make it.
At some point, one farmer tried to make us understand that we wouldn’t make it. He asked a famers’ couple to bring us to the right path. We followed them on their bicycle (man on the saddle, woman on the luggage rack). We offered a cigarette to our messiah, who seemed very happy about it.

On our side, what a relief. After two hours spend in the mud, we were approaching the hotel, right when the sun was disappearing.

Ghost cottage. We were the only guest. We had a bungalow. Unfortunately the beds had no sheets and the bathroom…. Had no roof !!!

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This could have been charming in the French countryside, but right in the jungle that was pretty scary, especially because we are not under any malaria treatment and try to avoid mosquitos beats as much as possible.
We decide to sleep with all our clothes on, even though it is like thirty degrees outside. We are going to sweat, but at least mosquitos will not catch you.
though, I woke up in the middle of the night, as a frog jumped on my face…