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Farewell, Indonesia

Our night at the Hotel Sayang Maha Mertha in Legian, Indonesia droned on at a snail’s pace, as we tossed and turned, attempting to sleep over the roaring laughter and screeching conversation of drunken Spaniards courting similarly intoxicated American women around the nearby pool. Our fan buzzed and creaked overhead, while the coil of mosquito repellent incense which we had lit smoldered apologetically amidst the late night din.

Needless to say, we were happy when the sun began to rise, and though the aforementioned noise seemed to switch seamlessly from crazy hour carousing to young children splashing and yelling in the pool, we were at least free now to get up and wheel a little.

The breakfast at the Hotel Sayang Maha Mertha proved quite tasty. Though we were forced to pay a little extra to flesh out the free breakfast with an egg, the addition of infinite cups of coffee was quite welcome.

In good spirits despite our lack of rest, we initiated beach mode and took to the streets, arriving in short order at the sea.

Though in the sunset it had been glowingly idyllic, we could see in the light of day that Kuta Beach too was a fascinatingly post-apocalyptic sight. We made our way across refuse blowing in drifts in the sand, waving good morning to the many fellows who made their living wearing Coca-Cola and Billibong branded shirts while raking up the evidence of yesterday’s defilement of the beach. We entered the surf to find that with each wave, we became entangled in rubbish, plastic bags mostly. We waded out some waves, and body surfed for a while before the sight of what looked like medical waste in the water turned us back toward land.

Back on the cycles, we explored the north of Legian. We worked our way along a surprisingly Sanur-like beach path. This one was about five times as wide, sporting the same gray brick and barriers every kilometer or so, which required us to hoist the speed TRs up and over before continuing on.

After we reached the end of the path (where we found a large tower advertising sunset bungee jumping), Scott called an Uber-Rausch and we worked our way back toward the Hotel Sayang Maha Mertha along the meandering back roads of Legian. One of our missions for the morning was to find some kind of protective system for our derailleurs. One lacking of the Speed TR is its vulnerability to damage on the derailleur during transit. So far we had been lucky, but from the scratches and damage to the bags that held the bikes while they rode in the belly of the airplane, we knew we were playing with fire.

We tried a number of solutions, including a variety of local wooden hats. Finally, we found a couple of plastic bowls (Melamine Ware brand) and a ball of twine that we decided would serve as a stopgap in our search for a better solution. Armed with this equipment, we checked out of the hotel, and after picking up our laundry, we decided to wheel to the airport.

Though this was our longest trip to date on the cycles while fully loaded with our inventory, it proved surprisingly easy, in part due to the flat terrain and in part to the friendly nature of the local motorists. This is not to say, however, that we did not make quite a sight arriving at the Balinese airport by cycle. The guards at the front gate, sported looks of 50% grin and 50% befuddlement as they flagged us through the bomb check station.

We arrived at the international terminal, and quickly began to disassemble our cycles, struggling briefly to attach the plastic bowls, attracting a small crowd, receiving reprimands for attempting to use the wrong kind of baggage cart, briefly alarming the security guards with the ukulele, and finally making our way toward the Air Asia counter.

At the counter, we were somewhat furious to discover that we would need to pay an extra $15 dollars each to transport the cycles (sports equipment charge…). After quickly recovering from that unanticipated expense, we were hit with another, when we learned we would need to pay approximately 30 bucks each to get out of the country. Luckily, we had, in anticipation of the unsuccessful trip to the Gilis, taken out a fair bit more money than we had spent. But it is worth noting, dear reader, that had we been out of cash, this might have become quite a sticky boarder crossing.

On the other side, we found many small shops, and restaurants, where food and drink was valued at 500% to 1000% greater than the normal Indonesian level, and at the end of the terminal our gate, which required another complicated security check. We had loaded up on drinks for the plane, which we were now forced to consume on the spot or discard. As the snaking security line for flight QZ 8496 to Singapore wore it way down, we engaged in the bizarre and fraternalistic practice of consuming as much liquid as possible in the shortest amount of time, upon which we had to submit our bottles to the recycling for security reasons. With my belly expanded to full capacity and glugging with our prematurely purchased beverages, I thought about a scene from the movie Charlotte’s Web, with which my sister had quite the affinity during my youth.

Meanwhile in the Denpasar airport, a uniformed man was intently scrutinizing my ukulele case, which turned out to still be holding the bike tool from our last wheel. The fellow explained that we could not take such a tool on board (perhaps for fear we would loosen all the Allen bolts on the aircraft?). We frowned at each other, and I tried to explain the importance of this tool and the mission of AsiaWheeling using sign language. He still frowned and refused, plunging his hand into my bag and removing more materials that he now seemed to consider forbidding. He then held up the ukulele pitch pipe and sternly questioned me as to its function. I began to blow into the pipe, producing a sweet note, which appeared to temporarily transport the fellow to a distant and dreamy place. He began to walk slowly away from me, still clutching the bike tool, with the distant gaze of a moth approaching a candle. Then suddenly he snapped around, and without a word replaced the tool in my bag, smiled a large and very Indonesian smile and bid me safe travels.

It’s a magical world we live in, dear reader. A magical world.

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  1. Mark/Dad | February 8th, 2010 | 7:59 am

    I like the bike tool story. I also seem to recall long long ago riding a bike wearing front and back packs–not something I would recommend given better options!

  2. Woody | February 8th, 2010 | 10:53 am

    Indeed. Customs and airlines… strange places.
    We’ll be limiting our time wheeling fully loaded, but sometimes it just beats the heck out of a cab or bus. In the meantime we are getting better and better at riding in that top-heavy state.

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