Java: Ramadan, volcanoes and our very own “You’ve been framed”

27.06. – 07.08.2014

According to Wikipedia, Java is one of the four largest Indonesian islands and the most populated island in the world. In 2006 the recorded number was 1,000 inhabitants per square kilometer! Here are 38 of the total of 130 Indonesian volcanoes - the rest is divided among the other 17,508 islands, but the most active volcanoes are almost all to be found here. Again and again, Java is threatened by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, but still half the total population lives here. The capital Jakarta Bandung and Surabaya - so 3 of the 4 major cities of the island state are located on Java, 91% of the population is Muslim and we arrive in time for Ramadan. Already on the ferry we experience what will henceforth be our constant companion, we are in the first queue. In the harbor basin is a pearl necklace of ships, all waiting for a pier to be vacated. We have received an invitation from Lutson, he is a student, an enthusiastic member of the world's great biker family and lives in Tengerang, one of the major suburbs of Jakarta, slowly growing together with the capital. The traffic chaos that we have already learned to hate on Sumatra gets a unique new dimension here and we slowly creep inland and make as much as 30 km before the sunset and this much is clear: we can’t do the other 100 km to Lutson today. We are looking for a place to put our heads down, but as usual my GPS is useless - it is unbelievable that the city in which we are seems to consist of only one single road according to my computer and it is also of the opinion that no Hotels can be found here – that is if you believe everything the stupid device claims. As we do not want to move away from the main thoroughfare - we fear not to find a way back again - we see no Hotel and eventually a young man on a scooter stops next to us and asks if he can help. He knows, of course, where there is a hotel and also leads us there, but even from the outside is clear, this is not our price range. I hardly have the heart to tell him, but 500,000 rupees we can not and will not pay. He consults with a passerby and then brings us to the next hotel - it costs 300,000 and is actually not in our budget either, but now we no longer dare to disappoint him again and just take it. At € 20 for the night our evening meal gets sized down to a simple Nasi Goreng for 1 € per head at a street stall and in the hotel there is a supply of drinking water ... .. The next morning we crawl on to meet Lutson, who we find fairly quickly and easily, contrary to expectations - hooray for modern communication!  We spend 2 nights in Tengerang. The time with Lutson and his friends is great though short and he really looks after us and our bike. We do in fact need to have a new shock absorber at the rear, one is fully finished and has lost quite some oil and the other has put that much force on its retaining screw that it is bent now.  Of course there's no Bilstein to  be had here and we must take standard dampers from a Suzuki – which will probably not last very long under our weight but for now they’ll do and I've already figured out that Bilstein is represented  in Australia and all our shock absorbers can do with an overhaul (I do not dare to imagine what it will cost). Lutson leaves us his room which is in a student  house and stays with a friend, also him and his friends don’t let us pay anything here – it’s only good that the street stalls are not so expensive, otherwise we would really have a problem. Well - we use the opportunity in the big city to do a few other errands and then we run from one store to another to find a pair of pants for me - but  that turns out to be a waste of time –large, heavy women like me are not so often found here and the only alternative would be a Muslim gown - well stuff that I prefer to repair my old pants ... again - the haute cuture of the trendy Muslima and I don’t see eye to eye really.

The two nights here as regards me are not rewarded with sleep – first there are the mosquitoes which bite me to bits (despite spray) and then the muezzin is whining half the night because of Ramadan (sorry - but you can not call it singing this time) and in the second night I end up having coughing fits, because we have filled the room with mosquito spray. ... plus the muezzin. ...

Now we want to move on and Lutson offers to lead us out of the city and on to the right road. As discussed he arrives at nine thirty in the morning and after I once again did not find any sleep before 5 AM I have problems to wake up. Fortunately, we have already packed most things last evening. I fight with the slow Internet again and must take care of a few problems at home while Kev makes us a wake-up coffee. It takes forever until I can send an email - Firefox crashes constantly because the network is too slow and then I always have to restart the computer first, before everything works again. Lutson is waiting and has also brought a friend, we met in the last two days she also wants to say goodbye to us now – everybody is waiting that we can finally get moving and I feel already stressed as it’s me that causes the hold up. He has to get back to the university after he has led us out of the city hustle and bustle. In the end firefox decides to send my mail and we can drive off, but because it has taken so long we have to make a detour to the university first so Lutson can hand in some papers on time. While we are waiting for Lutson I try to get our navigation program to find a route to Bandung, our goal for today, but we are in a very new area and the roads do not exist for our Navi here as usual - in the last weeks I have navigated more by the position of the sun than anything else. Indonesia is one of the two Muslim countries that we visit on our trip and it is typical our luck that we have to be here around  Ramadan ... Fasting during the day is taken quite strict and not even water may be taken – this doesn’t seem to improve the hair-raising driving style around either as it seems. When we are finally out of the city we say goodbye Lutson and Dian, make a few parting photos and then we continue alone. The condition of the roads change from very good to absolutely appalling immediately. The many holes are filled with thick stones and the dense traffic fans out in all directions around it - overtaking is virtually impossible, it makes little sense anyway because one vehicle is glued to the next and even if you get past some traffic this does not make the journey any faster because of the holes and then for any market on the roadside it all jams again – people seem to believe in drive through shopping and just stop anywhere they like, nobody watches the traffic filtering back in or out or through.

In the next major city we get completely lost because there are lots of diversions and very few signs. When we are finally back on the right track, we find an alternative route that goes towards our destination of today.  The road reminds us of some passes that we rode in the Lake District narrow and steep, but at least jam free. The landscape is gorgeous, but at the end of the alternative route we must join in the tough main road madness again and there is no way to even stop for a couple of nice photos. It is already dark when we finally arrive in Bandung - needless to say that the traffic tops everything so far ... and suddenly the engine starts to cough and spit. It seems to fire only on one cylinder and threatens constantly to go out. On my Navi is a Guest House indicated, but when we finally find it, it is no more and we must embark on another search and then end up in a hotel again - the cheapest rooms are of course full. I try to explain that we do not know whether we stay one or two nights, because that depends on what is wrong with the bike, but I don’t get far - so I just pay for one night and we’ll solve the rest tomorrow. They bring us some coffee into the room where I am fighting with the air conditioning, but can’t get it to work. After the nice hotel clerk has clarified with me whether we want breakfast good morning or good night (?!?) he disappears with the remote control  for the AC comes back with another fumbles on the device, then disappears with two remote controls and the comment: one moment but never returns. Well, what the heck - we can do without – it is more important now to find something for dinner - Mie Goreng Ayam (fried noodles with chicken) at a street stand. We can forget finding a beer to wash it all down with the area is probably too Muslim here and above all the roar of prayers from the mosque. Although the hotel employee has nodded eagerly, as I have written 8.30 h as breakfast time there is loud knocking at the door around 6 in the morning - Kevin gets the fried rice with egg in and puts it on the side, we want to finally have a lie in and we sleep until 9 eat our cold breakfast and then go to examine our Rubber  Cow. The fault is found quickly - the air hoses on a carburetor have vibrated loose it hangs as it were only by a thread. Once everything is tightened and put back in place we want to see if she starts and if this was it already, but now we find that the battery is dead. We drove all day yesterday with lights on because Lutson has told us we would otherwise get problems with the police, but never thought that since China the alternator no longer produces enough power for such luxuries. This means that we will definitely have to stay another night. I pay for the room and then make up my mind to finally write the Thailand blog and Kev brings the battery to a garage to have it charged and then he starts cleaning our kitchen box - the water canister has vibrated a few holes in the lid and now it leaks in  when it rains. We bring the box to our room and he then washes everything out, the holes are smeared with metal putty and a rubber strip is glued on top - let's see if that helps now. With a full battery Liza springs to life and then runs like on her first day - great. I manage to finish the blog for Thailand in German and then fight with Google Translate for the rough draft of the English version, it takes forever - not only the traffic flows more slowly here than in any other country we’ve toured, the flow of information in the cyber world is extremely slow too. It occurs to me that Kerry from Tasmania has suggested to write in the Blog from when to when we were in different countries and I ask Kev to give me a passport so I can find the dates ... he seeks and seeks and can not find my passport. We turn all our luggage on its head but my passport has disappeared. After some serious thinking we remember where we have used it the last time - four days ago to check in to the hotel on our first night on Java. For the first time I'm glad I write down our expenses every day and also note where we were and the name of the hotel. Mr. Google can actually provide a phone number. I ring and when I say my name the nice man immediately stops me and explaines that my passport is by them at the reception. What a relief, even if now we have to drive all the way back tomorrow instead of going east. How good that Liza has stopped us, otherwise we might not have noticed this for quite a long time. So - If we get our breakfast at 6 in the morning again then we can be on the road early (we have no alarm clock) - maybe we can even get there. So we pack everything back on the bike and get the bags ready for a quick departure and go to bed early – well this is the plan. But I lose all track of time sorting pictures for the website and Kev is watching football on TV (it is a rare chance to see some world cup games and they only start at 11 pm) and so much to plans of mice and men. In the morning I wake up at 8 – and today no one has brought a breakfast. Oh great! We load the bike, I hand in the key and then ask nicely if we could get some breakfast too. "Oh - You want breakfast?" - Sure, if it is in the price anyway?! The end of the story, we get our breakfast, but don’t get away before half past ten and now everywhere is jammed - I'll go mad here. My Navi has gone barmy, again and again the GPS just turns itself off and we no longer know where we are - on the road signs are other places indicated as I can find on the map or on the navigation program. Then we stop-start through every town and also in between for an awful long time because a truck has tipped over in a bend after not securing the load (an articulated truck full of cement bags!). Well, at least we are stuck in some rather beautiful mountain scenery, shame that there is not much to see, because everything around is once again being burned and in addition to the “normal” smog this really makes a thick pea soup. Well – at least we did  this stretch already 2 days ago – and then it was a better view and I even took some photos. As it gets dark we are still far from the goal, but completely finished. We have (apart from the forced hold-ups) only made a refueling stop, a short pee break and two drinking / smoking pauses. We are black from diesel soot, hungry and tired - the first hotel is ours. The room costs the same as last night, but is full of mosquitoes, quite dirty and the bathroom has a cold water bucket with plastic bowl as a shower - ok, we take it. We throw some water on our faces, light a mosquito coil and then go on the hunt for something to eat, what else does one need for happiness? After a good Nasi Goreng we are ready for the cold bucket shower - unbelievable how black the water is that’s running off us. In  the end I convince myself reluctantly that I want to repair the holes in my patchwork pants now - every time I think I’ve got it all I find another open  seam - I hate sewing! Kevin has christened this pair of pants: my golf trousers (a golf course has 18 holes)

As we have to drive about 300 km back to Sereng (where my passport is) and then to Bandung again, we have the crazy idea that we could take a different route now and go along on the coast instead - then we see something different at least and hopefully are not stuck in this dreadful traffic again - at least that’s what we think.

The hotel where we pick up the passport is as luck has it just off the road that leads out of the city and in the right direction and we find our way pretty quickly, even though the navigation system does its usual tricks and ignores almost all roads except the three motorways and a few main routes as non-existent. This means that I have to be creative again with my planning, sometimes I can trick the Navi, sometimes I use it like a map, and every now and then I just guess by then movements of the GPS arrow I choose some road and then check, if the arrow still moves in the desired direction. Again and again Kev asks which city we want, but that I do not know exactly, because according to the Navi there are next to no towns or the few indicated seem to have different names to any of the places on the street signs. ... They warned us that the road would be bad (we're used to that), however, we must now find that bad for this road is the understatement of the century and it consists rather of holes with a frame of tarmac. Sometimes an attempt was made to fill in the holes with stones and now I have to worry not only about the new shock absorbers, but also whether our tires will stand it, because the stones have been packed into the holes upright and now the sharp ends are raised - sometimes I think we would be faster to walk and then one also has to have eyes at the front, back and also on the sides, because the traffic fans out in all directions around the holes and obstacles and the small scooters use every resulting gaps for overtaking - once Kev almost knocks into a scooter, because he bangs straight through a hole, which we are trying to avoid - we touch his leg, but he just grins and moves on. Phew, lucky. In the evening we arrive in a small town and since we do not know exactly how it goes on from here and there are actually two hotels, we decide that staying is better than to build a tent in the dark, we choose the cheaper of the two hotels and call it a day . After washing the soot from the face which the decrepit buses and trucks have covered us in we head out in search of something to eat. No one speaks English and so we try with hands and feet to make ourselves understood and stock up with all kinds of interesting food and then I get my notebook and a pen out, so the owner of the food stall can write the price down in the end we take it all to our room, where we have a picnic. I would have loved to see tonight’s football game, but there is no TV anywhere with a decoder as this luxury only seems to exist where there is a corresponding number of tourists - here we are the only foreigners. Instead of football the Imam has switched to continuous broadcast and roars his prayers and service until 1 in the night - the first week of Ramadan is over today which needs to be celebrated accordingly. From one to three the good man takes a break (he probably needs time to regenerate his vocal cords) then he gets going again. The next day we get much of the same as before we decide to forget the idea to reach Yogyakarta by following the coastal road and head back inland - there we will get stuck in a traffic jam, but at least we won’t  get shaken about as much. For a while it still goes along the coast, where the Indian Ocean throws the best surfing waves at the beach - even here are Tsunami ruins everywhere and the area seems to be quite poor. Then we find a turn towards Surabumi and now we are stuck in a traffic jam for the next 1 1/2 days - the passport pick-up action has cost us 3 days and a lot of nerves.

In the department of navigation I have a break at the moment so I muse to look at the crowd. Kev has to do more, for he has to watch out  for the Indonesian kamikazes and also try to  find some gaps here and there to wiggle along like everybody else, while keeping an eye on the scooters at the same time- you can see how adaptable humans are - he has now adopted a real Asian style of driving (signs and red Traffic lights can be noted but more like an option, right of way goes to the guy who is  there first and solid white lines indicate only that someone had too much paint and wanted to get rid of it) - if we stand still too long, he simply joins the scooters right or left to go past the queue and if there is oncoming traffic someone must stop and somehow make room. ... in between times there is always time to chat with fellow sufferers, some even speak a little English. Many wave us or give us a thumbs-up and there is always someone shouting "Hello Mister" (I'm also Mister). If we want to overtake I always hang out of the sidecar and signal to Kevin with gestures when he can overtake and when not - this works pretty well now. In the evening we sit over maps and try to puzzle out the best route after we got rid of our layers of soot - the showers in the low budget places we use mostly consist of a bucket or cold water basin with plastic bowl – which is also used for flushing the toilet. For dinner there's usually rice with fried chicken or fried rice with grilled chicken or fried noodles with chicken ... and iced tea. Oh man - sometimes I dream of schnitzel with chips or sausage with mashed potatoes and a nice cold beer! But pig is here entirely out of the question and beer is only found in places with many tourists and there are not so many on Java and then it's also quite expensive.

We decide after studying the maps, not to go to Yogyakarta immediately, but to make a detour to Dieng Plateau first - a landscape in Central Java, where volcanoes are stacked on the remains of exploded volcanoes. The plateau is located at 2,000 m - the name translates something like the seat of the gods, there are remains of eight Hindu temples here and one sulfur lake. Volcanic activity consists mostly of toxic gas eruptions and the climate is pleasantly cool, which exerts a significant attraction for us .

We make it to Wonosobo, from where the road onto the plateau leads straight up and look for a place to stay for the next 3 nights, so that we have time to explore the area from here (Kev does not fancy to stay at the top after I read to him, that in 1979 one hundred and forty people died in a village from gas poisoning).

The weather is really nice and because we stay here longer we can finally have our laundry done - we have worn pretty much everything we have now and indeed to the absolute limit of the tolerable odor - also are the things so full of diesel soot and grime that I can not consider hand washing anymore - only a washing machine can get this stuff anywhere near clean. The daughter of the house gives me to understand that she will take care of the laundry and so I give her 3 plastic bags full, then we start exploring the Dieng Plateau.

The path leads steeply upwards and it's crazy, as every inch is terraced and cultivated here. The slopes of all the volcanoes in the area are full of onions, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, tobacco, tea and and and .... On many terraces people are working - watering, harvesting, planting and whatever else it is incredible - everything has to be transported up and down on foot - machines have no chance on the steep slopes.

The further we get to the top, the cooler it gets and soon I am happy that I'm wearing my leather pants - actually I put them on because nothing else was left to wear, and they are normally too warm for the local temperatures and soon we even have to wear the motorcycle jackets too.

Unfortunately, we have no map of the area - the one we have is not detailed enough and the one, we got it at the entrance of the park is absolutely useless. It is pure luck that we find the temple complex - actually we were looking for a tourist information center in a side road. We pay our entry fees and look at the few remains of the temple - is not much, but what can you expect: after all, these are the oldest surviving Hindu temples on the island and are here on the windy heights since the 8th century AD.

Then we go on the search for the sulfur lake, which we also find rather randomly. It is quite pointless to ask for directions, because we just can not remember the names of places and if we do we seem to hopelessly mispronounce them – nobody understands us here. If they understand however we get quite wordy directions, of which we understand only the gestures and then we still do not know, is it now the next turn left, or turn left at some point or it is on the left. However, everyone here is extremely friendly and goes out of their way to please us and we get many wishes for a good journey (perjalan baik) and warnings to be careful (hati hati).

At the entrance is a map of the two lakes (one deep green and sulfuric and the other more brownish with fresh water) with directions - even with an English translation and so we follow the path to the lake with the intention to climb to the viewing platform - the only problem is, there are few signs on the path and all of them only in Indonesian - for us a book with seven seals. Again and again we meet the locals on mopeds who send us in one direction and if I make upward gestures they nod. In the end we walk in a big circle around both lakes, the path is quite slippery, but we can not find a way up to the viewpoint. When we arrive back at the starting point, we realize that we have to once again walk half way around the lake, then leave the park and walk a stretch along the main road, and then turn off onto the track that goes up the steep hill – now how can you know that?

  The lake stinks all the way up the hill which we climb with our last bit of strength. Now I'm really sweating with my leather pants and all my battered body parts (back, knee and ankle) complain mightily. It has gone quite misty and the view holds just long enough that I can snap a few quick pictures (self-timer and stupid faces) and then you see nothing more. We climb and slide the steep dirt path back down after that I am absolutely done in - I can hardly move anymore and I actually can exactly locate my sciatic nerve. In addition the weather has turned and we are now in drizzly clouds so we decide to leave it for today and make our way back. It starts to pour down and as we proceed it gets even worse yet - when we finally find our home stay we are soaking wet and chilled to the bone.

The next day we actually want to get up on a volcano, but as we turn off the road and start climbing up a cobbled track our motorcycle goes out and then won’t start again (we had a lot of time riding with lights yesterday) we have to waste the day trying to find a workshop and a charger, which is not so simple ... trying to explain to people with gestures that we need a battery charger ... ..

In the end we are successful but then we have to waste 3 hours in Wonosobo to give it time for charging – that’s also a way to spend a day.

On the way from the Dieng Plateau to Yogyakarta, we actually want to stop at Borobudur temple - the largest and oldest Buddhist temple on Java, but as soon as we try to start the bike in the morning, there is the first problem, the charge from the previous day's gone again - the rotor that has been fixed in China is now probably at the end of its life and no longer works. We push-start and now hope to make it to Yogyakarta at least - without light and power-wasting things such as indicating and blowing your horn we make our way to Yogya - this is a huge city, it should be possible to find a workshop here. ...

With much revving and intermediate gas we might get enough charge to just about make it. We pass the temple always watching for signs  - suggesting that perhaps soon the battery will be so empty that it does not even have enough juice for the spark plugs. After a while of strenuous search, we find a sign: King Elktro - it advertises, among other things dynamo repairs - they should be able to help us - after all we have a new rotor in our luggage which we only need to exchange - the people of the workshop just need to charge our empty battery again and meter whether it is being charged with the new rotor... ..

the entire staff is full of eagerness - six men hanging over the machine, the rotor is changed quickly and then comes the information that the new one is not charging the battery and hastily without Kev and I being aware of it a cable is clamped to the positive terminal of the battery and the alternator is shocked - the responsible "mechanic" says afterwards that the rotor was not magnetized and he has resuscitated him, so to speak (??). Liza is buzzing loud one more time and then no more. The meter is is held here and there – skulls are scratched - the only thing that is certain after a relatively short time is that no spark is produced anymore. They have the ignition coils under suspicion, but we have the two old coils with us and even after installing them nothing happens. They test here and there and somehow it does not seem as if anyone has a clue and after a while of fruitless fumbling about I decide to ring Harald Himmelheber via Skype to ask for advice because our confidence in the abilities of those present and their test equipment dwindles from 1 to -5 in a short time - I translate Tips from Harald from German to English and one of the mechanics and his boss then translate into Indonesian - I can not judge what comes out of that though, but it does not seem somehow to have the right results .

It has gone dark over all the hectic activity so we get an offer of a room for the night - Kings Electric is incidentally also a homestay – the price is compared to everything I have heard about Yogyakarta not too bad and we are near our Liza, so we take the offer. We agree to continue the next day - they want to measure all the parts after a rest and thus find the error - that makes sense.

But the next day brings nothing - we are waiting for something to be done, we have now also received long and detailed instructions for troubleshooting of Harald. After the morning has gone and nothing happens, I go to the garage and then finally after I ask, what is planned now they all suddenly begin to test something and they seem pretty sure that the ignition coils are broken. I can not quite believe that all four ignition coils we have can be broken and my confidence in the abilities of the local teams dwindles more and more and eventually Hanni emerges on the scene - a friend of the family and he tries to help. He has another friend who restores old BMWs whom he brings around. Andi is a really nice guy, but after a short time he shakes his head and admits that he actually knows only how to repair older models. It is now pitch dark again and so we decide to continue the next day. CDI and ignition coils are removed and handed to me with the information that tomorrow we take the parts to another specialist who will then hopefully find out what is broken.

The next morning I wait again that something happens, but this is not so. So I walk with the parts in hand around the corner to ask when we are going now, but once more no one understands me and begins testing the parts … again - thought we had done already enough of that without success and I am slowly getting a bit miffed - everyone makes every effort to point out that the damage certainly can not come from the electric shock action, and I refrain from making an angry comment ... gets us nowhere. After a while Hanni reappears and brings Kev with the parts to another of his acquaintances, and when they return Kev appears a little happier - he says, they were in a workshop for old VWs and for the first time there was a man using the meter so that he got the impression that this one here knows what he is doing and it is sure now that the ignition coils are all ok (my bloddy words), but the CDI is gone. They decide to toe our bike to the VW workshop tomorrow and it appears we have a first ray of hope on the horizon. Hanni really looks after us, he takes us into the city in the evening, rings around the country to find a CDI and even provides us with a scooter, so we are not so stuck here. There is a new CDI in Bandung, but that will cost three million rupees - 200 Euros for a part that costs just about 70 at home, but if we order it with DHL Express, it will be equally expensive, but it can take up to 3 weeks to get here, because even as Express Mail, it must first pass through customs in Jakarta - that takes time and  the costs will end up being the same. In the end, we decide to order the part in Bandung - it's just how it is and also we can not afford to lose much more time, because we must get to Bali early enough for the renewal of our visas.

Again, Hanni has an idea of how to help us - one of his friends is in a slightly higher position at Immigration and he can certainly ask him for a favor and to sort the visa extension for us. I only need to give him the passports and then we have the visa extension in our pocket in next to no time.

I have to go to the workshop with Kevin and decide, despite my concerns, to trust him and give him the passports - after all, Hanni has already done a lot for us and has even invited us to stay at his place so we do not have to spend even more money at King’s homestay.  Hanni shoots of to immigration and we spend the day in the workshop - at the end is clear, the CDI and the Hall sensor unit are broken. The ingenious master of electronics is sure that he can even build a new hall sensor and the new CDI is being ordered. We have paid our room already for the next 3 nights so we sort with Hanni, that we will move in with him afterwards if our Liza still is not in working order by then.

Tomorrow we'll still be here anyway and with nothing more to do so we decide to visit Borobudur temple with Hanni's scooter as - we have not seen anything other than workshops in this city.

We leave in the morning and after 3 kilometers, we have the feeling that something is wrong with the scooter - in fact, it has a flat back tire. This is so bloody typical again. Luckily scooter workshops are never far away in Asia so we are relatively quickly sorted and moving again. The sky looks rather bleak - maybe we should have taken our rain gear ?!

When we arrive at the temple we already have the first shower behind us and now it’s time for the next shock: foreigners pay 230000 IDR to get in here! That’s 460000 for both of us daylight flippin robbery and I am already quite miffed. We pay and visit the temple but don’t enjoy it anymore now since compared to other temples that we have visited on our trip so far this one is not necessarily such a great experience. In the end we have to even walk through a maze of souvenir stalls to get back to the scooter and try to dodge the souvenir vendors on the way – now that was once again a waste of time and then on the way back we get another cold shower and drenched to the bones. ... - We decide after this defeat that we will give the Hindu temple at the other end of Yogya a miss.

In the evening Hanni picks us up again, his friend Andi has invited us to look at his collection of old motorcycles. Andi lives with his family, many children, some siblings and his parents in a very old and cramped quarter in the city center. His father is in a wheelchair. He has had two strokes and looks quite poorly only clad in a cloth round his loins and sitting there drooling, but when he learns that we have come all the way here with a BMW and sidecar his eyes light up and he gets all chatty and excited. We learn that he once started the business with old motorcycles and absolutely loves BMs. In the end, we promise that when our Liza is fit we will come back and show her to him.

The repair is now making progress, and the engine  has even once been running- that then lifts our mood considerably and we have agreed with Hanni to visit the Sultan's Palace the next day, but Hanni arrives late - he has the new CDI however which we take to the workshop before driving into the city –and now unfortunately the palace is already closed for visitors, well at least we can have a look at the sultans bath ... Hanni just drops us off here and then he’s off to do some errands. We look at everything thoroughly and meander around as long as possible, then we call Hanni to tell him that we would be quite happy to be picked up again.

We visit Hanni’s mother-in- law, who speaks excellent English, and then we find a nice pub where we enjoy a meal and a few beers, because today we have something to celebrate.

The next day, Kev goes to the garage early in the morning. Today, everything is to be done. The guys have their heads down  and get into the stuff. They want to renew all engine seals, adjust valve clearance, ignition and carburetor, the new CDI is to be installed and an oil filter and oil changes will be made. I have spend all day at the computer, waiting eagerly for the well-known familiar growl of our bike. It's getting late and I have given up hope, but then suddenly I can hear it - the joy is hard to imagine and even though Kevin has to tell me now that we have the wrong CDI, the world now looks  much rosier. Tomorrow we’ll go back to the workshop for more repairs and then we’ll have a nearly new motorcycle. We can move to Hanni’s place and thus save a little money on top of it too.

When we want to set off in the morning though the bike won’t start again. We try to push and fumble around with wires and connections and suddenly she hums again. Thank-god for that, it was only a loose connection!

We load our gear, say goodbye here (they probably expected more of a payment for services rendered but in my view they don’t deserve it) I can not bring myself to give more than they have made out of us by renting a room as I am still and increasingly of the opinion that they have caused most of our problems here

We send Hanni a sms that we meet him later today and move in with him and then I also tell him that we can now also take care of our visa matters ourselves and ask him to give me back the passports. He seems a little embarrassed and says he has misplaced our passports ... ..but no problem – he will find them, he just has to have a good look everywhere ... ..! I do not believe this now! Immediately the bad feeling in my stomach comes to my mind which I had when I gave him the passports in hand, but I choose to believe for now that he has only stored them somewhere and they'll turn up ... .I will also turn over his apartment later myself...

First, we go back to the workshop in order to get ignition and valves adjusted properly with the latest data from Harald and to get the loose connection fixed. While this takes a bit longer than expected, especially since then the ignition switch needs to be repaired and the mechanic noticed that we have only one mirror ... so they will not let us off without a new one, an old VW mirror is made to fit and bolted to the bike and then finally our outfit is completely roadworthy again. ... The ordered and wrong CDI we have in the luggage it was not compatible (200 € down the drain) instead the resourceful engineer has rigged a new one up from an old Daihatsu CDI - he has rewired the old hall sensor and everything works now.

We leave the place with a lot of honking and waving – and drive into the city where we want to meet up with Hanni –who is coming late and without our passports - he guarantees he will find them - and together we drive to Andi’s place again, to finally show our rubber-cow to his father who is over the moon and can not tear himself away from our vehicle. The whole family has to admire it and then we are also invited to dinner. They are quite poor folks really, all sitting on the dirt floor with their plates on their laps, in a corner of the kitchen is Andis motorcycle and we get chairs and a table with tablecloth and obviously the best food. We really feel humbled by all this generosity, but we take a good helping because that seems to give the most joy to our hosts.

Hanni has left us here – once again -  because supposedly he wants to continue to search for our passports, but when he comes back he still stands there empty-handed.

We drive to his apartment - there Hanni must break into his own house because he has lost the key somewhere on the way and I burst into hysterical laughter. I think at this point we have already started deep down inside to say goodbye to our passports. The next day we are invited to a rally from the classic bike club of Yogyakarta - one meets at night in the city center and then there is a huge parade through the city, where food parcels are being distributed to the needy - it must be at least 200 old motorbikes and Kevin is very excited because he has not seen so many old British bikes in a heap since his youth. We have decided to continue our journey as soon as possible -, we have reported our passports lost with the police and I just want to get away from here now. We head for Surabaya, there is an English and German consulate – and here hopefully we will get substitute Visa - we both have each a second passport - so all in all it should not be too difficult .... We think in any case and then maybe we can make it to Bali fast enough in order to apply for our visa extensions.


Surabaya is a big city and to find anything here is not easy. A nice young man helps us to look for an affordable place and then even invites us to dinner. The next day we search for a taxi and get chauffeured to the immigration office - we now spend a whole long day with the authorities until we finally find out that they will give us no stamp in our second passports without written confirmation of our consulates, because in Indonesia there is no such thing as two passports for one person. So we head back this time using the bemo system showing them the business card of our hotel and actually make it there for less than half the price of the taxi ride in the morning and then try desperately to reach our consulates ...

After two empty phone cards and help from the hotel staff to find the current phone numbers of the consulates we finally manage to speak to someone and find out that the German Consul is on holiday, at the English consulate no one doesn’t even answer the phone at all. Now we find the numbers of the embassies in Jakarta in the internet and call them via Skype, because the phone cards run out so quickly that we keep getting cut off in mid-conversation. The guy from English Embassy advises us to clarify with the Immigration Department whether they will accept a fax - the Germans  have gone home early today because of possible demonstrations as today the election results are being announced. We have to hurry though, because we have learned that on Friday is the last working day and then all authorities will be closed for the end of Ramadan holidays for 12 days - this also means that we will also have to apply for our visa extensions at this place too -  if possible - because we won’t be able to get to Bali on time for this now as we had no idea that there would be such a long public holiday  and if we miss the right time for the visa extensions we will have to fly out of the country to get new visa.

As early as possible the next morning I ring the German embassy and have a lady on the phone, which of course suggests that we come to Jakarta and with difficulty I make her understand that we will have no chance of being there on time and really need to hurry up. In the end I manage to get her to see the urgency of sorting everything here and now and she agrees to write an appropriate email to immigration office confirming the validation of our second passport and then we head back to local immigrations in order to be there immediately upon opening so that everything gets done before the holiday closure -who knows, if we get our old visa stamped into the new passports and then immediately submit them downstairs for the extensions we might even be able to get them back before Friday?!

At the office however we wait for 2 hours to see if the head of department agrees to accept an email and then we sit in the waiting room and try to reach our embassies via Skype. Contrary to expectations, the German embassy now has it all sorted within a few minutes and send the requested mail immediately ... the English Embassy however is now more interested in whether we can pay for this service. We give them the Visa card number and wait. After an hour, we still have no news, so we call again - at least everybody in the waiting room gets some entertainment because I am now getting a bit angry with the slow-working English embassy people and they possibly even learn some foreign swearing in-between my calls. When it's time for the lunch break they have still not received any message from the British Embassy - so I call them again and find out that  - yes the Visa card is covered, what is it again now they have to write in the mail? I can not believe how you can be so slow on the uptake and explain everything for the umpteenth time.

After an hour lunch break our clerk comes fresh from prayer and now he also has all the documents he needs for presentation to the boss. We wait until closing time and then get the commitment that we will probably get our stamp…. In the morning.

Lord, give me patience! And on top of it all it’s my birthday today.

We want to drive back with the Bemo, so we can at least save a little on the fare, but we are let out at a different connection stop this time and now we do not know where we are. They send us to another Bemo and as we sit down we are being told that the trip will cost 100,000 rupees - it's hot, I have arrived at the very end of all my patience and now using the most savage curses I tell them in German where they can stick their Bemo, trudge to the nearest taxi stand and hold the first taxi driver the business card of the hotel under the nose - done!  

After the experiences of the last few weeks I have gotten it into my head that I want to eat in a restaurant today and I want something with potatoes and I definitely want to have a beer ... somehow I have to feel that it's my birthday today . We run around until we are really footsore - the only "restaurant" we find (that is not completely beyond what we can afford) is a Kentucky Fried Chicken and it tastes like smelly feet. We do find a western supermarket, however but because of Ramadan the department with the alcoholic beverages is closed. Nothing works out today! The many congratulations on Facebook soothe me a little, but really the day is ruined – I will just declare the first good day we have to be my birthday instead.

The next morning we sit in the waiting area of Immigration but it still takes almost all day until we finally hold our passports with the old visa in our hands and the hope to be able to submit the application for an extension right away is dashed, because we are now being told that we need a sponsor who must also fill out papers before we can submit everything. We ask where we can find a sponsor and they say that the people at the hotel will do this for us, but when we arrive with the forms we are being waved off - they do not do this on principle. At the end I write an email to Lutson who immediately agrees to do this for us and now we have to find a computer shop to scan the forms, put them on my USB flash drive and now I can send him everything he fills it out and sends it back to me. Back in the computer shop they print it all out for us and the next day we once again arrive at immigrations this time armed with the requested paperwork. "Why do we have no local sponsor? Because we do not know anyone here and no one wanted to do it ….now get a bloody move on! "Again, we have to wait for the approval of another head of department and now get the bad news that while we will be granted the visa it will be in 12 days time – after the holidays.

My hope for express processing was probably a bit too confident and now we have to work out what to do for the next 12 days. Today, we are smart enough to catch the right Bemo and come safely back to our hotel. Here we wallow over our maps and make a plan: we will go to the end of the island and then spend the main Ramadan celebrations in a nature reserve and then very slowly drive in zigzags to various volcanoes slowly working our way back up, collect our passports and then jet the fastest way to Bali!


In the evening we want to celebrate with a good fish menu at the street stall in front of our hotel, but the stand is completely overrun, because the sun has just set and the scooters of the locals are in 3 rows around the place, the line of those waiting for a table is endless. We go back to the hotel, want to try again later but here we are told that we can actually order food from here and they will even bring it to the hotel for us.

Since we can not decide we order a bit of everything and within about 10 minutes we have the purest feast in front of us: Fried fish, squid, shrimp, vegetables and 2 servings of rice, all for € 5.50! The nice man at the hotel asks us if we would like a cold beer to go with our meal - which they have in the hotel fridge! I don’t believe it !! We have run our feet off to get one for my birthday!!

The next morning we fight our way out of the city and along the coast to Baluran National Park, where we spend three nights because we want to go out of the way of the main chaos of the celebration for the end of Ramadan. We can’t camp here -  because the monkeys are not only numerous, but also aggressive –this we witness on arrival when one of them grabs the bag with our provisions (you have to bring everything with you here) but I chase it off with a stick hissing back at it this way successfully securing our food for the next few days. During the first night however the buggers completely disassemble the handguards on the bike and even the pockets of our camping chairs are torn. We have read that there should be beautiful reefs here, but the ranger advises us to refrain from snorkeling - the reef is too far out and the flow is too strong here. Too bad we had both been looking forward to once again see the underwater world. Instead, we walk a bit through the savannah and look at the park life. At night you can see fireworks go off everywhere from the hostel balcony - we had already thought that the end of a whole month of fasting would be celebrated with exuberant parties afterwards.

From here, it draws us to Ijen. A volcano whose crater is filled with a sulfur lake and the sulfur sometimes ignites when it bubbles to the surface burning with a blue flame which makes it look like blue lava flowing out of the crater. Many Indonesians are on holidays now and so we are not the only ones drawn here. The parking lot is near overflowing and for the first time we see locals with tents.

The camping here is free and we also don’t have to pay anything for the ascent and so we decide instead of waiting to run up in the darkness with hundreds of people, to climb to the crater in the late afternoon and watch the sunset instead of getting up in the middle of the night to be there for dawn .

For us this is hard work, there are at least four kilometers to climb which are extremely steep for the most part. We are constantly being stopped by people who are on the way down and have to pose with them for photos and so it is already getting dark when we finally arrive. We are at the smoldering crater rim and it's a strange feeling - you could choke on the poisonous fumes if you get too close - the locals are braking off the sulfur and carry it down the mountain in heavy baskets. We wait until it's really dark, in the hope to see the blue fire which arises that when the sulfur reacts with oxygen on the surface of the lake, but we're out of luck - there is no blue fire today. So we have to stumble back down the steep mountain in pitch black darkness - and no one else is on the way – only us. When we finally arrive, we are completely worn out, but also mighty proud - even if it took us 5 hours to do it. All around us are celebrations, there are barbeques and song - there is only 2-3 hours of quiet, because then all the others are marching up to watch the sunrise - we don’t bother, we had the sunset.

As we pack our tent up in the morning most people have come down again and now as usual we have to pose for photos.

A young man introduces himself as Haribo, he is tour guide and driver and lives in Banyuwangi - and asks us for our planned route and when he learns that we want to drive to Bali in a few days he invites us to his home, he only lives a few kilometers away from the ferry - we can only leave after we promise to ring and see him when we are in the area.

From Ijen we drive along a little scenic side road through coffee plantations and small villages to the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park-. Semeru is the highest mountain on Java and one of the most active volcanoes - you can only climb it with a special permission because at any time there is a risk of an outbreak and Bromo is located in a huge caldera, which is filled with sand and volcanic ash. The Tengger are descendants of Hindus who fled the everywhere spreading Muslims in the then impenetrable mountains hundreds of years ago and still practice their old faith and who also don’t live badly from the hordes of tourists who come in buses and are then taken up into the park by the local jeep Mafia for an extortionate amount of money. We ask for a room at a few Guesthouses in front of National Park, but the end of Ramadan holiday has again ensured sufficient demand and outrageous prices are being asked for the most rundown place. We pay the entrance fee to the park and look for a spot behind a hotel to camp - this is very convenient, because we can use the toilets and showers for free and we also don’t need to pay for the camping. From 2 clock at night onwards we are awakened by the tourist taxis, which are constantly roaring past to get them all here on time for sunrise - good for us, because this way we do not miss the event either and then we tear around the black sea of sand with our bike and climb our second volcano. However, this sounds more dramatic than it is you only need 15 minutes to climb the stairs - the most of the volcano  has been blasted away in an explosion (well - we need twice as long, because we are constantly stopped by the photo crazy Indonesians who want to take a picture with us).

Things are becoming interesting again when we leave and take the less traveled side road from the national park. It’s mostly made of concrete slabs most of them broken, alternating with sand / volcanic ash sections. It’s a steep uphill climb and unfortunately Kevin has to keep stopping to let huge  all wheel trucks past and then of course the sidecar is usually digging into the soft underground pulling the entire outfit sideways. I have to keep climbing in and out to push so finally I stop climbing back in and just perch myself on the side getting on and off and push so Kev can continue again – at the really steep bits he has to keep going though because otherwise he is digging in straight away again so I just have to try and catch up running after him and at some point an Indonesian feels sorry for me and takes me up on his back seat. I can not understand that not all the motocross world champions come from this country - it's amazing where and how everyone around here shoots about with their little machines.

The pity is that it is so cloudy when we reach the top, because the little pieces of view that we can see driving along the narrow road every once in a while just look amazing.

On the evening before we can pick up our passports in Surabaya, we are back at our hotel and we hope that in the morning we just have to jump into the immigration office briefly snatch the documents and then make it to the ferry to Bali the same day.

It's never that simple though  - first, we are forever looking for a parking space, then we get some forms so we can go and pay for the service but even now we are not through. Pictures of us have to be taken and uploaded into the system and in our file. This procedure takes 3 hours and then it is time for the lunch break. ... So it's already 2 o’clock when we finally leave the city and join the traffic queues along the coast.

I call Haribo at some point and apologize, because it is getting later and later and we just have to find an overnight  -  we can not make it to his place today. He is not so easily put off and now we must promise him to at least stop by before getting on the ferry to just say hello and when we do so

he manages to persuade us to come to his place  and finally to accept his hospitality at least for one night. It is a nice evening with Haribo, family, friends and colleagues, but now we really are getting to the point where we are not willing to waste any more time and we just want to get a move on and finally get to Bali.

Kommentare: 2
  • #2

    Kerstin Holford (Sonntag, 05 Februar 2017 12:27)

    Hi Hsiu Mckinney,

    when you start a new blog you get three options. One of them is to allow comments. If you do allow comments and then click on comments while you are logged in you should get a field with options where you can choose yes or no - one of those options is the captcha - you just click yes. Hope this helps - if not try the help function of jimdo.

  • #1

    Hsiu Mckinney (Freitag, 03 Februar 2017 22:19)

    Hey! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could find a captcha plugin for my comment form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having difficulty finding one? Thanks a lot!