Day 389 Bandung (Indonesia) / motorbike GS Dakar RTW overland adventure traveller

  • Left – On the back of a scooter 
  • 29th April 2015
  • Miles rode – All around the city

No need to get up early this morning as I have bike repairs today. Lyndon said goodbye and headed off into the sun, I wondered how long it would be before I would follow?

When I entered Indonesia 10 days ago a few Indonesian bikers contacted me and said if I needed anything they would help me, how kind. I contacted Dono from Jakarta last night regarding my Dakar problems and he sent messages out to his biker friends who recommended places to go this morning to get the new battery. There’s a BMW dealer here!

People are wonderful. It’s all about the people.

At 9am Nana (hotel employee) took me and the broken exhaust to ‘KP-16 exhaust racing’ the local exhaust fabricator and Iman started to repair it straight away. I was concerned that whoever was going to work on it might not have the skills, how wrong I was, I watched Iman as he took care and used his skills to removed the broken part and weld it back together, add the sound insulation and present me with a perfect job. He must have spent an hour and a half carefully working on it. They charged me £3.50 I obviously gave Iman some cash too.

Iman was one of 7 men in the small, dirty workshop which from the road looks like a dump but inside skilled craftsmen fabricate and assemble exhausts for the many people who turn up. As everywhere in Asia if something is broken they repair it unlike at home where we buy a new part. Everyone was busy and although I was watching over them they all smiled. Before I left everyone wanted photos as usual.

I understand how an exhaust works now.

Nana then took me to the BMW dealership which was only about a year old, the gleaming building looked out of place in the otherwise dirty city. This is corporate world. Sugeng, the sales manager couldn’t have been more helpful, the Worksop technicians took the battery away and said it was low on water and put it on charge (I topped it up 2,000 miles ago which obviously isn’t often enough, or was it that it was a cheap Indian battery that has done 10,000 miles and was at the end of its life?). They said it needed replacing but they didn’t have one so I’ll struggle on with the old Indian one and replace it in Bali. Whilst I waited Sugeng showed me a more interesting route to get to Bali following the mountains and Coast.

I’ve enjoyed rushing through Indonesia with Lyndon but stopping has made me see what everyday life in Indonesia is like. When you glance it looks manic, the roads do anyway, but behind is an effective society where people care about their work and enjoy life.

Before we headed back to the hotel Nana took me to his house and introduced me to his family. Although the city is extremely busy he lives in a traditional house where life is calm and the noise and pollution on the main roads disappeared. His wife and young kids all smiled, outside birds tweeted in their cages and washing was hung out in the street to dry. I love these experiences.

Back at the hotel I put the parts back on the bike and like everytime I work on the bike I hope it starts, it did, first time.

As Ted Simon said ‘it’s these unplanned experiences that make the adventure so pleasurable’.

Back at the hotel I renegotiated the room rate as Lyndon was no longer with me. We paid £25 (£12.50 each) last night which was probably the most expensive hotel I’ve stayed in since Europe. They agreed to £19 for the night which is a negligible discount when you’re at home but saving £6 makes a big difference over the course of my journey. Had I spent £25 per night, every night since I left home I would have spent nearly £10,000 on hotels so far. The reality is I’ve probably spent less than £2,000

The hotel didn’t have to let Nana spend around 5 hours helping me or give me a discount, but they did. Would this have happened back home?

It’s all about the people and the fabricators.

Lyndon has zoomed off East and what an experience it has been, I didn’t learn anything new about riding, I understand the skills and techniques needed but I don’t normally test myself out to see what I’m capable of. Riding with Lyndon for a week give me no choice, following Lyndon made me push myself into new experiences, I’ve been off road before and gone fast up mountains but to ride in so many different condition over 1,600 miles (2,500km) at speed adds endurance into the equation.

Nothing stops Lyndon getting to his destination quickly, mud, pot holes, dirt, sand, water or tight bends, his stamina and powers of concentration are immense. It doesn’t surprise me that he finished the 2013 Dakar Rally with a top 10 stage finish.

I have some advice to make your bike even lighter Lyndon, you have no need for brakes as you never slow down, no need for mirrors as nobody ever gets close to you, why you have gears 1, 2 & 3 I have no idea as you never use them. And as for a horn and lights these are useless as you’re faster than the speed of sound & light. While your removing these superfluous item you might as well lose the side stand as you never stop.

Lyndon, it’s been a great experience and pleasure for me to ride with you, I hope I didn’t slow your progress too much. I’ll see you back home and you’re always welcome ‘down south’.