Riding the Monsoon - Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores & return. 2500 kms Feb 2024.

merantau

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2013
Location
Lombok Indonesia, Bendigo Australia
Bikes
Kawasaki KLX150, Honda Vario
I hadn't ridden east of Lombok in February - ever - so I rode out the gate accompanied by a keen sense of anticipation and a Goretex rain jacket.
It was midday. I'd taken the ferry from Pandangbai and arrived at Serah's Homestay the previous evening. My KLX150 had been made ready by local mechanic, Ryan, who'd ftted new chain and sprockets, filters and cables as the bike was now 13 years old and had clocked up 32K kilometres
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First stop was Awang on Lombok's east coast. These kids wanted a photo.

The plan first day was to make it to Agal Homestay in Alas, Sumbawa. The sun beat down from a blue sky as I wound my way along back roads to Labuhanhaji. Thereafter there was plenty of traffic to sharpen the concentration. I pulled into Kayangan Harbour just after 2pm. A ferry was unloading - my luck was in.
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A pleasant two hour crossing saw me riding up the ramp and greeting Sumbawa's asphalt. I had plenty of time to make it to Alas before nightfall. Sumbawa was as green as. Fields of corn crowded the roadside. Light rain fell. I pulled into Agal Homestay at 5.30pm.
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This is the view from Agal Homestay.
I will add to this thread over the coming days/weeks. It was a very enjoyable ride.
 
Agnes at Agal Homestay made me a delicious nasi goreng for breakfast and I was on my way by 8.00am. The plan was to cross Sumbawa on a day and hopefully pick up a ferry to Flores next day. First stop was Lesehan Santong at Teluk Santong for a barbecued fish lunch.
 

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Heading further east the road takes you to Labuhan Jambu where you can go diving with whale sharks. Traffic if light and the road is in good shape. After Empang there is a glorious climb over the range and then a sweeping descent into the Soriutu valley. The views over Salleh Bay never fail to disappoint. I called in for a coffee at a truckstop half way up the climb and reacquainted myself wifh Chiara whom I hadn't seen in 7 years. She now has a degree in International Relations from a University in Malang, Java. A very smart young woman. But it's hard to land a job in that field unless you have connections.
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I made it into Sape late in the day to learn that the ferry for Labuhanbajo was 36 hours away so I had the next day to explore around Sape. I rose early and headed for the beach at Pantai Lambu. The road wound through scrubby hills; the sea appeared occasionally in the distance. I rounded a downhill bend and came across a truck resting on its side. A crowd had gathered. Timbers were being gathered. Ropes appeared. A rescue operation was underway. When I was back at the spot a couple of hours later the truck was gone. No heavy equipment- just lots of manpower, some bottle jacks and timber levers cut from the nearby trees.
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On my way to Lambu I passed a lot of people with ponies adjacent to a sand track that ran parallel to the beach. There was a starting gate for four horses and the tiny kid riders wore jockey silks. Just as I approached the horses took off. After 60metres this little kid was thrown through the air. He landed in the sand, badly shaken but with all limbs intact. He would not have weighed more than 20kg. He was just five years old.
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Coming back from Lambu I got a rear wheel puncture while climbing a hiĺl. I sat up on the tank and rode back down to seek help. I found some air and went hell for leather to find a workshop where the puncture was repaired for IDR 20K. Here's a few shots from the day.
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Tyre guys.

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Lambu beach.

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Ports in Indonesia are invariably busy and with only one ferry out of the normal two operating I knew it was going to be fully loaded for the 6 -7 hour crossing. We got underway 45 minutes late and sailed across a mill pond sea beneath blue skies. The KM Cakalang laboured against a wild current off the coast of Komodo - the island of the dragons.

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Sape Harbour - early morning.

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Sape

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Young mother and her first born.
 
We rocked into Labuhanbajo with an hour's daylight in hand. I headed for the Bali Persona Hotel - pretty central with a glorious view over the bay. Being low season I was the only guest. A shower, a strong black and a decent sunset make up a great trifecta to put a day to rest.
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The KM Cakalang is like a floating garden. It's unique among ASDP ferries in my experience. The skipper hails from Bali.

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Barren, uninhabited.
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Labuhanbajo Harbour.

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Nightfalĺ

I was up early as I had a long ride ahead of me and rain was expected. I bought a litre of oil at a Yamaha dealership and the mechanic topped up my machine with 100ml. I only travelled a few km when I stopped to check the lashings on my pack. Lucky thing too as by some freak of happenstance the cap on the oil container had ruptured and oil had begun to leak out. I borrowed some rag from a nearby shop and the obliging woman gave me an empty plastic bottle to transfer the remaining oil into - both a not so good and a good start to the day.

My immediate aim was to make it to Ruteng about 3-4 hours away. But the weather was bleak and before long the rain was coming down. I figured it would dog me all the way on the climb up to Ruteng
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The high plain of Lembor.

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Lembor

I managed to get lost in Ruteng again - its signage only caters for locals - but eventually I found my way out to begin the long, twisty descent to Aimere via Borung. I stopped for a snack at the truly excellent Bougainville Bakery in Borung before setting off for Aimere on the south coast..This small port has ferry connections to Waingapu on Sumba and Kupang in West Timor.

From Aimere there's a 35km climb up through a blizzard of forest greenery - an assemblege of giant trees and ferns - to reach Bajawa, one of the wettest places in Flores.

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Mt Inerie near Aimere. The world's most perfect pyramid.

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Inerie again.

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Looking back at Aimere on the run to Bajawa.

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Inerie
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I arrived in Bajawa on dusk looking like a drowned rat. A tough ride but who doesn't like a challenge especially when there's a hot shower waiting at tje end!
 
I checked in to Lucas Authentic Homestay - an old favourite of mine. Lucas was not there but his youngest son, aged 15, had stepped up to the plate. I was the only guest and the restaurant was closed so no breakfast.
Just across the road I found the ""Milonari Restaurant." Fantastic food, lovely people, great local coffee. I'd struck gold. The rain continued to belt down. If you were under a tin roof you had to SHOUT to be heard!
I left early next morning. The plan was to ride to Waiterang Beach, 30km east of Maumere. The weather was going to be a factor for sure.
There was little traffic to speak of and the sky was clear. I got wondering views of Ebulobo volcano in the area around Boawe, about an hour from Bajawa.
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Lucas Authentic Homestay

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First sight of Ebulobo
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Ebulobo
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Ebulobo
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Ebulobo
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Ebulobo
 
After leaving the Boawe area the road turns south and you reach the south coast via a series of magnificent sweeping bends. The temperature increases markedly. Mosques appear when the coast is reached about 30km west of Ende. Coconut trees abound. The green stone beach appears; waves pound the shore.
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Coast before Ende
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Near Ende

On the outskirts of Ende I hit major roadworks but it was Election Day - a public holiday - so I breezed past.
I stopped at an Alfa Mart for a bite to eat and a coffee and met this great bunch of blokes - crew from the "Donggola 9" who were hauling cement from Makassar to various ports around NTT. They came from every corner of Indonesia and I'll always remember their smiles and laughter.
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The road after Ende heads due north into the mountains. The sky changed from blue to gunmetal grey so I donned my wet weather gear. You can be drowned in 30 seconds in a tropical downpour.
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I met these folks adjacent to where I stopped to don rain gear.

The higher the road went the heavier thè downpour became. Pretty soon I basically had the road to myself apart from the odd truck. The road quickly became a river. I stuck to the crown as best I could and slowed right down A speeding truck showered me with spray and my engine died and wouldn't re-start. Fortunately, it was just a short distance to a downhill section so I pushed the bike until I could start rolling.

It was still raining heavily. I rolled for a couple of hundred metres unril I ran out of decline. I fished a dry sock out of my pack, removed the plug lead and dried as best I could. Bingo! The engine fired up!

I got underway again and motored through Detusoko. The rain would not let up. The Goretex gear threw in the towel after an hour. I was soaked to the skin. I decided to spend the night in Moni village. When I got there the rain had stopped. Daniel Homestay was deserted. I hung around for a while but then decided to press on. I had about 130km to ģo and still had about four hours of daylight. I figured the rain would die out as I headed down to the south coast at Paga. WRONG! If anything it intensified - but at least the road was straight!

The rain continued all the way to Maumere. The final blow was a rear puncture just 10km short of Waiterang Beach. It was on dusk and I was done in. I left the bike with a family and hitched a ride to Sunset Beach Cottages. The puncture would have to wait until morning.
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Yanto organised the puncture repair for me.
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Pulau Babi as seen from Sunset Beach..
 
Lulled to sleep by the waves lapping the shoreline, just ten metres from my cabin, I slept the sleep of ten men.
After a solid breakfast Lucas from the Homestay took me back to my bike. Yanto had thoghtfully covered it up with tin to protect it from overnight rain.

I handed him a spare tube and off he trundled to the tyre repairer just down the road. Twenty minutes later he returned with my bike - job done. In Indonesia help is never far away.

I spent the rest of the day resting, relaxing taking photographs and deciding my next move. The weather forecast for the next week indicated rain and lots of it. I now didn't have a spare 16 inch tube and I knew they were hard to get in Flores. So, I decided to head back west which gave me time to factor in delayed ferry crossings should they eventuate.
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Mt Egon in the hinterland of Waiterang Beach.

I bade goodbye to Aldi and the guys at Sunset Beach - such a great place to unwind. My first goal was to find a 16 inch tube in Maumere. I tried two very large motorcycle spare parts and tyre dealers - no luck. I was looking for a third when a woman rode beside me to tell me I'd left my signal on. She then took me on a tour of Maumere's bike shops. We struck gold at the third one. Cost? AUD$4.50. Quality? Hmm?

Sita then invited me for coffee at her friend's homestay nearby - what a gracious lady.
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On my way again I was blessed with blue skies until I began the climb out of Paga on the south coast. And then in bucketed down for 30 minutes.
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Flores greenery.

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Kemiri ( candlenut) trees are an important source of income.

I experienced more heavy showers between Detusoko and Moni but as I descended towards Ende they eased off and I took the wet weather gear off as it was really stifling.
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The south coast.

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Taking a break.

I stopped for a coffee in Ende and had a lovely conversation with two young women who worked for a credit union that provides micro- credit to women who want to start up small businesses.

I bade farewell and they wished me safe travels. "Hati-hati di jalan." I explained to them that wherever I go I am always accompanied by my loyal girlfriend Hadija - hati-hati di jalan. It always gets a laugh.

On the western outskirts off Ende I came to a massive traffic build up. The road between a 20m high sand cliff and the sea was being widened. I crawled between the column of trucks, buses, cars, pick-ups and the cliff. Every so often there'd be a sand fall and the air would be filled with thick clouds of the fine white powder. The thought crossed my mind: "he was killed in a sand fall while riding his motorbike in Flores". Better than wasting away in a nusing home, Don you think?

I made it into Bajawa just on dusk. It had been a very long day. I was wet through but felt really alive.
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The smile says it all.
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Monsoon Bajawa.
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The view fom Lucas Authentic Homestay.
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And the rain came down.

After a hot shower I crossed the road to eat dinner at the Milonari Restaurant..And what a great surprise awaited me. A local Rasta named Morgan was playing guitar and singing. He was an incredibly gifted guitarist with a melodious voice too. The evening was spoilt somewhat by a group of middle-aged Dutch tourists who had zero love of music and just talked loudly - pearls are wasred on swine.
I arranged to meet Morgan next day. We visited an excellent coffee shop and spent an hour imbibing the various blends on offer.
 
Lulled to sleep by the waves lapping the shoreline, just ten metres from my cabin, I slept the sleep of ten men.
After a solid breakfast Lucas from the Homestay took me back to my bike. Yanto had thoghtfully covered it up with tin to protect it from overnight rain.

I handed him a spare tube and off he trundled to the tyre repairer just down the road. Twenty minutes later he returned with my bike - job done. In Indonesia help is never far away.

I spent the rest of the day resting, relaxing taking photographs and deciding my next move. The weather forecast for the next week indicated rain and lots of it. I now didn't have a spare 16 inch tube and I knew they were hard to get in Flores. So, I decided to head back west which gave me time to factor in delayed ferry crossings should they eventuate.

This is what can happen during monsoon. This ferry was in Padangbai Bali heading to Lembar in Lombok. Posted 10 hours ago.


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Mt Egon in the hinterland of Waiterang Beach.

I bade goodbye to Aldi and the guys at Sunset Beach - such a great place to unwind. My first goal was to find a 16 inch tube in Maumere. I tried two very large motorcycle spare parts and tyre dealers - no luck. I was looking for a third when a woman rode beside me to tell me I'd left my signal on. She then took me on a tour of Maumere's bike shops. We struck gold at the third one. Cost? AUD$4.50. Quality? Hmm?

Sita then invited me for coffee at her friend's homestay nearby - what a gracious lady.View attachment 91775


On my way again I was blessed with blue skies until I began the climb out of Paga on the south coast. And then in bucketed down for 30 minutes.View attachment 91776

Flores greenery.

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Kemiri ( candlenut) trees are an important source of income.

I experienced more heavy showers between Detusoko and Moni but as I descended towards Ende they eased off and I took the wet weather gear off as it was really stifling.View attachment 91778
The south coast.

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Taking a break.

I stopped for a coffee in Ende and had a lovely conversation with two young women who worked for a credit union that provides micro- credit to women who want to start up small businesses.

I bade farewell and they wished me safe travels. "Hati-hati di jalan." I explained to them that wherever I go I am always accompanied by my loyal girlfriend Hadija - hati-hati di jalan. It always gets a laugh.

On the western outskirts off Ende I came to a massive traffic build up. The road between a 20m high sand cliff and the sea was being widened. I crawled between the column of trucks, buses, cars, pick-ups and the cliff. Every so often there'd be a sand fall and the air would be filled with thick clouds of the fine white powder. The thought crossed my mind: "he was killed in a sand fall while riding his motorbike in Flores". Better than wasting away in a nusing home, Don you think?

I made it into Bajawa just on dusk. It had been a very long day. I was wet through but felt really alive.View attachment 91780
The smile says it all.
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Monsoon Bajawa.
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The view fom Lucas Authentic Homestay.
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And the rain came down.

After a hot shower I crossed the road to eat dinner at the Milonari Restaurant..And what a great surprise awaited me. A local Rasta named Morgan was playing guitar and singing. He was an incredibly gifted guitarist with a melodious voice too. The evening was spoilt somewhat by a group of middle-aged Dutch tourists who had zero love of music and just talked loudly - pearls are wasred on swine.
 
I spent the next day with Morgan sampling some of the excellent local coffee. The rain was belting down and it was hard to hold a conversation under a tin roof.

Later in the afternoon after lunch I went to Morgan's house to meet his school teacher wife and two kids. While there I witnessed neighbourhood justice in action. Five teenagers from Riung on the north coast had been creating mayhem in the neighbourhood by getting drunk, breaking bottles and using filthy language at all hours of the night. They were made to kneel down on the gravel road while village elders berated them. The punishment continued for 15 minutes. They were made to adopt various stress positions - plank, forehead on the ground hands behind back for example - and Morgan said they were lucky they weren't handed over to the police as they would have received a beating.

Next day I set out for Labuhanbajo 261 kms away. There are lots of giant bamboo groves in Flores.

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And volcanoes. Here's my favourite- Inerie.
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I was in luck with the weather and made good time through Aimere and Borung. I reached Ruteng with plenty of time to spare so stopped for a leisurely lunch at a nasi Padang being operated by a woman who actually came from Padang. The Minangkabau are one of the few matrilineal societies in the world - land passes down the female line - so Minang women are very confident and independent and this woman was a good example of those traits.

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The rain chased me back to Labuhanbajo but I managed to outrun it.
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Sunset Labuhanbajo from the terrace of Persona Bali Hotel.

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Morning view

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Around Labuhanbajo
 

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I made it back to Labuhanbajo late in the day checked in to the Bali Persona and headed for the port. The ferry left in two days so I spent the next day wandering the streets and riding up the coast a ways.
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That night I was treated to this:
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Next day the KM Cakalang, the Floating Garden of the East set sail for Sumbawa at 1040 hrs
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The skies turned a bit grey on the way over but no rain. We made it into Sape about 1700 hrs and I headed to the "Kedai Terapung" - - the "Floating Restaurant " - that had a couple of rooms attached. Operated by a Bugis woman who worked as a secondary school teacher during the day it was an excellent venue with great food and new rooms. - IDR300K or AUD$30 per night breakfast included.
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Labuanbajo is in many ways one of the most scenic places on earth…
 
Sape is a spread out town. Not very big and definitely not a tourist place. The locals are very friendly and always up for a chat. There are a couple of good restaurants with excellent local food at local prices. IDR25K will buy you a full stomach.
I got underway by 7.30 for the ride across Sumbawa to Alas in the west. The road climbs over a range with sweeping bends and good viwes back to the coast.. You pass through quite a few villages but traffic is light.
I managed to find my way in and out of Bima but then missed the by-pass road that skirts Dompu so found myself searching for signs and navigating by the GPS I always carry: asking another rider at traffic lights!
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Fishing boats. Sape Harbour
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The hills just west of Sape.
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Nangga Tumpu
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Bidding farewell to Pak Made at the truck stop near Nangga Tumpu
 
I stopped for barbequed fish at Teluk Santong- always delicious - and said my farewells. The sky looked threatening so I donned my rain gear. Just as well for I'd only ridden a couple of kilometres when the wind sprung up and the rain fell in sheets. I battled a strong head wind and plenty of water across the road at times. De-afforestation has led to the loss of lots of top soil and you can see it in many places. Corn is growing everywhere- corn to make snack foods.
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It was a long day in the saddle and I was mighty pleased to reach Agal Homesay in Alas just before nightfall - drenched but with all limbs intact.
A shower and a short ride to "Depot 23" for food and coffee put the day to rest.
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Four lovelies - the crew at "Depot 23" in Alas Sumbawa
 
I left Agal Homestay and headed for Sekongkang down in Sumbawa's S-W corner: it's a beautiful spot whth some magnificent beaches sans umbrellas and sun lounges.
The ride down there is a good one especially if you take the quiet coast road via Kertasari to Taliwang
This takes you past the new private airfield being constructed by P.T Amman the Indo-Sino-Indian conglomerate that has assumed operation of the Batu Hijau gold/copper mine: one of the richest in the world. The U.S. miner, Newmont, refused to build a smelter in Indonesia so the Government ended its relationship with them
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Indonesia's call this tre the "Flamboyan"..I think it's a "poinsettia" but may be wrong.

After Taliwang the road skirts the coast near Poto Batu and eventually you find yourself in teak forests and hills. It's an up and down twisties fest until you hit sea level just shy of Benete, the port tjat Newmont built.

It found it hard to find accommodation in Sekongkang as P.T. Amman had contracted out a lot of rooms for its staff. Eventually I struck gold at the 5th attempt - Mega Arafah Homestay operated by the affable Pak Ahmad and his lovely wife Fatma.
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The vast majority of foreigners staying at Sekongkang are surfers. There was probably about 30 - 40 spread over the six or seven homestays. Over the years I've met a lot of them Invariably they are one trick ponies. They are only interested in surfing. Indonesia? They only know they are there because of the Bintang beer on the menu.. The other thing that I notice is that they rarely eat local food and are happy to pay high prices for everything.
Sekongkang is blessed with beautiful beaches. Here are some of them.
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Four shots of Pantai Lawar
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The above shots are Tropicals Beach
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Maluk Beach


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Pak Ahmad at Mega Arafah Homestay had led a very adventurous life. He was 70 years old. As a young man of 30 he had gone to the Middle East to work. He spent eight years working in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon as a cleaner and kitchen hand. He has also travelled in Jordan, Syria and Iraq. He was well versed in the politics of the region. We shared our love of the great Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum - the "Voice of Paradise."

Sekongkang is a small town with very friendly people. If you ever go there the "Happy Restaurant" is a culinary delight.
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I left Sekongkang after a couple of days to head back to Lombok. On the way I took a shot of one of the mine's motorcycle parks at Benete. The other one was just as packed and there still wasn't enough room for all the cycles - they were shoe horned into every available nook and cranny by the roadside.
Very hot day. Just the sort of day you don't want to be waiting for a ferry. Alas, just missed getting on the first one to depart but there was another close by so we were underway after a 45 minute wait - not too bad.
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Poto Tano
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On our way to Pelabuhan Kayangan- the Port of Heaven
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My bike is the green KLX bottom left.
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Kayangan
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Kayangan
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If you lose your passport as a result of a maritime disaster you gat the new one for half price - if you're an Indonesian that is!
 
I arrived bacl in Lombok with a couple of hours of daylight to get me to Sembalung Lawang in the centre of the Mt Rinjani National Park.
As soon as I began to reach altitude the rain came down again.
Beyond Suela the road enters the rain forest. Growth is so luxuriant at times it seems you are in a gloomy green tunnel. Lots of bends, dips and ascemts and occasional tendrils hanging down which brush against your helmet. And stillness it rained.
After 90 minutes made it to Rinjani Family Homestay and was warmly greeted. Hot shower and down to the village for take away barbequed chicken and rice.
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The road from Sembalun to the coast is wide with sweeping bends and for once there was no rain! I decided to spend the night in Ampenam, the oldest part of Mataram the capital of Lombok. The ride took me up and over the Pusuk Pass. Lots of bends, trees and monkeys.

I rocked up to Losmen Tjabe Merah (Red Chilli Lodging House) on the edge of Ampenam.
A few years back it was announced that the old city was going to be restored and would become a bustling tourist hub. It never happened

Here is what I found. I like it as it is.
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The rain came down again whilst I was exploring Ampenam on foot and I sheltered under a verandah and chatted to an elderly Chinese resident. Later I had a magnificent bowl on bone soup at the Chinese operated Ramayana Restaurant

I left Losmen Tjabe Merah and as soon as I hit the main road it rained again. This torpedoed my plan to ride back to Kuta via the west and south coasts so I made my way direct and was back home by 11am. It was a very enjoyable trip would I do it again? Does the sun rise every morning?
 
Another great report. Thanks
 
Hello, I enjoyed your report and photos. I rarely post on this forum, but I have greatly enjoyed your past Indonesian reports also.

I am going to Flores in June this year for the first time. My previous trips to Indonesia have been in Sumatra and Java. My father will be with me and it will be his first time in Indonesia. We have arranged a motorbike rental in Labuan Bajo for 12 days and will return the bike in Maumere. We are hoping to ride to Larantuka and Adonara Island also.
 
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