Pete's F650GS adventure ride

Surabaya, East Java

Saturday 3rd September 2016

The father and son and the 2 boys driving the ute picked me up at 9:00 am, right on queue. Adam had told us that the bike shop in Surabaya would be open till 3pm so we had plenty of time to make the 4 hour drive. We were to meet Adam at a MacDonald’s. It was strange following a truck with my bike in the back while I followed along in the car. It was a pleasant enough drive until we hit Surabaya where everything came very close to a halt. Traffic in Surabaya is famous for being one of the most congested in Indonesia and Saturdays in particular. We arrived at the designated meeting point around !:30pm where we waited and waited  for Adam to turn up. Even though he lived in Surabaya he phoned several times to say he was on the way. He too had come to a complete standstill on the motorway leading into Surabaya. There doesn’t seem to be any forward planning in road construction. You build one bit, then wait to see what happened to the traffic “flow” and then build the next bit. Normally resulting in worse traffic flow than previously. It got to around 2:30pm and no Adam. The next time he called he gave us directions to go to the bike shop by ourselves. We did and eventually Adam arrived at  the shop. This was the main office of a Harley Davidson dealership. Adam came away from that conversation with the news that they would not  be able to fit it into their work schedule and directed us to a branch office that was half and hour away. By this time it was already past three and I was curious to know as to whether this shop would be still open. “Yeah yeah” was the reply. The half hour trip turned into a 1 hour trip. We got there though and the shop was still open. This was in an area of almost wall to wall bike and bike accessory shops, which is how businesses seem to cluster in most parts of Asia. The bike was freed from its restraints in the ute and installed in the shop to await its fate. Discussions were made, lots of looking at the bike by everybody and his dog in the place, actually there weren’t any dogs, It was settled that they were competent enough to do the job as long as they could acquire the parts. The next item on which to decide was where I would be housed during this process. When asked what I would settle for, because the man was paying, I replied that all I really wanted, well needed actually, was Wifi, hot water and my own bathroom. So off everyone else went Adam, the man and his son and a guy from the bike shop. They returned very shortly after with a possible room, subject to my approval. So we all went to check out the room in what was it seems was a boarding house. The room had recently been vacated , however, all the previous  tenant’s gear was piled up in a corner and the frig was still full of food. Still, it did conform to my requests. I should have asked for one that was clean. no matter. I was assured that if I was to come back in a hour the room would be cleaned and ready for my occupancy. From my balcony I could see the bike shop, so that was a plus. Adam and I retired to a small cafe next to the bike shop where the owner, another bike fanatic had offered free food and drink. We discussed the ongoing situation. When the hour had passed everyone assisted in carted all my luggage to the room. The price to be paid was $250 for a month. I generously, accorded to others, agreed to pay a third. That’s one month for $8 per day. I could handle that. The room was pretty grotty. I think the cleaning thing was to sweep the floor and put some clean linen on the bed. It was OK.  The air con worked. the hot water worked when I figured out how to use it. The frig worked. The drain smelt. The TV was very ghosty, but then it was all Indonesian channels anyway.  The bathroom, I doubt, had never been cleaned properly. As is typical here was no handbasin nor mirror. I can adjust. Sometimes when I check out the state of my house it can usually do with some cleaning, So at this point in time this was to be my home for possibly the next month. If it was to take a month that would be the end of my visa time. More things to worry about, like as if I didn’t have enough. The end of another very long and anxious filled day. Will this make me stronger person? It doesn’t feel like it, I”m still shaking. But for now, it’s time to crash, in bed this time.

Sunday 4th September 2016

In way I was glad it was Sunday because the bike shop was closed. Not that I had the day off. In between trying to rest my increasing sore body with some bed time, I was really concerned that parts for the repairs would not be available anywhere. So I spent a lot of time searching the web for parts and the prices thereof. I think you need to be mega rich to own a BMW. The prices were staggering and there were a lot that needed to be replaced if I was to get it back to its original condition. Then there was the extension to my visa if the repairs were to take more than 3 weeks. None of this decreased my anxiety levels. All the what if’s and the more importantly the what if not’s. Everything was unknown and not much I could do about any of it today anyway. Got more money from the ATM, checked out the possible food sources, looked around for Bintang, no luck there. I have since been told that the current president brought in new laws where alcholic drinks could not be sold outside licensed premised. This basically meant clubs and high end restaurants. None of those near where I was holed up. That wrapped up Sunday.

Monday 5th September 2016

I was ready to head for the bike shop at  8am. Silly idea, Nothing seems to get going until 10am, Could have stayed in bed. I watched the traffic build to its frantic tempo with everyone going to work. Its interesting, by 9am I am, if outside, starting to perspire, yet people riding to work are wearing coats, scarfs and gloves, and its going to hit 36 degrees C today. I found some nice roadside chicken soup for breakfast followed by the regular cup of unfiltered black coffee. No matter how often I ask for no sugar, the coffee always comes with sugar. Nothing for the locals to have 4 and 5 teaspoons of sugar in what is always half a cup of coffee. Come 10am people started arriving at the bike shop. The shop owner, Martin, luckily, had a friend, Ben, with him that day, he spoke English. Ben helped run his father’s coal mine in Kalimantan. After more discussions by everyone about the bike, a mechanic started the process of stripping down the front end of the bike. First thing they found, which wasn’t on my possible endangered list, was the bent front axle. Not easy to remove a bent front axle. With the wheel off it became obvious that the front brake disc was rather warped. From they on up we went, Front forks seriously bent and buckled, triple clamp warped, headstock shaft bent, handle bars considerably bent, light and instrument housing broken, lamp protector bent, front beak in many pieces, front left and right side and rear left cowling snapped and one broken mirror lens. Lots and lots of money, I’m taking donations. This, to me, was way worse than I had first assessed the damage might be.

Poor Cherry Red what have they done to you? I was feeling just a little despondent at the stage. Only took a couple of hours. I think Martin and Ben wanted to make me feel better so they took me to lunch in a nice restaurant. It only helped momentarily. Back at the shop and Martin was constantly on the phone in relation to the availability of replacement parts. Most of this I, not understanding the language, was not privy to. Ben gave me a brief summary of what was going on. Anything that could not be acquired from the BMW dealer in Jakarta, would take at least three weeks to come from Germany. Such a pleasant thought. I think on occasion Adam was also on the phone to Martin. The day was not improving any. The initial total of parts required was more than $5000. Needless to say that I was told I could buy a new bike for that much money. I had this vision of the man, when being told of what he was up for, promptly having a heart attack. I genuinely felt very sad for him. Adam called me later in the day to fill in a few details. Nothing he said seemed to alleviate the dread I was trying to deal with. Too many loose ends and unsolved problems and no one, at this stage, could give me any comforting answers. Better try some meditation or better still some medication. One of the boys at the bike shop, who works part time as a disc jockey in some of the clubs, thought he may know where I could get some beers. Like let’s go. We rode to a cafe about a kilometre away only to find the Bintang they sold was 0% alcohol. More disappointment. Turn around and go back. Now some things are just meant to happen. Grego, probably not how the name is spelt. suddenly pulled to the side. There in a little barrow stall, with a old man and wife, and in the display was an arrangement of various sizes of Bintang Pilsener. Did my day ever just get better. Oh yes. Now this was one of those illegal blackmarket beer sellers and I was about to commit a crime. Stuff it. My dilemma was how many to buy as they might get busted before tomorrow. I settled on 6 what looks like 600ml cans. Didn’t want people to think I was a drunk. The joys of having a frig.

Monday 12th September 2016

Hard to write a travel blog when your not traveling. The last 7 days has pretty much spent hanging around the bike shop waiting for news of what had or is happening, getting mixed reports depending on to whom I was attempting to talk. Gejo in the only bike shop mechanic who speaks English and he is hardly there. The boss Martin had gone to Jakarta and Adam was flat out at his job. Around Wednesday I received a call from Adam saying the bill for spares was originally around $5,000, but they had decided some of the cowling pieces called be successfully repaired without being a safety issue, and the cost had come down to $3,700. Negotiations then went into a stall as the perpetrator figured it was too much and wanted me to pay for some of the costs. And a few people seemed to think this was a good idea, except me. I pointed out to Adam, who thankfully was helping and doing the negotiations that I had a signed memorandum the man had signed to the effect that he was responsible for all costs. Adam chastised me for not informing him of this before hand. Went straight back to him and soon an agreement was reached. I had a text from the man’s brother, which was soon followed by a copy of the receipt, indicating that a down payment of $2,700 had been made. So from what I have gleaned, by Friday the parts have been ordered from Germany, which made me a bit sad, because earlier I was led to believe they had the parts in Jakarta, and they are, after they have come from Germany. Three weeks minimum.

As I say not much else has happened. I have found a tailor who replaced a zipper for $1.50, a phone mechanic who replaced a battery in my iphone which had inflated and was pushing the screen upwards for $15 and is now fixing the ipod which need a new screen and something else. Tried to rent a motorbike to no avail due to lack of tourists about the place. I have been in Java now for 2 weeks and haven’t laid eyes on another caucasian. I’ve spent quite a bit of time cleaning up my quarters in the boarding house, so it’s almost decent. Attacked the air conditioner. The filters were thick with what looked like black soot. It was a wonder it was still working. Haven’t solved the ghosting TV yet. Each day I head to the cafe next to the bike shop for coffee and the best Ayam Soto you could ever taste.

The magic Ayam Soto and the mad cook

The magic Ayam Soto and the mad cook Danny

Many mad bike enthusiasts frequent the joint and I have had some good conversations with several english speakers. All of whom have offered help and given phone contacts. Everyone gathered at the cafe last night to watch the Moto1 GP. Good fun.img_0781

I have spent many  hours on the internet trying to track down a new visor for the helmet which was lost at the accident scene.  Because it’s a Bell helmet, made in USA, no one in this pat of the world stocks them, much less visor replacements. companies in the US don’t want to ship to Surabaya. So it has come down to buying one on line sending it to Rebecca in Kempsey NSW and asking her to forward it to me to hopefully get here before my departure. Today is a public holiday here. It is the day of sacrifice. Eid-al-Adha which celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to prove his faith in God. So in my walks through the back streets around my digs during the last couple of days, I have seen the cows and goats which have, I presume, been co-operatively purchased by the local residents in preparation for their slaughter, which would take place  today. Read more  So today on my walk I witnessed several places where this slaughter was taking place in these small streets. I wasn’t inclined to photograph this ritual didn’t feel very tasteful. Because it was a long walk, on my return I was walking beside a large channel and noticed groups of men and boys on the banks of the river doing what seemed to be washing. I wasn’t clothing. They were cleaning the offal of the slaughtered beasts. Took a note “Don’t go swimming in Indonesia”.  Tomorrow I have to go to the Indonesian immigration to extend my 211 visa, which officially cannot be extended……. They say if you are still solving problems, your not dead yet.

Friday 16th September 2016

Wow it’s Friday already. the good news was is that I managed to rent a bike. Same colour as my own bike, red and black, just a bit smaller, like a Honda Beat. as per usual the bike was meant to turn up on Tuesday morning at 9:00am, Monday being a public holiday, So I waited around. Around lunchtime I received a message that the bike was involved in an accident and had to be fixed before it could be delivered around 6:00pm. So in my waiting around mode, I figured I had better do something about extending my Indonesian visa. The bike repairs would take too long and even with the best scenario, I would be lucky to cover the several thousand kms to Medan, where I had to go in order ship the bike to Malaysia, without overstaying my visa. Overstaying a visa in Indonesia can cost you $30 a day. Not good. When I applied for my visa, I wanted a 60 day visa, plus I entered overland. This is called a 211 visa which cannot be easily extended. This meant lots of time spent on the internet, trying to find out how it could be done a where. It turned out that it could possibly be extended, however I would need a sponsor, preferably, because I hadn’t used a sponsor before, who should be a person who lives in the area where you are applying for the visa. Now, being a cheapskate, as everyone will tell you, I call it being careful with money, looked to doing this myself. I soon learnt that this could be a lengthy process, taking at least 4 visits to the immigration, one of which had to be accompanied by the sponsor, and extend over 8 days. the immigration mob were not close by. It all seemed too hard. I could of course use a visa agent and pay up to 4 times more. Bad enough that the visa application was like $70. However, after much searching of the web I managed to contact a visa agent who said he could help. I bowed to common sense. So then to the sponsor. Luckily I had Adam, who had helped me so many times before, He agreed to be the sponsor. The visa agent emailed my the forms he had to fill in. Well it should have been easy. I copied the pdfs onto a stick and went forth to find a photocopying service. This was easy, just up the road. Problem came about because I had used an apple Macbook Air and they used Microsoft. Compatible No. So back to my computer save the file as a Word doc and have another go. This time success. So that whole process took up the majority of Tuesday. So I didn’t get to use the bike. Come evening I hit the cafe and made contact with a few more bikers who all had the take photos of me with them and we had some good conversations even without Bintang. I think I am beginning to have more Indonesian facebook friends than Australians. There are some crazy dudes over here.

Wednesday arrived and I was determined to use the bike and get away from administration work. I had read some stuff about the sights of Surabaya, one of them being the Buddhist temples of what was once Chinatown. I also had to check out the post Office situation in order to send off my visa Application for Pakistan. Both places were in generally the same direction. Be nice to kill two birds in one day. The bike had arrived with an empty reading on the fuel gauge, so had to fix that. Upon riding to the petrol station the bike was hard to control. Initially I thought it was just how little light bikes behaved on not so smooth surfaces. Soon came to the conclusion that the front tire was lacking pressure. Turned out to be half the required pressure. First the Post Office situation. I’m trying to use google maps to navigate my way. However, every time I would check it would seem the location had moved. Some of the main drags in Surabaya are one way with an impenetrable medium strip, so if you make a wrong turn you can go for miles before turning around. By that time you are lost again. I passed a big Mall and decided I should have a coffee. Now it was like ten in the morning, but that doesn’t mean that the shops are open and things are operational. It was at least 10;30 before I was able to get a coffee. Having enjoyed my Resto in air conditioned comfort, did I mention that it has been at east 38 degrees c for the last few days or probably weeks, I decided the post office could wait. So I am heading out of the mall and I spy a sub branch of the post office. Nothing to lose. Give it a try. No one, actually neither of them spoke English, however, we did with a bit of google translator help, find out that they had never sent any letters to Australia, much less one that had to be registered post. Another dead end. Stuff it, I would check out the Temples. Had I been looking for the shipping terminal I would have found it. Temple no. Surabaya is a very large city and I had traversed it from one end to the other on my little bike with great dexterity I thought. However, it was becoming a long day and I still had to get back to my digs, and my phone and its accompanying google maps was fast running out of charge.  It took one and a half hours but I managed to find my way back with 3% of charge remaining. Made a mental note to retrieve my back up power supply from the bike panniers. That evening I got directions from the boys at the cafe where the closest post office was.

Thursday turned out to be a bit of a lost day and unfulfilled promises. So I wont go into it.

By Friday I decided I had to something about the Pakistan visa. Pakistan needs a few extra documents than most to go with a visa application. 6 months of bank certified statements, a Letter of Introduction from someone in Pakistan, an itinerary and locations you intend to visit. I was putting all my documents together when I noticed that the passport number on the letter of introduction was not the same as the number in the passport I was sending with the application. ( I have two passports. The second I acquired specifically so that I could apply for this visa from overseas and still hang onto the first). I had brought this letter with me on a memory stick, and had already been and had a photocopy done to send away. So I had to change the  passport number in a PDF file on my apple. At home with all my graphics programmes on Microsoft, it would have been a breeze. I think it took me about 2 hours, but done it was and a new photocopy made. You can’t have any mistakes on visa applications especially when I am not going to be there in person to correct any. The plan is to send the application to Rebecca in Kempsey who would send it to the embassy in Sydney. They would hopefully issue the visa,( this can take 4 weeks) stamp the passport and return it to Beck. Then when I know where I going to be Beck can forward it on to me. I don’t recommend this course of action. But I had, I surmised, no other way to go about it than to get to Pakistan 6 months after I left home. Took me a month just to get to Darwin and now a month stuck in Surabaya. Had I got it before I left home I would not have had any chance of making it to Pakistan within the 6 months requirement. With that done I hopped on my little bike and headed for a different major Post Office the location of which I obtained from the boys in the cafe. The 3.5 km ride took me a good 40 minutes, glad I wasn’t in a car. The girls there, and it took 3 of them, eventually worked out what I wanted and how to do it. I’m really hoping they got it right. On the way back I found an adventurers shop and picked up a little gas stove. The little metho burner I had brought with me was taking way way to long to boil a pot of water to be practical. Now I can boil the water for my early coffee in no time at all. Very important. More weight for the bike to carry but worth it. Also picked up another half dozen cans of Bintang. As the day, and it had taken me all day, came to an end it was back to the cafe for my daily soto ayam.

Saturday 17th September 2016

I had to go somewhere or go nuts so decided I would try and navigate to the Island of Madura. This is large island to the North of Surabaya across the Madura Straight. Connected to the mainland by the Suramadu Bridge which is the longest bridge in Indonesia at 5.4Kms.

the bridge

the bridge

I got there and headed over the bridge. This crossing was not fun. The bridge has two lanes in each direction plus an emergency lane and a dedicated lane for motorcycles in each direction. While the vehicle lanes are normal bitumen, the motorcycle lanes, just wide enough to pass another bike are made of what appears to be removable concrete slabs 1200X900mm laid not very evenly. So the 5.4kms along this skinny fenced lane, on a bike with little suspension left, was not very enjoyable to me. Looking down to the water, even from a height of 146meters, it was still very evident as to the scale of pollution that continues unchecked in this part of the world On the other side of the bridge is a very long straight road initially bordered by hundreds of stalls selling all sorts of paraphernalia. After many kms of riding I reached the town of Bangkalan. Nice town not the masses on traffic you get in Surabaya, so I stopped at a small cafe, ordered chicken and fries and got chicken and rice, pretty normal, and then pedalled my way back to base. If I go back to Madura I think it will need to be on a bigger bike.

Sunday 18th September 2016

Armed with a better knowledge of Surabaya and it’s traffic conditions I still wanted to find the Chinese temples. Today I had more luck. Within half an hour I was in the vicinity of the temples, however, due to a few new roads and a few old ones being ripped up to enlarge the roadside drainage system, I could see a temple but I couldn’t, via google maps, get to it Tried going through some waste land only to find a channel blocking my path. Sat in the shade of a tree on some rarely seen grass and watched the workers rack up the leaves along a new estate road. Concrete pavers seem to be the way to go on some of the privately built roads. I finally deduced that the Temples and what must have been part of Chinatown was now a “pay to get in” recreation and theme park. Now I was a bit early so the Sunday crowd hadn’t arrived as yet. There were some new attractions which are not yet open and some old ones like the drag strip, which I doubt is used as such anymore, as the spectator stands are just a crumbling ruin. I wandered into the recreation area of the park which bordered onto the waterfront to view one pagoda style temple. I found this to be totally empty and all locked up. The expansive grounds surrounding it looked like there hadn’t seen any upkeep for a long time.

pagoda temple

pagoda temple

From there I wandered along the canopy covered waterfront past all the food vendors preparing for the visiting thong and the ladies doing aerobics to load music. Children driving around in minute electric cars and bikes and fending off touts wanting me to do a little boat ride out into the plastic infested water. It was cooler here and the breeze was coming off the water, so it was a good time to have a coffee. There were more temples to find and I did. The  Sanggar Agung Temple or Hong San Tang was only started in 1999. Built on reclaimed land it is a temple for Buddhist, Tao and Kong Hu Cu followers.



Sanggar Agung Temple (meaning:- a great place)


love these incense candles


The heavenly gate

Whilst the design is of a more modern design , the darkened interior still evokes that feeling of reverence  and stillness. The gateway from the water side the Guan Yin statue that just stand on the east side of the temple has a height of 18 meters. It is accompanied with 2 bodyguards Shan Nan and Tong Nu and the four god kings who guard the four corners of the world. A heaven gate under Guan Yin’s feet is guarded by a pair of Heavenly dragons 6 meters long.img_0789

Couldn’t help myself, the infested waters around the temple

Wonder if there is a "clean up Java" week

Wonder if there is a “clean up Java” week

Directly across the road is the imposing Phra Phrom Stupa, the biggest in Indonesia and covered in 24 carat gold paper imported from Thailand at cost of 1.5 billion rupiah. The Stupa is surrounded a by park of about 1.5 acres with trees and four white elephant statues of four meters high in every corner of its yard.

Phra Phrom Stupa

Phra Phrom Stupa

prayer house

prayer house

Whilst scouting around I couldn’t find any more temples to check out, However, I did find  the Surabaya annual cock fighting competition. I was under the impression this practice had been banned. What has been banned is the “real” cock fight where the cocks fight until one is dead. The other illegal bit is the gambling or gaining profit from cock fighting. Competitors come from all over Java. I’m not really into cock fighting but still being inquisitive, I decided to check it out. Paid my $5 ticket entry and joined the excited throng of men and boys. The competition area consisted of many many fighting rings about 2 meters in diameter and 600mm high made from 2 layers of thick rubber matting inside which the cocks would do battle. One person would handle the timer and another the scoring. The whole thing was so like a boxing match. The cocks behaviour was similar to human boxers. They would stand opposing each other sizing up their foe, taking their time, a few exploratory pecks, a jump and thrust. they even used delaying tactics like laying their neck across the others neck and shoulders so he couldn’t get to him. It had so much in common with human boxers it was freaky. These birds outside the ring are washed and cleaned and injuries attended to. The fight is stopped if it is evident that one cock is way better than the other. Some are worth more than $2000. The prize on the day was a small motorbike. What I found to be the most amusing part of this whole thing was the excitement and antics of the owners and supporters.  It’s strange that we can watch men get into a boxing ring or a football field and smash each other about inflicting bodily injuries and possible brain damage, and that OK, but when we look to cock fighting we deem it not OK. I must admit that after a while I grew tired of the whole scene and left. I did come away with some rather blurred photos.img_0808img_0811

Friday 23rd September 2016

It’s been 3 weeks since the crash and still waiting for parts. No idea when they may arrive. Had a few days of frustration with things just not happening fast enough or not happening at all. However, some positives in the last few days include, managing to defer my journey across Myanamar, which was booked for the end of November, will now be at the end of December. This will allow me to maintain my original itinerary which included Cambodia and Laos. My great friend Beck has posted off a helmet visor I purchased online which was lost in the accident, Bell helmet aren’t available in Java. Sent away my Visa application for Pakistan to Beck also, she will submit it to the embassy in Sydney and have it returned to her. If successful, (and that’s a big if), she will send it back to me when I know where I may be at the time. Pakistan visas can sometimes take weeks to process and have to be applied for in the country of residence, hence the work around. I have engaged a visa agent to extend my visa for another 30 days in Indonesia as my original 60 day visa runs out on the 8th October and with the bike not yet on the road, I didn’t have a hope of making it to Medan from where I have to ship the bike to Malaysia by that date. So that involved a ride on the little bike down to Sidoarjo on Friday. That mostly went well and I should have my passport and visa back by next Thursday. It does require a visit to immigration next Monday or Tuesday to have some photos taken. My Polish friends Gregory an Alice were declined an extra extension and had to fly to Singapore and back to Bali, in order to get a new 30 day visa, and I didn’t really want to go though that. The visa agents fee was AU$150, so not cheap, but if it works, what the —–. Don’t think the man that ran into me would consider that it was his responsibility to reimburse me on this one. I continue to run into crazy bikers at the SotoKoya cafe, which has become the “cafe of choice” for my main meal of the day. The latest friend I have acquired is a real case, always laughing and creating merriment for all, he goes by the name of Albert (the Simpson watcher). Albert is currently completing his thesis in mechanical engineering before taking over the management of his father coal mine in Kalimantan (Burma). Albert and the rest of the mob keep me entertained and my spirits up each day. And I thank them all for that. Albert will tell you he learnt English by downloading every episode of the Simpsons.

Albert the Simpson watcher

Albert the Simpson watcher

So as I said in the last few days I have managed a few positives and everything will eventually be back on track.  I haven’t mentioned  that I met and engaged with the first white people I have seen since coming to Java today. That was a bit of a Wow moment.

Monday 26th September 2016

Having checked the web for sights to see in Surabaya, I found that the “best park in Asia” was not to far from my “home”. So come Sunday morning I headed out to check it out. I probably got there around 9:00 am. This was Sunday, so it was “family day” in Surabaya. The streets around the park had been closed off to traffic and had been taken up by every manner of food and merchant stalls. After risking a sausage on a stick I made my way to  the park. The park itself takes up a square block. Many many families had descended on the park. With tiled footpaths it was an ideal spot for the young children, with their new skates, to practice their skills. There were areas for skate boarding, children’s playground events area and a few water fountains. There were even some grassed areas but you weren’t allowed to walk on them. Pity it would be a rare experience for some of these city dwellers. The centre of the park had been walled off and was devoted to a holly cemetery containing some very old Moslem graves. I was escorted through this area by a young man who had sat next to me, after I had finally found a place to sit. During the conversation I had asked him what was behind to wall so he offered to show me. Like all these places they could use a little more maintenance. After a few more chats and photos were taken I figured I had seen this park and all it had to offer and headed back to find my bike. By this time it was about 10:00am. I was amazed that all the food and merchant stalls had packed up and gone. When I got to where my bike had been parked (30c fee) it wasn’t there. Despite the steering lock being on it had been moved 30 meters down the road and put with all the other bikes that were remaining after the mass of people and their bikes had departed.

With the month coming to a close and heading toward October the weather is changing. Whilst up till now I have encountered little rain. In the last week we are now getting the build up of heavy clouds and thunderstorms during the afternoons. So by the time my bike is fixed they will be getting more frequent. One of those things I was trying to avoid when I planned my departure from Australia and itinerary through Asia. So come the afternoons I tend to head back to safety at the cafe or bike shop. Traffic plus rain is a bit too much.

The food situation over here is a bit different. The  whole city is dotted with what we would call convenience stores only these are a bit better stocked. They are called Indomarts or Aflamarts is another one. I manage to purchase my basics at these shops every day. Mainly stuff for breakfast because I can’t wait till 10:00am when everything opens. My basics include water, coffee, milk, juice, bananas, bread, margarine, jam and peanut butter. I haven’t  found any vegemite and the cereals are all centred towards chocolate flavours. So if you like your food with sugar, chocolate or chilli you are well catered for. I don’t so I’m not. The staff are alway friendly and helpful. Most packages are smaller than we might find at home and food is generally cheaper. It was interesting to go into some of the bigger supermarkets in the malls. Here the choice is not much different. One product can take up 2 meters of shelf space. It’s bizarre. All labelling of course in Indonesian. Takes me a while to shop.

I have been tracking my helmet visor from Aus. Managed to get to Jakarta pretty quickly, like 4 days. Then it was held up by customs for 3 days, and now it has a failed delivery next to it. So I don’t know what to do about that over here, guess I shall have to find out. In the meantime I have had word that tomorrow morning I need to make my way to the immigration office to have photos and fingerprints taken, the next step in the visa extension process.

Wednesday 28th September 2016

I had brought my helmet cam with me, however, when I had earlier tried to affix it to my helmet the clip broke and I hadn’t found another to replace it. In the cafe I had noticed one of the boys had a go pro sticker on his helmut so I asked him where I might find a replacement. No worries, just go to Marina Plaza. This plaza was’t too far away, only 20 mins. That may have been right, but google directions sometimes get it wrong. I think I was directed through every laneway and backstreet, some of them only wide enough for the bike to get through. So with many wrong turns I finally made it to Marina Plaza. This is a large complex seems to be totally devoted to electronics retailers many of them selling exactly the same thing as the one next to it. I did after some time find one small shop who sold the part I wanted. When I emerged back into the heat I was greeted with a heavy thunderstorm and had to wait 30 minutes for it to abate, as all my wet wether gear was still in my panniers. All the little bike riders over here carry light weight plastic ponchos under the seat just in case. The storm passed and it took a faster route back to the bike shop. Gega, one of the mechanics, about the only one who speaks English, was there rebuilding the engine for the third time in a week. I had mentioned to him my failed efforts in trying to get Garmin SE Asia City maps installed on my Zumo navigator.  That I had searched garmin distributors in Surabaya without any luck. I had found several garmin distributors and sent them text messages and had received no replies. Not to be deterred by this I had picked out the closest and armed with the google attempted to track them down. Did not exist. Why should I be surprised. None of the surrounding shop keepers, barrow sellers or their clients had ever heard of them. Anyway Gega had tracked down a shop that could solve my problem. Now I could have had a go at downloading it myself from Garmin for $99.00, however, I am not that good at understanding instructions written by geeks who think you should know everything they know and can therefore miss a few important steps or use words the average normal person has never heard before. Didn’t want to risk the loss of $99.00. So Gega put me on the back of a bike and we went there. All good they could do it for $25.00. That made me happy. Pick it up tomorrow. Sweet.

I was concerned that if my visor wasn’t delivered, why not? that it  would be returned to Australia. With no help from the Aust. Post tracking page, I tried to investigate the Indonesian postal service. Being all in Indonesian made that a difficult process and couldn’t get any further in my quest. All of them told me there had been a failed attempt at delivery and was returned to customs and no other detail or method of enquiry. Finally got on to an EMS tracking site, which told me like the others that it was returned to customs. There never had been an attempted delivery, and was at MPC 60900. I asked the boys at the bike shop if they had any clues about what this meant. All greek to them. So Had a go at searching google. I found a blog of sorts that gave me an address and phone number. Tried the phone several times without any luck. So I had the address to which meant I would have to go, with the help of google maps, and hope I found the place and see if they had my visor.  After A few minor route adjustments I found the postal delivery centre which also housed the customs office. After being directed from one office to another and then back to the first. One kind sir informed me that they had the visor, however, they were holding it because there was customs duty still owing on it. So how was I to have known this. Anyway, after being stamped by one office, paying the $10.00 at another and retrieving the parcel at another, I finally had my helmet visor. Best thing was that it was the right one. My eyes and face will be pleased. Back at the bike shop all the boys thought it hilarious that I should have spent so much money just to get a visor for my Bell helmet. They are probably right.

Saturday 1st October 2015

Friday had found me flat on by back seeking refuge in my darkened air conditioned room waiting for the pills to work on a migraine I had awoken with. Who knows why these things grab me when they do, It’s probably stress related. I had been informed the day before by Gega who had talked to Marten who in turn had talked to BMW in Jakarta, that the parts had not yet reached Singapore. They then had to get to Jakarta and on to Surabaya. So From Singapore to Surabaya, at couple of hours flight, was going to take a week. And why had it taken three weeks and not even made it to Singapore. Probably because nobody, bar me, gives a shit how long it takes. Worse thing it that no one can give you an explanation as to why it can take 5 weeks to get from Germany to here. If it was the same for airline travellers I feel the airlines would go broke in a hurry. Like 50 years ago, when my cousins went by sea on cruise liners to England, it only took six weeks. Am I having a moan ….I  probably am.  Each successive day we are having more rain. That will probably slow my progress a little more. I guess the fact that I have absolutely no control or influence in this whole process is my main problem, and despite me be being a rather “she’ll be right” type, I am starting to get a bit paranoid that it won’t. It’s just gone on too long. “Well had it been a Honda or a Suzuki or a Kawasaki”  Yeah right. Just thought that BMW could have done a bit better. Enough of that, it’s not helping. Sometimes when you write things down they no longer run around inside your head. That’s the hope. Just have to adopt a religious “blind faith” attitude. Saturday was a new day and I had to get out of the hole, that’s mentally and physically. I had been told of a Museum and factory where there still had girls hand rolling cigarettes. So despite threatening clouds and with the mostly trusty google maps I headed out through the increasing frantic morning rush hour traffic in search of the House of Sapoerna. Got there before opening time and waited in the shaded courtyard checked out the couple of Rolls Royces on display. This is probably the cleanest and best maintained “tourist site” I had encountered in Java. A private concern with free entry and even free parking. The Museum pretty much follows the rise of the business from a simple barrow vendor to becoming Java no.1 cigarette producing enterprise. Pretty nice story. From an upstairs area devoted to selling souvenirs, you can watch the hundred or so girls at their rolling machines producing a cigarette every 5 seconds and probably going mental in the process. These a then taken to be cut and packed. I really cannot imagine how they can work at this frantic pace all day.

Upon leaving I found a convenient spot on the side of the narrow road to reset my Google for the ride back. Just ahead of me I observed a old woman begging, sitting on her haunches, propped up against a vacant barrow stand. She had one arm outstretched and resting on her knee holding a plastic disposable cup. Her other arm was supporting the first. It became obvious that she was blind. I paused there  for a good while, curious to see the response she was receiving from the passing traffic. It was only a narrow street with little traffic, mostly motorbikes. She probably took up this position every day. Many people did pause on their journey to drop small coins into her cup, even one local ventured from his house across the road to give an offering. The problem I always have when confronted with others in such dire straights is that I start to feel bad. Can you hate yourself for being so lucky and not being able to help enough? There is so much social injustice in the world. This poor soul has no other option but to carry on doing what she is doing in order to survive. So if you’re feeling like your life is tough, it isn’t. If you were blind and squatting on the side of a filthy street in the back blocks of Surabaya with a cup in your hand depending on people’s generosity for your next meal, your life would be tough. So remind me next time I start complaining about my lot…please.

On by ride back I too felt the need or probably more a want for food so at passing yet another huge mall and acquiring the right entry point. I searched for something. The mall, however, was very new and very upmarket and very few shoppers, so I didn’t get any food. What I did get was a gash in my forehead, sustained as I tried to walk through a floor to ceiling wall of glass. The glass fought back and threw me to the floor much to the amusement of the young staff in some of the nearby shops. I didn’t feel too much like laughing. Where were the safety strips embossed into the glass? Safety in Java? I must be joking. I crawled off into a corner to address and assess my injuries. I’m thinking ” I know I didn’t give that poor beggar enough.”

The day was not half over and it wasn’t raining so time for another exploration. This time it was to be to the east Surabaya. One of the supposed attraction of this city in a bamboo garden built on a previous rubbish dump. Not sure about the previous bit. If you call rows of bamboo a garden then its a garden, but not avery big one and only one variety of bamboo. Needless to say I was some what underwhelmed. Adjoining the bamboo garden is another garden in you could say it’s development stage. Didn’t see a lot of ongoing development. I guess it’s the idea that counts. Here are some pics anyway.

this is what you get when you use local water supply for a white rock water feature

This is what you get when you use the local water supply for a white rock water feature.Toilet bowls often acquire the same colouring.


some of the rows of bamboo


Part of the developed garden



Monday 3rd October 2016

Yesterday had ben a washout, with heavy rain overnight and during the morning. Not long after lunch I received a call from Albert inviting me to join him at the cafe. He and the boys of the 250 CBR club had been for a burn up over on Madura. So the rest of the day found us and many others watching bike races on Fox. Come evening we shared some pizza and nasi Goering.

pizza eaters

pizza eaters

Wednesday 5th October 2016

On Monday, in order to stave off the my increasingly depressive mood, I settled on a ride up to the Hero’s Monument and Museum. This monument celebrates the 21day battle which ended Surabaya”s victory over the attempted capture by the the allies, English and Dutch, after the surrender and retreat of the Japanese at the end of WW II.  The grounds surrounding the monuments are impeccable  with well kept gardens and  maintained lawns and parade ground. The museum is housed underground. I was one of only a few visitors at that time, so I soon had the full tour with one of the guides. He was a young man, spoke good English and with only 3 days on the job was very enthusiastic. Whilst not a huge museum the exhibits were interesting and varied.

president Sukarno and deputy

president Sukarno and deputy


Hero’s monument

On a few occasions the police have signalled me out of the the mass of riders, not to caution me of fine me, but to make sure I knew where I was going and give me direction and I suspect practice their English. While a lot have people have some English skills, learnt in school and college, few have been able to practice with English speaking visitors. Surabaya is definitely not a tourist destination.

That afternoon I went to see a doctor, no, not for a prescription of antidepressants, but, in regard to some sores that have emerged since I hit Java. The doctor gave me a few pills and referred me to a specialist. In as much as he wrote down an address. Doctors visitation  fee and pills, $3.50.

Having spent Tuesday morning doing a load of hand washing, catching up on blogs, facetime and messages, the planned afternoon was to be going to see the dermatologist. Seemed easy, just down the road away. While google maps and directions are good, it does have a few problems when it comes to the curious road system in Surabaya, which is off this planet. Some roads are 12 lanes wide, with gaps to move from one 3 lane section to another. Other gaps where you can do U turns and off course intersections. Turning right often entails going further along the road to a u-turn, retracing your route while negotiating 3 lanes to get to the left and then turning left on to the road you originally wanted to turn right into. Some of little roads and laneways can be a concern as google will sometimes reroute you through laneways you would never drive a car through. Today was one of those problem navigation days. I had given myself an hour to do a 20 minute ride. After an hour and a half when I finally got to my destination it was past the time for my appointment. I was hot, frustrated and not very happy. The traffic on the way back, being rush hours, was torturous. 10 minutes at a time parked in traffic getting suffocated by exhaust fumes emitted by the literally hundreds of bikes and cars surrounding you with no way out. Not what you would call fun. Between each row of cars at least 2 lanes of bikes. If you leave any room a bike will soon fill the void. crazy stuff. I know for sure that my respiratory system is taking a hit as well as my eyes. My ear wax has even turned black. The cars on the roads always drive slower than the bikes to allow for the frenetic antics of the motorcycles. It’s pretty wild out there.

I had found another hospital with a dermatology department which, when checking out the doctors schedule inferred that there would always be a doctor on duty. So on Wednesday I headed out, in the opposite direction to the day previous, to find this hospital. I had the same  navigation problems and eventually gave up on the voice directions and just used the map. Still an effort due to the road rules. However, in time I arrived. Waited, and was eventually told that there were no doctors on duty that day and would have to return tomorrow at 10am. I’ll try a different route then I feel. So it was back to the bike shop to see if there had been any developments in the parts saga. There wasn’t. Everyone seemed to to think the fault lay with the BMW dealership in Jakarta. The boys at the bike shop admitted to being very embarrassed over the whole  thing and as a result did not want to talk about it.  Only been 4 weeks since the order was supposedly placed with BMW in Germany.

There was a knock on my door that night by the management of the boarding house and his wife with a bill for my next 2 weeks rent. It should have been the minimum 4 weeks except that Alfred had helped with  the negotiation a few nights earlier. There goes another $150 the man should be paying, fat chance of that happening. After all “this is Indonesia”.  Also got a third extension on my bike rental with Jen, a highly agreeable guy from “Rental Bike Surabaya”. He gave me a discount.

a few CBR 125 outside the cafe

Saturday 15th October 2016

My apologies for not having updated for a week and a bit. I have not been in the best frame of mind and my blog would have been hard to understand without removing all the swear words.

Last Thursday week, like the 5th, I think, I did get to see the dermatologist at the Husada Utuma Hospital. After checking out the funny bumps on my arm and both legs, the option was given as to whether I wanted her to remove them using CO2 laser. In reality the option was if I wanted to part with nearly $400.00. If not removed they could turn nasty. They were already quite sore. So yes, the way to go. It wasn’t so bad, took a while, and left four bloody deep holes in my body, and a big hole  in the wallet…. OUCH.  I left with the pills and the patches and the creams and instructions not to get them wet and to return on Monday to have an inspection.

For some reason, the next day, Friday, I was confined to my bed. I can only explain the symptoms as flu like. I could hardly move a muscle and had a ripping headache with a bout of diarrhoea later on in the day. I didn’t know what to think. “Foreigner found dead in downtown Surabaya Kos of mysterious causes”. It was not a good headline nor a good day.

Monday saw a return the the hospital to have my surgery checked and dressings changed. The last few days had seen a lot of rain and today was no exception. I got to try out my new rain smock and riding through the traffic in the rain. The large puddles make riding “interesting”. I arrived safely and parked the bike in the bike park. Saw the doctor and collected more bits from the dispensary. Another $60. Don’t know how the poorer people of Surabaya manage hospital treatment as there doesn’t seem to be any government sponsored health system. I may be wrong.

Where did I put my bike again?

Where did I put my bike again?

With no where left in Surabaya I really wanted to explore. Plus the every looming threatened storm clouds. Plus my increasing anxiety with the bike parts and the diminishing time left on my Indonesian visa. My days turned into  routine of breakfast. sponge shower, as a couldn’t get my dressings wet, do a bit of washing and hang it on the balcony, answer any mail. By this time, around 10, the businesses had started to open, and  I would find myself having coffee over at Sotogo. Then I would head next door to the bike shop to see if any word had come through on the parts. It was now almost 7 weeks in Surabaya and I was getting a bit paranoid. Thoughts of extortion, fraud, corruption, getting me and my bike back home, my brain was going balistic. I had managed to talk to BMW Jakarta and to Martin the bike shop owner, however, neither could or would explain to me fully why an order which which should have arrived in 4 weeks max, had now taken over seven weeks and no sign of it. I was told by BMW that on Wednesday or Thursday the parts had reached Singapore. I had been told this before so I didn’t put much faith in this report either. By the afternoon, after watching the boys do their magic on different bikes, I would retire to my Kos as deflated as ever, with no light issuing forth from the end of the tunnel. Invariably come 3 or 4 in the afternoon “my saviour” Albert would call to let me know he was a Sotogo and why wasn’t I there. Time to forget my woes and laugh the evening away with Albert and the other mad idiots that come and go from Sotogo cafe.

Saturday 15th October 2016

After going through the usual routine, I walked into the bike shop to be greeted by a smiling Marten, phone in hand which he immediately passed to me. There on the phone was a photo of the illusive parcel containing my parts. They had finally turned up in Jakarta. I think  Marten was as relieved as I. With any luck the parts would turn up in Surabaya on Monday. At this stage I have all my fingers and toes crossed in the hope that all the parts are there and that they fit my bike. So the anxiety, although lessened has not disappeared. Of course it all has to go back together properly, a task which I would find so daunting as to  be impossible. Having watched the boys at the bike shop, I have no doubt that it is probably just a walk in the park for them.

Parts turned up at last on Tuesday.



With all the other parts that had been “straighted” or repired. The mechanic was into it andI was there watching. It took more that a day and work continued on Wednesday. After quite a bit of work the forks were finally aligned and all the bits amazing back together and everything working beautifully. The mechanic was amaziing.

The boys from Sotogo had to check it out. Did a few front and rear wheel stands and as stunt riders I figured they knew a bit about bike. They gave it the thumbs up, so I was fairly confident.

That night they all seemed to gather at the cafe to give me a farewell. I was completely overwhelmed by their friendship and concern. After much jocularity and horsing about I had to go. That seemed to be a signal for about an hour of photos and hugs and handshakes and more photos. All of which seems to get loaded to Instagram during the next few hours. I guess I’m not used to such relatively new friends showing so much caring. Broke me up.


Some of the crazies

So the next morning I was with much joy but also a lot of regret that I packed the bike and headed out of Surabaya knowing that I will never return and probably never get to see those crazy generous bastards again.


Now there are a massive amount of really great Indonesians and there are some that are not. Unfortunately due my accident I had to deal with a few of them.                                                       Let me start with Mr Muhammad the idiot who neglected to turn the bend and run into me. At the scene of the accident he originally claimed the the car he was driving was rented but wouldn’t produce any proof of this. Rentals usually carry insurance. At the police station he had very lengthy discussions with the police. What eventuated from those discussions was that he was not at fault and that it was just an accident (hence no charges for negligent driving were made). He would pay to have the bike repaired to it’s pre-accident condition and pay for my accommodation. This was a trade off for not being charged. Did money change hands at this point. I’d say probably. I had the assurances from the interviewing officers that they would impounded his smashed vehicle until I returned to Batu with a fully repaired motorbike. at his expense the bike was ferried to Subabaya, not before I was approached by his son and daughter-in-law in an attempt to convince me to have the bike repaired in Batu. Upon our arrival at SSM MOTO we met with the next conspirator in this saga. His name was Marten the owner. Having looked at the bike and conferring with Mr Muhammad and Adam it was agreed to be able to fix the bike. then comes the question of my accommodation. the boys and Adam check about for possibilities and returned with the place a stayed in. I even by that time was feeling sorry for this sad f##k and paid for some of the first month’s rent. A this point the repairs were only going to take 3 weeks.

Well the bike was dismantled fairly quickly come Monday morning. Then the next bit of bullshit started. Mr Marten had a fellow Chinese friend in Jakarta who could get BMW parts via someone else in Singapore, circumventing the BMW dealer in Jakarta. Now the broken or bent pieces were considerable. Front axle, front  brake disc, front forks, triple steering heads, handle bars, review mirror. front, two side and one rear cowlings, Lamp and instrument housing, head lamp protector and pannier bracket. Bloody lot of money had they replace it all a new which was supposed to be the deal. It then took 4 or 5 days to negotiate with Mr Muhammad and the guy in Jakarta to come up with how much it would all cost. Did money change hands here, ….definitely. The only parts that were order new was the inner tubes for the forks, the lamp and instrument housing and the front cowling. The rest were either straightened or plastic welded. During this time of course I was told nothing, couldn’t communicate with Mr Marten and the boys in the shop were avoiding me. Then the money had t be handed over by Mr M and transfered to Jakarta and then transferred to Singapore and then to Germany before any parts could be sent. A time consuming process. Now I had been assured that the parts were coming from BMW in Jakarta (they lied) After a couple of weeks I was starting to wonder what was going on. When I couldn’t get any answers from SSM I contacted BMW in Jakarta. They told me that they hadn’t ordered any parts from Germany recently. I then talked to BMW in Germany they reiterated that they had not sent any orders to Jakarta. What’s going on. I called in Adam to have a chat to Mr Marten. He came back with assurances that he parts had definitely been ordered. Just had to wait. The rent ran out and I had to pay for another 2 weeks. I had exhausted all my options I just had to wait. The parts did eventually turn up and the bike was put back together. I wasn’t happy with all the bent parts they had used in the rebuild but I couldn’t do anything. Mr Muhammad turned up and produced a document he wanted me to sign. Turned out to be one from his insurance company. Lying bloody prick. Everyone in this deal had made or saved money at the expenses of my time and safety. It wasn’t over, the cops back at Batu had released his car before my return. Probably part of the original deal. Wonder how much he paid the cops. Bastards.

They were all BASTARDS, LOW LIVES. The rich have no morels. I think that is probably a world wide condition.

3 thoughts on “Surabaya, East Java

  1. Dan

    Hey Dad, good to hear the parts arena Jakarta. i was going to write and say ‘Remember the old blind lady begging in the street and that you have no right to get despondent’, but hopefully that won’t be necessary now.
    i’m looking forward to the next exciting chapter of this adventure! interested to see if you’ll catch up to any of the other riders from Oz too.
    Cheers, D

  2. Toms

    Great adventure sir..
    Enjoy surabaya.
    We never meet before but. You have meet with my best friends albert, dani, hendra n the others

    I’d loves your story.
    Hope we meet before you start your journeys again

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