Wednesday, April 8, 2015

B2B (Batam to Bintan, Indonesia) Ride Day 2 - Tg Uban to Trikora Beach, 80km.

Pic Judith

No Shady Business Here!
Our day started early. At 6am, we went in search of homemade soya bean milk at Pasar Baru. Last night's directions from our Terang Bulan Murtabak man were quite clear.
No GPS or maps required. Just a good memory and a good instinct! ....Well actually, following the motorcycles with huge rattan baskets was easier!
Breakfast was a good drowning of soya bean milk, pulut hitam or green bean congee laced with thick santan, murtabak ( this time, ban chan kueh ), bahulu, gado-gado and Nasi lemak coloured with kunyit!

We noticed a few locals here were able to speak good English!
The ride to Trikora was around 80km. We asked for directions and were pointed the opposite way. Guess we really need to specify "jalan baru" as there are 2 ways to get there.
The hills started as soon as we left Pasar Baru.
We passed by a mega big, beautiful catholic church on top of a hill.
And yet we continued to climb and climbed and climbed!!!!

Till we hit the first bridge. And yet again, we continued to climb up the steep bridge. Being the first bridge, we took a long break. Photos and more photos.
Claudine waved to the local fisherman in his boat. Bewildered, he finally waved back.
Alvin promised a drinking hole after the bridge. But, it was nought! Just a school and no more shops!
The school children were doing their morning exercise to some music. Stretched arms, reach up to the sky!
Few of them turned to see us.
Claudine waved.
A boy returned the friendly gesture.
VT remarked,"You are getting that boy into trouble for not following orders!"
After some time, we caught sight of a shop. Happy to get cold Pocari, a local isotonic drink, similar to our 100 plus. We also shared pisang monyet.
Powered with bananas and Pocari, we continued our ride again. Alvin kept egging Berenda to go at 25kph. She went into motion which made Claudine and Judith wail! Setting the ball park, everyone worked hard to keep up.

As promised by our pisang monyet shop keeper, there was a restaurant by the river, at the bridge, 3 km away. But she failed to mention it was still under construction! No feeding this time!
This 2nd bridge was not as steep and spectacular as the 1st one. And yet, phones were flicked out and snapshots made.
As we crossed the 3rd and then 4th bridge, it was obvious that all bridges in Bintan are designed by the same architect. Same design, same materials, beauty borrowed from the natural surroundings.
At one point, Alvin spoke a bit too fast. "I am glad we have left the hills behind" Famous words!
Yes, we did go on level road for a short while. Even came about a Bintan Villa Resort with hilltop chalets. We stopped there for a simple lunch of Nasi goreng and fried bee hoon. Fumigation in the process, they politely stopped when we were about to start lunch.

Now, back to famous words....
After lunch, we rode another 10 km before parting ways with YC. He was heading home via Tanjung Pinang. An annual ex-NS officers meet up! Salute for keeping their yearly pact!

Leaving YC was when the real torture began!
Steep, steeper, steepest! (Comparative adjective and superlative adjective starts to make visual sense here!)
Water shortage!
Route 66???
We did pass by some government administrative offices but they were closed for the weekend. We did pass by a school and home run 10 minutes after leaving YC. But that was as good as it gets before Judith suffered cramps.

We, troopers had no choice but to weather on. At one point, when VT and Judith, again, caught up with the team, we only have half a bottle of water among the 5 of us!
Claudine joked she sees the sea.
Alvin bantered,"It's a mirage"
Berenda called it "Tour de Bintan!"
Thankfully, relief was not far. A very cosy and shady stall by the roadside. Some wood and planks seemed hastily nailed together to make chairs and tables. Here, they sold yummy pisang goreng and tauhu sumbat cooked by wood fire. Water comes from a pail and a dipper!

The stall was busy for a small village and the people makes friendly conversation with us. They told us we only have another 3 km more to go. Yippee!
More on tauhu sumbat...this one is filled with long beans (cut fine) and tang hoon, perhaps pre cooked with seasonings. Dipped in batter, it is then deep fried.

Across the road is a beat up mini market. A fat lady sits behind the counter gawking at us the whole time with a very quiet cherubic kid. We are free to open her fridge which stank but still keeps the drinks cold. When we were ready to pay, she continued to sit where she was!
After a good rest, we bid our friendly villagers goodbye. True to fact, we soon see the ocean. Blue and clear.

At the T Junction, Berenda requests a photo stop. Meanwhile, Alvin was convinced but had to check if the right turn is correct. He left the group to confirm on his intuition.
Waiting for Alvin, VT noticed 2 young men trying to get their car out of the sand. He disapproved on their methods, parked his bike and went on to help.
Few instructions from VT, but yet it was still lodged in the sand! Bother!
Then, Alvin returned, parked his bike and ventured to help. Few instructions later...Fail!!
Deeper discussions between the older men.
This time, they got Claudine curious too! And then Judith and Berenda!
Alvin had a light bulb turned on his head. Release tyre pressure! A lesson learnt by investing USD250 on a know how!

The men went into action. Alvin on the right side, VT on the left, releasing tyre pressure. Claudine dug deep behind the wheels on Alvin's side. The young men were helping on VT's side.
Then, it was time to put the planks below the wheels, put the gear to reverse, floor it and followed by the great push! Out came the car!
All this while, Berenda and Judith were keeping our bikes safe, taking photos of the great rescue and making sure the moronic young driver do not reverse into us!
"Lima ribu rupiah!" Alvin declared!
The young men were clearly very grateful we saved their asses!
Nope! They did not pay us 5,000 rupiah. Instead, we get beaming smiles, firm handshakes and we probably get to stay in their memory forever!
Our group of Fantastic Five ventured on. Superheroes though, we had to stop few times to ask for directions.
Finally, we arrived at Shady Shack! First impression of the place is good. Pristine white beaches, clear water.

The shed which serves as a restaurant has a rustic outlook. Again, wood and planks are hastily nailed together to make chairs and tables. No sanding, scrapping or use of handplanes here, let alone lacquer or painting. The wood is left open to the elements!
For the next 24 hours, we would spend a lot of hours here as there are no shops within walking distance, no TV or wifi but just ourselves as entertainment.

Pic Judith

A deck of cards were left behind by previous travellers but there were only 47 pieces making a fair game impossible! Lots of books, mostly in foreign language are available for are never going to understand it!!!
After much resting and rehydration, a lesson on foldie for Pak Lobo, we adjourned to our rooms. Here, the anticipation for the worst begins and are compounded!
The 3 shacks for the team were adjoined by a long balcony. VT and Claudine could not access to their shacks via their broken stairs. Instead, they used Alvin's stairs.

Pak Lobo's English teacher would have complimented him on the right adjective for Shady Shack!
A polythene sheet was used to cover the floor of the shack.
The mouldy mattress with broken bed springs are covered with threadbare bedsheets. The motifs on the bedsheets were faded and dating back to the early 80's. Even VT had a shock getting into bed. In the dimly lit room, he thought the faded motifs were bloodstains of many de-flowered maidens!
There was a holey mosquito net with 2 gecko droppings. Here the mosquito nets were held up by raffia strings which we later doubled as a towel hanger!

The walls of the shack had many peep holes, making a romantic escapade impossible! No shady business here!
Not long after they entered the shack, Claudine had a stirring in her stomache. The breakfast of green bean congee fired by the Nasi Lemak's chilli sambal was creating a sensational atomic bomb in her.
Down the ladder she went. It was made up of debarked mangrove trees. The steps were wide apart. With no handrails, it was tricky to get to the toilet cum bathroom.
The toilet cover was down and there was no toilet holder let alone toilet paper. Braving herself she gingerly fingered the cover open.
"Oh Lord!" She exclaimed!
Midnight down the hole!!!!
No flush, she tried sending buckets of water down the toilet but to no avail. It was still midnight!
Having no choice, she washed the seat cover, said a silent prayer and sat down.

Pic Claudine

As she relieved the lethal concoction, she observed the roomy and breezy bathroom. A cemented tank of water, no washbasin, cemented flooring with some algae growing, no hooks nor nail to hang your clothes or towel....
She started to fume. She wanted out! At a rate of SGD35 with an add on service tax of 20%, what we had paid at Hotel Pesona on our first night would have been cheaper and more luxurious in comparison. This was also the time when Judith requested to use VT and Claudine's room for a massage and got a "prefered not to" reply. (Sorry, Judith)
After a shower, we met at the shed again for lunch. Menu was a one page laminated piece offering fried rice, fried noodle and nothing spectacular. However, this place makes the best sambal belacan in the whole of Bintan.
Alvin, Berenda and Judith then went on for their scheduled massages. Judith gave her fat, bespectacled makcik a 10/10. Makcik had located the crammed spot on her leg. Makcik even managed to work her magic on Judith's arm, now allowing her to reach for the sky!
Meanwhile, VT and Claudine spent a lazy afternoon sleeping on the beach. There were a lot of flies on the beach. With the wind so strong, they were not flying but hopping in the sand and hanging on for dear life!

After the siesta, VT decided to dig a hole to sea level. As he dug, Claudine spotted a 3mm crustacean looking creature in the sand. Baby prawn? VT claimed sea lice!
Soon, VT hit sea level. Water starts seeping into the hole. Mission accomplished!
Having done that, they decided to swim in the sea. There was a lot of floating seaweed but the thing that made them get out quickly was the rough seabed.
When we regrouped again for dinner, we quickly realized that dinner needs a bit of legwork. We retrieved our bicycles and rode out. Another power failure in the area. No street lamps.
We soon found a seafood restaurant by the kelong. Belacan fried chicken, sambal sotong, egg omelette with minced pickled radish and mix vegetables.
Another round of get together at the shed for our nightcap. Then, at just 9.30 pm, Alvin called it a night. The day at Shady Shack was just getting too draggy!
We bid each other goodnight and went into our shacks. As Claudine climbed into bed, she made a silent prayer that she does not need to use the toilet in the middle of the night.
Surprisingly, sleep came quite fast.
The door of the shack flew open. Strong wind gushed in.
Claudine screamed and started hitting and pinching VT.

Thankfully, whatever it was that had forced itself into their shack....had it been a banshee or a pontianak....had taken a look at the hot, sweaty and oily couple with distaste and left!!!

Photo Credits - Berenda C & Al

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