Sunday, 11 July 2010

SEQUEL TO SULAWESI








Since my last report from Rantapao, Leana and I left theTana Toraja highlands and dropped down the steep mountain pass to the coastal town of Palopo. From there we gradually worked our way South towards the major city of the island, Makassar. The route was scenic and fairly easy to cycle, with lots of interesting things along the way. Local produce such as coco beans and rice were, as usual, being dried at the roadside – not to mention the cloves (kretek) with their distinctive aroma. We arrived in Makassar on a Monday, only to discover that the next ship to Surabaya was on the Friday. So we looked around the city a bit, taking “becak” (cycle riksha) rides to places of interest like the old schooner harbor, traditional fish markets, and the colonial Fort Rotterdam. During that time my illness came back to me with a vengeance, and for the second time in a couple of weeks I had to drag myself out of a sick-bed and onto a hectically overcrowded Indonesian ship. Needless to say, the voyage is one which I would like to forget as soon as possible. To crown it all, half-way into the trip the ship’s engines packed up, leaving us adrift for a number of hours while repairs were carried out. As a result we only arrived back on Java-earth late at night, and had to cycle the few k’s back to our previous hotel in the dark (luckily we knew the way this time). While in Makassar we also had to renew our visa’s – a costly affair as one has to find a “sponsor” in order to be granted the extension (I think our Makassar-hostel manager makes more money from “sponsorships” than from renting accommodation). Although I’m still unwell, it’s time to move on and tomorrow we should head in the direction of Bali. Due to my illness I’m losing my hair at an alarming rate, so perhaps I’ll soon be sporting an all-new “Kojak” look. Distances cycled since my last report were:- Palopo 65 km; Larompong 81 km; Sidenreng 123 km; Pare-Pare 35 km; Pangkajene 113 km; Makassar 56 km; and Surabaya (to & from ship) 12 km. Total distance cycled so far on this journey is 59 372 km, and total so far this year is 6 644 km.

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