We are in our final days in Indonesia, and the last two weeks or so were spent in a quiet little village at an “end of the road” spot in West Java. It was a real treat that on most days, it was very peaceful with minimal traffic and not many people other than a fantastic bunch of local surfers. However, weekends quickly transformed into mayhem. One thing is for sure; Indonesians are keen on getting out of the city and enjoying some beach time on the weekends and they come in by the busloads. Rolling in the gentle surf getting covered in sand, these people know how to have good, wholesome fun… sans alcohol. Being a Muslim country, there is virtually no alcohol consumption by the locals, save for a few young locals, who might enjoy a Bintang every once in while. We feel like heathens.
We enjoyed the surf on the weekdays and embraced the weekend chaos. Last weekend, the surf conditions were not very good, so we took the motorbike out on a surf mission to find good waves. We didn’t find any waves, but we did stumble into the 2012 Indonesian Motocross Championships. Yes, we are the hipster, tree hugging surfers, but we are game for anything, and find that going to sporting events in other countries can result in some fabulous people watching and cultural experiences. From rugby tournaments in Fiji to rodeos in Mexico, we’ve seen some interesting stuff. So we arrive at the Motocross track fairly early, which is, by the way, in the middle of nowhere, over looking a beautiful stretch of coastline, and score a spot up on a rickety platform in a rubber tree. A perfect vantage point for the day.
Now in the US, professional sports usually involve a fair amount of revelry, fan antics and of course, some drinking. Not here. Indonesians, being the most quiet, polite, gentle beings, make us we feel like we are the rowdies, cheering for the riders and clapping for the winners. The place is packed, and clearly most of the spectators have come from hours away to be here, but it’s almost dead quiet, calm and orderly. Only when a rider crashes do we hear a “ohhhhh” from the crowd. From what we could tell, we were the only white people among thousands of Indonesians. When we walked through the “pit” area where the racers were set up, they all wanted to talk to us and pose with us for photos.
Our last day at the beach had small waves, so we rented inner tubes for $1 each and rolled around in the playful surf with the kids and families. Really good fun, playing with the locals in the surf even though they appear that they are indanger of sinking due to the weight of all of their clothing, including jilbabs on the girls (Muslim head scarf). West meets East with Katy in her bikini, sharing a wave with a girl in a “Burkini”. Awesome!
Yesterday as we began our multi-day overland travels to get to the Jakarta International Airport we had a layover at quite unattractive bus station along a typical busy roadway. We loaded our stuff into the bus and walked out to the highway looking for something that might help entertain us for the next two hours. After a short stroll down a motorbike path, we ended up in a little village of sorts with everyone gathered around a friendly neighborhood bout of badminton. Badminton is THE national sport here (the only athletes they send to the Olympics) and we quickly found ourselves in a heated doubles match with the owner of the badminton court and his son. Thankfully for all, they (and we) were laughing too hard to keep score. After making many new friends and working up a good sweat, we had to say goodbye and catch our bus for our next journey.
We’ve also perhaps aligned our priorities a bit better for three more months of travel. Actually, its more like we found another surfboard we just HAD to have. Katy is the proud new owner of an Indo-made 5′ 4″ surfboard that she affectionately calls “The Peanut”. She claims it called her name as she walked by. The board is tiny, suits her perfectly and she is looking forward to her getting a lot of fun waves on it in Sri Lanka. In light of this extra luggage we were able to downsize the rest of our belongings into one travel bag. With only three months left, guess we don’t really need those few extra t-shirts.
Indo has been a blast! The people really are nothing short of amazing and are some of the nicest we’ve ever met, thankfully because there sure are a ton of them. The beaches and waves lived up to our expectations and then some. When we do get back to the US, we will never take for granted our bike lanes, our parks and our quiet places, but we will surely miss the Indonesian hospitality, the “hello misters”, and the smiling faces everywhere.
We’re off to Sri Lanka to surf with the elephants!