March 11, 2007 GMT
Indonesia - Java

I made it from Sumatra to the Puncak Pass in one go and camped with some birdwatchers. What is the deal about bird-watching I asked, and their eyes got big and wet and they licked their lips andÖ well, certainly bird-watching turned them on. I donít get it. On a personal note Iím more into bird-listning. Indeed there are many odd sounds around here. E.g. in Sumatra I received a lot of SMSís Ė I thought Ė but it was a bird blaring exactly like a Nokia. Better yet, the second day in Java I was woken up by a rooster yelling the theme song from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Was it for me? I donít know, but I felt kinda tough when I rode out of town on my iron horse.

The only structure left on Pangandaran beach
I arrived Pangandaran, a small beach town the size of Harstad, with a broken clutch cable and a blister on my butt. A few months ago the town was hit by a three meter wave traveling at a speed of 400 km/h and killing nearly a thousand of its people (the second tsunami which they did not write much about in the West). Despite the total obliteration of the seafront I was able to find accommodation a few minutes away, in the garden of an old hippie. Very nice guy! My plan was to finish a case with my studies, and the hippie offered to help. I said thanks but no thanks and explained that BI Nettstudier regard case-writing under the influence of LSD as cheating. Then the night came and I could not sleep because of a frog that sounded like a car that would not start. You know an engine turning in vain, then a two second pause before trying again. Now, imagine this going on for hoursÖ I was praying that the frog would run out of battery. Of course it didnít.

Hmm, tough choice
After a wonderful 400k day along the south coast I opted for a frog-free night in Pacitan, but the guy at the reception was high on something and it wasnít something good. So I placed my bet on a wildcard; that the day would end wherever fate had in stock for me. I do that sometimes. This particular day the sun set as I drove into Panggul, and I was immediately Ė immediately as in less than a minute Ė highjacked by the local doctor. And that is how a two day drinking binge with karaoke, grilled lobsters and beach touring started (to mention a few things). Dr. Suhartono is a hot candidate for the most entertaining man alive. Panggul is yet to be discovered by tourism, but his pioneer friend Flo from Montana is about to change all that by erecting a fabulous guesthouse by the beach.

Dr. Suhartono, his pioneer friend Flo, and their shy neighbor
The rumor was that the usual road to Cemoro Lawang, Javaís number one village for volcano spotting, was closed due to a landslide. Hence in Malang I got a tip about a 4x4 trail from the west side of the mountain. After a 2000 meter climb on a bewildering network of narrow and slippery brick roads I found myself in the clouds. Thus I couldnít see much, so when uphill turned to downhill I was happily unaware of what I was driving into. And bloody hell, the volcano was active too. The moon-like landscape and the ghastly smell of sulfur made me assume a thing or two about my situation, and the oh-shit-feeling didnít lessen by the increasing wind that erased all evidences in the ash showing a way to a drivable exit.

The moon
While I searched for an escape some hefty weather hammered the mountain and - as I later would see for myself - ripped the roof tiles of several houses in Cemoro Lawang. Rain came in buckets, the basin became a pool of mud, and I was about to pitch my shelter on a rock using the bike as anchor when I spotted some vehicles at the edge of the crater. It was a crew of Japanese engineers giving a brand new Nissan the rough ride. They were pretty flabbergasted by the sight of a motorcyclist coming out of the volcano, and they invited me to their end-of-testdrive-party in Bali. Alright, letís go.

The new Nissan - soon available at Norbil AS

Posted by Erik Saue at March 11, 2007 09:39 AM GMT

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