Looking back over the last month its been a tough grind. Perhaps the toughest segment of the entire run.
In Timor, Flores, Sumbawa the people were so friendly they drove me into the ground,I was mentally harassed by their friendliness is all I can call it. This was to be by far the poorest part of Indonesia. As in much of Indonesia so many people walk around barefooted or wear cheap shower sandals, more so here.
Kids stand in large groups shouting out Mister,Mister..I say hi but they all want their own individual acknowledgement..Then.. ” Where you going mister? ” And another round from each child or adult. I estimate around 3,000 greetings a day.
Very wearisome as the sun bakes me alive in this high humidity..
I am told temp is between 30 and 35. It seems Indonesia is made up of villages all connected up about 2 to 3km apart. One day it rained when I was running between another two villages. It was sudden and very hard.I had my camera in my arm sling, so when it rained I stupidly just pushed it under my sleeve and kept running.
Well that stretch was one of only two areas that had villages 5km apart in my first two weeks in the country.
I arrived at that place,Ngora Kego absolutely soaked,also my camera is now rain damaged. The people at a roadside eatery there let me stay the night under a roadside shelter.They were popping garlic from nuts putting the garlic nut into a leaf whip which they had tied a slot into and then whipping it against a stone, cracking the garlic nut..Very time consuming but there were five of them and they didn’t seem to have much else to do.The lady put my wet socks up against the fire to dry but the nosy dog knocked them into the fire..disaster as I am down to my last pair..Gotta give Bob at Drymax Socks a mail,he is so good.
Indonesia is a very poor country people and companies can’t afford expensive equipment and they gotta improvise. Everything from old tyre strips picked up off the road which are then used for door hinges as they are nailed into the door frame. I have rarely seen a screw usedwhere it should be, same as in Latin America – everything nailed to bits!
I have seen scaffolding made from bamboo canes also men working on roadworks with no shoes using pick axes too close to their feet for my liking.
Also several times I have seen barefoot workers mixing concrete with the concrete all over their feet .Do they not get concrete burn I wondered.
No health and safety standards enforced here.
Cheap and effective water tanks made from wooden structures with a tarp tied inside to hold the water.Indonesia has 80% of the worlds forests and yet only Brazil has more deforestation. This is a startling statistic when one considers the vastness of Amazonas.
I see people chopping down trees at will and even carpenters with large stocks of the raw material in their workshops. More than 50% of the population survive on less than $2 a day. The country reminds me of Latin America,men sitting around while the women do the work.
“Get Tony a coffee,Get him a pen” or whatever, I often feel like telling the men to get up of their backsides as you wouldn’t order a western woman around like that!
Women fetch the firewood and water while many of the men stand around in smoking groups. 75% of the male population smokes I am told. I rarely see women smoke. To my mind the cigareete companies are irresponsible with their huge banners at the side of the road, often up to ten on each side of the road welcoming visitors to a town, a bit like the finish line of the Tour de France with all the bunting. To my mind the government should not allow this. I also think the warnings on the cigarette advertisements don’t go far enough as they warn of impotency, and not cancer as far as I can see.
One woman told me it’s a womans job to look after the house, children, cook etc and a mans job to bring in the money, yet most women have to work till the day they die, no social security here. I see old men and women scaveging the dumps at the side of the road for waste, old plastic bottles to sell to the recycler. In fact I have even been asked for the plastic water bottles I carry in my hands as I run.
Everyone smokes in public places,even young kids and people standing over food they are serving. Nobody puts their hand to their mouth when coughing or sneezing. I cannot remember ever seeing a woman spit in my life in over 80 countries till I came to Indonesia where it is very common.
I continue to make decent progress.There are often no hotels in the small towns and villages,unlike in Latin America so I got to keep finding places to sleep in peoples homes giving them my few dollars. I notice the poorest of people often try handing back my money but I always insist on them taking it. I don’t know why I didn’t use this tactic in Latin America as I am sure it would have worked just as well and would have saved me all that time-consuming commuting.
I have been told not to wild camp in the forest because of the snakes.The worlds longest snake ever measured was at just under 10metres. It was found here in Indonesia.Imagine that crawling over you.The advice is to stay calm
One man told me that many people have been bitten and not known about it, as so many snake bites vary. Some snakes bite in rapid motion, you can get bitten five times and think you just got one bite, other times you will not be aware of it. The worst thing anyone can do is to run around after getting a bite!! Just because you stand on one one you wont necessarily get bitten,a bit like me standing on your toe,you may not punch me! I know I go on a bit too much about snakes in the blog, I just find them to be facinating creatures, yet baffling as one of lifes great mysteries to me is why oh why they venture out onto the road (that’s for the warmth of the tarmac which retains its warmth before they go hunting at night) when they navigate by vibrations due to being deaf. An Indonesian road, vibrates like no place on earth I can tell you. Oh! for the stillness of running in the Australian Outback at night and all of it’s ten vechicles on average, here that would take 5/10 seconds! There is no such thing as a rural countryside here in Indonesia, traffic wise as 24 hours a day it’s a constant heavy flow, like Dublin City on the last day of shopping before Christmas, that is wherever you are in Indonesia!
So I stopped at a shop one day before it rained. Again the people were nice to me as they pulled out a spare matress in a storeroom,prepared a thermos of coffee and bread for me for my breakfast obviously assuming I would be up before the lark next morning! Then they came back with a small paint can filled with kerosene and a paint brush made from the end of an old rope which was used to spread the kerosene around the edges of the walls and doorway, they worked as I looked on from my bed. This was to keep insects out, they told me. When they were finished they put the rope paintbrush into the can and used it as a wick to light a lamp, yes, on foot is the only real way to see a country frame by frame, just like the 50 frames a second in a movie, I have my frame by frame image of the world as I run it, any other means of travel is just to see the movie trailer. How else would I be in a house like this, very few people stop in places like this, cyclist perhaps the nearest but they, just like backpackers tend to go from town to town, city to city.