Hi everyone pls check back to comments for more regular blog updates. thanks to Ann for posting my texts. This is the only way I can keep up to date on the blog. So when I do get to putting it into the blog I will try to edit, but as always time, keeps on slipping away! “I still got to write the Java blog but don’t want to fall further behind. Ah yes, you can see how much I rely on spell check but it’s not all my fault as I am usually typing on a small mobile keypad, tired and in the dark! Ah! excuses!
Today I pinched myself for the first time in a long time,guess I must be getting an old hand at this, or rather an old leg! Why me selected for this crazy dream..No you need not answer that:-)Yes this run is going to happen.This time next year I will be in the Germany area! And with just over 14 months to my finish line in Dublin I figured 14 months ago I was crossing from Peru to Bolivia.
Think I can do all that again and more:-) Moving up a gear now,today Aug 17th 50km on this busy road,though in the afternoon the road did widen. Am in danger of becoming the Litter Angel as I spotted a man throwing junk out of his pickup,so I picked some stuff up and threw it into the back of his pickup,and then I took his photo.
He got a bit of a shock.Yesterday an astonished man picked up his wrapper when I asked him why he threw it on the ground even though he was beside a bin.He put it in his pocket and then took it out when I showed him the bin:-) Yes I know,I need to back off as I am not on an environment crusade! 33,855km for 785 road days.
Another tough 48km day and as always busy busy. Btw the record for a family is now 6 on a motorbike.really a scooter as they are only about 100cc. I saw this family,husband and wife and 4 kids last week in Java and they proud as punch to have their photo taken! Anyway these scooters are all over the road coming from all directions.even behind as I run in the rocky shoulder,so I got to run like John Nguggi, ie arms out waving all over the place for my protection hoping they will give me a wider passing. A friend fittingly calls these bikes Japanese Dogs!
Now the road is 2 lane and like Silverstone race track. Added to this is a huge volume of trucks,buses and cars. Everyone is in a mad rush,and its a mystery to me how well it flows,They take the most dangerous risks,often with just milliseconds to spare on dangerous bends.narrow bridges, you name it.
Amazingly they are so patient in the convenience stores,which are slow slow,Typically 2 tellers but always one that stands on duty wrapping everything even a small Snickers bar or the great IQ tester an ice cream on a 35 degree day! Today I passed a poor man picking up rubbish,he was almost naked except for a skimpy cloth around his waste,still his private was showing.I called him but he ignored me,I ran back 50mts and offered him some money but with a tear in his eve he refused.They are so proud,nobody has ever begged from me. Then at rush hour when traffic was so busy with my head in a spin from all the crazy activity,a buffalo cart with another on tow pulls out onto the road! I kid you not! I laughed my head off while the man posed for my photo.I could still see the tail end of the traffic he made a buffalo of 10 minutes later
Just a bit more on today Sunday and firstly thanks so much to Fergus for his kind donation to the run which effectively sponsored my recent visa run to Singapore.Good man Fergus. The day got off to a terrible start with a long breakfast and a 2hr internet stop.
Got an email from Andre who reminded me he was the ‘young French cyclist ‘ I met in the Australian Outback.. Isn’t it great to young and be able to write from young French cyclist to the old Irish runner ) Andre tells me he is in Flores and met the Philosophical Member of Parliament I mentioned in blog. I often laugh and think about our chat about me running on the road as he says illegally, I can see him standing up in parliament saying Indonesia’s stupid law of walking with your back to traffic is the countries answer to population growth.Many scooters carry huge loads like rolls of bared wire,rebar,planks which hug the shoulder.Andre says he agrees with much of my observations. I notice here in Sumatra that the signage on the police stations is sponsored by a cigarette company and one of the logos is ‘ break the limit ‘ is that for smoking or driving, either way to my mind Indonesia is in bed with the tobacco industry.
Tonight I am staying with a family who own a petrol station. Last night I stopped at the Honda factory for the area Or Japanese Dog factory! I spotted a likely sheltered area there and the security guards made me coffee and cooked my noodles while they watched English football. Many people ask about Irish footballers Robbie and Roy Keane.. I bet they would get a lot of ‘ hey mister! ‘ here Am told no Indonesian player plays abroad yet I saw in paper Liverpool did a player exchange and one lucky Indonesian is literally escaping the rat race, I pity poor Brendan Foster on his way to Jakarta .Monday morning blues hit on the double when a rain shower hit after only 4km today.
I tend not run in the rain so I took shelter in a cafe where I had breakfast. I think I need to put a decent distance in before taking my first break of the day.This place robbed me charging at least twice normal.What I sometimes do is go into a place and hand them the normal amount asking for rice and whatever. Indonesia,and much of Asia is very like Latin America,no imagination,rice and chicken.
No chicken supreme or anything like that or pasta but here at least you can get noodles.The rice is prepared in a rice making appliance,unlike Peru where all cooking was a stick fire or gas cooker.Today I saw a school bus,a mini bus which was crammed and even had 7 young boys,about 8 y old on the roof! And then the next one had a boy hanging out the door smoking! That bus stopped and he even offered me a drag!
Can you imagine the bus driver saying to his helper..” Hey Ali toss Abdul up there beside the other 6 lads. But Ibrahim should we not put the smokers up there? Dont be silly,let them smoke inside,just like at home. Later that day. ” Hi Mr Raf San Jani I got good news and bad news for you says Ibrahim. The bad news is Abdul fell off the bus. “Ah well I got plenty more where he came from as you know we are a baby factory here in Indonesia..You know I lost another one last year? “Ah sorry for your trouble Mr Raf. “No Ibrahim, I said I lost him but we got him back. You see we were in Jakarta and there were so many on the back of my scooter that I didn’t notice that Mo fell off and we didn’t know till we got home to Palembang. But Raf that’s a thousand km away,you didn’t notice. “No I only noticed when I finished my box of fags and went looking for his but he made it home after 3 weeks as he won a gold medal for backwards walking in the Mosque Olympics. ” Raf I think you mean Moscow Olympics? “No the Palembang mosque has a yearly sports day and Mo won gold, you see with backwards walking he can be obeying our silly law of walking on left side and watching the traffic! Thats what Mangan should be doing backwards running! But he is! He is going back to Dublin:-) “It wasnt my fault Raf,I studied all the Mika Hakinen race videos.I know Ibrahim,How many you say were up on top of the school bus..you want a drink? “Ta Raf, I’m parched. A 7 up, No I’ll have a coke! There you go Mo and now tell me the good news? “Raf I have a full box of smokes that fell out of Abdul’s pocket!:-) I write a lot of sketches like this in my head as I am running around but as always..Time. That night I finished in Astra Ksetra and made the mistake of asking if I could sleep beside the guard hut in the Commando base.They said yes, then later no.It was too late to go back on the road.Then yes again,asked for my passport,general hassle and then at midnight the cops came out from next town 10km away.There was no hotel where I was. More showing of passport,hassle. One officer spoke English so I said “look I know the police here in Sumatra are sponsored by a cigarette company but your friend doesn’t have to advertise them too so can you ask him to put out his cigarette and give me a bit of respect! They wanted me to go to the police station to sleep but I didn’t want to and said I would rather sit on a wall all night outside the base! They let me stay! That day 47km next day I was thinking of Pete Townsend’s song Nowhere to Run:-)) Fitting for Indonesia,well they did push me into the Shoulder the whole day for 44km. I stopped and asked a young woman that served me in a roadside cafe if she thinks Islam considers women to be equal to men in Indonesia.She said they are equal, so I asked her why the men and boys pray inside the mosque while the women and girls pray outside under a veranda. Her reply was that the women must follow the men in Islam. I asked her did she ever question this or why women wear head scarfs. No that’s Islam she said. Just then a convoy of buses and trucks sped by so I asked if it was possible for a woman to drive a bus or truck here. No she replied. I made it to a hotel in Tulang Bawang tonight,Tuesday. The man there gave me dinner! Thanks. Only 6km required for 34,000! In 788 road days.
Aug 21st Firstly happy birthday to my nephew Gary, a quarter of a century old today:-) A tasty breakfast of rice,egg and lots of coffee before setting out to the madness on the road. I was in great form as after 6km I clocked up my 34,000th km of the run.Recently I did an interview for the Norwegian Financial Times,so I guess word of the run is spreading. Sometimes the traffic comes in heavy waves lasting about half an hour of sheer chaos,as mentioned before so many drivers taking the most dangerous risks. The shoulder was poor, non existent in places. As the sun beamed on me and I plodded along as if in a drunken stagger,stepping on and off the road as vehicles whizzed by from behind.I have to keep looking back,for they come in waves bullying approaching vehicles to move over.
A few weeks ago a car that was just 10m in front of me was bullied into the ditch almost where I was running. Scooters too are just ignored as they move out to overtake,they get pushed towards me.Today during all this I thought I saw a snake it turned out to be just a broken scooter chain! My progress was slow but steady. On the way I saw an old lady sitting in the gravel,she seemed to be in a bad way so I pulled out a larger donation than normal. As I handed her the money I noticed she had a large wad of banknotes with elastic bands around them,I figured she had just finished in her cafe and was waiting for a lift!
Ah well at least I got a laugh out of it:-) I finished in a village called Wira Bangun. I didn’t have much choice but to stop at the police station.There was nobody there so I just pulled out my sheet bag and rested playing music. A couple of hours later a nice police officer came by and gave me a bed inside.He said the hectic driving is cultural and in the villages the police have no power to stop them.
Aug 22nd Routine but tough 40km day Total 34,080km. 790 days. Wanted 50km plus but finished early when I stopped at a warung to eat and the lovely family took me to their hearts and asked me to stay. I want to arrive in Palembang early Monday morning to go to immigration for my visa extension.Its 158km away,so no easy weekend ahead! I have long since lost that “weekend feeling”as all days feel the same to me. As I speak the children here are looking at my Indonesian photos on my camera. There was a huge snigger when they came to one of a naked man who was walking down the highway in Java! In Java I saw 3 or 4 such sightings, including one young woman,so obviously a lot of untreated mental health issues there. That will be in the Java blog.And btw what you think the drivers were shouting? “Hi Mister!” That is to me! The two convenience stores here are a large chain (not in E Indonesia) and are in most large villages. I pass at least 10 stores a day. They have toilet facilities with the possibility to shower:-) Toilets are the foot hole in the floor job. The etiquette is to throw a few scoops of water down.They have a bricked and tiled water tank called a Mandie or just a bucket.
This means a shower can be taken as showers are just scoops from the mandie,I cant understand why Asians like Latinos have a huge problem with toilets,showers and plumbing. I think they just break things and couldn’t be bothered with the maintenance,or don’t have the skills.I don’t find this hygienic because if you throw the water down the toilet foot hole guess what pops out onto the floor and the next shower user may not have a clean floor:-)) I change my socks every day often washing them on these visits.They dry out fast as I stick them on my 2 water bottles while I run for goodness sake put a real toilet in and at least a short hose coming out the wall from up above! Just like Latinos hanging doors and locks are a mystery!