The adventure to the West
I managed to swindle a cheap helmet from Stephan so I now feel slightly more safe with my head encased in plastic. Our plan for the day was just to get to Sumbawa Besar (around 6 hours away). Before even leaving Lakey we had a slight set back. Tom, who was meant to be coming with us on his rental scooter ended up having a problem with the locals due to the bike not having a rego or insurance. This is one of the problems on these islands because if the police stopped him without these things the bike would get confiscated and a bigger problem would arise with the locals. After a complicated story of money, unfair swindling and confusion Tom ended up staying in Lakey and giving the bike back, in hopes to take some buses across the islands to meet us in a few days.
So, we set off on our mission to Sumbawa Besar; the road plan was not just straight across the island but around the coast line- one good side to that is that as long as we kept the sea on the right we were doing well! With Tristan’s backpack strapped to the back of the bike, his surf boards on the side rack and my rucksack on my back, we were pretty laden with weight! The bike was still pretty speedy! We took a break every hour because our bums got numb very quickly!
The ride is so mountainous and beautiful with the road winding up and down the hillsides. The first stop we took was in a tiny village about an hour out of Donpu, we stopped outside a little shop on the side of the street which was the side of a man’s house he had opened up in the front to sell snacks. We were the only white people around so we ended up with suite an audience of their kids and even their neighbour who wanted a
photo with us. We sat and chatted in broken English and Indonesian (mostly Tristan killing it with his Indo lingo) for a while whilst our bums regained blood through the squished veins and then headed back off into the headland.
We used google maps offline to keep on the right track but there is only really one road most of the time so getting lost wasn’t really an issue. With some more stops here and there we eventually rocked into Sumbawa Besar. Besar in Indonesian means big so this town is literally called big Sumbawa, it also has an airport which is an alternative to Bima. By this stage we were pretty ravenous so pulled up to what looked like a restaurant only to be told it was closed until 8pm because of Ramadan. We had forgotten about this. In Lakey we could eat whenever and wherever but clearly the big Sumbawa was taking it a lot more seriously and certainly not accommodating for the few non muslims cruising through late afternoon. We tried another place- no luck. We saw they were selling food on a stall outside but equally we weren’t allowed to buy any of that either because it was for the village people doing Ramadan. After a frustrating half an hour for the both of us, both in serious need of some nourishment, we found a guy selling sate chicken on a stall by the road. Without even a question we stopped and sat in the front of his house outside and tucked into some sate and rice.
Looking around we realised there is really not much at all in Sumbawa Besar and so we both agreed to keep driving the remainder 3.5 hours to get to West Sumbawa. The sunset on the ride was the most beautiful one I have seen in Indonesia. The colours were just amazing, burning bright orange as the sun set and then fading into a pearly pink, coral and blue.
Riding through the country we had no problems with the police stops or any other locals stopping us. Some things to look out for when travelling across islands is the police stopping you for your international drivers license (not actually required to have a bike) and making you pay a fine which can be as much as they think you have on you, getting robbed by locals passing through areas or just some sketchy bike gangs. You just never stop if you are asked to and always wear a helmet on the long journeys, not only for your own safety but to reduce the risk of getting pulled over.
We eventually arrived at Santai, our accommodation for the week, in West Sumbawa just out of Maluk. We couldn’t see much in the dark and we arrived after they finished serving food so we just chilled out drank a few beers and watched a surf movie on the TV. The accommodation was similar to Lakey but a bit nicer (working shower and toilet, good mozzy net and a fan instead of AC) and I was excited to discover my surroundings the next day!