• Bob Taylor

Musings - Day 48

Day 48 – 12th February 2020

Great messages from well wishes as we near the final leg – Australia.

My body clock always gets me up before the alarms go off. Such was the case this morning for my early start. ‘Stasiun Gambir’ (correct spelling) awaits both the train and my arrival. I have plenty of time to change my ticket slip for an actual boarding pass, which allows me to pontificate on the merits of advance ticketing after yesterday’s debacle.

Going from the top left to just about middle orange - 518 miles.

It also gives me a little time on my Indonesian language studies. The words are often similar but with completely different meanings. The letter “J” for example is sometimes pronounced zhuuh like an electric shock sound when you aren’t expecting it. Other times it is said with “yah” lilt. So to further these paradigms I give you, ‘Jalan’ – meaning street or road when placed in front of the name of the thoroughfare. ‘Jalur’ – meaning platform or waiting area. ‘Jaloo’ – meaning nearby toilet, and my favourite, ‘Jaboo’ - meaning someone is hiding behind a tree. No silent ‘ J ’ with that one.

The train is nine hours today with only four stops, not including my own. Is very comfortable, it actually looks new. I saw this poster today that made me laugh…

“Are you finding that life can be a bit too much? Is everything you seem to do just a little too strenuous? Do you drink heavily? – Great, then why not join our pool team? We meet every day at the…..”

The trains were made from tinfoil

Two choices - the window or nine hours of these two.

The train set off bang on time but within twenty miles there was a hold up on the tracks that set us back around thirty minutes or so, but I didn’t mind. For me today, there was no hurry. I loved this journey even though it was over nine hours long. The people working the paddy fields were so interesting to watch. It isn’t any wonder they get back problems, with the way they plant and harvest rice. I don’t know the principles to rice growing but I do know that it is year round, and the intricate irrigation system of the paddy is ultra-important to the crop. The workers that I saw were all knee deep in water. Their feet must develop webs for better grip in the thick mud, needed to grow the rice. The landscape was arable for hundreds (literally) of miles, with occasional thick lush vegetation in between. We are so lucky that we live in a green and pleasant land, but the range of the colour greens here are just fantastic. It is as though photosynthesis occurs day and night, in such abundance that if they could bottle the chlorophyll, they would have massive revenues from exports of the stuff. Beautiful, rich looking soil that could grow anything from a mango to potato, without too much effort. I saw so many different bird species from hawks to egrets. The white Ibis was very common. That got me thinking… Is the plural of Ibis – Ibises? Please send your answers on a postcard to… (I had better stop because somebody out there will reply.)

Also while we are at it – could the collective noun for mosquitos be a mosque? Just try it out to see how it hangs - A mosque of mosquitos.

This is a man spraying the field - which is a shame because it is already a nice shade of green.

This is how the paddies are shaped flooded, then irrigated to bring the rice up to about two feet high.

How must their backs cope with this kind of work?

People who live in such a beautiful country allow this to happen....

Then you see the squalor that some Indonesians live with on a daily basis....

Thank goodness I cancelled this hotel - I had heard about the plumbing issues they were experiencing

For every good bit of news there has to be balance. Two things today have really got me brassed off. One is tangible, the other is a decision. The poster / banner that I have been carrying with the good will messages from the people that I have met along the way, has gone walkies. There is no one to blame other than me, of course, but it is infuriating as it is irreplaceable. The last I remember, that it was attached to the back pack was on the Frankie Valley, disco frenzy Suzuki taking me to the last ferry. There were that many stops, where the back hatch door was opened and stuff moved around, it could have slipped out, or worse swiped. Either way it is my fault for not checking. It is the second thing that I have lost during this journey. For those avid followers, the bears, knapsack stick went walkabout on the very first day. The bear is still happy, but the stick has never been replaced. All of the sponsors names were on the banner, so it is doubly disappointing that it wont make Sydney. I still have four shirts in good order, so I will continue to fly the flag from my chest down. Well not all the way down, obviously. I don’t have sponsored trousers. Well they would just look ridiculous, wouldn’t they?

When you are miffed isn't it so nice to see other people annoyed!

Now on to matters more important. I told you that I have had to make a decision, and believe me it is one that hurts, because I have been putting off for some time now. In short I have had to change my flight into Australia. The reasons are safety motivated, coupled with a decreasing expectation, that I would make Sydney in time, as a result of it. When first arranging this trip I was advised against going to Darwin anytime between November and March, because it is the wet season in the Northern Territories. Australia, in general at the moment, have been going through some horrendous flooding problems, with many roads becoming impassable. Public transport has been massively affected, with many cancellations. There were always only two modes of transport for me, bearing in mind the vast distances that we are talking about. The first choice would always be relocation vehicles. (In Australia they do one way return vehicles free of charge or for very minimal fees.) From October on I have been monitoring everyday the vehicles available and from which cities. Darwin has always, because of its remote location, been the highest number of vehicles. From Christmas, it has died a death. Not one! They have massively increased the availability from nearly every other major city in Oz, except Darwin. I researched why? The wet season has had catastrophic consequences in the past, so the rental companies are loathe to transport their returns until the conditions change. Coupled with this, there was an alternative using Greyhound buses, which are very heavily used here. But the schedules for Darwin are weekly, with the last two buses being cancelled through impassable roads. Getting stuck in the outback is a very serious problem, especially up near Kakadu National Park. So whilst it wasn’t desirable to change flights, it unfortunately had to be done. The risks were just too great by going into Darwin. If you offset the difference in mileage, then factor in that in the very first few days when I was forced to go four hundred and seventy miles out of my way, through Lithuania and Latvia, we are probably only around three hundred miles light of the original projections. Either way the decision has now been made, so all things being equal, I will be landing in Cairns and not Darwin on the twentieth. I plan to drive the two thousand miles or so to Sydney with a relocation vehicle, which at the moment seem to be aplenty. Any further developments, I will let you know. Meanwhile tonight in Surabaya, then an early start seven hours train to the ferry port of Ketapang.

Position: 07°14'45” N 112°44'08”E – Miles completed: 13603

Location: Surabaya, Indonesia 19:45 - 12th February 2020 - Journey 48 days 19 hours

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