My last road trip from Yogyakarta to Flores was an epic adventure and was easily the equal of my first road trip around Australia. Unfortunately by the time I finished, my backside had a new appreciation of cushions and there were be a few near death experiences on the road that I needed to talk to a psychiatrist about (overtaking a lorry when my back tyre burst being pretty high up on that list).
Despite the many strange looks that I got from people who thought that I was crazy for even attempting to drive that far on a bike, the journey on the road was pretty uneventful. However, there were plenty of incredible sites that I’d suggest checking out if you ever attempt a similar adventure (top of the list is Ijen).
Ijen is a humbling place full of contradictions. The site is at once a tourist attraction and a working mine. Tourists hike up the volcano next to miners who risk their health to earn just $5 a day carrying baskets weighing 50kg or more. I’d definitely recommend visiting the volcano and – if you have something to cover your face with – entering the mine.
The royal funeral in Ubud reminded me of some kind of Mardi Gras. A real celebration of life, which is an interesting contrast to the traditional funerals you get in the West.
The North of Bali has a lot to offer. Definitely check out the incredible open air natural springs though. There’s something very Indiana Jones about showering under a snake.
I’ve now visited Lombok twice and I’ve realised that for good and bad the island is going through a major development rush. The bad points include the illegal gold mining and the housing boom. On the plus side, the beaches are still beautiful and you can actually drive everywhere by bike, which was impossible four years ago.
If you are looking for a party, but you don’t want to hit up Kuta, the Gili Islands are your best bet. Watch out for the ride across though, the currents strong and the waves can get pretty nasty.
Sumbawa is beautiful, hot and compared to Lombok it is almost empty. This means lots of beautiful beaches, very little traffic, but very little rubbish collection. Still, I did get to stay in my own private island.
I’ve saved the best till last… The sunsets at Labuhan Bajo are simply breath taking. The sight of the sunset over the bay – while drinking a cold beer – is pretty incredible.