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  1. #1
    Small wheels ARE better! OldiesONfoldies's Avatar
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    Taming the Sumatran Volcanoes

    Hi folks,

    Just returned from an awesome trip across the huge island of Sumatra, Indonesia on my brand new Surly LHT. Landed in Medan near the Straits of Malacca, went up into the Lake Toba highlands and finished with an awesome downhill to the notorious town of Sibolga, springboard to the Nias Island (surfing). Basically start at sea level, climb up to 1600m and downhill to sea level.

    This area is home to the Batak people who once were known to eat their enemies alive. Thankfully, they don't do that anymore and this is a rare Christian area in majority Muslim Indonesia.

    For your viewing and reading enjoyment.











    For more detailed account, please check

    CGOAG journal: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=3470&v=FR

    and my blog http://www.lovethefold.blogspot.com

    OnF

  2. #2
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing your trip....
    safe riding - Vik
    VikApproved

  3. #3
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    Great pics and CGOAB write up.

    I am heading over there this week, I will get the ferry from Kl to Medane and then head up to Bandah Aceh first.

    Hope to visit some of the same places, and get some cheap cigs LOL

    george
    ---------------------------------------------------
    https://sites.google.com/site/imjibi/home

    Photos of present tour of South East Asia
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  4. #4
    Small wheels ARE better! OldiesONfoldies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jibi View Post
    Great pics and CGOAB write up.

    I am heading over there this week, I will get the ferry from Kl to Medane and then head up to Bandah Aceh first.

    Hope to visit some of the same places, and get some cheap cigs LOL

    george
    Hi George,

    I KNOW you as the guy who accompanied that craziest guy on a bike, Tzou in Thailand! How are you doing? Let me know if you need help or info about Sumatra. I'm not an expert but could be of some help. Ciggies are US$60 cents a pack, so smoke your lungs out

    Al

  5. #5
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    Al
    Thanks for the offer. You will be the first one I call. Most of the info I needed is in your blog, especially the island, Samosir.

    I joined Tzuo on the final part of his trip, yes, but for the last few weeks have been getting around Malaysia solo and having a great time. amazing country and good touring with such a diversity of places.

    Just wish the place wasn't so dammed HOT and wet,

    Must start writing up my journal of malaysia, been lazy.

    george
    ---------------------------------------------------
    https://sites.google.com/site/imjibi/home

    Photos of present tour of South East Asia
    http://picasaweb.google.com/georgeidf50/southeastasia

  6. #6
    Small wheels ARE better! OldiesONfoldies's Avatar
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    Hi George,

    If you are planning to sleep in budget hotels like us (Abt US$5 - 10), it may be best to get a silk sleeping bag/sheet, those very light ones. The reason, possible bed bugs or other nasties.



    They don't seem to under-line the blanket on the bed with a sheet and they don't really wash those blankets. So you have been warned

    Al

    ps: Yr wish for cooler riding will come thru - the highlands and plains around Lake Toba is 1000m above sea level and temp is abt 22c. Lovely!
    Last edited by OldiesONfoldies; 04-28-08 at 07:05 PM.

  7. #7
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    One thing I never travel without is my silk liner for my bag, and I use it a lot here, as you said good for keeping the nasties out.

    Here in Malaysia I enjoyed the Ghenting Highlands and the Cameron Highlands simply for the fact every time you went outside it was not like walking into a sauna.

    I'll be over there soon, just waiting for a visa

    george
    ---------------------------------------------------
    https://sites.google.com/site/imjibi/home

    Photos of present tour of South East Asia
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  8. #8
    Senior Member cycotourer's Avatar
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    Thanks for the links, really interesting pics. We want to get from Australia to China and on to Europe using the least amount of non bike travel. We have had trouble finding bike travelogues for Sumatra and Java and were wondering if eveyone was avoiding it, or if it was too difficult. Anne Mustoe seems to have biked through Indonesia on her 2nd RTW tour but didn't write about it (as far as I know).

  9. #9
    Small wheels ARE better! OldiesONfoldies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cycotourer View Post
    Thanks for the links, really interesting pics. We want to get from Australia to China and on to Europe using the least amount of non bike travel. We have had trouble finding bike travelogues for Sumatra and Java and were wondering if eveyone was avoiding it, or if it was too difficult. Anne Mustoe seems to have biked through Indonesia on her 2nd RTW tour but didn't write about it (as far as I know).
    G'day mate. I think many people particularly Aussies, avoid Indonesia because of the bad publicity - what with the Bali bombings and all that. We too could not find many travelogues for Sumatra while doing our research. So can you blame people for avoiding Indonesia?

    I think its impt to note that Indonesia is a very diverse country, and Java is very diff from Sumatra. Acheh too is very different from the Lake Toba area (though both in Sumatra) where it moves from very staunch Muslims to a very concentrated Christian population.

    At least in our experience, and the areas we toured, we did not feel in anyway in harms way. The only problem was landing at Medan where the customs officer was trying to extract an import "fee" for our bikes. No receipts of course and that type of corruption is unfortunately rampant everywhere in Indonesia. We managed to get away with 20000RP per bike or abt US$2.50. Don't know if you can use that as a "benchmark" if that ever happens to you...

    But then again, the road less travel is often more interesting and exciting... Go for it!








    Last edited by OldiesONfoldies; 04-30-08 at 08:22 AM.

  10. #10
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    cycle tourer

    I have been researching boats all over the islands and it is driving me crazy. i believe that is why most ppl go straight to Singapore from Darwin.

    i don't wish to fly anywhere but trying to get from Bali to Borneo on to the Phillipines through the little islands, on boats, is proving a nightmare.
    Tailwinds
    george
    ---------------------------------------------------
    https://sites.google.com/site/imjibi/home

    Photos of present tour of South East Asia
    http://picasaweb.google.com/georgeidf50/southeastasia

  11. #11
    Small wheels ARE better! OldiesONfoldies's Avatar
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    Just uploaded a video we took on some of the bad roads we encountered just in case George or anyone is interested.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUTC5eHBg7Y

  12. #12
    Senior Member cycotourer's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=OldiesONfoldies;6609870]G'day mate. I think many people particularly Aussies, avoid Indonesia because of the bad publicity - what with the Bali bombings and all that. We too could not find many travelogues for Sumatra while doing our research. So can you blame people for avoiding Indonesia?

    Yes we initially decided "no way Indonesia" and were planning the Darwin/Singapore flight, but then ... as you say below:

    But then again, the road less travel is often more interesting and exciting... Go for it!


    So we are rethinking our route to include the "safer" parts of Indonesia and then hopefully ferry hop as much as we can.
    Thanks again
    Maureen

  13. #13
    Senior Member cycotourer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jibi View Post
    cycle tourer

    I have been researching boats all over the islands and it is driving me crazy. i believe that is why most ppl go straight to Singapore from Darwin.

    i don't wish to fly anywhere but trying to get from Bali to Borneo on to the Phillipines through the little islands, on boats, is proving a nightmare.
    Tailwinds
    george

    Hi George,

    I understand the frustration, we have been researching something similar.

    I definitely want to do Brunei and east Malaysia, preferably on the way to Europe. We were leaving The Phillipines for maybe the return trip. I lived in The Phillipines during the Marcos years (for 18 months as an exchange student) so its not as pressing for me to see it, but I would love to go back someday. I lived in Iloilo in the Visayan group of islands, and some of the outlying, virtaully deserted islands were absolutely spectacular. Unspoilt paradise, with the clearest seas and beaches and undisturbed forest. Just the occassional Nipa hut village here and there.

    There used to be fishing boats going backwards and forwards between Borneo and the southern Phillipine islands all the time (without benefit of passports or recognition of national boundaries!), but they were predominatly "moros" and they might be more likely to ransom you to raise money for the Muslim separatist cause than offer safe passage to Mindanao or Palawan!!

    I always felt safe in The Phillipines, though most houses I lived in had their own compounds with armed guards. Maybe I was a naive innocent at the time, but I couldn't see the need for such measures. I guess you would have to be more careful in the south.

    Maureen

  14. #14
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    I have seen the video and it looks like my kind of place.

    reminds me of the roads I have ridden in south america and australia.

    I am glad I have a Thorn with Schwalbe's on.

    Thanks for the insight.


    george
    ---------------------------------------------------
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    Photos of present tour of South East Asia
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    Quote Originally Posted by jibi View Post
    I have seen the video and it looks like my kind of place.

    reminds me of the roads I have ridden in south america and australia.

    I am glad I have a Thorn with Schwalbe's on.

    Thanks for the insight.


    george
    Hi George and Maureen,

    I think Indonesia is still fine for touring, despite all the bad press. One just has to be more picky where to ride, and be more aware of one's immediate surroundings.

    There are after all a few thousand islands to choose from. My preferences are Bali and Lombok, for various reasons. See : www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/bicyclingBali

    The larger islands of Java and Sumatra, where you get to do 100 kms or more a day are great for a longer tour. Java is heavily populated and it's ciities are crowded urban nightmares. OK if you like crowds, traffic, malls, nightlife etc. The smaller towns in East and Central Java, some in the mountains are less hectic, more quaint as former Dutch hill stations and are a good break from the rigours of the road.

    Java has a complex network of main and secondary roads going around some beautiful scenic areas and some of it's 27 volcanoes. Mt Bromo, Semeru

    See : www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/BromoIndonesia

    and Ijen in the east and Mt Merapi near the old cultural capital of Yogjakarta. The island has an OK road (overnight buses) and rail network if you want to avoid cycling anytime.

    I tried to ride the length of Sumatra in various trips due to time constraints. Lake Toba recently was easy, compared to Banda Aceh, Lake Takengon, Kutacane, Sidikalang and Toba in 1998. That's the interior's mountain road going through the Gunung Lesuer National Park. Sort of a mini Amazon.The west coast road via Meulaboh is another option, and is less mountainous. Have not cycled the southern half...,yet, so no info.

    If you like your trips, cheap and good with a tinge of the unexpected (like taking up smoking again, LOL) Indonesia's the place.

    Chris

  16. #16
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bridgestoned View Post
    Hi George and Maureen,

    I think Indonesia is still fine for touring, despite all the bad press.

    If you like your trips, cheap and good with a tinge of the unexpected (like taking up smoking again, LOL) Indonesia's the place.

    Chris
    Nowhere is really safe in the world, and I am the original cycnic when I read press, or government warnings.
    Listening to other travellers is the best way.

    Cheap and unexpected is what I have had for the last 2.5 onths in Thailand and Malaysia.

    Thanks for al the tips

    george
    ---------------------------------------------------
    https://sites.google.com/site/imjibi/home

    Photos of present tour of South East Asia
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  17. #17
    Small wheels ARE better! OldiesONfoldies's Avatar
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    Here's what you can expect in Sumatra... great downhills. Of course, what goes down must also go up eventually. Go for it guys! Video courtesy of Bridgestoned...

    http://lovethefold.blogspot.com/2008...s-sumatra.html

    Onf
    Last edited by OldiesONfoldies; 05-07-08 at 07:48 AM.

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    Great write up ONf! Nice pics too. Thanks!

    I read some of your other trips too and love some of those foldies. Do you have any favorites? And, if you don't mind my asking, how much are they in Singapore?

    Happy trails!

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    Senior Member cmcanulty's Avatar
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    I plan to do this trip in January 2008. Having trouble finding a decent airfare though.
    http://www.cycleindonesia.com.au/

  20. #20
    Small wheels ARE better! OldiesONfoldies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmcanulty View Post
    I plan to do this trip in January 2008. Having trouble finding a decent airfare though.
    http://www.cycleindonesia.com.au/
    Sounds like fun! I much prefer to do the trip independently - A$100 a day is a bit rich (for me). We spent A$300 for 10 days including all hotel accommodation, shopping, food, taxis, massage etc.

    But I suppose someone has to be paid for doing all the orgz etc and the peace of mind that you enjoy. And you get to meet a whole host of friends, hopefully like-minded ones.

    Its like going on a package tour or a free and easy. I much prefer the latter as we are afterall, Adventure Cyclos

    You can get to Makassar quite easily from Jakarta by Garuda... I think there are connections from USA to Jkt or you can come via Spore and say "Hi"!


    Cycling pass Sinabung Volcano (still active), Sumatra - Pic Chris Wee
    Last edited by OldiesONfoldies; 05-07-08 at 11:47 PM.

  21. #21
    Small wheels ARE better! OldiesONfoldies's Avatar
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    Glad you enjoyed the trip reports Mooncricket

    The price of the foldies vary - in Spore they are generally higher than US. Foldies actually travel very well and I'm flying to Melbourne tonight and just packed my Bike Friday Tikit into the Samsonite (10 mins job). I seem to use the Tikit quite a bit but it depends on what the trip demands.

    a. Pacific Carry Me microbike 8" wheels - US$530
    b. Dahon Speed 8 - US900, Speed Pro - US1400
    c. Brompton - US$1400
    d. Bike Friday Tikit - US$1600

    Foldies also tour surprisingly well and I read from your earlier post abt your interest in Lao. I did a short ride from Udon Thani,Thailand to Vientiane, Lao last year on my Dahon Speed 8. My friend used a Trek Hybrid and I was just as fast, if not faster than him (a burly Ozzie bloke).

    Here is my trip report if you have not seen it yet

    http://www.thingsasian.com/stories-p...582/1/con0_oth
    Last edited by OldiesONfoldies; 05-07-08 at 10:19 PM.

  22. #22
    Small wheels ARE better! OldiesONfoldies's Avatar
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    [quote=cycotourer;6644090]
    Quote Originally Posted by OldiesONfoldies View Post
    G'day mate. I think many people particularly Aussies, avoid Indonesia because of the bad publicity - what with the Bali bombings and all that. We too could not find many travelogues for Sumatra while doing our research. So can you blame people for avoiding Indonesia?

    Yes we initially decided "no way Indonesia" and were planning the Darwin/Singapore flight, but then ... as you say below:

    But then again, the road less travel is often more interesting and exciting... Go for it!


    So we are rethinking our route to include the "safer" parts of Indonesia and then hopefully ferry hop as much as we can.
    Thanks again
    Maureen

    Hi Maureen,

    Are you riding a Surly as well and your partner a BIG Dummy (rides ie)?

    Al

  23. #23
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    Thanks ONF. I never did get a chance to shop for bicycle stuff in Singapore. Just just wondering. Thanks for your advice.

    Good post on the Udon Thani-Vientiane ride. I'll have to do more tours in the Issan area.

    Just finished Lao and some part of Thailand last month with my girlfriend on a tandem. I'm missing Beerlao and those lovely sandwiches already.

    I'm planning to do that lobster tour of your someday soon

  24. #24
    Senior Member cycotourer's Avatar
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    Hi
    Yes I plan to get an LHT and Rob had his heart set on the Big Dummy until he saw a photo on Vic's Big Dummy blog with a Big Dummy in a train, and he is worried about the transportation issues if we need to take it on a bus or train. He also loves the LHT, so we might go for two of those instead. We are currently on early 1990's steel mountain bikes (old Shoguns which, BTW, have never given us a minute of trouble!), but prefer to go with the LHT's when we set out, hopefully in 2009.

    Its prob good that my current gears are no where near as low as the Rohloff, puffing labouriously up the hills with the current setup will be good training. We used to live on top of the ridge above Byron Bay and ride up to 30km each morning up and down the hills on a road that would give Sumatran roads a run for their money! A single lane of bitumen for two lanes of traffic, full of pot holes and broken edges, and a cliff on one side! The school bus tipped over one day, (it pulled to the side of the road and the embankment gave way resulting in a stationery, slow motion tip over!) fortunately 1 km before our kids were supposed to get on it!

    regards
    Maureen

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