Wednesday, May 30, 2007


PASKAS (6th May 2007)

Indonesians are great at acronyms. "WARTEL" is Warong Telephone. In the cyber age, they now have "WARNET". Yes, you guess right. It stands for Warong Internet, or Internet Cafe. JATIM stands for Jawa Timor. I haven't heard though of JARAT for Jawa Barat or JANGAH for Jawa Tengah. Anyway, their use of acronyms can fill pages and pages. But what is PASKAS?

Well, PASKAS stands for PAGUYUBAN SEPEDA KUNO AREK SURABAYA. "Sepeda" and "Kuno" we know -- "speda" for bicycle and kuno for "classic". Paguyuban? Well, it stands for Persatuan and "arek" stands for teman. So, if you read my blog often, you are my "arek":-) and I'll belanja you teh tarek.

PASKAS therefore is a group of friends in Surabaya who shares the common love for antique bicycles.

So it was very early morning on Day 3 of my visit that I met a group of very friendly Indonesians who shared a common love -- bicycles. My destination today was Kota Madya, a stone's throw from my hotel. As I walked out of my hotel lobby, I was already greeted with activities on the road. Jay walkers, cyclists and joggers were all heading towards Kota Madya. Made up of individuals, families with kids, young and old it was a great sight to see an active population having one common love for health.

An old man was resting on his bicycle, in batik and songkok, head nodding in tune probably with Keroncong Kemayuran plugged to his MP3. He must have travelled some distance to come to Kota Madya.

Another gentleman, as classic as his bicyle was doing some stretching excercise before a ride.

A group of younger and not so young cyclists were having some early carbo-loading and offered me a piece of Indonesian kueh which I can't refuse. Everyone was enjoying the morning.

I was enjoying the photographic opportunities and the warmth of the Indonesians. I was enjoying the sights of youths enjoying the weekend outing, and families out for a day of fun with little kids. I enjoyed watching the petty traders enjoying brisk business, selling food and drinks, and toys.

More so, I was enjoying scrutinising the classic bicycles that the owners proudly exhibited. If you have a bicycle dated 1945 or earlier, you are an "arek" of PASKAS. The President of America was there too! Mr Kennedy proudly showed me his 1936 Simplex, a bicycle imported from the Netherlands. He insisted that his picture be recorded in my blog. No problemo Mr President Sir!

Mr Kennedy, minus the J.F. initial

So, what about these classic bicycles? I enjoyed looking at the components. Let me start with that comfy thing you place your sensitive butt on -- the saddles. Leather was the thing to go, the only material to go those years. To soften the rigid steel frame of the 1940's and 1950's, springs helped soften the ride. So, here they are, the leather springed saddles of yesteryears.

This must have been made from crocodile skin!
I noted a bicycle bell that required some G-force of your palm to ring. It didn't ring. It cried out a loud "BONG". I believed it didn't come with the bike, but invented by the classic owner.

Mr Kennedy proudly showed off his 1955 bell with a European motif on his 1936 Simplex bike.

What about panniers? The leather panniers on some of the bikes made my recently purchased fabric pannier looked cheap in comparison.

And the trusted dynamo to generate electricity for the night cycling.

And the locks to ensure the safety of the bikes.

The chain cover to minimise chain maintenance

And if you got to carry something fragile for your wife, do invest in a shock-absorber rack. I do hope you can still find them at Boon Foo.

Aiya....I have overstayed. Mem is waiting in the hotel for something more "interesting" her. I better leave. "Pak....saya sudah kelewatan ni. Bisa pinjam sepeda kuno mini bapak?"

Monday, May 28, 2007



They came. Almost the entire family. 10 of them -- my maid's husband, her 3 daughters, 2 grand-daughters, my maid’s brother Supatik(whom I've met before in Malaysia) and his wife and daughter, plus the driver. We were outnumbered 1 to 5. We checked out of the hotel, bundled our luggage in the van and off we went, heading for Lamongan 75kms away. In the heat of the day, we were sweating but fanned by the breeze coming through the slit window of the van. No air-conditioning. We would endure.

Several photographic opportunities but felt quite a hassle to hop on and off, especially when the day was heating up. Missing my bicycle badly! We endured on. First stop at a kampong for a quick visit to my maid's third daughters' house. A simple one, bare except for a few old settees. Husband a trishaw puller. I can sense the difficulties of this family's life. Very simple couple, obviously with no excess baggage. Probably slept better than most famous and rich in Malaysia.

The family of Purweni

We continued on. I sensed Supatik having difficulty to suggest where to bring us sight-seeing. Differing interest. We obliged their hospitality when the van stopped several kilometers before their kampong. Gua Maharani. We would visit this Gua. Quite a big crowd of locals were here on this Saturday weekend. Within 15 mins we finished the tour.

where else....Gua Maharani

Where next? The ala-Sunway Lagoon a few minutes away from Gua Maharani. Probably one-tenth the size of Sunway Lagoon. The extra was its location, by the sea. Stayed there and performed Zohor prayers in a new mosque located within its complex.

Then, off to my maid's kampong. Lamongan where my maid came from is a fishing port and the biggest in JATIM (that's Jawa Timor). Lamongan boasts a fishing port which was not there on my first visit long ago. My maid's husband is a fisherman. Today he didn't go out to sea, because we were visiting. On our earlier trip, we didn't get to meet him as he was at sea. The visit back then was a surprise. In the words of my maid, "bagai bulan jatuh ke-riba".

We had lunch at the house, lavish spread by their standard. They had gone out of their way in hospitality. We felt a little bit uneasy but I guess they had been waiting for this day of our arrival. The house, just like the houses of the average Indonesian fisherman, was small. Packed with 4 adults and a few kids, the living room doubled as sleeping quarters for the night. A tiny fan helped fanned some breeze on a hot day. We endured and we would forever be thankful for our good life.

The fishing village had seen many changes. There was now a fishing pier where deep sea fishing boats brought in the catch. The boats - rainbows of color, almost all with same design.

So, how did the fishermen make sure he won't be in the wrong boat? The flag. They flew different flags and I believe that's their identities. I noticed what looked liked a Swiss flag too!

the Swiss flag?

And the catch. What a catch. I had never seen so many sting-rays in my life. The rays were huge too. Even dead they look dangerous. I had always been glad that I had never stumbled upon any during my scuba-diving days.

the sting rays, by the hundreds

Preserved fish was also a thriving business. We visited one cottage industry processing preserved fish. Women folks were packing them in neat little rattan baskets, after they were cleaned.

A large boiler boiled and cooked the fish before they were preserved for sale. Pray that no one trip and fall into the boiler.

after cleaning, packing

into small baskets

and stacked be finally boiled to perfection

We had made our intention known that we would return to Surabaya. After Maghrib, we endured another 75kms ride in the packed van back to Surabaya. The whole family wanted to send us back to Surabaya! Again, we were outnumbered 5 to 1.

Hingga bertemu kembali........


PUSING PUSING(5th May 2007)

6:30 am, and the day was already bright. We had about 4 hours to kill before my maid's family would arrive to pick us up. We took a walk, past the famous Jambatan Merah (I think - since it was coloured red) towards no specific destination. Plenty of becas were offering us a ride. We obviously didn't look Indonesian. We preferred to walk, at least until we realized that our road to nowhere is bringing us exactly there -- nowhere. We were also feeling empty in the stomach. So we decided that taking the beca is a more reasonable option. 25,000 rupiah for an hour but first we asked the beca man to bring us to a shop for breakfast. We saw several stalls but don't think were were ready for stall food.

After breakfast, it's off to a flea market. It was at the flea market that I saw something familiar. I couldn't believe my eyes. Could it be possible? A Brooks saddle? I went closer, much to the amazement of the owner. Indeed, a Brooks saddle. I looked at the owner.

The saddle that introduced two new friends

The conversation went like this:

"Pak, ini Brooks saddle", confirming more than asking.
"Ya, bapak tahu pasal Brooks saddle?"
"Tahu. Saya pun guna satu. Baru saja beli di Dublin. Sudah order lagi satu"
"Ooo...speda ini jenis Raleigh, bikin dari Malaysia. Jenama nya tertulis diframe"
"Ya Pak. Saya Ramli"
"Saya Ramlan"

The 2 BR's - Bapak Ramli & Bapak Ramlan

The Classic Raleigh

And we became friends, immediately. Two gentlemen with same love. I admired the "newness" of his antique Raleigh, the original Sturmey Archer shifter, the original green paint, the lights, the reflector, well...the everything. We posed for a picture, and Muna became the photographer, smiling quietly at these 2 kids excited about an old bicycle. Very hard to comprehend. We exchanged our cyber connection and promised to keep in touch. In touch I did and I hoped to meet Bapak Ramlan again, in Jakarta.

Before we parted ways, he suggested me to go to Kota Madya the following day (Sunday) where cycling enthusiasts converge, including a group of antique bike collectors. Terima Kaseh Bapak Ramlan, sampe ketemu nanti. Kota Madya, here I come.


So, what do they sell at the flea market? Anything and everything. What Malaysians threw away, the Indonesians found use. I asked myself whether these "discarded" items were sellable? What a stupid question. Would they be there if they were not sellable? We should and must be like them? Recycle we must. The word sounded similar with my hobby too? Isn't that great?

I told you they sell everything here

Ngak panas lagi.....

Pram untuk bayi anda

Kasut roller blading untuk remaja

Ada wc juga ada sinki

Untuk ibu-ibu, rice cooker jamin nasi tak basi

Surabaya is a land of the motorbikes

Having done our rounds, we headed back to the hotel to wait for the entourage from Lamongan to arrive to pick us to my maid's kampong. Gave a 5,000 Rupiah tip to the beca man. I felt great. Pak Beca went off smiling.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


4 May 2007

Time for another plane ride, minus the bicycle, plus my "better half", two days after arriving back to KL from the Phuket - Perlis cycling trip. A slightly hectic schedule. I carried along my sunburn to Surabaya.

Another courtesy of the free flights offered by Air Asia, we flew into Surabaya full-house. Seated next to me was a Malaysian PR, still with heavy Indonesian accent, balik kampong with an entourage of wife, children and grand-children all scattered in the various seats in the plane. A smooth flight , and we landed 20 mins earlier than scheduled. Won't matter much since the sun was already settling in on this late afternoon flight.

Spanking new Juanda airport, its newness competing against the parked equally new Air Asia Airbus. Immigration clearance took a while because of the full load, 80% of passengers either Malaysian PR Indonesians or PR hopefuls returning home to their various Kabupatens. The Immigration officer asked for my return ticket confirmation. I didn't have one. I didn't print one. It's ticketless travelling, I reasoned out. He didn't see my reason. He pointed me to an Air Asia personnel. We lost our position in the queue. The officer wanted to see my return ticket. I can understand. He wouldn't one to add two more PR hopefull in his over-populated Indonesia! It took a while for the Air Asia personnel to print me my ticket.

I joined back the queue. By now, a MAS flight landed and I now joined this queue. I asked the lady in the queue (I assumed to be a maid in Malaysia going back for holiday) why she didn't fly Air Asia. "Boss saya baik. Dia hantar saya naik MAS". Hmmm...Looked like I won't be a good boss when it would be time for my maid to return home. I smiled at her.

As we rolled the trolley out, a taxi-driver approached and I insisted to buy the taxi voucher at the airport counter. "Bisa Pak". Everything in Indonesia is poison --- "Bisa Pak"! The taxi counter doubled as a hotel booking agent and a pre-paid mobile phone counter. Great multi-business. Next time I come to Indonesia there will be 2 things I will not do from Malaysia. One - change currency. You get better rate in Indonesia for your Malaysian Ringgit. Two - book hotel rooms, even through the so-called cheapo internet services. The taxi counter offered me a better rate. Lucky I booked in only for the first night via the internet.

A new Toyota Avanza taxi carried us to our hotel. Befriended the driver, Kadek Sudiantara, a Balinese. Later we used his taxi for our travels. Over dinner on the way to the hotel, we learnt from Kadek the heirachy of Balinese names. I had a faint understanding of this when I was in Bali in October 2006 but didn't bother to note it. All Balinese are identified through their heirarchy at birth. A person called Putu (or Wayan or Gede) means he is the eldest. I smiled thinking of our Putu Mayam.

The second born is called Kadek (or Made), so our taxi driver was the second child. Bingo. Third born is Nyoman, fourth is Nengah, fifth is Ketut. I supposed it stopped at five since the sixth becomes Putu Balek. Now I'm thinking of Apam Balek.

Having filled our stomach to the brim, there was nothing else to do after checking-in to the hotel, except to settle in. Tomorrow, we would plan our free and easy holiday.

Monday, May 14, 2007


26th April 2007

I'm not sure what to call the group. Dirty Dozen sounds quite apt. After all, with all the cycling and inhaling smoke and dust, we will be dirty. But the "dozen" exceeds the total by 2. Magnificent 7 sounds great. After all we have a "real" Yul Brynner in the group - Brudder Boh. A few of us are almost Yul Brynner look-alikes too, me included. I'm sure the team will be happy with Magnificent 7. But we will have 3 in excess.

Yul Bryner BOH

So I shall call ourselves the "10 TUARERS". After all, the combined average age is half a century! And they are crazy tourers, on the bicycle.

So 9 hardcore cycling "tuarers", plus 1 newly recruited young tourer made their way to Phuket for a 5-day, 500 km cycling trip. The journey will take us from Phuket to Pha Nga, Krabi, Trang, Ban Pak Bara and Wang Klian into Perlis. We will take the train from Pdg Besar back to KL, on May 1. Two days rest, I will be off to Surabaya, minus the bike, replaced by the boss, my mem! With compliment of the free Air Asia ticket. Indeed now everyone can fly!

The bike boxes weighed in with 19kg of excess weight. Foo, the recumbent cyclist flew in 2 days earlier and was at the Phuket airport waiting for us. Unpacking and re-assembling the bikes took us about2 hours. Suhaimi, the new recruit experienced a puncture and will therefore ride without a spare tube. He brought only 1 spare tube.

The 1st day stay will be within the Nai Yang Beach area, just a few kms away from the airport. It was a wise decision as we do not plan to ride far upon arrival. With bikes fully assembled, the group made our way to the beach for the late afternoon lunch. Someone commented that the beach is like Bagan Lallang. Indeed, but with more warongs and a better beach. Seafood fried rice for Baht 50 seemed to be the favorite menu. Very lavish supply of prawns and squids and no one was complaining. You can expect this when you eat seafood by the sea. Add the fresh coconut drink, oo la la, what a makan.

Recumbent Foo found us a very decent place and for Baht 800 triple sharing, no one seemed to complain. I had Suhaimi and Fariz as my room-mates. Great sleepers they were, very peaceful indeed.

Come evening, the Tuarers went to the Pasar Malam. Just like Pasar Malams back home, you have everything. Halal food is not a problem. There were plenty. So we had problem deciding what to eat. I'm relieved to see the Buddhists and Muslims going about doing business in the Pasar Malam. I really missed the Southern Thailand districts of Yala and Pattani. They used to be my favorite route, both during my motorbiking days and my cycling days.

Varieties, all mouth-watering and thirst quencher drinks. Watch out for the kuehs that would leapfrog the sugar level in anyone and everyone called Mr or Ms Diabetes!

Anyway, if I was alone, I know what I will have for dinner - the favorite Tongkols, fried exactly to the mouth-watering texture. It will greatly increase my calories but I will be cycling for 5 days. That is more than enough to burn back the Tongkols I would have walloped, i.e. if I didn't find more tongkols along the route!

But Suhaimi had his eyes on the Nasi Beriani. I had no heart to disappoint him, and for Baht 250 (RM2.50), I had to agree.

We had a meeting after dinner. The original plan was to have a light & easy around Phuket on Day 2. Doing this will mean a crazy 163kms to Krabi on Day 3. Like all wise old people, we decided to do the short 72kms to Pha Nga on Day 2. Wise decision.

Everyone settled in early. The rooms had no TV. We need the rest too for tomorrow's ride. I'm an early sleeper too. Good Night.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


The following "kids" made the Phuket - Padang Besar trip
Leader and Organizer. At 62, still a crazy horse. Ex Navy and now prefered dry land

Alauddin's "faster" half. Loves the hills and will leave the men in her tail wind.


Mr Yul Brynner. At 62, the most muscular man of the group. Other "kids" got to do catch up with Uncle Goh
KC "Rambo" & Siew Peng

The love-birds. Sometimes seperated when KC Rambo rides fast upfront to photograph the Tuarers. KC loves sleeveless riding jerseys. Siew Peng loves to sunlotioned KC's arms and ....

A gutsy lady. No fancy panniers for her. Just a sports bag will do. Always in front, afraid that she would be left behind. The Tuarers' unofficial money changer
Recumbent Foo

The mechanic, and a very helpful one. Rides a recumbent, an easy rider. As easy as his life-style - easy going.

The "baby" of the group at 32. At 6ft 2, he towers over everyone, especially....who else. Can smell an oil-palm factory several kilometres away

The new kid on the tour. Now "regretting" every minute of his cycling -- regretting for starting late! Thinking of upgrading now. At 42, plenty of time to catch up.

Last but not least. At 57, enjoyed touring, mostly solo but thoroughly enjoyed this group expedition. Looking forward for more. Unoffical blogger for group.