Sunday, February 8, 2009

DAY 10 - FREE-WHEELING DOWN (ALMOST) TO WATANSOPENG

Wednesday 14th Jan 2009
Good-bye Pare Pare. The hotel in Pare Pare, Hotel Parewisata was the most decent one up to this point, best value for money and for the first time, a proper buffet breakfast with choices, all for IR160,000.




The first part of the journey took us to Barru 47kms away, driving along the coastal areas. Occasionally we could see the sea on our right. Branching left at Barru, we headed for Watansopeng. As we changed direction moving into the interior, a mountain range loomed infront of us. The road gradually climbed as indicated on the map. From the coastal gradient between 100 - 200 m above sea level (asl), the road climbed to reach the peak of between 1000 - 2000 m asl. In the comfort of the Van, it was no sweat! The dark orange portion in the map is the highest point ranging between 1000 - 2000 metres asl.


I was monitoring the altitude from my Polar watch as the road climbed. Hatim was monitoring the gear of the van. As long as the van climbed on 3rd gear, the gradient was cyclable. The road gently snaked upwards until about 6kms to the peak when it had to go on 2nd gear.


From a distance, we could see what looked liked waterfalls cascading the mountain sides. We stopped at a small village offering some beautiful landscape. A dog barked continously at us, probably telling us visitors hardly stopped here.



Here, the air was fresh and the wind blew a gentle cool breeze. A waterfall fed fresh mountain water to the terraced padi-fields. The pace of life here is much slower and much more relaxed.





The mountain slopes are all steep and moss-covered.



As we stopped further up to photograph more waterfalls, we chatted up a group of locals. They said this was the final peak and it would be downhill all the way to Watansopeng? Downhill?


Almost instantaneously, Acid and I decided to unpack our bikes from the van. After 2 days of not cycling, the butt is itching to be on the saddle.






We quickly re-assembled our bikes, attracting the few locals that we chatted with. A few helpful hands from the locals helped us, including a policeman. We could not refuse their hospitality though we could easily assembled the bikes ourselves.


One group photo and off we go. The cool breeze in our face as the bikes gathered speed downhill was just the tonic to pep up 2 days of inactive touring.




After several kilometres, Hatim must be feeling envious of our downhill. The van overtook us. I can see in his eyes the "pleading" to share this childlike abandon. I readily give in to his request. The moment he took over the wheel, I mean the handle, he was off and I was back in the Van!





Even the stray dog on the road gave way.



The joy registered in Hatims' face .......as he sped downhill



The final pose as he gladly handed back the bike to me, i.e after reaching the flats...ha..ha..



Back home two weeks later, this is what has become of the very reluctant cyclist. Welcome brudder Hatim, to the joy and health of cycling.







When we reached the foothill, the riped golden color of the pafi-fields greeted us. Again a must stop to photograph the harvesting.



Happy with his re-introduction to cycling, Hatim took this shot of a happy harvester. Harvest time is always a happy time. I experienced this in 2007 when I toured the Minangkabau region in Danau Maninjau, Padang In Sumatera.





The farmers were laughing and talking as the three of us were busy capturing their activities. Some asked the usual questions when they see folks on bicycles.



One can feel the vibrance of the moment. The lady in this photo was just too happy to be photographed as she seperated the husk from padi in the wind.


This woman was carrying padi to be delivered for weighing. The load on her head would convert to hard-earned rupiahs to feed the family.



Horses were also used to carry the bags of padi. I can't help noting the bottle of mineral water carried on the horse. A similarity with cyclists having their water bottles on their bikes!


We stopped at Bamboo Kuning Cafe for a combo of late lunch-cum-early dinner. It's a food outlet by the roadside, open air with the padifields surrounding the cafe. Nice ambience but I guessed we were too hungry and none of us remembered to photograph the cafe.


We were then roughly 10kms from Watansopeng. We cycled on unhurriedly as we entered the town of Watansopeng, we were greeted by this statue of a farmer and his wife.



We could not find a hotel with 2 rooms for the 4 of us and we decided to split hotels but later at night met up at an internet cafe. Finally at last, an internet cafe.




I did my first posting in Sulawesi here, a brief report. Hatim was also checking his mails while Acid was fascinated with this motorbike. Acid still has a soft spot for motorcycles.



4 CANGKIR 1 GUNUNG

You will be wondering about the above caption. For a start, Hatim tasted its goodness. He became a local guy and enjoyed sharing conversation with the locals, together with Acid.



They were both enjoying tea and asked me, to have a go too. I am never a lover of tea (with milk) but I gave in and ordered.


Very quickly I ordered another one. Teh susu never felt this good before. When the lady served the second helping, we got to ask her the recipe. We gave a smile and we swore to her that we are Malaysians and therefore will not open another cafe here in Watansopeng. Her secret recipe would be safe with us.

The secret came out. "Bancuh 4 bahagian Teh Cangkir dengan 1 bahagian Teh Gunung". So we got our recipe and vouch that before we leave Watansopeng tomorrow, Teh Cangkir and Teh Gunung will be out of stock in Watansopeng. We will buy them all!



We did buy them. Sadly, my new cyclist brudder Hatim has yet to deliver the mixed portion to me. I am still waiting!

4 comments:

Michael Khor said...

Very nice pics and travelogue. Never thought Sulawesi was such a nice touring destination...I'm sure Hatim would have liked to be pedalling along with you instead.

ARZ said...

Hi MK,

It's worth a trip. On a bicycle, anything less than 2 weeks would be too short. Sulawesi is a big island. We managed to do only South Sulawesi for the 2 weeks.

I believe Hatim will be eyeing the Surly too once cycling blood permanently infests him, which will not be too long.

Dancing Ciken said...

the power of Kutus! fuyooo

Anonymous said...

hello ayah cik... what's an interesting blog you have laaa... we all ingat ayah cik dah boleh jadi tourist promoter... hehehe... anyway, all the best for you, we pray for your health, so dat ayahcik can cycle n promote the country next year - round europe lak.. love nana and acu.