Wednesday, February 18, 2009


16th Jan 2009

It would be a short 57km ride today to Bantimurung National Park. Literatures in the internet highlighted Bantimurung's Waterfall and its caves. This was the reason why Bantimurung was on our stop list

We had a wonderful sleep in our "honeymoon suite". It was cold outside, it was equally cold inside. Rain continued almost throughout the night. We felt lazy. The cold freezed our muscles. Weather was dull grey. The grounds were wet. So were the road. An excuse to start late.

While we waited for breakfast, we prepared for our wet ride. We water-proofed our panniers with the rain-cover, green for Acid and yellow for mine.

We said goodbye to the friendly lady Rahmi, the daughter of the caretaker. I jotted down the contact details of this hotel to recommend to anyone who might want to traverse this way. We cycled out of the compound to a gradual climb, and rear lights blinking for added safety.

The road twist and turn and at a particular stretch, I could hear the strong rumble of a raging river. The thick foliage prevented me from seeing the river. The continous rain the night before had massively increased the volume of the river.

There was a break in the foliage and I took a shot of the raging river. For white-water rafting, this could be either a Class 2 or Class 3 rapid. It sounded menacing. It looked menacing as well. Great that I was on my bicycle and not in an inflatable.

The road was wet. The road was narrow. The road had potholes.

The road had heavy traffic. With blind corners, I can hear the constant blaring of the horns from the huge lorries, announcing their approach from these corners. At one point, a lorry temporarily stalled while changing gears on a gradient. The driver of a van infront of me immediately stopped and put his van in reverse gear in anticipation. With no space to squeeze through, I had to dismount, also ready in anticipation. The lorry attendant quickly came out and placed a rock behind the lorry's rear tyre, to prevent the lorry from backsliding. I prayed it would hold. It did. At this time, Acid was ahead and took this picture as I temporarily pushed my bike.

At one stretch, heavy rain pounded us. It was just too heavy to continue riding. We managed to find a shelter at a warong. The owner invited us in into his small warong, instead of waiting under the tarpaulin.

But the kids were just enjoying the rain.

We lost about an hour here, but we were not in any great hurry. We thanked the owner when the rain stopped and continued on. We came across some rocky outcrop.

About 15 kms from our destination, the road zig-zagged downhill for about 5 kms. At some stretch, it was quite steep. My brakes were protesting as I slowed down the speed, careful not to lock the brakes on the wet road. Acid seemed to enjoy the downhill better and he was able to capture me negotiating one of the bends when he stopped at a clearing.

When we finally reached the bottom, we were ready for a late lunch. There was a restaurant with generous arrays of dishes and kuehs in this village, desa Pattunuang. As usual, we attracted a small crowd who wanted to see and feel our bikes.

We were then only 8 kms from our destination for the day. We took our time to enjoy the food. Then, we pedalled slow unhurried strokes to reach Bantimurung National Park and looked for accomodation.

There was one chalet within the national park, situated by the river. It had a great view of the river. But the water level was dangerously high, at some parts lapping the floor of the open area. The incessant rain had increased the water level. The keeper told us that the river might just visit the bedrooms while we sleep! No thanks. After our "honeymoon suite" the night before, we prefered something closer to that.

There was another chalet in a public swimming pool complex. We quickly agreed to take this one, a room each for IR75,000. The pool was fed from the running stream, acceptably maintained. We both dipped ourselves in the pool joining a small group of students on an outing.
Fully refreshed, there was nothing much to do. We planned to visit the national park after breakfast following day, before we finally cycled back to Makassar.
With my trusty notebook, I penned the day's ride and waited for dusk and a good dinner.

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