Friday, August 28, 2009


We woke up early. We had breakfast delivered to the room and enjoyed the room service without any extra charge. We packed and were ready to roll out to begin the tour. But it was not to be so soon. Muhamud's rear tyre had a flat. His first test on this tour.

I usually carry 1 spare tube on a short tour of a week. Muhamud too brought one spare tube. However, his spare tube was useless. The valve was too big to insert in the bike rim. Sometimes these are the little things one took for granted. This would be something he would not forget on his future trips.

So out came my spare tube. OK, can fit his rim. Now I would be without a spare tube and it would not be a comforting thought. So, he made sure he carried along the leaked tube to be repaired. In Indonesia, there are plenty of "TEMPEL BAM" stalls along the road. "Tempel" means patch. "Bam" is tube in Indonesian language.

The effort delayed us for about 30 mins. So after a quick photoshoot in front of the hotel, the two brothers were off for our 6-day cycling tour of Minangkabau country. We headed for Solok, roughly 60 kms east of Padang. From there we would head for Danau Singkarak for our overnight stay.

In the early morning of Saturday, traffic was still manageable and we made good progress. We came across a TEMPEL BAM stall just after about 10kms of cycling. This was in Marapalam.

Back home, you go to a bike shop to repair your puncture and you would be offered to purchase a new tube instead. There is no money in patching tubes. Not so in Indonesia. Their method though crude, worked.

The process started with heating the plate where the patched tyre would be placed under pressure. While the plate heated up, the area around the puncture would be sandpapered and a tar-like glue was spread evenly around. Then, a small patch from an old tube would be placed on the puncture to close the hole. To ensure complete air-proof, the patched part would then be screwed down to the hot place and heated up to ensure a good bind. The heated plate would be constantly checked.

Then began the wait for the patch to be good. No timer required. Through experience, the repairman knew when to remove the tube from the hot plate, otherwise we would have a melted tube. The whole process took about 20 mins. Cost to us was IR 5,000 (RM1.50), 10% the cost of a new tube.

While waiting, we struck a conversation with a salesman selling Proton cars. The showroom was opened a month back and they had sold 7 Wajas. I failed to jot down the price sold in Indonesia, but I believed it is cheaper than the Waja sold in Malaysia. Toyotas and Hondas are the more popular brands here.

Moving on, we came to a market. Being a weekend, the road was choker blocked. The spill over closed one lane of the two-lane road and we had to push the bike. There were just too many heavily-laden lorries too competing with the other vehicles.

I had told Muhamud earlier that a steep hill awaited us. Just like on my earlier trip, I bet he did not figure out how steep the hill would be. So there it was, looming up ahead waiting for these two cyclists.

To attempt to climb would be a folly. We had no records to beat, nor anything to prove to anyone. Safety always remain priority number One. Cycling up would raise my heart-rate to max, a situation I would want to avoid, especially since the heart beat will stay maxed for a considerable length of time.

We waited for a suitable vehicle to come by and to request for a lift. Luck was on our side. 15mins into the waiting, a passenger van stopped near us and a passenger alighted with several bales of fruit products.This left some space in the van. Inside there were still 3 schoolchildren and 1 lady. Putting the 2 bikes in would cramp their seating position. It is of course common for passenger vehicles in Indonesia to carry non-passenger items. I recalled at a village near Cilacap on my Jogjakarta trip last year, a van carried tree trunks!

So in my imitated Indon language, I negotiated with the driver
"Bisa bawa speda ke atas Pak, ke Setinjau Lauik" pointing my hand to the top of the hill.
"Bisa" he said.
"Berapa Pak?" He knew we were not Indons.
"Berapa Pak mahu bayar?" He asked back. This guy is smart. He knew he did not want to under-quote.
"40,000". I knew he would have accepted if I play hard. But I did not want to.
"50,000" he countered. What's an extra RM3.50. Done!
The next challenge was to fit the 2 bikes in the space. The 3 schoolchildren and the elderly lady were helpful. They make space at their expense, and they did not seem to mind.

So Muhamud sat in the rear with the other passengers and I was in front with the driver. I had all these funny stuff hanging on the front screen.. Amongst others, the "baboon" or whatever the creature was, was staring into my face.
The driver too had items hanging in front of him. Could he drive safely with all those items blocking his view? "Ah, di Indonesia semua nya bisa Pak". Indeed, pray nothing happened, otherwise it could be very "bisa" for us. By the way, I had purchased a Public Accident policy for both of us, a must in my travelling check list.

Checking my altitude on my Polar cyclo-cum-heart rate monitor, we were at 80m above sea level at the point of taking the van. We started at sea-level from Padang. In no time, the altitude was clocking higher altitudes and by the time we reached Setinjau Lauik, we were at 1,000m above sea-level, over roughly 8 kms distance. IR40,000 (RM14) for two passengers and 2 bikes were indeed worthwhile.

Setinjau Lauik is a view point. "Setinjau" would be "meninjau" in BM and "Lauik" is I believe the Minang version of "laut". Indeed from this view point, one could see Padang below and could also see the Indian Ocean.

Setinjau Lauik was not actually the peak. There was another 2kms of uphill but my contract with the driver was only up to Setinjau Lauik. He was reluctant to go beyond. Well, a 2kms push would be manageable.

The air was pleasantly cool and breezy which makes the effort of pushing less tiring. We came across a welcome sign, welcoming us to Kabupaten Solok. We stopped for a photo shoot, up above my pose were "fruits" hanging from the pillar. I prayed theses "fruits" would not suddenly ripen and fall off. If it does then Muhamud, my younger brother would enjoy free fruits, at my expense!

Of course, we joked about it. If only they were real fruits! Anyway, when we were at the real peak, the signboard below was for real. We need not care whether "MINTUO" or "MINMUDO".

We just felt we deserved this!


oops did I just say that? said...

thats a lot for 2 to eat!
heheh so funny

oops did I just say that? said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AHMAD said...

a'kum brother ,

How far is the peak of maninjau from the bottom of the mountain(climb starting point) ?

Atan from Ampang

ARZ said...

Bro Ahmad,

Are you referring to the peak at Setinjau Lauik? I estimate to be about 8 kms of climb.

Maninjau is not a mountain, but a lake which I would visit on Day 5 on this trip.