Making friends in Sumbawa

Sally waiting on the ferry

Sally waiting on the ferry

Half hour after we boarded the ferry to Sumbawa, Sal reminded me that there is NO BEER in Sumbawa…

As I ran off the ferry and back to the closest shop I heard the rumble of a group of big capacity bikes headed towards the pier, and there they were, about 10 Harleys and a few GS1200’s!!

I made it back to the ferry with some Bintang in hand, still in time for departure, and quickly made friends with the group, an organised tour mostly from Jakarta.  We chatted a bit about the ride through Flores, took some pics and then settled in for the 6 hour crossing to Sumbawa.

Which was predictably held up at the terminal for an hour, so by the time we got to Sape it was almost dark and we still had about 60km of very windy road to the next town – Bima to find a room.  Usually I’d love to join a group of guys on a ride, but the inclement darkness had me in a hurry so we said our goodbyes.

We arrived in Bima as darkness settled in, and tried a few hotels in town before one would let us stay.  Being told “full” at an obviously empty hotel has happened to us before in Indonesia, and we’re still unsure why.

There was a religious ceremony being held in the town square that night which made for an interesting walk around.  We knew that Sumbawa is more strictly Muslim than most of Indonesia, but seeing primary school age girls wearing a hijab was pretty strange.

Next morning we set off early hoping to beat the heat for the ride through Sumbawa.  We stopped at a little hut for a coffee mid morning, where Sal tried to make friends with a bunch of small rabbits running around the place…

“Sal they may have fleas…” i said as she scooped up the smallest one for a cuddle.


Back on the road and 5 mins later we buzzed through a town where there were 5 GS1200’s and an 1190 Adv parked on the side of the road, I confused them for the group we’d met on the ferry, and stopped to say hello.

“hi guys, where are the rest?”

“there are no more, just us”

“what about the harleys?”

“different group…”

“oh well, hey enjoy your ride, see you at the ferry terminal!”

We continued on for another hour before three of the bikes flashed past us as we rolled through another village.

Being passed by someone is not something that happens to us very often, and when it does it’s usually by a teenage kid on a local bike riding like his life depends on it, but being passed by 3 BMW’s hasn’t ever happened before.

I turned around and looked at Sal, she smiled… which I took as approval to join in, so we dropped a couple of gears and set off.

Now before anyone gets upset with me, we had been going very slowly at this point, proven by Sally’s comment later in the day

“you were going so slowly today was going to take forever, i was glad you sped up”

this is taking forever!

this is taking forever!

Ok so now we’re a group of 4 bikes snaking our way through Sumbawa, which was really fun.  So much fun that when my fuel light turned on about 25km before the road met the coast (and started to twist and turn again), I was a bit disappointed.

But we were all low on fuel, so the next Pertamina (fuel station) saw all of us pull up for a short break.  Before we knew it, we had a cold drink in one hand, and a slice of watermelon in the other.

“gift, lady first, take, drink!”

We sat and talked bikes with the guys for ten minutes as the other three of their group arrived before setting off again, bound for another roadside stop on the coast for lunch.

The next 30mins riding was rather spirited, but I managed to pick my way past all of the guys and shadowed a funny guy from Jogyakarta named Didier, who was the fastest of the group, for about 10km.  I showed him a wheel every now and then while trying (unsuccessfully) not to piss Sally off too much!

When we stopped at a little restaurant, Didier was wearing a broad smile and quickly suggested that he and I should leave the rest of the group and go out racing each other…

“ok no problem, but do you mind if I leave Sally here?” I asked a little tongue in cheek.

This was met by raucous laughter from the rest of the group.  We joined the guys for lunch, which they insisted on buying for us, grilled fish, steamed chinese broccoli and sambal, delicious and very generous!

The guys were great company, fellow motorcycle travellers with plans to visit Patagonia later in the year, so we had plenty to talk about.

After that we rode more or less as a group to the ferry terminal, where they managed to buy our tickets for us, refusing my attempts to work out who had paid, and how much it cost.

waiting for the ferry with our new friends

waiting for the ferry with our new friends

The group of Harleys we’d met the previous day were there too, so we made quite a sight, 30 enormous bikes rolling onto the ferry.

This crossing was quite short, 45 mins later we were looking at the terminal in Lombok, waved goodbye to all our new friends and set out to find a room for the night.

This part of Lombok is quite remote, so we were lucky to find a homestay just before dark and with no restaurants in the vicinity, the pasta, tomatoes and bintang we’ve been carrying since Flores were turned into quite a nice meal 🙂

I’m sorry but I cant remember all 6 names, (and I don’t think I can spell some of them), but Didier, Jimmi, Richard, Mesha and friends, a big hello and thank you to all of you guys, keep in touch and I hope you aren’t too cold in Patagonia!!

If you ever visit Australia come and stay with us in Adelaide!



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