Another lie in and an anxious wait to see whether the truck will arrive on time. We get a few messages to say that the truck is on it’s way, but 12pm comes and goes and we are looking at when we can possibly get to Medan to meet the other teams. The truck finally arrives at 1:30 and we hastily put The Bouncy Bus on the truck. The wrong way round. No matter, we will turn it around when we pick up Tuk Too Long, but this is all eating into time needed to get to the airport.

We head to Tuk Too Long with our overly happy truck driver Edi, eating chicken and goat satay in the back of the truck whilst drinking Bintang. We manage to turn The Bouncy Bus and hence make space for Tuk Too Long – it was massively tight and the too tuks basically head-butted each other once the truck was on the road. We blag a lift with the truck to the airport, taking another two hours and catch a plane to Jakarta, as that is the only way to get to Medan. Turns out to be the quickest check in ever. From buying the tickets, security check 1, security check 2, boarding and taking off takes LESS THAN 20mins. Ridiculous. However, it doe not matter as when we get to Jakarta, there are no more connecting flights to Medan, so we head to Equal Park to say hello, listen to Reggae and drink Bintang. Tomorrow morning is another new day on this difficult journey, but this time without the tuks, which is demoralising…

Another disappointing lie in. The hope throughout this whole trip was to be waking early and hitting the road to eat up the kilometers, but in reality, it has been lie in after lie in waiting for mechanics, or simply not being able to hit the road. In truth, the Bouncy Bus has been (engine wise at least) pretty good, and if it was like this from the start we would have had a pretty good chance driving all the way and making the finish, but c’est la vie. The aim now is to get the machine to the finish line and the only way to do this is by truck.
The 5 of us split up and Chris, Adrian and myself are on the road side trying to flag down vehicles whilst Andy and Jim are on the phone trying to chase up leads. On the road we find many truck companies, but they are asking for tens of millions in Rupiah to transport – this is just not possible, so we manage to find a guy on the road who is much cheaper. We wait around for about 90 mins whilst he finds a driver, but then it soon dawns on us that he is not coming back. Back to flagging down, but we get nowhere! Back at the hotel, Jim and Andy have a few leads at reasonable prices. We head back to the hotel and choose a truck that is heading out tonight. The guy turns up and we drive down with him and the Bouncy Bus to where the truck is parked. We arrive to find the driver asleep, told that it is now not leaving until tomorrow, and that it will now take 5 days! Not what we needed, so reluctantly turn back and contact another driver leaving tomorrow, who takes 3 days. Another night to check in and a rather nervous wait on whether this truck is going to come through for us.

We wake as the ship pulls into Sumatra and the view is beautiful. The Bus (as always) refuses to start so is jump started down the ramp of the ship. First port of call is brunch. There is nowhere really appetising to be seen, so we head on the only road out of the port – one great mutha of a hill. The bouncy bus bounces up easily and we find a cafe to have some coffee. Tuk Too Long is nowhere to be seen though. I hope on the back of a passing bike and head back down the hill. Tuk Too Long are halfway down and have stalled it. After a few attempts, the team manage to get it started and manage to keep high revs up to the top. We rest for coffee and find out that there is a hot spring which is on the way to where we plan to end up for the night, Bandar Lampung. Setting off with the promise of hot springs 10km away, we head out feeling good about being on the road, but firmly in the know that we have got to cover about 1200 km in two-and-a-half days. Impossible. Maybe. We look for the springs, but cannot see them for love nor money.Stopping for lunch, we are informed that we have passed them by about 10km. How? Is anything gonna go right?! Deciding to forget the springs and push on, we get a few more “customary” photo opportunities with locals and tourists alike. Tired and famous! A shower and bed is calling and we are almost at Bandar Lampung when disaster strikes – Tuk Too Long have broken down again. We pull in to a police station at the top of a ginormous hill and inspect the machine. Several things are check, pulled apart, but the tuk will not start. After about 90 mins, Chris get under and has a look – he finds the problem and this time it is terminal. Some of the wirs have been resting on the exhaust and the shething and some of the wires have completely melted. It is the end. Adrian, Jim and Andy are gutted, plain to see. After much deliberation and efforts to explain to the police, it is decided that we head into Bandar Lampung, rest and organise a truck to Medan tomorrow, as The Bouncy Bus has also lost it’s exhaust and is not healthy enough to travel the distance.

So with massive disappointment and a police escort, we head on to Bandar Lampung to shower, eat and drown our sorrows…

We take a little lie in as we know this could be the last one for a while. Cup of coffee and a quick call to the mechanic and the cable has been delayed. Ok. We try and find out also whether Tuk Too Long are going to be able to convoy with us – they are working, but may not be able to leave as they have had a completely new engine block made. We awaiting with anticipation, but constantly checking the clock… 1pm comes and goes and there is still nothing. Will we ever get moving?? This is starting to grate on us a little…

The hours start rolling by and we are keen to get on. We have been given a new time of 5pm to get moving, so we start making the final preparations (ordering food and a few Bintang!)  to make sure we are ready for the road. 6pm come s and goes, the phone goes and Tuk Too Long are on their way! Awesome – time to hit the road again. But then we must go through some formalities, namely a good bye drink, mechanic payments, some T-Shirt swapping, and a few customary photos. This takes our set off time to 7:30pm. With our simple map to get out of Jakarta, we envisage that if we continue driving through the night, we should be able to get to the port for about 1 or 2am, allowing for a couple of rest breaks. Once we get to the port we can sleep until we get to Sumatra and continue on the road….
Now this was an ideal situation, and this whole trip has been far from ideal. So in reality:
1) It takes us 3.5 hours to get out of JAKARTA. We manage (somehow) to do a complete circle of the northern part of Jakarta, which included two breakdowns.

2) Once we get on the right path, Big Bali Bus and Tuk Too Long are separated, adding another 20 mins to find each other.

3) We hit the open road, have a couple of rest breaks, but then break down as the new clutch cable stretches and is unresponsive. It needs to be tightened again at around 2am.
As the tuks enter Merak we see the Golden Arches and hunger hits us all. We attempt a drive thru, but they do not let us. So we stop and refuel on sausage and egg McMuffins and coffee. The afterburners (yeah right) are then on and we push on to the port. The Bali Bus is agonisingly close to the ports when there is a bang and the machine really starts to pull. The engine cover is opened up again, and at first everything looks good. Then Chris sports that the engine seems rather lower than usual. Ahhh, our engine mount has broken. Shit. We park up as best we can, I go off to find water as I’m massively dehydrated, and Chris goes off to find bolts. Mission success means we are re-hydrated and bolts are attached for the engine mount. We finally make it after about 15hrs of driving (and breakdowns) and feel a sense of achievement. This joy is not shared by some locals, as a little boy (about 10) greets us all with a middle finger and a smile. Just no pleasing some people. We are, however entertained by some locals who are jumping off the ship into the blue water below. After being awake for 26+hrs, this looks so refreshing and very inviting – until we see the waste ejected from the ship. Suddenly conversation turns to the curiously big poo which is bobbing in the beautiful blue water and the dynamics needed to expel such a thing – at this point we all know it’s time to get some sleep…

We start the day trying trying to work out our options as we are very conscious of time and feel that shipping the rickshaw further up the Sumatran cost can buy us time. We head to the shipping port and try and find out the possibilities, but they are only two:

1) A ship straight to Medan which leaves Friday and gets two days;

2) Get a ship to Pedang, but it does not have a timetable so they do not know when it will leave.

We explore trucking options, but that will take 6 days – again another option which is not viable. We decide that we may have better luck on the Sumatran side once we take the ferry, or even try and do some trans-island business on the ferry with some empty truck drivers…

We grab lunch and make it back to the bar – Waat De Tuk?! The Bouncy Bus is moving on it’s own steam. Woo Hoooo!!! We are ecstatic and and get the low down from the mechanic, who obviously knows his stuff – battery is now charging and the thing starts up first time, and everytime!! There is one problem though – he forgot to make our clutch cable! He was so focused on the engine problems that he simply forgot. No problems, he will have it done by 11am tomorrow so we can then set off. We want to stay with the one that we have, but we wanna make sure that we are in the best shape possible for the final leg of the journey. We decide to stay another night, slightly reluctantly, but Dandy the bar owner and his “peoples” have made us so welcome, that it’s ok staying another night. As that is now decided, we get taken off to the port for a little “canoeing”, after which we head to a massive fish market to pick up some fish for an impromptu BBQ at the bar. A few Bintang and some BBQ’d fish later, we are enjoying our surroundings, but know that this is the last night here and some hard driving is ahead of us…

Another day, another horrendous hangover! As always though the first thing on our mind is The Bouncy Bus. They have started work and we get regular status from Deni, owner of the Equal Park Bar, and generally one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. We are told that the previous mechanics that we went to in Surabaya have messed up big style and there are a few issues which need to be resolved, including re-boring the cylinder and putting on a bigger piston head. A few other things are also needed, so we leave the mechanic to get on with it.

The other teams are desperately trying to organise a truck to take them to Pedang in the middle of Sumatra. It is a decent idea, but we opt out as we want the driving and the challenge of least amount of trucking possible. Also, we won’t be ready by the time they leave, so it simply is not an option. Tuk Too Long are in a similar position to us, so there is a possibility that we can convoy with Adrian, Jim and Andy.

We then find out that the other teams have sorted out the truck, paid for flights to get themselves to Sumatra, but two of their rickshaws that were in the with mechanic (Shitty Shitty Tuk Tuk and Smokin’ Indo) are not ready. In a snap decision they decided to put the engines on the back seats of their tuks and push the machines to load onto truck – pure craziness…! We are amazed as they need to be some very, very fortunate puppies to get them repaired in Sumatra. They may even have to fly a mechanic over from Jakarta! We’ll see… :0)

We know that we will not be on the road till at least the afternoon of Day 10, so we relax and discuss the possibilities of getting to Medan (the finishing line) in 4 days. It cannot be driven all the way – or can it? We go backward and forward to this and decided to at least see when the machine is fixed and ready to hit the road. We ARE driving that thing – there is not argument there – it just how far we can we push it in the limited time that we have after Bouncy Bouncy is off the operating theater?!

We meet up with the very hospitable folks at the bar (where we are now staying), drink and listen to live reggae, then get taken out on a quick late night tour of Jakarta. Really awesome city. Let’s hope their mechanics are just as awesome…

Joy of joys, we have made it to Jakarta! It’s 6am, 27 degrees and sunny. We have made it to Jakarta, but what of our mode of transport? We are yet to find out…

First thing first: food. We eat with the Dangerous Mooses and then sort out accommodation for the night – we know we are going to be here for at least that long. We check in and start making our way to the freight train depot, when we bump into Micheal from Shitty Shitty Tuk Tuk. We find out that 5 out of 6 teams are in Jakarta: Frank Sumatra, Smokin’ Indo, Shitty Shitty Tuk Tuk, Royal Canadian Rickshaw Rallyers and us. Tuk Too Long are on their way and will be in Jakarta later. It turns out that all of us (apart from Frank Sumatra who have lost their keys and now hot-wiring their beast), are broken and needing mechanics. Mikey is right on it and helps us find The Bouncy Bus (smiling for no good reason as always…) after much walking over railway tracks and cracking jokes with the locals. We manage (after some tense negotiation) to get it on the back of a truck and take it to where Smokin’ Indo and Shitty Shitty Tuk Tuk are being repaired. This takes up about 5 hours and we is hungry. Quick call to Danger Moose (who left us a lovely note on our rickshaw, and a lovely but not so welcome Canadian flag sticker in our windscreen…) and it turns out that they have broken down 15km driving oot (sorry) of Jakarta. This is starting to get a little ridiculous…

We eat and get back to the mechanics who are working in a hotel carpark. They want to get the machines to their shops, and there is then an argument between the mechanics, middle men and some randoms. Turns out that they are arguing over who was working on which machines. We realise that our mechanic has grasped our problem so we tell him that we are happy to push The Bus to his shop. Sorry “Shop”. It turned out to be 2km away (lots of “hitting” the machine at pacing and driving driving driving like a rolling maul) and at the top of a multistory car park. Now why would you (and lots of other mechanics for that matter), decide to put a mechanic shops at the top of a multistory carparks? That’s a whole world of pain pushing dead vehicles to the top level… It was not so bad though with the tuk tuk – Chris even pulled out some India towing style by jumping on the back of a random  motorcycle and pushing with his foot. “Terrific leg drive old boy!”

So we get our vehicle to the mechanic. Two more to go. Thankfully the other mechanic organises a tow and we are done in no time. All that’s left to do is have a much needed bath in the pool, chill, and catch up with the rest of the crew for a much needed story exchange and drinking session.

Hopefully tomorrow is gonna be a fine day for The Bouncy Bus and we can hit the road again!

Water and paracetamol was very much needed this morning, but we powered on through with the hope of getting our Bajaj (“Badge-Ai” = Tuk Tuk) back on the road. First stop mechanic shop (this is beginning to seem like Groundhog Day…) The mechanics act like they are confident that they will get the thing fixed, but it seems false. We try to keep the faith, but really we are dreading the 4pm “it still is not fixed” chat. We hook up with Danger Moose who are putting their Tuk on the freight train to Jakarta to try and catch up some time. This gets us thinking…

Now we did not sign up for dragging our mode of transport around and we have been very reluctant even to put our machine on the truck to Surabaya to get it repaired, but we had to do it. We simply did not have an option as there are very few places to get the thing repaired (unlike India where there  were more rickshaw mechanics than fresh air…). So we start thinking that the best option (begrudgingly) may be to  get the machine to Jakarta where they have decent rickshaw mechanics (they are everywhere in Jakarta). We still hope that it will get fixed though…

4pm deadline comes and goes. We are desperately trying to communicate with them as to if it will get fixed, but it is no good. 5pm comes, passes and we still have no joy. Then a women who speaks perfect English comes out of nowhere and translates for us. Bacon saved. It turns out that they do not know what the problem is, they are closed on Sunday, and will not start work again till Monday morning. Not good and not on. We have got about 30 mins to get it to the freight train, so we make a snap decision to just pay the mechanics for what they have done (extortion does not describe what they were demanding), and push the “Not-so-Bouncy” Bali Bus 1km to the train station. A little more extortion later and the smiling clapped-out tin can is on the frieght train. Of course this whole situation could not go without incident, and as Chris is clearing out the vehicle of tools etc, some random guy rocks up on his scooter, takes our full jerry-can and starts filling up his bike. What The Tuk?! Chris turns round, notices the jerry-can is missing, clocks the guy, taps him on the shoulder, points at the jerry-can and says “Err, what are you doing? That’s mine!” The guy simply looks a bit sheepish, hands it over, says sorry and drives away! Ridiculous.

After a full-on day filled with disappointment, we get fed and showered, then join Danger Moose on the Midnight Train to Jakarta…

We get an unexpected visit from Danger Moose from Vancouver who, after some initial pleasantries, proceeded to tel us what happened when the rocked up to the same mechanic the previous evening where The Bouncy Bus was residing. It was not good. It went something like this:
“So we were cruising around in the ‘shaw and came across the same mechanic where you rickshaw was parked. We rocked up and it looked as though they were just finishing your machine; they fired it up and oil just started spewing oot EVERYWHERE. We were like ‘that does NOT look good, dude!'”

Disclaimer: Dustin, Scott and Jason – if you are reading this please take no offense at the interpretation above. This is how it is in my head. I think I got the “oot” right though…  ;0)

 

Basically going from bad to worse. We head to the mechanics hoping that they knew what was going on. We stole a translator guy from Danger Moose and asked what was going on. They said that they were having issues with the piston, but they were certain that it would be fixed by 4pm. Hmmm… 4pm seems to be a running theme here… Anyway, we have (little) faith and decide to spend a few hours at a great water park that Owen the translator (and tour guide) recommended. It was not a good recommendation and was really catered for little kids. So we behaved like little kids for a couple of hours and then got a bored. Onward to the mechanic – tally ho!!

4pm at the mechanic and they are still not finished. WTF?!! They say that they need to rebore the cylinder,  a new piston is needed and new piston rings. Getting frustrated, we asked when it will be done by. Guess what?! 4pm tomorrow. We ask if this is for definite and they say yes of course! We are not so confident…
We meet up with Danger Moose crew who have had a far better day in fixing their problems, and go oot (sorry I mean out… please see disclaimer above!) on the town for multiple much needed Bintangs…  Water and paracetamol at the ready!

So we hit the mechanic hoping that the damage to The Bus’ engine is minimal. At first it looks good. The carburetor gasket has melted only into the carburetor and the head looks clean. So we leave them to make some new gaskets and explore Surabaya. Having not seen too much of interest and desperate to get back on the road we head back to the mechanic. Where the engine is in pieces and looks of astonishment is on every mechanics face. The news is not so good. We had blown out the piston rings and the cylinder was a mess. We asked how long it would take to fixed and they said “tomorrow 4pm”. We’re reasonably happy with that and drag our sorry asses back to the hotel to reflect on the dismal news…