Tag Archives: motorbike

R.I.O.–My Motorbike

One of the things I love most about living here is that one of the easiest ways to get around is to take a motorbike.  I really enjoy riding, especially since I don’t know that I’ll ever go near a motorcycle in the US.  The biggest difference is the speed: here, you are usually going somewhere around 20-30 mph, and there’s no freeways.  Although accidents happen all the time and people do get seriously injured, it is usually because they weren’t wearing a helmet.  Needless to say, I always wear mine (I have  wife and 2 kids; no way I’m going to ride around without one!).

Bikes are a lot smaller here than in the US.  The biggest you ever see on the road is 250cc (cubic centimeters), and that’s rare.  Most bikes here are 110cc-125cc, and there’s another slightly bigger class of bike that’s usually 150cc-160cc.  That sounds tiny, but considering the driving style, the road conditions, and the speeds it’s more than enough.  Here’s my bike:

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It’s a 2009 Honda SupraX, with a 125cc engine and a centrifugal clutch.  It does everything I could want it to: it’s quick around town and for weaving in and out of traffic jams, and it can go plenty fast when I get out on the open road on the way to the village.  There I can usually go somewhere around 75-85kph (47-53mph).  The bike maxes out around 110kph (68mph) but I rarely go that fast here.  Gas mileage is around 90-100mpg, so no complaints there!

Of course, I’m always dreaming and I’d love to have an older bike to work on and restore.  I saw this one yesterday and loved it (the photo has been Instagrammed):2012-05-07 10.32.20

It’s a Honda Win, 100cc.  Older bike, but classic style, reliable, and literally able to go anywhere here since it’s so light.  But that’s for me to dream about…

One more shot of my bike:

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  One of my favorite things to look for is some of the crazy things people put on the backs of their bikes here. You’ll see families of 5 (even 6!) all on one bike, a huge pile of wood on the back, things for sale, 10 foot bamboo poles, and all kinds of other crazy stuff. Next time we get some good pictures we’ll post them here.  One of the other things on the to-do list is to get some video while riding the bike to give you a taste of traffic here.  Coming soon…


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Filed under RIOs, travel

An interesting village trip

A few days ago I took a trip out past the village we will live in to go visit another member of the translation team who lives much, much further out in the middle of nowhere.  No cell phone reception, and either a 30 minute boat trip or a 20 minute, really nasty trail to ride on the motorbike.

On the upside, because it is so remote the village is all the same ethnicity, which means the language and culture aren’t all mixed up with everybody else’s.  It means we have some great research opportunities there, although for the foreseeable future it will probably just be me (Matt) by myself making trips out there.

The trail to get there was beautiful:

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Although I rode my motorbike all the way in, I opted not to do so on the way out.  Thinking about taking a bad fall off the bike out there where the next person may not come along for a few hours/days and there’s no phone reception made me decide to take a boat back out instead of the trail.  So, in the standard Indonesian utilitarian way, we just put my motorbike on the front of an outrigger canoe:

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While I was there, I had the chance to meet some very talented musicians, and learn about a 2-string guitar-like instrument they have:


Unfortunately the art of playing and building these instruments is almost dead, but the gentleman above still knows how to do both!  Hopefully in the next few months he’ll have made a few new ones – one for me and another new one for himself.  You can see in the picture that the instrument looks a lot like a boat – there’s a very good reason for that considering they are a fishing culture.

In the morning I also had a chance to go out fishing with a few of the guys.  Here, they fish using spear guns.  I don’t have a great picture of the guns, but you can see the fronts of some here:


To get in and out of the village, you have to sail through a mangrove swamp:



Once we got out to the fishing spot, the guys just hop of the boat and go diving with their spear guns, popping up every once in a while to toss their catch into the canoe.


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Something else I saw out there that caught my eye was this guy in his boat:


At first I couldn’t figure out what he was doing, playing with some hose in his boat.  And why was he running an air compressor in his canoe?  Then, I realized that he was only the guy on the surface – the other members of his team were diving down deep below to fish, using the air from the compressor to breathe.  If you have seen BBC’s Human Planet series, the episode on Oceans shows fishermen doing this in the Philippines.  It’s called compressor diving, and it’s not the safest thing in the world.

This turned out to be a pretty interesting trip.  On my way back, I had a chance to swing by the village we’re going to live in, and I was encouraged to see that work has started on our house!  Hopefully in a few months we can finally start living there as a family.

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Filed under Ethnoarts