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I’m the lizard king, I can do anything

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The title of this post comes from Jim Morrisson, singer of The Doors. At the peak of his popularity, as controversial singer and poet. worldwide sex symbol, it seemed he could do no wrong. I feel like that sometimes after traveling for so long.

Today was a big day. After yesterday’s record breaking motorbike trip of 10 hours and over 400 km, I was finally going to the Togean Islands. They are almost literally the pearls of Sulawesi and provide diving, good food and people who speak my language. I have been trekking through jungle, living on rice with instant noodles is restaurant and haven’t even *seen* a tourist for almost 2 weeks (let alone talked to them).

The 4 hour boat trip was an excellent start. A 60 year old former IT consultant with enormous travel experience provided interesting diversion of the scorching heat. Once arrived at the quay of my destination the problems started immediately: discussion over the fee for the motorbike, angry locals and what not. It boiled down to a misunderstanding due to the language barrier, but my nerves had been tested.

Per tradition, I didn’t want to go to the ‘big famous place’ but to the intimate family / locals hang out. When I asked for directions for the motorbike trip they told me two things: a) road no good b) we can charter an expensive private boat for you (costing the equivalent of 5 hotel nights including food). Further agitated I continued my way.

It might be difficult to see, but the collapsed (!) bridge on the picture is still in service. Which should have been a hint for the quality of the road.

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Soon afterwards I thought ‘this road will definitely make it into the top 3 of words roads of the trip’. Minutes later that changed into: ‘who are you kidding? This is the most difficult road of your trip!’. It’s difficult to describe the amount of mud and pools I’ve driven through, but let’s say there were many.

A picture of my motorcycle, giving an impression of the experience

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Shared suffering is always better. Unfortunately, there was absolutely nobody on this road to share my suffering with. I just started to consider turning back, when my worst nightmare happened: after driving through yet another mud-pool my motorbike stopped working during the ascent of a small hill. And there I was: without tools (I wouldn’t be able to use them anyway), in the middle of nowhere, stuck in the mud with a motorbike and a heavy backpack. And it was slowly getting dark…

I knew my rations exactly, as I had bought them the previous night: half a liter of water, 2 small bottles of illegally imported rum, 1 packet of biscuits and 5 chewing gums. However, no tent and no desire to sleep unprotected in the Sulawesi jungle on my own. I pushed the bike twice up the hill and even a combination of the electric starter and kicking the bike into gear won’t get it running. I decided that I would start marching back to the capital, leaving my motorbike in the jungle after the last try.

If you’re reading this, you probably know that I’m one of the least superstitious people on this planet (my universe just doesn’t work like that). Somehow, when I was on the top of the hill I thought: ‘if you (the motorbike) start on this last run I promise you three things 1. We’re going back 2. The best wash you will ever get 3. A picture of a beautiful Italian Ducati motorbike to look at.

I’ve already kept the first two promises. The red bike below is the third.

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Thanks buddy!

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