An act of kindness
Day 1, Sat 8 Sep, 110 km. Singapore-Trikora. What's that sound? Oh, it's the alarm clock going off hours before dawn. I cycle 1.5 hours to the ferry teminal and pass the spot where three cyclists had been hit weeks ago. One died. Someone has laid a basket of flowers on the kerb. Under the street lights, the dew-laden air melds into the light grey road. At the ferry terminal, I wait. The last rider is almost an hour late. The check-in staff tells us to remove our bicycle accessories. "Say goodbye to your bike," he tells me with a laugh.
Our group of eight has two veterans from Laos and Taiwan. The rest are mostly newbies. Bike leader briefs them, then points at me and says, "If you can get ahead of him, you deserve to stay there." After an hour's riding to get out of "Bintanpore" (where prices are in SGD and as high) to the real Bintan, one of them pukes. He hurls. The locals watch, amazed. It's going to be a long day. After breakfast part 2, we cycle off. Kids wave and cheer. A motorcyclist gives me the thumbs up. I cycle ahead, mulling over work, head and heart matters. I somehow miss a turn, but don't realise this yet.
|Have ice cream, will travel|
After an hour's wait, I call bike leader. Turns out he's just a few minutes away, having a break. He's sent the newbies ahead so that we get to the hotel during daylight. And we do. They celebrate with beer. I toast them, with ice cream. Some newbies decide to skip the ride tomorrow, including the ride treasurer. And I somehow end up being appointed treasurer - the one who handles the cash and pays the bills. My first such appointment.
Nightstop: Ocean Bay Resort
A wrong turn
As we regroup, I tell bike leader there seems to be a shop that sells cold drinks. "I didn't say cold beer," I stress. "You seem to be right," he says after I lead them there. There is a fridge with cold drinks. I ask for ice and glasses. Bike leader says, "This is a shop, not a restaurant." He's right. I try to cancel my request. Glasses of ice appear. Sorry to impose and thank you so much for your hospitality. It's hot and sunny.
Like yesterday, kids say hello. A motorcyclist on the other side of the road beeps me. A passenger in a car give me a thumbs up. Passing vehicles give me a wide berth. Ahead, I see two Caucasians by the roadside looking at a big unfolded map. I give them directions. "Is it hilly?" one asks. I ask, "Where are you from, are you from Holland?" They reply, "Singapore". "There's nothing like that over there," I say. They have a long way to go.
At the ferry terminal, I find out how true is the saying that it's in "Bintanpore". Prices are in Singapore dollars and Singapore rates. A couple occupy three chairs, with their bag taking up the third seat. I'm told only one seat is available. A second couple remove their bag for us. Seconds later, the first couple pay the bill and walk away. Guess you're not kind Indonesians, are you?