Not just a Bike Ride

Last month I decided to go on a bike trip with our tour guide Sandy and one of our guests from Holland. I knew it would be fun, as Sandy loves exploring and is always on the hunt for new and interesting routes. We only had to drive fifteen minutes outside Makassar and we were in Barombong, a pleasant little village, set right by the sea. As soon as we stepped out the car, to start our bike ride, we were instantly hit with greetings from all the locals who were sat outside their houses. Some of them greeted us in Indonesian; ‘Selamat pagi’, which means ‘Good morning’ and others were keen to use the English they knew, especially three young boys that were playing around by a tree. They were full of laughter trying to use their English with us. It lifted my spirits up so high to see how welcome they made us feel, even though we were strangers to them.

So as we got on our bikes and started to ride through this village the friendliness continued. Everyone was smiling and waving at us. None of them failed to shout ‘Hello Mister!’ You can also hear people shout out ‘Singgah’, which translates to ‘please stop and take a rest here.’ This was not the end to their kindness. After we had biked for some time, Sandy stopped at a woman on the side of the road, bought a watermelon and took us to a local person’s wooden house to eat it and drink coffee.

The man and woman who lived in this house were very welcoming and would do anything to make us feel comfy. As we ate our watermelon and drank our coffee, I watched how all the children were outside playing with each other. There was no technology and these kids didn’t need it because they were giggling continuously. I also noticed how each house was open to everyone. Children came from all around and sat with us. They were of no relation to the old man who lived there but they were very close and comfortable with him. No permission to come and sit down was needed. Then a little old woman walked by and needed to take a rest, so without even looking at the owner of the house, she came and joined us all. We spent half an hour there chatting with the children and learning how fascinated they are about western people. I started to realize this was more than just a bike trip.

As we biked through tunnels of trees and small broken paths, which I would never have found on my own, it was easy to see we were right in the middle of nature. We passed by houses with washing lines hung across the road, big houses built right next door to little huts and so many fields with people carrying out their daily, farming duties. It was so relaxing that there was not one part of me that wanted to bike off at a high speed. Of course, there were many questions I asked Sandy and he never failed to answer one of them. He told us all about the palm trees you can see around the village, which we thought were like all other palm trees and grew coconuts. However, he explained that these palm trees are called Lontar palm trees and can only be found in certain parts of Sulawesi and on the islands of Nusa Tenggara. They don’t grow coconuts but another type of fruit, which is used to make wine and sugar. The wine has a thicker texture then the ones you can buy in the supermarket and the taste is something you would not expect from a wine, however it is very strong. If you ask, Sandy would be more than happy to try and find some for you to try.

After biking around the village, stopping of at a local school and being shown around by excited children, who sang songs for us, we stopped for lunch at another local house. We met a little old woman who lived there with her daughter and sat with them under their, 300 years old, wooden house. The daughter had prepared a delicious meal, which included fish, chicken, vegetables and few other tasty dishes. As we relaxed there more and more people started to show up. They were nephews and sons of the old woman, who were all so friendly and loved sharing their stories. I had to ask if they minded visitors coming through their village, as it’s their home and not a tourist sight. However, they told me they love meeting everyone who Sandy brings through the village, as they can also learn about the western culture. It was a lovely way to end our trip before making our way back over the river, on the tinniest boat I’ve been on. There was nothing else I could have asked for. The bikes were good and strong, the pace was adjusted as necessary and we even had our own water bottle to keep on our bikes. The trip was so enjoyable I didn’t even realize we had biked 20km. I saw the real lifestyle of village people that day and it’s safe to say they are some of the happiest people I’ve met.

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