What could two English teachers possibly want from a holiday?
Take our hobbies and profession, add them all together and you will come up with The Great Lombok Sumbawa Adventure.
- 2 Mountain bikes
- 1 Camera
- 4 Legs
- 2 Islands
- 2 Crazy English Teachers
- 4 Government Schools
- 320 English Students
- 1 Dennis
After cycling 80 grueling km across Lombok‘s mountainous terrain we found ourselves on the ferry going over the Alas strait. The cost of the ferry was only Rp 15,000 and a bargain at that. As the ferry approached we could see quite clearly the arid hills of Sumbawa that were awaiting us. The ferry docked just as the sun was setting and we had to find a place to eat and sleep quickly. After a quick look at the map the cold hard truth hit us. It was another 45 km to the nearest town with a hotel. Options were limited and the time was running out. We found ourselves in a small warung eating cold rice when all of a sudden a dark figure with a sword and several cows walked in and stood in front of us. ‘You sleep, house my, come! Me Dennis.’ How could we refuse?
Dennis’ House to Sumbawa Besar
Sleeping on the floor in a Bamboo hut on stilts and being presented to the village leader was a true sign that our adventure had begun. The hot cup of coffee at 5 a.m. brought back some source of life and it was back on the road. We cycled through 5 villages that day and word of two foreigners on bikes was spreading faster than we could cycle. Children lined the side of the roads and cheered us on. The roads were good and we made great time to Sumbawa Besar and a real bed. Dennis telephoned to ask how we were that night, how thoughtful of him.
Sumbawa Besar to Plampang
After 12 hours of the deepest sleep you can imagine we left the coast and ventured into the highlands of Sumbawa. The road to Plampang was breathtaking, a sea of green on both sides of us and wildlife jumping out at us, buffalos, snakes, bees, horses and not a scent of pollution in the air. Plus, there was never a dull moment as the occasional person driving alongside us and took the opportunity to practice their English at 20 km per hour. We reached our destination, which really was a small village in the hills of Sumbawa. That night was spent talking to shocked and confused locals who could not understand why we just hadn’t taken the bus. We had 4 missed calls from Dennis that day, how strange!
Plampang to Dompu
The morning started with a visit to Plampang High School. Think of your school but take away the books, the computers, and the posters, in fact take away all the great facilities we take for granted. That was Plampang High School. Yet there was one special thing about that place, the people. We were welcomed and talked to so many wonderfully enthusiastic students and committed teachers. We taught 2 classes which were filled with English activities and games. ‘Would you like a pen pal in Jakarta?’ We asked. Hands shot up in the air. ‘YES!’ screamed the students. So the students completed postcards for some lucky students.
Hills? Mountains more like. We shall refer to this as ‘THE BIG ONE’ or ‘THE KILLER’.
Back on the bikes and the real work started. The road was now bumpy and every tooth in our mouths rattled with each pothole we hit. This was our make or break day and we soldiered on km after km. At times the only things that kept us going were the people who came running out of their houses to encourage us, and the incredible rolling hills. These rolling hills slowly turned into one big mountain and sadly, Dompu was on the other side. This was ‘THE BIG ONE’ or ‘THE KILLER’. Every muscle in our legs ached and our clothes were soaking with sweat. We reached the summit of the mountain as the sun began to set. We had smiles from ear to ear when we saw Dompu below us, far on the hazy horizon. Day turned into night and we cruised down for 5 km allowing our legs to cry with delight at not having to pedal any more. Before falling unconscious in bed we noticed we had another 6 missed calls from Dennis, how freaky!
Dompu High School was next on our list and it was non-stop fun and excitement for teachers and students alike. We had communicative activities with as much laughter as you can possibly have in an English class. Again the people were fantastic. After 3 hours it was once again time to jump on the bikes. Well when I say jump, I mean slowly sit and ease into the saddle.
We started at a snails pace as the previous day had taken all our energy. Yet once again the people that cheered and shouted ‘hello’ ‘morning mister’ ‘bule gila’ gave us extra spring. At one point we noticed that we actually had about 30 primary school children running behind us for about 1 km. We had to stop and take pictures of these kids’ ecstatic faces.
The final part of this massive journey entailed being smuggled aboard a local fisherman’s boat and taken across the one km stretch, which is Bima Bay. Yet no day was complete without several missed calls from Dennis, We were starting to get worried!
Total Distance covered: 432 km
5 classes at a High School and a Primary School in Bima. We were at this point 2 smelly tired foreigners walking into the classrooms and creating a buzz of excitement throughout the whole school. We had students standing in doorways and looking through windows to see what the sudden blast of action packed English was about.
By now we had become Sumbawan Celebrities. We were being stopped on the streets and asked to come and visit different schools and groups. We kindly accepted one of these offers and went to a local primary schools and put on an impromptu pantomime. It was about an evil monster (played by Rob) a princess (by Rima – Student) and a monkey (by Agus). We are happy to report that the evil monster was killed by the Beautiful Princess and the Brave Monkey. Guess who called after that? Yes you got it, Dennis! Do you think should we change our telephone numbers?
Day of rest!
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