We hurtled and bounced, and bounced and hurtled. In between the bounces we cursed the foolish optimistic Lonely Planet writer, who had deemed this particular bit of hell 'a decent road with some dodgy patches', that was 'easily manageable for a competent scooter rider'. He failed completely to mention that said scooter rider would have to be sat comfily in the passenger seat of a 4wd truck, and preferably have a penchant for nasty cranial bruising.
Our pleasant little day's ride had just taken on epic proportions, and we bombed it past Balinese temples and Hindus in traditional sarongs, zoomed through scenic villages and around volcanoes, and completely failed to reach the other side before nightfall.
We crossed over to Sumbawa, and I was thrilled to be on an island I had only found out existed the day before.
We got lost again whilst looking for the grilled fish shack-restaurant made famous by one weary Aussie traveller in the Lonely Planet. A tiny fishing village was completely over-run with goats, and they sat about on the house porches, glaring at us for intruding. The entire village came out to wave at us, and we rode through in a strangely imperial way, waving from the wrist...
We found our fish restaurant, and attempted to mime to the lady that we would please like to sleep in one of her convenient pagoda huts on the shore. Understandably, miming this sentence whilst filthy and sweating and sitting on a daft-looking bike gave us few results. After the fourth attempt, which involved the drawing of a tent, the lady looked a little tired, smiled wanly, and said 'yes.' That was all it took, and we started unloading.
Sumbawa carried on being gorgeous. The roads continued being near-perfect, the villages sustained their quaintness, and we decided never to leave...
Our rapid-fire exchange of stories was shortlived though when we had all bought our tickets for the ferry, and waited patiently to load, only to discover the truck wouldn't fit on. The bike, however, did. They would catch the next ferry across at 12pm, so we agreed to keep in touch and meet up on the other side.
At one point we stopped at a tiny shack for grub, only to suddenly be interrupted by two Irish on a borrowed scooter from Lombok. They stormed in, completely took us and all the villagers by surprise, told us a story and left. The villagers looked like they had just seen a goat mounting the mullah. I don't think they saw us foreigner-weirdos much, certainly not complete with strange vehicles.
Not being able to make it to anywhere with an actual town-centre before darkness, we found a spare bit of beachy wasteland, and camped with the others. The village turned out to see what we were about, and a man with an enormous harpoon wandered about barefoot.
Amazingly after last time, the tent survived, and, even better, knackered from sudden social contact, we slept like logs.
At Ende the next day we tried to determine the ferry timings across to W Timor. The ferry was allegedly on the Friday, but we had heard a billion differing views, including one that said it had not departed for a month...
By this time we had to zoom, and we pegged it all the way across to Larantuka to make it in time for the ferry.