on yer bike, part one

by jo walker

This is a bit of a personal post, but please bear with me. Christmas is always a good time for giving to charity and since my aunty Sally and cousin Arie drove halfway across Indonesia to promote the Australian Cranio Maxillo Facial Foundation and Yayasan Senyum Bali, I know they do good work. Sally was nice enough to write up the trip for her frankie friends, so have a read if you've got a sec...

"In my family I have the honour of being the dotty old aunty. If there is an alternative route to take in life you will be sure to find me there. If there is a hard road to take or an easy road then I will take the hard road. It's a road that has found me fighting for equality and justice for most of my adult life. It's also the road that my son and I found ourselves clinging to for dear life waiting for help to come along in the remote mountains of Flores, Indonesia.

"There is no real beginning to this adventure. Suffice to say that since the 1970s Indonesia and I have had a love/hate relationship. It took two marriages for me to realise that it was the country itself that I loved and the husbands that I didn't. Having finally recognised that, I decided that it was important for my son Arie to experience Indonesia warts and all outside of the tourist mecca of Bali. So in late 2010 we started to plan a motorbike trek that would take us through the remote eastern islands of Indonesia including Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores and Timor Barat.

"We have always supported Professor David David from the Australian Cranio Maxillo Facial Foundation and the work that he does with his medical team for Yayasan Senyum Bali. Both foundations accepted our offer to promote their work during our trek. Yayasan Senyum Bali provides free medical services to the poor in the eastern regions of Indonesia who suffer from facial deformities caused through birth defects, disease or trauma. Before setting out on the trek we spent time with the patients at the Smile House in Sanglah Bali. The spirit of these people in facing an often cruel and bigoted world is truly amazing.

"On the 18th of September the staff and patients from Yayasan Senyum and my friends from Bali's Vintage Motorbike club said goodbye to us as we set off for the port of Padang Bai. We set out on the trek during the month of Ramadan, which was a spiritual, cultural and gastronomic challenge all on its own. The trek was life changing for both of us. My son set out as a young boy who liked to hang out with his mates, play online games and eat junk food as most teenagers do. Somewhere along the road he became a man with a strong social conscience. As for myself I learned my limitations, one of them being just how far an old body can physically travel during a day."

(continue to part two...)

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