Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 5 October 2015 • Uncategorized
You’ve probably noticed that our last few posts have been about destinations in Borneo, or Kalimantan as we Indonesians call it. I was on a Terios 7 Wonders convoy road trip along with 27 other people occupying 7 cars. Total of 2,058 kilometers distance was traveled from Central to East Kalimantan, piloted by 7 awesome drivers. Most of them are experienced convoy drivers, having almost no problem with up to 140km/hour speed on twisty bad roads that’s sometimes hazy due to smoke. Here I am, I came out alive and well, and so did everybody else. The key to that is these following points, consider them as convoy tips on a road trip, aside to the obvious like having driver’s license and follow all the traffic rules.
Normally on a convoy there would be appointed lead car, a sweeper, a marshall and the rest of the members. Lead car obviously leads the convoy, it sets the speed and sort of functions as the advanced team. A sweeper usually stays at the very back of the convoy and oversees the other cars, makes sure nobody’s left behind. Marshall needs to stay in the middle of the convoy and makes sure members are in the right formation.
However, every convoy can have its own rules that are agreed upon within the team. On the Terios 7 Wonders convoy, T1 (Terios #1) was always on the lead. While T7, with videographers and photographers as passengers, was the most mobile – sometimes it stays behind, sometimes it soars up to the front – for documentation purpose. The rest of the members could take random positions, always on the move while keeping eye on each other.
It helps a lot to have 2-way radio in each car, or the walkie-talkie. Each car could warn the ones behind it about the road condition ahead via radio, and anyone could simply inform the others when one needs to make a pee stop very badly. Failure to warn the others about any vehicle coming from the opposite direction could cause fatal accidents when the convoy is overtaking the other cars.
“A two-door fridge and a cricket are coming our way, do not overtake!”
“Road is empty, road is empty, T6 and T7 go go go fast, overtake the iron and soap box!”
Those are the kind of things we’d hear on the radio, full of codes and warning. Somehow a fridge means a truck, a cricket is a motorbike, an iron is a car, and a soap box is a van or SUV – what tickles me, since when is a soap box bigger than an iron? Anyway.I had a blast taking over the radio in T6 for a few days, acting as a navigator – or that’s how I liked to see myself for my own entertainment. Failure to report on what’s coming could endanger the cars behind you.
The walkie-talkies could also function as entertainment. We were on the road about 7 to 12 hours each day, or maybe more. Being on the road is mostly fun and exciting as it is, but there are times when stupid jokes and bad singing through the walkie-talkies can be even more entertaining.
Seatbelts are no doubt important. However, on convoys at Borneo it becomes more important when roads twist and turn really awful and cars need to catch up with each other. Admittedly, most Indonesians aren’t aware of the importance of wearing seat belts, it beats me why. But Cumi, sitting in the back seat, quickly learned that seatbelts are necessary on bumpy roads, passed on high speed. Nothing bad happened, but the convoy experience was enough to make Cumi befriend the seat belt and I was happy to see that.
On our case, all cars look the same, so it might be easy for other people on the road to tell that we’re on a convoy. But still, any convoy member has to turn on their lights. The small lights on daytime, and headlights on nighttime. You might need to turn on the headlights on daytime as well, if the road was too hazy like what we went through, due to forest burning. The left or right sign lights are also used to signal other maneuvers, oh I wish I could remember what they are!
It happens too often that a convoy is broken at red light. One or two cars pass the traffic light when it’s green, but the rest are restrained by red light. To anticipate, lead car could warn everybody of traffic light ahead and all members disperse to widened formation. That way, hopefully all the members could continue the trip in the right formation and spacing again after the traffic light.
Photo by Fahmi Catperku
Keep a safe distance to the car in front of you, moreover when you’re speeding. You’ll never know what’s ahead, the cars in front of you might hit the brake suddenly and crash boom bang! You don’t want that, do you?
Be a friendly convoy. Just because there’s many of you, doesn’t mean that the road belongs to your gang. Other people have the same right as you in using the road. So let others be in between the convoy, just make sure they don’t make you space away from each other too much. When you’re going through a village where sometimes the road is filled with people and pop-up markets, do slow down and be polite, respect the towners.
The heavier the load on a car, the harder it’ll get to maneuver fast, and that can cause uneven distance between cars in the convoy. Try to distribute the same baggage and people weight to each car, if they’re all the same cars. If you have different types of cars with different sizes and weight in the convoy, then adjust with the cars.
9. Get techy: use GPS.
The route may have been planned and a lead car may have the job to lead the way, but it doesn’t hurt for every convoy member to utilize a GPS tool. It comes really handy in the cases of mishaps, like when a member got lost, the radio battery went out, or something else.
10. Enjoy the view.
Road trip convoy most likely would get your adrenaline pumping, especially when you’re sitting next to the driver who loves to speed up and maneuvers fast. As much as you enjoy it, like I did, one thing you should not take for granted is the view. Normally there would be some slow time where you could take a breather and look outside the window. Use the toilet and lunch breaks to also look around out of the car and enjoy the view.
That’s all, guys. Ten road trip convoy tips based on the trip I had just been a few weeks ago in Borneo. Can you think of anything else?
Feel free to add more tips on the Comments below.
*This trip is fully paid by Astra Daihatsu Motor in exchange of blog publication, but the opinions are my own.