Month: June 2012

Escaping Java

Escaping Java

Location: Subang, Java – Merak, Java, Indonesia
Distance: 314km

The ride into Jakarta was memorable for all the wrong reasons. I had already planned it as a longish day but a wrong turn and 35km of cycling out of my way to the foulest smelling town I’d ever encountered. The main street a quagmire of sloppy brown mud, broken tiles and brick and all the detritus of the market that lined it. I didn’t stick around. Back on track I followed one of the main arteries into the heart of Jakarta along with half of Indonesia. Traffic jam to end all traffic jams saw me arriving well after dark and chocking on moped fumes. I was hardly surprised to wake feeling like death having made many emergency runs to the bathroom throughout the night but was convinced to take up an invite to a plush apartment complex to lounge around an oversized swimming pool while enjoying avocado juice and ice cream.

Still feeling average I was fortunate to be staying at possibly one of the best hostels I can remember from anywhere. Six Degrees was run by an Irish guy, his Indonesian wife, her sister and a host of other colourful staff who treated you like family. There was a great lounge area and movie room to chill out in and pair of 24h food stalls across the road. Needless to say I didn’t venture too far over the following days and I merged into group other guests who had also become semi-permanent residents.

Eventually I started feeling better and climbed back on the bike to hit the road again but it took me a full morning of wrong turns and backtracking to find my way out of the hectic Jakartan streets. I had enough of Java and despite all the warnings I’d had about Sumatran roads (I couldn’t imagine them possibly being worse, either quality or traffic) and roadside robberies (neighboring countries/states/cities the world over seem to love hating on one another) I was looking forward to a change of scenery.

The following morning I rolled into the port of Merak and boarded huge ferry loaded with trucks, minivans, people and all their wares, found a seat and watched as Java disappeared in the distance.

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Hot Spring In The Rain

Hot Spring In The Rain

Location: Cipatujah, Java – Subang, Java, Indonesia
Distance: 137km

The road continued along the coast,  the ocean crashing on the beach somewhere behind the scrub and with little traffic to speak of it was a nice way to start the day. But the pleasantness was soon to end. Up ahead a great hulk of a headland ended the smooth ride, the road swung inland and up. Really up.  Sweat pouring from me like I was being wrung like a wet cloth. I crawled past a road crew patching a hole and took a breather under a shady tree while some local school kids ambled past. A couple of hours later I rolled into Pameungpeuk and found a fried chicken stand while weighing up my options.

With only 2 days remaining on my visa  and 130km to Bandung including some big climbs it was time for some motorised transport. A bis, bemo, angkot or whatever it is they call a mini bus in these parts would serve. The fried chicken man pointed me in the right direction and I was soon underway, bike lashed to the room with some suspiciously frayed rope. I was slightly disappointed at first as we drove along a freshly sealed road but that only lased about 5km before staple Indonesia pot holes returned but the scenery was gorgeous so I soon forgot my aching backside. Lush mountains, dripping in greenery sometime disappearing fog and mist. Rolled into Garut well after dark jumped straight onto another bus and headed straight on to Bandung where I had dinner with the ticket guy from the bus before hunting out a room and crashed.

At the embassy I ran into Alex who’d spoken to on the street in Kuta and with his help speaking basic bahasa managed to haggle down the processing time to 2 days rather than 4. It was good to have some company for a couple of day with little of interest in Bandung so we killed time playing pool and eating.

With a crisp new visa I headed north for some more climbing along some less hectic road.  Through forests, past tea plantations  and innumerable roadside pineapple stores. I finally visited my first hot springs of the whole journey at Ciater. Despite the overly commercial nature was still a relaxing way to spend an afternoon in the rain. I slowly worked my way to the hottest pool and soaked as long as I could stand it.

Sufficiently wrinkled I dried off only to get soaked to the bone in a late afternoon downpour on the way into Sebang. The road so rough it managed to loosen off my fuel bottle lid and leave it in a puddle of mud somewhere by the roadside. Fortunately my stove is currently a long term hiatus and will continue to do so for a while. Jakarta tomorrow.

Posted by admin in Indonesia, Travel, 1 comment