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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