Java 2

Yogyakarta to Purwokerto
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We’re headed to the coast road to try and avoid the madness. It’s quiet but broken pavement in long sections. Much better than inland
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At a river we see boats anchored and dredging with small nets on poles
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Bringing them, loaded, to shore. This guy’s done this before, he knows the wave height within an inch, or he’s sunk, so that’s very cool
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And shovelling the dredgings in relays into trucks. What’s in the river sediment, we wondered
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Back onto a great stretch
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And cut back north to the city. Not so bad, only about 4 hours of pure hell at the beginning and end. Another city section avoided
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The idea’s now to avoid the coming ultra-high-density part of Java as we get closer to Jakarta.

This is a recent rider’s description of Java:

There is just too much traffic volume for the tiny two lane highways. It does not matter what road you take or direction there is gridlock traffic. Because of this the roads are extremely dangerous and full of drivers with a suicide wish.
Until now I was unaware that Indonesians had special vision because it seems that they can see or believe they can see around blind corners and over hills.
I cannot tell you how many hundreds of times I had someone driving directly into me while trying to pass lines of traffic. And because of this I knew it was only a matter of time before something bad could happen.

And then he got sideswiped and crashed. Fortunately no injuries.

Most Java ride reports read like this.

The next big hazard is the city of Bandung. It can day a whole day of complete misery trying to get through. Plus there’s the stopping, if you can, to let an overheated engine cool down. Just not worth it we think. So I endure a day of hard riding along this track to a small village just an hour (of what I’m hoping is zero traffic) out of Bandung, to sneak up on the city while it’s asleep
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Half way through the day we grab street food beside a bike wash and indulge Lucinda in a shampoo
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We arrive at our village exhausted, again. Wow, this island is a serious rite of passage.

The next day’s track
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We eat immediately we arrive, crash, and set the alarm for 1:30 am.

Out of the village
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Through the countryside
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The road is broken or missing for the whole descent off the hillside to the city. A bit sketchy at times
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Into Bandung, the unavoidable bottleneck that’s ruined many rider days or rides. The city is alive at 3:00 am
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Our carefully set up GPS track is upset when we hit a ‘cars only’ section of road. We haven’t set up the settings on the new (replacement) Garmin to avoid toll roads, etc. So we bounce off one, double back and have to re-set the route at the side of the road
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Fires are burning along the roadside. We stop at one for a water break. Obviously we wouldn’t do this anywhere in Latin America. Or Sumatra, coming up. More on that another time. But tonight we think we’ll take the risk. These guys are plenty surprised to see this rider stop and say ‘Hi !’ like a lost (which I’m not) idiot (which I may be) in the middle of the night, downtown Bandung
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They’ve been watching Barcelona play on TV
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Then we’re through, feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. Dawn at an increasingly rare green spot
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Then there’s hell to pay again. But we find quiet streets occasionally
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This town doesn’t have the safest feel to it. Two dudes not smiling, which is unusual. Better move on then
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The riding is pure chaos for the next 4 hours until our destination on the coast. Here’s the landlady
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Our next idea was to take the long loop around Jakarta, despite being told two days ago the road is ‘bad’. There is a more direct line, but I’d rather ride a bad road than ride through Bogor, another Java traffic nightmare. If we can do this, we’ve avoided every big city other than Yogyakarta, which will be an accomplishment.

The day’s track
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The climb out of the village of Cisolok was the steepest pavement, both up and down, we’ve ever ridden. Ever. Up top, through a small village
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And into the countryside
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Just a few cultivated areas
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Then the trouble started. Indonesian for ‘warning’, and you see these everywhere, is HATI – HATI…!
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The road turned to dirt. At a water stop, more instant friends
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The it started to rain. It looked like it had rained up here the previous night. So slick, but not bad
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About 30 miles of slipperiness and broken road along the coast
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Over a bridge
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Past a very serious looking building, two Muslim girls showing great riding skills, as all Indonesians do
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I stop for a few minutes here to watch the scooters navigate the potholes. They can’t splash or risk muddying their wive’s outfits, so they wander around with great care
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Indonesia, amazing. Beautiful moto culture
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Then after maybe another 20 miles of hellish road, we hit an elevated section of concrete
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It’s strange and wonderful, sometimes up 2 feet from the ground
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But a lot of the time, it’s just one lane. The question is which lane to ride on. It’s not clear. so we wait sometimes until another scooter comes along and take one of the little ramps up, or down
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Sometimes we have to wait
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Unlucky truck fell off the soft side
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But all joking aside, there was also about 20 miles of the below stuff, endless small problems, some deepish mud, but never long stretches, and a further 30 miles of on-the-pegs completely broken road. It was a challenge because it was unrelenting. Lucinda doesn’t like going down in mud and so far, after accumulated miles of it together, hasn’t. In everything else we’ve crashed, but so far not mud. Mysterious
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But we broke out at this intersection, a village with only an excuse for a road
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Then a few miles later we were away, onto some of that big twin concrete, down to the ocean and along the coastline to our next destination.

Bogor avoided, but what a day.
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143K in 7 hours 20 minutes. Java!
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We took two days to do some planning. Sumatra is big, much bigger than Java. Also, after Indonesia, things get complicated and we needed to get ahead of the curve, even though I’ve been working on aspects of it for a couple of months.

Onto the ferry at Merak, headed for Lampung, Sumatra
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Kids will jump on the bike at the slightest invitation. The Dads think this is hilarious
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On the ferry, this. The first complete coverage we’ve seen in Indonesia
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The Sumatra dock
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First road shot. An hour after this we were stuck in 10 miles of gridlock, riding sidewalks, splitting lanes. But this is a bottleneck. Also, this is the main highway that runs the length of Sumatra on the east side. We won’t be riding this road after today
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