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Bogor to Jakarta


Cycling from Bogor to Jakarta starts with a visit to the world famous Botanical Gardens of Bogor. In Bogor there's one other place to visit, one of the few traditional gong factories. But the question really is... do you want to cycle from Bogor to Jakarta?

Entrance to the Botanical Gardens in Bogor
Entrance to the Botanical Gardens in Bogor

Personally I do not like cities. Bandung was big and busy enough and the road to and from Bandung had been busy at points. Nothing however had prepared me for the descending of the Puncak Pass.

Had the climb up from Cianjur been beautiful and quiet, nothing would have prepared me what was going to happen.

It seemed people come from Bogor to the top of the Puncak Pass and turn around.

This road comes down from 1500 meter altitude and traffic wise, it was a nightmare, even traffic jams in towns on the way.

And it was midweek when I passed! You don't want to think what it is like in the weekends.

Still, the view from the Puncak Pass had been rewarding and going down to Bogor had been reasonable quick despite the traffic jams.

In Bogor it was another situation. The first time I came in Bogor it had been a reasonable quiet city but now (April 2010) traffic was all around the city. Especially around the Botanical Gardens it was incredible busy.

Tea plantations at the Puncak Pass
Top of the Puncak Pass, it was the beginning of a very
busy descending into Bogor

Quickly after checking in a guesthouse, I went to seek some solitude in the Botanical Gardens. At the typical 19th century entrance I bought my Rs 9500 ticket and went in.

View from my guesthouse in Bogor to Mount Halimun
View from my guesthouse in Bogor to Mount Halimun

Immediately I felt more relieved. Here it was at least quiet, the big city of Bogor seemed far away and only an occasional horning car could be heard. But that was only the start. I walked inside enjoying the shadowy environment but wherever I looked .... I saw the remains of human behavior.

The rare snow leopard in the Botanical Gardens Bogor
The rare snow leopard in the Botanical Gardens Bogor

Everywhere there was plastic, garbage, bottles etc on the garden floor. Apparently people do not see the big garbage cans which are everywhere available. At one point it seemed a group of students had "forgotten" their study material because there were plenty of books ripped apart on the forest floor.

I went for the Orchid House but decided to skip it when I saw hordes of students screaming and shouting in the house. Outside in surrounding area it was much more quiet and I stayed here for a while.

After some time I went into a less busy area escaping the students coming by and asking me where I was from and followed by giggling and  running away.

In the forest part of the Botanical Gardens I could enjoy the trees and birds who were busy with their daily activities.

The Botanical Gardens, which were established in 1811 have a nice zoological museum which seemed to be ignored by most visitors. I was the only visitor. There's a wide selection of animals including the skeleton of a blue whale, an enormous crab and a snow leopard.

Monster crabs in Kebun Raya, the Great Gardens in Bogor
Monster crabs in Kebun Raya, the Great Gardens in Bogor

One of the few remaining gong smiths in Java is Pak Sukarna. Here traditional gongs and gamelans are still made the traditional way. It's a very interesting (and very hot) visit to the factory at Jalan Pancasan.

gongsmiths in Bogor Java is Pak Sukarna gongsmiths in Bogor Java is Pak Sukarna
The Gong and Gamelan Factory in Bogor

Now I had to leave Bogor to Jakarta so I left Bogor quite early hoping to avoid the traffic jams I had heard of. The first kilometers out of Bogor it was very busy. There's not really alternative roads to Jakarta for the 60 km or so.

I cycle 25 km on the way from Bogor to Jakarta before I saw some green. With Jakarta still 40 away I hoped it would stay this way for a while but soon I was in the suburbs of Jakarta and traffic increased although it was certainly not as crazy as I expected.

Jakarta Jalan Gunung Sahari
Early morning at Jalan Gunung Sahari, Jakarta, it's still quiet.

The idea was simple: get a boat ticket to Batam and get as quickly out of Jakarta. I imagined the easiest thing to get a ticket was to go to the jetty. However, that was easier said then done. It turned out the jetty was almost 15 km out of Jakarta city center. But I got my ticket and went back in town to find a place to stay.

Harbour of Jakarta
Habour of Jakarta where my journey from Bogor to Jakarta ended.

Again to my surprise many hotels I checked were full but in the end, I found a place. It had been OK to cycle except at some traffic lights at Jalan Gunung Sahari where it was really mad. It's a big 4 lane road. What really surprised me was the behavior of the motorbikes, ignoring the red light, going half was the junction, and try to force their way through. And the police watches but does not do anything.

On board of the pelni to Batam
On board of the pelni to Batam

Still, I was a little surprised how easy it was to cycle through Jakarta. It was much easier then for example Athens Greece, Lahore Pakistan, Guangzhou China or even Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok. It wasn't fun, but it was certainly OK to do. For a city with around 9 million inhabitants, it was all quite organized but it wasn't the place to stay for more then an afternoon. Too busy, too crowded.

Pelni to Batam
Pelni to Batam

So at the end of my ride from Bogor to Jakarta I dropped my flight ticket and took the boat to Batam, near Singapore and that turned out to be a great choice. 30 hours or so on the water, nothing much to do then watching the sea, eat, drink and visit toilet. And although Batam was forgettable, I really enjoyed this part of the journey.

In Batam I took a ferry to Johor Bharu and there the last part of this Indonesia/Malaysia journey started. My journey from Bogor to Jakarta and in general cycling from Denpasar Bali to Jakarta Java had effectively ended. Until the next time!

Sunset at the Java Sea
My journey from Bogor to Jakarta ended with this sunset
at the Java Sea on board of the pelni to Bantam,
I couldn't have wished for a better goodbye to Indonesia.

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