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Cycling in Java


Some of my friends told me cycling in Java will be not as nice as cycling at other islands in Indonesia due to heavy traffic. After all Java is heavy populated. It had been years since my first visit to Java. At the time I was backpacking and I remembered the crazy driving of buses. So what would I experience now in 2010?

View of Mount Arjuna on the way to Jombang
View of Mount Arjuna on the way to Jombang

My journey started in Bali. It took me a few days to reach Banyuwangi, the main city in east Java and only a few km away from Ketapang where the ferry from Bali lands. Here I would start my bikeride in Java. As my visa was only valid for 30 days, I wouldn't have too much time to spend in cities x,y and z. But there were some must see places.

A terrific 30km climb up to the Puncak pass

A terrific 30km climb up to the Puncak pass from Ciamis, going down was far less enjoyable due to heavy traffic and traffic jams. The Puncak Pass to Bogor is a heavy touristy area

Thus I stayed a night in Banyuwangi and left, going north. I had a breakfast near a school of nasi pecel, a typical Javanese rice dish served with cooked vegetables and peanut sauce and an excellent breakfast and went north.

Somewhere at the border of east and central Java
Somewhere at the border of east and central Java

There are mainly two ways going west. One leads south and goes to Jember and further to Malang but I didn't want to use this one as it looked like a big busy road. I choose the road through the Baluran National Park to Situbondo. From there I could continue west and decide later if I wanted to visit Malang, Surabaya or simply head directly west to Central Java.

Central Java
Who says Java's roads are heavy populated?

I wanted to see Surakarta, better known as Solo and Yogyakarta. Here I would be able to see both Prambanan and Borobudur.

Both complexes I had visited 18 years ago but I was eager to see them again and I was not disappointed.

I had not decided how to visit both, either on a day trip or stay there but that would be a problem of later.

After Yogya, I would cycle on the south coast to Cilacap and then continue to Bandung and Bogor before I would finish in Jakarta.

This would skip north Java, which on the map looked very populated and not too much of interest. The southern route however looked more interesting with plenty of hills and volcanoes at the horizon.

Prambanan complex Borobudur
Prambanan complex (left) and Borobudur (right), two World Heritage sites and must visits for every traveler in Indonesia.

But in the end I couldn't be bothered to map out an exact route as I know I would change it anyway. A rough idea was enough.

Jim was not allowed to swim here...

Jim was not allowed to swim here...

Java has certain "must see" areas, sites where all tourists go to. These sites would be the cream on the pie. The main exciting for me is always to meet the people on the way. And trust me, Indonesia is no different then any other country, the further you are from the main tourist tracks, the nicer the people get.

Central Jakarta, 8AM... not too bad to cycle here
Central Jakarta, 8AM... not too bad to cycle here... although some parts were extremely messy and difficult

So, follow me cycling in Java, from Banyuwangi in east Java through east java to Solo and Yogya, visiting Prambanan and Borobudur, following the south coast to Cilacap and Bandung and climb to the Puncak pass before visiting the Botanical Gardens of Bogor and finally to the capital Jakarta at west Java.

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