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The road to Cilacap


The road to Cilacap was an eye opener for me. People always tell me cycling in Java is cycling on big busy roads. But you can get away from these road (which btw in this part of Java are not that big or busy at all). I had arrived in Borobudur and stayed here a night before moving west. Was it worth to take the road to Cilacap or should I go north to the Dieng Plateau which I had visited before?

The junction west of Borobudur town
The junction west of Borobudur town

I left Borobudur in the early morning. Destination was Kebumen, a mid sized town on the way to Cilacap. The idea was to cycle to Purworejo and then find the coastal road and go to Kebumen. The idea was fueled by the expectation the road from Purworejo to Kebumen should be busy.

The first 20 km or so from Borobudur went through a slow green land, to my left the hills and to my right the lower lands. Soon the road started climbing. I passed a few junctions including one that went to Blondo and Magelang. Some km's further I came on a steeper part. On top some men tried to lure me into using the junction to Wonosobo knowing this road would be a hard journey. We had a good laugh about it.

On the way from Purworejo to Kebumen
On the road to Cilacap: from Purworejo to Kebumen

From here on a long and easy descending to Purworejo follow. While I went down I was happy I was going down as it was a long way up the other way.

One of the back roads on the way to Kebumen
One of the back roads on the way to Kebumen

When I arrived in Purworejo I wanted a short rest and get some water too. At first the town looked quite small, but that was only because the town center was on the west side while I was at the east part.

Chinese temple KebumenI must have missed somewhere a junction because soon I was on the main road, around 50 km from Kebumen. As soon as I left town it became very quiet except for a motorbike or bicycle here and there. It was weird to be on an ongoing road (this road connects Yogyakarta with Bandung and Jakarta) without much traffic.

Still, I took some back lanes too. I had plenty of time and it was interesting to see where some of these little roads would lead me.

Unfortunately I had just chosen one that left me in a few kilometers back to the main road. "Oh well, I will stay a night in Kebumen and go to the coast tomorrow.", I thought.

Kebumen had little to offer except a nice little Chinese temple, inside nicer then outside. But it was a decent and comfortable (and cheap) stop. There were 3 hotels in town (as far as I found out) and plenty of excellent road side open restaurants. It is one of those towns where the most interesting thing is watching people doing what they do.

After the junction on the way to Ayah

After the junction on the road to Cilacap, here the road to Ayah

But the next day I took the road to Cilacap. I left Kebumen quickly after a good nasi goreng. Just before Tambak I found the junction I wanted. Here I could leave the main road and see if I could find the coastal road.

Fishing boats in Ayah

It was a beautiful road crossing some small forests and rice fields. An occasional bus passed me but most traffic here was on motorbike or bicycle.

This is not an area that sees many tourists and many locals looked in amazement to this white man who passed their town.

That became even more clear when I stopped for some water in Rowokele, where I asked for directions.

The people were very helpful but couldn't understand why I had come here. They told me to go back on the main road because that was faster to Cilacap.

The hills were now on my left side and I saw them coming closer and closer until I was literally at the foot of them, just a few kilometers before Ayah. I really enjoyed this road. But I never saw the sea. The closest I came was in Ayah crossing the bridge over a river that would lead a few kilometers further in the Indian Ocean.

The fishing boats in Cilacap
The fishing boats in Cilacap

It was all flat and beautiful cycling in this area passing small kampongs and warungs. While the heat of the day became more intense, I arrived in Adipala. From here on I expected the road would be bigger but instead I had to leave the excellent roads I had the whole day and followed a pothole road (sometimes not even paved) for some 10 km to the junction to Cilacap south and Wangon north.

Cilacap was now close by, I thought. Still, it was many kilometers away, the city is long stretched. Traffic was still minimal until I reached the city center. I wanted to find a hotel and explore a little of the town. To my surprise I had to visit several hotels before I found one with rooms available as many were full.

Beach in Cilacap
Beach in Cilacap

The road to Cilacap had been pleasant, now it was time to find out if Cilacap itself would be pleasant too. As there is no longer a ferry to Pangandaran available, there are two choices, either try to find a private boat or cycle further but I wanted to cycle.

The people in the hotel recommended me to visit the beach as "it is a beautiful beach".

Dutch Fort in Cilacap

The best I can say about the Cilacap beach... there's some nice sea food and plenty of fishing boats but it's not an attractive beach for other things then that.

Next to the beach stands a Dutch Fort, Benteng Pendem. It's probably the only place worth to explore in town as it is very well preserved.

The town center was equally uninteresting although I found out I had just been too late to see a Chinese lion dance for the opening of a new Chinese temple opposite of one of the shopping centers.

Cilacap was a nice overnight stop but nothing more then that. However, if you like, you can use Cilacap as a back entry to Pangandaran beach, according to people in Cilacap, the "best beach in Java". To me however, the road to Cilacap was far more interesting then Cilacap city.

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