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Bangil to Surakarta (Solo)

I was now in Bangil to sort out the continuing road to Surakarta or Solo as most people know the city. Here I had several options. I could go south to Lawang and Malang, north to Surabaya and even visit Maduro Island or simply go west on the road to Surakarta.

The road to Pandaan Pandaan Candi Jawa
The road to Pandaan (left) and Candi Jawa

As the rain kept pouring down, I kept staring over the maps I had with me. Then I found a little road that seemed more interesting then following main roads. It would lead to Pandaan where there is a temple to be visited.

In the early morning I left Bangil and took the road to Pandaan. As it was not far I decided to have my breakfast in Pandaan town and then visit the temple. To my surprise the road to Pandaan, although small was quite busy and all the way going up. In town I had a great breakfast before I took the road the temple and after that north to Surabaya.

The temple, small but nice enough reminded me of the temples I had seen years earlier at the Dieng Plateau and Prambanan. It was a fine piece of Hindu architecture and very well preserved.

View of Mount Arjuna on the way to Jombang

View of Mount Arjuna on the way to Jombang

The road from Malang to Surabaya was not very pleasant. The four lane road was busy but was also going down. All I had to do was to find the junction to Jombang in Gempel. Once I was on this road the traffic seemed to have mostly disappeared and to my left I enjoyed the beauty of Mount Arjuna.

On the way to Trowulan, easy and quiet cycling in east Java
On the way to Jombang and Trowulan, easy and quiet cycling in east Java

The idea was to cycle to Kersotono with a stop in Trowulan. Trowulan is a village in Mojokerto (on the way to Kersotono) about 50km or so south east of Surabaya. It was the capital of the Majapahit Empire and there are some nice temples in the area plus a good museum, which should be the starting point of exploring the area.

Sasono Bhakti museum
Sasono Bhakti museum, worth a visit

Trowulan is quite interesting and many of the sites are close to the main road too. I cycled through the kampongs for awhile ...

Kampong around the Sasono Bhakti museum

Kampong around the Sasono Bhakti museum

... where a group of school kids just came out of the museum and had lots to ask before going back to school in their unusual transport vehicle:

A school visiting Trowulan museum, transport goes by truck.
A school visiting Trowulan museum, transport goes by truck.

Soon I was back on the way to Kersotono, a little town without much exiting things except a very good bakso (meatball soup).

Now I had to decide what to do. Going to Madiun take the mountain road to Solo or take the main road through Ngawi. I felt my bicycle had some troubles at the crank and didn't really dare to put too much power on the pedals, so I choose the easy road. And when I arrived in Ngawi it turned out the road through the mountain (Magetan) had been suffering from heavy rainfall the last couple of days. I had chosen the right way.

The road to Sragen and Solo
The road to Sragen and Solo, who says cycling in Java is dangerous?

All that was left was another 85km to Solo. I was expecting it would busy busy busy but until Sragen it was all quiet, scenic cycling through the slow hills and forests. About 15 km before Sragen I had some wonderful views towards the Karangpandan mountain.

After Sragen it become soon busier, I got my first (and only one in Java) flat tire, let some guys in a motorbike shop fix it for me for Rs5000 (about 50 cents) and kept my hands clean.

Mount Karangpandan, on the way to Sragen and Solo
Mount Karangpandan, on the way to Sragen and Solo

The closer I came to Surakarta (Solo), the busier it became too. Now I had to find a hotel, which turned out to be very easy. The next thing was to find a bicycle shop and see if they could fix my old friend. Here's more about Solo (Surakarta) and the excellent bicycle shop I found 5 minutes from my hotel. It had been a really pleasant first chunk of Java, much more pleasant then I had imagined. I had met some amazingly nice people, seen beautiful sceneries and the difficulties in cycling had been quite easy. Only problem now was to fix the bicycle.

One of the two temples at the road side on the way to Sragen and Solo
One of the two temples at the road side on the way to Sragen and Solo

And the other of the two temples ...
And the other of the two temples ...

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