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Java Jive – the road to Boribudur Temple

Saturday June 25th

We’ve survived Sumatra roads!! Did the final 110kms this morning and then crossed on the Bakauheni-Merak ferry to Java. Smooth embarkation and flat crossing of just 2 hours – man there’s a lot of ferries plying this route, reflecting just how busy these roads are. Then a quick 35 km run to Serang for an early end of day. The Flamengo Hotel has Bintang – Welcome to Java! But as we’d been warned – the traffic here is a notch up on Sumatra, and expect some serious gridlock. We’ve hit it already and are so glad to be on motorcycles with the luxury of being able to pass on the right, or go left along the gutter or the footpath. We’re already travelling miles by the alternative route.

Sunday June 26th

The gridlock continued today, the 210kms to Cianjur took us 9 hours and the roads were busy as soon as we hit them at 5.45am. It’s Sunday so maybe everyone from Jakarta is down here in the mountains for the day but the road congestion is very serious – we had to take a couple of diversions in some villages to get around the congestion caused by their Sunday markets. It’s the little blue tax vans that seem to cause all the bother. Finally arriving in Cianjur we’ve chosen the Green Costel for the night because it offers wifi, AC and more Bintang.

Well we lucked out on the Bintang actually – something got lost in translation and when we came to collect the staff fell about laughing – we were not amused. But as luck would happen the hotel was opposite one of Indonesia’s top restaurants – the Ikan Bakar. So we joined the throng at 5.30pm in order to get a table by 5.50 when the day’s fast was allowed to be broken. It was a great meal of local fish delicacies as well as some rather yummy Gado Gado.

We have a two day ride now until we get to Borobudur, Indonesia’s equivalent of Angor Wat or Bagan. At just over 200kms a day it’s going to be pretty tough in this gridlock-prone traffic. Sounds ridiculous but if we get to over 60 kph it will be a major advance.

Tuesday Jun 28th

To Borobudur today, the largest Buddhist temple and in the spirit of those at Bagan and Angkor Wat. Also this was built in 500AD so a thousand years earlier than those at Bagan and Angkor Wat. It’s one structure – compromising 2 million blocks – so it’s big. It actually reminded me a bit of the Mayan structures of the Yucatan – apart from the elaborate decorative figurines and Buddhas that make it very different to Inca or Aztec temples.

Our hotel is in the grounds of Borobudur so we get a good view of the temple from the restaurant – complete with elephants wandering past in the foreground. Being a place for tourism and beyond the price range of most locals, the resort caters for the international travellers. Indeed these are the first Euro complexions we have seen since we left Tuk Tuk, some 2,500 kms ago. Unbelievable really – my preconception was that Indonesia was way more frequented by the international tourist than has turned out to be the case. It seems they fly in to Medan – and do excursions to see the Orangatans at Bukit Lawang and then to Danau Toba – and then fly out again. But there simply is no evidence of road trips along the length of Sumatra – which explains why everybody we meet wants a selfie with us – those Euro faces are not so common in Sumatra parts – or it seems in the middle of Java either. Outside of Jakarta and Bali there is little tourist penetration. Amazing. So it is with Boribudur – the tourists fly in and out- at least that way they avoid the traffic chaos.