We decided that as we were both shattered yesterday that we deserved a day off for good behaviour. I say a day off we ended up walking over 5 miles (in ballet shoes) to the beach. The write up for the area was far better than the reality, which was a dirty, smelly, working fishing port. The write up on trip advisor had also described beach restaurants and bars. The only restaurants we could find we stands with some seating, mainly used by the locals. The only bars we could find were karaoke bars. We did try 2 of these, the first didn’t sell alcohol, the second seemed like the place that you may be able to order more than beer, it was very seedy, had bouncers on the doors during the day and had pictures of young girls provocatively dressed on the walls, we were the only customers we took one look, giggled and walked straight back out.
It was a hot sunny day and although the fishing port wasn’t very nice we did enjoy our walk, especially the walk on the beach (before we got to the fishing port) and over the rocks. Although we get to see a lot on out bikes the slower pace while we were walking enabled us to stop and watch men fishing, naked boys playing in a pool of dirty water and to take some pictures of men on bikes with their conical hats (very chinese looking lots of men and women are wearing this type of hat in this area). We also managed to complete a couple of tasks, Gary managed to put some more credit on his mobile phone so that he could use google maps and he also purchased a new lead for his camera and garmin. I did look at some clothes but I was put off buying anything or really looking because of all the giggling going on around me, I really do feel very self conscious over here. I have no idea what size I am as the clothing over here tends to use european sizing but whenever I pick anything up, I instantly gain a personal assistant who cannot speak English and I’m watched by all the other staff and customers. Hopefully when we get to Bali I will cease to be an amusement to the locals as I am sure they have lots of westerners shopping for clothes.
We flagged a local bus down to take us back to the hotel and had dinner in the hotel, much to Gary’s annoyance because the food was so much more expensive than the restaurants further down the road but we were both knackered and didn’t fancy walking any where after our long walk earlier in the day.
Cilicap to Kebumen
Slept surprisingly well given the fact that we had a railway line right outside of our hotel. Woke early and had an early breakfast we were on the road for 8.30am.
Easy ride today with only a slight hill towards the end of the day. It was hot sunny day, we decided to cycle the main road rather than taking the coastal road which seemed to have worked in our favour as the coastal road looked more undulating.
Not a lot to report we cycled through a number of towns each now beginning to look very much like the last one. On our ride today each of the towns had trees lining the streets and the middle of the road, which made the area look prettier than some of the areas we’ve cycled in Java. The fields were in the process of being harvested by hand, we have not seen any combined harvesters in Java. Once the crop is ready, it is transported by bike, we don’t know where it goes but we have seen lots of both motor bikes and bicycles loaded with wrapped bundles of wheat and other crops.
We have seen some very poor individuals on our travels, several men have looked almost feral, with long scraggy hair,f no shoes, dirty pants and generally unkempt. They’re always on their own, and seem harmless just down and out. We spotted one individual today sat singing to himself, he seemed quite happy but could just as easily have been suffering from poor mental health.
We stopped for lunch early as I was hungry and shared a noodle dish which cost 40p. Dinner in the evening was not a lot more expensive at £2.50 for 2 meals and 3 drinks. You definitely don’t need a lot of money to eat out in Java.
I started to flag towards the end of the day, the head wind and the quick pace Gary had set was getting the better of me and I was glad to see a sign welcoming us to Kebumen. As we entered the town there was a big statute called the birds nest statute, apparently Kebumen is the largest exporter of birds nests and they appear on most chinese menus as a very nutritious dish which is rich in proteins.
We booked into one of the first hotels we came across we booked a room for £12 which had air conditioning and wifi and it’s own bathroom minus the sink.
Gary; I have found a web site called “plotaroute.com” that when plotted also shows the route profile which should help save us from some surprise voluptuous mounds. I can also download the route to my Garmin, even though I don’t have maps of the area you can see the route on the screen, this saves me having to stop to check all the turnings on my phone. It seemed to work OK today.
Saw flat backed open topped lorries pass us full of school kids with Red Cross flags, I don’t know where they where headed but the kids looked excited and some were singing away.
Spotted a timber lorry being loaded by hand. It took 6 men to carry each large felled tree trunk using rope and a pole over each pair of mens shoulders, it looked hard work and vey dangerous as they were having to carry the logs up scaffold type planks then walk over the logs already in the waggon.
Kebumen t o Wates Kulon Promo
We’re getting really good at this sleeping in hotels lark, different town, different hotel, different bed, sometimes a double bed sometimes twin beds but no matter what is going on around us we’ve learnt to sleep through it. Last night we had some noisy men outside of our room, talking to loved ones via Skype and again the mosque was very close but we were out like a light (of course I am better at this than Gary but he is improving)
Breakfast on the other hand is very hit and miss, Gary tucks in no matter what is presenting but I’d rather go without than eat rice or noodles at 7.30am, fortunately there was a supermarket next to the restaurant so I bought a roti (not like rottis in India, in Java a roti is a jam sandwich) and what I thought was a yogurt but turned out to be a jelly type desert which Gary ate.
Before we could set off Gary had to fix a puncture on my bike (which had appeared as if by magic over night) as is often the case this attracted attention from the locals. One guy who could speak a little english tried to talk me into going into the import/export business, he was selling necklaces, I kindly refused. Most locals are curious about our journey but struggle to understand where we’ve been or even where we’re going. They’re also curious about the price of the bikes, when asked I told one of the locals, he got his phone out did the conversation rate and then informed me I could buy a motorbike for that amount of money, I won’t dwell on that thought too much especially the next time we come across a ‘volumptious mound’.
Not long after setting off I thought I saw some men setting up a cock fighting ring, I shouted to Gary and we turned round to have a closer look fortunately it was just a market for chicken and cocks, there was some very big ones on display.
Gary; later on Ginette did see a cock, but this was on a naked man walking by the road, with only a few leaves to hide his modesty, or lack of it. I didn’t see the front of the guy but I knew Ginette would have turned back to see whether he was a naked as he looked from the back.
Ginette: – Cheeky, but true – I couldn’t resist taking a peek
The ride was long, boring and on a really uneven flat road, the only relief from the constant bumping up and down on the bike was when we cycled onto a tarmac section of road but this did not last long before we were back on the yucky difficult to ride surface which felt like you were riding a bike with square wheels through treacle. To make matters worse we had a head/side wind all the way. We broke the journey up by having frequent breaks and by watching the locals bring in their harvests. We have now seen aubergines, melons, sweetcorn, wheat and rice being harvested. It looks like fields are sectioned off and managed by village coops, different crops seem to be planted in the same field and harvested by different groups this would explain the burning of only one section of a field and why sections of the field look more well kept than others.
We had toyed with the idea of cycling 62 miles but we’d had enough by lunch time and agreed to stop in the next town. However this turned out to be a bit of a ghost town by the sea. The beach was black and the sea was wild, far too wild to swim in. As it was only 1.30pm we agreed to cycle on to the next town. This section of the ride was much more enjoyable, the road was smoother and there were sections where the wind let up for a bit. Arrived in Wates Kulon Progo at 3.00pm and checked into the 2nd hotel we saw, the first was on a main road.
Gary; The sea had large rolling tube breakers, the type you see surfers disappear in, but it did look too dangerous to try to swim in.
Wates to Yogigharta
Indonesian hotels are weird, for the 3rd time since arriving in this country we had breakfast delivered to our door at 6.30am! this time it was cold fried egg and stir fried rice with luke warm tea.
I can’t imagine many people eating that concoction in bed let alone at 6.30 in the morning.
Gary; yes disgusting, but I did manage a fried egg, some rice and both the cold teas!
Fortunately (or not) I was already awake when the breakfast was delivered this was probably because I’d stupidly cursed myself in my previous blog by claiming how good I am at sleeping. I had a rotten nights sleep due to the fact the room was lit up from the lights in the corridors and our room was next to reception so I could hear people coming and going all night. That will teach me to boast about my sleeping abilities.
Bike ride was easy, we stopped at the 10 mile mark for some breakfast, bread and juice (nothing exciting) and arrived at our destination at lunch time.
We contemplated going up a local volcano but it was going to cost in the region of £25 and the advice had been to walk up it at night so that you could see the sunrise. Gary wasn’t keen on this idea as it was described as a difficult climb and descent with a lot of falling shale and ash and he has weak ankles. We took a further look at the map and realised we would be passing by Mount Bromo which is another volcano in Java. We could cycle to this on our way to the opposite coast and climb it at sunset rather than sunrise which would avoid the 4 hours climb in the middle of the night as an added bonus we’ve been advised there’s lots of entrances where you don’t have to pay a fee.
Instead of hitting the tourist attractions we went in search of a local market and some food. We hired a bike rickshaw to take us which was a very slow but a sedate ride, well it was for us because we’re used to pulling out in front of traffic but for others this might have been a little scary. As we headed across one crossing with the traffic heading towards us Gary advised me to close my eyes, I had to laugh because there’s been more than one occasion when he has jumped the lights and I have been left following on behind with the traffic heading directly for me. The market was really interesting, lots of stalls but we didn’t buy much, just a tacky ornament for the christmas tree and pair of knickers, as I had lost the only pair I had. I was a little disgruntled that I had to purchase an XL size, a girl could get a complex
Later in the afternoon we found a restaurant that sold beer at a reasonable price so treated ourselves to 2 bottles and caught up with the internet world and friends back home. After 2 bottles of Bintang (local beer) we both felt quite tipsy. We didn’t fancy a full meal as we had eaten in the market so Gary went to one of the local stalls and I grabbed some snacks from the supermarket.
My meal at a local stall was noodles and meatballs, when I cut into the largest meatball I had a pleasant surprise as it was a coated boiled egg – yum yum.
Gary; I have noticed a few things about me that have gradually changed (not the hair).
My eating habits.
If I went without a meal or left it late to eat I would end up feeling queazy, so I felt like I need to eat often to stop this happening. But now I rarely feel that hunger pang, I am not eating any more or often than before, in fact I feel less hunger now. My body seems to know that it will get fed and doesn’t play up if a mealtime is missed. If the evening meal is small it doesn’t seem to matter, as long as I have something then my hunger is sated.
Ginette – Just read this – Gary is delusional, he eats non stop, he doesn’t care what it is or the time of day, I’m not surprised he’s not hungry! Gary; she is only judging me by her tiny appetite.
My toilet habits, I have gone from turning into the old man that has to have a wee break every hour to someone that can ride all day without giving a toilet break a second thought, it is as if my body knows its got a lot of work to do so is now using all the fluids I put in it instead of wasting it by flushing it straight through me.
They do get tired, you get a burning sensation in the thighs but it only effects you when your head is not in the game. If your head is having a bad day then the legs will complain to add to the bad day, but if your head is feeling fine then any leg ache is just felt as part of the fun. the pain generally starts to show around the 40 mile mark
During long flat stretches I get pins and needles in my fingers, probably from the pressure that my body puts through my hands while cycling, when you are doing hills I haven’t noticed this yet, you actually pull with your arms on the ups so there is less constant pressure in your hands.
Ginette’s changed appetite.
I should point out that now Ginette also takes turns to be the “must be fed, feed me know” plant. She can be a bear with a sore head if not fed. when we finally get a bottle of Sprite near her and she downs it in one, blink and its gone – what a lady.
Ginette – This is so true, when I’m hungry I need feeding immediately or I get really grumpy and I can down a bottle of drink quicker than Gary can open his, it’s no wonder when I say shall we share a bottle he refuses.
Yogi to Solo
Another restless nights sleep, there was too much light in our room again and the air conditioner was aimed straight at our small double bed which only had a thin sheet on it which meant either we were too cold or too hot.
We set off fairly early as we wanted to visit a local temple 12 miles away. The roads were busy and the traffic seemed to build up in waves so it was either really hectic and noisy or fairly quiet. The temple was called Prambanan, it was the first Hindu Temple we had visited and we were suitably impressed both with the temples and the ambience of the area. We were not so impressed with the price which was approx £13.00 each which doesn’t sound like a lot but we are on a budget and we had seen the locals price which was a mere £1.50 each!
Whilst at the temple we treated ourselves to a miniature bike rickshaw, we keep seeing things we would like to buy but walking away either because of the price or because of the inconvenience of carrying them on the bike or arranging for them to be posted home. We were obviously in an upbeat mood because we ignored all of these factors and bought it.
The next 30 miles were fairly boring we passed town after town, each looking similar to the last. We have seen more carpenters and wood furnishers/polishers in the passed two days, each time we pass a carpenter sawing or turning some wood the smell reminds me of James a close friend back home, it also reminds me of the rare occasions I attended my wood work class at senior school.
At one of our drink stops I noticed Gary had dropped some money on the floor, he was walking towards his bike so I stopped and picked it up saying to the two boys sitting outside the shop ‘you would think we had money to burn’ or something to that regard. When I got back on my bike I realised a little bit embarrassingly that I’d actually stopped to pick up the equivalent of 5p in the guise of a 1,000 rupee note.
We arrived at the hotel at 4.00ish, quickly showered and went in search of some dinner, we passed by a square with a war memorial and several restaurants that were closed, we finally found one that was open and after inspecting the menu carefully and for some considerable time we managed to order exactly the same as we’ve had most nights in Java, Gary Chicken and rice whilst I ordered green veg and rice. We have made a concerted effort not to order the same dishes as we’ve ordered previously but the meals always come out the same with minor variations which include with or without broth, vegetables or chillies. Gary over indulged in the chillies and had to down several drinks as his mouth was on fire, I hope they don’t burn as much tomorrow on their way out. Our meal only came to £2.00 but I think in future we will order more dishes as we were both left feeling hungry and as in previous nights had to fill up with crisps and biscuits back at the hotel.
Gary; The temple was a nice break from the monotony that has so far been Java, its a nice enough place but it is a bit like cycling through normal working towns at home linked together by busy main roads. You just switch off and cycle along paying no particular attention to all the busy traffic. Tomorrow we are hoping to catch a train to jump 200 miles East, thats if we can work out how to get the bikes on, no web searches have helped so it will be a matter of turning up at the train station and hoping someone will understand us.
I am going to be a nightmare cyclist when I get back to the UK, here I don’t stop at any of the red lights unless they are major crossroads, and even then you can still edge your way across them, its the norm here but in the UK the stroppy car drivers will not be happy with me.
August 4th September
At the end of the ride yesterday we had a frank discussion about our ride in Java and agreed it wasn’t very enjoyable. We had worked out we had a further 6 or 7 days cycling before we reached Bali and decided to look at our options, which is easier said than done when you don’t speak the local language.
After some internet searches and a trip or two by Gary to railway stations and markets (to try and negotiate a lift) we agreed to go by train all the way to Banywanggi this would mean forfeiting a trip to Mount Bromo which we had wanted to climb. With some trepidation we booked our bikes on the freight train which we were informed would take 2 days and went to a different train station to book seats on a passenger train, this took a leap of faith and almost 3 hours of our time. When we first tried booking our tickets we were told we would need to return at 1.00pm, this gave us time to find a local hotel and to have some lunch. We returned at the allocated time and waited and waited we finally booked our tickets at 2.30pm. Whilst we waited in the busy outdoor station sweaty and uncomfortable in our teeshirts and light weight trousers it was interesting to note that everyone around us were wearing coats and jumpers.
Gary; As the internet machine wasn’t coming up trumps I cycled to the train station which was only around the corner. I did manage to find out that the bikes need to be packed and go as freight and we would have to go by a different train.
I tried the local fruit market we had walked through yesterday as they have lots of vans. it was hard work trying to communicate but fun, surrounded by helpful locals all wanting to help. I think in the end someone understood but wanted 3 million (£150) to take us.
As Ginette says it felt odd leaving the cycles and panniers with the packers, again we were having language issue so not only did we have to have faith that they would wrap and send the cycles, but also the doubt that we were sending them to the right destination – but the paperwork looked correct even if we could’t reassure ourselves verbally with them.
We had hoped to do something cultural in the afternoon but the palace was closed and the museum had been given a poor write up, so what were two Brits to do in a city, deprived of our local (The Ring o Bells) we made our way to a local bar. On our way we got waylaid by an athletics meet that was taking place in a local stadium. It was the national Indonesian athletics meet for people aged 35+. We stayed and watched the games for over an hour it was really interesting and inspiring to see people as old as 85 partaking in javelin throwing, long jump, discus and running.
Gary; Some of these older guys looked like athletes and some not. The competition was a bit like watching a school sports day. In one ladies 800m race the winner by a long way stopped running at 100m and only started again when she was caught by number 2, however she stopped again at 50m so lost, she didn’t look in pain she looked like she had just had enough. The long jump was funny as well as amazing to watch these really old guys 70 years I would guess take a run and long jump.
We finally got to the bar at 5.00pm, we had read about it in a blog on ex pats in Java, the bar was empty but the manager was happy to pass the time of day with us. He had been in Java for 19 years and had emigrated from Virginia. Whilst we enjoyed our drink two other customers arrived, one of which was really belligerent he hated Java and repeatedly referred to it as a ‘shit hole’ and he hated the Chinese, he had done some business there many years ago and still had a small office based there.
As we were being eaten alive and the beer was expensive we moved on after having a couple of pints. On our way to getting something to eat we walked passed two Indonesian men playing table tennis on a very small table, we stopped to watch and were encouraged to have a go. I can’t play sober let alone with 2 pints but Gary is quite good so he eagerly picked up the bat and became part of the entertainment for the next 1/2 hour. The other guy was clearly a better player, he was much more used to playing on a smaller table but Gary put on a good show and got some really good shots in which seemed to surprise the guy he was playing against.
Gary; I was clearly the better player, I don’t know what game Ginette was watching.
We stopped for dinner in a restaurant next to our hotel and had a really lovely, well presented meal.
Solo to Banyuwangi
Early start, to get on the train for 8.10am before we left the hotel we had a quick look at Facebook and were really pleased to see Julia and Chris’s wedding photo’s they looked beautiful and very much in love, Julia is one of our paddling buddies and we’re really sorry we were not able to share their day with them.
We had allocated seats, 2 seats in a block of 4 there was not a lot of space especially for an eleven hour train journey. In contrast to the train journey through India the scenery was pretty, lots of green fields and trees, with volcanoes and mountains in the distance. Occasionally we went through a more deprived area and the town would be run down with rubbish by the railway lines but nothing compared to the slums we saw in India.
The train stopped lots and on the longer stops, people got off to have a fag break and purchase food from vendors on the tracks. Food vendors also routinely came through the train but there wasn’t a lot to choose from the choice was rice, noodles (pot noodle style) crisps and non fizzy drinks.
We were grateful for our kindles without them I think we might have gone slightly insane.
When we arrived in Banyuwangi we were both hungry and needed a long fizzy drink. We hired a rickshaw to take us to the nearest hotel and restaurant. Although it was fairly late nearly 10pm we managed to book a room, eat dinner and have a drink. We even went to the local disco (which had a female singer, singing to a room of staff members, I could see at least 5 and some of other singers in the corner) but as we were the only paying customers we didn’t stay long. How these places make a profit is beyond us.
The room was fairly basic (a little dirty and had ants) but it was big and the beds were comfortable, we’d also managed to stay awake until gone 11.00pm so rock and roll!!
Banyuwangi to Bali
A very bitty day, woke had breakfast, and then had to collect our bikes from the train station.
Gary; Yeah, the bikes had made it, I don’t really understand why they feel they have to wrap them up, see the photo we have added of al the panniers wrapped in cardboard?
We arrived after 9am as instructed but were initially formed the freight office was closed on a Sunday but fortunately one of the other guards was expecting us and opened up the storage area so that we could get our bikes. Gary took a few pictures for the blog and the cheeky guard tried to ask for some money for the photo, this must work with more naive travellers because he persisted for a quite awhile, but eventually gave up. Once we’d got our bikes we rode to the ferry port (a stones throw away) and were really lucky as we were able to cycle straight onto the ferry.
The crossing took about an hour we amused ourselves by talking to some other local cyclists and a couple who were backpacking around Asia and Australia.
We had hoped for a change of scenery once we cycled off the ferry but unfortunately the terrain and scenery was very much like Java with the exception it is a little dirtier (lot of rubbish at the side of the roads), there are monkeys on the island and there are a lot more heavy goods vehicles. The main road from the port to the town we’re staying in was in poor condition at the edge of the road the tarmac had either become broken up or had bulged creating a large lump in the road. On a more positive note we met a fellow tourer from the UK she was heading to Java, we stopped to exchange details and wish each other luck.
The town we’re staying in is called Negara although it is near the sea there are no hotels by the beach so we’ve booked into a hotel in the town. We’re hoping tomorrow the scenery will improve and we will get to see a bit more of the exotic island of Bali.
Gary; A bit of a disappointment today with the busy road and very familiar area, but at least the monkeys were entertaining, they had grey beards and mohican hairstyles.