Posts Tagged ‘Jogja’

The Indies Heritage Hotel was so nice, I spent most of the last 3 days in it ! At about $55 a night plus breakfast, not only was it the deal of the decade, there was no need to unnecessarily get sweaty outside. Besides I’ve seen the temples, the royal palaces, the choked shopping streets etc etc. Only the mundane last few days of a bike trip errands to do.

Troll the bike shops for bargains and rare hard to find retro bike parts. Secure a bike box for Mr Shrek for the flight home, and meet up with some Singaporean biker friends who were in Jogja for the weekend.

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Chicken porridge is a staple street food in Java. This is the much nice looking hotel version. 2 bowls of this and I’m ready to churn the pedals. Well not quite as there are other dishes for breakfast.

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Weather beaten but you get the point. A waiting box for bicycles at the start of traffic lights. Very thoughtful.

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I drop by the biggest bike shop in town. 3 shophouse units and an apartment above where the owners live. Unfortunately no bike box to give away.

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Plan B. Yes they have a box. A sharp eye will notice that some bikes are built from the frame up. That’s a lot of work, but maybe not for the older gent here.

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A box a retrieved from another shop across the street. Nicely folded, and tied with a carrying handle of sorts. $1.50. Now I have to cycle back to the hotel to leave it there. And my back pack is already full of some purchases from the previous bike shop.

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These 2 guys drove all the way from Jakarta. They had a gala time squatting and pointing to the parts on my bike. They took a photo of me so I returned the favour. Now I just need a bunch of women with toned legs to do the same. Squat and gawk at the bike.

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I spot a German brand Stevens at another old shop in town. Check out the floor tiles. Old. This place still has a brand new, but unridden Alpinestar cro mega mountain bike hanging on the wall. I estimate that it’s a 1990 or earlier model with 7 speed Shimano Deore DX parts. Rp 6.5 million or just under $700. Awesome deal if you’re a fan of elevated chainstay mountain bikes. Don’t think that bike is heading anywhere as I saw it on the wall back in 2009. Alam Baru did lighten my wallet though. A new crank and some brakes set me back Rp 1.2 million in one afternoon. For some perspective, I had 8 million when I started the trip.

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A pedal van. Yes get 3 friends and you have a 4 human horsepower VW van. These and many others have discovered LED technology and I guess therein lies the novelty. Pedalling around the town square, with blinking lights, in the cool of the night. Me? Back at the hotel surfing 6 movie channels from HBO.

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Jogja street graffiti.

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Jogja SUV. Severely utilised vehicle.

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The boys and I ride 30 kms on a Sunday to Parangtritis Beach south of town to drink coconut juice and watch the raging surf of the indian Ocean.

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More quiet contemplation, surf and tattered tarps. And yes, cheap Indonesian cigarettes.

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In this scene there are 3 very relaxed musketeers left, downing Jogja tea and cigarettes as No 4 had to rush back to the hotel, pack up and head to the airport. With 30 kms left to backtrack and check in, in 3.5 hours, I’d be quite worried as No 4 was.

First, he had to endure a bit of teasing as to why he did not book a return flight for tomorrow, a very relaxed Monday? Leaving the beach all 4 were furiously pedalling like a TDF time trial….in search of a taxi back to town. There were none this far out by the Indian Ocean.

There was a pick up full of elderly local cyclists heading back and I stopped them, asking of they could take one more on a fancy folding Brompton. No, they were really full to the brim. A quick call was made to a friend asking him to send a taxi from town, 30 kms away. That’ll take some time. Another 20 wasted minutes. So the 4 continued on their time trial as I slowed to take more photos.

While doing so, I spot a white Vios taxi at a crossroads. I jumped on my bike and chased him down, well lucky for me and No 4, he was at the junction taking his time moving off. I told him to head to town and keep a look out for 4 cyclists on very small wheels. One of them would be very pleased to take his taxi to town and thereafter to the airport. It would be a very big fare for him to. Airport runs are a big deal. Rp 80k if from a fancy hotel. No meters. I also found out that daily rental was only Rp 150k ! 2 airport runs and that’s more or less covered. Compare that with a S$140 / Rp 1.3 million a day rental back home.

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This was earlier in the day, a second breakfast for the ever hungry boys.

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A final shampoo and hot spray bath for the bike. Got quite a bit of volcanic gunk and sand from the ride to the beach.

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The shrink wrap cost more than the box, but hey at $4.00 it was peace of mind as the cardboard was soft and flexy. None too strong as I would like, and Changi Airport in Singapore would probably charge a whopping $15 or so for this service.

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The very early 7.30 am departure has it’s rewards. The mountains around central Java bathed in the morning light. Here’s Merapi in it’s almost dormant state with other lesser volcanoes west of it. Hence the attraction to ride a bicycle around them.

Days 7 & 8

I finally have a full ‘rest’ day on this trip. Rest meaning I don’t ride to another town, wake up later and basically have no plans, sort of, for this day.

Such days are important on extended bike tours, physically and mentally. Physically the body needs to rest from the routine of packing, eating, cycling and finding a place for the night.┬áMentally, there’s a break from looking at maps, navigation, reading the weather, getting lost, etc. Usually a rest day is called for every 3 days of the trip, but there are many variables in this set equation also.

Thankfully I have not been too stretched out on both aspects as my distances are shorter than normal for my bike trips. Yesterday’s 125 kms was a test whether I could still ride more than 100 kms and I’m glad I passed. Although I prefer not to ride in the dark for a late check in.

Today I am just going to chill, except that I have placemarked some  Surakarta or Solo bike shops in my phone. Let the games begin !

Click on the individual photos for my detailed comments.

Leaving Solo was a breeze. What was surprising was the thick fog that enveloped the city in the early dawn hours. It would have been great to ride through that but with only 70 kms to go, a 7 am start was not going to happen. I have cable tv and a hotel breakfast to attend to.

Sometimes I am all packed the previous night so that I don’t have to pack ┬átoo much in the morning. This was also a non event.

As there’s only one main highway between Solo and Jogja, I did not want to ride the same traffic choked road again. So I did my best to find a parallel country road. It was not easy as both are big cities in their own right and expanding into the countryside with each passing year. 65 kms isn’t vast in Java. At least, as always the towering peaks of Merapi and Merbabu loomed over the western horizon. They were omnipresent till the late afternoon clouds and haze enveloped them.

I think I got about 20 kms of pottering in the ricefields before the dreaded highway appeared. Well better 20 than nothing. Java is a heavily populated island. Even in the countryside there were lots of people, with the only saving grace being slower traffic on the smaller narrower roads.

I got into Jogja proper in very good time. Well there was a slow leak in the front tyre which had also seen better days. The sidewalls were tearing and so I found a shady spot away from zooming traffic. Tyre and tube were replaced together. Yes I carry a light foldable 1.5 inch spare just for moments like this.

A quick soak in the pool of the Indies Heritage Hotel before dinner was a wise choice as the following Saturday and Sunday meant only one thing. Weekend crowds at the hotel.

Tomorrow, I get reaquainted with Jogja, last visited in 2009 and 1997.