One of the benefits of staying with people is the you get a great breakfast, I had scrambled egg on toast which set me up nicely for the day. I set off early at 8am. As I stopped early yesterday I had 80km to do instead of 50km and it was hot and humid already.
I kept to the main road today because I wanted to get to the ferry before it got dark, there didn’t seem to be many places to stay in Gilimanuk. The main road goes along the coast but I only saw the sea a few times, mostly it was obscured by palm trees and rice paddies. There were rice paddies for miles, all along the road, very full of water.
There were lots of hills for the first half, constantly going up and down. The nice cruises downhill made up for the hard work going up. I didn’t have to get off and push at all and I even managed some of the hills without going into first gear.
It was a real melting pot of culture, moving from Hindu to Muslim and at times a mixture of them both, with a mosque and hindu offerings right next to each other. It changed several times as I went up the coast.
I had to stop a few times to drink water because it was just pouring out of me, constantly in my eyes. When you are sweaty it feels like the pollution from the trucks and bikes sticks to you even more. There were a lot of trucks and a few of them passed way too close for comfort. So many people pull up right next to you and blare the horn. I hate it every time. Most people beep when they are behind you, but generally it means ‘I’m coming through whether it’s clear of not’. Lots of people decided to overtake on bends or hills and I am surprised I didn’t witness a crash. The really unpleasant bit was when the trucks coming towards you decided to overtake and they were on my side of the road heading straight towards me.
I also had motorbikes just hang alongside me which I really didn’t like. One guy was there for so long I found a tree with some shade to sit under in the hope he would carry on. He did.
Lots of people were shouting at me from their car windows, mostly young men / boys and maybe they are being nice, but it sounds like they are jeering or cat calling, or taking the piss. It doesn’t feel like it’s a nice reaction. You get the occasional person who gives you a boost by sticking their thumbs up and appearing supportive.
I had to stop at a supermarket and buy an ice cream a fanta and a Pocari Sweat (an isotonic drink) I was served by a man who had the longest fingernail I had ever seen, on a man or a woman, long fingernails are gross, and I sat outside on a dirty step to consume all my sugary goodness.
The last 20km were a little flatter and I think I was moving along at around 20kph. In the last 10km the sides of the road we covered in piles of trash, and there where loads of monkeys scavenging and pulling apart bits of plastic. The monkeys can be aggressive and I have heard of someone getting bitten so I didn’t want to stop to take a photo!
I reached Gilimanuk at around 12pm, I was really happy with the timing. 4 hours for 80km in this heat with those hills was good for me.
Getting the ferry was straightforward, people were happy to point me in the right direction, I paid 41 pence (about 30 cents) for me and the bike for the half hour trip to Java. The ferry was quite small and basic but it was comfy and over quickly. The ferry runs every hour 24 hours a day, I booked a homestay in Banyuwangi only about 1km away from the ferry because I wasn’t sure what time I would be arriving. But I was there by 1pm and I was able to check into my room straight away. Checkin and checkout times are pretty lax in Indonesia.
I had a shower and continued to sweat and sweat. It was mostly overcast today but I managed to burn the tops of my hands a bit, it was the first time I had cycled without my gloves on. They were in a pannier and I couldn’t be bothered to get them out, but it is definitely better with gloves because my hands were sliding about all over the place.
I have been advised by a lot of people to not bother with cycling in Java because the roads are so mental, and you end up being sat in massive traffic jams. So with that in mind and a limited time until my visa ran out, I decided to get a couple of trains to make sure I arrived in Jakarta with enough time to leave. I was really hungry and I spoke to the lady at the homestay about travelling by train and she advised to go to the station now and book a ticket for tomorrow. The 1km walk was unpleasant and this time I was unmistaken in the cat calls from the cars. ‘Hello darling’. ‘Hey beautiful come here’. They made me want to be sick. Many people also asked me ‘where you going’ and what I really want to say is ‘it’s none of your business so why don’t you just bugger off’ but what I do now is point in front of me and say ‘that way’. They don’t seem to have worked out a come back for that yet.
The train station was a challenge! There was one person who spoke decent English. There are 2 trains. A direct one to Yogyakarta, only economy class so that meant 13 hours sat on a wooden bench. Only £5 but I had absolutely no desire to be on a wooden bench for 13 hours. The other train goes to Surabaya which is first class and costs £10 for a 5 hour journey. The choice was an easy one.
Then I had to sort out Priscilla. I can’t just take her on the train, she has to be taken as cargo, so I pay separately for her. I spoke to one guy who didn’t speak any English and who’s eyes looked in completely different directions. In the end we had to go back to customer services and speak to the guy who could speak English. This guy only worked for the direct train and they were talking about sending my bike on ahead but I did not feel comfortable with that. The other cargo company for the other train weren’t working because it was a sunday so I would have to go back in the morning. All of that took over an hour.
When I got back I asked about food and I was told the lady was asleep so I couldn’t have any. I was tired and hungry and I went to my room and cried! A completely irrational reaction but thats what hunger does to you! Eventually I did get to eat something and it was huge bowl of noodle soup that I couldn’t finish. I say noodle soup. It was ramen / 2 minute noodles / super noodles in a broth with some vegetables but I did feel a lot better after some food.
My first impressions of Java are that it is very similar to Bali!
Indonesia is the 4th most populated country in the world with around 265 million people. 58% of those people live in Java. Java is the most populous island in the world with 142 million people living there (compared to 63 million living in the UK). And I read somewhere that around 40% of those people are Chinese.
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