Java. The most densely populated island of Indonesia. The key to fully enjoy it is very simple: choose smaller roads. Cycling through the tinniest possible roads and paths guaranteed constant surprises. Hidden art pieces on the walls, lush green rice paddy fields, traditional lifestyle…
Java is famous for its rice plantations: the crop is grown on muddy fields (just like anywhere else in Asia) and due to the climate, in some places it is harvested 3 times a year.
Rice needs water to grow. Quite a lot of it. It is planted in mud, so to grow it on the hill slopes, people had to create systems of terraces, so that water could flow through. Nutrient rich soil, lots of sun and hard labor – that’s the key to good, tasty rice.
Whily cycling through China, we were not very lucky with spotting beautiful, wet rice paddy fields. We simply visited it during the wrong time of the year. This was not a problem in Indonesia: since there are no real seasons as we know them in Europe, rice does not need to be planted at a certain time (like in China, or Vietnam), so we could see paddy fields at different stages.
Another fascinating aspect of Java is the mix of cultures and religions. Even though Islam is a predominant religion, Hindu and Buddhist temples can be seen all over the Island. Some of them – very old.
Besides rice, Java is also famous for its coffee. The chance to have a good one is limited to larger towns, but we enjoyed pretty much any coffee, as long as it kicked.
During our stay on Java we wanted to focus on building up stamina – much needed after almost a year of a cycling break in Singapore. Luckily, volcanic landscape provided us with plenty of uphills.
It can get pretty cold as you get high (well, at least for the tropics), so the plants that prefer slightly less sweaty conditions can be grown. At the end of our climb to Mount Lawu we could enjoy some strawberries!
Plenty of vegetarian options for us! Tempeh and tofu on almost every corner!
Sweet potatoes, including the famous honey-tasting ones from the area of Cilembu can be bought throughout the island, and they make a delicious source of carbohydrates for hungry cyclists.
Java’s cycling community is massive! We have met really dedicated cyclists there, quite a lot of them hosted us.
Java kids, always playful!
Camping on green grass, we missed it so much! There is nothing better than a night in a down sleeping bag! Above 2000m we had some pleasantly cold nights.
During our climb to Mount Bromo we cycled through some Hindu villages. Very interesting, considering how far from India they are.
Climbing higher and higher we could observe a changing landscape, from thick, mossy jungles to pine tree covered slopes, and dry, volcanic grasslands. The island of Java, with its volcanoes, cultures, food and architecture, was real fun to explore!