We try to avoid flying as much as we can. To put it straight – we hate flying. Ferries are much more convenient to cross long distances, you usually do not need to pack your bicycle in a box or bag and the people working on big ships are in most cases more relaxed than airport staff. Since Indonesia is a country of thousands of islands, it is natural to cross long stretches of water by boat.
The speed ferry that goes from the island of Batam (close to Singapore) to Jakarta, Java, leaves the island only once a week. With a bit of help from Dave, our new friend, we bought the tickets for both of us in an 8-bunk cabin – second cheapest option available.
Boarding the ferry was not easy – we had to first push our fully loaded bikes through a mob of impatient Indonesians, and then climb steep stairs with a bit of help of the crew.
The ship was huge. Most of the passengers stayed on the lowest floor, occupying the 3rd class – a cockroach infested, mass sleeping hall. We were very lucky to have our cabin to ourselves, so 28 hours of a ride across the sea was quite easy. We also crossed the equator (there was a quiet “pop” sound when we appeared on the Southern Hemisphere, and suddenly everything was upside down).
Three meals were included in the ticket price, and the friendly crew managed to organise some simple vegetarian food for us. Once we arrived in Jakarta we asked if we could stay on-board one more night, to avoid entering one of Asia’s most crowded cities during late evening hours, and we were provided with a basic cabin to take a rest before the final arrival.
Jakarta turned out to be surprisingly manageable on the bikes. The traffic was not worse than in Hanoi or Teheran, the air had Bangkok quality and comparing to India’s big cities – it was sparkling clean.
Long before our arrival in Indonesia we had decided not to cycle from Jakarta, but to take a train to Yogyakarta (a city more to the South). What we did not know about was the existence of an amazing place in the city of Bandung and its legendary cycling community. We were told about a WarmShowers home stay in Bandung by the cyclists in Batam. We decided to change our plans a bit and gave it a try.
The place turned out to be a local community of cycling enthusiasts and other friendly local souls, who decided to rent a squat-like property to establish a place, where everybody feels welcomed. From the first moment we felt at home in Cigadung 108 and we knew, that we would stay more than just one night.
The place was like a hub for many local and global cyclists. There was a room for the guests and a small cafe with probably the best fried bananas in the Southern Hemisphere.
All of the guys involved in the project were taking care of us. We were introduced to some amazing sweet potatoes that grow only in the village of Cilembu in Java. When baked, they taste like honey. Not like potato with honey. Like honey!
We also attended a concert where we could listen to the beautiful sound of Angklung – a traditional bamboo instrument.
…and we were invited for a night ride around Bandung.
The atmosphere in that place was just amazing! Why can’t we have places like that all over the world?
Wasn’t easy to leave Cigadung, and all our new friends we have made there! But our visa time was melting faster than the icebergs in the Arctic, so we had to get going.
We had to send our bikes to Yogyakarta via a cargo train, so for the first time during our trip we had to say goodbye to them an evening before. Early in the morning our friends dropped us at the cleanest train station we have ever been to, and we headed towards the place, where our journey was about to start again.