Eleven million people. The traffic was bad but being on a small motorcycle made riding manageable.
We spent the next couple days exploring the city and just getting our time zones reset. We went to a local market and I experienced my first spicy Indonesian dish. William shuttled us around the city and we spent a night with his lovely family at the night market. One of the attractions is witnessing a King Cobra being milked, killed and then cooked. I love snakes but really wanted to witness this show. The stand was empty when we arrived. It seems that sometimes the food wins. The man responsible for capturing the cobras in the wild was bitten that day. He was rushed to the hospital and there was no need as to his condition. Sometimes nature wins.
We decided to try and leave Jakarta mid-morning, after the early rush and rain. The route I choose looked like it would get us into the countryside fairly quickly. What I didn’t realize was all of Java is people. The first 25 km was just traffic and gridlock. As scooters and motorcycles can go anywhere to get in front of traffic, it was very hectic. There is an occasional stoplight but other than that, traffic never stops, any direction. You learn to adapt very quickly. Scooters merge, cross, go the wrong way and anything else that you could and couldn’t imagine. I’m not riding a large motorcycle, but it does have panniers. There were several, no, many butt clamping moments as we earned our badges. Plus we are riding on the left hand side of the road. It’s times like this I am so happy to be on a motorcycle.
By mid-afternoon we are hot, sticky and needing a break. We find an AlfaMart to look for a hotel. What is advertised and what is reality can sometimes be worlds apart. I don’t know if it was COVID or just the economy, but most hotels, in our conservative price range, are fairly run down. We don’t need much. Just air conditioning and European porcelain, instead of the Indonesian hole, would be nice. Many of the showers are of the bucket type, meaning you scoop a bucket of water and pour over your head. Hot water? Not much. But when you’ve been hot and sweaty all day long, who would really want it. The first hotel on the road had a beautiful swimming pool and once was a water park. Those days are long gone, but most things are still nice. The AC in the first room we look at doesn’t work. We choose an upgraded room for $20 per night.
As we had east towards East Nusa Tenggara the population, thus traffic, should begin to diminish. We try and find smaller roads thinking that will mean less people. It probably does, but traffic is crazy everywhere right now. We are getting towards the end of Ramadan. We usually eat a muffin in the morning and don’t eat again until sunset. The second hotel we try to get is a Muslim Sharia Hotel in Semarang. We do not have any proof of Melanie and I being married, so we cannot stay the night. We find another hotel across the street with good accommodations. We use GRAB delivery to get food delivered to our hotel. It’s very efficient with many choices and the prices are amazingly inexpensive.
We are headed east towards the middle of Java. A friend of mine from California, Nicole, had connected us with a famous Indonesian motorcycle rider. He also hosted a Horizons Unlimited Indonesia motorcycle event for overland travelers a few years ago. There will be more about him on the next post.
Till next time, ride sane.
2 comments on “Escaping Jakarta”
Interesting post. It sounds a bit challenging to navigate the crazy traffic! Thanks for sharing about a country we hope to visit someday.
It’s easy once you get the flow. Just hot and slow navigating the masses.