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Indonesia

When our ‘Pelni Voyage’ terminated in Surabaya we had 3 and a half days left to cycle 450kms through East Java & Bali- in order to meet Alice’s Mum in time (a little above our usual asian ‘tea-drinking’ pace). Most people told us to just fly, but we are so pleased we didn’t. Java was full of smiling, welcoming people, great food and interesting traffic. Bali amazed us and¬†offered a wealth¬†of temples, shrines and an unforgetable bright vivid green of paddy fields. We even managed to track down an old friend before meeting up with Al’s mum, then it was time to kick back and relax for two weeks. The riding was fantastic and varied, our family holiday a joy, and seeing old friends a tonic. This section was a truly wonderful end to our year in Asia.

In order to get to Bali in time to meet Alice’s mum we knew we’d have to get some transport somehow but our response to everyone who advised us to fly was ‘but we don’t want to..’ ‘why?’ ‘well, we just don’t.’

At times this felt like it may have been a poor decision but after catching 3 boats, visiting numerous shipping offices, crying and screaming at counless unhelpful and bemused officials, experiencing ‘economy’ class, being invited to first class and generally confusing everyone who asked ‘but why didn’t you just fly?’… we’re pretty glad we did.

We arrived in Jakarta’s polluted and overcrowded streets in pitch darkness. Splashing Telia through unidentified murky puddles whilst dodging notoriously aggressive traffic for the 20kms from the ferry docks into the town centre the contrast to Singapore couldn’t have seemed greater. We were definitely still in Asia! Spending the next four days grappling with the baffling Indonesian shipping bureaucracy we could have been forgiven for feeling ‘stuck’ in this city that our travel guidebook recommended we find a way out of as soon as possible; but Jakarta turned out to be an unlikely gem. Once out of the single street that seemed to house most of the tourists and travellers we were met by wondrously friendly people who welcomed us as we explored the vibrant, if mucky, streets still clutching onto their crumbling dutch colonial past.