Final distance from Banda Aceh Jakarta to Jakarta: 3,732 kilometres.
Day 23: Rest Day in Kalianda
Before reaching Jakarta, I felt some quality beach time would be helpful to chill out. For those who are yet to experience Jakarta, it’s a massive, sprawling, dirty, polluted traffic ridden metropolis. Having said that, I love it. But before hitting the big city, some quality beach time was in order.
I awoke late and got some breakfast. I then rode my bike down the coast, along sublime coastal roads. There were many spots to stop and chill, but I was enjoying riding down the beach road. I probably rode 30 kilometres, before deciding to turn back and check out a beach I had spotted.
I found a little hut, and chilled out while reading a magazine. People came over and chatted with me and wanted photos. They were a tad pushy, and unsettled me a bit. After living in Indonesia a while, I know how to give it back to people who are pushy, and they quickly went back to their friends. The beach was very amazing though, and there were various islands in the distance. I knew this place isn’t too far from Jakarta, so it could possibly be a good holiday destination from the big city.
That afternoon I really took it easy, and just watched a few movies. It was great to have some quiet time, the calm before the storm which would be Jakarta.
Day 24: Kalianda to Jakarta! 200 kilometres in nine hours.
I awoke nice and early today for the final push. I had enjoyed a long sleep, ready for the final day of riding. I was a bit sad to finish, but knew today would be a tough day on the road, and wanted to get started. I packed my bags tightly, checked out of the hotel and hit the road towards the ferry.
The huge islands of Java and Sumatra are linked by a ferry which takes everything from passengers, bikes, cars and massive trucks. The trip I was told takes three hours. I rode from Kalianda to the ferry terminal, which was a one hour ride. The ferry terminal is at the southern most point of Sumatra, and along the road there were many buses and trucks. Interestingly, all the buses have signs which say their origin and destination. I saw one bus which shocked me to the core. It was en-route from Surabaya in East Java to Medan in North Sumatra. That is a backbreaking journey of about 2,800 kilometres which would take probably 6 days if travelling 24 hours per day. On the Sumatran roads, I believe that would be the definition of hell. I shuddered at the thought of being on that bus.
Anyway, I approached the ferry terminal and was surprised by the efficiency. I was convinced it’d be an ass ache to get a ticket, load the bike, and protect me bags from thieves who so famously rob travelers. The reality was totally different. I went through the ticket booth on my bike, paid Rp39,000 or $4 for myself and the bike. Then I rode the bike to the boat, directed by various staff. I rode right onto the boat, up to the top level, and parked my bike next to a bunch of other travelers. Couldn’t have been easier or cheaper. I then took my bags up to the passenger area, sat down, and immediately got chatting to staff who work in the café/kiosk. They made me a coffee and noodles, and we chatted all the way to Java.
The ferry ride was weird. It took three hours, but we were stopped in the middle of the sea for at least an hour and a half of it. There was a traffic jam at the port, and we were in a line of ferries waiting to unload their passengers and vehicles. I had never been in a boat jam, but I think it was normal.
After three and a bit hours, I got back onto my bike and rode off. I had been warned about the Javanese authorities checking motorbike registration, but no one stopped me. I just rode off, took some snaps, and hit the open road.
Then it hit me. After just a short three hour ferry, the road was totally different. It was jammed, busy, traffic-light ridden and dusty. I spent the first hour sneezing uncontrollably. The air was just thick with pollution and dirt which killed my nose. I had to stop various times because of coughing and sneezing. I just wanted to get back on the boat and go back to Sumatra. Furthermore, the closer I got to Jakarta, the more grey the sky became dark because of all the pollution. Despite all this, I pushed on.
My mobile phone data plan wasn’t really working too well, which totally screwed my google maps. I was totally blind in trying to reach Jakarta, and asked a bunch of people. My final target was the national monument (Monas) in the centre of Jakarta. I kept on riding, following signs to the city, and then it happened.
I turned a corner, and there was Monas! I couldn’t believe it, as I thought it was still a little way off. So at about 5pm, with the sun going down, I had finally reached my destination! Monas looked so majestic, and the grounds were full of people playing soccer and other sports in the afternoon warmth.
I rode my bike right up to the gate, and parked near some people selling drinks. I was exhausted and so happy to have made it after so many days. I bought a bottle of water from the woman, and asked her if she could take a photo. I told her I’d just arrived from Banda Aceh. I think she was more excited than me, and said she was happy to take one hundred photos! All the Indonesians gave me the thumbs up, and big broad smiles seeing my bike, and all my gear. The woman enthusiastically took photos for me.
I drank my water, and soaked up the atmosphere while sitting on my silent bike. It was a mixture of pride, happiness and exhaustion. There were so many people milling around the area, going about their business with family and friends. I felt that as I had completed the journey alone, having some quiet time to reflect at Monas was the perfect way to end such a journey. My resounding emotion was just being pleased by the adventure. I have raised $1,630 for the Heart Foundation which I was ecstatic about. I want to sincerely thank everyone who made a donation and who contributed to the cause. 100% of the money went directly to the foundation, and I am sure this will help their valuable work.
Before closing, I want to thank a few people. I want to sincerely thank everyone who looked after me, and hosted me in Sumatra. A special thanks needs to go out to Teuku Fariza from Banda Aceh especially, for hooking me up with all his amazing friends. Without such a great network, my trip wouldn’t have been so awesome. I want also to mention everyone in Sumatra who made my trip so memorable. I was greeted with kindness everywhere I went, which is testament to the values of the Sumatran people. Everywhere I stopped, I was offered food, drinks, directions and advice from such friendly people. I began to rely on this friendliness, and I was never let down.
Speaking of never being let down, the real hero of this trip was the motorbike! Before embarking on this trip, I was sure I’d break down several times, requiring hitchhiking with the bike on a truck to the next town. To my absolute astonishment, this never happened! Sure, I needed a new rim and tyre, plus various services and brake adjustment (broken by a dodgy mechanic), but aside from that, the bike performed faultlessly over more than 3,700 kilometres. I didn’t even have a flat tyre! I am seriously amazed by this bike, and can’t believe my luck at purchasing such a sound machine for only $700. While it was only a small 125cc bike, it was a dream to ride.
What now? So I hear you ask what I’m going to do now once I’ve arrived in Jakarta. Well, during this trip, I organised an internship for myself at the Jakarta Globe newspaper. I started the week after arriving, and am interning with the editing team, but I am also able to write my own stories. I have already had two published. While interning, I am considering the option of working here in Jakarta in the new year. If the right opportunity comes up, I may be back. So if anyone reading this in Indonesia needs a young Indonesian-literate Australian staff for next year, hit me up at email@example.com. I am really enjoying my time at the Jakarta Globe, but am looking forward to coming home for Christmas.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and for all the donations. Without everyone’s support, I wouldn’t have been able to undertake such a journey. Thank you!