Thursday, September 8, 2016

Joko's Java Journey 4: Jakarta to Pelabuhan Ratu

No one would rent me a motorcycle. I feared the vacation would fail entirely due to this lack of transportation. What could I do? While meeting with old friends there in Jakarta, one of them took pity on me and lent me his spare scooter and finally, the trip was afoot.

Given that I had lost so much time, I had to reroute my itinerary. Gone was the trip west to beaches facing the Sunda Strait seperating Java from Sumatra. I would not step foot on the Krakatoa volcano nor see the critically endangered Java rhino on this trip. Instead of heading west, I headed due south, skipping my stay in Bogor and going all the way to the south coast, to a place near the town of Pelabuhan Ratu.

More than 5 hours to go 140 km? That's less than 30 km/hr
(20 mph). How can that be? TRAFFIC!!!

Traffic so bad that I could check my
route on my smartphone while driving.

I've heard horror stories about Jakarta traffic, and my experience in taxis and such over the last few days had confirmed that motor congestion is a 24 hour reality in the capital. Now, I was leaving at 6:30 AM, and I was heading OUT of town, not in, and as most rush hours tend to be one-directional, I was hoping it wouldn't be so bad leaving the Big Durian.

I was right. The traffic in South Jakarta was heavy, but not brutal. On the other side of street, however, the folks trying to come into town were bumper to bumper, jam packed.

The old colonial palace
Eventually, I got to the city of Bogor, about 50 miles south of Jakarta. Bogor is an old town, and 70 years ago, was the colonial capital during the hot season. Being at elevation, Bogor is a bit cooler than the lowland Jakarta. Bogor is also renowned for its famous botanical gardens, which you'll see in the video.

Heading out of Bogor, the traffic was absolutely insane. Several highways converged into one and whereas driving a motorbike usually allows you to wind your way through stopped traffic, even us motorcyclists were at a standstill.
This insanity lasted for scores of miles until eventually I reached my turn off. As the congestion looked to continue unabated all the way to Sukabumi, as soon as made a right onto the road to Pelabuhan Ratu and the south coast, everything opened up.

In fact, perhaps it was due to the contrast from the hell I'd been through up to that point, but I thought at the time I was one the best possible road for motorcycling. Smooth, windy, and with some hills for contrast, I enjoyed that last bit of the day's journey as much as I have ever enjoyed any road. Free from the continuous urban sprawl that had followed me all the way from Jakarta, the hills were green, forests surrounded the road and I got my first real taste of the Javanese countryside.


  1. Only problem is, you'll have to drive back into Jakarta. :-(

  2. Praise God that He provided someone to lend you their spare scooter! I enjoy seeing you travel, but that traffic must have been awful to deal with! I pray you'll enjoy your time. Blessings, Lynn


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