(photos from the first leg of biking in Indonesia)

Riding bikes (and tall bikes) through Indonesia, and already thinking we are gluttons for punishment:

- If you are ever flying with a bicycle, avoid Japan Airways at all costs. They neglect to mention the $300+ fee for bicycles anywhere on their website, even though they go in to detail about surfboards and golf clubs.
- The penalty for drug trafficking here is death. And apparently the prosecution of pot is pretty heavy.
- The smell of raw sewage in Jakarta never really goes away, it just grows and diminishes in strength depending on where you are standing.
- Greg and Conrad climbing onto a rooftop to sneak into our hotel room on our first night in Jakarta because there were no other rooms available in the area. They wouldn't let us pay more to have people sleep on the floor.
- Sleeping four on a bed is easier if you all lay across the bed and let your feet hang off.
- Having all the neighborhood kids hanging out and playing with our tools while we are assembling our bikes in an alley. Until Ira put zip ties on one kid's wrists and the boy tightened them too much, so the family had to try to cut them off with a kitchen knife but were having trouble fitting such a large blade in such a small spot. Ira intercedes with leatherman scissors and they come right off, but the kids aren't allowed to play with us anymore.
- Giant rats to rival anything that NYC is purported to have.
- The muslim call to prayer adding a whole eerie dimension to the gray misty smoggy days and nights.
- Riding bicycles in Jakarta is. . . intense.
- At every intersection we stop on our bikes at it's a sea of helmeted scooter heads staring at you.
- "Wow. How to get instant asthma." (Greg after spending the afternoon riding in cluster-f*ck Jakarta traffic)
- Greg and Ira's tall bikes having a clever dual-chain set up to make it easier to use gears.
- Chloe joining us, without her tall bike (due to Japan Airways excessive fee). We are able to find her a decent mountain bike in Jakarta.
- We don't see a lot of bicycles in Jakarta, but we did see a bicycle-powered mobile children's ride.
- The river in Jakarta is so polluted and black it is opaque like india ink.
- People live under bridges and fish for garbage with nets on long poles.
- We meet a friendly guide, Frans, on Jalan Jaksa and he agrees to take us to climb a volcano. We were also pretty impressed with his tattoos.
- New euphemism for sex: "Jogging on the bed."
- Riding out of Jakarta is hot, smoggy, sticky, like being stuck in a river of traffic after you've lost your paddle and have no choice but to struggle to stay afloat.
- Passing street vendors who are selling a wall of plastic bags full of water with decent-sized live snakes inside of each one.
- Meeting a generous architect on the side of the road when we are nearing the end of our first day, he is curious about the bikes and buys us ginger tea from a street vendor.
- The Indonesian equivalent of a sleazy road-side motel is pretty gross, unsurprisingly. The bucket shower water was kind of grey, the toilet housed snails, ants, and a strong aroma, along with big ol' cockroaches getting in to your stuff. Oddly enough the adjacent matching building was vacant with waste water flowing through the bottom rooms creating a slimy swamp complete with flora.
- Our guide Frans grinds his teeth in his sleep, it sounds like one of those ribbed straws that come in sports bottles being pulled in and out. . . loudly. . . all night.
- Riding in Jakarta earns you a nice oily coating of exhaust fumes, stick a q-tip in your ear and it comes out black. The vast majority of vehicles with three or more wheels belch black smoke, it can almost be like smoke scree if they get close.
- As we ride up into the mountains on our way to the volcano (over 1500 meters in the first day), the hills start to get ridiculously steep and never ending. Teenagers pass us riding in the back of scooters and flash the devil's horns with a grin. The area once we near the peak is very similar to the cloud forests in Costa Rica.
- Some parts are so smoggy the street lights come on in the middle of the day.
- Being glad I brought my cycling hat to funnel all my sweat to drip off the beak in brown drops.
- People burn a lot of plastic here.
- A slight bit of "Engrish" gets us labeled "The Chill-engers" (challengers).

Learn Indonesian:
"Ya" = Yes.
"Bucan" = No.
"Trema kasi" = Thank you.
"Sama sama" = You're welcome.
"Berapa harga" = How much?
"Sepeda" = Bicycle
"Tinggi" = Tall
"Apakaba" = How are you?
"Rasanya enak" = Taste's good.
"Selanat siang" = Good evening.

A little video of some of the less-intense parts of riding in Jakarta (during the intense parts there was no way I could only have one hand on the handlebars, sorry):

Riding tall bikes in Jakarta.


Muslim call to prayer


  1. Indonesia is such an amazing place! Wish I was there right now. Your photos really capture the feel of Indo for me. Thanks for posting!

  2. i prefer skipping to jogging...

  3. Are you or have you taken the Obama freedom trail of 1971? I understand when he lived in Indonesia his step-father gave him a pet monkey and alligator.

  4. hi! I like your blog :)
    btw, I'm Indonesian and I live in Jakarta... here are some other words that I hope will be useful for your trip,

    selamat pagi = good morning
    selamat siang = good day
    selamat sore = good afternoon
    selamat malam = good evening
    kopi = coffee
    teh = tea
    mahal = expensive
    murah = cheap
    kanan = right
    kiri = left
    terus / lurus = go straight