Karanganya to Cilacap 85km
The first 5km or so this morning were pretty horrible. The main road was chocka with trucks, including a few logging trucks, with huge trees, larger than anything I've seen standing on Java, I guess because they're all on trucks. Luckily the space just off the seal was reasonably smooth, so Fiona and I, and the scooters, scooted up the inside off the stalled traffic. And then for the second day in a row, I turned left and found Rural Java. What a delight.
Small buses were the largest vehicles all day. The odd car, and of course lots of scooters, but after that it was like going back in time. Everything is being done with bicycles or on foot. For the next 20km the road is flat. The locals are in the fields, harvesting rice, picking coconuts and pawpaw, weeding, planting, ploughing. Those on the roads are carrying huge bundles of grass, bamboo, firewood, coconut husks, plastic bottles, rubbish, and of course their mobile kitchens.
It feels great to be traveling at the same pace as the world around me, and because I'm different I get all the "help mister" calls. Scooter riders and cyclists come up beside me and chat. School kids cheer and wave. Older locals nod at me. All have huge grins, and many give me a thumbs up. Even without any Indonesian, I am doing heaps of communicating. It feels good.
I cross a river, and turn right at a junction. I'm climbing. For the next 10km there are a series of short, sharp steep climbs. They are hard, and once again it is very hot, and surprise, surprise, I'm sweating buckets. But the surrounding scenery is outstanding, jungle like, with buildings and houses, and small villages dotted everywhere. I'm really, really enjoying the ride. The encouragement from the locals continues. Scooters are stopping and they are cheering me on. One guy offers me a tow, which I decline, and indicates that it gets steep around the corner. He's not wrong. I'm forced to get off and push. Oh my, Fiona seems so much heavier when pushing with your arms instead of your legs. I'm down to 30 double paces between rests. I'm sure Fraser and Jerry would eat these hills with grins, on their road bikes, but with 25+kg of panniers, it's another hard day at the office.
I reach the summit, and find a food stall. What a great time for some Lotek, and orange juice. The downhill is divine, narrow, twisting smooth road, zooming through small villages, and the scenery is still amazing. I end up in a small fishing village come holiday resort. There are guys fishing off a bridge, and fishing boats returning from beyond the surf, and still no traffic.
For another 30km it's the same, and then I hit the main drag. Traffic jam. Everything is stopped, except scooters, Fiona and I. We sneak up the outside and through a very long single lane around some road works. They seem to be building a lane with concrete about 50km above the old lane. Scooters are coming from the other direction along the new concrete, while we head at 15 kph along the lane still to be built. It's pretty chaotic, but everyone accepts it. There's no angry tooting, everyone is calm and sorted.
I'm looking for a hotel. The first one is way to expensive. The next is "fill mister". The third has rooms. I'm glad do be done for the day, but it's been a magic day, with more to come tomorrow.