We just finished our third day of cycling east from Jakarta on Highway 1. It’s been non-stop traffic, noise and heat most of the way. My ears are numb from the high decibel horns and engines, my nose is sunburned because I kept wiping the sweat off my nose, and I’m extremely tired – probably dehydrated.
My negative attitude is probably strengthened due to a lack of sleep in last night’s very run-down hotel . Today’s sights along the road didn’t help. I couldn’t bring myself to take pictures because most would have needed major cropping to edit out the gunk.
Here’s a bit of what we saw:
Rubbish everywhere. It’s on the streets, in the canals, lining the rivers, in front of the schools, along the paths to the clinics, in front of the mini marts. There is so much rubbish that I’m wondering if all of Jakarta’s trash is dumped 50-100 km east of the city. The stench, coupled with the warm steamy heat, had me breathing through my mouth the entire ride.
New mosques under construction. In our 107 km ride there were at least 10 new mosques, probably more, being built. In front of each new mosque the traffic was being slowed down so drivers could put money in the fish nets being held by men, women and children whoh I presume were collecting more funds for each mosque. Surrounding the mosques are shanty towns, corrugated shacks, dump piles, flies, lack of running water, pot-holed roads, barefoot and dirty children. The minarets of the new mosques are made of shiny stainless steel that, when the sun shines just right, reflects the shacks surrounding the mosque. It just seems to me that there could be a better use of the money. (Just to be clear, I would say the same to a bunch of fancy churches being built in the face of 3rd world poverty, too.)
Statues of crashed motorcycles and cars mounted on welcoming signs to the village. These “statues” remind me of the cars placed in front of US high schools the week or so before prom. But, here in Indonesia these statues are disturbing and unwelcoming, but, as far as I can tell, not slowing down the teenage boys. Last night there were drag races in front of our hotel until dawn it seemed like.
On the bright side, a fairly nice hotel appeared just when I didn’t think I could pedal any longer and dark storm clouds were looming in the distance. We’ve also had lovely encounters with the people at all of stops to rest and refuel.
I’m really hoping to find the Java that everyone really loves and really soon.