Updated: 3 Oct 99
Indonesia: The Volcano Tour!
Leg 1: Over Bali and into Java
Leg 2: Across unknown Madura Island
Leg 3: Over frightening Mt Bromo
The Ride: A very easy, 180 km, 4 day ride from the ferry port of Kalianget, through the capital Sumanep and on to Bangkalan and the ferry port of Kamal in the west.
The Hills: None to speak of. Madura's as gently undulating as a young girl's belly the whole way.
The Ferries: There are two ferries, one to get onto the island, the other to get off. The first leaves from the east Java town of Jangkar at 1.30 pm every day. It takes 5 hours to cross to Kalianget on Madura.
Traffic: The traffic's very thin and the population's equally sparse. Even in Sumanep and Bangkalan things are pretty laid back.
Town to town: The ferry from Jangkar arrives at the the port town of Kalianget at about 6.30 pm, and from there it's a quick 10 km run in through the suburbs to the centre of Sumanep.
On the way down to Pamekasan you'll pass the Thunderbirds Secret Headquarters, disguised as a Clove Cigarette Factory on your left about 20 km out of Sumanep. Get a photo.
The road due west to Pamekasan is flat or gently undulating (as it is the whole way along this ride) and the population is sparse. There are few forested sections along the way, the scenery being mostly rolling grass lands.
From Bangkalan it's a quick run down to the ferry at Kamal, and the crossing into Surabaya is hassle free.
Surabaya, however, is another world. It's a dense, chaotic, overpopulated industrial town, and the traffic is nuts. Quite a contrast to (almost overly) quiet Madura.
The Bike: The roads are so good you could ride Madura on a racer.
Other Cyclists: Nil.
Places to stay: You can get very decent digs in Madura for as low as 5 or 10 dollars. Hotels are adequate in all the major towns shown on the map at left.
The Locals: The population in Madura is sparse, and the folk are polite and curious. Not many Western tourists go there, so things are relatively safe and easy.
Food, drink & transport: Small towns dot the highway every 10 or so kilometres, so there's lots of food and drink available. There's enough buses and trucks going past to help you out should you get stuck.
Bike shops : Bike shops in all the major towns. Cheap and reliable.
General: Indonesia is an archipelago made up of many different 'countries', and each leg of this ride reflects this diversity of people, land and attitudes to Westerners on bikes.
Madura Island is mostly untouristed (I saw only two other tourists), and I found the people polite and friendly. It's lightly populated but the land is flat and dry. There's actually not a lot to do, the towns being quiet and slow, and in the evenings I found it a bit hard to stay gainfully occupied. Best take a big book.
The Indonesian Monetary Collapse: The Indonesian monetary collapse of 1998 has caused great hardship throughout the country, and things are a little unstable politically and economically. The fall of the Indonesian rupiah has made things very cheap for Western tourists (the rupiah fell 90% in value in 1998), but also a little more dangerous. In parts of Indonesia, including Jakarta, some folks don't have enough to eat.
Is it dangerous? Since the monetary collapse, Madura's probably still a safe bet, although things are changing rapidly all over Indonesia and one can never be sure. Check on the travel newsgroups before you go.
Language: Indonesian Bahasa is the official language throughout Indonesia, and it pays to get a little of it under your belt for when you get out into the boonies. It's an easy language to learn, actually a strange Creole, originating as a trading language between Javanese, Chinese, Arabian and European traders some four hundred years ago.
However, in the tourist areas especially and throughout most of Indonesia a lot of people speak passable/fluent English. You will also find the odd Dutch speaker, but they tend to be older generation Indonesians who were active during the Dutch colonial period which ended soon after WWII.