a pleasure-hunting monkey.
After almost one year of savoring the positivity of Bali, I found it really hard to leave the paradise island for Jakarta. So I thought it was crucial to make my journey home as unforgettable as possible by combining the two things I love the most; long drives and exploring new places by my 1,000 CC car.
The trip consisted of driving from Denpasar to Gilimanuk, crossing the strait to Java by boat, then continuing on by taking the south to north route in Java. It is actually requires more than two good drivers. But for me, two is enough, so at the end of June I took off on this road trip accompanied by a dear friend of mine.
We didn’t have any fix itinerary. We only agreed to stop at least after every four hours of driving and to stay overnight in a city, where we would decide our next destination. Before that, the first thing we had to decide is whether we pass the Northern, Southern or the center route in Java.
We were two girls on the road, so it was important for us to set the GPS, bring emergency equipment, and prepare some ‘weapons’ for our safety – we brought two cans of pepper spray just in case.
After getting a cup of coffee from our favorite coffee shop in Seminyak, we drove for three hours to the Gilimanuk seaport to catch the ferry to Java. Crossing the strait cost us Rp. 148,000 for two persons and our small sized car. In less than an hour we touched land again at the Ketapang seaport in Banyuwangi, East Java. And that’s where our road trip in Java began.
The road trip in Java began from Banyuwangi and of course it is ended in Jakarta. In general, this is the path of the trip.
Denpasar – Gilimanuk – Banyuwangi – Jember – Lumajang – Blitar -Pacitan – Yogyakarta – Weleri – Pekalongan – Cirebon – Cipali Toll Road – Jakarta
Here, five cities you can visit during the trip.
Once we arrived in Banyuwangi, the first place on our list to see was the Baluran National Park. Also known as Africa van Java, this park is really a sensational tropical forest.
After driving for 15 kilometers on the bumpy road within the park area, we crossed the wide Bekol savannah with a view of Mount Baluran before finally arriving at Bama Beach. A little tip; come to Baluran National Park for the sunset because the view of the sun setting behind Mount Baluran is a great memory to have.
There are a lot of beaches we would have liked to visit in the Banyuwangi area, but as we only stayed for a night we just went to Red Island (Pulau Merah) Beach in the morning. Red Island is a small island across the beach in the Sumber Agung village, and, as you may have already guessed, it is named after the color that it changes to during the sunset.
Our journey became even more adventurous as we took off from Banyuwangi towards Blitar taking the southern route – we had to stay focused all the time because there were a lot of people and other vehicles passing by us on that narrow and winding road. But I was very eager to see Blitar, so I didn’t mind using this route.
Blitar is a historical city where Indonesia’s fi rst president Soekarno grew up. It is not one of the top tourist destinations in Java, but history enthusiasts should visit this city as you can trace the late President’s trails, like we did.
The tour started at the Gebang Palace that belongs to Soekarno’s family, where some rooms are still kept just the way they were back then. Then we continued on to Soekarno’s cemetery complex and visited the Hotel Tugu Sri Lestari, one of the oldest hotels in Indonesia. There is a room there called the Sang Fajar Suite that is dedicated to the late Soekarno, and that’s where his family stays when they visit Blitar.
Anyway, we stayed at Hotel Tugu Blitar. It used to be Hotel Sri Lestari, believed as the oldest hotel in Indonesia. The hotel has a special room Sang Fajar Suite Room as a tribute paid to our first President Soekarno who grew up in Blitar.
The city is currently renown for its beautiful beaches. But unfortunately, we were only visit the city for a while during the sunset time.
My first thought to this President Yudhoyono’s home town is this is the cleanest and the neatest city I have ever visited. It obviously seen at the first sight we touched down the city. Maybe, it is because the city is the home town of the former president Yudhoyono’s home town.
We visited one of the most popular beach in town Teleng Ria beach and spend the time to wait for the sunset.
We stayed for two nights in this city, and let me tell you, Yogyakarta never stopped surprising us. The best way to get around the city is by a pedicab. Aside from the fact that we needed some rest from driving the car, taking a pedicab brought us closer to the locals and let us learn a lot more about their culture. Our pedicab driver Pamungkas was more than just a driver, as he also acted as a local guide explaining all about the city and taking us to the best places for local culinary treats, like to Jalan Wijilan, which is the mecca for gudeg, Yogyakarta’s traditional food.
Having Pamungkas as our guide and pedicab driver was make our transportation cost more affordable. I gave Rp. 100,000 (US$ 7.14) for an half day trip, exploring several tourism spots in Yogyakarta, including Malioboro area, Keraton and the surroundings area and visiting the Wijilan Road for Gudeg and Bakpia Patuk shops to buy Bakpia.
The next day, as we were already recharged, we got back behind the wheel to discover the outer areas of Yogyakarta. After a 90-minute drive westward from downtown Yogyakarta, we came to the natural attraction of Kalibiru in the Kulonprogo Regency. Kalibiru is renowned as a very photogenic site especially on social media such as Instagram, and is becoming even more popular for its magnificent sunrise and sunset views. Not to mention it boasts a view of the Sermo dam and the hilly forests to the south. For adrenaline junkies, the flying fox here is a must-try!
We left Yogyakarta for Cirebon on the fifth day by taking the north route. Cirebon, also known as the shrimp city, is a port town in West Java that blends the cultures of West Java, Central Java and the Chinese. If you want to dig deeper into the history and the culture of this city, you should visit the Keraton Kasepuhan and Keraton Kauman, as well as the Sunyaragi Cave, which is the retreat destination for the Cirebon royal family.
As much as we didn’t want this road trip to end, we did have to journey on to our fi nal destination of Jakarta, but we were lucky as we had the opportunity to use the new Cipali (Cikopo-Palimanan) toll road so the journey from Cirebon to Jakarta took us only three hours.
In six days and fi ve nights, we drove 1,547 kilometers from Denpasar to Jakarta. We spent Rp. 2,631,395 (US$ 192.1) for the whole trip from Denpasar to Jakarta. It consists of:
It was definitely a trip to remember, as we got to see historical places, savor natural destinations and experience different local cultures in Java. The next time you’re planning on going from Bali to Jakarta, please think about taking a road trip. You won’t regret the experience.
This post was also published at Bali & Beyond Magazine, a lifestyle magazine circulated in Bali, for their September 2015 edition. Thanks to Lani for being my partner to this road trip and the model for those photographs I used to this article.