The fact that the roads are often bad, or even nonexistent, is no big deal for the average motorcycle. Once, I drove through kilometers of pure sand, and although it was painfully slow, I managed to get through it without much of a hassle.
For this reason, I decided to ride from Bali to Yogyakarta, a journey which – including many side routes – made up for a little under 1500 kilometres. Indonesia is one of those countries that is best explored with your own vehicle. It saves you lots of money on silly excursions to mainstream places, too. For example, to Mt. Bromo or Mt. Ijen. It’s much better to ride your own vehicle over there and climb when no one else is climbing. I even ended up being alone on Mt. Bromo in the evening. It was a much more exciting experience by far, and almost free! A little advice for everyone: don’t skip Mt. Raung, Mt. Kawi, or Mt. Lawu. They are much better choices with next to no tourists in your way. This post actually contains pictures of the aforementioned mountains (I adore mountain climbing!): On top of the world: a collection of photographs I took during mountain climbing.
The good thing about being on a motorcycle is the fact that you can stop at any moment to enjoy the breathtaking views you come across in Indonesia for a while. When you find yourself in less developed areas, you’ll often draw a lot of attention. I remember children running after me in Cambodia, just outside Phnom Penh. Once, I even got invited to a funeral and a wedding on the same motorcycle trip in Vietnam! And even though I keep saying it, attending weddings (or funerals) are an excellent opportunity to learn more about the local culture.
But a bicycle can do just as well as a motorcycle. I cycled for days through villages in Thailand’s Isan region. One thing, though: just make sure you don’t go during the rainy season, as I did near Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains. Cycling through this mountainous area wasn’t easy to begin with, especially not while completely soaked from the rain.
Extreme weather can make for some good stories, though. Once, in 2014, I was stuck on the Japanese island of Yakushima (I went there to do some short cycling trips) due to the extremely powerful typhoon Halong. All transportation going to and from the island (even ferries and planes) were canceled for days, and all accommodation was fully booked. Ouch.