Pedaling slowly, the narrow road dipped and suddenly opened on a dizzyingly wide open field. Like the Red Sea it parted, with both sides planted with newly harvested rice. I took my time, controlling my speed, studying the patches of greens amongst an otherwise golden sea of stalks. Before it ended, the road took a sudden upward stance. I braced myself and pedaled harder, accelerating towards an even narrower road paved by natural stones cocooned by a dark tree tunnel. Compress. Decompress. Compress.
|NICE BREAKFAST PLACE A FEW MINUTES AWAY FROM BOROBUDUR TEMPLE|
All traces of the 2am wake-up time from the Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel were gone by the time we finished our sunrise stint at the temple of Borobudur. Gone were the yawns and the sleepy eyes; the sun has risen high enough for it to lose its golden quality and most of us have photographed the temple to death anyways. There was only one thing left to do, break the fast.
|GORENG MADNESS TO BREAK THE FAST|
And breakfast came on plates after plates of nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (fried noodles), ayam goreng (fried chicken), tahu goreng (fried tofu) and multi-colored kerupuk (goreng?). Indeed, we had too much goreng, my friend, at the Stupa Restaurant which is just a (bus) hop away from Borobudur, the temple.
|BIKING ACROSS THE RICE FIELDS OF BOROBUDUR|
Aye, Borobudur, as I just found out then, isn’t just a temple; it’s also the name of a sub-district in Magelang. And that’s where we’re goin’ explorin’ that day, on bikes with old-school safari explorer hats to boot. Well, it’s made of plastic, but it’s cool enough.
|INTO TREE TUNNELS|
And so, with tummies fit to burst from all that goreng, we pedaled. From dirt road to asphalt to concrete. Past whizzing motorbikes and cute bajaj. I was never the cyclist that my friends are, my balance permanently skewered to the right. So it was with a wobbly start that I pedaled my balance into submission. Eventually, I was flying across the asphalt, luckily, still aboard my bike and not across the air, yelling for my mother.
|AND QUAINT VILLAGES|
We went around the villages of Karangrejo and Wanurejo, wards of Borobudur, cycling through lush rice fields bordered by mountains on the horizon and charming little villages with crumbling walls and faded terra cotta roofs. We passed villagers, preparing a cow in celebrating Eid al-Adha, the sacrifice feast for Muslims, and we passed tight deserted alleyways, making me wonder if I was still on the right path at all.
|WE STOPPED AT WARUNG KOPI BOROBUDUR|
Eventually after an hour or so, we reached our stop, Warung Kopi Borobudur. Light snacks soon followed plus a cold bottle of Coca Cola. Refreshed, I saw my companions huddled about, some making batik designs on a piece of cloth, and a few, spinning a potter’s wheel, their hands all muddy.
|MAKING JARS FROM THE EARTH|
I wanted to try making something out of clay, but I was just too bushed from all that biking and wanted nothing more than another glass of super cold Coke with the piece of kuih nagasari (steamed rice flour cake) I was gnawing upon.
|SNACK TIME! PLEASE PASS THE COKE.|
With midday coming, we transferred to another village café, the Pendopo Onthel Tingal in Wanurejo. Still on a biking high, I wanted to cycle my way to the village since it was just a couple of kilometers away. And I was about to when the sky poured. To the bus it is then.
|A SINGO BARONG AT PENDOPO OTHEL TINGAL|
The ground was bone-dry when we got off at Wanurejo though. A vibrant local dance ensued as we entered, the Leak'an. The performers, all dressed up in colorful garbs and some in monstrous lion-like costumes intended to depict the Singo Barong or Lion Giants, dancing barefoot to the beat of local musicians.
|LOVE THE VERY LOCAL ATMOSPHERE|
|SETTING OUR TUMMIES UP FOR LUNCH|
And then it was another round of frantic eating. Oseng jipang (stir fried chayote), oseng daun pepaya (stir fried papaya leaves), oseng talas (stir fried taro), cabai hijau (green chili), mangut lele (catfish curry), tempeh and mie goreng (fried noodles). My shirt would burst to shreds if we didn’t bike that morning. Too much oseng, my friend, now I miss my goreng.
~ THE INDONESIA MINISTRY OF TOURISM INVITED ME AS A PART OF THE TRIP OF WONDERS TOUR. VIEWS, OPINIONS & BIASES, ALL MINE.
Borobudur Bike Tour
Address: Plataran Borobudur Resort and Spa,
Borobudur, Magelang, Central Java
Contact Number: +62 293-788-888
Bike Tour Fee: IDR450,000.00 (USD$35.00)
Inclusive of bike rent, drinks, snack, lunch,
pottery and batik-making activities
GPS Map: -7.607004, 110.190963