That Epic Road Trip From Java to Bali

Submitted by mumunmumun on 9 February 2015   •  Uncategorized

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Road trip to Bali

Vira sent me a link from Treasures & Travels not too long ago. It was a blog filled with photos from a road trip. Scrolling down I can imagine the fun they had, despite it was a bit too pretty for a road trip (this is me being jealous of the pretty girls with pretty baby in pretty everything). On the same subject, my friend and fellow travel blogger was thinking of making a road show of his food truck the @WhateverCombi. He thought a trip to the big cities of Java and promoting his products would be awesome, yet hesitated with the machine of his VW. I encouraged him to do so since it would be a fun crazy idea and it’s totally possible using a VW Combi.

Both events inspired me to look back at the road trip from Java to Bali my friends and I did in 2009. We had just fixed Puspita (read: poos-pee-tuh), the name of our VW Combi, and started the trip from Jakarta and destined for Lombok. The drivers were Sally and myself with a few additional navigators in the equation and everything else. Space was plentiful.

Sally & Aji

Cleaning Puspita a bit

Donations and donations

Puspita traveled through the north route of Java, a.k.a Pantura. The route is relatively flat, less hilly and friendly for most large containers and trucks, including a Volkswagen. We made stops every 3-4 hours not to overheat it, which was also an excuse to make random stops and see things in limbo land between main cities. Traveling east, we overnighted at Semarang, Solo, Malang, Situbondo, and detouring to Bromo.

 Road trip to Semarang



How could we forget Bromo and our near death experience? Bromo isn’t the place to take a VW and we learned that the hard way. I owe my life to Sally, taking the right turn and saving us from a plunge to our death. Another day alive on the road!

Near death experience


Bromo sunrise

We traveled through Situbondo to then reach Bali. Refreshing is to see the clear ocean after passing endless murky water of the Java Sea, which is its characteristic. It was also a relief that we actually made it to Bali. *Deep breath* We didn’t think we could, but we did. Granted, our main destination was Lombok, but after the Bromo incident, we were happy to make it to Bali.

North coast of Java


Somewhere in Lamongan

Ferry to Bali

With transparent windows, we got a lot of attention, partly because girl drivers and VW isn’t a common combination. The other part, we figured was the utopia of traveling in the vehicle of the flower generation, the ride of surfers, the ride of Little Miss Sunshine, the ride of all loving rides. VWs do get attention wherever they travel in Indonesia, perhaps one of the reason is because it’s not a common vehicle to travel between cities. People admittedly thought the road trip was a great idea, far more than we did. We actually though it was a crazy one.


East Java

Road trips in Indonesia are awesome! The rest of Indonesia is far for the city life we know from media. Everything blends better outside of it. The less prosper is oblivious to the humble. The plentiful blends with the hardworking. It’s a different pace with different facades. Cities turn into rural areas turn into rice paddies turn into forests and vice versa. And the oh so nice people.

 Pantura scene

Situbondo sailor

Coming back, we kinda flashed through Java heading straight to Surabaya and making a pit stop at Madura, coincidently during the opening of the Suramadu Bridge. Back then, we could stop in the middle and admire the bridge for 5 minutes before continuing our pursuit of Madura satay.

East Java sunset

Satay MaduraSuramadu bridge

It was quite the struggle to head back. Puspita was pretty cranky, asking for pushes every time we had to start it. I think she was mad because we crashed her. We tried our best to love it all the way back.

 Pushing through Madura

In Central Java, we stopped at Pekalongan to come closer to batik. We also popped into the house of a batik maker, getting personal with its producers and ending with discounts. It was like being guests rather than being customers. Heart.

Shopping batik in Pekalongan

 Riding through Kendal

Now that I reminisce, I miss every single day of the unforgettable journey. The constant uncertainty, more from the condition of Puspita throughout the journey, turned the trip into a roller coaster ride. In between, it was the discussions, the discoveries, the friendship, continuous scenery of Java and Bali, and non-stop delicious yet cheap local food, that decorated the loop-de-loop of the journey.



Keraton Surakarta


I wish I could do another road trip, as long and as far as this. Probably longer. Probably Sumbawa.

Just Amen!

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6 years ago

Epic road trip in indonesia is epic. I love Puspita at the first sight! <3

Elia Bintang
6 years ago

Selalu menarik road trip dari Jawa ke Bali. Saya pernah lakuin juga, tapi dari arah sebaliknya: Bali ke Jawa, tujuan akhirnya Jogja.

Tentang city life, sebenernya orang gak mikir Indonesia ini tentang city life, kok. Kita, orang Indonesia, tau bahwa city life cuma ada di beberapa kota besar aja. Orang asing, yang belum pernah ke sini, beranggapan Indonesia itu semacam tropical paradise. Yang udah pernah ke sini tetep beranggapan sama, tapi mikir sebenernya bisa dikelola lebih baik, dibangun infrastruktur yang memadai, dll. Yaa at least itu yang saya tau hehe 😀

5 years ago

I’m just about to move to Jakarta and I LOVE reading about your adventures around Indonesia. Hopefully I’ll be having many of my own soon. Thank you! 😀