Thursday, 9 August 2018

What's it like to drive 950 km on one of the most dangerous roads in the world

You would think at my age I would not be push the envelope but for some ridiculous reason I decided to pick up a slightly used family car in the city of Semarang, one of Java Indonesia's major cities and drive it back to Bali.

A sense a venture got to me in that I had never been to Semarang and and I'd heard about some new sections of freeways running from Semarang to Surabaya and beyond.

How to Obtain the best Value on a Luxury Car in Indonesia.

A few tips on buying a car in in Indonesia .

First you want to see you what the value is go to

Simply type the make, model, year and mileage that you request and it will provide you a list of cars right across Indonesia.

I learned one thing after owning many many cars throughout my lifetime.

First never buy a brand-new car .

When you buy a brand-new luxury car and drive it off the lot you just lost 20% of the value in most cases.

Also always trade your car in at a reasonable mileage.

In my opinion any modern automobile over 100,000 KM is going to start to have some serious problems with suspension, engines, transmissions etc. which on a luxury car can cost you a small fortune.

The time to trade is when everything is working which I did just before I went away on my trip to Australia and New Zealand.

Coming back to the slightly smaller car for family of five made me realize I wanted to get back to the large automobile immediately.

So I began my search on Carmudi and settled on a car that looked ridiculously low-priced because of the low mileage.

Right off the bat I contacted the owner and asked him why it only had 17,000 km on the car that was three years old.

He answered me that it was because it was only driven a few times as an alternate family vehicle in Semarang.
Following my philosophy of "assuming nothing and trusting no one" the first thing I did was take the automobile to the Toyota dealership and had them electronically test everything, including the mileage.

After getting a thumbs up from the dealer and a short acclamation we were off.

As a footnote as it turns out the sellers own one of the most popular restaurants in Semarang and were very good and honest people. We enjoyed a lovely lunch with them at their restaurant.

Then we set up our GPS with which we fondly call Mabel to take us to Surabaya which was a according to her 6 1/2 hours.

I admit I had driven the Bali to Surabaya Road 20 years ago and at that time found in the scariest road in the world.
I had never driven from Semarang to Surabaya and assumed it would be better.

In fact there are several sections where it has a brand-new freeway.

I won't tell you what speed I went but it was very enjoyable speeding along in almost brand-new car with no other cars around as can be seen by this shot.

Finally we arrived in Surabaya.

I had checked ahead on for reasonable priced hotels and found a beautiful junior suite in the Santika Hotel for around $76 including a huge breakfast which my wife enjoyed because of the rare Javanese delicacies.

The next morning we tried to do some shopping but to no avail because nothing opened until 10 AM although my wife did manage to buy a few things the night before

Then it was off again this time the roads got a little smaller and a lot more dangerous.

One thing you have to be aware of driving in Java people will drive on the left hand shoulder to pass. They will pass you on corners.
Surabaya Santika Hotel

There is one rule of thumb that I teach new comers over the last 22 years is that in Indonesia there is one law. That is bigger has right away.

A car has right away over a motorcycle. A truck has right away over a car and a bus has right away over everyone.

Java Buses are the most insane drivers I've ever seen in my life.

They will stay in the passing lane turning around a sharp corner with no care because they know once somebody sees them coming they will get out of the way.

It's not unusual to have massive crashes with buses and large trucks.

It was just about then that I realised that I really missed our normal full-time driver Gusti who knows the rules of the road better than I do.

But Azizah and I took our time or and finally arrived in Genteng to visit her mother and family for a quick visit.

Next day we are off again to Bali and had a surprisingly quick trip arriving at the ferry terminal at Gili Manunk and immediately getting on a ferry.

On the road from Gilimanuk are so overloaded to the point where they can only move at 10 km/h, downhill.

While on the road we discovered that there was another large 5.9 earthquake on Lombok and began to be concerned about our two boys who we left home with strict instructions on what to do in an earthquake.

The earthquake occurred while they were in school and the Gandhi International School was well rehearsed how to handle an earthquake.

Later we all jumped in the Jacuzzi on the beach with cocktails in hand looking at the beautiful stars and thinking how can it get any better than this.

What I do it again? The answer is never until the brand-new freeways are all completed and connected. At that time it looks like there may be some easy travelling over most of Java with four lanes removing the fears of trucks and buses passing you have ridiculous times.

The next day when I went to my office I discovered that there certainly was something amiss with the wall hangings all crooked as a result of the recent earthquake. Thank God there was no damage.

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