During the dinner with the snake and lizard, my uncle mentions that I should go to Telemoyo because the final 7km (4 miles) is devoid of houses or farms: it is just wild bush. There is an unmaintained single lane road to the top so I can take the motorbike instead of walking. “You want to go to Telemoyo?” asks my cousin’s husband, Gos Rider followed quickly by “When?” and “Maybe I can come with you.” And so it is that I am riding like a madman through the streets of Semarang chasing the Gos Rider as he zips easily between the traffic.
After Salitiga, the landscape opens out and the heavy traffic eases. We are now surrounded by green jungle and banana plantations. I rode here on the first day of my East Java trip and it took me much longer to get here than it did today. Copying Gos Rider as he rides his scooter like it’s a high powered race machine an exhilerating experience.
We turn off the main road pass through Kopeng where cabbage and lettuce seedlings grow in greenhouses along the road. The climate is cool here by Javanese standards so these temperate weather crops grow in abundance.
After passing through Kopeng we turn up the Gunung Telemoyo road. Now the real adventure begins.
Farmers carry grass along the road.
And load cabbage into trucks. I love the fact that photobombing has made it here to the small rural villages. I saw the guy making dancing movements out of the corner of my eye but he would stop whenever I turned. What a laugh.
The narrow road wound it’s way up Gunung Telemoyo, deteriorating with each bend.
Of course I had to get my first obligatory jumping photo in Indonesia. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long.
Perhaps the jumping angered the weather clouds because no sooner were we back on our bikes than the heavens opened. Cold rain pelted down on us as we rode ever higher.
And then the clouds rolled in thickly, blocking any chance of a view and reducing visibility greatly.
But still upwards we rode until the road deteriorated so much that I could go up no more on the slippery rocks.
And so we turned back about 2km from the top of the mountain. Now some people would say it is a disappointment not to make it to the top but I think it was a fantastic adventure to still head up the mountain despite the rain (and after having left my wet weather gear at the hotel). Being on the mountain in the clouds was a beautiful experience; the white shroud creating mystique around the landscape.
We returned to Kopeng for lunch at a restaurant with a view of the mountain. The ayam goreng with rice was delicous and just what I needed to warm my body after being soaked to the bone. I am just glad my clothes are quick dry.
After lunch we take a short tour through Kopeng. The town is lovely with narrow roads and many seedling nurseries.
We hear some traditional music being played and stop to look. It’s a group of children playing in a hall. They are unsupervised and play with joy.
After listening to the music we head back down the mountain to ride to “Swimming in the Sky” at Mt Ungaran. Along the way we stop to take in the views over the rice paddies to the mountains.
The rain starts to fall heavily again as soon as we start to ride up Gunung Ungaran. I guess this is why they call this the rainy season. At least the scenery is beautiful and the riding fun.
“Swimming in the Sky” is a large rock-lined swimming pool that has been built into Gunung Ungaran’s slopes. It is popular in summer but today the water and rain are too cold for swimming.
From the pool you can look out over a terraced ridge. It’s exactly the sort of scenery that makes Asia seem so beautiful and exotic.
We press on to the top of the road. From here hikers can “bag the gunung” with a three hour trek to the summit and back. But we are not hiking. Rather, we drink coffee at the new cafe with a view out over Telemoyo, which seems so small set against Gunung Merbubu behind it.
It was a brilliant day. And I am so glad Gos Rider came along to show me the way and share many laughs. Actually, I think it was his company that made the day so much better than it would have been.