Welcome to the first article of my trip to Central Java, Indonesia. First and foremost my apologies for taking so long to post this. There have been several excuses, or reasons, depending on your view point. As soon as I got back I had to pack up all my clobber and move into my new spot, so that took a while, as I have a lot of ‘stuff’. I’ve also been super busy at work and then there is my own internal struggle in not being able to start this series with the first river which I did, because some of those photos will appear in the Indonesian National Geographic and cannot be posted anywhere before they’ve gone through a cycle that side. It’s in my nature to want to start the first article with the first river we did, in chronological order, but alas I cannot delay anymore and must fight the demons inside of me and do what I absolutely hate doing. This is similar to the way I never listen to music in my car on odd numbers, except for multiples of 5, and then 7 and 21 are acceptable in my eyes and the exceptions. Seriously. I assure you, I’m otherwise quite normal :-) I’ve also been waiting for photos from Toto, and am still waiting more than 3 months later.

So after leaving South Africa 8 April, several flights and what not later and paddling that first river on 11 April, which was really good, I came to the day of 12 April. All parts prior to this day will be recounted and that river (Tung Tung Gunung) was really sweet! I will post that article, don’t worry.

That morning the mosque woke me up again well before the crack of dawn but this being my second morning I was becoming accustomed to the abuse of my ears already. I say abuse not in a bad or disrespectful way, but of course I’m not used to that and our house was diagonally opposite so we would receive a healthy dollop of decibels several times per day, every day.

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1980 Toyota. 1300cc, 4 speed. Slow, but awesome!

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The hut where the one rafting group operates out of.

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Uhm, this is washing…


The plan for the day was to paddle an easy river known as the Serayu River - there are commercial operations here already. 2 hours later, we were there. The river is broad and in the class 2 to 3+ range and one can tell it has the potential to get really big, being about 50 to 60 metres wide most of the way. We met up with local paddler and guide Tri Haryanto, known as Mas Gundul. The Gundul part meaning bald. Not because he’s going bald (like I am), but because he used to have dreads and now has short hair. Anyway, he joined us, some other riverboarder dude and of course Toto and Agus. I think Sigit had to work that day. In fact I’m quite certain he had to.

With the water level hovering around the lowish side things weren’t too exciting but the rapids were still fun; for rafting an absolute pleasure. At one particular rapid Tri went ahead with my camera to take photos and I was assured there was just a small hole there. Oh ok, I thought. I bobbed down and suddenly saw a hole which didn’t fall into the definition of the word small but I threw in a positive boof stroke and busted right through. One of our other crew members had a little bad luck here and a mild swim resulted… Maybe something was lost in their translation from Indonesian to English, who knows? They said it would be small for me, for them big. I disagree :-)

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Myself at some random spot. Photo by Toto Triwindarto.

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Down through a wave train. Photos by Toto Triwindarto.

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Agus with a sweet wave wheel. Photos by Toto Triwindarto.

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Photo by Toto Triwindarto.

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Myself through the hole. Photos by Tri Haryanto.

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Toto through the same one. Photos by Tri Haryanto.

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And Agus too. Photos by Tri Haryanto.


I’m reasonably sure I have GPS co-ordinates for the put ins and take outs for most of our runs but haven’t checked distances or gradients so I’d estimate this section to be around 10km, with a mild gradient, maybe 8m/km. Back at the take out we idled around a bit and then left, the rain starting to hammer down hard. In our trusty 1980 Toyota van the water was splashing up through the holes in the floor pan. Naturally the carpets (everywhere) had long been discarded and what remained of the vehicle was just an indestructible piece of metal on four tiny rubber tyres. The vehicle was awesome though, and only served to fortify my already high opinion of Toyota.


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The take out.

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Packed up and ready to leave before the rain came down.

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Internal view of the cockpit of this beast.

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Back onto the road and home.

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The Serayu River.

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Toto leaning down to change gears and laughing at the water coming into the car!

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Puji relaxing with a good chess game by torch light.

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No torch? No problem. Just stick an LED into your cell phone battery Smile


That evening I climbed onto the back of Agus’ bike and took a ride to the internet café. It was good to connect again, albeit with the world’s worst keyboard and potentially the slowest internet on earth. I think it took about 10 or 15 minutes just to update my Facebook status! Luckily it was cheap. How cheap? Well, R1.83 for 50 minutes. At today’s exchange rate that is 21 US Cents! Yep, pretty cheap I’d say. When I got back to the house I fired up a chess game with Sigit. I seriously underestimated him and made a bad blunder in the beginning, throwing a piece away. Luckily I focused and managed to get him in the end game – I rate my end game as not too bad :-) In true fashion we had a power failure but with torch light a game against Puji ensued. Again my end game proved too strong and I managed to take another victory. Whilst in Java I remained unbeaten in chess – except a draw. Luck? Maybe. More of that later. At least in Bali I got beaten so many times by one chap who must have been rated 2500 at least. In fact I never beat him once, not even after about 10 or 15 longish games. Good fun. I don’t play slow games, mostly blitz, for a while not any bullet chess, it’s bad for your chess I think. The last 10 months I almost never play. I should make time again. It’s the best game on earth. Screw watching rugby, soccer or cricket. Chess is the one! That night I struggled to fall asleep. Probably too much chess. The next morning we were to wake up early to take some clients down the Klawing River. And that’s exactly what we did. Till then, paddle safe.

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Words by: Adrian Tregoning.

Photos by: Adrian Tregoning, unless otherwise stated.