Another day spent in the car with the scenery whizzing past went surprisingly fleetingly with new sights to keep us entertained. When you set out for a day trip you’re searching for something. You want to learn something new, and the endeavour is about the destination. A day spent travelling is practically the reverse. Yes, you are heading to a final destination, but the journey is the point of the exercise and instead of searching for something, life comes to you. You couldn’t walk into a village with a list of today’s sights to tick off. We’ve seen horses being led at speed downhill by mopeds; trucks overfilled with sugar cane with half a dozen or so farm labourers bouncing on top; bikes carrying half a field of sugar cane or boxes of live chickens as big as a minivan; mopeds carrying beds; snails and spiders practically the size of a child’s fist; bamboo shoots as tall as a four storey house and landslides that have turned roads to mud baths. Although long drives can be frustrating, especially with young children, the cliché exists for a reason: it’s journey not the destination that matters.
This is a great area to explore the rural way of life, from the plantations to the farms. The children were fascinated to see cacao beans, with sticky white fruit inside, and peanuts growing underground, not on trees where monkeys could find them. We met one man whose job it was to shimmy up the palm trees, without a rope, to gather the sap for a special potent home brew. With incredible agility and speed, just using little cut outs in the trunk, he had climbed to the crown of the tree almost before I could get my lens cap off. When you're on the road you never know what you are going to see.
Tonight we’re staying tucked up in a small guesthouse deep in the forest, surrounded by the deafening sounds of crickets and rivers. The sides of the mountains are carpeted with coffee, tea, rubber and cacao plantations. It’s a petty place to end our Javanese tour. Tomorrow we drive to the ferry port at Ketapang and cross to Bali.
Accommodation: Margo Utomo Hill Side Resort. Beautiful infinity pool overlooking the mountains. Well-maintained gardens surround the simple but clean bungalow-style bedrooms. www.margoutomo.com