Sun, 08 Jun 2003

Hitting the road to mark August independence days

Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

There are the usual ways to celebrate independence day, and then there are ways which are a little off the beaten track.

Included in the latter would be an overland trip exploring remote places of the country. Or make that two countries.

The 3,600-kilometer Independence Roadventure Indonesia- Malaysia expedition, organized by PT Java Adventure, is slated to start in Jakarta on Aug. 17, Indonesian Independence Day and finish in the Sarawak capital of Kuching in Malaysian Borneo on Aug. 31, when that country marks its independence.

"The Independence Roadventure is the first event to co- celebrate the independence of both countries," event consultant Suryantoro Purbo said at a media gathering on Tuesday.

"This expedition is not a pure off-road expedition as most of the route, some 3,000 kilometers, consists of scenic and panoramic routes where participants can enjoy beautiful scenery during the drive."

Although most of the trip will be what the organizer terms a "silk road" of smooth driving, participants are recommended to use four-wheel drive vehicles because there is a segment of some 20 kilometers of rough terrain along the border of Central Kalimantan and West Kalimantan.

Suryantoro said the expedition would take less traveled roads to give participants the best opportunity to glimpse another side of the countries.

During the journey, participants will visit major tourism spots in Bandung, Yogyakarta, Borobudur Temple in Central Java, Bromo Mountain in East Java and Bali.

From Bali, participants will head to Surabaya for a ferry crossing to South Kalimantan's capital of Banjarmasin. They then start their Trans Borneo leg of the expedition to Entikong before entering Malaysia.

The fee of US$1,400 per car includes 12 days of full accommodation. The other four days will be a camping trip or simple accommodation with locals.

Participants are expected to be a mixture of real off-roaders seeking a challenge and novices wishing for new experiences.

So far, the organizer has received confirmation from 15 Malaysian cars and eight Indonesian cars.

"We are limiting the participants to 40 cars in order to provide good services from the expedition crew," said Suryantoro.

He added that the Indonesian State Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Sarawak Tourism Ministry had given their full support to the expedition.

"This is a good opportunity to introduce the fact that we also have this kind of tourism, in addition to the mainstream sun, sea and sand," he said.

"We can, for example, promote this kind of expedition as part of what should be an Asian adventure triangle."

Interested parties can contact the organizer at Jl. Kemang Utara No. 33, South Jakarta. Phone 021-7190810, fax 021-7197517