What do you think they mean by jeep race?

3 Feb

Was the question on our lips when our host dad asked us if we wanted to come to a race with him a few weekends ago. Unfortunately my other friend from the home stay couldn’t make it as she had other plans so I decided to give it a shot and see what a jeep race actually entailed.

We left Salatiga at 3pm to drop my friend in Semarang where conveniently the race also started. After some ayam goreng (fried chicken) and a long drive we arrived at a field with maybe 150 other jeeps. Upon finding the Salatiga Jeep Club among the crowd and meeting everyone we went over to the registration where I was to find out I was actually the navigator for this Off Road Touring race. The 14th Annual Diponegoro Jeep Club Event was serious business so I was hoping that there wasn’t actually any form of map reading or navigating actually expected of me… There was. After an hour at the field it was time to jump in the jeep (It’s now 8pm). Oh maybe a little race at night for a bit of fun. I was wrong. On being handed the map I saw that it was at least 80km and little did I know a majority of that would actually be off road. Having to navigate through the city was easy enough as I just had to read directions off the map however as soon as we entered the rubber plantation the fun began.IMG_0672

Because of the sheer amount of jeeps and the poor condition of the track the off road part took a very long time. We got bogged a number of times, being winched was very frequent and if I recall correctly we hit 4 trees. At midnight we were still deep in the forest with a long way to go. The track was actually pretty extreme compared to some of the off road tracks I have been on in Australia with us coming very close to ending up on our side a number of times. I knew we were in for a big obstacle when I was told to hold on (there aren’t any seatbelts in jeeps here) and very frequently this would mean a big drop into a creek bed. After a while we were able to hit the gas and tear along some dirt tracks (2am now) and occasionally would stop and wait for the other Salatiga jeeps to catch up. When we finally got back onto the sealed road (3am) I crawled into the back of the jeep and went to sleep. I woke up as we got back into the field and could in the distance hear the sound of the mosque having morning prayers (at 4am).IMG_0716

It was surprisingly comfortable sleeping in the jeep that night despite only getting three hours sleep and waking up at 7am just in time to head off to my host dad’s friends house for a mandi and some breakfast at a Makanan Padang restaurant. After this we headed back to the field for the Off Road event where jeeps tried to see how quickly they could get through a course. Luckily we didn’t compete in this one and watched a number of jeeps smash into trees and end up on their roof.IMG_0712

We headed home mid afternoon and stopped for some durian and young coconut juice on the side of the road on the way. It really was nothing like what I expected and was an experience unlike any other that I have had in Indonesia. To see that this kind of activity actually occurs in Indonesia was interesting and it was made so much more fun knowing the dangers of liability did not affect the race. Needless to say on arrival in Salatiga there wasn’t much else to do than lie on the couch, watch some TV and sleep after what was a very big 24 hours.

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