CYCLING JAVA: They call it ‘Khusnudzon’

They call it ‘khusnudzon’ and it turns out to be: the perfect fuel for cycling, and the perfect foundation for any kind of positive philosophy. As it’s their Islamic word for ‘positive energy’.

Cycling Java would be a magical experience thanks to all the people who welcomed me with a big smile along the way. And the Indonesians can smile like no other can do. Their smile is filled with joy, spirit for life and respect for one another. They smile at you as if you are part of their family. No matter how short your little interaction on the road might be. As soon as you are out there, cycling these little streets in Indonesia, you are part of this beautiful bubble filled with positive energy. And this, combined with their approach of taking care of one and another. With their very warm and friendly attitude towards ‘the other’. Where there’s no longer just ME but only one big fat WE. You are guaranteed that you literally will be taken into their homes and family.

They call it ‘khusnudzon’ and it turns out to be: the perfect fuel for cycling, and the perfect foundation for any kind of positive philosophy. As it’s their Islamic word for ‘positive energy’.

And it all starts with this one boy and his lovely family.


Purwokerto, Java, Indonesia, 25 august 2016

His name is Imron. He will tell you, that he’s ‘just a screen-printer’ making t-shirts. But I can tell you that he is way more than that. First and above all, when it comes to ‘khusnudzon’, he sure practice wat he preach.


From the very first moment that we met, I enjoyed this positive bubble around him. And that wasn’t the only thing, he taught me many new things about culture, religion, about life. Even though he kept on telling me, he wasn’t a philosopher. I kept on questioning, whether he might be.


And when I took a closer look at his collection of books (with the kind of nostalgic feeling, thinking back about mine), my suspicion turned out to be justified.


Who would have ever thought to find a work of Sartre, written in Arabic, here at the other side of the world. Isn’t it beautiful I thought. Just some ideas captured in words, covered in a book, that changed time and eventually life, made it all the way to ‘the other side’. I guess it’s not that different after all. And I smile. If he would have known. Sartre.

And I smile again. Because of the memory. That my graduation in philosophy (writing my master thesis about Sartre’s theory) turned out to be the key to quite my job and travel the world on a bike. To find out myself what life was all about. If he would have known. Sartre.


But even though Imron really works as a screen-printer, and he was right by saying: he didn’t studied philosophy. He did go to University where he finished his study in Islamic law. And since I was just cycling my first islamic county on this big journey, there sure was a lot of knowledge to gain from him (even though that I am the teacher in this story).

So I found out about the law book of Islam, the Hadits, as the second most important book after the Koran. The book that works as a practical guideline for the structure of law based on their religion, based on their Koran. And I found out that Indonesia has two different law-systems. One for all the muslims, and one for their citizens with any other religion. That probably explains, that although they say that Indonesia has a larger muslim-population than any other country in the world, (of course partly because of its large population) it doesn’t feel like it’s so ‘strictly’ muslim. Meaning, it doesn’t feel like they exclude the minority since they are the huge majority themselves. In fact, their society feels (in most of the areas) quite open and free (of course exceptions do exist, like the Northern part of Sumatra where they maintain their own law that seems to be more ‘strict’). But when it comes to religion, nobody will preach you about their believes or their God, nur they will try to ‘rescue your soul’. Even under muslims I would find out that there are many different attitudes and approaches forwards their religion. You see girls wearing scarfs walking hand in hand with girls that don’t. You will meet the boys that pray five times a day and the ones that don’t, and they all ride their bicycle together. And Imron explains to me, that’s partly because of the history. Indonesia is shaped by our Dutch ideals of democracy, due to the time of colonisation. Which I told him, I am truly sorry for that.

But no hard feelings about history. What happened in the past, stays in the past. And this seems to be their common approach towards history. So there was nothing standing in our way, and a new friendship was made.

Indonesia and Belanda; reunited again ;)


Time to have some fun (after all the hours of serious talking)! Which wasn’t so hard since this boy also knows how to ride a bicycle.


He only forgot to tell me about this massive uphill.  Blame it to his ‘khusnudzon’ ;)


But of course, after this hill the ultimate reward was there. A beautiful waterfall and lots of new stories to share.


The place where he taught me all kind of new symbols that I could practise along my way. Cycling Asia: I was now was ready to ride!


Cycling back home. Because we all know, there is the time to play, and there is a time to work!


Back to ‘the office’. Imron being the big director (only the bureau is missing). Me being his very personal assistant.


After finishing his next order of t-shirts together, he came up with the fabulous idea to combine the work and the play for the very next day, by making me a t-shirt. Custom made.


Like this!

And by saying ‘custom made’ we really main Custom Made. Like from the scratch. The Indonesian way. So we first had to find the fabric, and then visit the people who would turn this piece of fabric into a t-shirt.



And then it all started. Imron’s design with my bike. You see; isn’t it a perfect look-a-like!?


We will show you the process: screen-printing-by-hand. It works with chemicals & light, and some kind of synthetic-paint. But that’s all we share, that’s all we say. The rest is top-secret!





IMG_8316 Some time to dry, the Indonesian way. While we were having a break from all the ‘hard work’ on the balcony.




There was another time to dry. And then there was THE end result was there:


Wauw Imron, thank you for that!


We just started with a very modest edition of two pieces. If there are any people interested, you sure know how to find him ;)


Or just in case that you end up traveling in Indonesia and come up with the spontaneous idea that you want to go cycle-touring. He also produces a very nice collection of cycle wear and his handmade cycle bags.


His name is Imron, he lives in Purwokerto. He will tell you he’s ‘just a screenprinter’, but now we all know he’s more than that. He’s not just doing his job. It’s his passion.


You see! :)

And in between the working on the job of making this awesome screen print, we sure used our time well. And so I got introduced to his friends and family.


I would be introduced to the islamic class where his mum volunteers as the teacher


I would get to the intire neighbourhood ;)



And while his mum made me a trouser to cover my cycling-shorts for a more proper cycling-look- as a women-on-her-own-riding-a-bicycle.


Imron wrote me a little letter in proper Behasa to tell the people about my journey and to ask them for help along the way. For example to help me find a (safe) place to stay.


So I now was ready for this next part of my journey. Feeling well rested and prepared for my next ride in Indonesia. Although there was still one thing to do…

We were invited for diner. The two of us. Not just for a nasi-goreng, or a meal on the way. We got invited by the head-officer of the local police for a proper diner. (Jeps cycle-touring in Indonesia really do makes you become a celebrity). And so we end up having our diner at this fancy-high-class-restaurant where the both of us (Imron an me) felt so uncomfortable in a funny way since the environment was so artificial and the situation was so not natural. That we were giggling like teenagers inside, trying our best to remain calm and polite. This, combined with the fact that a policeman still gains a higher ranking in society (did I mention he was the head-officer) (and  did he mention he also happened to be the son of a king) resulted in this political correct conversations about me making the world a better place with my bike ride (?) since that was exactly what he wanted to hear. And we were doing fine, I can tell you that, we sure passed the test. Untill this mister-head-officer-of-polici decided to ‘give it a try’ and asked me for a second ‘date’. And it wasn’t so clear if Imron was also invited… So we were clear about that. And we told him, the both of us were very sorry, but there realy was no time for that. Soon I would be leaving Purwokerto, soon I had to be back on the road. Saving the world, remember? Imron an I looked at each other, as true partners in crime, very content with our approach to this ‘situation’. Time to go home. And while we were riding our motorbike back home, we had to be carefull not to make an accident while this whole motorbike was shaking from the left to the right. We sure laughed out loud!

imron's family

As all the good things come to an end. It was time to say goodbye to his family and my new Indonesian friend. I told him that although Mr. Policeman took us to this fancy-high-class-restaurant, I still was nothing compared to the incredible tasty cooking of his mum. It was impressive how they accepted me as one of their family. How they took me in and how they looked after me. And that’s something else than having a higher status or a big wallet filled with lots of money. That’s something that money can’t buy.

They call it ‘khusnudzon’ and it turns out to be: the perfect fuel for cycling, and the perfect foundation for any kind of positive philosophy. As it’s their Islamic word for ‘positive energy’.

cyclists stay awesome

Thank you Imron, more then I can say. I sure keep your positive energy close to me, along the way.