The 800-kilometer journey from rural Dono in East Java to Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, is no easy one. By car, it would take over 10 hours. Now imagine doing it by foot. Backwards. Medi Bastoni, 43, is doing just that, and for good reason.
Bastoni, an environmentalist and father of four, hopes to make it in time to attend the flag ceremony at the National Palace alongside President Joko Widodo in celebration of Indonesia’s 74th independence day. He also plans to ask Widodo for a seed to plant at the foot of Mt. Wilis, East Java, to symbolize the president’s support for rainforest preservation, a move he believes will encourage others to be involved in the preservation of Mt. Wilis. The mountain is currently being reforested after forest fires and deforestation.
Here he is passing through Kediri, a city roughly 600 kilometers east of Jakarta:
As for why Bastoni chose to walk backwards, he explained to local media he is “‘looking back’ and remembering the service of heroes who have fought for our nation, as well as appreciating what Jokowi has done for us so far.”
To make his backward journey safer, Bastoni affixed a rearview mirror to a headpiece he fashioned from plastic pipes. Under it, he dons a blangkon, a traditional Javanese headpiece.
He set out from his village on July 18 carrying just an 8-kilogram backpack of supplies and Rp 300,000 (US$21.50). “On long journeys I take my rest at mosques, police stations, and neighborhood security posts,” Bastoni said. He added that he relies on the kindness of strangers and roadside food stalls for nourishment.
This isn’t Bastoni’s first time embarking on a backwards journey. Since 2016, he has travelled along various routes across Java to campaign for the environment, including Mt. Wilis, a 73-kilometer trek, and Kalimantan, which is also located roughly 800 kilometers from his hometown.
Bastoni estimates the trip will take a month to forty days, but expects he’ll make it to Jakarta in time for the August 17 independence day celebration.