Published: June 17th 2012June 17th 2012
Unbelievable, the time has come and I am down to my last month. As I had done all the countries I had planned, I followed a recommendation by two of my previous travel buddies and booked a flight to Jakarta to travel through Java to Bali and then Gili T.
I left Saigon on 1 June and flew with Jetstar via Singapore to Jakarta. As my flight arrived late in the evening I decided to book a hostel in advance. I had booked the Hunny hostel in Harmoni. After waiting for over one hour to get a taxi (recommended Bluebird taxi company) I arrived at my hostel and got a bit of a shock as it looked like there was nothing else around.
The hostel turned out to be lovely, very clean and with very friendly staff. The hostel only has dorm rooms, male/female or mixed dorms all with en-suite bathroom. They also have a separate shower outside the dorms and a kitchen which was spotless. The dorms are £10 and breakfast is included. There are some restaurants around the hostel and there is also a big main road with a shopping center and cinema and some fast food
chains (I had my first BigMac in 6 months, yum!) I was on a tight itenerary and had to get a ticket to Yogja asap. The next morning, armed with a map of Jakarta I made my way to the train station to book the trian ticket. It's a similiar process like in India where you fill in a reservation form which you hand in at the counter. With the help from a friendly local lady, I got my ticket for the next day.
After the train station, I made my way to Kota, which is the old town of Jakarta. There wasn't really much to see so I went to a shopping center (can't recall the name) which is good for fake goods. I bought some souvenirs but nothing else as the only bag I liked was more expensive than back home.
My next stop was Jalan Jaksa. I treated myself to taxi rides throughout the day but hit traffic. After arriving at Jalan Jaksa, the main backpacker area in Jakarta, I was glad that I booked the Hunny hostel. I was disappointed by the earea and didn't think there was that much to do. It was
pretty dead during the day, maybe it's better during the evening/night time.
I went back to my hostel to watch a movie and have an early night.
To be honest, I wasn't expecting much of Jakarta, having read on Wikitravel that is called the 'Big Durian'. I found it to be a mixture of Manila and Delhi - so you can imagine. It stinks, it's polluted and there is nothing to do. That's my opinion anway. When I tooke a shower that night the water that came off me was black! It's that dirty there!
The following day I left by train to Yogja. The train ride was pleasant, we had loads of space and you get vendors come into the train at every stop selling food, beverages and all sorts of other stuff you may or may not need. The food was great. I paid 5,000 for a nasi something with something that looked like a potato fritter and it was one of the best meals I ever had.
I had a recommendation of a Losmen (guesthouse) in Yogja which is on Gang 2. It's run by an artist and it's in almost every guidebook
(again, I can't remember the name). I managed to get the last room which was pleasant enough but not great value what I discovered later. The wifi was charged at 7,000 per hour and also the drinks from the fridge and the laundry were a lot more expensive than in other places, so was the tour I booked. The staff was friendly and helpful though and the place was spotless but a bit noisy.
I explored Yogja the next day. I walked to the Sultan's Palace and had a guided tour with a very funny local lady. After that I walked to the Water Palace, shook off a few 'guides' and explored the place by myself. After seeing it, I was glad not having taken a guide as there is nothing to see. I was hoping to see something like the Queens Bath in Hampi, India or the Hareem of the Topcapi Palace in Istanbul but it's basically a few left over brickwalls with graffiti on them.
Yogja is a nice enough place to spent a day or two. I found it a better than Jakarta but still not great. The food was good and chaep though and
there are plenty of guesthouses scattered around. There is also a mall which has nice restaurants and a bakery and a supermarket on the ground floor. They sell loads of Durians there and the stench that hits you makes you wanna throw up!
After two nights in Yogja I booked myself onto a tour to Mt Bromo (another recommendation). We left at 8.30am and arrived in Bromo about 12 hours later. As I was travelling by myself I had to share a room. Luckily the girl was very nice. You can opt for a single room but it's 80,000 more. We both had chosen the cheapest guesthouse which turned out to be lovely and we even hat a hot (and it was very hot) shower. The other people on the tour paid extra for a hot shower and ended up with a cold one! It was quite cold when we got there but we had enough blankets to keep us warm.
We had a very early start and got woken up by the staff at 3am for our 3.30am pickup. We all opted for the jeep tour. The jeep takes you up to a viewpoint from where you
watch the sunrise. It was freezing there. Luckily I had bought myself a jacket and a pair of jeans which came in very handy. After the sunrise we made our way down to the jeep again and drove to the crater of Mt Bromo. We climbed the 200 something stairs up to the crater (you can take a horse but as an animal lover I cannot support that - the horses looked awful!). It was stunning. The whole morning was brilliant. The vulcano is active and you can see the smoke coming out of the crater.
After spending time on the crater we made our way back to the guesthouse for breakfast and our onward journey to Bali.
The tour to Mt Bromo was long and exhausting. We travelled by minibus and the roads were very bumpy so none of us got very much sleep. Nevertheless, it was an unforgettable experience. I am not a morning person and I prefer sunsets to sunrises. I only got up twice for a sunrise during this trip, one time in Varanasi and the second time Mt Bromo. Both were amazing! So worth it! If you head to Java, go and see