Published: June 25th 2011June 18th 2011
Hello all from Indonesia!! Here is my blog about the beautiful islands of Java, Bali, Lombok and Gili Meno.
On my first proper day in Indonesia we got on a train at around 9am to take us from Jakarta to Yogyakarta; where a lot of the famous temples are.
Unfortunately it was a looooooooong train journey, 8 hours in total! Still, it meant we could sleep some, and get to know each other better (having only met each other the day before), and we made it fun by chatting, reading and mucking around.
Got to Yogyakarta in the evening, so we just dumped our stuff and went out for dinner. A few people went out, but i headed back to the room so I'd be well rested for a full day of looking and walking around two big temples.
We went to Prambanan temple in the morning and Borobudur temple in the afternoon. Prambanan is the most important Hindu temple in the area, but is still being rebuilt after an earthquake destroyed it 100 years ago. Most of the temple had been rebuilt, but an earthquake 5 years ago made a few of the buildings unstable, and meant
that we were restricted as to which temple buildings we could go in. The architecture reminded me so much of Angkor Wat, with the pointy temples, and similar decorations (not too much of a coincidence since Angkor War was originally a Hindu temple too).
There was a story about how the temple was build; supposedly it was built in a single evening. There was a man named Bandung Bondowaro, who wanted to marry the gorgeous princess Roro Jonggrang. However, Roro wasn't too thrilled with the idea of marrying Bandung, so she said she'd only agree to marry him if he completed a task for her. She told him he had to build 1000 statues in one evening.
Unknown to Roro, Bandung was a powerful man who could ask the local genies for help. So Roro had to watch as Bandung produced the statues at an alarming rate with the help of the genies.
Seeing that she was going to lose, Roro decided to cheat! She got the local women to light a fire over the hill to make it look as though dawn was breaking, and she also managed to get some cockerels to start crowing. The genies
hearing and seeing the start of dawn dissipated, as their agreement with Bandung was over. Bandung had only made 999 statues.......
Later on, discovering that he had been tricked, and that Roro had cheated, Bandung turned Roro into a statue, thus finishing the last of the 1000 statues. The statue of Roro is still in the temple today, but we weren't allowed inside as the building that houses her statue was one of the buildings made unstable and unsafe by the earthquake 5 years ago.
It was really nice walking around Prambanan temple, and through all the surrounding temples, although it was also sad to see the ruins of buildings still waiting to be repaired (and that might never be repaired as a lot of the bricks were carried off by local villages over the years the temple lay in complete ruin). It seems like an endless cycle, no sooner have they rebuilt the temple, than some natural disaster knocks it down again.
Still, I am so pleased they keep rebuilding, as it was fascinating to see such an old temple, and it would have been a shame to let the complex be lost forever.
had our fill wandering around, and it had started to get too hot, we went for lunch and then started the 2 hour journey to Borobudur temple.
Borobudur temple was one of the main reasons I wanted to come to Indonesia. I'd seen some pictures of it and it looked lovely.
It is an 8th century Mahayana Buddhist temple, with a main dome surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupas.
Borobudur lay hidden for centuries under ash and concealed by the jungle. No one knows why it was abandoned, but even though it was no longer used, it was not forgotten and locals knew of it's existence. The 'rediscovery' of Borobudur is accredited to Governor-general Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1814.
He was informed about a big monument deep in the jungle and sent people to investigate and liberate it from it's jungle prison.
I was slightly disappointed with Borobudur, truth be told. In my opinion it wasn't anywhere near as magnificent as the pictures led me to believe. It is also a place heaving with tourists. We were harassed by Indonesian people who obviously had never seen Westerners before. They were queuing to get their
picture taken with us, and every time we stopped to listen to our tour guide, we caused congestion as people would stop and crowd around us to try and take pictures. This could have been a large factor as to why I was desperate to leave the place after only 10 minutes there....though the heat was also another factor. Even though it was not what I'd hoped, I was glad I went because it is a very important Javanese temple...and I doubt I'll ever go back to Java.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing and cooling off after having overheated at the temples.
The next day was a free day in Yogyakarta, so i went on a cycolo tour (you sit in a basket thing in front of a bicycle) to the Water Palace. Now I was expecting a palace with water features everywhere.....WRONG!
The Water Palace was called such because it used to have a huge moat all the way around it. However, nowadays the Water Palace has very little water in it and doesn't look all that much like a palace. Due to the numerous natural disasters Indonesia has had over the last few
centuries, decades etc, the Palace has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. Today there are local people's houses littered without the old Palace grounds, with just the odd rebuilt Palace building remaining. So again, totally not what I'd been expecting.
I was slowly learning (yup, I am a very slow learner) that it was better to have no expectations in Indonesia......
That afternoon, I went to the post office to post some long overdue presents home. Then I decided to have a Javanese massage and a haircut. Now, I knew it was risky to have a haircut in a foreign non-english speaking country, but my hair hadn't been cut in over 4 months, and I wouldn't be able to afford to get my hair cut when I got to Oz.... So an Indonesian haircut it was to be!
Thankfully it turned out pretty alright. Certainly not the best haircut I've ever had but not the worst either. And it only cost me about 2 pounds!
The Javanese massage was pretty different from other massages I've had. They sort of massage exfoliating cream into your back, wash it off by then massaging you with a warm, wet towel,
and then massage you with a dry towel. They then add some oil, massage you for a bit and then finished off with another massage with a dry towel. This was then repeated on my arms, tummy and chest........
The next day was a whole day of travelling. Drove for 14 hours to get to our next hotel. Took 14 hours instead of 12 due to some unexpected traffic, but as we had a DVD player on the bus, and some DVDs, we weren't all that bothered.
We were staying up a mountain as the next morning we were going to climb Mount Bromo for 1 1/2 hours to get a view of a volcano.
Getting up at 3am was pretty damn painful! I think we all had a moment while still in bed where we thought 'Is this really worth it?" Still, I dragged myself out of bed, put a ridiculous amount of clothing on (as it was cold!!), and I was ready to rumble.
It was pitch black when we set off, so torches were necessary. As we were walking along, it felt like we were walking through sand on a beach, and every time
a jeep drove past (carrying people too lazy to do the walk), we were covered in dust and could see it being kicked up. It was only later that we realised that we'd been walking through deep volcanic ash (as we could see it once the sun had risen).
There isn't all that much to say about the walk itself, except that it was hard work, and I kept jumping every time a horse went past me in the dark (another option for lazy people to get up the mountain). The ash would muffle the sound of their hooves, so I wouldn't realise they were there until the were right behind me, naying in my ear!
We arrived at the view point before dawn, and had the pleasure of watching the sun rise. As the sun got higher in the sky, the volcano(es) gradually became visible. The volcano closest to us had these deep fissures all the way around it, carved out by flows of lava. There is a smoking crater next to it, where presumably an eruption blew off the volcano dome that had once been there.
A little way behind these two, was the third part
of the volcano, or third volcano depending on how you looked at it. This one towered over the other two, just biding it's time....
Although it was very beautiful up there, especially with the changing light, soon enough I was cold and wanting to head back down for some breakfast.
Once I had my hot chocolate in my hands back at the hotel, I eventually thawed out.
We had our breakfast, a quick power nap, and then it was back onto the bus for another epic drive. We were heading for a coffee plantation where we'd be staying for the night.
When we arrived at the plantation, we were taken for a walk to look at the coffee plants and to see all the other wonderful things the plantation grew (most of it not native to Java...), such as ginger, turmeric, dragon fruit, coconuts, coco beans,peanuts, cinnamon and vanilla.
We got to see them making coconut sugar, and got to try some of the finished product. It was all really interest and I liked watching this guy scramble up a palm tree, and start dropping coconuts all around us. The coconuts were then opened up so that
we could drink the juice, which i discovered I didn't like all that much.
The next day it was a bus ride and then a boat ride to get us to Bali. It seemed very different from Java at first glance; gone were the business like buildings, instead Bali had a more village like feel to it. Bali was also a lot dirtier than Java, rubbish just about everywhere we looked....
Our first proper day in Bali was in a town/ village called Sanur, and it was a free day. I caught up with my emails, and with what had been going on in the world. Then I went for a Balinese massage, and my first ever manicure and pedicure. The Balinese massage was completely different from the Javanese one. This one involved none of the toweling of the previous, and was a lot firmer (i have the bruises to prove it!). Still, overall it was goooood!
I really enjoyed my manicure and pedicure, and picked a bright yellow nail polish to reflect the summery feel of Bali, with the sun shining away outside. I think manicures and pedicures might have to become a regular thing for
Late that evening I started to feel unwell, so I only had a simple dinner. Unfortunately, I was ill an hour later.... I was then in for an unpleasant night of feeling like I was going to be sick if I did anything other than lay completely still, flat on my back. Even the smallest movement had me considering dashing for the bathroom.
I woke up feeling no better than I had the night before, but had no choice but to get up as were were leaving Sanur for Ubud that morning. Forgoing breakfast, I got on the bus and just prayed the roads were good.
After an hour we stopped off to see Tanah Lot temple, the most photographed temple in Bali.
The story goes that a travelling monk once arrived there and decided to rest on a rock by the sea. He even spent the night there. The next morning he told the locals to build a temple there as it was a holy place. I'm not sure how holy a place it really is, but it was a very pretty temple, and I especially liked that it is only accessible at low tide,
as the rest of the time it is cut off from the land by the sea. So you can imagine how it looked, this small temple, perched on a rock, waves crashing all around. Very nice.
I was all going well until I made it back to the car park. I'd left the rest of my group at the temple and had decided to go back to the bus early as I didn't feel great. Rather embarrassingly, I was violently ill in the car park. Not fun! Even worse we had another 1-2 hours until we'd get to Ubud, where I could change and lie down. I managed to sleep on the bus, so thankfully it felt like no time at all before we arrived. However, when we got to the hotel our rooms weren't ready! I opted out on going on the hour walk to the lunch place, and just lay on a bench and waited to be allowed into a room. Once i got my room I went to lie down, and it turned into a 4 hour nap, but I felt much better for it. Not completely better, but well enough to rouse myself and go
see an Indonesian dance being performed, Kecak Ramayana, more commonly known by Westerners as the Monkey Dance.
It was a nice way to end a rather bad day.
As I'd been so ill the day before, I decided to spend the next day doing nothing but sleeping and relaxing. In the evening I went out for a lovely dinner and then watched a DVD with some friends.
We left Ubud the next day (me having seen not a lot more than my hotel room :( ) for Lovina. We stopped at a temple on the way where I saw some pretty bizarre things. They had a sacrificed goat that some woman was carrying into the temple, all decorated on a plate. No idea why though!
Some of the decorations in the temple involved dead animals; there was this colourful statue/totem type thing, with animal-like heads created on it.....only after closer inspection did I realise that the bottom head that looked vaguely pig like, was indeed a real pig's head with huge teeth and other bits added on to it. Thankfully that was the only real head on that totem....
The Balinese have some strange customs, and
as you walk down the streets and even in some shops, you have to be careful not to step on these little parcel offerings on the floor, which have rice, flowers and incense sticks in them. They are offerings to appease the evil spirit....
Anyway, back to the temple. Part of the temple complex was on a lake, and it looked pretty picturesque, but I wouldn't say it was a peaceful place as there was some crazy religious music being played over speakers everywhere.
We arrived at Lovina and had free time to just relax. I went to explore the town (ha! like 3 shops, 5 restaurants and 2 internet cafes and that was practically it!) and stayed there puttering around on a computer until sunset, when I got some lovely pictures of the sun setting over the sea.
There had also been some sort of ceremony going on as there were a lot of Indonesian people walking around in traditional dress; in white robes or dresses, and the men with what looked like a folded napkin on their heads!
At dinner that evening we were entertained by some people doing a traditional Balinese dance. It was
a very snake like dance, and they do this funny thing where they suddenly open their eyes really wide and look to the side, as though they are scared or surprised by something.
The next day I got up before sunrise to go see some dolphins. We got split up and put on these small boats with frame type things on both sides to stop the boat capsizing. The sunrise was gorgeous, and was so colourful. I loved watching it while also trying to keep an eye out for dolphins.
My boat was really lucky as we got to see lots and lots of dolphins. We even had three or so start jumping out of the water in front of us. The only negative of the whole thing was the sheer number of boats full of tourists everywhere. As soon as a dolphin was spotted, about 20-30 boats were suddenly racing towards it, with some annoying boat drivers aiming straight for the dolphins themselves, which just caused them to go under the water where we couldn't see them!
Even with all the tourist I had a great time!
I spent the rest of the morning and
most of the afternoon sunbathing. Then a few of us decided to go check out a hot spring. The hot spring had green water and was pretty warm! I was glad we had waited to go in the late afternoon when it was much cooler, otherwise it would have been too hot to go into warm water. The hot spring had been made into several pools, the top pool being the warmest as it was fed directly by the spring. The water then fed down into a much bigger pool, pouring out of the mouths of dragon-like statues. You could stand under the dragon mouths and have a nice shower of warm water.
The locals seemed to love the hot spring, and outnumbered the number of tourists there. It was nice to watch the chatting, and to see the children playing in the water.
I can't say I felt all that clean once I came out of the water, especially as I had tiny, tiny green bits all over my skin. Least the had a normal shower there so I could wash all the bits off.
I then had another shower when I got back to the hotel...just
to be safe.
We were allowed some more time to relax in Lovina, before setting off at 2pm to head to an area near a huge Balinese volcano (yes, another volcano). As we were going to be starting the climb at 3.30am the next morning, it was an early night to try and get as much sleep as possible.
I was surprisingly awake the next morning at 3am (on my Dad's birthday!!), which must of meant i was getting used to waking up at ungodly times. Torches were again essential for our pre-dawn climb, walking up in total darkness. Even though it was still technically night time, and so quite cool, I got soooooo hot climbing the volcano. I couldn't believe it. How bad would it have been if I tried climbing it during the day? I dread to think!
We were pretty lucky, and when we got to the view point, the clouds cleared and allowed us to see the rising sun. It was spectacular as we could see all the colours reflecting on this lake, surrounded by mountains. Once the sun had risen, we then climbed a bit higher, until we were on the ridge
Walking around the crater
Look how thin thew path was!
of the crater of the volcano. We then started walking around the crater's edge! The path was tiny and as you were walking along you were enveloped in steam clouds coming from the volcano.Sometimes, when you put your hand on a bit of rock jutting from the ground, it would be hot, warmed by the lava flowing below!
The views from the top of the volcano were great and i thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Looking down we could see where the volcano had erupted in 2000, the ground completely black still. Even though it was only a small part of the volcano that had erupted, the lava and ash went an impressively long way.
Then came my favourite bit! We'd started climbing down the volcano, and things had been a little slow going, as we had to watch were we put our feet. We then arrived at this slope which was covered in thick, deep ash! Our guides told us to run down the slope, and pretend we were skiing. It was GREAT! The deep ash meant that there was no obstacles to watch out for, and the ash cushioned our feet and kept our balance for
us. The only downside was the huge amount of ash in our shoes once we got to the bottom....
We didn't get back to the hotel until 10.30, so we been out climbing for 7 hours!
That evening I went out for one last meal with my group, as I'd be leaving them and joining another group the next day to go to Lombok and the Gili Islands.
It became evident early on that the next tour was going to be a beach and sunbathing tour, which was just what I needed after 4 and a half months of running around Asia! It took us 7 hours to get from Sanur in Bali to Lombok, and 5 of those hours were on a boat. We arrived in time to see the sunset, and watch some surfer catching some waves.
My roommate and I got up early the next day to hit the beach and pool, as we only had a short while before we had to catch the boat over to Gili Meno (the Island we would be staying on). It was nice sitting on the beach watching some locals fishing in the sea with their
conical hats on.
I was enjoying it so much I didn't much want to leave, but oh my god was it worth leaving and going to Gili Meno. It was even worth going on the small boat that I was convinced was going to capsize (turns out I am a nervous sailor) to get there. It was paradise!! White sand beaches, clear blue sea, and barely a person in sight! It felt like our own private paradise!
It was straight into the bikini and out sunbathing. Just next to our hotel (which was literally right on the beach) was this turtle sanctuary, with all these little baby turtles swimming around! The turtle eggs are collected and then when the babies hatch, they are looked after in salt water pools for up to a year, when they are big enough to have a greater chance of surviving in the sea. They were so cute! We even named a few, and obviously one was named Crush (the turtle in 'Finding Nemo'). If only I could of taken one home!
That evening we went to a restaurant that had a BBQ and was cooking fresh fish and prawns. I had a
marlin steak and it was delicious. Nothing beats eating fish, fresh from the sea, while sitting listening to the waves crashing next to you.
The next day was one of the best days ever! My whole group had decided to hire some snorkels and a boat and go snorkeling around the Islands.
I was so excited! We might get a chance to swim with turtles! And did we ever. We probably saw around 10 turtles in total and lots and lots of other things.
I had my camera in this special waterproof camera pouch, which I'd been so nervous about using in case it leaked and broke my camera. But it was FANTASTIC! I got pictures of everything, and took so many turtles pictures. I had such a great time.
The only thing I didn't like was that our guide kept touching the turtles and even grabbed one at one point. I thought that was so wrong of him! It ruined an otherwise perfect day.
I was shattered when I got back to land, after swimming around, following all those turtles. It was straight in the shower as I always feel horrid when I am covered in
salt, and it was so good to get clean.
That night after dinner, we had a bonfire, and just chilled on the beach with a bottle of Bintang (Indonesian beer) in hand. Chatting, swapping stories and looking at the stars.
Our last day on Gili Meno was spent sunbathing, as I wanted to get a little bit of a tan before heading to Australia. I loved Gili Meno, I could have stayed there for at least a week.
Alas the next day we had to leave, so we hopped on a speedboat to whiz us back to Bali. On arriving at Bali we all went our separate ways, as a few had to get to the airport, and other various destinations. I went to Kuta, the town nearest the airport, where I was only staying for one night, as I would be flying to Australia the next evening.
And that's it! I am now just chilling in Bali waiting until I have to go get my flight. So excited!
Anyways, I hope you liked the blog and that you like the turtle pictures as much as I do. xxxxxxx
There are more photos below