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Published: September 20th 2008
Amazing landscape around Mount Bromo!
Hello Again Everyone!
The next stage of our trip took us from Sumatra to Java, seen as the heartbeat of Indonesia and home to 60%!o(MISSING)f its population.
Jakarta & Bogor
We flew from Padang in Sumatra to Jakarta, the bustling capital of Indonesia in Western Java.
From what we had heard Jakarta was not really a place to linger and so we had planned our only full day in and around the city to be spent in Bogor, an hours train ride away, site of the Bogor Botanical Gardens (Known as Kebun Raya) seen by many as one of the best such gardens in the world. The place was huge taking up a huge block right in the centre of the city of Bogor.
It was a beautiful place filled with all kinds of exotic plants from Orchids to Cactus as well as many species of bird seen flying amongst the huge trees that engulfed the park.
We had a very relaxing time enjoying the peace and quiet before heading back to Jakarta.
Although we didn't spend too much time in Jakarta itself, what we saw of it did seem to be alot more pleasant than we had expected
with beautiful terracotta tiled roofs and narrow alleys full of life (as well as a very easy and punctual train service!!) After 2 nights we left for the city of Bandung.
Bandung & Around
The train journey between Jakarta and Bandung was beautiful, passing through emerald green rice fields and bustling little market towns before ascending through more terraced rice fields into the mountains that surround Bandung.
Bandung itself was a bit too loud and frenetic for our taste although it did have a great mix of art-deco and colonial buildings dotted around the city.
The real attractions for us lay in the hills north of the city and in particular the huge volcanic caldera of Tangkaban Prahu.
We walked from the national park office up to the summit of the volcano and then enjoyed a full day walking around the crater before visiting another steaming crater on the side of the mountain with bubbling pools and steaming geysers.
It was a great days walking and the views were amazing.
Next on our trip through Java was the highland region, the Dieng Plateau.
The site of a huge extinct volcano and 2000m above sea level, the
whole area takes on a mysterious air when the mists roll in every afternoon.
The area is dotted with colourful sulphurous lakes, steaming, bubbling craters and surprisingly enough the oldest temples on Java dating back to 500ad. In between all of these sites the landscape is jam packed with fields upon fields of.....no not rice but potatoes, cabbages, onions and other similar crops.
It was very much like walking around a huge allotment!
We spent3 days here walking in the freezing cold mountain air and enjoying the peace and quiet.
It was a really enjoyable place to visit and was actually one of my favourite places on the whole trip, maybe because of the familiar cold climate!
Yogyakarta & Borobudor
From Dieng we descended back into the heat of central Java to the village of Borobudor, a delightful little place where our room was huge and looked onto endless rice fields filled with chickens pecking away at seeds and farmers cultivating their crop.
The main reason to visit Borobudor though is not the lovely rural setting but the monumental Buddhist temple Candi Borobudor, although not as vast as the site of Angkor Wat, the temple is as impressive as
any individual temple at Angkor and reminded us of Bayon in particular as many Buddha images stare down at you from evry angle.
The temple was enormous but also beautifully carved, with bas reliefs depicting every day life in ancient Java. The top was mounted with hundreds of bells each containing a Buddha image and a huge central bell shaped stupa.
The design of the temple was also quite remarkable, as each block was cut like a jigsaw puzzle and slotted together, this made the temple immensely strong and has allowed it to remain standing through many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the area.
We travelled on further to the city of Yogyakarta (Yogya) seen as the cultural heartland of Java and famous for its Batik.
We spent 3 days wondering around the markets and palaces of the old city and did eventually give in and buy a very nice batik painting.
The next phase of of our trip took us to Mount Bromo, site of many legends and even more postcard shots!
We spent just one day here which first encompassed arising at 3 am to catch a jeep up to the top of a mountain
view across the beautifully tiled rooftops
for a sunrise view! But boy was it worth it, if there is a more amazing view on the planet I'd love to see it because this one takes some beating.
The view of 3 volcanoes set in the centre of ancient caldera from a huge extinct volcano with the active Mount Semeru erupting systematically every 20 minutes or so is more like a moonscape thean anything you expect to see on this planet. Bromo steams away continually while the perfect cones of the other two volcanoes complete the dramatic scene.
As Bromo is in Eastern Java and therefore near enough for tours from Bali to arrive, there were a large number of people there but the magnitude of the scene just makes the crowds fall into the background.
Bring a jumper though its bloody freezing!!
After enjoying the view for a couple of hours we descended into the crater itself and walked across the sea of volcanic sand to the steaming Mount Bromo. The day was a truly memorable one and something I would recommend to anyone.
Our final stop in Java was the Ijen plateau, home to many of the famous Java Coffee plantations and
Kawah Ijen an amazing bright blue sulphurous lake where huge boulders of bright yellow sulphur are mined by locals from the sheer cliffs of the crater wall.
We spentone night on a coffee plantation homestay in an idyllic location and were given an unexpected tour of the coffee factory by a local who worked there (though he didn't speak much english so hand signals were used most of the time!!) before trekking up the mountain to the crater lake. The views extended across at least 5 other huge volcanoes and all the way down to the sea in the distance whilst the lake itself was an amazing spectacle, changing from turquoise to sky blue literally as we watched.
Unfortunately it seems to be taking ages to add the photos of this lake and area so I 'll try and add them later for you.
But for now, the tough travelling life continues, we now leave Java and head off to Bali!!
Thats all for now folks.
Hope everyone is well.
Love Steve & Laura. xxx
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