Indonesia: Java Part 2

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March 3rd 2014
Published: September 24th 2014
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So after a 2 hour bus journey and an hour on the ferry, we crossed over back to Java, to a small port town called Banyuwangi on the 3rd of March. After getting off the ferry we were met by Leo, a tour guide who booked us in for a journey up to see the Ijen crater, an active volcano not far from where we were staying. After settling in to our hotel, which looked more like a holiday park from the 70s!, we decided to go up to Ijen that night. So at 1am Leo picked us up and took us to the base of the volcano. At 3am we started our ascent up the steep but well maintained track up to the top, with our friendly young guide Ary. We met lots of other groups going up, and once we reached the summit we were helped down slowly into the crator as by then there were loose rocks and sulphate scattered around. We saw the amazing blue firey sulphur before sunrise and many miners who have the very dangerous job of mining the sulphur produced by the volcano. The smell was overpowering, and luckily we had gas masks - of which the minors had not. They worked so quick, taking extremely heavy baskets of hardened sulphur on the end of wooden planks across their shoulders. It was very humbling to watch. After going down to see the blue fire, we began our ascent back up the crater which took quite a long time due to my weakened ankle. But Ary was very patient and helped me throughout the time in the crater. By the time we had reached the summit again it was sunrise and we had breakfast at the top, admiring the views across the crater and the other volcanoes in the distance. After another long walk down - my ankle is worse when going downhill and being overtaken by all the other - sometime much older - parties!, we reached the bottom and said thanks and goodbye to Ary. Leo took us home at about 8am and we had a very long rest! We enjoyed staying at Maynar Gardens as it had a pool, tennis courts and a private beach - so the rest of the time in Banyuwangi we spent relaxing!! We left Banyuwangi on the evening of the 5th of March and headed west to Yogyakarta overnight and arrived at 8am. We then made our way to the EDU hostel which was very big and clinical compared to what we were used to over the past few weeks! Yogyakartya which is shortened and pronounced Jogja, is a large colonial town on the south coast of Java, which was ruled by the Dutch up until the Indonesian independence, however has retained a lot of its Javanese heritage and buildings which we went to explore in the 5 days we stayed in Jogja. We took bechaks, little Indonesian style tuk tuks to visit the water palace, a collection of baths and gardens which used to be used by the sultan and his family, and also the Kraton - the sultan's main palace, where we watched traditional Javanese dancing and listened to gamelan band music, a traditional Javanese collection of instruments and singing. Whilst staying in Jogja, we also went out to Prambunan temple with one of the Dutch girls in our room, Yannic. Prambunan is a large complex of Hindu temples built by the Mataram rulers of Java, and which date back to the 9th century. Unfortunately, due to volcanic ash from Mount Merapi which erupted whilst we were in Jakarta, some of the main temples were still being cleaned and therefore were closed. However the temples were still amazing to see and we managed to get lots of pictures of them and us with our checked sashes on which we were given, much like the ones we had in the temples in Bali. On the 11th we headed north and got a train to Jakarta, this journey only being the second train journey we had had in Indonesia. The journey took about 8 hours and we travelled through rice paddies, jungles and villages far from main roads so we were glad we took the opportunity to see such a landscape before we left Indonesia. After one night back in Jakarta staying at a home stay ran by a Chinese family who gave us yummy kaya on toast for breakfast - a coconut and sugar like jam that is popular on toast in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia - we caught our flight taking us back to Singapore. Our month in Indonesia has been amazing... now back up to Malaysia!!


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