To say that we didn't do the city of Yogyakarta justice would be an understatement. We were just unlucky that a few minor thing happened that made our stay less than perfect. We flew there from KL on a cheapie Air Asia flight without problem. We arrived in the tiny airport and got 2 local buses to the 'backpacker' rabbit warren of Sosrowijayan Road (known as Sosro). Found a very nice family run losman (guesthouse) and made a few friends. Managed to avoid being hassled into buying overpriced Batik art by the many touts. Browsed the tatty market along Malioboro Road. Good start.
Next day we hired a scooter, bought a map and Dee braved the crazy traffic to drive to the famous Buddhist temple Borobudur, about 40km away. The pollution on the roads in Indonesia is incredible, every vehicle churns out acrid black fumes and it's not pleasant stuck in a traffic jam! SOAPBOX MOMENT Sometimes (just sometimes) we wonder why, we in the UK, feel such a pressure/guilt and make such an effort to be environmentally concious when we've witnessed first hand that the 4th largest population (Indonesia) and 2nd largest population (India) on the
planet couldn't care less.
Anyway, we made it to the temple and paid the ''tourist'' ticket fee of 135,000 Indonesian Rupiah (IR) (10 quid, locals pay 15,000 IR which is 1 pound). Walked through the manicured gardens to the enormous temple. It was so big you couldn't take a complete photo of it. It's the largest Buddhist stupa in the world apparently. It had 5 levels of carvings and at the top a large stupa surrounded by 72 smaller stupas. It was very impressive especially as from the top you could see amazing views of flat countryside and gigantic volcanoes. The temple was very busy with Asian tourists and local school groups, who all wanted to follow us around and have their photo taken with us. After soaking up the view, we managed to escape the mobile phone camera weilding kids and made our way back to town.
We stopped off at the new and trendy Ambarukmo Shopping Mall to see if the cinema was showing Sex & The City 2, which it was so we spent the afternoon at the flicks for the bargain price of 15,000 IR each....1 pound! If only it was this price back
home! There was a power cut half way through and we're certain the naughty bits had been cut out for the Muslim Indonesian audience but loved it all the same! Back to find a bar showing the opening game of the world cup. We found a bar near us but it was absolutely empty. Didn't love the food. A couple of times we ate at local street stalls and tried the speciality of nasi gudeg (cooked jackfruit with chicken and rice) but it wasn't good and the meat was just feathery skin, grissle and rib cage. Horrid.
We woke up the next day covered with itchy bites and knew we'd been visited in the night by dreaded BEDBUGS! Gross. We told the lady owner but she didn't seem bothered so we checked out and went in search of another room, sad because we really liked that place and it did pass Holly's strict cleanliness criteria so shows sometimes you just can't tell. It was Saturday and everywhere we looked was full. After spending all morning searching it started to pore with rain, Holly's sore throat had turned into a hacking cough so we gave up and checked into an
expensive hotel but felt fed up. We went back to the posh mall for a McDonalds and window shopping therapy and that night watched the footie (England v USA) in our room with a couple of beers after Skyping some familiar faces back home.
Our last day in Yogyakarta was spent doing a bit of sight seeing. We took a becak (cycle rickshaw) ridden by a sweet wrinkly 70 year old to the Sultan's Palace (which was closed) and to the Water Temple. The ride plus a guided tour of the temple was 10,000 IR (80p!). Water Temple (a recreational and bathing area for the old Sultan) was a weird mix of crumbling old stone and half-finished new restoration. We did get to see the private pools used by the Sultan and his wives. It was raining a lot so we sheltered for a time in a Batik shop and the owner was very enthusiastic about showing us pictures of when Prince Charles visited his shop in 2008. I think he though we'd buy something just because we were British and it could have been breathed on by the Prince, but we didn't. We got hounded by the locals
who wanted pictures with us so made a sharp exit. We saw a little monkey on a chain forced to dance, wear a mask and ride a bicycle to music on the way back. It honestly was a very heartbreaking sight and the monkey looked so illtreated and sad. No tourists stopped to look but the locals were loving it and running out of their houses to watch. The streets were also FULL of ponies and carts offering tourist rides. The ponies were also a miserable sight, all thin and dusty and sad. Made us not think very highly of the Yogyakarta that day and we were glad to be moving on. Borobudur was ace but Yogyakarta just didn't work out for us.
We had heard a lot of very good things about visiting the Bromo Volcano but a lot of very bad things about local transportation to get there so we decided to treat ourselves to an organised tour to see Bromo and then a toursit bus all the way on to Bali. A mini bus picked us up the next day and we (plus a French couple and 3 girls from London) had a
very plesant but uneventful ride direct to Cemoro Lawang, a little village on the edge of the antient crater that marks the volcanic Bromo area. We arrived in the dark so had no idea what the landscape around us looked like. We knew we were high up though because it was very cold.
We got up at 3.30am the next morning, wrapped up warm and drove in a jeep to the Gunung Penanjakan lookout point for sunrise (at 2770m). We were treated to a wonderful panoramic view over the Bromo National Park antient crater and inside it the smoking grey crater of Gunung Bromo (volcano), the green Gunung Batok and many other hills and volcanos in the distance. This was a popular trip and there must have been 50 jeeps and over 200 people at the view point, mostly Asian tourists. Busy but not too busy you couldn't see. Loads of touts trying to sell camera batteries and dried flowers (?), no one selling hot tea though (missed opportunity we think!). Next we drove to the base of Gunung Bromo and walked over the volcanic ash, up the steps and around the volcano crater. Very cool as it was
very high up and we could see and smell the smoke billowing out. Never seen a real life volcano before!! We were perplexed at the Asian toursist who had come to the volcano wearing lovely shiny leather or high heeled shoes as to get from the jeep to the stairs was quite a trek through deep volcanic sand. Luckily for them there were ponies you could hire so they didn't have to get their pretty shoes dirty!! Very strange though.
Quick breakfast and back in the minibus, which wisked us off to the town of Probolinggo where we caught a tourist bus all the way to Denpasar in Bali (via ferry). It was a very quick and rushed tour of Bromo, something we don't usually like to do but it seems to be the norm. We arrived very late in Bali so crashed in a hotel in the city and dreamed about finding a paradise beach to lie on the next day.................
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