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Published: June 26th 2014
The word interesting probably describes best our first day on the island of Java. We took a boat from near Pemuteran on Bali, and upon arrival on the Javanese side, we immediately witnessed an accident where one of the dock workers fell on the ground unconscious while they attempted to dock the boat. Either he fell from somewhere, or something fell on him, we heard also glass breaking, but are not sure how exactly it happened. Next, they failed to attach the boat on the dock properly, and we watched nervously as the cars drove from boat to shore on the swaying little bridge. Crossing it on foot was ok, luckily, and I was quite glad we had not gotten on one of the buses, even if we were offered those seats multiple times.
We did meet some friendly local fellows on the boat too, even though it was quite obvious they were only interested in socializing with Leo, and kept offering cigarettes, but of course only to him. Not that I was terribly sorry about that, though, and they did give us a huge mango and some good tips.
Next we walked to the railway station near harbour,
and there we were quite soon surrounded by a group of women and children with big smiles, asking what our names were and where we were from and just lingering around us. Nice, but at the same time slightly awkward. After we managed to buy our train tickets to Yogyakarta for the next day, and almost had agreed to take up on the offer for homestay by one of the station workers, the manager of the station came to us, and invited us to his room, so he could give us some information.
Next thing we knew, we had agreed on a trip to see a famous crater an hour away, which emits "blue fire" at night. We're not sure what that blue fire is about, but you can only see it for sure after midnight. We didn't want to wait that long, but decided just to see the crater in daylight, which should be beautiful too, with shimmering turquois crater lake and pretty views. So, the manager took us for a hurried lunch next door, then we set off in a jeep with a driver and a guide. The ride was 1,5 hours and the road ran along
lush green landscapes. After we finally reached the entrance to start the one hour hike to the crater viewing point, we were informed that it's not possible to go there at all at that moment, because the crater had spat out some poisonous fumes earlier that day. Well, then the driver and guide started suggesting us all kinds of alternate activities, like watching the sunset on the parking lot or visiting rubber plantation, and when we were almost back in town, they still tried to offer a chance to go to the central market. To me all this seemed a bit awkward, as they probably thought we were terribly disappointed or even mad for not seeing the crater, but actually we were quite relaxed about it; we hadn't paid that much for the trip, and it's not like we had anything else to do in any case. We also felt tired at this point, so we refused most of their offers, and just went to see a greenish waterfall before heading back to our accommodation.
Our homestay (in Indonesia most budget accommodation is called homestay, even if they are actually quite normal hotels or bungalows) for the night was
quite far from the ones we had on Bali. Much more basic, and they didn't have such necessities as toilet paper, or a sink. Clearly we were out of the tourist haven of Bali. I had wanted to see a bit of real Indonesia, and not just tourist resorts. But then, being in this homestay where all the other guests appeared locals and doing things like smoking everywhere, I couldn't help to think that maybe after all it wouldn't be so bad to be back on a paradise island 😊 Well, probably I was just tired after a long and hard day.
Next morning we started a fullday train journey, and arrived in the city Yogyakarta quite late in the evening. From what we saw looking out the train window, Java is very very green and has lots of pretty rice fields. Luckily our homestay in Yogyakarta was a relaxing place where they had everything necessary, as well as a comfortable bed - we needed that after the long day of sitting on the train. Walking around the city the next day, we felt a bit as if we were celebrities. So many people came to talk to us,
we posed in three photos with locals, and gave a videotaped interview to two school kids. The best was, though, when we were just sitting in shade having an ice cream break, and a young woman came to ask us if we could have a short conversation with her students, so they could practice their English. Sure, we agreed to that, and soon we were surrounded by twenty schoolboys who all introduced themselves with big smiles and with whom we tried to then to have some kind of conversation. When this was over, we shook hands with every single one of them. The funny thing is that we feel like our English is pretty "rallienglanti", and yet these people want to practice with us :D We also met a local man on the street who happened to have been studying in Oulu twenty years ago, and could still remember a bit of Finnish language. He gave us a lot of good advice about the city, I guess he got quite excited to realize we were Finns. The reason he had gone to Finland in the first place, was to learn about Russia for his studies - apparently at that time
Indonesians couldn't cross the border to Russia itself.
This friendly Oulu man also advised us that we had been fooled earlier when a man started talking to us on the street and telling us there would be a parade in town that day, apparently to distract us from going to see the sultan palace, and to be able to take us to an art shop close to the "parade" instead. Well, we got suspicious about the man when he told us the palace would be closed, and decided to ignore his suggestions and go see the palace, and then maybe try and see the parade. When someone tells you there is a parade in town, you don't immediately suspect he is lying, right? I mean, it's kind of hard to see an immediate motivation to lie about something like that.
Well, we saw the sultan palace as originally planned, then visited a batik art center where we also purchased some souvenirs for ourselves, then visited a silver smith workshop. We had to set up our alarm at 3.40 for the next morning, as we were attending a trip to see Borobudur temple in sunrise. The early wake up
wasn't totally worth it, as the sunrise viewing point was very far from the temple, and the air was very misty. The temple complex, once we reached it later in the morning, was quite cool, but what we mostly remember of that trip is the hordes of kids wanting to pose in photos with us. If you ever feel unpopular, go to the Borobudur temple on Java. The groups of kids asked all the time to take our picture, and sometime broke into excited screams once we agreed. This felt fun at first, but started to get old after a while, and I'm sure our photos are all over facebook now.
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