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Published: August 23rd 2015
Indonesia - Java - Yogyakarta - Borobodur
The alarm was ringing and the day that I shall encounter to Asia is today! It would be my first time in Asia - if you do not count Jordan as Asia. I only knew that Indonesia is a quite large country with many islands; every islands does have its own feeling, which makes the country quite diverse. But everywhere you can encounter the jungle and volcano’s, due the fact that Indonesia is laying in the “ring of fire”. The country does have a living culture, so you will encounter temples and old buildings everywhere. For example palaces, temples, mosques, the old Dutch VOC and tribal culture. And, you can find also “traditional south-east Asia”, with rice fields, mountains, the good food and of course the traffic. And, today is the day, I will experience it all in just 23 days and 3 islands: Sumatra, Java and Bali. Sumatra is known for her wild jungle, due one active Volcano at Java the airport in Bali was closed one week for my leaving and in Bali it is impossible to walk 100 meters without seeing a temple. However, in Sumatra I shall visit Lake Toba – caused by a volcano crater, in
Java I visited the biggest Buddhism Temple the Borobudur and in Bali I drove through the jungle. I also visited in Sumatra the old grave tombs, in Java I was planning to do the jungle tour (but at that moment I was sick so I had to skip this tour), and at our last day in Bali they did cancel some flights to Australia due another active volcano at the North-east of Bali. Indonesia is really a story of jungle, volcano’s and temples and in this report I will take you with in these great scenery’s over 3 beautiful islands.
It was time to catch my flight, but I was not in a hurry, because I am the type of traveller that is setting her alarm quite early on time. My backpack was packed, as well with my cabin baggage. But, before I finally would set feet on Asia, and in the City of Medan, at the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia, I first had to encounter two flights. The second flight was not a problem, it only was 02:25 hours. But the first one was the one that I wrestle with: the flight from Amsterdam to
Jakarta: 14:05 hours. Especially, because when I fly I get problems with airsickness which is in fact a travel sickness (Motion sickness). I feel nausea, I have headache and I really feel myself very sick, but luckily I did not had to vomit yet. Yes, you got me, I had to Google the airsickness, because it really exist. I only have it with flying, I do not get sick from the car or the bus. After the experiences of this trip (due the multiple flights I had to take), I found the best places to sit the next time, and now I do read that Wikipedia is giving me right. It is at the pitch of the airplane, or better known as the seats which are sitting at the wings. According my father – he is a plane spotter – the pitch of the airplane is the most stable and heaviest point of the airplane, due the storage of kerosene. Because, the airplane is most stable at that point, it is not so sensitive for small movements, in compression with the front of the airplane. And I found out that makes a difference. During the second domestic flight , I
Are we almost there?!?
was asked to changed seats to the front of the plane, and in that moment I did not realize that sitting at the pitch of the plane are the best seats for me. So, I changed seats and I never came out so sick as before. However, Wikipedia is claiming that the seats at the windows quite great for people with airsickness, because you can have an eye on the landscape. But, that does not count when you are flying in the clouds, or in the dark.
So, it was time to get the car to the airport. My parents drove me to a friend. We booked together and one room together for the trip. He wanted to see Asia, especially Buddha and asked me to join. In the end I realized that he was afraid to end up alone – even in a group trip – and used me to get me with him. First, we choice to go to Laos and Cambodia. I really would like to see the temples of Angkor Wat, and Laos is still quite off the beaten track. It was a 21-group tour trip, booked by the Dutch organisation of Djoser.
It is the same organisation I did my South-Africa trip in November 2014. I do have experience with Djoser and I am quite positive about them – and I still am. Actually, it was my idea to do some backpacking or individual travelling, but he was quite afraid of that – and in the end it was better that we booked a fully organised group tour. But, Djoser had to cancel the trip to Laos and Cambodia and made some other trip offers and this trip to Indonesia was one of them. After reading into it, we both got quite enthusiastic to go to Indonesia and in the end it was not a wrong choice. Or maybe even a better choice than Laos and Cambodia. There was just one bad choice, what I found out halfway the trip was that we do not fit as friends, and he only cared about himself when he found out he fitted in good in the group. Halfway of the trip it led to such problems, I had to change rooms during the night and I broke up at Schiphol airport. Sometimes things do happen and I made a choice that I cannot trust
him, due my trust is blamed and I feel he went way too far over my personal borders that I cannot continue a friendship. That is, that I choice to write only for myself in this report and leave him out of the report.
All of the flights, the international as the domestic flights are performed by Garuda Indonesia. The first flight would be quite a long one, about 14:05 hours. It was from Amsterdam to Jakarta, Indonesia. The flight number was GA089. I had seat 27H. I was quite early on time at Schiphol Airport. A lot of people in the Netherlands have their holidays, and also the school holidays are running though the country; it is high season. Normally, I try to skip the high season so good as I can do, but in January the work schedule was so prepared it was only possible to take holiday for 3 weeks during European high season. I was right on time, but in the end, we left 15 minutes later; we could board later due the fact that the catering on board was not finished on time. The delay of 15 minutes is a small minor
Yes, we are finally arrived!
delay, those small minor delays happens frequently when you are flying. During the flight, we had two meals. The first meal was a meal with a box of rice, beans, corn and a red sauce with chicken. It was served with a bread and some butter, a small salad of potatoes and a cake with chocolate and some red cherry’s. The second meal was the breakfast; nasi goring with chicken, a fruit mix of pineapple, watermelon and papaya, a croissant with butter and strawberry jam and a little can of strawberry yoghurt. In the airplane I met Wim, he is another member of the group and also I met our tour leader Bob. Bob travelled a lot though Southeast-Asia and he knows every place which we shall visit, so he could recommend us in what we could do and can eat. Without doubt, Bob was the best tour leader I ever had.
It was around 11:30 when the airplane started to land on the Indonesian land; the airport of Jakarta. In Jakarta, I had a small stopover. But here, the first thing that I should do, was getting my visa. Indonesia just had, around one month ago,
changed the rules though wars the visa for around 40 country’s including the Netherlands. That means, that a tourist visa of 30 days is free, and does not coast 30 USD. I am a lucky girl! After, that free great new stamp in my passport (I like stamps in my passport!), it was time to grab first a good fresh Strawberry juice. However, the drinks on the flight were not too few or not good, but I always like it when I am back with my food on the earth to refill some liquids. This juice was really nice and it was time to take the next flight. Also this flight was performed by Garuda Indonesia, flight number GA188, seat 29K. It was the flight from Jakarta, to Medan; the capital city of Sumatra and the third city of Indonesia. Medan is a city in the North of Sumatra, but that province of Sumatra is huge. There are multiple airports in the province, but the Airport of Medan is the most known, and the most flown. The North of Sumatra is also known for the Batak people, which I shall introduce in the next blogspot about Lake Toba. But, also
Tip Top Restaurant in Medan
the North of Sumatra is better known as the Orang Utans. Too bad, I did not saw those animals in the wild, but that is a good reason to go back or to visit Borneo.
The second fight was performed good and smooth without any minute of delay. The lunch was not great, but that is more personal; I cannot eat fish – I need to puke about that, I just cannot eat it, while I am not allergic -, and the chicken meal was sold out, they only had fish. Next time, I should book a meal preference for no-fish. In Indonesia they do like fish, and you see it everywhere. They serve it on the flights, and even if you have excursions with lunch, breakfast, diner or barbecue there is fish everywhere. After, the airplane landed, I finally reached my first destination in Indonesia: Welcome to Medan! However, we were not in the hotel. Bob suggested it would take another hour to go to our hotel, Garuda Plaza in Medan. Therefore, we had a bus, including 2 employees. Boy, was the busboy and Andu the driver. You do need a busboy in Indonesia, and if
you ask why, just see the traffic. Everywhere scooters are rushing and the roads are – for us Europeans – quite chaotic. It seems like they do not have any rules. They just driving everywhere with their scooters and cars. So, I was luckily when we arrived at chamber 238 in our hotel “Garuda Plaza”.
So, as said, I arrived at Sumatra. Sumatra is the second biggest island of Indonesia and is the island that is laying in the north. Sumatra is around 470.000 m2 big, or with other words, it does shares borders over sea with the south of Thailand, and the complete mainland of Malaysia. Sumatra is the 6th
biggest island of the world, so it misses the top 5 which are: Baffin Island (Canada), Madagascar, Borneo (divided into Malaysia and Indonesia), New Guinea (divided into Indonesia and Papua New Guinea) and Greenland. The name Sumatra is coming from “Dwarna Dwipa”, which means “the Island of Gould”. Nobody knows exactly how Sumatra got this name, but probably the local people were transporting the gold from the early times. The gold was found in the highlands, where the mines went deep into the ground. Of course,
the gold founding let to quite some handle routes, especially at the eastside of the country. Therefore, the most cities and towns are found on the east, and still much of those cities are existing here. When, the gold was travelling to the Asian mainland, other influences, like religions came into the country. Mostly, you saw those religions and influences at the east side. The best known example is the Srivijaya, it was active in the current city of Palembang. The Srivajaya is a Buddhist monarchy, and one of the Indian religions that were brought in. Currently, the Islam is the most biggest religion in Sumatra, but you do find other religions as well. For example Hindu, Buddhist or Catholic, but under the Batak people you mostly find Protestant Christians; the Batak people adapted the original Protestant Christian religion from the Dutch and the German when Sumatra stood under authority of the Dutch or Germans. The Islam came late in the 13th
century to Sumatra, mostly spread by the many handlers coming from Arabia and India. When the Dutch people arrived, mostly of the Sumatran kingdoms where put on the Dutch authorities, however, in Atjeh – the most Nordic point
of Sumatra – never agreed with it, leading to the Atjeh War (1870-1905). But, also Atjeh felt in the hands of the Dutch authorities, but even before WWII much military campaigns were performed to keep Atjeh in the hands of the Dutch. Even until today, Atjar is still not quite stable, even under the authorities of Indonesia. After WWII Atjeh felt in the hands of the Republic of Indonesia. However, nationalists of Atjeh never accepted this authority, and it became even worse in 1953. President Soekarno wanted to solve Atjeh into the North Sumatra Province, not even due geography but mostly about politics and regional politics. A lot of people and of course the nationalist did not agreed with it and a lot of harassment grew into a guerrilla war. The war and the harassment took until 1959, when Atjar got his special status, which she still has today. As even today, you can except a little harassment. In Sumatra, I was staying in Medan. Medan is a quite large city, with almost running up to 2,5 million citizens. The citizens are originally out of Sumatra, China, Minangkabau, Atjeh, Batak and Malaysia. Original, Medan and the region were inhabited by
the Batak, but are limited nowadays. The reason why you find much Chinese, is due the fact that Sumatra has a lot of plantations of oil and coconut. In some area’s a lot of jungle is destroyed for those plantations and it’s still ongoing. Because a lot of Chinese people were working from 1870 on those plantations and lost their contact with China, you might find out a lot of dialects coming from China. The first Chinese people arrived here in 1870, but after 1930 35,6% of the citizens were Chinese. However, in Medan a lot of tobacco plantations were arranged after one Dutchman agreed with the Sultan (Istana Maimoon) that the ground was ideal for tobacco plantations. The next day, I visited the Palace of the Sultan, and I shall give more detailed information about the history of Medan.
When we arrived in our hotel, it was already evening, but our stomachs’ were rumbling. It was time to meet the Indonesian kitchen. Of course in the Netherlands we know a lot about the Indonesian Kitchen – mostly served and sold in Chinese Restaurants, which actually cooks Indonesian -, so everyone knows Nasi Goreng (baked riced), Bami
Goreng (baked noodles), Babi Ketchap (pork in Ketchap sauce), Gado Gado (baked vegetable, mostly served with rice and eggs) and Saté Ajam (Chicken satay). But most of these dishes are quite “Western”, if you order them in The Netherlands. They are not spicy, and when you order them the dishes mostly contain a lot of fat and sugar and you might miss the fresh herbal mixes. Bob, our travel leader knew a good restaurant, named Tip Top. The Restaurant was too far away to go by feet, and Bob wanted us to meet traditional Asia; so he did not order taxi’s for us: but Betjak’s. A betjak is almost the same like the Tuktuk you see everywhere in South-East Asia. A Tuktuk is a cargo bike, where the biker is sitting behind. In Indonesia you find a Betjak. The Betjak mostly contains scooters and the driver is sitting next to you. So, it was time, to go in the hectically travel with the Betjak. The driver drove though the hectically travel, and was one of them. Left, right, left, right. Everywhere, everyone was using their horn, what means “Watch out, go out the way, I am coming”. One moment, our
The Throne and some locals in Local Clothing in Istana Maimoon (The Palace of the Sultan)
driver even got stuck on the train rails. Actually, the two rails had different heights, so it is impossible that here a train can drive on these rails. But, for me it’s also impossible how those people are driving without having accidents. We arrived in the Tip Top restaurant. When the group arrived, Bob reserved a table for us, so we could seat imminently. And then, we found out that in Indonesia a lot of dishes where finished. That was due the fact that we came one day after the Ramadan; and then it’s national holiday week. All people are travelling to family for the Ramadan Eid, and they have holiday everywhere. Or, they travel back from where they come from. That means, everywhere in Indonesia, people where busy and a lot of people are not working. So, there is no distribution of lemonade or soda like Cola, or even Beers. In Sumatra, it is not possible to buy alcohol in shops. Only certificated Restaurants and Hotels may sell beer. Today, I ordered Rendang, with “Nasi” (Steamed Rice). Rendang is beef meat, fried and hot spiced with sambal and chilli. It does not contain sauce, so the mix is looking
Me at the Throne
quite thick. The Rendang was spiced good; however, it could be spiced even more. But, the herb mix was good, the meat was also prepared nice. I only found that the portion was quite small. And I missed some vegetables. But in the end, it was a nice meal. I do agree in general, that they do not spice it that much for tourist as for the local people, everywhere. That is a pity if you like spicy food, and sometimes you might get in the situation your food is not spiced and herbed properly as you hoped. However, in this restaurant, it was spiced good. Also, we meet the service from Indonesia. We were, with a big group of 19 people. We all order in the same time. However, the first one already has finished his dish when the half of the people not even received their dish. After a long time, and tasting the local beer of Bintang, which was a good quality beer, it was time to step in the Betjak again. The driver had to find his way through the travel and it is advised to take a good grip.
After the first
night, I enjoyed breakfast. They did have Indonesian breakfast with Nasi Goreng and vegetables, but they also did had some Western breakfast. Today, we shall travel to Lake Toba, but however, there was still some (limited) time to discover Medan. Perfect to go to the Palace of the Sultan (Istana Maimoon). Medan is laying by an estuary, so the first people of the Hoa Binh came quite early around 10.000 BC to this area. It took a long time before the traders came, but they came at latest at 1000 BC and they came from Arabia, India and China. And then, also the sailors came and started to make small cities and towns; all laying at the river or the estuary. Especially, the Malaysian landowners, known as the Aru, had a blooming trade Centrum for quite a long time. In 1536, the Kingdom of Atjeh attacked the Aru and took the area. Until the British people came, and took welfare to the area, but not only the British came, also the Dutch came. In 1862, the Sultan from Deli gave the Dutchman Jacob Nienhuys permission to give land for the tobacco plantations. The fertile volcano ground gave a lot of
opportunities and in no time a lot of tobacco plantations were rising and much jungle got lost. Not even the Dutch traders had a good business, also the Sultan. It did not took long before his own people, the Karo-Batak were rising and the brutal Sunggal War (1872-1897) was fought. The Dutch were fighting together with the Sultan and it let that the Karo-Batak people lost this war. In 1883, the Sultan of Langkat permission for a research commission of the Dutchman Zijkler, after they found oil quite near at the surface of the Sungai Lipan area. In this area in year 1890, an oil factory in Dutch hands was born, which is nowadays known as Shell and reached that days a incredible high capital of more than 1,1 million “Guldens”. Around that time, a normally Dutch employee in the Netherlands might earn 100 to 150 Guldens a year. The plantations grew every year, as the oil industry. It lead due the fact that the local native labour group was too small to make enough effort, especially at the lands, that even then thousands of guest workers were brought to this area. The most people came out of China and
followed by India, but later also people from Java and Madoera, a small island at north-east of Java. Currently, Madan is still a huge trade Centrum for oil and agriculture.
The Istana Maimoon, the Palace of the Sultan is half open for public. You buy a ticket for 5000 Roepia, and your are able to visit one room. Even today, the family of the Sultan is still living in here. And they do have a lot of space. It has 30 rooms (which one is open for public), and the palace contains 2772 m2 ground. In the palace, you can meet a lot of historical styles, hidden in the beautiful interior design. You can find hints of the Malasian -, Arabic -, South West Europe – and Indian culture elements. This palace is not that old, it was build in 4 years, starting from 1887. It was build by Sultan Makmun Al Rasyid Perkasa Alamsyah. I cannot tell you more about the palace, only that it is beautiful. Just look at the great hints, the great interior and the throne. If you want to make a picture of yourself in the local Sultan clothing, you can hire
the clothing very cheap. I did not do it, but a lot of Indonesian people did it. This palace is also ideal if you do not have much time. You probably spend here not more than an half hour. It is just one room, but there are many details and it’s a great place to make some good pictures, due the many details. It is also very close by the Great Mosque of Medan, so it is easy to visit. I did not went into the Great Mosque, but if you are interested, you can visit this Mosque. In contrast to for example Turkey or Morocco, it is not possible for not Muslims to visit much Mosque’s in Indonesian, so if you are interested to visit one Mosque, you can do it here. And here, I found another typical Indonesian behaviour. Which happens everywhere in Indonesia, but probably not much in Bali. Indonesian local people like that Western people are visiting their country. And they all want a picture of you and them together. So, sometimes, they are standing in a row for 5 minutes, to make pictures of you and they all want to talk with you. Where we
came from; Holland? And then, it seems like everyone have family in the Netherlands. But, the local people are quite interested in tourists.
Medan is a nice city to start your trip, but it is not that much visited by travellers. But, I do recommend to take a look by the Palace of the Sultan, and you might check the many plantations which are still operative today. From here, it is a 5 hour drive to Lake Toba. Our bus shall leave at 10 am, a great ride though the jungle. But, that you can read in my next blogpost.
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