Indonesia July 1st - 26th 2010
Our travels in Indonesia began as one of the worst weeks of our entire Journey, second only to our adventures traveling from India to Nepal. As soon as we emerged from the Jakarta Airport we knew it was a mistake to have come to the capital city. When a city lists museums and an industrial harbour as points of interests, you immediately know a tourist has no business being here. Shortly after our arrival we were already trying to find a way to leave! Unknown to us it was a school holiday and high season for local travelers, therefore all buses and trains out of the city were booked. Instead of spending an extra 3 days in Jakarta doing absolutely nothing we booked the next available flight to Yogyakarta.
A one hour flight ended up being an entire travel day due to plane delays, bizarre local buses and congested roads. Arriving late on one of the busiest weekends of the year turned out to be a nightmare, all the Losmens were full, we were tired, hungry and seriously getting annoyed with being stared and pointed at. Little did we know the locals’
fascination with tall westerners was only going to get worse. We managed to find a dingy, damp tiny hole of a room and called it a night. The following morning we booked a tour to see Borobudur and Prambanan, two ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples. We were not prepared for the overwhelming attention we received from the Indonesian tourists. Around every corner we heard “Missstaaaa, misstaaa wannaaa pictuuuure?” In a span of 6 hours we must have posed for over 20 photos, at one point families were actually lining up! Very bizarre, but how could you say no to such nice people?
After Yogyakarta we set off to see Mount Bromo, our first volcano of the trip. When we booked the transportation/hotel combo we were assured that the AC mini bus would take 8 hours and our room would have an ensuite bathroom. The only truth to that was that the mini bus did in fact have AC, but only in certain gears. Turns out the 13 hour mini bus journey was one of the most terrifying drives yet; the driver was passing within inches of oncoming traffic, cutting though fields, and didn’t even bother slowing during a torrential
downpour. When we finally arrived at our hotel our “room” turned out to be a filthy 8x6 dungeon and the “ensuite” was a smelly squatter down the hall that gave public rest rooms a run for their money. Despite the 3:30am wake-up call, Mount Bromo did not disappoint. The sunrise was truly spectacular from the view point, unfortunately we had to share it with 1500 other tourists, not exactly the solitude one expects at 5:30am. Afterwards we had a chance to accompany the masses and climb to the top of the crater, nothing like staring into the mouth of a volcano to make you appreciate where you are. After making a quick scene and having a hissy fit about not fitting into the van, we were off to Mount Ijen. Mount Ijen turned out to be even more impressive then Bromo because of the beautiful turquoise acid lake set high in the mountains.
Our next destination was one we had been looking forward to for a while, Bali. The rolling hills, beautiful coastlines and miles of rice patties were precisely the exotic island we had been hoping for. We had heard from many travelers that the main tourist town
of Kuta was crowded, full of annoying hawkers and not worth the visit. Obviously the people who made these claims have not been on the road for 15 months! We found Kuta to be a beautiful relaxing place with countless accommodation options, wide variety of restaurants, nightclubs, shops and most importantly cheap surfboard rentals! It was heaven and exactly what we needed after our nightmare week. We spent 4 days learning to surf, eating and drinking before setting off for Lombok and Gili Trawangan.
Getting to tiny Gili Trawangan was a long journey which included a bus, ferry and a small wooden boat. One of the most memorable experiences of the day was watching the local hustlers try and rip tourists off in Bangsal. Not even the scheming Egyptians from Luxor come close to the conniving, manipulative and devious group of guys posing as tour operators. They were like a group of hyenas, who initially observe the tourists, spot the weak, separate them from the group and then pounce! They have it down to an art! None the less, Gili T was well worth the trip and definitely one of my favourite places on this trip.
quick stop in Lombok it was back to Kuta for a few more days of surfing, eating and drinking before flying to Australia. After 3 months of exploration, our tour of Asia was over; sadly we depart to more expensive territory.
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