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Round the World Journey

Indonesia and Asia

INDONESIA | Tuesday, 6 March 2018 | Views [228]

The storms had abaited but the crew had troubles disarming one of the doors so after a long day waiting in high humidity we had another wait. The flight made up time so we got there as scheduled at midnight. A quick taxi ride to the maze of a street where my hotel was and a good night's sleep.

My mobile wasn't working but despite the poor signage I somehow managed to find my Homestay. The streets of Bali are narrow and choked with scooters and other traffic. Not for the feignt hearted! I stopped off at a couple of picturesque weathered temples and enjoyed seeing the rice fields surrounding the historic sight of Gunung Kawi. 

I took off for a full day's sightseeing up to the north. The roads were just as crowded and signs non existent but I somehow made my way up to scenic lake batur overlooked by Bali's volcano and mountain, and from there a winding and narrow road getting lost once to waterfall Gitgi. The island is much bigger than I envisaged, sprawls and has too much rubbish dumped to be pretty. It is rather ruined although nice spots, particularly ricefields are not uncommon. I took in more temples including a large complex to the gods of fire, water and wind at Besakiah, and the impressive royall palace remains at Semapura with exquisite drawings albeit idolatrous. 

My final full day was a lazy one. Glad I visited the remains at Goa Gajah which include a bathing pool and elephant shaped and decorated cave. Miraculously I somehow found my honey stay driving blind through Denpensar. Sure the HS guided me!

The flight to Kuala Lumpur was almost 3 hours but ok. The connecting flight to Medan was a bit delayed and I watched a torrential downpour at the airport. Bizarrely however the actual run way was dry. A very localised downpour?  The hotel in Medan was non descript rather like the whole sprawling town. I was pleased however to see quite a few churches alongside mosques. I found a mini van that took me to Bukit Lawang in just under 3 hours. Glad I prayed for 2 seats although I suspect the driver was trying it on in terms of the price. As we approached I saw the sterile palm plantar that seem to provide some little life. What a contrast to the richness of the remaining rainforest that borders a pretty river and village. One villager used the river as his shower room, others for laundry and swimming. In the afternoon the downpours were torrential.

The next couple of days were fine and the sight of a baby orangutan in the rich jungle made up for everything. I only took a 3 hour trek but soon saw 3 females as well. Some of the trees were hundreds of feet high and provided huge shade on the steep cliff that overlooked the scenic river.

The journey to Lake Toba was a killer not helped by a stroppy and erratic driver and dropping my phone in the car to MEdinburgh, 3 hrs in, and still 6 to the lake. The second driver was also eratic and typically stopped at the worst looking restaurant going. Still the sight of so many churches and tranquil Toba again made up for the ride. The boat took about 30 mins and dropped us off at a pier belonging to the hostel. I negotiated a non squat toilet for night 2 and eventually got to sleep after the owners kid finally shut up. 

I enjoyed cycling around and seeing the tribal stone seats of judgement and the Kings tomb. He converted to Christianity and is still revered. All too soon my time was up but this really is one of the best, moSt beautiful places I have been to.

The journey back was tough and hot and via the airport so it was good to finally reached the hotel and relax. A short trip out to the nearby shopping centre and time to leave Indonesia.

The flight to Brunei was only 2 hours. Having found the decent enough hotel I walked across the bridge in burning heat and visit the Sultans mosque which is pretty recent but surrounded by pleasant gardens. I slipped and nearly fell into the great river but just about made it into the boat to tour the water village housing 30000 people and the largest in the world.

The next day I forked out almost 100 dollars to visit Ulu Temburong National Park, 45 hair raising minutes by fast speed taxi. From there, we took a narrow boat up to a high trellis overlooking the rain forest. There was a stop to visit a natural pool and lunch. We even saw a small Croc. The boat back was slower and felt safer.

My offer was accepted so I enjoyed business travel to Manila with Royal Brunei.Luxury indeed. With so little time to lose, I again forked out for a tour and enjoyed the best bread breakfast for months. A 2 hour trip was interspersed with a visit to a 200 year old bamboo organ and  the original jeepney factory. The royal star though was the Taal Volcano and lake that we saw from a viewpoint, the sight of Marcus' ruined Palace site. I set off early on day 2 and headed by cheap taxis to the old walled town Intramuros. Fort Santiago seemed to be largely closed or knocked down although the walls, moat and hate was impressive. The colonial city must have been badly damaged during WW2 battle for Manila but the star of the show was beautiful San Augustin complete with 3d roof painting and extensive museum. Having taken in the less impressive cathedral and a few other churches, I admitted defeat and headed for an air conditioned mall to wile away a few hours before my slightly delayed 11pm flight to Taipei.


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