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No Worries 'Mas o Menos' 2 years on the road, travelling South East Asia, China, South & Central America and who knows where after that... Photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dojo77/collections/

Java

INDONESIA | Tuesday, 27 January 2009 | Views [1813] | Comments [4]

Our stay in Lovina was very relaxing and we spent our days lazing by the pool and chatting to other travellers staying at the hotel, it was too hot to do anything else! Just outside the hotel was a warung (small cafe selling home cooked food) where we ate one night and went back every day for lunch and dinner, well we didn’t have much choice as every time the owner saw us she wouldn't let us pass without chatting and ushering us into the warung, not that we are complaining as the food was excellent and felt like having a mum to cook us meals and she always made Ryan extra hot dishes to his liking.


Leaving Lovina we had booked tickets on the night bus into Java with the aim of heading to Mount Bromo. We were told to just to walk up the road to the main street and stand on the corner, the bus will pick you up when it goes past at 7pm, although it might be as early as 6.30pm so best get there about 6pm to be sure you don’t miss it. With so much confidence in us that we would catch the bus we stood on the roadside from 6pm. Every person who passed us either waved, smiled or stopped to say ‘going to Java hey, have a good time’ or ‘waiting for the bus, hopefully it will be here at 7’. Our confidence in the bus arriving started to dwindle quite substantially, but eventually the bus turned up at 7.45pm after it missed us waving at it and it slammed on the brakes further down the road! Well some people say travel can be uncomfortable but this was not, the a/c bus came with pillows and blankets and snack included, which meant for a comfortable night ride, oh except for the bus driver who coughed and cleared his throat every 6 seconds and hit every pot hole on the roads, meaning sleep was nearly impossible. When we did drift off to sleep the bus decided it was time to stop for dinner, at 1am! But we got to watch the Obama inauguration while eating noodles at a road side cafe somewhere in Java.

One small problem with getting the night bus meant our destination, Probolingo, was the first stop for the bus and we arrived there at 3am! Not much is open at that time, except for one small tour bus operator, who was so glad to see two tired and weary tourists looking very bewildered as we were escorted into his office. The deal was he could arrange transport for us up to Cemoro Lawang, our final destination to see Mt Bromo, or we could sit on the roadside for 6 hours waiting for the public transport to start. We didn’t have the energy to barter or wait for a cheaper ride, so threw some money at him and headed up the mountain and eventually found a room and headed to bed at 5am, what a journey.

Bromo

The Mt Bromo area consists of 3 volcanoes lying within the Tengger crater, Bromo, Batok and Kursi, with the highest mountain in Java, Gunung Semeru, looking down from behind. The town is nearly 2500 ft high, sitting on the edge of the Tengger crater. The next day we woke up eager to see the view, unfortunately we could only see clouds and rain rolling in as we were so high up, so the view was not impressive and we started to worry that we wouldn’t get to see the big attraction.


We decided to go for a walk into the national park and try to climb Mt Bromo, but half way across the baron wilderness of lava sand it started to rain heavily and drenched us so we turned back, still a little disheartened.


The temperature was at least 10 degrees colder than anywhere else in Java, although at night it felt like -5 degrees and sleeping with a woolly hat on was essential. I’m not moaning about the cold though as it meant we got to wear all the warm weather gear we had been lugging around in the heat, thinking why did we bring all these, every single piece of it was worn, all in one go! The best time to view the panorama is at sunrise so we went on a tour that consisted of a convoy of jeeps slowly climbing up a steep mountain in the dark, which took us to the best viewing point, starting at 4am! I was beginning to wonder if there really was a need to get up so early for anything in this world when, luckily for us, the rainy season clouds did not appear and the view as the sunrise began was spectacular (please refer to many many pictures I took of the occasion)

The jeep convoy then made its way down to the foot of Mt Bromo so we could do the climb. We were sharing the jeep with a family of four from Malang in Java and the daughters were eager to practice English with us, so we all stuck together and did the climb up Bromo as a team. The two girls were 15 and 8 years old, and we found out the eldest is doing very well in school and trying to win a place on an exchange programme to study in Cambridge, so she was very surprised when we told her we are from Cambridge as it's her dream to visit there, so we exchanged email addresses so she can ask us anything she wants to know about UK.

After the climb and looking down into the volcano and across the strangely moon like surroundings, we caught our ride back to Probolingo to catch a coach to Yogyakarta. The coach turned out to be a mini bus with broken a/c and it was doing a drop off in Surabaya, so the journey would be 3 hours longer than planned, so an 8 hour journey turned into 11 hours, but the two of us and 2 other travellers made the most of it and moaned in unison. The driver asked if it was ok if he picked up some other passengers, which was fine, but meant we were all packed in to the bus in sweltering and polluted conditions with a chain smoking man who made the situation worse than it needed to be. It seems everyone smokes here in Indonesia, it’s quite a shock to see people smoking in restaurants and buses when you are so used to no public smoking. Anyway there’s not much you can do but sit back and dream of the shower you will have at the end of the journey.

Yogyakarta or ‘Yogya’ to the locals

We arrived in Yogya at 11pm and went looking for a hotel, which took a while but we found a decent room in the end. Yogya is a much bigger city than we expected but Java in general is the most populated island in Indonesia and everything here is bigger, nosier, more commercial and industrial than Bali and Lombok. Next morning we looked for a cheaper room and found a wonderful losmen (homestay) with Gandhi, just down Gang II, a small laneway filled with cheap eats and rooms, in the Sosrowijayan area. It only has 4 rooms, full of art work, free hot and cold drinks, and a very friendly and helpful family, we can’t recommend this place enough if you’re thinking of staying in Yogya. One morning while eating breakfast we heard a huge whoomp noise followed by a loud bang and lots of shouting, which we couldn’t understand. It turned out someone had walked into an unstable electric cable just down the lane and had been electrocuted and thrown into a fence. Luckily they didn’t die, but it just shows how precarious the infrastructure can be compared to other countries.


The first day we went for a ‘jalan jalan’ around Yogya and kept meeting people who wanted to speak English, and then bumping into them again and again with them insisting they take us to places we should visit. We weren’t sure whether to trust them or not as Gandhi had warned us about the pickpockets and diversion tactics in play, but all turned out well. One person took us to a museum about the independence of Indonesia in 1940's, and this must be the cheapest museum in the world as it only cost us 7.5 cents each to get in!

Next morning we started at 5am (no more early mornings from now on please) to visit Borobudur, a 9th century Buddhist monument, one of the top three to see in SE Asia. The construction is amazing as no cement was used, the pieces just fit together like a jigsaw puzzle to stop it collapsing. There were over 400 Buddha statues but now only 150 as others have been sent around the world to museums. The stone walls are covered in engravings that tell the story of Buddha. There’s not much else to say about it than it was spectacular.

The number of school kids at Borobudur must of out numbered us by 1000-1 and most of them asked to have their photo taken with us, which made me feel like a celebrity! We kept hearing people say 'hey mister, hey missus' then giggling and running off. Even the school teachers got in on the act, getting even more excited than the kids. One girl had written down some questions and wanted to interview us so she asked what we thought of the place and Indonesia, how long we been here etc and then she asked Ryan 'Can I have your phone number'!!! she was only about 14 but seems to have a good pulling tactics already.

We also visited Prambanan, a Hindu temple complex, which was amazing, although it’s under going restoration after much of it was destroyed by the 2006 earthquake in Yogya that killed nearly 6000 people.


Apart from that most of our time in Yogya has been spent relaxing, and exploring the city, the Sultan’s palace, a ruined Water Castle and a bird market, although we didn’t stay long here as the cockfighting was about to start.


Observations:

People like to say ‘good morning’ to us, even in the evening, which always makes us smile.

People ask us where we are from and when we say England then say that our English is very good, they don't seem to understand that we have no choice but to speak ‘good’ English, although i'm getting used to speaking pidgin English, it’s much easier.

Learning Indonesian and using a phrase book has helped us a lot, especially the phrase ‘Jalan, Jalan’ meaning just taking a stroll, as soon as people ask where we’re going and if we need transport, which is very frequent, we just say that and they back right off, amazing! I think it kind of means ‘mind your own business’ but in a very polite way!

30 days of travel = 30 bad hair days.

Next stop is Jakarta, but only for one night before we catch a flight to Singapore on the 29th. Is it too early in our travels for us to book a nice hotel room to stay in??? Who cares, it’s booked and a night of semi-luxury awaits us in Jakarta.

Farewell

Jo & Ryan

4 new photo folders at: 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dojo77/collections/72157612586374143/

Tags: borobudur, java, mount bromo, prambanan, yogyakarta

 

Comments

1

Was travelling around Java 10 years ago (but the opposite direction). Your lovely tales bring back fond memories.

Borobudur is simply amazing.

  David Kaspar Jan 28, 2009 12:52 AM

2

Ahhh just killed 10 min of time. Enjoyable read. Sounds class. getting jealous. Ask Ryan bout marketview for me!!!!!!!!!!!

  Colm Jan 28, 2009 2:39 PM

3

fantastic photos guys. I'm so happy for you.

  Len Jan 28, 2009 9:23 PM

4

Really enjoying the blogs; Glad to hear you're both having a great time and seeing amazing things and meeting new people, keep 'em coming! :)

Bah to MarketView!

  Tiffany Feb 1, 2009 8:56 AM

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