Jakarta

We were originally going on a trip to Krakatoa from Jakarta which I was really excited about when we booked, but we talked about it over the few days in Yogyakarta and decided not to go. It was very expensive and it was also a full 12 hour trip, which would leave us with no time at all in Jakarta.

We were staying in a hotel which was in a shopping mall which was quite strange, to get to the hotel we had to get a golf buggy round the side, then up a lift into the top car park, and then walk to the reception then another lift to our room. It was lovely though and had a tv and aircon a real bonus for us!

As we only had one full day in Jakarta so we wanted to go to the top recommended places which were the Indonesia Bank Museum and the Grand Mall. We started at the bank museum which was ok, it was showing the history of Indonesia’s banks and it had a lot of cool old equipment and old safes. I was a bit disappointed though until we got outside and realised there were two bank museums and we had been to the wrong one!

The other was much better and had currency for all over the world it was amazing I love stuff like that because I collect currency from countries we have been.

Next was the mall and it was amazing there were two big malls east and west and they were nine stories high! We spent the whole afternoon there it was so much fun. They had a whole floor as an arcade and we spent absolutely ages in there. I was on the dance mat smashing out some moves.

This is a bit of a short blog really as we only had a day, I am sure I will make up for it in my next blog for Singapore!

Lucy

Yogyakarta

We have taken a very chilled approach to Yogyakarta and made the most of being in the same place for more than 2 nights! Yogyakarta feels like the Ubud of Java and is where it is all going on, we have instantly noticed that Java is a lot less touristy and we are getting a lot more attention here. By attention I mean people stopping in the streets to stare and asking us for photographs because we are white, I remember it happening a lot in India but it always feels quite strange. We actually asked a tour guide why they do it and she said that the Indonesians are really intrigued by us because we look different, have white skin and pointy noses!

When we arrived in Yogyakarta we were taken straight to our hotel which is like stepping into a quiet oasis after being on the busy hot streets. It has a nice little poolside restaurant so you don’t have to leave at all if you don’t want too. By the time we had unpacked and eaten etc. it was around 3 o’clock so we didn’t want to venture too far, we ended up wandering the streets near to where we are staying and finding a lovely little restaurant that we went and had a drink at, when I say drink I mean 2 bottles of wine and a three course meal! It was nice to just sit and relax drinking nice wine (something there is a lack of in Indonesia).

The next day we spend the morning researching things to do and trips we could go on, we booked a trip to Borobudur and Prambanan temples for the Monday, and then looked at where we could go and see a Javanese show. We wandered to the ticket office and booked dinner and the show and then grabbed a Becak (like a backwards rickshaw that had like a sofa on the front and you get cycled around) to the cool market area with all the bars, basically where it’s all happening called Maliboro road. We had a wander round looking at all the markets and then realised we had walked 15 minutes walking in the wrong direction (it was so annoying in the heat). We turned around and headed back and found a cafe for lunch (it was about 3ish by now). After we had spent 3 hours in the cafe (there is a trend here) we got another Becak – this time it was motorised not pedal so much more fun as you feel like you are going so fast, to the ballet. After the buffet dinner we were taken into the theatre for the show.

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The show (a traditional ballet called Ramayana) wasn’t really our thing but we are really glad we did it, I could really appreciate the amazing costumes and the performance. It was so hard to follow what was going on in the story though, it was a love story and involved a man cutting off his private parts and a fight between giants and monkeys. It was a very beautiful performance though and it was great to see this side of the Javanese culture. There was a huge tropical thunderstorm in the night which was really cool to watch it rained that much that the pool depth rose by 4inches!

The next day we spent the morning wandering round the very hot streets looking at the buildings and Dutch fort that is here, I can’t tell you how hot it is though it was unbearable. We ended up in another cafe (haha) and Chris decided it would be a good idea to try a drink called ‘Devils drink’ which was snakes blood mixed with honey. It arrived and in the bottom was a snakes heart and also snakes marrow, it looked disgusting and his face was a picture (he later admitted that he’s been reading too many Spider Shepard books by Stephen Leather about a really tough SAS guy who got his name from eating a spider. It’s my fault I got him into the books).

Anyway we got back to the hotel and spent the afternoon by the pool, before getting another Becak up to Maliboro road again to see it at night.

The next day wasn’t much different we have been so full on with our traveling that we have tired ourselves out, we made the executive decision very early on that we would have a pool day, which was so nice! We had a lot of nice food that day too including the best falafel salad ever. That night for some reason we thought it would be an amazing idea to get drunk even though we had to be up at 3am for a trip- I stopped drinking pretty early but my lovely boyfriend was a tad rough the next morning.

At 3am we were up for our tour or Borobudur and Prambanan Temples, we were picked up by our tour company which was probably the most unorganised tour I have ever been on, it was so funny. We headed to Borobudur for sunrise and honestly the driver was mental, swerving, driving very fast, cutting red lights and driving on the wrong side of the road. We got to Borobudur and were quickly hustled into the hotel entrance as we had opted to pay more and actually see the sunrise from inside the temple.

Not a lot is known about Borobudur’s history, it is a Buddist temple that was built sometime between AD750 and AD850 and 60000 cubic metres of stone (2million stone blocks) were used to build it. As there was a decline in Buddhism in the country Borobudur was left abandoned until the early 20th century where the Dutch started to restored the temple but the hill on which it sat started to subside. A Unesco funded restoration took place between 1973 and 1983 to restore and stabilise.

The temple is beautiful it’s very hard to explain but it is 118m by 118m and has six square terraces which are topped by three circular ones, with four stairways leading to the top. The three circular terraces contain large stone bells that surround one amazing large bell in the centre. There was a scale model at Borobudur so I took a picture to make it visual for you (see always thinking about my readers).

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So now you have had the history lesson we were there for 4.30 waiting for sunrise which was again not the impressive but the crowds were a lot quieter and we got to see the amazing temple as the light increased, and then about an hour later a gorgeous sun broke through the haze! We were given a breakfast and told to meet at 8.30 but at 9.30 we set off due to the crazy unorganised tour, who tried to tell us we weren’t even on their tour! They didn’t believe us until we knew their names!

Next up we were off to Prambanan temple which is a Hindu temple and it is so spectacular. This temple was built between the 8th and 10th century AD when Java was ruled by Buddist Sailendras in the south and Hindu Sanjayas in the north. Prambanan also made the Unesco list in 1991, it is currently being restored today as in 2006 it suffered a lot of damage in an earthquake.

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The main spire of Prambanan is 47m high and the carvings are very detailed and intricate, the temple consists of eight main and eight minor temples in the main complex and it honestly was so impressive. I cannot decided which one I preferred. It was such a hot day though we were really struggling I think it’s one of the hottest we have had. After this we were taken back to the hotel, it was around 2.30pm so we just chilled for the rest of the day, we had to be up again at 6.30 for our next 8 hour train to the capital Jakarta!

Also another very successful train ride I managed to write my blog and watch 7 episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians!

Lucy 😘

 

Mount Bromo

Following on from my last blog where we had just arrived in Java and got to Malang for our trip to Mount Bromo, we were up at midnight bright and early for our 1am trip to see the sunrise! We were picked up by our driver Hary, in his Toyota Land Cruiser it was a really cool car – Chris loved it! We were sharing with two others a couple from London called Carl and Hannah who were really cool and we got along really well. Hannah was in the front and me, Chris and Carl in the seats in the back it was a bit of a squash but it was so much fun.

Hary told us the drive was around 2.5 hours, I initially thought that I might get some sleep in this time but there was no chance of that in the back of the Land Cruiser, plus we were all having a laugh chatting and getting to know each other. Harys English wasn’t the best and he just answered yes to everything which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing! After about 45 minutes you could feel the roads changing, they got narrower and more bumpy and we started to climb. Our ears started to pop as we made the climb and if you looked out of the back of the car there was a line of jeeps all making the same journey. It was dark but you could tell that if it was light you would be cringing at the drops and cliffs we were next too.

We arrived at the shops next to the main view point at 3 o’clock, Hary got us some tea and coffee and we had a look round the shops and just chatted, I couldn’t believe how busy it was! Hary said that we should go up to the viewing point at 3.30 for the 5.20 sunrise, it seemed so early to get there and I couldn’t understand why were hadn’t set off later. I said to the others I just wanted to nip to the toilet before we walked to the viewing point (there is a point to this story), so as I went to pay for the toilet the man looked at me a little bit funny but let me in. As I was in the toilet I looked up and saw a sign that had a price list that said Baka 2000 and Baba 3000 – turns out you had to pay more if you needed a poo! It was so funny!

As we got to the view point there were a few people around so we just decided to get a good spot and wait for the sunrise. We passed the hours quite quickly really just laughing and swapping stories, Carl even managed to fall asleep, it was quite cold but nothing too bad. After about half an hour the whole place just filled up and it was packed out, now I know why we had to get there early! So as the ‘sun rose’ (we couldn’t see the sun it was so misty) we couldn’t see a thing. I was so disappointed as I knew Bromo was meant to be beautiful and we had just waited all that time for nothing!

Heading back to the jeep we were very disappointed but Hary said there was another view point down the road which we might have more luck with. It was so beautiful, the view was amazing you could see the volcanos perfectly. It was so lunar like, the volcanos rise from the ancient Tengger Caldera – the large crater is Bromo and the flat topped one next to it is Batok. It was much a magical view and the way the mist had settled below the volcanoes over the land made the view ten times more amazing! The It is up there with the most amazing view I have even seen. I was so happy. As we were leaving the most started moving over the top obscuring the crater from view it was like water flowing the way it moved.

 

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Hary then took us to climb the crater we had just seen, as we got there the whole landscape was made of ash, they call it the sea of sand as it just covers everything. The climb to the top was pretty tough because of the altitude, we kept getting offered a horse, but I opted no because the itinerary said ‘we will chose you a not so aggressive horse’ and if I’m on a horse I don’t want it to be aggressive at all! The last bit of the climb was up a very steep ash hill (we later found out there were steps underneath but they were just covered). As we got to the top the mist had covered and we couldn’t really see anything but the noise was unnerving, I have never heard a volcano that you can physically hear. It was like a jet engine the sound of the steam erupting from underground, the geographer inside me kicked in and I just kept thinking ‘this is really dangerous, if it erupts were dead from pyroclastic flow’. I loved it though it was so cool! We slid back down the ash to meet Hary I asked Chris the time and couldn’t believe it as only 8.30 in the morning!

The drive back across the sea of sand was cool and we kept stopping for funny photos – me fixing the engine, jumping in front of Batok and various poses on the jeep. It really was a cool jeep, all the guides used that type of jeep and Chris couldn’t get over that in England they would be classics and over here they are used as work cars. As we drove and took silly photos the mist cleared and we got an spectacular view of the whole of the volcanoes which really made the trip.

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There were a few more nodding heads in the back on the drive back from the trip, Hannah fell asleep on Harys shoulder (sorry Hannah), and somehow Chris fell asleep in the back of the jeep.

Hary took us to a few sites on the way back like the lion rock, waterfall and a beautiful green Savannah. It was such a great trip and it was made better sharing it with Hannah and Carl who made our trip so much more fun. We got back to the hotel at 1pm after our 12 hour trip, it wasn’t over yet though as we had to panic pack and get to the train station for 1.30pm for our train to Surabaya. We were staying the night there before our next train to Yogyakarta.

We had the funniest taxi driver from the train station to the hotel, he told me and Chris that our names were Indonesian and that English people are usually called Albert, Robert or John (he has a point). Then he started drawing a map of Java on some money as he didn’t have any paper, he was just a really funny character.

That night after dinner and cocktails we were asleep for 8pm and up again at 5.45am! As I write we are now on the 5 hour train to Yogyakarta where we have 5 nights in the same place (woohooo). I have had a successful journey really I have admired the lovely rice paddies we are travelling past, wrote this blog, listened to the new Catfish and the Bottlemen album three times and got to level 32 on Cooking Dash on my iPad.

Lucy

Getting from Bali to Java

I am writing this blog as a ‘how we got from Bali to Java’ for family and friends and a ‘how to get from Bali to Java’ for those who need the tips! It took us 20 hours in total to get here so we were a little bit tired when we arrived! We booked an online ticket in advance which was a combined bus, ferry and train ticket from Ubung bus station in Denpasar, Bali to Surabaya Gubeng train station in Java. We did this on tiket.com which is really easy all in English and they take a small admin fee, they have a link with Kereta Api the Indonesian train service. You can book online through Kereta Api but it’s more difficult as they don’t take most credit cards and it’s all in Indonesian. We can really vouch for tiket.com and it is well worth saving the hassle.

Our ticket was given to us as one and all it had was a booking reference and start and end times so no defined times for the ferry train etc. All we knew is that our bus left Ubung station at 14.30 and we had to exchange our ticket an hour before. Ubung Terminal is very overwhelming with people trying to sell you tickets to lots of different places so be wary of that, once we told them we already had a ticket they directed us to gate 20 and said our bus leaves at 3 (not half 2) and the company was Damri. So we sat in the terminal at Gate 20 for an hour and a half hoping for the best. Now what we weren’t told is that you don’t actually need to be there an hour before for the bus just the train! At 14.50 a pretty old looking bus with Damri written on pulled up called our our names and we jumped on, to be honest the bus was ok even if the seats were a bit cramped.

They put our big bags at the back and then small bags with us. The bus set off at 3 and the guy told us it should take about 3 hours to the ferry. As I mentioned before the bus seemed a bit old and was making some pretty funny noises! About an hour in the bus started to smell and there was a loud bang as we were going downhill and the bus veered to the left – turns out the suspension went and we had to wait an hour for a healthier much nicer bus. We were just unlucky and I wouldn’t let it put me off using them again to be honest.

Even without the stop the bus ride was more like 4 hours it was quite comfortable as we didn’t have anyone sat behind us so we could recline our chairs and the scenery was lovely! As we got to the ferry terminal the bus driver just sorted everything out, we just stayed on the bus until we were parked onboard. The ferry wasn’t the nicest and the toilets were horrible but for an hour crossing it was fine and it got us from Bali to Java! There was an inside section where they were playing Indonesian karaoke with aircon so we sat in there until an announcement in Indonesian told us to go back to the bus (or so we gathered).

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Back on the bus and the next stop was Banyuwangi station (nearest to the ferry) for the final train to Surabaya. We had an hour and a half wait here in the station. We had to exchange our ticket at the manned desk and were given a print out which we thought was our ticket, but it wasn’t. We weren’t told but you then had to go to the computer, scan the barcode and then get your proper ticket. It was very easy to read the departures in the hall and when our train arrived the staff were very helpful letting us through scanning our tickets (have your passport handy). We also didn’t know Kereta Api actually have a bag size limit we have got away with it so far as our rucksacks just go on our back and we walk through, but we did see a few people with suitcases get stopped though! We have three other trains to get yet though so I will let you know how we get on.

On the train we had opted for business class which wasn’t much more expensive, and a bit comfier. It was hard to sleep on these though but we eventually sorted ourself out so that Chris leant against the window and I leant on him! This train left at 10pm (remember Java time is back an hour from Bali) and arrived at 4.26am so it took 6.5 hours. Remember to take snacks unless you want stale bread or a pot noodle!

Once we got to Surabaya we were actually carrying on another 2 hours to Malang on the train for our trip to Bromo so the journey wasn’t over for us! We actually had 1st class executive seats on this train and I would say if you have the little bit extra spare, do it! The seats recline it’s quiet and a much happier journey, we have just changed our other two upcoming 7 hour train rides to executive!

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We had a 5 hour sleep when we get to the hotelat 9am and we have to be up at 1am to get to Bromo for sunrise. I have written this at the hotel after a lovely meal out at Tugu Hotel (it’s 6pm), up in 7 hours might get some more sleep!

Hope this blog has been funny/ helpful.

Lucy