Trip Start Apr 01, 2008
Trip End Aug 2008

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Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Saturday, May 24, 2008

The long road to Bali and beyond

Before shooting off from Jayapura on a plane to Bali, I had a mission. I knew where Fiki and Wing's (the two petty thieves) friend stayed, vaguely, and so went to hunt it down and see if I could salvage anything. This may sound a dangerous undertaking but having spent a long evening with them, I knew very well there was no danger. I managed to get my phone back! Wing had since crashed the Toyota (which was Fiki's) and gone awol. This left me to explain to his brother the phone was infact mine and he had paid for a stolen one. He reluctantly let it go. So now Wing had just 100,000Rp, no phone (money would have to be returned to his brother) and an MP3 player with a broken screen that only I knew how to use. Revenge, if only a little.

I was offered a flight from Jayapura via Jakarta to Bali, as it would be cheaper, so happily accepted. The flight was 2 hours late departing. Jakarta airport was a replica of Makassar airport and I shook my head in disbelief that a government would build two identicle airports in the same country. Even offices were within the same place, the souverniers were Sulawesi origin...wait a minute! I WAS in Makassar. Had I got on the wrong flight?? Nope - I was just in unknown transit. Another two flights and I finally reached Denpasar, Bali. It was now 8pm and to no surprise my bag, which I had not seen since 6am that morning, had not tailed me to Bali. A few hours waiting and it arrived on the next plane. Woohoo! Shattered after a 14 hour day traveling between two cities in the same country I made my way to Poppies.

Situated at the tail of some heavy going individual travel my time in Bali was non-descript. I spent a lot of time just hanging around poppies enjoying the 50p music and movie shops, cheap eateries and bars. I met up with Luiz, my bar buddy from Sydney. We rode around the south of the island on two scooters for a few days and partied it up. Was great to have some familiar company in good surroundings. I made it away from the party tourist centre of Kuta up to the cultural tourist centre Ubud, for a few days. Saw a number of Hindu temples, Balinese dance performances and many an art gallery. The rice paddies were nice but I've had them up to my ears to be honest. Then I returned to Kuta, watched Rangers lose the UEFA cup with two guys from Helensburgh (my home) believe or not and had a few days more partying before departing. Perhaps the only entertaining story from Bali was a 5ft taxi driver chasing me down the street at 4am with a metal crank in his hand claiming I had given him 20 and not 50,000Rp. A tad worrying at the time but I was laughing once I'd escaped down a lane.

Bali was cool, with lots of cheap stuff at the travelers disposal and a party or two. But many Balinese would try and cheat you at every corner, getting the art down to a tee with the endless stream of naive travelers at their disposal. They treated it like their right (to rob you). Maybe they are right, why is so much money on one side of the world? I gave more rupiah on many occasions than asked for (in Sulawesi and Papua, not Bali) and get angry at travelers who complain so much when asked/made to pay a little bit more.

A night bus to Solo on the 21st May began my eleven day Java stint. I was interested in the two cultural cities of Solo and bigger Yogyakarta, the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan close by, the active Merapi volcano and, without doubt, the massive capital of Indonesia, JAKARTA.

Solo's night food stalls that lined the streets were the towns highlight. Chicken head, intestines of a few animals, chicken heart, bird eggs were sold, along with more normal things like deep fried banana and lobster. I had a meal of all the aforementioned for just 65p.

A night trek (1am - 10am) up active Gunung Merapi consisted of 60 degree climbs up a rock strewn smoking crater and standing at bright yellow sulphur vents to warm up in the cool morning air. A sunrise against the fluffy cloud was quickly obscured by constantly changing mists, the volcanic landscape drifting in and out of view. The day turned out to be a long one, as my guide wanted to squeeze rupiah out of me and I wanted to squeeze sights out of him. Borobudur, perhaps Indonesia's most famous temple, was the lunchtime slot. Locals pay a dollar, foreigners nine dollars - fair's fair. A temple of caged buddha's and intricate hindu reliefs, all quite spectacular but, as most tourists were Indonesian, many an eye were on me. I got stuck a number of times with pictures taken with school girls, one just couldn't believe I had no mobile number refusing to let it go for a few minutes. Prambanan lay next, a temple to rival some at Angkor Wat. Seems I'd over spent my time here as Daniel (my guide) raced back. His helmet flew off into some person's drive but once back on we were tearing down the highway again. Curling around trucks and jumping reds. He was driving so fast and urgently I had to say to him at one set of lights that he did stop at "Why the hell are you driving so fast?". I never asked him to slow down though - this was the best motorbike ride I'd had, hell if I was going to end it. Turned out he was a racer a few years back, racing in Yogyakarta. It showed. Great fun.

After one more day in Solo I took a one hour train to Yogyakarta and did a few touristy things. I really like Yogyakarta. Fantastic galleries of battic art, nice lanes particularly at dusk with the call to prayer drifting all around and one astonishing 'bird' market with the most eclectic livestock I've ever seen - puppies, bats, snakes, monkeys, cockroaches, cocks, orange eyes lizards and pigeons.

With the five days previous being relentless travel I wanted to slow things down in Jakarta and get a feel for the capital. Onwards to JK...

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grantrough on

love the photos, as always, Marty! Shame we had no image of the cock guard! could have been funny!

grantrough on

I can't believe you met two guys from Helensburgh! What are the odds?!

Glad you got your phone back, and your mp3 player? I didn't get if you got that back too or not.

also, you trekked from 1am until 10am?! are you crazy!?

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