Malang and Batu

Trip Start Jul 29, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Friday, October 17, 2008

So, we start to trip without having our train tickets.  The school
driver said, they would be in our hands by lunch time.  At lunch time,
no one has heard from the school driver.  They call him and assure me
that he will be here by the time school lets out.   At the end of the
school day, I asked the receptionist about a status update and she
still has heard nothing.  She calls him and once again assures me that
he will be there by 3:30.  At 3:20, there is a knock on my door and I
can breathe again.  The school driver is there with our tickets.  We are out the door!
 Yippee, Malang !  Here we come.
 When, I went to Yogyakarta, we rode this wonderful train with huge
seats and air conditioning.   This train which was business class not
business executive class, had bench seats and windows cracked about 4
inches.  It was sweltering, which isn't bad for me but not my travel buddy.  We played cards on the
way up and had fun just getting to know each other and talking.

We finally get off the train and are swarmed by taxi driver. We walked around
the park outside of the train station and just took a rest at a cute
restaurant.  I finally got to try avocado juice.  I loved it!  It
looked very similar to the avocado milk shake, who I am too complain
about awesomeness.   We look in the lonely planet for the nearest
restaurant.  Turns out, Hotel Tugu is the closet.  This is supposed to
be one of the nicest hotels and we had it on our check list to do the
tour.  It was so big and wonderful.  It actually had tons of museum
pieces in it.  It had the best summary of different Indonesian
histories.   This was the best museum, we have seen and it was a
hotel.  Some areas reminded me of places like chuck E. Cheese or Ruby
Tuesday.    They should of had three restaurants to choose from.
However, one was already closed and the other had a private party with
bad karaoke.  So, we went to La' Amour Foo, this would be great place
if you were a couple. If Valentines day ever pooped out a restaurant,
this would be it.  To get to the restaurant you had to walked down the
tunnel of love. The end of the tunnel of love had a  huge painting of
"the kiss." We ate in the main dining room.  But, if you got the set
menu, you could eat in the "special" dinning room.  A violin would
play for you and your love one during dinner. You would eat in a heart
shaped cove.  It was super romantic.  Not the kind of place that I
would eat with my teacher friend that I had just met. (There are some
people that I would have forced to eat there with me.) All the pizzas
were heart shaped, which was wonderful.  I ordered a curry chicken
pizza called the Taj Mahal love treasure.   I was very excited to see
French onion soup, however it came out with a whitish looking and
tasting noting like onion or french like.  Oh well, put that on the
list of necessary food to eat when I go back home.   Someone needs to
take me out for good french onion soup.

We met a british couple at dinner, who were interesting individuals.
They are taking a sabbatical for four months and touring south east
Asia.  There are so many places left to travel.  I can't keep all the
places straight.   They were only a month into their trip.  But they
seemed like they were the two happiest people in the world.   I picked
their brains of all the places I should visit. They both seemed to be
world travelers.  We ended up talking with them for three hours, then
headed to the hotel in Batu.

We get to the hotel easily.  It's pretty late, it seemed like the bell
staff was waiting for us.  We get our room and try to open the door
and we have no idea how.  The card has a microchip in it and we can't
figure out how to hold it in front of the door.  Finally, someone sees
us struggling and instructs us how to do it.  The card needs to be
held vertically.   We find out we have no air conditioning and the
windows have no screens.  Hmm, what to do?  We decide to chance the
bugs and open the windows.  At 3 am, I wake up with my friend pacing the
room.  We are both being eaten by the mosquitoes.   We decided to call
downstairs to see if we can get transferred to another room. My friend
walks down to the front desk and comes back empty handed.  It turns
out the hotel staff has deserted the front desk.  We call every number
on the phone list: front desk, bell hop, maid and finally room
service.  Room service are the only people that picked up.   We ask to
be transferred to a room with air conditioning or a fan.  Thankfully,
30 minutes later we have a fan and we are sitting pretty.

The next morning, we have breakfast and then go for a swim.  The
massage pool doesn't open till 4.  This pool looks amazing.  It has
about 20 different stations with jets, jet chairs and hot tubs.  I
decide to go out on my own and get back to the hotel by 4.   We walk
around the hotel and I make my poor friend take my pictures on every
thing there is. The hotel is one of those places, where you don't have to leave the hotel grounds
to find things to do. 

 My first thing on the agenda is to go to the apple and strawberry
orchids.  Then I will try and do a little hiking at a nearby mountain.
  I head out to the orchids.   I go about 20 minutes up the road and
have made it to a tourist trap.  Oh well, this is what I wanted.
Because, Batu is supposed to be the apple capital of Indonesia. So, I
buy three dollar ticket.  My ticket includes both orchids and two
guides just for me.   It also includes a strawberry milkshake, apple
juice, 6 strawberries and two apples  that I get to  pick myself.  The
guide for the strawberry field was awesome.  He was very informative
about how these orchids came about.  They stared in the 1980s by a
Chinese man, who sold them to Indonesians in the late 1990s.  This
place has 200 acres and supplies most of java with its strawberries,
apples, bell peppers, lettuce and a variety of other veggies.  It
takes them 30 days to grow full bell peppers.  Is this normal?   He
tells me strawberries grow year round in west java because its drier
and cooler.  I am coming at the end of strawberry seasons.  So, the 6
strawberries that I get to pick look pretty pathetic.  Oh well!  I
finish my tour after looking at their organic gardens.  I stop for my
delicious strawberry milk shake and move on to the apple orchard.
This guide is nice and only speaks a little English.  My Indonesian is
getting better because 50% of the conversations is done in bahasa with
the help of my little phrase book.   She explains to me that there are
four different types of apples grown here.  The sweetest was actually
from java.  The apples were very sweet and green, nothing like the
granny smith I thought it was going to taste like.

We walked around the orchid for about an hour.  We stopped frequently
to see the animals at the mini zoo.  Most of them break your heart in
these little cages.  There were three animals that stuck out.  The
first group had to be the monkeys.  These monkeys looked mean and had
huge teeth and nails.  One especially evil looking monkey stuck its
hand out of the cage.  Like if you gave him your finger, he would rip
it off.  I was not going to fall for it!  (I would have fallen for
that trick for the Malaysian monkeys.  They looked like teddy bears)
 The next animal was a flying fox.  I guess these were featured on
temple of doom.  They are the biggest bats you could ever imagine.
There were hairy and about the size of a raccoon with a huge wing
span.  I had never seen anything like this before.   You  have too
look at the pictures of these things.  The final animal of note was
the Civet.  It looks just like a weasel.  This weasel is interesting
because they are what makes the Kopi Luwak coffee.  For those of you
that have seen bucket list, this is the coffee that Jack drinks.  The
weasel eats the coffee beans and poops it out.  They use his fecal
matter for the new coffee beans.  Its supposed to be the best.   I can
pick up some for anyone who wants it!  Just tell me, if you are

I finish the tour and get into my taxi cab for the mountain.  I can
see what mountain I want to go to, the driver seems to know where he
is going.  Next things you know, it is 30 minutes later and I am back
in Malang going in the opposite direction of my mountain.  I start to
worry a little, I ask the driver how long it will take.  Two hours, he
replies.   I can't be gone another 4 hours.  I ask him to drop me off
at the Catholic church and go on my way.  I am still unclear, if I was
being ripped off or if they wasn't a direct road.  No one would give
me a straight answer.  I do a walking tour of the sites and go back
for the massage pool.

So far, I have not seen more than 5 people at the hotel.  I come back
and the hotel is packed.  There are people all over the place. We head down to
the massage pool to relax and there has to be 200 people in this pool.
 I stay for about 15 minutes and then spend time in the sauna alone.
I am just overwhelmed by the noise and people. 

 We eat dinner at another buffet.  I am starting
to become sick of buffets.  However, it can with the price of the
room.  So, I can not complain too much.     We spend the rest of the
evening listening to hotel's band.  We finally get a nice nights rest.
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