Giant Tea Plantation

Trip Start May 15, 2004
Trip End Aug 20, 2004

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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Sunday, May 30, 2004

S May 30 (Puncak) Man, Java has some absolutely beautiful places, it's just that they're so damn difficult to get to! So, yes, more travel trouble, but the details don't matter! Today, I went to Mt. Gede Park through the Puncak pass. The Puncak pass is the lovely winding mountain road, except that the entire mountain is really one big tea plantation, so it was really green with rows of tea trees/plants and some people were hang gliding off one hill into the lower canyons. It was great except that it was a weekend day and the traffic is jam-packed! But, sometimes when you travel you can't control what days you end up in certain places, so no worries, except that they do not understand the maximum capacity of some vehicles! Think sardines in a can with wheels.
The park is more like another botanical garden with plant and tree species from all over the world. The park has giant green lawns and hillside trails and views of rice terraces and surrounding volcanoes...breathtaking actually. I hiked to a 3 tiered waterfall and became Tom Cruise! I am immediately surrounded by Indonesians wanting to take their pictures with me, offering me food, everything. It was true rock star status! But it was too much, I had to break away, so I didn't spend much time at the waterfall and began climbing back up the trail when a polite young man approached and began telling me how he "heard: I was in the park and has been chasing after me and trying to find me for an hour. It turns out that he's a teacher and in the park with his class and would like to know if I could speak to his class...crazy! So, being a teacher I agree, thinking it might be a good experience. Well, his class turns out to be 12 giggling Muslim girls and with his encouragement they ask me question after question. And then come out the cameras and requests for photos, which might have been the underlying reason behind all of this, but they're pretty nice and I can take some pictures too. After that , I hiked to a solo spot near a stream and sat down in the grass surrounded by nature and read for a while. It begins to get dark so I head to the park entrance where I'm told I can easily arrange a bus back to Bogor. Luckily I meet for Indonesians from Jakarta who can speak a bit of English and they help me not get ripped off by the driver and we chat using a bit of English and my rapidly improving Indonesian. I learned an Indonesian game similar to Janken (rock, paper, scissor) where you use your pinkie, thumb, and index finger in an attempt to defeat your opponent (I did pretty good). They learned a little English and I slaughtered my way through some new Indonesian and they got me home much faster than I would have otherwise!
That evening I met a Swiss couple, Marcos and Andrea, and we had diner and talked about traveling. I haven't actually met so many travelers, whether it's the wrong season in Java or its just nor popular b/c of the travel difficulties, hopefully Sumatra will be better. In talking to Marcos and Andrea I realize that not many travelers make it down to Indonesia because of the ease of traveling in the other countries and they assure me that I will be meeting people all the time in Malaysia, Thailand, etc. Tomorrow, I'm off to Jakarta and then I'll fly to Sumatra and go trekking in the parks there trying to see orangutans and exotic birds!
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