Javanese Madness

Trip Start Jul 27, 2004
Trip End Dec 13, 2006

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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Monday, December 5, 2005

After a 7hour flight from Sydney we arrived at the airport in jakarta, Indonesia's capital city. At the airport were huge signs saying "Welcome to Indonesia, death penalty for drug smugglers" and immigration officers who stamped us in for 60 days, no questions asked. We were glad we had got our visas beforehand in Melbourne. Jakarta is a big smelly city and the traffic is gridlocked most of the day. It does have some points of interest though and we went to the old harbour at Sunda Kelapa where what little is left of the forests of Kalimantan was being unloaded from huge Bugis schooner ships. Afterwards we wandered around Kota which is the oldest area of the city and the Dutch used to have their nice houses - the buildings are still there but are now dilapidated and the canal is full of rubbish. Two nights in Jakarta were more than enough so the next day we took the train to Yogyakarta (7hours in eksecutif class with huge comfy seats, air con, movies, meal & drinks for 175,000rupiah or 9pounds). In Yogyakarta we got a great room with balcony at Losmen Anda for 30,000rupiah (1pound 50pence) - with cheap food as well it s hard to spend money here!! In Yogya we went to the Kraton (Palace) and then visited a 'Batik' shop where we saw them being made the traditional way. We also took the local bus out to Borobodur which is a huge Buddhist temple which has been well restored since it was covered with ash from nearby Mt Merapi in the last century. From Yogya we took another train to Surabaya, a large port city on the North coast of Java. Here we stayed at the Hotel Pavilleon which is an old colonial building and after you have checked in they bring you some hot tea on your terrace - delightful! Not much to see in Surabaya so we went to Tanjungan Plaza which was HUGE - it's the size of the Trafford Centre in Manchester but with about seven floors!!! The following day we took a bus to Probolinggo and then a bemo (small minivan) up the mountain to Mt Bromo. Transport is always entertaining in Indonesia - there is no limit to the number of people they cram into one vehicle & no limit to what they will charge you either if you don't find out the right price beforehand!! Mt Bromo is a spectacular sight - it sits in a huge crater and the scenery looks like something from the moon. It's also one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia and was belching out lots of sulphurus gases. We could also see Mt Semeru in the background which erupts every 30mins or so sending a cloud of dark smoke into the air. We got up at 4am to take a 4WD jeep across the crater to a nearby peak where we got a great view of the sunrise. After that we went to Mt Bromo itself and got a good close up view of the bubbling liquid in the crater. From Bromo we took a bemo and a bus for 7hours to reach Ketapang and our first views of the island of Bali across the water. A 30minute ferry landed us in Bali at the port of Gilimanuk and soon we were on another bus across the island. During the journey there were huge rainstorms and lots of thunder & lightning - our bus leaked everywhere but we managed to avoid getting too wet. Four hours later we arrived in Denpasar and took a taxi to the nearby tourist area of Kuta. Here we treated ourselves to a great room at the Simpang Inn where Paul has stayed before. It has friendly staff, lovely gardens and a swimming pool and all this luxury costs 100,000 rupiah a night (6pounds) but after the journey to get here I think we deserve it!!
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