My Trips: Indonesia 2008

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Last day in Pangandaran, Java, Indonesia

We rent bicycles in the morning and ride out to the bus station to find out about buses to Jakarta. There doesn’t seem to be an official office anywhere but I chat to a helpful guy who tells me the times and prices that he thinks, which is pretty much what I had been told by someone else. We ride back towards town and stop at the travel agents. I give them my old laptop, which they are delighted about. We buy our tickets for tomorrow mornings bus to Jakarta.

We ride down the eastern side of the peninsula and pass through some wonderful traditional backstreets, eventually coming out on the shore where we see more evidence of the tsunami. There is a lot of work going on to build strong see defences. We stop outside a restaurant, buy fruit from a seller and eat it overlooking the sea. After a dip in the very strong waves back at the western side of the beach, we return the bikes and take a walk. I take some photos of some of the sites that lie empty since the tsunami. Abby and I both think a lot about the people here and how their lives have been affected by this tragic event. I hope the tourists return to this area, and I hope the people here continue to rebuild their homes and business with the same spirit that we have seen.

We are sad to leave Pangandaran. Tomorrow we head to Jakarta for a single day, before flying to Malaysia.

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Lazy day in Pangandaran, Java, Indonesia

After our first lazy morning in a long time we have a late breakfast and take a walk to the beach. The waves are big. There are many more people around today and many of them seem to be Indonesian visitors, although there almost no women at the beach.

The rains soon arrive and we retreat to the guesthouse, where we watch the rains fall all afternoon, whilst we catch up on overdue jobs.

I took time to look for more signs of Tsunami damage today. There are many buildings with blown out windows and damaged walls and roofs. It makes me very sad to think of the damage that mighty wave made to peoples lives. This are is slowly recovering and I hope the tourists return so that the people can rebuild their business as well as their lives. I also hope that we do not see such a deadly event again.

The hotel complex once filled this site. The tsunami damaged buildings have been removed. Stacks of bricks remain at the far end

However, I suspect we will. This area, and other areas of the world are very active seismically, and great changes above and below the earth are bound to happen.

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Yogyakarta to Pangandaran, Java, Indonesia

Our mini-bus picks up at 20:00 promptly and we jump in. Our travel agent is there to see us off, showing the nothing but professional service we have received from him. We are delighted to find out we are the only two passengers on our 8 hour drive to Pangandaran, which means we have the whole bus to ourselves. Our last few bus rides have been a little cramped and uncomfortable and we haven’t gotten much sleep, so this is a treat. We are expecting a few breakdowns on the way, but this is to be expected.

We get away quickly and fall asleep in the luxurious rows. After a few hours we stop for a break and soon get back on the road.

We have expected to get to Pangandaran at around 4 or 5 am, but we arrive at 2:30 am, without a single breakdown. Getting anywhere early is normally good news, but when you’re in a sleepy town and nothing is open it’s a bit of a problem. The bus drivers say we can sleep in the bus, which is great. They jump in another bus to sleep. The lady from the PT Lotus Wisata travel agent, where we have been dropped off, very kindly invites us in for tea and biscuits. We are keen to find a hotel to sleep, as we have been travelling by night bus and getting early starts for about a week now. She calls around but no one is up.
We chat with her for a while. She tells of how she once had a nice house, but it was lost to the tsunami and she now has just her travel agent buildings, which she shares with he son and daughter, both of which are there with us. Her son is sleeping on a mattress in the office, but she wakes him and sends him to the backroom, but I’m not sure why. She also tells of how the visitor numbers have fallen since the tsunami. I feel very sorry for her, but I’m glad she still has her children. She mentions the financial problems or rebuilding her business, and of buying a computer, which her son helped with as he has a keen interest in them. I have just bought a new laptop and I intended to give away my old one, which is off little value in the UK, but I think is worth something to the lad here. Once I have got all of my files from it I will bring it into the travel agent for the kid.

We get back in the bus and sleep well until 4:30 am when the driver and the lady’s daughter drive us to the Villa Angela, which they had recommended and called for us. When we get there the owner shows us to a lovely downstairs room where we can sleep until 9, when other guests will check out of their room and we can check in. We end up sleeping until midday!

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Shopping in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia

With the day to spare, as we are catching a bus tonight, we walk around Yogyakarta’s shopping areas. We buy a few things, including a guitar and case for £10! It’s not the best guitar, but sounds OK and will provide a good deal of fun.

We also wander into a supermarket which is a fun experience. I like visiting supermarkets in different countries. Each offers something different.

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Visiting the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan, Java, Indonesia

Another very early start (5am) to catch the bus to Borobudur. We bump into a couple we met in Gunung Bromo.

Borobodur is stunning, and a temple I have wanted to visit since seeing it in Baraka. The rain holds off, and the clouds offer a stunning backdrop to the site.

We also stop at the Hindu temple of Prambanan. Not as stunning as Borobodur, but impressive.

A huge earthquake in the last few decades has left a lot of damage here.

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Laptop shopping in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia

I’ve been thinking of buying a new laptop for a while now. After breakfast I ask the waiters if they know of anywhere. They recommend a place and we set off. We don’t find the place, but on the way back we stumble upon a big shopping centre with a whole floor of computer stalls.

Everyone is selling the same computers at the same price. I eventually settle on a Toshiba. It’s a good laptop.

It was a fun experience, although a little strange. Very few of the people spoke English, which is in contract to out experiences of Indonesia so far, where everyone seems to speak good English.

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Gunung (Mount) Bromo, Java, Indonesia

4am start! as we jump in a jeep and drive across the lava valley floor up to the observation point. Abby and I grab a well needed coffee as the other people make their way up the hill. When we join them the sun is about to join us for the day.

We take dozens of photos of everything we can. It is quite amazing. When the sun has fully risen Gunung Bromo shares it’s glory with us.

The mountain behind has a little eruption of its own.

The jeep takes us back down to the crater floor

And we walk up to the craters edge.

The sulphur is truly overpowering and we use our clothes to help us breath.

Back at the hotel we shower, have breakfast and get ready to leave. We are sorry to say goodbye to Gunung Bromo and it’s ‘end of the world’ feel. But, I am freezing and want that Indonesian heat again.

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Probolinggo and onto Gunung Bromo, Java, Indonesia

We catch the 6pm (ish) bus from Kuta which drives through the night, taking the ferry across to Java. The bus drops us off in Probolinggo at 4am, outside a travel agents. I chat to the guy and he offers me the perfect package for us; a lift to the town of Cemoro Lawang today, and then tomorrow a jeep ride to the viewing point, then upto the crater edge, a lift back to Probolinggo and the bus to Yogyakarta.

A mini-bus winds through the steep hills of the volcano area onto Cemoro Lawang, passing through small villages. There are endless near vertical farms making use of the very fertile soil. When we get to the hotel we see the crater area, and the views are just stunning. The mountains within the crater seem very small. It’s not until later that we see vehicles on the crater floor than we get a perspective and realise the sheer size of the mountains.

The town definitely has a ‘off the beaten track feel’, even though there are regular visitors to the area. It is definitely different to the convenience of Kuta, and I like it.

The overnight bus was OK, but we got little sleep. After checking into the hotel we crash-out straight away.

I can’t help but stare at the amazing view of the crater. I take a quick walk and see potential, so I go back to the hotel and get Abs. We have a great lunch at a cafe and get lots of information from the friendly locals. We are excited about getting closer to the crater edge tomorrow. One of the locals tells us about how the crater erupts every 4 or 5 years, and is it is due this year.

Whilst we are back at the hotel thunder roars overhead, and we can’t help but smile at the thought of the due eruption! 😉

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Surfing in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia

Up early and out doing various jobs, such as long overdue laundry (a massive bag for £1.50, bargain!), shopping for birthday presents for back home, tickets for Java tomorrow (we are going to Mount Bromo) and souvenirs (which we don’t get). We nearly buy very compact hammocks but decide that we probably won’t use them often enough.

After lunch we head to the beach. Today is perhaps the best weather we have seen in Kuta. The surf at Kuta beach is also the best I have seen here, due to the mild winds and reasonable swell. I engage in ridiculous and amusing negotiations with a surfboard renter, during which the guy insists the board is new, when in fact it is old and battered. I have a great surf though. I find a spot to myself, where bigger sets are making it hard work. My surfing in Portugal paying off here.