Written by Ozzy-Dave on 13 Jan, 2002
We spent 3 days exploring Java's cultural epicentre that is Yogyakarta. It's a pleasant and attractive city to wander and there's plenty to see and do. Then, when you need a break, venture east, west or north and you'll find some of Asia's greatest monuments…Read More
We spent 3 days exploring Java's cultural epicentre that is Yogyakarta. It's a pleasant and attractive city to wander and there's plenty to see and do. Then, when you need a break, venture east, west or north and you'll find some of Asia's greatest monuments - well-preserved monoliths to kingdoms past...
Travel Diary Details - Yogyakarta Area
Yogyakarta airport is a pleasant surprise - clearly more tourist-oriented and plenty of well presented options for the traveller. Taxis are regulated and it cost us 8000rp from the airport to Jalan Malioboro; about a fifteen-minute drive.
Accommodation prices in Yogyakarta are almost as high as Bandung and mid-range establishments are reluctant to bargain, especially if you are staying less than a week. It's worth the search and (possible) extra cost to stay somewhere near Jalan Malioboro. We saw clean and comfortable accommodation in the train station area for around US$15 with breakfast and private facilities but were lucky that the Mutiara wasn't busy and negotiated a price of US$30 for one of their "budget rooms".
Jalan Malioboro is certainly where all the action happens; it's about one kilometre of stalls and markets that open early in the morning, trade all through the day and, at about 5pm, turn into a buzzing night market. Sensational.
TIPS:Look at the starting price, offer about one third and negotiate up to around half price. If it's art, craft and textiles you're looking for then you've come to the right place. The prices are more than competitive with Bali and much cheaper than other parts of Java we visited. Traders we met from America and Europe said it is the best place to buy leather. They were right - superior quality to what we saw in Bali at about two-thirds of the price!
There is a well organised Tourist Centre on Jalan Malioboro just up from the Mutiara. This is a good place to meet other tourists, change money, hitch rides and organise tickets for just about any tour, cultural performance or transport you could need. The staff are helpful and speak English well. The choices are many, the information is well presented, and it also seems that the centre prides itself in dealing only with reputable service providers. Tours are very well priced, here are a couple that we did:
* Dieng Plateau and Borobudur (full day, 12 hours) - US$10 including snacks and drinks.
* Prambanan, Yogya kraton (old walled city) and Kota Gede (half day, 5 hours) - US$6.
These tours are well organised and usually require a minimum of four persons but it's not a problem with so many tourists around. Transport is generally with minibuses and the guides we encountered were always friendly, knowledgeable and informative.
The kraton is about a twenty-minute walk down Malioboro through interesting old village streets and is certainly worth a look. See richly decorated reception buildings, wedding carriages and a vast array of memorabilia documenting the sultan's life.
One of our tours also took us to the batik and silver making factories and workshops in Kota Gede where we saw the manufacturing process, how much the genuine hand made articles cost, and what they look like. This prepares you for shopping in Yogya's den of conmen and ripoff merchants passing fake products at exorbitant prices. Also try and visit the Bringharjo Pasar just off Ahmed Jani - three floors of shops and stalls, but mainly textiles. Good prices and great variety, this crazy place is a heap of fun.
The Ramayana ballet is worth attending even if you're not a fan of traditional Asian stage performances. 20,000rp gets you a 90-minute show with a talented dance troupe and full gamelan orchestra. It's a casual, well-organised atmosphere and you can meet the performers and even dance with them on the stage if you enjoy looking like an idiot. There are often devotees around that can explain the story to you as it unfolds. Our friendly "interpreter" didn't even ask for any money. We bought him a drink and some food and he was ecstatic. We went to the Purawisata Theatre but there are several places performing traditional dance, gamelan and even wayang golek shows.
Catch a becak or even the horse-drawn dokar around the town - a leisurely way to travel and the locals have more time for a chat. You should allow around 2000rp for each kilometre travelled. Becak drivers really earn their money - about 120,000rp per month in Yogyakarta.
There are heaps of good, cheap places to eat along Malioboro, ranging from reasonably priced restaurants to good clean roadside foodstalls. One that clearly sticks out for value is the Cirebon; they serve the best gado gado, spring rolls and chinese noodles we found anywhere - stuff yourselves until you burst, including drinks, for less than 30,000Rp for two people.
A day tour of the Dieng plateau and Borobudur takes about ten to twelve hours despite what they tell you in the tourist literature. It is 120km and almost a three-hour drive to Dieng through outstanding countryside and views of Merapi and Sumbing fuming in the distance. The area between Magelang and Wonosobo is particularly beautiful.
The Dieng Plateau is peaceful with an almost medieval feel and there are an abundance of attractions. See coloured sulphurous lakes that really are coloured, ancient seventh century Hindu temples and dozens of volcanic fissures spewing gases over a huge area.
TIPS:Stay on the marked trails here. The whole valley is a sinking (stinking) caldera and it's very boggy - a bit like quicksand.Beleive it or not (at 2000 metres) it can be cool up here too so come prepared.
You need to allow at least a few hours to have a decent look at the major attractions, or stay in one of the nearby villages for a couple of nights; Wonosobo was recommended to us by travellers we met (they stayed at a place called the Duta) as having all the facilities with good places to eat.
Borobudur is one of the world's greatest Buddhist temples and is awe-inspiring. Although choked with tourists, most of them are from Indonesia. The site is magnificent - a beautiful hill-top setting with a backdrop of mountains and volcanoes. You will need to allow a couple of hours for a good look. The entrance fee (10,000Rp) includes the use of still cameras and videos. And this is another place where you can't linger without someone asking for your picture. Take a decent guide book with you or hire a guide at the site for an explanation of the temple and its magnificent, well-preserved artwork.
A visit to the Prambanan Temples must also be on your list of things to do. Built around the same time as Borobudur to the west, this is the largest Hindu site in Java. The temples have been faithfully and expertly restored using rocks from neighbouring rivers and creeks. The restoration process was entirely funded by the government of the day unlike Borobudur, which was funded largely by UNESCO. Entry costs the same as Borobudur. There are plenty of people around that can explain the stories depicted by the amazing stonework and be sure to visit each of the statue sites in the main temples. Allow a couple of hours to visit this spectacular site.
A VISIT TO YOGYAKARTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURING ATTRACTIONS IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED AND WORTHY OF A STOPOVER OF AT LEAST A FEW DAYS
THIS AREA IS PACKED WITH ATTRACTIONS; THE HIGHLIGHT OF A TRIP TO THE ISLAND
We spent two days in Bandung, using it mainly as a base to visit the surrounding natural attractions...
Travel Diary Details - Bandung Area
Bandung and Surrounds
Most of the decent hotels and shopping districts are located around Jalan Asia Africa and we caught a becak there from…Read More
We spent two days in Bandung, using it mainly as a base to visit the surrounding natural attractions...
Travel Diary Details - Bandung Area
Bandung and Surrounds
Most of the decent hotels and shopping districts are located around Jalan Asia Africa and we caught a becak there from the terminal bis (main bus terminal) for 2000rp.
Hotel prices can be high in Bandung and it is getting difficult to find value-for-money in the inner city district. We were on the rebound from a disappointing experience in Puncack and decided to live it up for a few days. We headed to the salubrious, classic colonial architecture of the Savoy Homman and managed to bargain them down to a reasonable price of $US50 for one of their budget rooms.
TIP:Being on a budget shouldn't mean sacrificing enjoyment. Treat yourself every now and again if you feel a little down - it's not going to break the bank. In this case we also proved a little-known point - up-market hotels often do have budget rooms. Just ask.
We saw a couple of quality guesthouse alternatives in the quiet and attractive suburbs on the north side of the city, an area dominated by elegant Dutch architecture. The Tourist Centre promotes these smaller hotels/guesthouses as alternatives for budget travellers, and they are good value at less than US$30 for a double with breakfast. One traveller recommended the Nyland Hotel at Jalan Cipaganti 14 as clean, spacious and convenient.
Bandung is a large and expensive city, busy and difficult to orient yourself once you are away from the main shopping areas. Taxis are metered in the business district and are cheap. For excursions outside of town allow about 15,000rp/hour for a car and driver. We negotiated an all day trip to Lembang, Tangkuban Perahu and Ciater for $US20 - they want more if you book through the Tourist Office to allow for "commissions" so just hang around the alun alun (main city square) and look interested - someone will see you.
The tour agencies are expensive - one place (Wisma tours on Jalan Cihampelas) wanted $US50 each for the same day tour we organised with a taxi driver for $US20 for two.
The "Jeans Bazaar" on Jalan Cihampelas is an experience. It is one street (almost a kilometre) of denim clothes shops, fast-food joints and shopping centres. It's crammed with the most bizarre advertising props and gimmicks you can imagine. This is where all the locals shop and you can get reasonable quality for half the price of the city stores. Karen bought some jeans here and they've lasted as well as any she would have bought in Australia.
There are many reasonable places to eat and several cafes and wonderful cake and pastry shops on Jalan Braga, but one place worth a mention for authenticity, value and friendliness is the Rose Flower on Jalan Ahmed Yani. The soups are fantastic and you can get your fill on food and beer for under 40,000Rp for two; this is Chinese cuisine at its best.
The ITB (University) is set on magnificent grounds and it's worth coming here just for the traditional architecture and grandeur of the buildings. Nearby is the Bandung zoo. The enclosures are tiny and the site, although parklike, is very dirty, not well kept and generally disgusting. Many of these animals are not happy.
Allow a full day for Lembang, Tangkuban Perahu and Ciater. Stop at Lembang to look at the many plant nurseries that line the streets. It's the perfect climate up here and everything seems to grow so well. There's an entrance gate to Tangkuban Perahu where you pay to enter the park and from here it's another five kilometres up to the crater on a very steep, long and winding road.
The place is overrun with Indonesian tourists and hundreds of hawkers line the mountain trails charging inflated prices for anything and everything. It's a bit of a party atmosphere with lots of families and plenty of food stalls. The main crater is dormant and a spectacular sight.
TIPS:Get there early because the clouds roll in about one o'clock, and allow a few hours to have a good look around. The trail down to the active craters viewing station is a couple of kilometres and an easy walk. You can go down into the main active craters - it is a well trodden track - and then cut back to the "transport station" which is actually about 2km back down the main road up to the crater. Get your driver to pick you up here, it's better than the two-kilometre walk back up to the main car park!
The tea plantations at Ciater are interesting and there are many panoramas to be seen along the mountains, but I reckon the Puncack area is more scenic. Ciater Hot Springs Resort is popular with the natives - ram fighting, mosque music, swimming, horse riding and more. It's 2,500rp to get in and it's a good place to meet some locals, relax and have a bight to eat. As with most places we visited in Java, if you stand still for too long someone will ask to take your photograph.
Some general observations about Bandung: there are a lot of people just hanging around and alot of unemployment. Since the city is much bigger than Bogor and the towns of the Puncack area, the Moslem influence is not as obvious and women are treated more openly. The city does, however, have its fair share of problems and seems to be getting a bit like a smaller version of Jakarta. My advice is to base yourself on the outskirts and spend your time exploring the many sights the countryside around Bandung has to offer.
I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND BANDUNG CITY AS AN ESPECIALLY INTERESTING DESTINATION, BUT WOULD RECOMMEND A COUPLE OF DAYS TO VISIT IT'S NEIGHBOURING NATURAL ATTRACTIONS
Bandung to Yogyakarta
You have many choices - bus, train or air. The bus takes forever, the train takes even longer but is more comfortable, and the plane takes about 45 minutes. Bouraq is the only airline that flies this sector, but it does fly most days at 6:30am (if the plane is working). The Bouraq office is at Jalan Cihampelas 27 and you can organise everything on the spot for about US$30 per ticket.
TIP:Get to the airport well before boarding time because they occasionally over-book the flight. It's strictly first-come, first-served for seat allocation whether you already have a ticket or not.
The aircraft is an old Vickers Viscount and it flies at only 14,000 feet. You get a great view of the surrounding countryside - no food but you do get a drink and some boiled lollies. The flight is an attraction itself and quite inexpensive, but I guess you do take a risk; the day we flew it took them three hours to repair the plane before it was ready for boarding (a common occurrence so we are told!)
We spent only one day in the 1500-metre mountain area of Puncack, and it wasn't an experience to savour. There are gardens, tea plantations and a (supposedly) good wildlife park in the area but the inclement weather and a poor accommodation choice meant that we…Read More
We spent only one day in the 1500-metre mountain area of Puncack, and it wasn't an experience to savour. There are gardens, tea plantations and a (supposedly) good wildlife park in the area but the inclement weather and a poor accommodation choice meant that we quickly moved on...
Travel Diary Details - Puncack Area
Puncack Pass area
It took an hour to drive to Puncack from Bogor and cost us 40,000rp by car. The rural scenery is good and several interesting villages are passed along the way. The Puncack area looked lovely so we decided to stop at the Puncack Pass Hotel which is central to many attractions in the area; its setting is spectacular, surrounded by mist shrouded hills and fertile tea plantations. The tea plantation workers work 7am to 5pm six days a week for 60,000rp a month.
First impressions are good but things go downhill from there. The Puncack Pass Hotel has apparently been built specifically for rich Chinese and Indonesians. We were the only westerners there and didn't get a very friendly reception - they even wanted to keep our passports! Room rates are high and range from about US$40 and above for clean and comfortable doubles with hot and cold water, fireplace, television, large bedroom and sitting room. It's bungalow accommodation with wonderful views where everything you want or need usually comes at an extra cost.
We had problems getting hot water. If you stay here, get that sorted out first - this place is high in the hills and gets cold and wet. Twelve pieces, count them, of firewood are included in your room price, which lasts about two hours. Extra bundles come at a price of 3000rp! When the fire runs out hop into bed and enjoy the views and atmosphere, but bring some warm clothes. You'll get one blanket each - extra doubles come at 10,000rp.
About a kilometre up the road from the hotel is the Rindu Alam restaurant where most visitors to the area seem to congregate. It's a haven for hawkers as well, but it's better to buy from the many small markets along the side of the road up and down the mountain. The food at the Rindu is very good with views over the mountains and neighbouring tea plantations. There's a wide choice of Indonesian regional dishes as well as Chinese standards. We paid 25,000rp for two, including drinks.
TIPS:A few tips on the street markets in general; buy the pisang raja bananas (they are the best), make sure the nanas (pineapples) are heavy (sweet with much juice), and ask for the jerunga (a type of large, sweet pomelo) to be sweet (manis) because a lot of sour stuff is sold to unsuspecting people - oh, and bargain hard for everything.
TIP:This entire area is a Mecca for Indonesian holiday-makers and it's so popular on weekends and public holidays that the traffic on the mountain grinds to a halt and it turns into the opposite of why people come here. Try and avoid it at these times.
We were rained out for much of our time here so we didn't get to see many of the surrounding natural attractions. The hotel dampened our enthusiasm too, and hastened our departure. The area is, however, worth exploring I think but you'll need to find a better base and be more patient (or fortunate) with the weather than us. The area around Cibodas is also quite convenient, beautifully sited, and there are several good, cheap guesthouses here. If I was visiting again this would be my first preference.
Puncack to Bandung
Every day hundreds of buses travel up and down the mountain and you can catch one going either way with no trouble at all - just stand on the edge of the road and wave one down. We flagged down one of the large public buses that speed by every ten minutes or so. They advertise their destinations on the front, it's usually somewhere like Bandung, Cirebon or Surabaya. Most buses will be travelling through Bandung.
Our bus cost 3000rp. Not too cramped and a relatively comfortable trip by Javanese public transport standards. It took an hour to get to Cianjur terminal where it stops for ten minutes and dozens of crazed hawkers jump on you. It's then about a one and a half hour trip on to Bandung.
UNLESS YOU PLAN TO VISIT THE PUNCACK PASS AREA ATTRACTIONS I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND A SPECIAL STOP HERE.
We spent 3 days touring the area around Bogor and found it interesting from a cultural standpoint. Curiously, we saw few other westerners. In the Bogor Botanical Gardens we were approached three times for photographs by groups of Indonesians holidaying in the town. We were…Read More
We spent 3 days touring the area around Bogor and found it interesting from a cultural standpoint. Curiously, we saw few other westerners. In the Bogor Botanical Gardens we were approached three times for photographs by groups of Indonesians holidaying in the town. We were later told that some people like to display photographs of themselves with westerners as proof of their cultural experiences whilst on holidays. Hmmm, interesting paradox.
Travel Diary Details - Bogor Area
Jakarta to Bogor
Our priority was to avoid Jakarta and head straight for the mountains of Puncack, using Bogor as a stopover before travelling east.
Taxis abound at the airport and you can catch a registered one to Bogor via the tollway for 200,000rp (harga pas - standard price), or you can barter for an "illegal" black-plate car - they will come down to around 120,000rp but take a much longer route, avoiding the busy tollway (because they are not licensed to travel on it). Our trip to Bogor in a black-plate car took around two hours through endless rural villages of quaint tiled houses.
The Wisma Permata is directly opposite the gardens in a prime location close to the markets, shops and most conveniences. It has large, comfortable and clean rooms in a tropical garden setting with a good restaurant (Mutiara) serving well priced Indonesian food (around 8000rp) and over priced steaks.
This is probably the best place to stay in Bogor that we saw, although there are a few nice looking places further away from the main drag behind the Lebak Kantin district on the north side of town. We were in Bogor during Idul Fitri and therefore paid top dollar ($US25 with breakfast), but prices come down 20-25% after the celebrations. You get hot and cold water, aircon and fan. Even at this time of the year we had no problem finding the accommodation of our choice - most places seemed to be around half full.
Probably the best way to get the layout of the place is to walk the length of Jalan Juanda, which makes a complete circuit of the gardens. Go early in the morning and catch the activity of the vendors and hawkers on the north side of the gardens, beautiful Dutch houses and tree lined avenues, and a wonderful local market on the south side where you can buy almost anything at good prices. There's a lot of traffic around Bogor these days, but if you pick your times and stay off the main drags it's still a relatively pleasant place to wander. The town centre is also quite small and easy to negotiate on foot. This place used to be a quiet and quaint hill town - not any more.
TIP: don't get caught in the open after four o'clock. Each day we were here it rained (more like a tropical downpour), as if on command, from about four o'clock to six o'clock. We were told that if the surrounding mountain-tops were covered in cloud in the morning, then it would rain that afternoon. We never got to prove or disprove the theory because they were always covered!
TIP:Remember, Java is a Moslem island; female tourists are not often spoken to when in male company and wonderful top-40 mosque music abounds from dozens of speakers placed around the town - sometimes at five in the morning! When you're looking for accommodation, make sure there isn't a speaker in your area.
The Botanical Gardens are spectacular and the entrance fee is about 1500rp; allow a few hours to have a decent look and don't stand in one place for too long, the people seem to come from everywhere to take your photograph! (see introduction to this entry) Although you can't get access to the Presidential Palace, there are many good vantage points from around the gardens. Hundreds of roe deer roam wild in the palace grounds and are most active first thing in the morning.
There is a three-level shopping complex on the Jalan Gunung Gede corner with Jalan Raya Pajajaran (just up from the Wisma Permata) with stalls, bistros and even a Pizza Hut! There are also two well-priced Nasi Padang places and a good supermarket for stocking up on essentials.
There's a Tourist Office on the south side of the gardens and they'll dispense basic hand-drawn maps and scant information on the area. They seem to be open pretty much all the time. You'll be much better off hiring a guide (the Tourist Office can recommend one, as can many of the local hotels and guesthouses) and relying on your Lonely Planet/Moon/Rough Guide handbook.
To make a collect call back home you will have to go to the Wartel down a lane near the shopping complex. Take plenty of patience - nobody seems to speak much English but somehow they get through in the end. Allow about an hour.
Talk to ‘Aris’ at the Wisma Permata - he is a friendly and knowledgable young bloke who can provide an impromptu tour service. He speaks good English and some French, German and Japanese, and will be happy to take you on excellent tours of the area for a few dollars.
Go and see Dase the puppet maker in the quaint and friendly Lebak Kantin district north of the gardens (ask the directions, everyone knows him). Dase and his wife are lovely people and you can see real quality Wayang Golek puppets and watch them being made - most people say he makes the best puppets in West Java. They are usually carved from hardwood, sometimes even from citrus tree trunks. If you want to buy any puppets take cash - they don't use credit cards out here.
I WOULD RECOMMEND A STOPOVER IN THE BOGOR AREA IF YOU'RE TRAVELLING THROUGH
Written by Marianne on 04 Apr, 2003
"Did you come to see Krakatau? You can see it from here, from the beach," and he pointed at the sea. I looked a bit puzzled. All I could see was a sheet of rain. I had been sitting in this warung and drinking coffee…Read More
"Did you come to see Krakatau? You can see it from here, from the beach," and he pointed at the sea. I looked a bit puzzled. All I could see was a sheet of rain. I had been sitting in this warung and drinking coffee for the last two hours, hoping this tropical downpour would stop. The coconut trees on the white sandy beach were swaying in the wind. Some people braving the weather tried to protect themselves against the rain by holding a big banana leaf over their head. My hotel was across the road but I couldn’t muster up my courage to run to my room.
Krakatau Volcano erupted in 1883 with devastating effects. The sky became as dark as ink, people thought the end of the world had come. Devastating tidal waves swept away coastal parts of West Java, and many people were killed. Fine ashes went with the wind and settled down as far as New York City. Krakatau itself disappeared completely, in its place "Anak Krakatau" appeared, Krakatau’s child, an extremely active young volcano.
This can be visited from Carita. Small boats will take you to the volcano. This trip will take three to four hours. It is not difficult at all to find "agents" who organize these trips. The moment you step out of your hotel, peopele will ask if you are are interested in their trip. With your guide you can climb Krakatau. This is a strenous trip, as the soil is soft, a mixture of sand, lava, and ashes. Then there is a three- to four-hour boat trip back. If the sea is rough it may take longer. I had a good look at the boats--they were VERY small, so I decided against the trip.
Written by eastridinglass on 10 Jan, 2009
Most visitors race through East Java en route for the beaches of Bali, pausing briefly at Mount Bromo. It’s definitely worth staying a little longer, although exploring from Surabaya has been made harder by the ‘Lapindo mudflow’, with millions of litres of hot, acrid mud…Read More
Most visitors race through East Java en route for the beaches of Bali, pausing briefly at Mount Bromo. It’s definitely worth staying a little longer, although exploring from Surabaya has been made harder by the ‘Lapindo mudflow’, with millions of litres of hot, acrid mud spewing from a fault in the Earth’s crust. It started in May 2006 and shows no sign of stopping. The motorway south of Surabaya has been destroyed, and people are starting to use Malang airport as a hub to reach places to the south and east of Surabaya. Take advantage of the experience to see the mudflow - an astonishing sight of flat, grey, glooping mud stretching into the distance. By doing so, you put a little money into the hands of people who've lost their homes, jobs and sometimes their health to the mud.Even Surabaya, the hot and noisy capital of East Java, is worth a visit: a friend of mine is working with the city administration to keep the older parts of the city tidy and preserve some of the historic buildings. There are some fine Neo-classical, Art Deco, Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau buildings – the Post Office and the House of Sampoerna are particularly remarkable. Surabaya Zoo has a good collection of Indonesian fauna, particularly birds. Look for the beautiful white Bali starling (Leucopsar rothschildi), one of the world’s rarest birds, which breeds easily in captivity but is almost extinct in the wild. Malang is pleasantly cooler than Surabaya, again with some fine colonial-era buildings, and some good shopping. Nearby are the massive guardian statues of Candi Singosari.Malang also offers an alternative entry point to the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. It's a two-hour drive to Ngadas, a tiny traditional hill village, and then a half-day walk from there to Mt Bromo or to Ranu Pani. Ranu Pani is the base for treks up Mt Semeru, Java’s highest peak (3676m). There is excellent trekking all around the hills and valleys here – but stick to the paths or take a guide, because it’s easy to lose your way. I lived up in the Bromo area for six months a few years ago when I was doing some research, and never got tired of the hiking, the views and the proud, reticent hill-people. Between Surabaya and Malang, Kaliandra (near Prigen and Tretes) is an excellent base for exploring the mountains and cultural sites of East Java. Kaliandra is a beautiful, 21-hectare complex at 800m above sea-level, where you could simply spend days. There’s loads of things to do, with everything from swimming and a high-ropes course to learning the gamelan to massages. There are walking tours to local villages and fantastic accommodation, and best of all, you can feel really good about it all because your tourist dollars (or euros, or yen) are helping to employ local people – and the profits go into Kaliandra’s social and environmental programmes. A day-trip away is Candi Penataran, East Java’s biggest temple complex, with some good temple reliefs. Near Kaliandra is the Cisarua Safari Park, worth a visit to see animals from Indonesia and elsewhere (including elephants and tigers) roaming in relative freedom. Take the mountain road via Kediri towards Blitar for fantastic scenery and stop in Blitar for a typical, unpretentious Javanese town. Rightly one of Indonesia’s great draws, Mt Bromo is best at dawn in the dry season, when it becomes a place where dreams catch fire. The volcano lies marooned with its extinct neighbour Batok in a sea of ash and lava, the Sand Sea, within the caldera of the huge, ancient Tengger volcano. It is an eerie place, especially at night as you cross the Sand Sea to the 250 steep steps leading to the crater lip. As the sun rises over the lava fields, illuminating massive Mt Semeru in the distance, silence falls and the power and beauty of nature strike home. To avoid the crowds but still see spectacular views, visit the crater just after sunrise when everyone else has left. Close
Written by Shoey on 01 Sep, 2002
Day 1 - 4.30 Start, plane to Yogyakarta
Tour guide fails to meet us at the airport due to consuming too much Tequila the night before. When he arrives with a friend who can drive, handy, we drive straight into a tough negotiation over a rather…Read More
Day 1 - 4.30 Start, plane to Yogyakarta
Tour guide fails to meet us at the airport due to consuming too much Tequila the night before. When he arrives with a friend who can drive, handy, we drive straight into a tough negotiation over a rather good omelet. After careful consideration we decide that our tour guide is not really up to the mission ahead, so we get him to take us on a tour of travel agents to find a driver. After making a sweep of the local area we cut a great deal of 925,000RP for a minivan and driver for four days, not including petrol. Beat that the next time you are in Yogjakarta!
Post lunch we head for a first port of call, Prambanan. A Hindu temple, which as temples go was pretty good. There are no Hindus left in Jakarta, but if there were I am sure they would appreciate the scale of this endeavor, itâ€™s big. Built in the 9th century by the Sanjaya Dynasty.
It was whilst exploring these structures that we first discovered a pair of celebrity doppelgangers who were touring Java. After being stopped by hordes of teenagers for photos I can sympathize with other celebrities, it is fine at the beginning but after a while gets on your tits!
After this surprising experience we head for the old water palace. Old being the correct description as it is now a housing estate! They tell me the Sultan wants it back to reclaim it as a tourist attraction, not sure why. Nice swimming pools though.
From here we head for the Royal Palace, which thankfully is closed. After a quick drive round we head for home, beer, food and sleep. Another 4.30 start and a new minivan with driver, our expectations are high.
We sleep in the van to wake at our first stop of the day Borobudur Temple. This is the largest Buddhist structure in the world. And at 6am in he morning is very impressive, mind you most things are at 6am in the morning. In my world anyway! This is probably the third most peaceful place I have discovered on my travels, the other two being in Hue Vietnam. If you wish to learn about Buda's journey to Nirvana, that is not the band guys, then this is a good place to do it.
Another four hours and we arrive at Dieng Plateau, the geographic centre of Java. The highest inhabitable region in Java, what amazing views. More like Tibet or Peru than Java!
A real surprise and a must if you ever find yourself there.
The evening we made our way to Mt Merapi to watch the Lava flows. It is now six pm we have been on the go since 4.30 am. I thought the lava view point would be a restaurant where I could sit and drink wine over dinner whilst watching the lava run down the side of a volcano. That is how I would do it, but no. I actually had to deal with a 2 K vertical hike in the cold. Then I get to spend an hour sitting on a sheet under a bamboo shelter whilst our guides fall asleep behind us, thankfully the spectacle of lava spewing down the side of a mountain is fairly impressive, even if not that comfortable!
Early to bed, we again start our last 10 hour journey at the crack of dawn. 10 Hours on the road and we begin the steep climb up the side of Mt Bromo. As always the scenery is mind blowing and I cannot help but to comment on the range of colours. Every piece of land has a crop on it, no matter how high or how impossible to reach, they get there to farm. We head through the cloud and the temperature begins to drop, it is not even 4pm yet. Our residence for the evening is The Lava View Lodge, which I would recommend. It overlooks the Mt Bromo and the fantastic moon scape which surrounds it. Sunset and dinner and once again early to bed, 3.30 am start for sunrise.
We head out in a Toyota Land Cruiser, down the side of the cliff into the barren moonscape and then start to climb the mountain to the observation point. It is cold, we are wearing gloves, hats and coats.
But as the sun rises you forget all about the cold and the climb, this is the only sunrise I have made in the last six months, but if you are going to do a sunrise, this is the one to do!
From sunrise to the crater itself and then a horse ride back to the hotel. Fantastic, not to be forgotten, and definately recommended.
From Surabya we fly back to Bali, Mike is off to Aus and I have two more weeks to prepare for the second half of my adventure. Six months gone already!
Written by uncoding on 08 May, 2002
Leaving Yogyakarta in the late morning in July of last year, I headed by air-conditioned bus to Mt. Bromo in eastern Java. In about seven hours we had changed buses in Probolinggo, a lower elevation town, then traveled the last two hours to a…Read More
Leaving Yogyakarta in the late morning in July of last year, I headed by air-conditioned bus to Mt. Bromo in eastern Java. In about seven hours we had changed buses in Probolinggo, a lower elevation town, then traveled the last two hours to a Tengger village, where we were served a meal included in the tour, drank some beers, then headed for the cold rooms with blankets handed to us at the front desk with the key. At 3am we were roused by a knock on our door and led to a bus that took us up to Cemara Lawang, the last village before the moonscape of Mt. Bromo. Everyone, the Aussies, the Slovenian girls, the Dutch couple and the others were underdressed, wearing only shorts or light pants. Except for those wearing knit caps, everyone shivered in the pre-dawn chill. Only the blind hike down a winding road to the open blackness they called a trail took our minds off the cold. The more we walked the more I felt we were heading around the moon without a real destination. Then the sky brightened ever so slightly and the trail carved itself a little more clearly and I could see we had been transported into the Andes, for men in panchos were leading horses toward a stairway on the crater. Not really. In fact, they were the Tenggerese who live in the mountains around Bromo. They practice an animist form of Islam. As the stream of day trekkers all converged at this stairway the sky brightened a little more. That was good for the viewing area at the top of this active volcano was narrow- maybe fifteen feet across- with no handrails, and made narrower by the snaking crowd, and more dangerous by the sulfur spraying noxiously from Bromo's crater. Seeing many backs, I snuggled into the crowd for the view, which hadn't materialized yet, so I practised Indonesian phrases to the delight of the natives, most hailing from Jakarta. Then I ventured up the crescent trail to higher ground. Soon the sun rose, as hyped in the tour brochures, and a hum of satisfaction moved through the crowd. That's when I realized how high up I had climbed and how much narrower the trail had become. In the dark the black volcanic sand of the trail felt cool, as in weird, beneath my sandals. But in the daylight, the trail was not cool or anything like that. It was dangerous. I had to put my hands out for balance and soon found myself humbly sitting down right there in the middle of the trail. "Aren't you guys afraid of falling?" I asked those hailing from Santa Barbara. They shook their heads. "Just make sure I don't slip or slide down, please," I pleaded. They moved along.
Higher up sightseers moved up the narrow trail until they looked like models for Salvador Dali. No melted clocks appeared on the non-existent trees, but finally time healed my phobia and I got up, weighing much less than when I sat down and prayed that gravity would hold until I got back to the stairway. That turned out to be no problem. Down I went like it was between classes in high school, and pet some horses and shot some photos, already relaxed and planning to tell my friends I had been to Peru. I don't remember what the main crater of Mt Batok looked like, except by looking at the pictures, but can recommend the 3am trek for it is unique and awesome. Warning: it was much colder on the walk back. Just like toilets flush the opposite way down under the equator, at Mt Bromo, it gets colder in the sun than in the dark- or else there was something strange going on that summer day. Back at the parking lot there are souvenir shops and carts selling noodle soups which I recommend for warming your bones after returning from this lunar trek.
A walk afterwards in the Tengger town proved worthwhile. After circling a market block, I headed down a dirt road at the end of a narrow lane with small houses close together suburban style. Following a woman in a sarong down the winding trail, I ended up at a bat cave located on the edge of a farmer's field. They squeaked and dipped and resettled and bored me after a minute of staring so I left soon after arriving, then raced back for my tour bus which was leaving for the Bali ferry. My last activity: dining on mee goreng(less than $1), that turned out to be the best fried noodles I've ever had in Southeast Asia, from a home turned into a restaurant right across the street from the inn. Close
Written by Kennerly on 24 Jul, 2000
Kristina, our host, explained the first act of the evening, a traditional Sundanese dance (Pangandaran officially marks a divide between Sundanese and Javanese--two entirely separate ethnic groups with different languages and related, but distinctly unique cultures). With apologies to the Dutch in the audience she…Read More
Kristina, our host, explained the first act of the evening, a traditional Sundanese dance (Pangandaran officially marks a divide between Sundanese and Javanese--two entirely separate ethnic groups with different languages and related, but distinctly unique cultures). With apologies to the Dutch in the audience she talked about the Dutch occupation of Java, and how the Sundanese had been the main victims of oppression. During that time (several hundred years), they were not allowed to practice their traditional martial arts so they disguised it as a dance (similar to slaves in Brazil who developed kapoera to disguise fighting techniques so they could continue their martial art tradition). A beautiful dance was performed by a young Indonesian girl (all performers were friends of Delta Gecko), and then there were demonstrations of the martial art itself (called Pencak Silat), which is accompanied by beating drums and flute music that transforms into something very fluid and rhythmic.