Enjoying diversity in Indonesia – Part 2

Hello everybody,

after having spent some time on islands or in the underwater world, I am taking you now to the Java island, where it will be more about cities, volcanoes and sunrises.

Back from the diving cruise in Raja Ampat, I take the plane from Denpasar to Jakarta, where I’ll make a very short stop to vist my friend Kanjana, with whom I used to work in my last job.
At the aiport, she picks me up with Rita, a friend of hers and drives me through the crazy traffic jam to Andrzej another friend of hers, where I’ll spend the next few nights.
I really feel like a VIP, as Kanjana took care of all the logistics details of my stay.
After a good night with a nice view on the city, we start our touristic day by having breakfast with a coffee Luwak. This coffee is quite famous and considered as high class due to the story behind its production.
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The coffee is made from beans having been eaten and partly digested by a civet also called toddy cat: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak
After that we move to the city center to a place where we have some fun. First, as a sign of the old times under the dutch influence, a lot of locals rent very colorful bikes and hats to ride around or take selfies.
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Second, I am surprised by the interest locals show for the foreigners (called in bahasa bule) and we make some bets about the number of selfies Andrzej will be asked to take 🙂
After a nice lunch where we have to repeat our order 2 or 3 times to different waiters to get what we want, we move to the harbour area to take a look at nice wooden boats.

We spend the evening and have diner in the area and finish the day with some beers and games at another friend’s place.

The program of the second day is quite light, very short morning due to a long night :), then foot and leg massage and off to the movie theater to watch Captain America / Civil War, which I really enjoyed.
After 2 days with the crazy team, I then take the plane to Yogyakarta.

Yogyakarta is a smaller city than Jakarta and stands as a cultural highlight in Indonesia.
At the hostel, I make acquaintance with some nice travellers, Billy, a young canadian from Quebec and Lisa&Leo a young couple from Bavaria.
As we get along quite well, we decide to rent a car with driver to visit the touristic points together the next day.
The first stop is the Setumbu hill where we want to see the sunrise. Our driver picks us up at 03:30 in the morning. As the car is a bigger than expected, we wake up Fabian, another german traveler staying at the hostel, (and whom Lisa&Leo met in Jakarta a few days before) to propose him to come with us.
After about 2 hours drive, we reach the viewpoint, where our fears are confirmed. The sky is too clouded to see anything 😦
We decide to stay a bit longer till the sun is completely up, not to go down at the same time as the other people who came for the sunrise.

The next step is Borobudur, which is claimed to be the biggest buddhist temple in the world. The temple itself is very impressive and nice to visit. It is composed of 10 floors, the upper 2 one having a lot of Stubas.
The funny/strange thing during this visit is the number of school groups present not to visit the temple, but to practise english with the tourists.
As a white tall guy, Fabian is a nice target for them and during the 2 hours we were there, he had to do 3 interviews (where are you from, what are you doing here, etc…) and take a lot of selfies. Lisa&Leo are also asked many times to take selfies. Billie and I are not very interesting as we look too much like the locals 😉

After Borobudur, we decide to have lunch in the near area. We have some fun with our driver thanks to Google translate. As he can’t speak english, Billy communicates with him by saying what he wants to ask the driver to the google translate app on  his iphone and showing the result on the screen.
At one point, he wants to ask the driver “how do you say “not spicy”” in bahasa and shows him the translation on his phone. As the driver becomes embarrassed and starts waving at us “nononono”, we start wondering what could be wrong with the question. Billy then checks on his phone and found out that the app didn’t understand his question correctly and translated “how do you like penis?” 😀 Sorry, you know my humour, I had to laugh…
After lunch, as we are not motivated to visit only temples during the afternoon, we decide to change the plan and go first on a jeep tour to Mt Merapi volcano. This volcano is unfortunately known for 2 very deadly eruptions in the last 10 years. During the tour, we can see the valley dug by the hot lava as well as the rest of a village where items damaged by the eruption are also exhibited.

To finish the day, we stop a the Prabanan temple. As opposed to Borobudur, this temple (as well as the smaller ones around) is hindu. As we are all tired by the day and the hot and humid air, we don’t spend too much time there and head home after about 1 hour (and about 10-15 selfies with locals for Lisa ;)).

On the next day, we lose some members of the group. Lisa&Leo are unfortunately forced to stay at the hostel as they got very ill during the night. Billie, Fabian and I decide to take some time to visit the city. The program is quite disappointing. The Sultan’s palace noted in every guide is pretty small and not really impressive and the water castle has exactly the same problem. Moreover Billie has to go to a pharmacy and then home as he got stung by a caterpillar. Due to an allergic reaction, half his body was itching very hard.

After a last night in Yogya, it’s time to split the group, Billie is going to the Gili islands, Lisa&Leo are going to Kuta, Fabian&I to Mt Bromo.
After a 9 hours ride along the rice fields, we arrive at a city called Probollingo where we are supposed to catch a bemo (local name for minibus) to Cemoro Lawang, the last village before the start of the trek paths to the sunrise viewpoints and the volcano crater.
After struggling a bit to find a bemo for a reasonable price (taxi drivers in touristic places are always trying to overcharge a lot the foreigners), we are off for an 1 hour trip on a small destroyed road.
After having checked in in our hotel, we have diner with Nathalie&Cyril, a nice french couple met at the bus station in Probollingo. We then go to bed early as we have to wake up again at 03:30 not to miss the sunrise. As we prefer walking instead of booking a jeep tour, Fabian&I decide to follow a road described on several blogs that leads to different viewpoints and allows to avoid the main entry to the national parc (which means sparing the entry fees 😉 ).
It takes us around 1,5 hours to reach the so called serani viewpoint but as there are already some people, we keep walking a bit to reach another viewpoint a bit higher.

The path is sometimes very steep and it is a nice workout but it’s really worth it. The conditions are perfect. Clear sky and mild temperature. The sunrise is simply magic and the view on the mountains and volcanos is amazing.

We spend almost 2 hours enjoying the scenery and taking pictures. After we go down towards the Mt Bromo crater. The way is also beautiful and leads us through a black sand desert, which is in fact an old crater, very impressive!
This part of the mountain is very crowded with tourists and we can’t really see deep in the crater due to the clouds but the view on the surrounding valley is a nice reward after the hard climbing.

Back to our hotel, we just have a few minutes to have breakfast and a short shower before taking the Bemo back to Probollingo.
In the minibus, we meet again the french couple and decide to stick together to travel to our next destination Mt Ijen.
Back to Probollingo, we struggle a bit to find a solution that would bring us close to Mt Ijen and at the same time close to Banjuwangi, where the ferries to Bali depart.
Finally, a travel agency arranges us an accomodation in Bondowoso with a private car the next day first to the volcano then to the ferry.
Our group is also growing, Mila a traveler from Beligum is joining us.
After a long trip in a public bus, we arrive in Bondowoso where we are picked by a guy called Sam. He brings us first to his homestay, where we decide to stay as the rooms look quite decent.
Before we go out for diner, we discuss again the program and the price for the next day. As usual, the owner is not very transparent about his pricing and tries to charge us a lot of stuff that were supposed to be included.
We come back home quite early after diner as the pick up to go to mt Ijen is at 23:30, which leaves us only a few hours to sleep.
As we wake up to start the tour, we have a bad surprise. Nathalie felt very ill during the night and moved to another hotel with aircon. She won’t be able to join the tour, Cyril will stay with her and so we only go to Mt Ijen with Fabian and Mila.
Mt Ijen is very famous for its so called blue fire. This natural phenomen is due to the self ignition of the sulfur gas in the crater and can only be seen during the night. It is supposed to be really impressive.
The way to the top is quite challenging. The road is good but quite steep and it’s raining a bit. Fabian makes acquaintance with a worker and we start following him.
Arrived at the top, we are quite disappointed. The conditions are really bad, the sky is really clouded and there’s a strong wind. At the viewpoint, we can’t see any blue fire.
The worker invites us to go down into the crater to have more chance to see blue fire. We then start following him and the rest of the crowd down. The walk is quite difficult. We can’t really see where we’re stepping and due to the strong wind, we get a lot of sulfur clouds in our face. Even with a gas mask, it’s really uncomfortable.
Arrived at the sulfur collection point, we can see the workers extracting the sulfur rocks.

However, again due to the strong wind, there’s no blue fire to be seen. As we can’t stand the sulfuric gas anymore, we decide to go back to the car. As we try a very last viewpoint, we finally witness a few minutes of a mini blue fire!

The way up is not very pleasant as we have to slalom between the other tourists going down.
DSC03300Back at the top, the weather is very bad and so we dedice to skip the sunrise and go back directly to the car.

We then take the ferry in Banyuwangi to cross to Bali.
I’ll report about my stay there in the next post. Stay tuned 🙂

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