Wednesday, October 26, 2011

INDO DIARIES 2010 - Wednesday 21st July - MOUNT BROMO

 We got  back to the hotel around 1pm and went out just to fill up on our favourite noodles down the road and get some provisions for the mountain trek. Then we made a concerted effort to sleep so we could at least have a couple of hours of sleep done before the late night adventure.

We set off from the hotel at 1am with Jum, our driver, once again. We hit the dark road and drove through some rather lively streets with night markets. Like many big roads around the world, there were trucks and lorries transporting all the products from the eastern Javan plantations to the towns and airports of Malang and Surabaya.

For a good three hours, we continued driving, watching the shadows of the trees and the mountains around us. The journey home was bound to be magical for sure.

We climbed up and up through dark, shady roads, too tired to comprehend twhat was ahead of us. When we reached Comero Lewang, the top of the mountain, we parked in a bustling area. Many people had collected either sellers, or hikers, it was hard to tell; it was 3.30 am.

We paid 50 000IDR for the entrance fee and the rest was up to us. We decided to walk to Bromo as it was only half an hour apparently. The Jeep was an extortionate 350 000IDR per person for an air polluting experience and it didn't even appear to drop you by the steps that you needed to climb.

No, we opted for the more mellow vibe, plus we wanted whatever scenery we could find under the moonlight. Jum told us to wait with the men with the horses. We didn't need to take one, he said, but we should follow someone walking.

It was 4am and we stood and waited. I was shivering. We had already been hounded by a few people; one, Gutak, had given us his 'card'. His name was scrawled on the back of a business card sized piece of ripped off packaging - recycling at its best! We kept it and waited more.

A quick toilet trip proved a unique one too. The sign pointed to a small building that seemed to house rooms with a bed in each. there was a family of three; we were directed downstairs.. It was worse than a disused warehouse; we were really unsure what to make of the underground room we had found. Miraculously, there was a pink door and a blue door separating the men's and women's toilets, but each was the same in side - big tubs of water, a bucket and an Indonesian style toilet.

It was all so eerie and the cubicles so tiny and the walls so small. we had to get out and fast!

Back upstairs, more tourists were emerging. The cold hadn't subsided and the idea of the jeep suddenly seemed so comforting. Then we figured we would brave it alone; we could follow some other tourists. They had been asking us for directions. We tried to strike up a conversation with them, but they went off their own way. Charming.

Ah, what the heck, Gutak had emerged, so we figured that we would be better off with a guide than without.

It was a different path on foot, so we set off quickly. The English couple were walking ahead of us, but it wasn't until we took a short cut that we felt a sense of satisfaction to have lost them.

We walked through the rocky, sandy plains. Gutak stopped to answer his phone at one point. That was a little disconcerting given where we were. Then, there were lots of random flashing lights ahead, which I saw as suspicious rather than of necessity. The lights behind us were 'following' us, it seemed. I AM such a silly!

at the top of the stairs (sleepy)
Lead by the most amazing sky full of so many stars, including a shooting start (!), we made it to the bottom of the steps. There were more than 250 steps to climb. It wasn't an easy climb at all, but I did feel satisfied at the top and witnessing the orange and blue hue of the sky was lovely. However, in the dark, I still felt insecure knowing that either side of the small path was a huge tumble, either into the volcano or down the mountain. I kept myself busy with my camera and didn't move from my spot.

The sunrise did indeed divert my attention. Slowly the colours crept out of the sky; the bright orange led by a cute blue and pink, which must have been the cloud, slowly rose up higher.

There were so many tourists up there; a lot of jeeps had sped past us earlier. Most of the people were peaceful enough, though there were a few dialects standing out more than others...

Despite the annoying chitter chatter, the sky lit up and magically revealed the crater. Turns out it wasn't so deep, just a few metres, but with the smoke coming out, you would not want to fall down into it!

Apparently, there were still ceremonies held where chickens (maybe alive?) were thrown in as offerings, but, for today, people were throwing in dried flowers. There were, quite remarkably sellers up at the crater flogging very unattractive dried flowers to silly tourists wanting to share the tradition.
As we made our way down, I realised how steep the steps really were. I had 'The Fear' and clung so tight to the railings. We got to the bottom eventually. Going up the stairs were even more sellers, armed with water and soft drinks for the day time climbers. We walked back enjoying the sunshine, taking many pictures.

Jum was waiting for us to take us back through the plantations and the mountain towns. The greenery was so beautiful, what I witnessed, anyway. My eyes were heavy and I slept most of the way back to Enny's.
the mountain opposite (mount semeru?)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

INDO DIARIES 2010 - Tuesday 20th July

After one of the best, most comfortable night's sleeps ever, we woke up to a lovely Enny's breakfast with delightful brown bread.

With no idea what to do with our time in Malang, let alone the day ahead, we filled out tummies and sipped on the great coffee.

Malang is a city that doesn't have so much on offer, but the surrounding areas make it well worth basing yoursefl there. 

We knew we wanted temples, ; we knew we wanted Bromo; we knew that, if possible, we wanted to head south to the fishing beaches too and Sempu island.

Suddenly, the plan came together before we could even think it. Enny's supplied drivers for the day - 50 000IDR per hour...minimum 3 hours! 

Yes, we had it....a 1am trip to Bromo later that evening, which meant we needed to sleep later today, but, without wasting the day, we had the same driver for the morning ahead.

Our first stop with our driver was a jewellery store. We had thought that if we could find matching wedding rings (this was kind of our honeymoon), it would make for an awesome souvenir of the trip, not to mention a great memory for the marriage.

Within a second of being in the small shop, we had found the bands. Unreal. They were beautiful, simple but perfect bands. We got them fitted and ordered an engraving too. Of course, I found plenty more pieces of jewellery that I loved, but settled for just an extra ring for the collection.

The owner of the store showed us the workshop at the back. It was so special to see the six workers in action. I had never seen anything like it. It was so unique and I genuinely felt that we had been blessed to know out rings were hand-made for us! We had to wait one day to collect them...impatiently!

Candi Kiddi 
Candi Kiddi

Candi Jajaghu

Candi Jajaghu
We were then treated to one of the best journeys of the trip. 4 amazing temples, scattered from the north, to the east and south east. Each temple dates back to the 13th century and one of them (candi jajaghu) was over 1200m high! The view of the village down below and its colours were breathtakingly astounding, in particular the coconut trees.

scenic journey!

cattle market en route to Candi Jajaghu
the view from candi Jajaghu

cute houses on the road

Candi Singhosari

Candi Singhosari
Candi Badut

Candi Badut

Our wonderful driver saying a prayer at Candi Badut

I said it a million times (and still do)  - this country is amazing! Every day is a discovery!

a tree!

Monday, October 17, 2011

INDO DIARIES 2010 - Monday 19th July

Bye Bye Kartika Wijaya
Check out day and time to re-install back in Malang at Enny's.

We had a chance to speak to a representative of a new housing development in the area too. East Java had a big tourist campaign in action for 2011 and there were various apartment blocks and housing complexes being built very quickly around the outside of the city.

We thought we would have a look just to see what kind of stuff is out there. To be honest, I would love to live in Indonesia one day, or own property, but I think that is still a distant dream.

We went via Songoriti so we could get more glockenspiels; the one we had bought was lonely, and Ian was sad for it!

Back in Malang, we hit a pizza joint and felt uber satisfied!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

INDO DIARIES 2010 - Sunday 18th July

Today's wake up call was more surreal than the call to prayer, which hardly disturbed us this morning. No, today  we awoke to pumping techno beats and voices over the loudspeakers. Surely there wasn't an outdoor rave? Not here in Java?

Of course no.

It was a crazy sight of adults and children alike working out to pumping beats! It was 6.30am. I couldn't resist a photo, although I did feel bad. I had seen people do workouts before.
The breakfast hall was packed at this early hour. (Lots of families came for the weekend to the hotel.) We sat and enjoyed breakfast and tried to not stare in our hazy, sleepiness.

We decided that the local sights would be enough to entertain us, so we asked the hotel to organise a driver.
The view along the road
He was a taxi driver and on a metre. Dubiously, we proceeded. Tokyo, London, any major city makes this a scary prospect when your plan is to slowly potter while keeping the driver waiting. Our fears were unfounded. The minimum journey price was 20 000IDR and we were at just 2 000IDR.


Buying yet another es degan!

steam from the hot springs
First stop - SONGORITI. Apparently, a market town with a hot spring attracting many Indonesian tourists. It was a quaint place indeed, but it was heaving with people armed with bags and headed for the onsen (hot spring.

We stopped for an es degan and a stroll around a hotel that had been built by the ruins of a Hindu temple. the gardens and plants there were lovely!

 Actually, the lonely planet had been wrong about this little town. They had mentioned fruit and vegetable markets, but we saw plenty of musical stores and batik too.

The place was so crowded with people for the hot springs that we decided not to stay. sadly, we couldn't really buy more glockenspiels, any heavy kitchenware etc as the journey home would have been impossible, but we still regret that decision to this day.

Next stop, CUBAN RONDO. our simple guide book mentioned a waterfall, but added no description . What is missed to inform us was that there was a long and cute winding road, filled with food places. We climbed a mountain in the car and looked at the views below.
Beautiful views

Beautiful views

The weather was cloudy but didn't prevent us from seeing into the distance. Clearly the lonely planet writer had not even been here or he would have mentioned every detail. We approached an entrance gate and paid 10 000IDR each to go and see the waterfall.
our entrance ticket
The climb continued....There were coaches, trucks, mopeds, all with people on them. Police vans were overloaded with people staring out the back at us. Finally we came to a huge parking lot with some markets. The cabbie pointed us in the direction we needed and off we went.

I was instantly distracted by some wild monkeys. It was so nice to see them out and about, a far cry from the caged monkeys in market at Malang.
The macaque plays with a PET bottle
 Further along, past the overflowing toilets (with water thankfully!), past the endless sprawl of people, there it was - the most spectacular sight and the best waterfall I had ever seen.
Wow - Waterfall
Playing in the cold water
 It was so high and the water was gushing down with such a force, that even 2 or 3 metres away from the foot of the fall, we were getting wet. It was so refreshing that no one was complaining. There were dozens of young children wearing their karate uniforms. We wondered why, but all of them were playing in the water, either directly under the fall or in the river banks nearby.
Karate kids playing in the river
There were so many people stopping to take photographs that clambering over the slippery rocks was not so easy.
Sooo busy!
Heading back towards the taxi, I found some market stalls, although there wasn't anything new to be seen, more batik and bags and even a wooden carved penis...?!?!?!
We drove on. Time to return back down the mountain. Thankfully the traffic has dispersed or at least stayed at the top of the mountain. 
There was still one more place that tickled our fancy - SELECTA. We love the name (you maybe need to be British to know why, but it is based on a tv show and lame humour!)

The taxi was 100 000IDR at this point, and we had been with him a  good few hours!
The drive up to SELECTA was so quaint; we were greeted by little traditional houses and lots of bonsai shops, although not quite a shop, more of a garden museum each time!

We approached the gateway to SELECTA. It wasn't a town. but more of a resort area that comprises of a water park, wide stretching and beautiful landscape gardens and some restaurants. 
It was basically a great day out for the (rich) family. Having said that, we did eat the worst food there.
We headed back to Batu with our cabbie, thoroughly satisfied. We had definitely ticked each of the Batu boxes, including the surrounding areas. It had been the perfect way to spend a cloudy day.