The flight from Padang went relatively smoothly, although we were delayed by about 2 hours, which is typical of Lion Airways and internal domestic flights. The taxi from the airport to the centre gave us a good indication of the difference between Sumatra and Java. We seemed to have been transported from a rural location to a city most of us would identify with. This was a bit of a disappointment at first. Like any major city, people are more private and we were missing the genuine interest afforded to us by the Sumatrans.
We were heading to the slightly bohemian quarter of Sosrowijayan area. The area is extremely compact with 2 or 3 roads, and alleyways leading off called “Gangs”. Each of the gangs are lined with bookshops, restaurants, bars, and different type of stalls selling the usual tourist tat, but also cheap clothing, leatherwork, hawker food stalls selling fried rice, fried noodles, chicken satay skewers and our favourite, Cap Chi with white rice.
We took a day or 2 to get to grips with the geography of the city, visited a few museums about Javanese culture and history, as well as the Kraton, or palace of the sultan. The real reason for being here however was to see the ancient temples of Borobudur and Prambanan. There is a good bus system in Yogiakarta or “Judgya” as the locals call it, so we hopped on the 3a and were at Prambanan within an hour, on a modern air conditioned coach. The respite from the sun and rampant humid heat was more than welcome.
Prambanan was built in the 9th century, with the Shiva temple being the largest and most lavish of the Hindu temples. It really felt like you had been taken back in time, especially since we were visiting outwith the high season and more or less had the whole place to ourselves.
Borobudur ranks with Bagan in Mynamar and Angkor Wat in Cambodia as one of the great South East Asian monuments. Built around the same time as Prambanan, Borobudur is on a greater scale. Borobudur was abandoned soon after completion, covered in volcanic ash since 1006 and only rediscovered in 1814. The site needed to be totally reconstructed. It is a massive construction set in a stunning valley surrounded by large mountains. Buddhist monks walk around the site in silent contemplation. It’s very quiet and peaceful, and it suddenly dawned on me I had waited 15 years or so to see this site. Michelle was so impressed, she has now had her head shaved, and has this annoying habit of chanting for half an hour before each meal 🙂
I think by this stage, we felt we had remembered why we had decided to do this trip in the first place, and having been blown away by the 2 sites, we were hankering for a Bintang Blowout on a “monumental” scale. 🙂 We had our flights booked for Bali, and were heading to the hedonistic town of Kota. Arriving in Kota late at night, we could hear the deep basslines and throbbing pulsating beats of the various clubs. This is the party town of Indonesia and we were going to party! 🙂 When in Rome – nae problems! 4 days here and our livers were going to have to be soaked in bleach in a bucket under the sink. Things got even better for us, as our next door neighbours were a Slovakian group of friends who were on holiday. Uri, Elzabeta and Dagi, must have Celtic genes, as they were up for partying every night, absolutely great fun, lasting on the Beer Bintang until about 5am. Each day was filled with the mother of all hangovers, but hey, it’s always worth it – right? 🙂
Rather than stay and trip around Bali, we decided to get away altogether. Lombok is supposedly beautiful, and in particular the Gili Islands. These are 3 islands just off the Lombok mainland, with turquoise tropical water, white sandy beaches, and thatched beach huts all along the shores. This was a hard days travelling under a beating sun, with 2 bus journeys, a 5 hour ferryboat crossing, and a local boat to Gili Trawangan. It is abolutely stunning, and we are staying in a little cottage with a thatched roof not far from the beach. We are just enjoying the calm and the odd Bintang or 3. It is really hot here, so hot we have all had a bit of sunburn.
Really, we are not sure where we are going next. Our extended visas expire on the 4th of November which gives us roughly 2 weeks. But after 2 months in Indonesia, and having fallen in love with the place, there is just not enough time to cover everything unless you are constantly on the move. Maybe we will come back some time in the future.
The other good news for us, is that our friends from Slovakia are also here. We bumped into them the other night while walking along the beach – time for a Beer ! 🙂