The Java Tour – day 6, Merapi and Prambanan

March 30, 2015

The 6th day of our tour was a day trip from Yogya. We started with the volcano Merapi where we had to get a jeep to reach it’s attractions.

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The first stop was a small museum set in the remains of a house from Merapis last eruption in 2010. Most of the people living on the volcano were evacuated before the eruption but whole villages were destroyed and buried. Now some of the people who used to live there makes money from the museum and shops they have set up around the main points to visit. On display in the museum were what remained of their possessions after the eruption (including two cow skeletons).

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Then we drove onto the next thing to see: The alienhead. This was a stone that was supposed to resemble the head of an alien. I think this was just another case of trying to crate a tourist attraction to get people to pay for the entry permit for the volcano.

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Then we drove up to the last stop: The bunker. This was a bunker in which two people were killed during the eruption, the door apparently didn’t hold against the power of the volcano. Overall the volcano was interesting to see as it’s active and still have a big impact on peoples life. We also enjoyed the jeep drive and the landscape.

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We left Merapi to go to Prambanan, Javas biggest hindu temple. On the way there it started raining, and this time we weren’t as lucky with the weather as we had been earlier in the week; it was still pouring down when we reached Prambanan. We put on our waterproofs and had a meal hoping the rain would soon stop, however it didn’t and we had our guided tour in the rain.

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Our guide was really good, he told us about hinduism and the different temples in the complex.

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He also told us some of the hindu stories that were carved on the walls.

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After the temple we went back to Yogya where we had dinner at ViaVia, also on the same street as we were staying on. The next day was the final day of our tour and we decided to stay in Yogya a couple of days more after that, but to change hotels. The hotel we were at were ok, our room had two big beds so we had a lot of space but the staff didn’t speak much English and weren’t too helpful, we could only communicate with them through Bambang and he was leaving the next day. So in the evening we walked down the street and checked out all the other hotels. The one that appealed the most to us was Duta Guesthouse. The staff there were really nice and the hotel had a lovely courtyard with a pool. The room was fine, only it had two very small single beds instead of the doubles at the other hotel. We got a good price, 175 000 Rp/night, and made a reservation from the next day for two nights.

The Java Tour – day 5, Dieng plateau and Borobodur

March 30, 2015

After leaving Papandayan we drove about nine hours to the Dieng Plateau where we spent one night in a very basic hotel in Dieng Village. The Dieng Plateau is 2093 meters above the sea, has an active volcano and many plantation terraces.

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We got up early in the morning and went to see an old hindu temple complex, the Arjuna complex, just outside the village. The temples are some of the oldest Hindu temples in Java and are mostly in ruins, but they were partly restored when they were rediscovered by the Dutch in the 1800’s. It was set in the midst of (mainly) potato plantations and when we got there people were just starting to work in the fields.

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After the temple we drove to the volcanic caldera, I had to use google to define what this means: “A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption. They are sometimes confused with volcanic craters”. It was a big hole with boiling goo and lots of smoke rising from it.

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Then we were off to Telaga Warna to see Cebong Lake. Telaga Warna is a small nature park with a couple of lakes. Cebong Lake is famous for it’s colour which it gets from sulphurous deposits.

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When we got there me and Olivia went on a walk around the lakes. We climbed up to a view point and got amazing views of a valley and the park’s second lake: Talaga Pengilon.

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After rounding the lakes there was this small island you could walk out to that was meant to have some attractions on it. There was the “writing stone” and some tiny caves with gates around them and small statues outside that I think had some religious value at some point in time. But to be honest it wasn’t that much to see and it felt like they only advertised it to try and justify the entrance price for the park (which of course was already included in our tour anyway).

When we were finished in the park we got back in the car and drove for another three hours to Borobudur, the biggest Buddhist temple in Java. We got a guided tour around the complex.

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We spent an hour or two around the temple before we left for Yogyakarta. We decided to stay in the Prawirotaman area, there were a couple of streets there with lots of hotels and nice bars and restaurants mostly aimed at tourists. At first we thought we’d walk down the street and check out the hotels and their prices, so Bambang drove to the hotel he was gonna stay at on the same street. The hotel seemed ok so we had a look at a room there and got a good deal for it, 200 000 rupiah/night (£10), and decided to stay there. After checking in we went out for dinner and a cocktail at Easy Going, just next to our hotel. It was nice to eat in a restaurant again and not just a warung or food stall. The prices were of course a bit higher, this being a touristy area, but the food was very nice and so worth it. We spent a couple of hours there using their wifi and then went back to the hotel to sleep.

 

Penang

February 27, 2015

From Kuala Lumpur I took a bus and ferry to Penang, an island in northwest Malaysia. I stayed at a hostel called Couzi Couji in Georgetown, the main town in Penang. When I got there I met some girls in my dorm (including two Swedish ones, there are so many Swedes travelling here) that I went for dinner with. In the evening we had drinks in the hostel. The hostel was pretty cool, they had a bar and some cats.

The next day we went to Penang Hill. We shared a taxi to the base and then took the funicular railway to the top. The view would have been great if it wasn’t so foggy.

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It was a bit cooler on the hill which was nice. There was also a small Hindu temple which we had a look at.

After going down the hill we went to the Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia.

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In the evening we had dinner at a night market with lots of different foods. Food in Penang was really good in general, it’s famous for the food and we tried a few different local dishes during the day. For breakfast we had Char Kway Teow, a noodle stir fry with seafood, and for dinner I had Chinese crispy pork rice and dumplings. Everything was great and the following days in Penang I continued to eat a lot of nice, cheap food.

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The next day me and Radhika, one of the girls from the hostel, went for Indian for breakfast and then we did a tour around the town to see the main sights and some street art. Central Georgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so there were some historical buildings and interesting architecture to see. Georgetown is also famous for its street art.

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This day was also the start of the start of the celebrations for Chinese new year so there were a lot going on. We had dinner at a Malaysian hawker stall and while we were eating it started pouring down. We were stuck in the rain for quite some time, then we decided to run to a bar just down the road so we could have a drink while we waited. The food place was Muslim so they didn’t serve any alcohol. When the rain died down we started walking back home. On the way we walked passed a small temple and were invited to the new year celebration where we got to see a small lion dance.

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There were more celebrations going on near the hostel and we stopped there for a while here too to watch.

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My last day in Penang I spent resting which was really nice. I had an early night and flew to Langkawi the next day.

After Penang I went to Langkawi and I’m currently in Bandung in Indonesia. I left Langkawi for Jakarta a few days ago. Jakarta didn’t seem like a great place (and I don’t really like visiting big cities) and I decided to not stay long. My first morning in Jakarta I met another girl, Olivia, who had also just arrived and wanted to travel around Java. We found a tour we wanted to do and by the evening we had it all booked with a pickup at 5am the next morning. For the next 6 days we’re travelling around in a car with a driver/guide and seeing different volcanoes, some hot springs and temples.