Now that I'm back in the world of (better) wifi I thought I'd share my time spent in Java, Indonesia over the last week. It was a really spur of the moment, last minute decision to head there. After Canggu I was tossing up whether to spend my next few days in Uluwatu or Lombok when Brendan- the guy who runs Utama Village- the Villa where I was staying in Canggu suggested teaming up with another solo traveller- Anna, a swiss girl who was also undecided where to head. He'd told us a little about Java and it sounded delicious so we booked our flight to Yogyakarta, Central Java 2 days later and off we headed. Side note- with my temporary card issues and Anna not being able to pay for flights online I was told you could book flights online and then pay for them in cash at Alfamart or Indomaret- 2 popular chain supermarkets in Bali. So handy! Australia- take note ;) Flights were about $50 AUD per person one way.
The flight from Denpasar to Yogyakarta was about an hour in total and we flew with Lion Airways which was a smooth ride. Before landing I'd booked us accomodation at Pondok Sare- an extremely new hostel. I think it had only been open a few weeks so we were one of their first customers! The hosts there were lovely and breakfast was included in the fee. It was really central to everything but we didn't have a lot of time to really check out what the city had to offer unfortunately.
We arrived around lunch time on the 22nd of May and within a few hours headed to Prambanan- the biggest Hindu temple in the world, for sunset. Its about an hour drive from Yogy City. Though it was quite packed at this time it was so incredible to view these temples that have been around since mid 9th century! The largest temple towers at 47 metres high and out of the original 240 temples that once filled this compound only 8 remain after the 2006 earthquake and then volcanic ash damage in 2014.
The following morning we woke at 2:30am for a sunrise viewing of the hills around Borobudur- the biggest Buddhist temple in the world. 1 and half hours later we arrived at the view point which made a misty morning sunrise delight.
After a few hours soaking up the picturesque view we drove down to the temple which were equally as spectacular as the day before. Big bell shaped architecture that consists of 9 stacked platforms, 6 square and 3 circular, topped by a central dome. Even at sunrise it was quite packed here and the local Javanese children were out in full force- selfie sticks in hand. We felt like mini celebrities walking around here because all the children and families wanted photos with our white skin haha! They were all so eager to practise their english and find out what country we were from. Afterwards, on the drive back to Yogy City we stopped to check out some local markets. From the outside it looked quite small but hidden deep inside a building were stalls filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, live and dead meat produce.
We spent another night at Pondok Sare where I did a mini photoshoot with the hosts! Haha. I'd shown them some photos from my website and then they wanted some photos too.
The next morning on the 24th we caught an 8 hour long train to Probolinggo and from there a shuttle to our accomodation around Mt. Bromo area where we had a sub par dinner. I can only really fault 2 things about this tour and 1 was the food. I would suggest BOY'ing a lot of snacks because the food options are very limited and even though I was keen to try some more traditional Javanese food they offered mainly and minimal crummy westernised food at the hotels and suspicious looking undercooked local food. I was wary of getting food poisoning but thankfully didn't!
The following morning was another early 3am rise driving along pot hole filled roads in 4WD jeeps- I am a master at sleeping in cars, buses and trains now ;) to Mt. Pananjakan view point- the highest peak in Mt. Bromo area. Again, it was an absolutely incredible sight to see and definitely a highlight of my trip so far. We then headed to Mt. Bromo- base which was a 30 minute walk to the top of the crater at 2329 metres high- 240 steps up, 240 steps down. It was insane to see an active volcano in action! There was no strong sulphur smell but it was really dusty so I used a scarf as a mask. I could have spent a whole day there. It was really something else. Tourists were given the option of trekking by foot or by horse.
Day 4 was a killer after having bout 7 hours sleep over 48 hours. The previous night we'd got to our next accomodation around 6:30pm which gave us enough time to have a quick dip in the hot spring, dinner and then bed. The hot spring from Mt. Ijen ran straight to our hotel and was like a nice, hot, relaxing bath. The locals say it's believed to take 2 years off your age (here's hoping!).
A 1am rise with breakfast on the go- 1 jam roll and a 1 boiled egg. We were then packed back into the jeep then drove to the bottom of Mt. Ijen to start the 1 and half hour extremely hard ascent to the top. We had also paid extra for the blue fire experience- 1 of only 2 viewings in the world (the other in Iceland). It was pretty cool but in all honesty the photos on the brochure were misleading. The brochure promised an up close and personal view of the blue fire flames but when we got to the viewing point the flames were specs in the distance. Apparently the pictures were of the miners who are allowed in the restricted area so if I could do it over I would have saved my pennies and skipped the blue fire special. To be fair though it was only an extra $15 AUD.
To make up for it though we continued the climb to Mt. Ijen's highest point for by far my favourite sunrise so far. The Mt. Ijen crater is about 1km wide and filled with the most amazing aqua blue coloured acidic lake. I never wanted to leave! It was so wonderful.
The descent was equally magical and boasted scenes from a Lord Of The Rings movie. I half expected to see a wild unicorn gallop by!
1 short ferry ride back to Bali and 1 long bus ride to Ubud and here I am back in a hostel sitting pool side as I type this. Java was everything and more I could have ever imagined and was never some where I'd looked into heading but I'm so thankful I got to experience it even if it was a short and sweet experience. It's definitely something I would highly recommend doing if trekking is your thing and hope to head back in the near future to spend some more time there and immerse myself in their way of living for a little longer. If I could do anything differently I probably would have spaced out the time in between treks and spent a little long in Central and East Java villages. The houses are all painted bright colours and the country side splashed vibrant greens and yellows.
Stay tuned for my next blog post!