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INDONESIA: PHOTOS AND TRIP REPORT
Here below some of the most
fascinating photos from Indonesia. Together with the photogallery, you will find a funny
and interesting trip report full of info and anecdotes describing the whole travel itinerary.
If you haven't read them yet, check out all travel info and precise itinerary here: www.wildtrips.net/indonesia.htm.
INDONESIA TRIP REPORT AND PHOTOS
As a kid, looking at
the Indonesian archipelago on the globe, I was fascinated by
that vast array of strangely shaped islands and islets, randomly
placed between Indian and Pacific Ocean. I wondered how many
wonders those lands enclosed… Therefore, organizing
a trip to Indonesia must address this philosophical dilemma:
which islands should you visit? (Unless you have six months of
holidays – damn!). Bali and Lombok, the most tourist-friendly?
Java, the most populated? The wild Sumatra, Borneo and Sulawesi? We decided to base our
decisions on random improvisation. For example, even though
our destination was Indonesia, we booked a flight to Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia, as flights to Indonesia were too expensive.
Then, from "KL" we planned to reach Singapore and, from there,
Java and Bali thanks to the excellent low-cost carrier Air Asia. In Kuala Lumpur we
found confusion, cheap Asian food and a mix of poverty and
flashy modernity. We sneaked into a Buddhist temple where we
attended a ceremony held by a bare-chested man wearing a tight
Kuala Lumpur hit us
also for its sultry heat, that at some point knocked out all of
us in a green common in the city center. We were in one of the
main squares of KL. Then we walked
through a city park - actually it was a small jungle. We reached
the Menara Tower and its panoramic terrace, 276 meters high,
from which we could admire the skyscrapers of the city,
including the famous Petronas Towers.
In the late
afternoon we drove to the typical vibrant markets, which in the
evening became the heaven of cheap food. We had dinner in an
ill-famed place, run by a proud opponent of hygiene, where
there was a buffet with meat, vegetables and some colored,
unidentified stuff. It wasn’t too bad, considering that we spent
a couple of euros each. The next day we took
the train to get to KL long haul bus station, that was out of
town. From here we went to Singapore: a
six-hour bus trip plus the time spent to go through customs. We arrived at sunset
and Singapore City immediately stunned us, with its shiny
and shameless modernity.
We reached the town center and looked
for a hostel. It was quite late
when we went out for a quick dinner. Then we headed to Clarke
Quay, one of the most vibrant areas of the city. It
was located along the Singapore River and it made a beautiful
sight: the lights of the bars on the riverside and those of the
skyscrapers were reflected by the water in a myriad of colors.
There were nice pubs and a joyous atmosphere. There was no
shortage of tourists, some of whom were Italian. The next day we
followed the Singapore River up to Marina Bay, a natural
harbour surrounded by a jungle of skyscrapers that create
one of the most spectacular skylines in the world. It was a nice
walk under an acceptably hot sun. On one side of the bay stood
the Marina Bay Sands, a skyscraper composed by three towers
connected at the top by a huge structure shaped like a ship. On
the roof there were infinity pools and a bar that provided a
truly unique viewpoint. We went up to the roof and we
visited the areas open to all tourists.
Marina Bay, at sunset, in the area of the Esplanade,
became a lively place with restaurants, bars and music. After an
excellent dinner at a Thai restaurant we listened to the music
played by some young rock bands on a spectacular open-air stage.
They mostly played covers of famous classic rock songs. Behind
them, there were illuminated skyscrapers and coloured light
reflections on the water surface.
Even if Marina Bay
buildings and music mock western countries, in Singapore there
are also traditional Asian markets. The next morning, we
continued our random travel itinerary by flying with Air Asia from Singapore to Yogyakarta, in
the middle of the island of Java, in Indonesia. The airport was empty, without information desks or rental agencies, but
a guy gave us a ride to the Avis agency, which was not far away. There
we met another Avis employee, who didn’t speak any English either.
We had to bargain the price by writing numbers on a piece of
paper, but in the end we managed to rent a Toyota Avanza, a
charming (not!) SUV made in Indonesia. We would return the car
in Surabaya (East Java). Proud of our new
vehicle we drove into the city center to visit the Sultan’s
palace. There were many hotels nearby. We
picked one where we got a luxury room for 12 euros per person.
Then we wandered around through streets full of rickshaws and
alleys surrounded by huts where poor people lived and happy
children played. It was a good walk.
We had dinner at the
hotel - Indonesian food was good, but far less tasty than the
Thai food we had enjoyed in Singapore. We relaxed by the hotel
pool and soon we went to sleep. The next day we drove
to the fascinating temples of Borobudur and Prambanan,
impressive Buddhist buildings of the ninth century in the
countryside near Yogyakarta.
They are relatively famous, but
they aren’t certainly a mass tourism destination.
The temples deserved
the visit for their impressive monuments and the quite mystical
atmosphere. In the evening we began our drive towards east, in
direction of the Gunung Bromo, but along our travel itinerary we had to fight against
the worst traffic in the world. It was impressive
that, alongside those 350 kilometers of road, there were always
shacks and huts and houses, without interruption. It was, I
think, the world longest city. After some other interminable
hours spent among battered pickup trucks and toxic fumes, we
arrived at the feet of the Bromo volcano. We took a narrow road,
finally with no traffic, that climbed up the mountain through a
dense jungle. Every now and then, at the edge of the road, there
were cultivated fields and farmers who looked much more relaxed
than their compatriots living in the chaotic and polluted
"civilization". We made peace with
Indonesia and we reached the village of Wonokitri. Its wooden
houses had beautiful views on the jungle and the surrounding
valleys. There were aggressive people willing to sell us a tour
to the volcano or a room. In the end we chose a small, elegant
hotel with no heating nor hot water. I think we were at two
thousand meters above sea level, therefore a cold water shower
could be terrible… but there wasn’t even a shower, just a big
sink, so no problem. The hotel manager
suggested us to take immediately the trip to the Bromo Volcano.
We had read that at dawn it was a fantastic view, but we thought
that at sunset it had to be amazing too, so we accepted. Our
more-or-less-English-speaking guide came moments later driving a
fascinating yellow jeep. It was a
spectacular trip in the middle of absurd landscapes. We
descended into the caldera, then we rented five horses to
ride to the top of one of the most recent volcanoes.
repeatedly blew smoke and sulphur. Sometimes it was scary.
Thinking about the tragic eruptions that occur with disturbing
frequency in Indonesia, we rode back to the jeep. Then we were
driven to a viewpoint from which we could admire the sunset over
the caldera. It was wonderful. You should go. Really.
In the evening we had
dinner with the guide in a shop / bar where we tried some tasty
dishes: in addition to the usual noodles, there were fresh
products of that land, such as poultry, vegetables and bananas. The next morning we
left that beautiful place.
We drove towards South, following
battered streets, and we soon got lost in the jungle. We were
wandering around randomly, but it was beautiful. No traffic,
only nature and, sometimes, a farm or a small village. At a
certain point we drove in front of a school. We decided to pull
over and take a look.
We were greeted as explorers from another world, we played with the children and we talked with the teachers.
Girls took out autographs. It was amazing!
After that exciting
experience we continued to drive towards South and we went to Sedangbiru, passing through jungles and villages, and
it was even better when we arrived on the coast, with its
display of palm trees and white beaches. Sedangbiru was a
typical fishing village with colorful boats and giant tunas.
We drove for another ten minutes and we reached a beautiful
beach. Ocean waves, a calm lagoon, palm trees, lots of coconuts,
two fishermen and a canoe, that we tried.
A little further
along the beach, there were a few houses. We were hoping to find
a hotel and a restaurant. Instead, there was only a small shop,
whose owner offered to buy some fish at the market and grill it
for us. Then, we could sleep on the sand, next to a bonfire. We agreed
We woke up at dawn.
The misty morning light was magic. It was a pity that our backs
were broken forever and ever. After a walk and some relax on the
beach, we drove away, but it would have been nice to stay there for a long time, and perhaps we should have. The volcano,
the school, the beach… it had been the most beautiful day trip
The next task was to
survive the Indonesian traffic. We had some success, so we
managed to reach a hotel on our way to Bali. It was a luxury
hotel with perfect rooms, park, swimming pool, restaurants… all
for 13 euros per person per night. The next day we
visited another pretty destination along our itinerary, the Meru Bitiri National Park, featuring jungle,
monkeys and beaches. Too bad we had to drive along slow dirt
roads for miles and miles: if you are in a hurry, Indonesian
traffic could make you really unhappy.
In the National Park
there was a nice lagoon with mangroves and bloodsuckers. A small
boat took passengers from one coast to the other. We asked the
ferryman for a ride and, as it was just us on the boat (probably
because it was almost sunset), he gave us a nice tour of the
pleasant night in the luxurious hotel we headed to Bali.
We had a walk on the unmemorable city of Banyuwangi, then we
took the ferry and reached the famous island. Beaches, rice
plantations, Hindu temples and a hellish traffic welcomed us.
We reached the great
city of Kuta in the evening. After some research we found
a hotel that suited our needs (low-cost, in the city center and
with private parking). After a shower we
went out to enjoy the vibrant Balinese nightlife, full of
Australian surfers, Indonesian prostitutes and European students
on holiday. The day after was
dedicated to some long-board surfing. For beginners, like
us, there were dozens of instructors who offered lessons and
board rental at good prices. We spent another
night in the most exclusive clubs featuring disco or live music
(mostly classic rock covers as in Singapore). The following
morning we surfed a bit more, then we drove towards north,
across the island. Finally the traffic was not a problem anymore
and while travelling through terraced rice fields, lakes and
green hills we felt at peace with ourselves and with Indonesia.
We arrived in the evening in the northwest of Bali, where we
found a nice hotel near the sea. The next day we
wanted to go snorkeling on the coral reef: a reasonable
demand, in Bali. So we headed to the departure port for trips to
Menjangan island. We met a nice guy who offered us an
excursion on his little boat. It was fifteen euros per person
including equipment: a lot of money for Indonesia, but well
spent. We could admire crystal clear waters, beautiful
landscapes and the most colorful seabed you could imagine,
inhabited by a myriad of tropical fish species.
this excursion it was almost time to end our journey. We began our long travel itinerary to Italy. We
drove to the harbour where ferries leave to cross the strait
between Java and Bali. Then we drove to
Surabaya, stopping along the way in some nice spots on the north
coast of East Java.
Traffic was not as jammed as on the southern
road. From Surabaya we flew to Kuala Lumpur and from there,
after a long night at the airport, we got the plane to Italy. So another exciting
holiday ended. We saw many wonderful places. The biggest
emotions came from wandering freely in Java and visiting the
villages outside the tourist routes, where we got almost by
accident. In hindsight, it would have been nice to spend some
more time in the typical territories near the Bromo Volcano,
while we could have tried to avoid some long drives like the one
from Yogyakarta. Anyway, this trip was
a big success and maybe one day - who knows - we will return to
Indonesia and sleep on some beach with the local fishermen.
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