skull Boiled Eggs? skull Java, Indonesia Part 2 skull

Public transportation. Sigh.

Sept 16

Today we decided to do a day trip on our own, no tour, no scooter. We were back on local busses. We actually tried to rent a scooter but were told it’s not really something they do in Bandung and the one guy who rented them charged three times what they charged everywhere else in Java. Strange. So after farting around for an hour or so looking for a scooter we headed to the bus station. We found the minivan and were told it’d leave when full…completely full. Two hours later with about 8 bales of hay, a few boxes of I don’t know what, ten adults and, of course one small child, all crammed in the 8 seater minivan…we were off.

Surprise, surprise, another steaming volcano

Main crater

We got dropped off about 4 km from the top of Tangkupan Prahu along with a friendly American/Tunisian guy who ended up happily sharing a van up the mountain. It was way cheaper bartering for three than one. At the top we got talking and ended up doing the walk with him. He was well-traveled and very interesting. At the top we could walk part way around the volcano which brought you to a ridge where the two craters met. Tangkupan Prahu is a dormant volcano that last erupted in 1959 – so we should be safe. It has 2 craters side by side and both give off an impressive amount of stinky smoke. Like everything in Indonesia it has an old story tied to it. The last place, Borobudur, had to do with a lover trying to make 1000 temples in one night; his beloved broke his heart when she tricked the sun into coming up early. So Tangkupan Prahu, roughly meaning upturning of a boat, is about a beauty who cast her son away on a boat for disobedience (any of you been tempted?), and in her sadness was granted the power of eternal youth by the gods (got it… so if I cast my son away I get eternal youth, looking more tempting now?). After many years in exile, Sangkuriang decided to return to his home, long after the two had forgotten and failed to recognize each other. Sangkuriang fell in love with Dayang Sumbi and planned to marry her, only for Dayang Sumbi to recognize his birthmark just as he was about to go hunting. In order to prevent the marriage from taking place, Dayang Sumbi asked Sangkuriang to build a dam on the river Citarum and to build a large boat to cross the river, both before the sunrise. Sangkuriang meditated and summoned mythical ogre-like creatures to do his bidding. Dayang Sumbi saw that the tasks were almost completed and called on her workers to spread red silk cloths east of the city, to give the impression of impending sunrise. Sangkuriang was fooled, and upon believing that he had failed, kicked the dam and the unfinished boat, resulting in severe flooding and the creation of Tangkuban Perahu from the hull of the boat. So basically another female breaks a guy’s heart and he causes some sort of mass destruction. Do I see a trend of blame?

Active volcano

Tea fields

Regardless, the hike was nice. After walking around the edge we walked down (well after I took a wrong turn and walked through the men’s washroom looking for the ladies, a nice guy waited for me outside the ladies and walked me back the right way to James) to the hot springs. There were a few people hanging around, some getting foot scrubs with the volcanic mud and some boiling eggs in the water. I stuck my feet in one pool, but most were bubbling and boiling they were so hot.

Eventually we popped out of the path and bartered our way back to the front gate where we took a quick peek at some beautiful green tea fields before grabbing a minivan going our way. It’s much easier getting one going back than leaving, and quicker. We decided to eat early again so we could safely walk to the restaurant and cabbed back, still being over cautious I’m sure.

Is there anything cuter than a sack of ducks?

Sept 17

We decided to stay one more night, the hotel we were in was by far cheaper than any of our options if we moved on and to be honest we were close to Jakarta and anything closer would be busier, more touristy and overpriced. It’s a shame, we’d come to Bandung to spend a few days in the mountains, getting some fresh air, hiking and seeing something other than cities in Java but the travel agent ended up being a tool so here we were…..looking for something to do with a free day. We (I) decided a botanical garden would be nice. So off we went to the bus/minivan station. This time it was a bus, but with little English being spoken we had no idea how much a seat cost or when it left. So we grabbed a seat and waited. Almost an hour later we decided a garden wasn’t worth it. We’d take the free day and watch tv, something normal and relaxing. After an afternoon of being a couch potato we thought we should venture out, grab a bite to eat and maybe see a movie. The theatre was about a 45 minute walk and it was raining…there are no sidewalks in Bandung and you end up walking half on the slimy, rain soaked streets in black muck or over the sewer drains that have huge holes…I wasn’t walking. But - our time in Bandung wasn’t going smoothly – due to rush hour no cab would take us for less than a flat rate of 3 times the normal rate. Crap! So back to the tv…..we finally went out again, had a bite and saw Hangover 2 - What a great movie. And I think the monkey humor was funny, but it has lost its hilariousness since I’ve been in Asia. Today alone I saw a monkey dressed in a vest playing the drums and another riding a bike, all between red and green lights so their owners could collect coins.

Sept 18

Today is a travel day. UGH! We wanted to leave by 8 am but our alarm didn’t go off. About an hour and a half late we showed up at the airport express minivan place only to be told they were full….until 5:30! The day before James had stopped by to ask if we needed a reservation and they said no, just show up, hmmmm. They asked if we wanted the 1, ONE, seat at 11:30 am? We took it. I watched a cooking show in the waiting room (Java gets some great English satellite tv channels) while James played on the internet until our minivan was ready. It was a cozy two and a half hour ride to the “rest station”, which was 3 minutes (James timed it) from the airport. This had to be the worst of “my uncle owns the place, I get a free meal, I get a kick back” stop ever. We didn’t seem to be the only ones a bit disgruntled and the 20 minute stop lasted about 10. And we were at the airport…..

We decided to skip Jakarta, or staying there – I might go shopping there tomorrow – and decided on an airport hotel. The airport is roughly an hour and a half from Jakarta and we have an early morning flight so would have had to get up at 3 am. Also, no one seems to have anything nice to say about Jakarta. The hotel offered free airport shuttle so we saved some cash getting the express bus to the airport and catching that. In no time at all we were checked into our very purple room at the Aston. I ripped a second pair of shorts getting on and off the motor bike in East Timor and the sewing job wouldn’t hold so I needed to find a pair of shorts….finding anything to fit in Asia can be a chore and I was not looking forward to it – and had put it off. UGH! We walked to the mall near the hotel with no luck, well we did find an A&W and had a root beer float. I should go into Jakarta tomorrow because it will have huge malls full of brand name stores with foreigner sizes…but the 3 hours each way of bussing didn’t seem appealing. Should I risk Manado, our next stop, having decent malls? Do I really need pants?

To save some cash we had noodles and sandwiches for supper then skyped our parents. We were heading more remote and weren’t sure what the internet would be like. We are past the half way mark and while the time seems to be flying April seems a long way off…. to see family and friends again.

Side Note: When we arrived in our hotel room there was a door slightly ajar so James opened it. It was a door to connect to the room next door and the guy on the other side had left his open so when James opened our door he got a good view of the guy relaxing on his bed in his boxers. The guy was a bit startled, and I think James a bit surprised. He promptly shut the door and we tried to avoid meeting him in the hall. Travel Hint: Keep your connecting door closed if you don’t want visitors.

September 19

I am supposed to be catching the free airport shuttle so I can catch a bus going downtown….three hours each way so I can buy shorts. James looked up the malls in Manado and it looks like I might be able to find something there…..the responsible part of my brain (yes James, the smallest part) is saying go (and I can pick up a few souvenirs at the handicraft market) but the lazy “wants to stay in the air conditioning room and blog, surf the net and watch tv” part of my brain says “No way Jose!”. We all know what side won. The day was relaxing and we got caught up on a bunch of stuff. From Manado on all but 3 nights in Sorong are booked and include most transfers to/from air ports and hotels and pretty much all meals. We even have a few tours pre-booked (a huge thanks to John at Siam Dive who really knows diving and is one of the best agents I’ve seen). But, we visit Papua New Guinea next and it isn’t the easiest to do and requires a ton of research. Any suggestions or hints would be greatly appreciated!

I am also excited to get to Manado. We will be diving almost every day for over a month and we start it in Lembeh Strait which has some of the best muck diving in the world. I am doing a happy dance in my purple hotel room just thinking about it.

September 20

We are flying to Manado, Indonesia today. We seem to be stuck in Indonesia. We are on our third VISA, the last two we had to get as 60 day visas, and by the time we leave in late October we will have spent almost 100 days, about 14 weeks (including the week last year in Sumatra) in Indonesia. To be honest the food isn’t great, and there are pockets where it’s not cheap, and the people, although friendly – not the friendliest - so what keeps us here? There are some fantastic sights, lots of history and culture, beautiful wildlife and nature and volcanoes, volcanoes and more volcanoes. And some of the top dive sites in the world. Even after spending all this time there are still two fairly large areas we’ve skipped and I hope maybe one day to see, southern Sumatra and southern Sulawesi. We didn’t originally plan to spend this much time but we added a Raja Ampat live aboard, a little late, and had a few extra weeks to fill so we decided make a stop in Manado on the island of Sulawesi, to do some diving in Lembeh Strait and Bunaken. And since we were going all the way to Papau, Indonesia we added a stop in Nabire to visit Ahe Resort (I can’t yet tell you why in case I jinx it). Indonesia is huge! It’s also spread out and before we leave we’ll have taken about 11 fights getting to/from and around Indonesia averaging $75 CAD /person /flight. Easy to get around with lots of flights but not the cheapest country to see all of.

Indonesia comprises of 13,466 islands (the biggest and main ones being Sumatra, Sulawesi, Java, Timor, Kalimantan, Bali, Lombok and Papua) and 33 provinces. With over 238 million people, it is the world's fourth most populous country (58% of the population lives on Java, the world's most populous island), and has the world's largest population of Muslims. The degree to which they adhere to Islamic rules varies greatly; in Sumatra (where we were last year) it is illegal to sell/buy alcohol and it is enforced. This year in Sumatra during Ramadan someone was arrested for selling rice during the day where Bali is a wild streets filled with half dressed, mostly drunk tourists carrying open alcohol kind of place. Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. There are around 300 distinct native ethnicities in Indonesia, and 742 different languages and dialects. A visit to Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, is very different from Java from Bali from Sumatra and now Sulawesi. Indonesia has 3 time zones which drives James nuts, there doesn’t seem to be any clear cut way or how the country is divided up and it keeps him guessing. Every time we enter a new time zone it amuses me…thanks James!

Also this next flight takes us across the equator again, which we’ve crossed 3 times already and by the time we leave Indonesia it will be 6 times. Manado, where we are heading now is only 3 degrees from the equator…I might be able to work on my tan.

Prev. Home Next