A Travellerspoint blog

arrival in Bali

day 8

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We see our first temple. There are thousands of temples in Bali: each house has at least one. Here, our first one.
We go to Tanah Lot, the temple that is partly in the sea. Big disappointment. There are tons of tourists (many Japanese). Before arriving to the beach, we have to pass through a shopping center/souk with a mix of souvenir shacks and modern shop selling famous western brands (Ralph Lauren, etc).
It's not possible to visit the temple, but blessings are available (for a small fee).
While going back to the bus, we see a procession.
We go now to Ubud. The first impression of our hotel is not very good. The people at the reception are not very friendly; the room is difficult to find in the dark; the room is strange, with the bed right in the middle, one light missing and an erratic tumbler-switch, a terrace with view on the parking lot, and someone repairing the pavement all night long.

Posted by ortho158 02:54 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali Comments (0)

East Java

days 7 and 8

all seasons in one day
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Our guide buys a duryan at a fruit stall.
It's considered as a delicacy in South-East Asia, but it has smells terribly bad. It's so bad that it is forbidden to bring duryans in some public places (hotels, e.g.). But is it good? The duryan is cut in small pieces, and we taste it. It's mushy, and absolutely not appetizing. One bite is enough .... I prefer the mangoustan.
I said earlier that we are in the middle of nowhere, but it's a beautiful nowhere. We are in the middle of paddy fields, wirth a great view on the mountains (and volcanoes).
Here, our bungalow.
We spend the afternoon at the swimming pool. The wind starts blowing very heavily, and it rains.
The next morning, we leave the hotel very reluctantly.
Some pictures of the work in the fields.
We make a stop in a cattle market. The men also take pictures of us, with their cells phones.
We arrive a Banyuwangi, where we take the ferry to Bali. We are pestered by salesmen who try to sell sunglasses. They even accompany us during the short crossing (30 minutes).
When we look at the other ferries, we begin to understand why there are so many shipwrecks in this region.

Posted by ortho158 06:07 Archived in Indonesia Tagged java Comments (0)

Kawah Ijen

day 7

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I am going to see the Kawah Ijen volcano today, as our guide promised that it would not be a tourist trap, like Bromo. We take our jeeps, and follow a very bad road through the jungle. On the way, we stop to help a madman who tried to do the road with a regular car, and ended in the ditch.
Here, a truck with miners going back home.
Unfortunately, the engine of our jeep refuses to start. After of few unsuccessful tries, we continue by foot, until one of the other jeeps comes back to fetch us. We arrive at the foot of the volcano (at 2000m) and, pay the tax. It is indeed much less crowded than Bromo: only half a dozen jeeps are parked here.
It's time to start climbing: it's a 3 km-hike to the top, 400m higher, which makes it rather steep. It starts gently, on a wide path. In fact, the first kilometer is easy. I come across miners with the load of sulphur that they picked in the crater of the volcano. They wear 70-80kg of sulphur on their shoulders! No problem to take pics of them, in exchange for some money or cigarettes. They make probably more money with the tips from the tourists than with their regular wage (2-3€/day).
The second kilometer is hell: the track is extremely steep, and I have to stop a number of times to catch breath. It's also very slippery, because of the pebbles. The third km is, comparatively, easier. I arrive at the top, after 1h20: not bad for a senior citizen.
In fact, I had forgotten to look at my watch, but the EXIF data of the pics is proof enoug. We are hit by the sulphur vapors. Some people could not stand them, and went back without seeing the crater. I put a damp scarf (one of Josette's) on my face, to protect nose and mouth.
We are partly in the clouds, in addition to the smoke and the sulphur vapors.
When the wind blows in the right direction, we can see the bottom of the crater, with its beautiful turquoise lake. Beautiful but toxic: it is the most acid lake in the world. The miners come from the bottom of the crater with their load of sulphur.
The spectacle is splendid, and there are indeed much less tourists here than at Bromo. The reason is obvious: the access to Kawah Ijen is much more difficult and requires some real effort. I go back.
Going down is nearly as tough as going up: not for the heart and lungs this time, but for the knees, as the path is very slippery. This time, it takes just one hour. Before taking the jeeps back, we visit the workshop where they process the sulphur, essentially used to refine sugar.

Posted by ortho158 06:15 Archived in Indonesia Tagged java kawah ijen Comments (0)

going to East java

day 6

all seasons in one day
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We arrive at the Java sea, on North-East Java.
There have been floods, and we have to take another road.
It starts raining again. We stop to see a wedding ceremony.
They have their party right in the street. We take off our shoes, congratulate the newly-weds, and take pics. They seem to like it.
We go further, and have to abandon our bus (it was planned) because the road becomes too bad: we take jeeps, and arrive at our hotel which seems to be great, but it's difficult to judge, because it's very dark now (8pm). Very comfortable room, with an open-air bathroom.

We have dinner here, as there is no choice: we are really in the middle of nowhere. The place is extremely quiet, troubled only by the bullfrogs and the muezzin of the nearby village.

Posted by ortho158 05:48 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Mount Bromo

day 6

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Wake-up at 3.30 am! We do not take a shower, as there are only two possibilities: freezing cold, or boiling hot. We leave by jeep for Penanjakan, at 2770m on the rim of the caldera, to see the sunrise on Bromo. There is a light drizzle. A number of other jeeps already arrived; we step down, and continue by foot. It's completely dark, save for the lights of the motorbikes bringing other tourists. We enter a small amphitheater, and we are definitely not alone: there must be a thousand people here!
Half of them sit in the amphitheater, and the others are massed against the fence, or even over the fence: which is rather dangerous (for them) and annoying (for us, as they hide the view ... although, to be fair, it doesn't make a lot of difference). It still drizzles. It is not so cold as we expected (around 10 °C). The day is dawning, and the volcanoes become visible.
Bromo is the one smoking, behind the dead tree; the one on the right is inactive; in the background, Semeru (also active).
The sun makes of brief appearance: everybody turns left, holding his/her camera at arm length, to take of picture of it, but without Bromo, of course. It's rather ridiculous. And then we are find that we are simply engulfed by the clouds, and there is absolutely nothing more to see.
We leave the amphitheater, and go back to the jeep (I had taken a pic of its license plate, just to be sure we picked the right one). We join a column of jeeps descending into the caldera, on a very bad and dangerous road (holes are hidden by foliage!).
Rain has stopped. All the jeeps go to a parking lot, and we continue by foot, in a sort of black desert. It's also possible to hire a horse, which is what Josette does.
We arrrive at the foot of the volcano, and now it's just a matter of climbing 250 steps to the top. Some people are selling flowers, to be used as offerings to the volcano.
There is smoke coming from the crater, but it is not as impressive as the Tangkuban Perahu, near Bandung, with its lake.
But the view on the caldera is breathtaking.
I count the number of jeeps: 150 (meaning 750 tourists). If we add those who came by motorbikes, we are indeed not far from my estimation of 1000 persons. Back to the jeeps ...
... and the hotel, for breakfast. We are now above the clouds, and the view is absolutely stunning. It's a moment that should not be missed, as, 15 minutes later, we'll be in the mist again.

Posted by ortho158 08:03 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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