A Travellerspoint blog

November 2010

The Island and a return to Bali...

01-11-2010 to 10-11-2010

all seasons in one day 28 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

b]The Gilli Isles[/b] are made up of three islands off the north-west coast of Lombok, the small island next to Bali (which is just south-east off Java). You can walk around each island in a fee hours so that is how small they are. Our island was cled Gilli Trebangan. It had Beautiful White sandy beaches with palm trees, resorts down the south end, beach huts up the north end of the east coast.
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Nothing much around the other coastlines I'm told, I never did the island walk, not from lazyness, but believe it or not... I was ill (again!). I caught a cold of all the ridiculous things to catch on a desert island!!! So I sunbathed and snorkled for the majority of my time there. I saw three turtles, an octopuss(!), lotsa fishes of different varieties, it was beautiful. Our accommodation was a beach hut big enough for three, with an outdoor bathroom, novel at the time of securing the deal, impractical when you need to pee and it's raining! There is a bit of coer but no way enough so you don't get wet. Plus instant meal for Mosquitos...

Hel and I sunbathed as much as possible but the weather would always turn in the afternoon to clouds, overcast rainstorms coming over from Lombok (they get loadsa rain) and we'd get bombarded so be forced to chill out in a bar, cafe or our Balcony. This is why we stayed 5 nights, after much more we wouldve been ready to try to swim ashore!
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The island was more expensive than the mainland, since they have to ship supplies over, but the food we had was great, freshly caught seafood cooked to order with salad buffet and potatoes... Perfect! The island people are friendly and relaxed, in fact for the majority of island people life is slow. They sit around and wait. For people to arrange a trip, buy water or shopping, to get a lift in a horse drawn carriage (we never did this), or place a food order. They sit in communal groups and sometimes at night walkin home from a bar, you'd see a grp of men all laid out asleep in a raised platform which acted as a bed. They may have been getting really early the next day, I just don't know.
The main tourist section is the main road around the island but if you literally walk down a sidestreet (and no tourist needs to do this
since everyhing they need is on the main strip) you get a whole new view of the island. You get to see cockerals walking around freely, buildings being made, women going about their chores, cafes for locals and farmyards. The locals take an interests look at you probably wondering why you are straying from the beaten path. It was nice to see the raw side of life of a 'desert' island.

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Kuta, Bali 06-11-10 to 10-11-10
Hel and I left for Bali whilst Dutch headed to the Gilis for a bit. Our Bali stop was a port called Padang Bai, which usually in the peak season is overrun with travellers. Since it was off peak I tried to bargain down the rooms but no one was having any of it so we stayed in the centre of town in a chilled out place with tiled floors, balanese woodworked doors and a view over the town to the sea. After an exploratory walk round the town (not too much to see) we had dinner which was yummy chicken satay skewers, hel then because we are so exciting we went to bed. Got up the next day and booked our bus journey to Kuta, the main tourist strip of Bali. This took 2 hrs to drive to ane we got dropped off at Bemo Corner (Bemo is the name for the mini van used to transport people around Bali) and began our accommodation search. No where had any availability, or it was extortionatley priced, so beig near lunch time we dumped our bags in a restaurant and sat down to eat. Afterward we scanned our guidebook maps and foundthere should be a bunch of places just down the road so whilst one waited wih the bags, the other went off to secure a room. The hotel we booked had a pool, lush greenery creating a cool jungle vibe, and pagodas you could sit under in comfort when it rained. The rooms had balconys and were spacious with ensuite bathrooms. Perfect for relaxing in.
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Now, I won't be able to do Kuta beach justice but it is MASSIVE! It neverends, goes on as far as the eye can see and in now way feels 'full' of people despite heir being hordes of sunbathers, suffers and beach touts. It's lovely n golden and sandy soft. When the tide out it becomes huge width wise too. I was stunned, and whilst I have been on long beaches before I think the fact I'd come from a tiny island made the effect twofold or more. I just thought to myself, 'wait till you see the Aussie beaches rose!'.
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So after a beer onthe beach hel and I set out to explore. Lots of souvenier shops selling the same tat. I exchanged the rest of my Malaysian money, and we chilled out at the hostel waiting for Dutch. After he arrived we went out for dinner then drinks, to a bar in town. Now kuta nightlife is meant to be mad. The bar we were in did get busy but nothing too mad. It was good to dance and have some fun! With no hangover the next day! The late night visit to mcdonalds must have helped...
Sunbathing the next day then a motorbike ride into the hills to see the rice terraces of central Bali followed by a visit to a temple on the sea. The landscape of Bali is beautiful, farmers working the fields, the sun beating down and you steaming past on a bike. I loved it. I actually went to talk to the farm workers as they cut the rice crops, and they let le have a go with the scyth! It's very sharp and after a time I imagine backbreaking work...
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A return to kuta and then dinner before hel and I parted ways (she headed to shanghai for a week before then meeting up with her boyfriend for two weeks travelling oz together before meeting back u with me in cairns...geddit?!). However life is never simple and as I set off to cath my flight, Jetstar had other ideas. Now you may know, Mt Mirapi in Indonesia errupted, whilst I was there and in Bali, emitting an ash cloud.
Jetstar said our flightoath was over the ash cloud so cancelled my flight to Darwin. Ten minutes before we were scheduled to board the plane, at 10.30pm! It was gone 1pm by the time they had arranged accommodation, driven us there in coaches, checked me in (I was 5th in line so got a swanky room!) and theni went to bed! The hotel was plush, my room was massive, with double bed (I rolled around purposefully to make sure I used all the bed space), minibar (wish I'd used it now since they didn't charge me), free choccy (def ate that), and the bathroom had pebbles in it- check out the photo...i was in heaven for a few hours cos I had to get up at 6am to make sure I could have the buffet breakfast before catching a 10 o'clock flight the following day, which i did, to Darwin, Australia.
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Posted by RosiePony 19:08 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali backpacking Comments (0)

Lovina to Amed, Bali

29-10-10 to 01-11-10

sunny 28 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

Friday - After breakfast we decided to explore Lovina, it's a small village stretched out along a main road with two other roads parallel off it. Not very big and not very busy. We wanted to find the Post Office for stamps which took a good 20 mins of sweaty walking to find, in which time Aljan had a haircut! How exciting our lives are! After a brief walkroud we played in the pool til dinner.
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Saturday - Whiteley and I had a pool day, sunbathing and swimming and sampling the local Bintang beer.
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We ate lunch at the hotel then met up with the others for dinner (we traveled to Bali with three French people -George, Olivie and Jan- who we met doing the Mt Bromo tour)- they had rented bikes and gone off to find green rice felds. When they came back though it turns out they didm't actually find any good green rice fields. so we had Arak (rice whiskey) to make up for it and the night went on from there!!

Sunday - We left the hostel at 11am in a Bemo to Amed which was a 2 hr drive. The French (as we called them) were meeting Yans brother in Amed so we thought that was a good stop for us to. It was so beautiful watching the scenery of Bali pass you buy. Everyone was out in their Sunday best and soon we hit traffic which slowed us down considerably. Yan and Aljan got out to explore (they are the same person I think- both extremely inquisative and like to know what's going on!) and they found it was a Hindu festival with crowds of people bringing offerings and food, hence the traffic.
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We arrived in Amed in the afternoon. After checking in we went for a walk along the beach and found a place to eat lunch. It is a very rural small local village. No cashpoint, shops etc. Very peaceful.
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We explored the nearby fields to find a pig in a bag. We had heard it squealing from the roadside so we went to explore. There was an old lady and a boy aged 6 who were carringing a piglet in a bag on a bamboo stick to their house. Aljan took over from the old lady n off we went ("Hi Ho, Hi go...") back to the house. I tried communicating withthe locals but only got as far as the Lonely Planet would allow- ages and "are you ok?" then we saw two massive boars being manhandled into big wicker baskets to be weighed in preparation for slaughter. We left after this since slaughter would be at 7am the following day and wasn't local, otherwise we would be observers for sure!
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Back to the hotel for a swim in the pool (slimy) and bedtime. It was a beautiful starry night.

Posted by RosiePony 18:28 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali backpacking lovina Comments (0)

Mt Bromo, Java

27-10-10 to 28-10-10

sunny 28 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

Wednesday - 8am pick up in minivan to transport us and luggage to Probalingo, a town hub for trips up Mt Bromo volcano. We arrived at Probalingo at 4pm, changed to a different minivan to be taken up the mountains winding roads in the dark fog. Helen and I sat in the front so we had a great view!! Slept at a hostel that im describing as a 'dive'*, where nothing had been cleaned, the bathroom had soil from an air vent spilling down the wall from the ceiling, the toilet was yuk n we had an ant invasion somewhere between the minivan and the hotel room (luckily for me n hel, this only involved dutches bag). Plus I needed food and was served bad* noodles for dinner. (*please note this is a replacement word for blogging purposes, I am sure u can think of worse ones to adequatley describe the 'hotel' once u see photos or hear the description).
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I hate it when locals take advantage of the fact that tourists will be booking on a tour, so no effort is made with service or accommodation. And the tour we were sold ended up having different accommodation to the one we were shown back in yogjakarta when we booked it (we were expecting something like this would happen).

Thursday - Up at 3 the next morning for sunrise at the viewing area on the top of mt nr by for a couple of hrs then on to climb mt bromo.
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I got a horse ride up to the start of the steps (the horses were there, he hill was steep, it took 10 mins and cost about 70p!), climbed the steps alongside a 60yr old man, he over took me, i over took him and so on and so forth (altitude is a killer!) then at the top j enjoyed suffocating by sulphur. It's free n everything! Just breath in the egg fumes at the top of the volcano as they blow towards you. Beautiful.

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All that aside, amazing views, you can go right past the railings and commit suicide in the volcano itself should u wish (I should point out I'm writing this sat at Bali airport the day after a flight cancellation so apoloies if I have a bitter edge in my narrative), but I'm sure you'd have horrific injuries first on the way down since the sides are so steep. If u keep your sanity at the top, and you make it back down the steps you get to drive across the salt planes at the bottom in jeep. Its fun. To stand on the filled in crator of a once humongous volcano that now houses 3/4 smaller volcanoes itself. After all the excitement, it was back to 'hotel' for a 10am pick up to take us back to probalingo.
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Upon arrival at the tour office we were suprised when we were given money back (50,000rp) since the trip was meant to include a ferry n bus to lovina, Bali. However 'suddenly' this section coludnt be arranged. We got a bus to the ferry (6 hrs) then bought our own tickets for the hr ferry journey n out the otherside at 8/9pm when it was dark. we had to negotiate with a bemo driver to take us to lovina. Luckily there were 5 of us because normally you have to pay for the entire bemo or wait for more people to come. I couldn't see much chance of more ppl coming but a French couple did. That sold it and the bemo took us to lovina for the 50k we were refunded. A beautiful start to Bali.

Posted by RosiePony 02:51 Archived in Indonesia Tagged mountains java volcano backpackers Comments (0)

Yogjakarta, Java

24-10-10 to 26-10-10

sunny 30 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

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Sunday - Arriving late last night wasn't as bad as I expected. Yogjakarta is a cool relaxed city where it's safe to go out late at night alone (not that I ever was alone) so we got cash out, walked to Bladock, our hostel and hoped they had room for us all! They did n we went straight to bed since it was about 3am...I got up early ish and went to do a rekky of the area: find a place to hand in laundry and find out prices for Batik courses (more on this later). Walking along the main road there are lots of cycle rikshaws that can hold 2 ppl, and horse drawn carridges taking people down the road (have to do it!). I've learnt the phrase 'jalan jalan' which means just walkin around so no one bothers me too much. It's hustle and bustle down the main road, with stalls of crafts (bags, clothes, jewelry etc) which tempted me into buying some bracelets and a batik bag! Bargained of course ;)
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I returned to meet Helen and Aljan, who then ventured out with me again down the main road in search of food. We ate off a street vendor
(has spring rolls and mie goreng - fried noodles and chicken) which was delicious. Then we visited a batik showroom, where 35 artists
created different pictures on canvas using the batik technique - you use hot wax to create an outline of the design, then add colour and
more wax to build up a picture of your design. Finally the wax is melted off leavin the design clearly seen. Helen and I picked out what
we liked, haggled and I was 'lucky' enough that my artist happened to be in the studio, so I got a piccie with him. After a while I got a
price I was happy with, got the pack and left. It was only when we were walking down the main road and someone came up to us asking if we wanted to see a 'real' batik warehouse that we realised we may have been duped?!
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We went along anyway to compare prices, Aljan teasing us all the while, only to find, they had the same 'unique' batik pictures for sale- luckily at the price I paid, so I didn't feel bad, liked my purchase and could see the funny sideWe took a horse and carriage ride back home (Which has a pool did I forget to say?!) to freshen up then we had dinner. We arranged a batik course for the next day as well as a massage (in need of one from all the bag carry travel in bogor) for the eve and then had a beer n went to bed.
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Monday - Today is our Batik painting course. Very exciting. We designed our patterns of pictures in pencil on a piece of square linen material before being shown the batik process:
- use hot melted wax to protect the material from the colours you add to the design.
- use paraffin wax to protect the colours you use from running with the final colour background.
- melt all wax and you have batik design
This sounds simple but you have to use an old style nib to apply the wax to the cloth and it can spill or blob, the trick is to keep the application slow. Anyway this whole process took the entire day but it was pleasing to see the end results.
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Tuesday - 8am pick up in minivan to the temples, an hrs drive away from yogjakarta. Lunch restaurant is pointed out and we get tickets to the temples, enter the complex, get a free map then head off on our exploration. The first temple is Borobudur. This is a single temple,
with steps leading uptown the main stupor with 4 levels on the way up. Each level depicts different scenes on the walls as you walk round.
The steps are guarded by lions on the base of the main staircases. The steps are not uniform and are steep. I went straight to the top
(Learnt to do this in china since getting up is the hard part, coming down is easy!) to explore and saw the main stupa was surrounded by
lots of smaller stupa in a circle on the level below. Inside each stupa is a Buddha that if u can reach through a hole in the stupa, u
can make a wish on. I could so did, can't tell u wot I wished for tho otherwise it won't come true! I was asked for photos by lots of indonesians so I was reminded of china a bit, then got chatting to some students who wanted to practice their English with me. 20 mins later I had found out their ages (16, 17 and 20), had discussed football, my travels, going to university in indo and how much it costs (lots for them) as well as the uk and if there were any temples there (I mentioned stone henge since it's the only thing I though they could relate too). Back to the minivan to be taken to a mid stop on route, another temple with an admin fee so I bypassed it and visited a Buddha monastery instead which was much more peaceful than walking past the hawkers outside the temples- trying to sell me another batik bag (they wouldn't buy mine back off me when I offered). Then onto pranayama (Hindu temples) which reminded me more of Angkor Watt temples that were four or five temples situated around one main complex. Again steps up each one! So a good workout today ;)
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The thing about these temples is that they have been rebuilt due to 'conservation' since the earthquake in 2002(?). So whilst they look
pristine as they once might have, they have been pull apart bit by bit (or excavated in the case of the earthquake) and then labelled and
reput back together. That's one big jigsaw puzzle! Back in the minivan to yogjakarta where we met dutch for dinner at the hotel. We had arranged a massage the previous evening for 9pm tonight - my massage was with hot jasmine oil for 1.5hrs (blissful sigh)...as I was lying there I heard Dutch finish his massage (it was an hr), rustle around and say the fateful words we've been teasing him about ever since "excuse me, may I show you something?". I knew instantly Whiteley and I had the same thought reactions ('it's not THAT kind of massage parlour'), but in dutches defence, he IS a qualified physiotherapist and genuinely wanted to share knowledge. So whiteley and I found ourselves mid way through a physio seminar held by Dutch at 11pm the eve before we have to get up at 7 to go climb a volcano! Classic. Pity the Indonesian boys who did the massages didn't look remoteley Interested. But in thanks the owner gave Dutch a buddha head statue which he is still reluctantly lugging round in his bag, ha ha ha.

Posted by RosiePony 04:53 Archived in Indonesia Tagged java backpacking yogjakarta Comments (1)

Indonesia - Jakarta

19/10/10 - 24/10/10

sunny 30 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

Tuesday - Arrived in to Jakarta airport at 11.00pm Jak time (1 hr in front of Malaysia) but had managed to sleep on the flight out here, which I kinda got upgraded on - it was a pretty empty flight so i got to sit at the emergent exit, a new level of responsibility for someone who was feeling like crap from a stomach bug :s
Going through the airport rigmarole was smooth, got my visa, went through customs, got my baggage (saw bag as it was about to go back out into the world of conveyor belts but couldn't run for it in time), then exited to crowds of people waiting to collect their respective relative or business colleague. Searched for whiteley... Nothing! Turns out she is stuck in the hugest passport control queue that I must have missed. An hrs wait later n she emerges from the hubub bags in tow. In the meantime I'd arranged a taxi (although we found out later it was a rip off taxi) to the hostel. News to me, Indonesia doesn't really do hostels, since hotel rooms are so cheap. But I found one anyway n it's turned out to be amazing - it's an apartment with a pool, jackoozie and shops outside. The owner is an interior decorator so it's beautiful inside! The girls who manage things are v helpful n friendly.

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Wednesday - After a good nights sleep - the dorm room houses 8 guests in bunkbeds, and the duvets are amazing, like being back home in uk and their is aircon too!! I got up n had some porridge drink, took my meds then asked the girls what they recommend doing in Jak. The plan for today is to do nothing but rest n sleep, enjoy the pool etc. So we had lunch at a nearby restaurant then sat by the pool, read magazines (catching up on uk gossip) and napped :-)
For dinner we ventured out to a shopping mall where I got some new shorts (thank you M n S!) then we had dinner- a REAL salad for me,
with an egg n everything!! Been craving fresh greens for a while now...so satisfied :) And my stomach was behaving itself. So well see how tomo goes as we are exploring the city by foot, and heading onto our next destination by train. Or that's the plan.

Thursday - I let Whiteley sleep in to recover from jet lag, then we got read n headed out to the mayhem that is Jakarta. Now as cities go, I thought it was pretty same same the main difference between it and say, KL is that Jak is way dirtier! Like, way way dirtier. But not as bad as Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia), still my worst polluted city. So we got a cab (they're metreds and cost less than a pound anywhere, so why not?!) to he national monument, took photos then walked (in the heat humidity hot hotness) to the national history museum which told us alot about Indonesian history re old artefacts. Now, this excited Whiteley as an archaeologist, and me as a geographer, who like old things and maps! So we spent til way past lunch there. My tummy noticed this n protested loudly but then we were escorted round the fourth n final floor which held gold and ceramics by what looked suspiciously like school children since they all shared the same light blue school top uniform, who read the english card translations outloud for us whilst pointig at said object. Felt rude to fob them off so endure a further 20mins before practically running round the rest of the floor to finish. Then we walked to the backpacker area, Jalan Jaksa to see what we were missing. Turns out nothing and that our hostel rocks! It's such a shammy run down looking street with hardly any westeners or backpackers (sometimes a good thing but not in this case) so we had lunch in a bar there cos we needed food but it was forced on my part. Then back to the hotel for naps before exploring our apartment block for dinner. Bit disappointing, as ended up with noodles from the corner shop... :( can't wait to be able to eat normal food again!
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Friday - We woke up early, checked out n got taxi to Gambir train station. We bought our tickets to Bogor (10,000rp £0.70p) which is 1 hr by train. However, this depends when the train actually gets into the station. We had another train waiting at the platform we were due to board the train to bogor, and so the train from bogor (whih turns into the jakarta - bogor train that we needed) was held at another out of town station. This meant that despite turning up at the train station at 9.30, we left on the correct train at 12.30. And it was longer than an hr due to passenger numbers and stop offs.
A new phenomena I experienced was a female only carriage (guarded by 4 male armed guards) which we didn't actually ride in because we had met Aljan, a dutch guy who started chatting to us during our train wait. He is travelling indo for 2 months and so far has joined us in our adventures from Jak to Yogjakarta (not that this isn't a current blog...ahem!)...Upon arrival in Bogor we came across the tourist info centre who told us the hostel of our first choice (can u see this coming?!) was fully booked so our second choice would be better. Hot n tired we couldnt b bothered to argue so we went to our second choice nearby.
It turned out to be ok, Helen and I shared a double room costing less that our last hostel beds put together. The room was sufficient if a bit damp. We were right above the river, which I can imagine u all thinking is lovely, but in reality, imagine this: a brown river (it's slash n burn time of yr so the rivers have high silt contents) wih rocks that stop the rubbish from freeflowing downriver. Rubbish pile ups can be seen generated by the ppl living in houses on the opposite bank simply casting away their rubbish as far as they can into the river wihout a second thought or backward glance. Next time you curse the bin men for forgetting your bins or not doing an efficient job, remember at least you have bin men!
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After an afternoon nap, we explored town (a dirty small town not v salubrious and bit dodge) trying to find somewhere for dinner. Not caving into the KFC monopoly out here (I considered it, but would set me back ill wise) meant eating back at the hotel, so we took our bearings, noted the Internet cafe and headed back for dinner. Despite ordering Nasi goreng (fried rice) it was too oily so I resorted to peanut butter sandwiches whilst Hel did a 'dad' and became the human dustbin (she remains stick thin despite her intense love relationship wih chips!) :)
Internet after dinner - can't upload photos yet so will have to wait :( home then bed...

Saturday
We got up very early (met for breakfast at 7.30) and checked out of our accommodation. We took our bags and got a local minibus partly
towards the botanic gardens. I say partly because when u agree a price for 'three' per person, you think it means 3,000rp (locals pay 2,000rp) but the greedy drivers hink it means 30,000rp. Now, this is pittance, I know that and they know that but the principle is, pay what the locals pay relative in the scheme of things otherwise ppl get greedy, and u waste travel money. So we paid 3,000rp and got out halfway there, meaning we sweated our butts off (nicest way I could phrase that, sorry!) walking with my 16kg (????? Plasters?!) backpack on my back and mini bag on my front to the botanical gardens getting lost on the way (Whiteley was map reading!).
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So were the gardens worth it. No! Not at all. Silly Lonely Planet saying u could spend half a day there! I'm glad I've gone for the challenge, experience blah blah but it was like walking round the lost world and coming across the occasional sign in Latin for the plant species. The only redeaming feature was the restaurant which served us fish n chips for breakfast at about 11am! Not to mention the school kids who were out in force. One teacher spotted me and called me over, kids swarming to engulf me. The teacher made the kids practicetheir English by pointing at a child n makinthem ask me a question ('how old are you?') etc. I answered them all the the Yeager leapt into singing! The next thing I know all
the kids start singing 'kae sera sera...(what ever will be will be...)'! So of course me Helen and Aljan join in at the top of our lungs ;) classic!
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After the gardens we got a bus for 4 hrs to Bandung (40,000rp £2.50), got off the bus, realised it was much the same as Bogor but perhaps
slightly bigger, so we got a local bus to the train station (after waiting for 45 mins for it to fill up, watching the hawkers sweep throughthe bus selling mangoes, cigarettes, busking songs etc) then booked a train to Yogjakarta (110,000rp £6) which is where I am writing this from (the train). The train ride to yogja (as its called) is 8 hrs so we get into the city at about 1am. Not ideal but necessary I think given our travel time scales. It's now quarter to Ten in the eve, I woke up at about 4am this morn then again at 7.30 when the alarm actually went off, so I am cream crackered! Need a lie in, laundry, and a nice hot shower :-) Then beddy byes... Zzzzz

Posted by RosiePony 04:46 Archived in Indonesia Tagged jakarta indonesia backpacking Comments (0)

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