We set out for Yogyakarta…orJogjakarta…which is how the locals pronounce it…that would totally throw us off! After shaking off a few chasers and racers (just likeIndia), we got there in the evening and headed towards the area we knew we could find cheaper accommodation. After finding a good value place, we started to settle in. While Nick was with the bike I went to open our room. I was startled when someone to my left near our doorway simply said ‘Hello…’ It was Martin! I turned around and saw his bike parked across our doorway. The Euro Cup was going on and Indonesians love their soccer (ok, football for the rest of you). I passed out while Nick went to check on the free showing of the game in the street one block over. Yogya was a bit more expensive but it makes sense…there are a few major things to see such as Borobudur (a Buddhist temple) and Prambanan (a Hindu temple) that are quite old and listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. The next day we decided we’d just hit upBorobudursince we didn’t feel like blowing our budget for the day 🙂 Honestly it was definitely worth it. The temple was buried under ash since the violent and very active volcano Merapi is right next door. The carvings of the Ramayan, Buddha’s life and stories are immaculately preserved and the stupas that house life-size Buddha statues are really elegant. Like I said, definitely worth it…for us just as cool as Angkor Wat. So apparently inIndonesia, they watch Bollywood movies. Actually people all over southeast Asia watch Bollywood…the concierge at the hotel in Saigon, Hindi movies for sale at the 7-11s inThailand, the Malaysian customs officers at the Thai-Malaysia border watching Don 2, tv channels devoted to Hindi music and movies…it’s crazy! But the crazier thing is the fact that almost every single Indonesian person has seen ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’…that was almost 15 years ago. Half the time people had no idea what Nick was, some thought he was my Indonesian husband. But people definitely knew I was Indian and they were especially mystified by my nose. I know it’s long people…but damn…you don’t have to point at it! Just walking around on the street, in every single city or village and on everyislandofIndonesia, people would call out…”Kuchi kuchi hota hai! Aacha aacha! Nahi nahi!” and whatever words they had somehow learned or picked up in some random movie. It was okay at first…but after awhile I wanted to teach them some “other” choice words if you know what I mean. So Borobudur was no exception, people pointed and said “OhhhIndia!” followed by whatever else they knew. I couldn’t tell if they were doing it in a curious way or derogatory way just to get a rise. Anyways…on the way back fromBorobudurwe went to the small village before the trek up to Merapi. It was too foggy and cloudy to get up but we were able to take some pics of the perfectly shaped cone from far away.
We wanted to catch our friends Karan and Mahima for a day or two inBalisince they were there on their honeymoon. We hauled ass from Yogya toMt.Bromo. But before we could do that…we had to get our laptop fixed. We found a Toshiba customer center in Yogya at an electronics mall and talked them into switching an old keyboard with ours. They were to nervous to do it, so Nick picked up the screwdriver and started to do it by himself and eventually the shop guy took over. We paid them and had a working laptop again! Yay! Thankfully our speakers and everything else were fine.
There’s a few villages you can stay at toseeMt.Bromo(Bromo is actually Brahma in Javanese). We stayed at Cemero Lawang at a crappy overpriced homestay and it was cooold! We really didn’t realize how many times we’d be pulling out our jackets inIndonesia! I guess it is their winter and the altitude has been pretty decent in some places. We got settled in and had a dinner of sate ayam (chicken satay with rice) and gado-gado. The next morning we got up around 3:30am to drive up to Gunung (mount) Penanjakan to see the famous sunrise view of Bromo and some of the other volcanos. We knew it was going to be a sea of sand so we deflated some air out of the tires to give us better traction. As we started, dust was flying from the jeeps trying to race each other up to the viewpoint. The sand got a bit thick here and there but we rode nice and easy to avoid slippage. It was a bit spooky since we knew there were 2-3 cones to the left of us but we couldn’t make out any shape since it was pitch black save for the amazing stars and galaxies we could see! It was a traffic jam of jeeps getting up to the top. Some smart asses decided to park their jeeps in the middle of the roads. The sun was already creeping up by the time we got to the top. It was a bit hectic at the top as well since it was so damn crowded! Getting a picture at a decent angle was tough to do. So after many attempts we decided we’d linger after the crowds. So we got a coffee, walked around, talked to another Honda Tiger Club and eventually we were able to get some awesome views and pics of the landscape. The awesomeness about the landscape is the cluster of cone formations and the different colors of the cones. Bromo itself is a brownish-gray just like the sea of sand that surrounds the cluster which contrasts with the rest of the cones that are covered with green grass. Later we rode back down and climbed up to the rim of Bromo. The crumbling steps were half eaten by the ash-sand mix that covers the cone and makes up the sea of sand. It was dusty and a little tough to get up and down since it was unstable and slippery. Once we got to the top, I freaked! The railing had broken and had fallen about 6-8 ft down into the volcano soooo…there was literally only 2-3 ft of space for people to walk around and not knock each other down the side or into the cone. Below there’s a bubbling pool of mud that freaked me out further. I didn’t want to look down! Nick was taking pics up to the edge walking on a 1ft wide rim and generally just being nonchalant about the whole thing while I was reduced to nervous laughter and tears…I was losing it! I had to get down! Eventually my hubby obliged and we made our way down…I mean we did spend a good 20 minutes up there! Some people were taking incense, dried flowers, and other offerings to the cone and offered prayers. We made our way down and Nick had a field day riding around the sand! I was the photographer as we set up shots near the Hindu temple or pura near the base of Bromo, around the moon-like terrain and the savannah on the back side of Bromo. It was fun and slippery on the sand but the dust got the best of me and my allergies went into full force. We finished up around 1pm. When we got back to the guest house the owner told us we’d have to move to another guest house since he had all the rooms booked a week ago for a group of local kids coming fromJakarta. We were completely bummed, wish he had told us before. Having gotten up at 3am, we already had a full day and just wanted to rest. But to pack our stuff up and then just move to another overpriced guest house was not sounding like a fun option for us so we just packed up and rode out. I mean if we have to pack up, we’d rather make some distance. We considered going to Ijen which was supposed to be another volcanic crater lake that’s supposed to be amazing. We felt a bit burnt out and decided to skip it since we were told by locals that the roads were not going to be too good. Nick was already exhausted and we wanted to get somewhere to rest. We ended up at Jember which put us in decent position to catch the ferry toBalithe next day.
Java had been an amazing island. It was a little different from the Muslim-Christian tribal mix of Sumatera as it definitely had a more Islamic feel to it. But we never felt uncomfortable like how some other travellers felt. Maybe being Indian, we’re used to hearing prayers and stuff on blaring loudspeakers? Indonesia is a Muslim country, and you do encounter mosques and mullahs calling out for namaz 5 times a day, but then you see girls wearing a hijab and a sleeveless shirt and tight jeans…it’s kind of Indonesia’s unique version of Islam. And we were about to see Indonesia’s unique twist on Hinduism as well. We got a feel for it in Yogya and in small pockets of Java, but we were headed for Hinduism’s last stronghold in Indonesia…Bali here we com!