It was a pleasant 2 hour ferry ride from Sumatra to Java and there were many bikes aboard as people were coming back from visiting their families over the holidays. Dad, Mum and 2 or more kids plus all the luggage on
little 100cc bikes or scooters.
I had been warned that the s/w coast was a holiday area for the rich Jakarta people and that accomodation was expensive but, after asking at a few places, I found a free camping spot in
a resort area, with tiolet and mandi (bucket shower) and right next to the sea. It was just what I wanted and I was immediately adopted by a Pentacostal group who took me to their communal holiday house for a meal,
singing and prayers, so I was truly blessed.
We spent the next morning together too, around the beach and then had a great lunch before they packed their large car for the trip back to Jakarta and I retired to my
camping spot. I could see Krakatoa on the horizon for a short while. Would have liked to visit but it was too expensive if not in a group.
Luckily I found a really good and relatively quiet road up over the
hills and down to the south coast. Here there was a traffic snarl as it was Sunday, beach day ,but I stopped early, camping in a surfers GH run by an Aussie. Was able to watch the motorcycle GP in Spain and see Rossi
lose the championship!
After buying a semi ok map of Java I promptly got snarled up in the traffic in Bandung, missing the bypass but finally found the way out to the volcano area of Garut, truly beautiful scenery.
Bright green paddi fields and terraces down the mountain slopes and pretty houses of different colours. what I like about Indonesian country houses is that they are small but have big windows. Lots of bright hues with
bourgainvilla, hibiscus and other plants.
Garut has many tourist attractions with hot springs etc. I saw a sign for something, though I wasn't sure exactly what it was, and turned off down a small road to find out. I
saw a police post and stopped to ask and if there was somewhere to camp. The outcome was that I was escorted by an army man to the centre of the village, by a small lake, shown a very pretty camping spot and then taken
to have a chat with the village chief to get permission to stay. Luckliy an English speaking man, Sony, came and translated for me. It was agreed that both the army and the police would patrol by my tent every 2 hours
during the night and I was to give them a small donation.
By the side of the lake their was a small buddhist temple and the guardian and his wife had the house next to where my tent was, so they fed me and I had the
use of mandi and toilet. It was a lovely spot and I walked around the lake the next morning, visiting the temple and having breakfast with Sony before taking another scenic road down to the south coast. I visited a
turtle hatchery, not so well run as the Malaysian one, before finding accomodation in the Tsunami affected fishing town of Pangandaran.
Watching the fishing boats the following morning was a lesson in team work and
patience. The small boats motor out about 1km with the net which they then feed out as they come back to shore. A team of about 8, mainly women, then haul in the net, walking bacward up the beach in relays, the rope
hooked around their waists. When the net is finally in they empty the catch, mainly small fish, into a wicker basket and then in a communal cart. It takes about 1 1/2 hours for each trip and haul. They start at dawn and
make 4 hauls each morning. Not a big return but it is what they live on.
After a trip to the coastal National park, I retraced my steps a few kilometres to find a wooden puppet maker and then a surfers hang out by a
small beach at another fishing village. Here I camped and met a Dutch man, Steph, who used to go to Castellar in the 90's for his puff supply. First person I've met on this trip who knows where it is!
Indoneian boy, Annys, who has a 1964 Vespa, took me on it to visit a mystic cave, supposedly guarded by a Golom type creature. It is in a small, very green river and you can swim inside and see the formations above as
you do so. Of couse I swam in as far as I could but Annys was worried that the creature would attack me. It was cool and relaxing in the area and definitely King of the Fairies country.
My next destination was to
visit the Dieng Plateu. Inland at 2000 metres it is a very interesting area as there are many active volcanoes, crater lakes and also some ancient Hindu temples. I spent a day exploring; a fiercely bubbling crater and a
lake reminiscent of Mt Gambier in south Australi as it changes colours, yellow, blue and green at different times of the year. It was in Emerald green mode at this time.
After admiring the temples I took a ride around
the area and got stuck going down a very small, steep, windy road. Asked some locals to help me turn round as I wasn't sure where I was going to end up. Funnily enough, when I got back to the guest house there was a
Frenchman, Olivier, on a trail 200 Suzy, who lives in Bali. The next morning he kindly escorted me over that same road to take a very scenic short cut on my route to Borabudur
Like Angor Wat in Cambodia, the Borobudur
temple complex is the main tourist attraction. As with Angor it is also expensive for toursts who pay 11 times the local price to get in. However it is a must do. Built in the 8th century by the Sulendra dynasty, it is
a huge square structure that rises to several levels each with carved motives depicting the stages of karmic life. One of the carvings depicts a sailing ship and in 2003 a model of this ship was built and sailed
succesfully from Indonesia to West Africa retracing the old Cinnamon trading route.
The temple complex lies in a big park surrounded by the volcanic mountains and is pretty speccy, especially at sunset, I'm told.
After playing music with some buskers in the temple tourist area I was about to find a cheap sleep, aiming to return about 6 to see the sunset there. However, on returning to my bike I found 2 strange looking Vespa
converted sidecar outfits parked alongside and was immediatly surrounded by a group of scruffy looking, dreadlocked young men with broad smiles, reaching to shake my hand.
The leader, Eric, invited me to come back to
their house in Yogyarkarta and I have been staying in their student digs ever since. They have kindly sacrificed one of the bedrooms for me and they sleep in the lounge. Typical student life, they are now on hoilday and
come and go on their bikes, playing computer games, watching telly, shooting the breeze and drinking tea and jiuce, playing guitar and generally hanging out. I have been getting up early and hitting the email cafes to
get these reports written and catch up with your emails.
Yesterday Eric acted acted as my guide for the local temple complex and finally my police permission came in handy as we produced it as documentation to get me
the local entry price instead of tourist fee. It worked!
Today I aim to go into the town centre and do the tourist trail there before I leave tomorrow.
I am aiming to be in Bali to share my birthday with another
Linda from Oz. She is an artist who lives in Udud, Bali and we hope to have a real birthday bash together.
I have to catch a flight back to KL after that to just stay overnight (on the airport floor, I expect) so I
can re-enter Indonesia and thus extend my visa enough to get me through the other islands and down to East Timor for the ship to Darwin. This is going to take some co-ordination and is expensive. However, much as I like
Indonesia the monsoon will very soon catch me and I must be on my way.
Thanks to all the wonderful people who have helped me in this great country, not the frightening place predicted at all, so far.
Love to all