shorty after 9 in the morning our doorbell rang and our friend Hellen
was there we knew this was the beginning of yet another adventure.
Hellen brought us to the railway station in Sittard where we sad our
goodbyes and took the train to Schiphol, Amsterdam international
airport. Once there we met with my Brother Bart and his wife Yolanda,
checked in and headed straight to the Holland bar to share a bottle of
bubbles to celebrate our adventure.
first flight today was with an Emirates airbus 380 to Dubai and what an
experience that was!!! Enough leg space, beautiful interior and
splendid service. Most of all we were impressed by the lack of engine
noise, it almost seemed we were flying in a hybrid. Our next flight to
Jakarta compared pale to this but we managed to doze away a couple of
we arrived in Jakarta where we were picked up by a driver from our
hotel. Jakarta had changed tremendously with lots of new skyscrapers
build besides the ‘jalan tol’. We did not feel sorry not to visit
Jakarta this time. The traffic was horrendous.
30 hours after we left home we were welcomed by Yus and Sri in ggHouse
Happy Valley, it was fantastic to see the both of them again and we had
many stories to share.
refreshing shower, our first Javanese dinner and our eyes became heavy
again. It had been a tiring day but once again we made it. Selemat
datang di Indonesia!! Night night…
surprisingly we slept well that night but still felt a bit tired that
morning. It’ll take a couple of day to get over our jet-lag. After
breakfast we went to Kebun Raya, the famous botanical gardens in Bogor.
Yolanda and myself had already been to this place on more than one
occasion but it was nice to share this with Paul, especially with him
being such a garden lover. It was nearly the end of the school term and
many schoolchildren celebrated this with a visit to the gardens. A
great picture opportunity… We were enthusiastically greeted by he
youngsters and this created a great atmosphere. Paul was enjoying the
landscape and whilst Sri explained many of the plants and their uses we
joked our way around.
could get a glimpse of Buitenzorg, the former residency of the Dutch
governor and of course we had to visit the old Dutch cemetery with
graves from the 19th century. Of course we could not miss the orchid
house where plenty of orchid sorts were on display. Also we visited an
area planted with medicinal plants.
sure if Paul would have been by himself he would have spent much longer
over here but after a couple of hours we returned to ggHouse for lunch.
After that we moved to the pool for a refreshing swim and a nap on the
sun beds. Originally we had planned a visit to the neighboring kampung
(village) and rice fields but we did not make it that far and relaxed
late afternoon at our terrace enjoying the stunning view. It was a good
way to start our holiday.
the evening we enjoyed a nice dinner with Yus and Sri but did not make
it late, we were not yet used to the new timezone. Time to go to
sleep… And a terrible night of sleep it was, both of us woke up
several times and by the time we got out of bed we felt more tired than
before. Oh well, we’ll get used to Indonesian time soon I hope.
after 7 we headed to the restaurant for breakfast Indonesian style.
Fried rice and fresh fruits. After that it was time to hit the road
gain. Like us and Sri had already told us the traffic was horrendous. So
it took us longer than normal but we finally made it to the viewpoint
over the Puncak Pass. From here we had a good view over the tea
plantations, something we were not able to on the way up as our view was
obstructed by the many food and fruit stalls beside the road. We made a
small walk through the tea plantations and watched the planters do
their work, harvesting the fresh leaves.
across the pass the view became a bit depressive as the whole area was
polluted by the exhaust of the local marble and cement factories.
Complete parts of hills had already been excavated and the sight
reminded me of some scenes in Lord Of The Rings. Even the plants were
covered in a dirty layer of grey ash, not the prettiest of sights but
part of reality.
we soon passed this unattractive area and soon we were surrounded by
sights of Indonesia we love so much. So much better sights !!
and Sri had a surprise in mind for our lunch which we had at Pak Esap
Stroberi restaurant. From the outside it did not look a lot at all but
once inside things changed. On a hillside there were plenty of pagodas
placed with a breathtaking view over the surrounding rice fields. It was
were allowed to have a sneak view of the kitchen and the staff had some
fun with us being so tall and having to duck through the doors.
and Sri ordered Sundanese specialities for us and their choice totally
overwhelmed us. Special rice, fish, vegetables and much more to note
here. All Sundanese specialities, you should have heard our hmm’s ,wow’s
and lekker…. Not surprisingly all plates were cleared. A lunch to
remember for a long time.
lunch Paul and I wanted to have our picture made in the middle of the
rice fields but neither of us got out with clean feet as we slipped of
the small dam straight into the muddy soil.
couple of hours later driving through spectacular scenery we arrived in
Garut, a spa holiday resort. All the hotels were supplied with sulphur
rich water from the hot springs in the area. Our bungalows were located
in front of one of the many ponds of the resort, a very romantic
setting. It was pampering time and Yolanda got spoiled with a
traditional massage. Bart and I opted for a hot stone massage and Paul
could not be separated from his book. A wonderful and relaxing
afternoon, followed by a swim in the hot pool. How good can it get….
morning we let for our next destination, Pangandaran. Once again we
loved the scenery but Yus and Sri made sure there was a great break
during our trip. Naga Village, one of Java’s few remaining villages
where the people still lived in a traditional way.
village was named after the meandering steps leading down to the valley
where Naga village , also known as Dragon village, was located. We had
to go down 498 steps down before we go there. At the riverside local
guys were collecting stones which were used as building material, it was
great to see.
local guide guided us through the village and told us about the habits
of the people, a very interesting tour. We were invited to his house
where we could experience the way the lived. We were really surprised by
the size of the house and the way it was decorated. It was all very
basic but certainly comfortable.
we went to the central square where the village hall and mosque were
located. People were preparing for a funeral as somebody died recently.
Lots of food was being prepared for the ceremony and for us it was great
opportunity to witness that.
returned to the river where the guys were still working on the stones
and a group of girls were having a washing session, after that there
were still the 498 steps to conquer, this time on the way up…
was a lot to be seen whilst on our way to our next destination as Yus
and Sri made sure they took the most interesting route, even for those
who have visited Java there was plenty of new sights to be explored. One
of those when we crossed the Cirahong bridge on foot, a spectacular
that we had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the bridge. Lunch was
terrific and timed perfectly as the heavens opened whilst we were
eating. As unexpected as it started it stopped, just in time for us to
hit the road again.
hours later we arrived in Pangandaran and it was nothing like the
hippyesque place it used to be when I visited it in 1987, now 26 years
ago. Of course Panagandaran had suffered greatly from the Tsunami in
2006 when more than 600 people were killed in a devastating wall of
water that flattened everything in it’s way.
has recovered well from that disaster but a lot had changed. Yes the
small losmens were still there but it was a lot busier and a lot of new
big hotels had been built or rebuilt. We stayed in the Nyiur Resort
Hotel, one of the newer places in Pangadaran which offered all the
amenities one could wish for (inclusive a hot shower which did not
were introduced to the mother from Yus and Sri, a very energetic and
friendly woman. She would join us the next day on our tour in the area.
As it was raining again we opted out for the easy way and had dinner
across the road. After that it as time to go to sleep after, once again
an exiting day.
morning the sun was shining again and after a full Indonesian style
breakfast we headed to our first destination, a small village where Gula
Jawa, Java palm sugar, and Wayang Golek puppets were produced. First we
were shown the way the sugar was produced, a long process.
that we took a short stroll through the village heading towards the
place where the wayang golek puppets were created. We were lucky as the
guy who hand makes those puppets was around to explain us the process.
He hand cuts the face, body and arms after which they are painted. His
wife sews the dress and decorations. Not only did our guy make the
puppets, he was also an enthusiastic dalang, puppet player, and was more
than happy to show his skills and explain something of the characters.
It was a wonderful demonstration. Bart and Yolanda ended up buying to
puppets but as we already owned to antique ones we left empty handed.
stop was the green canyon, yet another place that was new for me. The
road over there was in a terrible state, potholes everywhere, and
therefore the 20 kilometres took us over an hour and a half.
arrived at the jetty we boarded a narrow boat and headed upstream. Once
again the scenery was breathtaking, very lush and green. When we
approached the canyon the sides closed in on us with waterfalls all
around A sight that totally stunned us. We went as far to a rapid where
we could not go any further. Of course we could not resist climbing on
some rocks and Bart and I decided to swim back partly. As a safety
measure we had to wear life vests but that did not spoil the fun at all.
After boarding our boat again we headed back to the jetty and than it was time again to face that terrible road again…
not to long as our next stop was …. beach. We went directly to the
warung of Yus’s aunt where we enjoyed a delicious seafood lunch. After
that the other three went off to swim and work on their tans while I
went for a walk to make some pictures. There was a surf competition
going on and it was great to see the youngsters demonstrate their
surfing skills. We ended of with a drink at the warung after which we
rerurned to Pangandaran.
at the hotel we refreshed and then we were ready for the evening. I did
not feel hungry so stayed behind to work on the travel blog and from
the food review when Paul, Bart an Yolanda returned I had not missed
there had been a 1 minute long 6.7 magnitude earthquake just before
midnight but being vast asleep I had not noticed it. The locals however
went out on the street, not strange after the devastating tsunami a
couple of years ago. Fortunately no damage was done and no one got hurt.
morning Yolanda did not feel well so we postponed our departure with an
hour so she could recover a bit. Next destination was Wonosobo and in
order to get there we used two types of transport. Yus brought us to
Kalipacung where he had chartered a boat for us that brought us over the
scenic backwaters to Cilicap. Sri joined us on the trip, as well as a
local old man who was waiting for the opportunity to get a lift to his
village somewhere halfway the three hour trip. The scenery was
breathtaking. We passed small village and everywhere the locals friendly
waved us when we sailed by. Three hours might seem long in a car on a
crooked road but from the boat it was a gentle and comfortable ride.
the time we arrived in Cilacap Yus was already waiting for us and we
could continue the road towards Wonosobo. After a while we started to go
uphill and a fantastic hilly landscape presented itself to our eyes.
Rice fields and small villages surrounded us and in spite of the bumpy
road we were really enjoying ourselves.
afternoon we arrived in Wonosobo and all four of us could not believe
our eyes when we arrived at hoel Kresna, a large beautiful hotel in
colonial style. The reception area and bar were full off antique
decorations and in the corner there was a set of gamelan instruments
where an orchestra played later that evening. A truly majestic
had dinner at a local restaurant and spent the rest of the evening at
the bar of the hotel. It had been along day of traveling but an
morning we headed towards the Dieng Plateau. The trip was truly
breathtaking and soon we started to ascend towards the plateau. We
stopped at a viewpoint from where we had an excellent view of two
volcanos, Sindoro & Merbabu, which dominated the skyline and we
loved their typical cone shapes. What can I say, Java keeps amazing us.
much later we arrived at our first destination of the day, a multi
colored lake, but before we got there we had to do a small hike through
some villages and rice fields. Narrow slippery paths meandered uphill
and only Paul managed to keep himself clean. Sri, Yolanda, Bart and
myself slipped but that did not tamper the fun. The lake, almost
unnaturally colored by sulphur, looked amazing with the Sindoro vulcano
in the background, the scenery was of an unearthly beauty. In one word,
next stop was the Sikadang crater. Boiling ponds and large steam clouds
saturated the air with a penetrating odor of sulphur. Imagine rotten
eggs and you know what I am talking about…
place for us to visit was the temple complex at the Dieng plateau.
These are the oldest temples to be found in Java and are built in the
7th century. In spite of being a relatively small complex it was
definitely interesting. We were the only foreigners around but quite
some local tourists who were entertained by Ramayana dancers and
Teletubbies. Welcome to Indonesia where old meets new…
lunch it was time to head on for a three and a half hour trip to
Yogyakarta. We passed the Borobodur by just a kilometer but because lack
of time we postponed our visit till the next day. Very impressive was
the moment where we passed an area where we could still see the impact
of the outburst of Gunung Merapi in 2010.
in Yogya we checked in at Duta Garden hotel, the same place I stayed 5
years ago with my father. Things change and sometimes definitely for the
better… Opposite the road a new, luxury annex, had been build since
my last visit and Yus and Sri had arranged a free upgrade to there. The
style was similar but all was more spacious and the beautiful bungalows
ad been decorated in colonial style. We loved it!
was still time for a refreshing jump in the pool and then we changed
for what turned out to be an amazing event! Yus and Sri had booked 1st
row VIP seats to the Ramayana ballet with the Prambanan temple in the
background. The venue was stunning and so was the performance. Although I
have witnessed the Ramayana ballet on several occasions I never had
seen a big production with special effects like this in a location that
truly gave me goosebumps. Over 250 people worked on a performance never
Back at the hotel we directly went to bed as an early rise was waiting for us…
morning 5:00 Yus picked us up and brought us to the Borobodur. It was a
magical moment as the surroundings were still covered in layers of
mist. Beautiful and a totally different experience than I had enjoyed
before. In spite of the early time of day there were already plenty of
locals around. Still I managed to make my pictures without any of them
on. That changed around 9:00 when a tsunami of schoolchildren flooded
the compounds, the magic was gone and I could not believe how the
I did not see the others anymore I returned to the car, only to find
out they were not there. Paul, Bart and Yolanda were having their own
magic moment. They found a quiet place at the foot of the Borobodur
where they waited for me. Not much later they were interviewed by some
schoolchildren and pretty soon things got out of hand when they were
surrounded by hundreds of them, all eager to be on a photo with them,
like real celebrities. That was when they gave up and returned to the
car as well.
at the hotel we had some time to swim and relax after which Yus picked
us up. First stop was a short visit at the Kraton, the Sultan’s Palace.
Our guide who was assigned to us spoke a very hard to understand Dutch
and repeated herself numerous tiems. This was enough for us to bring us
in a state of mind that we wanted to laugh all the time. “Mijne dame en
heren, mag ik uw aandacht…..”.
our hilarious visit to the Kraton we met Yus again, still laughing in
the car we went to Sri’s parental home for a very special celebration.
There was a newborn girl in the family which was celebrated with a
welcoming ceremony called Aqiqah. As by the time of Sri’s birth it was
not possible for her parents to do this it was a double ceremony for
both Sri and the newborn girl. Two goats were offered for the occasion
but this was done the day before when all friends and local villagers
were invited. A big group of women had been cooking for several days to
prepare for this big event. We were invited on the family day which made
us feel very special. Men and women gathered together and someone gave a
speech with lectures of everyday life.
were invited into the kitchen where we were treated an a truly festive
meal. Neither of us can remember to have enjoyed such a tasteful and
magical Indonesian meal, It was fantastic so all of us have eaten more
than we really wanted to but how could we resist… Thanks a lot Sri and
your family for such a wonderful experience!
after our meal we left to give the family time by themselves, it does
not happen often that the whole family is together and we did not want
to intrude in that.
lazy afternoon, swimming, relaxing and reviving memories from the lat
couple of days. This trip really is like a fairytale and it is great to
share the passion. In the evening we went to a local restaurant and al
four of us felt the same, after his afternoon all Indonesian food would
be a disappointment so we opted for a western dish, the very first time
during this holiday.
morning we had bit of a sleep in as Yus and Sri did not pick us up
until 8:00. Our first visit for today was the Prambanan Java’s biggest
Hindhu temple complex. With renovation a lost finished in 2006 disaster
struck. A large earthquake hit Yogyakarta, destroying a couple of years
work on the Prambanan. When I visited it in 2008 with my father we were
only allowed to walk around it but this time renovation, although not
finished yet, had progressed enough so we could enter the temples.
last time I had this opportunity was during my maiden voyage to
Indonesia in 1987 and I was happy to enjoy the splendid architecture and
carving once more. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and we were
even able to enter the main temple, however we were obliged to wear
safety helmets for that visit.
the main temple complex renovation was still going on, an ongoing
project one can only hope won’t be disturbed again once more by another
a cultural start it was time for some fun so we headed towards Wonosari
for some tubing on a river. After we changed into swimming gear we were
loaded in a truck to bring us to the launch spot upstream. A short walk
later we got onto our tubes and the fun started. There were a few
rapids but nothing to rough. It was a lot of fun an somewhere halfway we
had the opportunity to jump of a waterfall. Bart and I even went a
second time for a duo jump.
our lunch break I wanted to make some pictures locals working in the
rice fields who invited me for a second lunch but I had had more than
second tubing adventure lead us to a cave full off stalactites,
stalagmites and… bats. The middle part was totally dark but as we were
told to hold on each others tubes no-one got lost. The fun was over
sooner than we wanted but it was a great afternoon!
Yus and Sri dropped us at Duta Garden Hotel another surprise awaited
us. Yus invited us for an evening out with his family, we are really
still had some time to swim and get smart after which we were picked up
by a driver who brought us to Parsleys, one of Yus’s children favorite
restaurants. We met his wonderful wife and three lovely children and
enjoyed a truly nice evening. It seems this trip is just a collection of
memorable events. Thanks Yus for the invite and a lovely evening!
in the hotel we shared another drink after which it was bedtime again.
After a good night sleep it was time to head on once more.
day we did not have to go far as our next destination, Solo, was only
60 kilometers further east. It still took us 2 hours as the road from
Yogya to Solo is notoriously busy.
the centre of Solo we were introduced to our local guide, 4 bicycles
and Caping’s, the typical Indonesian bamboo heads used whilst working in
the rice fields. We headed of under great interest of the local people.
Big smiles and hello’s followed us wherever we went. We left the centre
of Solo and crossed the river on a small bamboo boat.
At the other side of the river we entered a new district, a congregation of villages, each with their own homemade products.
we stopped at a place where rice-crackers were made in the traditional
labour intensive way. Women were cutting the pre pressed rice crackers
and men ordered them on a wooden structure to dry two days in the sun.
Finally they were fried before they were ready for consumption.
was extremely warm that day and cycling late morning didn’t help
either. Soon all four of us were bathing in our own sweat and dripping
wet we arrived at the next home industry where Tempe was made. Like
everywhere a warm welcome awaited us. An old lady was carefully wrapping
parcels in banana leaves whilst the rest of the family was watching
what we were doing.
arrival arrival at the next home industry where they made the gamelan
gongs coincided with their lunch break so we cycled on to a location
where pharmaceutical alcohol was made from sugarcane. All strictly of
course for pharmaceutical purposes only, the good news however was that
in order to reach the required percentage of 80% a sequence of
distillations had to be done, after the first distillation only 30% of
alcohol was achieved. This brew, after filtering however was usable for
human consumption and it does not come as a surprise not all of the
product made it to the next step…
short bike ride later we were back at the gamalan factory and it was
extremely interesting how the big gongs were being hand made by a group
of 7 or 8 man. Time after time it was thrown in the fire, hammered and
heated up again. A very time consuming process and once this pat was
completed the gong had to be hand tuned by a skillful master. He
listened to each vibration and marked those spots which still required
gamalan factory was the last visit of our trip but still one surprise
was awaiting us as Ajip, our guide told us that lunch would be served at
his home in a small dessa (village), Sri and Ajip’s wife had been
cooking for us and the result was something to be proud of, a truly
tasteful Indonesian home-cooked meal. As usual there was to much food
and we felt ashamed to leave so much behind as it tasted absolutely
lunch we said goodbye to Ajip and his wife and headed on to Rumah Batu,
our hotel for the night. It was a place Yus and Sri tarted to use
recently and it was decorated in a very tasteful way. First al 4 of us
had a dip in the pool after which Bart and myself went to the Spa for a
relaxing massage. This time we opted for a herbal massage where besides a
traditional massage a pomander filled with herbs and heated in a
steamer was used for the massage. They were quite hot but it felt very
relaxed we returned to our rooms where Paul and Yolanda were happily
chatting away. I went to the front lobby of the hotel to work on my
diary for an hour or so after which we all rejoined for dinner.
dinner there was still some more work to be done as I was not
completely up to date. Yet another day gone, time certainly flies when
you are enjoying yourself.
day we had a real slow start as breakfast service was rather slow. We
left he hotel at 9:00 and not much later we left the congested roads of
Solo, going uphill towards the Sukuh temple. The views were absolutely
breathtaking. As we were already told the day before Ajip was already
waiting for us at the Sukuh temple and he had loads of interesting
stories to tell about this unique ‘erotic’ temple in West Java. Of
course some of the carvings caught some giggles although I must admit
they were rather tame compared to what we have seen in Kajuraho, India.
next attraction on our fully loaded itinerary was a soft trek through
the hilly countryside. Spectacular views, beautiful flowers and a big
variety of crops pleased our eyes. As we were rather late most of the
workers already were enjoying their late morning break but I was still
lucky enough to catch some people with my camera. As promised it was a
soft trek and in spite of the heat no one of us had problems completing
trek ended nearby a waterfall where we had some tea and said goodbye to
Ajip. We still had a 5 to 6 hour trip to Malang ahead of us so we had
to leave. About an hour later we lunched at a warung aside the road and
after that all of us settled comfortably in our minibus whilst Yus drove
us to Malang.
8:00 we stopped for dinner when Yus told us there were issues with the
brakes and he had decided to leave the car behind for repair. A solution
had already been arranged as some friends were on there way with a new
car. They arrived within the hour so we transferred the luggage and we
were on our way again. It was midnight when we arrived at our hotel in
Malang where Paul and I were lucky enough to get assigned to a suite.
Shame we could not enjoy it that long as we would only stay for one
the morning we shorlt visited the townhall after which we went to Pasar
Burling, a local market where besides plants a lot of bird and fish
were sold. It was a very colorful place although one could question the
animals were kept in.
course we could not leave Malang without visiting Toko Oen. I just had
to show this place where pa spent so much of his leisure time whilst
being stationed in Malang to the others. It’s most certainly a place
where time stood still.
we left Malang we drove about an hour or so before we arrived at a
small village where change of transport was due. The traditional way to
Bromo was over Probolingo, an easy accessible route which could be
achieved by our minibus. Yus and Sri however had arranged something more
adventures and spectacular for our journey to the Bromo.
open jeep was waiting for us and after we said goodbye to Yus, who had
our luggage, was taking the traditional route, the fun started. Standing
in the back of the jeep we were the centre of attention everywhere
where we passed. So many smiles, so many waves, in one word fantastic.
And then we left the villages and started our climb onto the slopes
leading to the Bromo. The landscape was in one word amazing, even the
steepest slopes were utilized for agriculture and we wondered how on
earth the people were able to to their job. They certainly had created a
spectacular landscape but we doubted whether they were enjoying the
sheer beauty of it.
suddenly the landscape changed again, we had reached the rim of the
caldera and we started our descend into the sand sea. It looked like a
big savanna with only dry grass and some plants. It was clearly still
recovering from the last eruption of the Bromo in 2010. When we came
closer we found ourselves in a desert of gray and black ash, we could
have been on the moon, all felt so desolate.
now I had no clue where we were until I spotted the hotels on top of
the rim at the other side. Thanks to this unusual drive we approached
the Bromo from the back side whilst normally the first view was a
majestic panorama from the front. This trip definitely was worth
visiting Bromo again!
had already prepared Paul for the lousy conditions of the hotels at the
Bromo (You will know when you’ve been there: small dirty rooms with
dirty bedding, terrible food. lousy service and bitter cold). So the
surprise could not have been bigger when we checked in at Lava View
hotel where Yus and Sri had booked recently finished rooms for us. Clean
fresh bedding, a spacious room with a view over the crater so I could
not be bothered that the warm water did not work. This was our best stay
on Bromo ever!
relaxed at the restaurant and not much later Yus arrived with our
luggage. In the evening there was even live music during dinner. Things
certainly have progressed!
we had a very early rise bedtime was around 9:30… Less than 5 1/2
hours later the alarm went off and not much later we were on our way to
the viewpoint. We were not alone however as hundreds of people had the
same idea as us. I have never seen it so busy over here with mainly
local tourists. 125 jeeps went to the viewpoint, an outrageous amount
which took a bit of the magic away for me. Fortunately we still managed
to get a front row position for enjoying the sunrise which was amazing.
The light was not as nice as last time and the san sea was not filled up
by mist but still we have been very lucky to witness a clear sunrise.
The Semeru on the horizon also demanded some attention when it spit out a
large cloud of ash.
the sun had set properly we went on to the foot of mount Bromo itself.
It still was a good walk before we reached the bottom of the stairs
leading us to the rim of the crater. Once up there we saw that the mouth
of the crater had become much bigger compared to last time. Traces of
the eruption in 2010 were clearly visible. We enjoyed the spectacular
view for a while after we descended again and returned to our hotel.
packing, and off we went again. Our next destination was Kalibaru, a 5
hour drive. I must admit I have missed most of the scenery while I dozed
most of the time, only being woken up several times by the car shaking
on the bumpy roads. We enjoyed lunch at a Padang food restaurant
somewhere halfway and late afternoon we arrived at Rumah Senang, our
home for the next 2 days.
heavens had opened at this time so we spent the afternoon with the
friendly Dutch owners of Rumah Senang, Cor and Will. It was the first
time the weather had interfered with our plans of a lazy afternoon at
the pool but we could not be bothered.
the evening we enjoyed a wonderful, family style, dinner but once more
it was an early call for bed. We were still tired from the early rise
and tomorrow would not be different…
the alarm went off, time to get up… We could not be accused of a
lazy holiday… After having seen some pictures on Sri’s facebook page I
could not resist climbing the Ijen crater to see the crater lake with
my own eyes. Paul had decided to have a bit of a sleep in and relax at
the pool and Yolanda joined us too have a relaxing walk with Sri through
small villages and rice-fields whilst Bart and myself conquered the
a 2 hour drive Bart and myself said goodbye to the others and got on a
jeep for another 45 minute drive to the point where we started our
climb. The way was only 3km long but especially the middle part was
extremely steep and heavy and I had to stop numerous times to get a
rest. The path itself was well maintained as it was frequently used by
locals harvesting sulphur from the mouth of the monster.
views paid for the effort though as they were in one word breathtaking.
I don’t think I have enjoyed it as much as I should have done as the
ascend was extremely tiring. Fortunately the last part of the path was
relatively flat and when I passed the last corner a scenery of almost
unearthly beauty unfolded itself in front of my eyes. Deep down in the
crater, surrounded by majestic walls I saw a turquoise lake, and at one
point, where the sulphur was collected, big yellow rocks and an even
bigger smelly cloud that took your breath when the wind turned. My first
words were, Yes, wow! My effort had paid off!
was waiting for me as I had told him to do the ascend in his own pace
and together we enjoyed the scenery. He decided to get a bit closer and
descend into the crater but I took enough pleasure from my view from the
top of the rim.
spite of us enjoying the scenery that much there was a lot more going
on. Locals made this gruesome trip once or twice a day to collect the
lava and hand cary it out of the crater towards the foot of the Ijen. An
almost inhuman effort as these tiny, but well muscled, men carried up
to 80 kilo’s of lava per trip. In spite of that they were still in a
good mood end said hello every time we passed by. Both Bart and myself
got big respect for the heavy work these people do. For us it was
difficult enough but doing this trip op to 2 times a day whilst carrying
up to eight kilo’s was almost insane. The salary, depending on the
weight, was up to 5 Euro’s per trip and with 2 trips a day this was
considered a good income. At a price though as most of the men could not
work much longer than the age of 45, at their time their bodies had
totally given up.
was much easier than going up and this time I could focus more on the
wonderful environment. At one point Bart tried to lift the baskets with
lava that the men carry, without success however… Even more respect
back at the jeep we were brought to a picturesque place in the rice
fields where we met Yolanda, Yus, Sri and Hari again. Yolanda and Sri
had made a wonderful walk through the ricefields and of course had time
enough to share the latest gossip. We were treated with tea and fried
bananas after we shared our experience and recovered from the strenuous
trip. Then it was time to return to Rumah Senang, this time the trip
took almost 3 hours due to the heavy traffic.
Rumah Senang we were welcomed by Cor and Will, our wonderful hosts.
Paul had enjoyed a peaceful morning at the pool and looked well tanned.
It was really nice that all 4 of us gave each other the opportunity to
do their own thing and now it was great to spend the afternoon with the
four of us again.
pool is always a good place for some fun and this time was no
different. I still had to work together with Yus and Sri in order to
prepare some updates for their website as this was our last day
together. At the end of the afternoon Bart and myself had booked a
massage by an older lady at the village, an extremely pleasant
experience after our exercise in the morning.
last dinner on Java was a real surprise as Yus and Sri had asked the
staff of Rumah Senang to prepare a special farewell dinner. When is was
served all four of us could not believe what we saw, A ‘rijsttafel’
presented as a piece of art, it was almost a shame to start these
wonderful dishes, they looked stunning. As could be predicted from the
looks the food tasted perfect! A real treat to celebrate our last day on
did a small speech to thank Yus and Sri for their extraordinary trip
arrangements and friendship. Even though this was not a new trip for
three of us the way it was arranged can only be described as pure magic!
We had seen many old things, but even more new things and the
experience itself can be described as once in a lifetime… We have had
so much fun, so much laughter and shared so many special moments it
almost was to good to be true. We had known this from the start as this
was not a trip of the four of us, a guide and a driver, this was a trip
with 6 friends!
morning, after breakfast it was time to say goodbye to Yus and Sri, an
emotional goodbye as we had shared 2 wonderful weeks. It was a weird
feeling when Yus, Sri, Cor and Will waved us goodbye when we passed the
gate of Rumah Senang. Our Java trip had come to an end and it was time
to move on. A driver had already been arranged to bring us all the way
to Padang bay, on the east coast of Bali. At Banyuwangi we boarded a
ferry and had a last glimpse of Java, a Java that we had never
experienced the way we did this time, a Java where we left two very
precious friends behind…
turned out to be a long traveling day. 11 hours after we left Kalibaru
we checked in at our hotel at Padang Bay, East Bali. We were now ready
to start the last part of our holiday and will be heading towards
Continue the journey to Lombok, Gili Trawangan & Bali