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September 10th, 2009

I left Em early (7am)  and had decided to save some money and take a bus down to Kuala Lumpur before getting a plane to Jakarta. Definitely one of the worst ideas of my life. The journey started with a minibus to the west coast of Koh Samui before getting a boat to the mainland. I also have to point out that there’s a serious amount of confusion at every single stop as noone really speaks any english and you just hope that you get to the right place. Anyway, I got off the boat and on to another minibus which took everyone to another stop. At that point, much like a post sorting office I imagine, we were separated depending on location. I was then put in another minibus which was just ridiculously small. The driver then proceeded to pick up a load of mates and we headed off down to the Malaysian border. After the border we headed to Penang where we were then put in another bus to Kuala Lumpur. This bus was actually pretty amazing but we were originally scheduled to get into KL at 6am but I had a feeling that we were way ahead of schedule and as a result didn’t really want to sleep in case I missed my stop. Amusingly I was right and we got in to KL at 2am. I’d planned on getting in at 6am and then getting the train to the airport. Unfortunately the city was dead, I was alone and a taxi to the airport was the only option. £30 later I was at the quite frankly terrible domestic airport where I had to wait for 7 hours. Feeling pretty worse for wear I boarded my plane hoping to be near the end of my journey. Upon arrival at Jakarta airport I realised I had no money and needed to get a visa for $25 before going through immigration. Thankfully I managed to go through to an atm to get the cash and then back through. I picked up the visa and headed on to immigration. The usual questions were asked and then the guy asked if I had a return ticket. Not knowing that you needed a ticket out of Indonesia to get in I, of course, did not. He said I could go get one at the desk before immigration. Bizarrely you must have a ticket, or so they said, from the incoming airline so I had to find a bloody cheapskate air asia representative to buy me a ticket. A guy, who spoke no english, quickly found someone who did speak english who then attempted to buy me a ticket for ~£40. He couldn’t do it over the phone and needed to take my credit card with him through immigration to buy it in his office. Uneasily I handed over the card and then waited and waited and waited for him to come back. About an hour later he did and then explained that all of the computers at air asia were down (!) and couldn’t get me a ticket. While he’d been away I had been approached by a “security official” saying “you help me I help you”. Not knowing what the going rate for bribery was I showed him 100,000 Rupiah (about £7) at which point he said 600,000 Rupiah at which I said no thanks as the ticket was going to cost me the same. Anyway, having no ticket and seemingly no hope I was resigned to the bribery. Thankfully I checked with the air asia guy, who was having family problems - he was a muslim, his girlfriend a christian and his parents not at all happy - and he said that 250,000 Rupiah should do the job. He had a quick word with the one remaining immigration official who just about let me through but told me that he would never do it again. Thoroughly pissed off, stressed and tired I got a bus in to Jakarta and checked in to the first hotel. It had taken 36 hours to get from Koh Samui to Jakarta, never again. I think Phileas Fogg could have done it quicker.

I had not originally planned on staying in Jakarta at all but my experience, and the fact that I was absolutely shattered, had knocked me out and so I headed straight for the backpacker area. Checking in to a double room in the first hotel I came to I collapsed on the bed for a while. Getting myself together I decided to check out a bit of the city and organise my train travel for the following day. To really top off my day I was offered a BJ by what seemed like a 50 year female tramp, lovely! Anyway, I had a look around the local area having a look at the mosque (a mammoth building with a 250,000 capacity) as well as part of the financial district. About a week and a half after I visited the area was bombed by Malaysian terrorists with two of the more upmarket hotels being targeted.

Early the following morning I caught a train (Eksecutiv class) down to Jogjakarta, the most visited town in Java. My first experience of public transport was an education; the train stopped and started seemingly randomly and arrived a full 3 hours late, which left me with an absolute nightmare trying to find accommodation for the night. I did find some accommodation but was so scarred by the experience that I promptly checked out the following day and into a much nicer hotel. The first evening spent in Jogja saw me visit a few shops, get some cheap dinner and accidently visit an “art gallery” where an old guy demonstrated the art of Batik before trying to get me to buy his ludicrously expensive artwork. I declined.

For the first full day in Jogja I took myself down to the palace and history museum. A very helpful chap gave me a few hints as to when was best to see all of the places but didn’t fully grasp that I only had that day to see everything. The palace was a bit rubbish really but I saw a few local things and the museum was full of fairly interesting statues.

The following day I’d signed myself up for aPrambanan visit to the two major attractions of the area: Prambanan and Borobodur. Java has a fairly mixed history and some varied culture in close proximities. As a result it has been dominated by both Hinduism and Buddhism at different and the same times. Borobodur is the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere while Prambanan was the Hindu’s response. There’s not really too much to say about the temples as the pictures probably suffice. The only slightly amusing addition is the sheer number of photos that I had taken of me while at Borobodur. I had several photos with groups of people but one family was intent on having individual photographs and proceeded to get all 6 of them one by one.Borobodur

Having spent more than long enough in Jogja the next day I took a bus to Cemoro Lawang so that I could visit Gunung Bromo, the worlds sixth most active volcano. This involved yet more public transport and the sheer horror that is Indonesian driving; they have a tendency to randomly overtake whether there’s oncoming traffic or not. We arrived late in to Cemoro Lawang so there was not much to do except get some sleep (there wasn’t even anywhere to eat.) I awoke early (4am) the following morning to get up to the volcano. Sadly I’d timed my visit perfectly with the last day of the school holidays and was therefore accompanied by every man and his dog. In groups of 6 we were taken up in 4×4’s to a viewpoint overlooking Bromo from where we could get a great view of the sunrise. Sadly this was ruined by the fact that it was so crowded that it was actually nearly impossible to move. After sunrise we were driven down to the foot of Bromo and walked up to the rim. A pretty amazing sight but a slightly annoying one given the ash in the air and the difficulty breathing.Me on rim of Gunung Bromo

Once we’d done this it was back to the guesthouse for breakfast and then another bus to Bali!

Author: Mark Jerzykowski Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
  1. September 10th, 2009 at 09:15 | #1

    I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work :)

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