Java, Indonesia

 

Let’s get one thing straight here, travelling long term is NOT one big holiday.

As we’ve said before, we are very fortunate and lucky to be able to travel the world together as a family, however not every place we lay our weary heads has welcome drinks and free nibbles and they certainly don’t all smell of roses!

Java was our third stop in Indonesia and it’s firmly on the travellers radar. Ijen, Mt Bromo, Borobudur and Yogya are just some of the sights deemed unmissable.

We managed Bromo (Well Steve did), Borobudur and Yogya and that was about it. Ijen was too much, even for us. We’d just had enough of moving so much.

So we arrived onto the most populous island in the world, Java. Having been on the road for over a year, we had decided we were entitled to a little piece of luxury for a day or two at least. Our normal choice of homestay was put on the back burner as we rolled into the JW Marriott, Surabaya. It also appeared that we  had timed it right.

 

The entrance to El Progo art house.
The entrance to El Progo art house.
Always safety conscious this one!
Always safety conscious this one!

 

Surabaya is a normally chaotic Javanese city and not touristy at all, but its a decent jumping off point for Mount Bromo, the smoking colossus to the South. We say ‘normally’ chaotic because it was Ramadan when we arrived. With Java being the beating heart of this mainly Muslim nation, its a big deal in these parts and this means a week or so off, doing family stuff. This was to have some knock on effects for our stay, but for the most part they were positive. There was no need to risk your life crossing the street as they were all empty of traffic. Also the ramadan specials for dinner were great and being in a pork free island, we could eat it…. Eat it All! The only downside we found was the trip to Bromo being on the pricey side. The tour guides had upped their prices through the holidays and why not, we’d probably do the same, its the only time of year that they can probably spend some decent time together as a family and we know a little about that.

It wasn’t just Surabaya where the timings worked out. Steve’s early morning trip to Mount Bromo came two days before it decided to have a little rumble, shutting the park and the nearby airport for a few days. Smokey! Bromo is definitely worth an early morning trip, despite the crowds and if you don’t hang around after sunrise, you can make it back in time for the marvellous breakfast back at the JW!

 

Mount Bromo in the morning.
Mount Bromo in the morning.
Bath time at the JW Marriott!
Bath time at the JW Marriott!
A bit of colour at Candi Plaosan.
A bit of colour at Candi Plaosan.

 

After three great days recharging in the JW, we said our goodbyes to Surabaya. The journey to Yogyakarta was our first taste of an Indonesian railway and it was a good one. Yogyakarta or Jogja for short is the cultural heart of Java and rivalling Bali for its art scene. There are countless tours to be taken around the area and the ancient ruins of Borobudur and Prambanan are within striking distance. We didn’t take any tours. In fact we didn’t do a lot at all. Our days were spent catching up on admin and hanging out in a great little cafe, ViaVia. The cafe was a busy travellers hub that had decent food and more importantly a kids playground, usually with some other kids for good measure. You could find us there everyday.

Jogja was Ok, however it is a city, a busy city and not really our bag. The countryside was calling and in Indonesia, its never too far away. Borobudur, the magnificent Buddhist temple and an icon of the country is less than a couple of hours North. Had we planned it better, we would have come sooner, as our home there was more than in tune with nature, it was practically part of the jungle.

El Progo art house, is run by a local artist and his family. It sits above a confluence of two rivers, with a number of beautifully built wooden buildings spread out over the vast grounds, amongst the trees and pieces of art. It made for a very pleasant stay.

 

Borobudur at sunrise. Minus the sun!?
Borobudur at sunrise. Minus the sun!?
I think he might have had a good day's shooting! Borobudur.
I think he might have had a good day’s shooting! Borobudur.
Keraton, Yogyakarta.
Keraton, Yogyakarta.

 

So we had a dilemma. Should we pay for a Borobudur sunrise ticket or not? Like a lot of other places around the world, where there’s tourists, there’s money to be made. To have access to the temple for sunrise, you need to pay a vastly inflated price on an already expensive entry ticket and you can only do so from one hotel. Steve had been lucky enough to see the sunrise in a relatively tourist free Angkor Wat many years ago (2004), along side a handful of other people. Those days are long gone. But we were here and we love a good sunrise, but then so do most other tourists. We paid up and hoped the alarm worked.

Was it worth it? Maybe. We didn’t see the sun, those naughty clouds put a stop to that, but having walked around the largest Buddhist temple in the world, its an impressive site that’s well looked after. Maybe not all of the rupiah’s are lining pockets after all. Oh, and if you opt for the early start like us, don’t forget that you have a free breakfast thrown in………

Instant coffee anyone?

So that folks, was pretty much it for Indonesia. We seem to be seeing less these days and spending more time in playgrounds and cafes for Betty. This kid never ceases to amaze and surprise us at the same time. We’ve been feeling a little guilty at times for putting her through this trip, but to be honest she’s better at it than us. Anyway we’ve decided to head home for her Birthday at the end of September, but we’ve got a couple of months in Vietnam and fingers crossed China before then, so lets not get too emotional (Nay!).

Next Up? Da Nang, Vietnam

 

Likes:

  • ViaVia cafe – Its got a great play area for the little ones.
  • JW Marriott, Surabaya – Cracking hotel with fantastic staff.
  • Indonesian railways – Nice big, comfy trains, that run on time.
  • Borobudur – Stay longer than you planned, it’s not just the temple thats nice.
  • El Progo art house – Alternative place to stay in Borobudur.
  • Mount Bromo –  If you only see one volcano, make it this one.

Phrases:

  • Fancy ViaVia again!? – Both of us.
  • Can we go to that play place again? – Betty about ViaVia.
  • This was a VERY good idea! – Both of us about the JW.
  • How good are the staff here? – JW again.
  • Can’t wait for the food in Vietnam – Both of us again!

 

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One thought on “Java, Indonesia

  1. Ah simply stunning yet again. Had sent you guys an email not sure if you got it as know that has not always been successful in getting to you in the remote parts you’ve been exploring. Nearly fell off my chair when I read about your possible return. The UK misses you dearly, however is inspired by you. You’ve inspired so many people with your journey in many more ways than one. Thank you for that. Sending you all lots of love and a massive hug for each of you Xxx

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