Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia, but that’s about all it has going for it. As a generic big city, it has neither character, nor interesting places to visit. It does, however, have a lot of traffic.
And so, I only spent three days in Jakarta, trying to take a break before flying off to my next destination.
Continue reading Travelogue: Jakarta
Borobudur, a Buddhist temple built a bit more than a millenia ago in central Java near Yogyakarta, is a UNESCO world heritage site and a massive tourist attraction, so of course I had to go take a look.
Much like Prambanan, Borobudur was forgotten and “lost” from records a couple of centuries after it was built, and remained hidden in the jungle growth for centuries, until it was re-discovered along with Prambanan by an explorer commissioned by Sir Raffles (is there anything he can’t do?). And now, like Prambanan, archaeologists are working to restore the temple.
Continue reading Travelogue: Borobudur
Prambanan, a Hindu temple built a bit more than a millennium ago in central Java, is a UNESCO world heritage site near Yogyakarta and a massive tourist attraction, so of course I had to go take a look.
In a weird twist of history, a couple of centuries after it was built, Candi (temple) Prambanan was forgotten and “lost” from records. Since the temple was not very sturdy (it’s basically a large pile of rocks), it was also flattened by a nearby earthquake. And so, the temple remained hidden and unknown for many years until rediscovered by an explorer commissioned by Sir Raffles (the founder of Singapore). Since then, archaeologists have been working on rebuilding the temples, to mixed success.
Continue reading Travelogue: Prambanan
Jogja (Yogyakarta) is the cultural and arts (and crafts) center of Indonesia, so I went and took a look at the batik factories, the silver shops, the wayung kulit, and the Ramayana ballet.
Continue reading Travelogue: Arts and Culture in Jogja (Yogyakarta)
Yogyakarta (Jogjakarta / Jogja) is a town that can’t seem to decide what to call itself, so I’ll go with Jogja. It’s the cultural capital of Java, so I decided to visit for a couple of days, and see what the fuss is all about.
Unlike Bali and Lombok, which are flooded with western tourists, Jogja is more of a vacation place for local Indonesians. While you would occasionally see some western tourists around, especially on Jalan (road) Sosrowijayan, the main strip for hotels and homestays, it’s primarily locals that you see. And as a result, the streets aren’t filled with people trying to prey on western tourists. Which I really appreciated.
Continue reading Travelogue: Jogja (Yogyakarta)
After spending a couple days recovering from my Mount Rinjani climb in Mataram (the capital of Lombok), I decided that I was done with Bali and Lombok, and so decided to go to Java – by bus. It took me 30 hours of travel.
I’m not sure why I didn’t just fly over. It would have been faster, stress-free, and more comfortable. The only answer I can think of, is that I wanted the experience. And so, 30 hours of travel.
From the Mataram bus station, I catch a 20 hour bus to Surabaya, a city in Java. First, of course, I am forced to wait 5 hours, as the bus is obscenely late. At least the bus station waiting area is comfortable.
Finally, the bus arrives, and we’re off!
Continue reading Interlude: 30 Hours of Travel
While traveling lounging around Kuta Lombok, I overheard a conversation between a fellow traveler and a travel agent: What is there to do in Lombok? Well, there are the Gili islands, the beaches of Kuta and Senggigi, and Mount Rinjani. What if I’ve already done those? Well, then you’re basically done with Lombok.
Challenge accepted, climb Mount Rinjani – at 3,726 meters, the second highest mountain in all of Indonesia.
Since I didn’t bringing any camping gear with me on this backpacking trip, I opted to go with an all-inclusive three-day package of trekking up Mount Rinjani. For $100, I got camping equipment, prepared meals, porters to carry equipment and meals, and a guide – an absolute steal!
Continue reading Travelogue: Hiking Mount Rinjani
While riding my scooter around Lombok, I had my first scooter accident. I was just pulling out of my homestay into a roundabout, moving at maybe 5 km/hour, when I saw a guy driving towards me, but looking elsewhere.
Time moved in slow motion for next few seconds. Should I stop and yell for him to look forward? Should I increase speed and get past him? Should I swerve to one side?
Why had I chosen to get a scooter? Didn’t I hear all the stories of people crashing their bikes, getting massive scars? Oh shit, today is literally the last day my travel insurance is still effective!
In that split second, I panicked, hit the brakes, and yelled out “careful!”. The other guy ignored me. And in faster-than-slow-motion, we had a t-bone crash.
Continue reading Travel Stories: My First Scooter Accident
Traveling Lombok by scooter is freedom.Traveling Lombok by scooter is feeling the wind in your hair, the sun on your skin, the road stretching out into the distance. Traveling Lombok by scooter is like nothing else.
Kuta (Lombok) is an amazing village, but it’s pretty small, with most attractions (beaches, surfing, etc) a ways away from the city, so if you want to go anywhere, you’re forced to rent a scooter. This was mine:
When I was in Bali, I dreamed of renting a scooter and biking around Bali. Then I saw the traffic. The traffic, and the lack of traffic regulations. The statistic of 150 people with motorbike accidents being admitted to Denpasar airport daily. So for the sake of safety, I had to put my dream on hold.
Kuta, though, is another story. With its vast lands, small population, and lack of traffic, riding a scooter here is a lot less stressful. But damn, it is beautiful!
Continue reading Travelogue: Lombok by Scooter
From Senggigi, I traveled to Kuta, Lombok. Like its sister city in Bali, Kuta has amazing surf, but that’s where the similarities end. While Kuta (Bali) is a big city full of tourists, traffic, and partying, Kuta (Lombok) is a small, peaceful village.
Here in Kuta, I rented a basic room ($7 / night), scooter ($5 / day), and spent two weeks relaxing.
(Please pardon the mess)
Continue reading Travelogue: Kuta, Lombok