Travelogue: 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.
Jogja - city view

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.

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Reflection: Trust in Southeast Asia

The most difficult and wearying part of traveling is figuring out who to trust in Southeast Asia. When you are safely at home, you’re comfortable because you trust your surroundings. Your home is your sanctuary, you know which nearby shops and restaurants are good, and your daily routine is familiar.

When traveling, especially in Southeast Asia, all this goes out the window. When staying at a homestay or hostel, will it be clean? When looking for food, how do you find a place that is safe? When traveling around, how do you find something safe and comfortable?

And above all, are you paying a fair price, or the tourist price? How can you be sure that somebody isn’t taking advantage of you?

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Interlude: 30 Hours of Travel

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.
Indonesia travel - Mataram bus station

Finally, the bus arrives, and we’re off!
Indonesia travel - bus

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Travelogue: Hiking Mount Rinjani

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.
Mount Rinjani - summit camping portrait Mount Rinjani - hot springs scenery 5 Mount Rinjani - first day scenery 5 Mount Rinjani - hot springs scenery 4

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!

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Travel Stories: My First Scooter Accident

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.

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Travelogue: Lombok by Scooter

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.
Lombok - on the road 1

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:
Kuta Lombok - scooter

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!

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Travelogue: Kuta, Lombok

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.
Kuta Lombok - town 1

Here in Kuta, I rented a basic room ($7 / night), scooter ($5 / day), and spent two weeks relaxing.
Kuta Lombok - scooter Kuta Lombok - guesthouse room

(Please pardon the mess)

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