Ok, so I decided to go to Indonesia for a few weeks right after my finals were over. Finals are always intense in med school, so I did not have time to actually plan my trip, so I decided to just wing it. I had no idea what amazing adventures lay before me since I had no prior research of the road ahead, nor did I have a lonely planet book.I decided to surf on my first day in Bali, so after arriving from the airport I jumped in a cab and headed to Kuta beach. The road to Kuta was insanely packed with tourists and name brand surf shops. the cab dropped me off in front of a large alleyway full of hostels and small shops. I must have walked an hour before finding a place with vacancy that was not too overpriced. The room was in poor condition, but it was survivable for one night. So I went to check out the town, by then it was probably 9pm. As I was buying water I sparked a conversation with a guy from Sweden. He said he saw me walking and looking lost trying to find a room LOL. He has been in Bali for a few weeks and was his last night. We talked to a Dutch guy (70's) who travels Bali 6 months out of the year. He was impressed with my dutch, especially since its been 2 years since I spoke it. I think I can never forget that language...I still frequently think in dutch :) So I was soon to find out that Indonesia had been a Dutch colony for over 300 years, so there were an abundance of dutch tourists there, plenty of practice for me! So after walking on the beach I headed back to the hotel to awaken the next morning for day one, surfing.As soon as I woke up I headed to the beach to rent a board. Its been a while since I surfed last (5 yrs) So I started with the small waves. That went way too easy, so I headed for the bigger ones. I was wave hungry and went for every wave there was. The first few times I was thrown around by the waves and sucked under by the strong current. The cord must have wrapped around my foot and because of the strength of the wave cut my skin. I still stayed out to try to catch waves, but I was already too beat up and it was the end of my time for my board rental. The rental guy helped me with my foot, gave me ice and took me to the pharmacy where I could buy iodine and clean it up better. OKOK, so I decided to give myself a break and let my foot heal before venturing back out to sea. I checked out of my room and hoped on a motorcycle and headed to north to Ubud.
Checking out the town I walked all over Ubud. Walked to the monkey forest, saw many shops, the market, rice patties, ect ect ect...
The town was full of temples. Everyone's house and even the place I was saying in also had a temple. The town was really nice, but I just wasn't feeling it. It was just too touristy for me. If you wanted to see anything, you had to book a tour or hire some local from off the streets to take you. I am not much for tours, they make the experience seem to fake sometimes. And of course there was no public transport. The island was designed for the tourist industry and to reap large profits from the tourists.
hired a car to take me to one of the places where eat pray love was filmed, called Tegelagalang???
Beautiful landscape full of varying levels of lush green rice patties. After that excursion I hired a motorbike to take me to some temple 3 hrs away in the mountains. What a journey!!! 3 hrs there and 3 hrs back, not to mention the time it took to walk around the temple. But it was nice. The guide parked in a strawberry field and we took the back entry way into the temple...hehehe free of charge :) on the way out I bought some strawberries from the local owners of the field...yum yum!
I Booked a minibus to the airport. Not really sure what I planned on doing; book a flight to Java or head south to Dreamland beach for surfing. I bought some souvenirs while I waited for the minibus. I checked out tickets at the airport. Only $40 to fly to Java! But I decided to spend a day surfing, so I walked and found a motor guy. Asked him to take me, but a cab driver walked over and started raising the price trying to make his friend more money after we already agreed on a price...That's it! I had to get out of there! I said ok, forget it! I went to the internet cafe and booked my flight for the next morning to Surabaya Java.
The hotel entrance was through a little souvineer shop where I passed a little girl in the middle of the clothes where she was breast feeding on her mom. She was 4 or 5 yrs old, a bit old for breast feeding if you ask me :P. I guess the owner and her daughter slept in the middle of the clothes in the store…what poor conditions L When I woke up, the store lady gave me food that was offered to Buddha…it tasted like the incents they used to offer the food.
Found a bus to take me to Mt Bromo, one of Java's highly active volcanoes. From where the bus dropped me off was still 2-3 hrs away. I had to either wait for the minibus to fill up, or hire a private motorbike guide. So I hired the guide to take me. (I found out that the minibus did not leave till 1am). The guide and I ended up driving into the night up a curvey, steep mountain road with no street lights and no headlight on the bike! I was thankful that I argued with him in the beginning for a helmet to wear before we left. What a scary ride. I was so happy to finally reach the top. It was so cold. I dont know how cold it was, but I could see my breath and I had no jacket or shoes other than sandals. This was gonna be a cold night for me.
We woke up at 4 am to drive to the top to watch the sunrise. It was very dark and extremely dusty from all the volcanic ash and sand. what a cold cold morning! I took the blanket from the hotel and wrapped myself in it and still was completely frozen on the ride up the volcano. We originally were going to drive to the lookout peak to watch the sunset over the volcano, but the motorcycle could not make it through the thick sand and all the dust. So we headed to the base of the volcano. It was another hour hike through the rough sand to get to the top. It would have been a great experience except for the fact that I could not feel my toes and therefore could not hike up to the top without shoes :( plus the volcano was very smokey. Oh well, next time. But it was still a beautiful site to see!On the way back, we had coffee on the side of the way. The view was magnificant! (see photos).
After the volcano we headed back to the main town and I caught a minibus to yogycarta to see some temples (borakput)??
I met a girl from England who I hung out with. We went to the temple together. The temple was nice, but I have already seen enough temples, so we walked around a bit and found some elephants. We watched them get bathed and played around with them...really cool! Thats all that I cared to see in that city, same with Zoey (girl from England). So we made our way to Jakarta with the night train (business class). So much for business class! It was impossible to sleep with all the vendors trying to sell snacks and drinks and the hard seats and nowhere to lay your head.
Zoey headed to Sumatra while I tried to find a way to Ujung Kulon National Park, Java's last jungle and last one horned Rhino. The train was tricky to find in Jakarta, population of the whole country of the Netherlands (15 million)! But luckily the locals seem to help me everywhere I go. Probably because I am a girl traveling alone. This time there was no business class, and I thought economy would be ok. I paid only 5,000 rupees for a 5 hr train ride (0.58 cents)! The train started filling up with people and vendors of all sorts walking up and down selling food, drinks, books, necessities even makeup! There were bands singing and playing guitar, blind men asking for change, little boys on their hands and knees sweeping the floor with their dirty hands from all the trash from the people who bought food and drinks from the vendors. Of course I would feel bad so I would give the boy all my change. It was a cycle; people bought things, threw them on the ground, the sweepers would clean it, musicians would entertain and blind men would reap pity change from the people. Everyone was making money from a 0.58 cent train ride, amazing! An Indonesian Circus on an economy train! (see video on FB). Of course I was the only foreigner on the train...no one else would be crazy enough to take the economy train LOL. So I drew a lot of attention. By the end of the train ride a student walked up to me to ask me where I was going. They were headed in the same direction, but not as far. They just graduated and was spening 2 days and 1 night in a villa on the beach in Carita. They asked if I would like to come along. So I did. Just like that my plans changed. There were 15 or so of them, all friendly and dedicated Muslims. We hired a minibus to take us to Carita 2 hrs away. I was falling asleep since the night before I was on the business class train all night unable to sleep and the economy train all day. Carita was a beautiful little village on the ocean and the villa was nice and big to accompany the clan of students :) We swam, played games, ate dinner and crashed on mattresses on the living room floor together.
I was about to get a ride to Ujung Kulon, but a guide named Digimon told me that the jungle of Carita was just as beautiful and had a really nice waterfall that we could hike to. So I decided to change my plans again and hike to the waterfall and surf the next day.
The waterfall hike through the jungle was amazing. We did it the hard way and hiked through the river which the guide has never done before. When we came to a waterfall, we would climb up the sides to get to the top. Some places were pretty treacherous. I slipped so many times! One time I was trying to climb from the water which was over my head to a slippery wall with almost nothing to hold on to. I was halfway up when I slipped and fell back into the water and as I slipped, a median sized monitor lizard fell in with me. Another time my foot fell into a hole in the river and scratched up my leg. At least now it matches the scars on my other leg from my accident in Thailand last year. Not to mention the hard fall I took and landed on a rock. Big bruise on my butt! Gosh, I am prone to accidents LOL
We walked in the river from side to side, swam when it was deep and sometimes walked through the jungle when it got too difficult. It was a 7 hour trek and it rained pretty hard a few times during the trek which just added to the adventure.luckily Digimon, the guide, found some plastic to wrap my camera in.
The jungle was so beautiful and lush with bright green everywhere u looked. We saw monkeys and a bunch of cool plants which Digimon pointed out (medicinal plants, clove trees, fruit trees ect).
Walked to the rice patties and through a small village. Slept on the beach in a hammock. Surfed in the afternoon. Couldn't catch a good wave. Hung out with the locals in the evening time.
Went to Jakarta to change ticket and extend my stay in Indonesia.
Surfed, got another surfing injury; slipped off the surfboard and hit my chin, hung with the locals at a Reggae concert. I was pulled on stage to dance and sing with the band…that was fun…the videos are on FB.
I arranged a tour to see the Krakatoa Volcano. This is the world's most famous volcano. The tour set out in the morning. We snorkeled around the volcano in a coral reef made from the lava, saw some big fish! After that we made our journey up the black sandy beach and up the volcano to the top where it was spitting out hot rocks, smoke and making large booming sounds. In the night time you can see the fire spit out the top (see video on FB). After that exciting view, we made our way back to the boat but not without spotting a 5 foot monitor lizard! We went to a near by island for lunch, where I feed another monitor lizard my chicken bone and got wiped by his giant tail! (see FB video)
Drove to Tamanjaya by motorbike and have witness some of the worst roads! Covered in potholes and missing pieces to what used to be a road. The locals say that the roads are so bad and neglected in order to keep tourists and outsiders away from their prize possession; the last of the Javan jungle and the absolute last of the 50 one-horned Rhinos that exist in Java. It was a 5 hour drive to the last village before the entrance to Ujung Kulon National Park. We stayed in the only guest house (a few years ago you would have had to stay with the locals in their private houses). We bought rice and supplies for the jungle and waited while it rained for the morning trek.
After our rice breakfast, we (the tour guide and I) met up with the Ranger. He packed his bag full of our camping equipment food & 9 liters of water. It had to have weighed around 20-30 kilo and he carried it all! We walked about an hour just to reach the entrance of the park....and this is when it started getting fun! The jungle trail was getting smaller and smaller and the jungle started closing in on us. I would have been lost, but the ranger knew this jungle like the back of his hand. Sometimes there was no trail to be found at all.
We trekked to a Ranger station in the middle of nowhere, but was an area cleared of brush and had 2 wells for fresh water and plenty of coconut trees. I pitched my tent on the beach. It was as if I was on a deserted island. We were the only people to be found on that beach. The water was beautiful, but too dangerous to swim in. Later I had the ranger climb like a monkey to the top of a coconut tree to fetch coconuts :) mmm yummy!!! I did not have to worry about the cooking because both the ranger and the guide did that for me. Wow, how spoiled LOL. When the sun went down the jungle turned pitch black, unfortunatly there was no moon so it was even difficult seeing your hand infront of your face.After dinner we had a bonfire to make some light.
To my suprise I awoke to a million bug bites on my body. I counted over 30 bites on just one foot! I thought I was safe sleeping in a tent, but I guess not. The ranger said there was a large cat walking around the camp. He was not sure what kind (too dark to see) but he could hear it....scary. We saw the footprints too.
The shower was one of the coolest experiences! I had to walk down a little hill to the well which was surrounded on all sides by thick jungle and little critters running and jumping around. The well had a bucket with a rock tied to one side so that when u threw it down to fetch the fresh water, it would dip and sink down enough to fill the bucket. Then you would pull the bucket up and pour it over yourself. It was cold and rejuvenating. Just to think that people would pay thousands of dollars just for the same experience at a spa hehe…I have it all natural-10xs better and more peaceful!
Both the way to and from the jungle, we saw horn billed birds that sounded like helicopters when they flew . We saw huge squirl like animals, a fresh Rhino mud pit, fresh Rhino tracks, hog tracks, Tiger or leopard tracks, leopard fur, monitor lizard tracks on the beach sand, giant mice looking animals, big bugs and much more....
Said my goodbyes and made my way to the airport in Jakarta....finally leaving after changing my ticket twice to stay longer! Where I began in Bali hating the tourist scene, I fell in love with Carita and the jungle scene.