Indonesia 25th February-25th March
What I have learned about Indonesia apart from the fact that I love the country are many useless and useful pieces of information that I don't want to forget so for the record, here they are.
Indonesia is made up of over 18,000 islands of which 6000 are inhabited. I visited Bali, Lombok and Java. The capital of Indonesia is Jakarta and the currency is Indonesian Rupiah, you get approx 15,000 IDR to the pound. It is the 4th most populated country in the world and there are 6 recognised religions, predominantly Islam but also Hinduism which is the Balinese religion and Buddhism. Hindu's believe very strongly in karma and they have temples and altars in their homes because of how often they are expected to make offerings to the Gods.
Terima kasih - Thank you, Tidak - No, Gula - Sugar, Wanita - Women, Pria - Men, Mushola - Muslim prayer room (not a toilet as I thought as I went walking in)
Kopi susu - Coffee with milk but if you say just susu to a local they laugh as it also means boob
The flight to Bali International airport was a breeze, it was what came next that wasn't so easy. The airport is located about 10km from Kuta so we needed to get a taxi to our accommodation, we were greeted by a barrage of taxi drivers as we left the terminal shouting "Taxi, yes, transport" a phrase that I was going to get seriously sick of hearing. The first offer was to take us for 250,000 Indonesian Rupiah, that's about 17 pound, I was disgusted, I don't think so, I'll pay 50,000 I said, and so began my new life of arguing and bartering over everything. When the driver dropped us off he said it was too hard to get down the side street but it was a 2 minute walk and he probably would have been right had we not got lost and spent 45 minutes walking round in circles "Taxi, yes, transport", "No thank you" my polite response, FYI this has now changed to "No thank you" 4 times followed by either "Go away" or "Shut up". We finally arrive at the Inn so it's called, oh dear, I am very worried as I follow the receptionist to the room and even more annoyed that after sweating like an idiot for about an hour and having to walk with my very heavy rucksack up the uneven tiled stairs, someone is stood right in my way - Aaaaargh, Charlie Farlie is stood there waiting, how lovely to see a familiar face in all this chaos.
To say the room was bad was a bit of an understatement, after 1 month in Indonesia it is still by far the worst we have stayed in. The sheets were dirty, the cupboards hardly opened stuck together with grime, the sink was a filthy old stainless steel kitchen sink and the water came out a very odd colour, there was no shower cubicle (something I have still not got used to) the water was cold and when it ran down the drain the smell of waste came up. Vile, so what do you do in this kind of situation? Head out to sample the local beer, in Indonesia this is Bintang. Kuta is not a horrible place by any means but if you had come here for your once in a lifetime holiday to Bali, you would cry, the streets where we were staying are called gangs and they were lined with stalls of sellers of cheap tat, the roads were full of holes filled with dirty water, I even got used to the black splats up my legs, the beach was piled with rubbish every 10 metres along the shore and though the waves looked pretty awesome, Adam couldn't even be tempted in.
We did however make the best of our time in Kuta, we watched the beautiful sunset on the beach, we shopped for tat and I tried to see how much I could get one poor lady down on the cost of a very nice Jimmy Choo handbag which I didn't even buy. IDR480k to IDR140k I was pleased with myself. There was also a nicer part of Kuta where they had some surf shops and Adam bought me a new bikini for my birthday, though I took 4 hours to choose one. It was my 29th birthday while we were in Kuta and so we tried to sort something nice. In the morning we visited flapjacks, which actually sold all manner of pancakes where we ate brekkie while I opened my cards and presents that Mum had sent over, I even had a candle in my pancake while they sang Happy Birthday. Then we visited the waterpark where I chickened out of one of the flumes and then forced myself to go back and go on it. It was a vertical drop and then an almost upside down loop but they put you in a cage before hand and locked you in before counting down till the floor fell away, I felt sick but I did it and that's all that matters! We then headed back to the Inn and I got on Skype to call my Mum, Adam was waiting in the bar with a beer and when I got there the band got me up on stage to sing to me, a little embarrassing. It was then a traditional family birthday with a trip to Pizza Hut, a very different way to spend my birthday.
Ubud, BaliThankfully it was time to leave Kuta and head to Ubud. If you have seen Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts then you should know that this is where she lives when she is in Bali. It was such a welcome change, we stayed in a really lovely home stay though I did insist on looking at 5 different ones before deciding, no more Kuta for me! A home stay is a family compound where they build separate outhouses for guests, beautiful birds chirped in ornate cages while water fountains bubbled away, it was heaven. We went for some lunch and there were no Bintang stubby holders in sight only book shops and handicraft stalls. I spotted a bit of a worn sign saying come and eat here we have a great view, I had no intention of eating there as I climbed the mossy stone steps to see this view, I soon changed my mind, this was the Bali I'd been after. Impossibly green rice paddies with workers wearing cone shaped bamboo hats and chickens wandering in and out of the fields, I'd arrived.
While in Ubud we visited the Ubud Palace where we watched a classical Legong Balinese dance where the dancers wear bright colours and much gold with ornate head dresses and lots of make up backed by a Gamelon orchestra made up of about 40 musicians playing xylophones, gongs, drums and flutes. The whole experience was wonderful. On our second day in Ubud we visited a Batik gallery and an Ikat factory where we saw the old process of taking rice cotton, covering the areas not to be dyed with dye-resistant material before then being dyed and woven together on a hand loom, this is a long process and it takes 2 days to weave enough material for one sarong, and that's without the dying process. They then sell the sarongs for IDR150,000, approx 10pounds. After culturally enriching ourselves we asked one of the locals to head up to the market to get us some Babi Guiling, suckling pig, it is what Ubud is known for and it was lovely.
We had arranged to go on a cycling tour, again after I bartered the price down some more. This day is one of the highlights of Indonesia for me. We took a driving tour to Lake Batur for breakfast overlooking Mt Batur, a 1717m high volcano that spurts out ash in a small steady stream. You can hike up to the crater but the view from the Penelokan village restaurant was good enough for me where we sat and ate the infamous banana pancakes, it was so early on in our trip at this point that the thought of banana pancakes wasn't making me hurl yet. Too much like hard work thinking about the people who had just hiked up the mountain so we headed for coffee. At this small local coffee plantation we sampled some local blends and when I say local I mean the most expensive coffee in the world. If you don't believe me, google it. Kopi Luwak comes from Indonesia and can retail up $6600 per kilo and if you want to try some you can head down to London's Sloane Square and pick up a cup for $79. Fortunately we paid $3 for a cup but I guess that's what happens when you go to the source, that's a serious mark up! So what is this coffee, well in Indonesia Kopi means coffee as you well know and luwak is the Indonesia word for the small Asian palm civet that eats the coffee cherries for the fruit but the effect is that the bean then remains in its system for about 1 ½ days before being excreted. It is then someone's job to go and collect the faeces and remove the beans, clean them and then lightly roast before the coffee is then made, The luwak will only eat the best beans and so that's how you know you're getting the best cup of coffee, and there's some sciencey stuff about protein and enzymes which I can't remember. And the verdict was, one cup was enough, it was rich but not bitter and very smooth, still tasted like s*** to me (pardon the pun) but I hate coffee anyway!
We then embarked on our 23km (downhill) bicycle ride passing through small local villages where westerners are a rarity and the children come outside especially to say hello, practise their English and unintentionally nearly knock you off the bike with their barrage of high fives. We stopped in a small family compound where the locals ignored us, because they were paid to, and we looked around their house. 4 families live in one compound, the sons when grown leave for the cities and then come back when they have made their fortune and have found a wife to have a family. The children were all playing, fighting over a bike with 1 wheel, no pedals and no seat, it was really sad to see but they genuinely seemed to be having fun. We saw later on a small boy playing with a balloon made from a carrier bag and some string, it's just the way it is I guess. They had an altar in their compound as well and when someone dies they leave them on the altar until there are enough families who get together and have a communal cremation as they can't afford their own service. The men were hacking at bamboo which they were using for buildings, scaffolding, and then stripping it down for the women to weave into baskets or mats, ceilings and floors, what was left they used as firewood for cooking. I felt so privileged to be able to see their lives but also to know I was only visiting.
We also stopped off to see the local women at work in the rice paddies, they continue to work well into their 80s if they can for 20,000 rupiah a day, the equivalent of £1.40, at first I thought that it wasn't that bad seeing how cheap every thing is but then I tried to work out an equivalent. Fuel is 4500 rupiah per litre which is pretty cheap I thought but imagine that your day's salary is the equivalent of being able to buy 4 litres of fuel, that's about £5.50 a day, not good! As we were cycling along we also noticed that there was rice on huge tarpaulin sheets on the side of the road all along the journey, our guide told us that they don't mind if we ride over them because it helps the rice to lose the outer shells and saves them money as they have to get a machine to do this job. At the end of our bike ride there was an option to ride another 7km uphill which I declined but Adam managed successfully, sweating a lot! We then had traditional Indonesian food and headed back into town where we took the option of going to the monkey forest. The sacred monkey forest sanctuary in Ubud is home to about 300 very cheeky Balinese Macaques. Monkeys are very important in Balinese culture as is reflected in the dances, statues, carvings and many folk tales. Charlie bought a bunch of bananas to feed the monkeys but I don't know why because every time a monkey came near him he would throw the banana on the ground and run away. I started teasing the monkeys till one climbed up my leg as far as my waist to take the banana off me.
It was time to leave Ubud and our amazing room with hot water and air con and a pool and go to Padangbai on the east coast of Bali. We had originally only intended on staying here for 2 nights but little did we know we were entering into the new year of the Balinese Hindu religion, also known as Nyepi. This caused us a problem because on Nyepi day you are not aloud to go outside and this was the day we had planned to travel to the neighbouring island of Lombok. Among the many rules surrounding Nyepi, this was my favourite taped to our door in the hotel.
Amati Lelangunan: No noise, no happiness, no laughing, no shouting, no loud music etc, please be quiet.
Whilst we did manage to stay inside, mainly because the religious police were outside waiting for us in case we didn't, I can't say we managed to not laugh, we watched lots of movies and ate crap we had bought the day before. The celebrations had made the whole thing worth while. For about a month prior to Nyepi the local families group together and create these amazing statues made mainly of bamboo and cement sacks called Ogoh-Ogoh. They paraded them through the streets carried by young lads until they reached their final destination on the beach where they were burnt. The symbolism is that the Ogoh-Ogoh is the evil spirit and the burning neutralises good and evil, the following day on silence day, people are ordered to control their 5 earthly senses in order to increase the quality of life for the upcoming year. Seeing as I didn't control my senses I'm clearly going to have a s*** year.
The reason why Balinese Hindu's celebrate new year in March is because they operate on 3 different calendars, one is 210 days long and is called the Pawukon system, the other is the reason for Nyepi and is 12 months long but the end of the month is determined by a new moon and it is currently 1933, they also use the standard calendar so the lucky sods have 3 birthdays a year.
Padangbai itself was a small town, although the ferry leaves from here to go to the Gili islands and to Lombok they don't see too many tourists who stay around so it was nice to meet some of the local boys who invited us to drink with them on new year 's eve and the beach in Padangbai actually had lovely snorkelling so we managed to entertain ourselves very easily. We weren't too impressed however when we went to the cash point and were told it was out of order and we needed to go to Klungkung the nearest town about 30 minutes away. Predictably, there was a group of locals willing to take us for an extortionate fee. Well I got them down to £4.20 for all 3 of us and felt bad when the guy's car broke down on the way back, we got our money out in the end though.
When I read the lonely planet about Kuta Lombok it did say it was a stunning place to visit and that an Arab tycoon has got in excess of $650 million to turn it into a Dubai type complex so if you want to see its beauty you need to go now. However, it also states that it is very dangerous for tourists and that people are often robbed at knife point, it is also quite off the tourist trail and really hard to get to so don't bother. It was relatively expensive to get to and when we changed coaches after our 4 hour (on a really horrible boat) boat trip and another 1 hour to get to Mataram the capital of Lombok the driver sat us down specifically to warn us of the dangers in Kuta, I was seriously worried. However, hindsight tells me there was not need to waste my time worrying and since our visit, have told everyone to go there. There aren't many tourists in Kuta, most of them clearly heed the warnings dished out in abundance.
Any non-locals were there just to surf, and one afternoon we went on mopeds to another small village where we chartered a boat to take us out to the so-called beginners break at Grupuk. Charlie and I caught a couple of waves and were really enjoying it but because it was a reef break when we were tired you had to paddle out past the waves, it got too tiring for both of us so we chilled on the boat while Adam carried on like a hero. The next day Adam wanted to go surfing again though Charlie and I weren't so keen. In the morning we sunbathed on probably the most beautiful beach I have ever seen with 2 other tourists and 4 local boys whose little brother was burying them in the sand. So sweet! The beach was massive and it took me 25 minutes to walk from one end to the other to see if there was somewhere to eat. When I got there I found some guy in his house who agreed to make us something to eat because we were all so hungry. The whole of Kuta just seemed so relaxed, the local boys just chuck you the keys to their moped so you can ride to the beach, we met up with a few locals who showed us to Seger Reef, Charlie and I just sat and watched the sunset as Adam caught a few waves. It did turn into a bit of a disaster though as Adam ended up being taken in by the tide to another beach, he was trying to paddle back out past the waves but they were too strong. I started to panic a bit thinking he was going to drown until I realised he was paddling in 2 foot of water, he wasn't standing up though because it was all coral and sea urchins. Unfortunately after trying to paddle out he had to stand up and met him half way with his flip flops, we both ended up with sea urchins stuck in our feet, well I do like a bit of drama in my life you know.
All of us wanted to stay another couple of days but it was time to push on and head north to Sengiggi. There actually isn't that much in Sengiggi, it used to be a popular tourist town in Lombok before the Gili islands took off but now if you want good beach you have to be staying in the seafront hotels that clean the beach every morning. So when you're like us and are staying in the town next to the building work, the night club and the mosque loudspeaker how do you enjoy the beach, well… you just walk straight into the Sheraton hotel and lie on their bit of private beach! The reason why we went to Sengiggi was to hire some bikes and maybe to the Mt Rinjani climb, another Indonesian volcano. It does however take 2 days and Adam was poorly so instead we did neither and promptly left the delights of the mosque and headed to Gili Trawangen.
Gili Trawangen, Lombok
Gili T is one of 3 islands off the north west coast of Lombok, to get there you take a small boat from the mainland. We had been told by fellow travellers that Bangsal harbour was a nightmare for ticket touts. We got off the minibus and were waiting for our driver to get our tickets for us when a man approached us and said that he worked for our driver and that we need to take a cidemo (a horse and cart) to the office which we would have to pay for unless we wanted to walk for 30 minutes to get there. What a cheek, I just turned around and ignored him waiting for my actual ticket to materialise but apparently a lot of people get tricked like that. The boat ride was only 25 minutes, a welcome alternative to the 4 hour trip we had recently experienced and we were there.
The island is small though it's the largest of the 3 Gili islands with a population 1500, you can walk or cycle around it easily and there are no cars or mopeds, just bicycles, cidemo and good old fashioned feet! My Mum had wanted to treat us to stay somewhere nice in Kuta for my birthday, looking back now this would have been a good idea but instead I saved the treat till now and what a treat it was. As it was low season we managed to get a discounted rate staying in Horizontal Rooms, their motto was "What's your favourite position…?" and it was perfect. We had our own private plunge pool and sun deck, a sunken lounge area with plasma TV, sky and DVD player, a huge bed with flowers on our pillows and chilly air-conditioning in the bedroom and an outdoor rain shower, we loved it. There was a slight hiccup however in that we had intended to go to Gili T to chill out and rest a while, it sounds silly to most people but getting up early every day to either pack and get back on the move, go on a tour or to walk around all day checking out the sights does get tiring. Instead of relaxing though, we went diving.
I did my open water qualification and Adam did his advanced and nitrox diver. We didn't get to dive together and there was lots of theory for me to learn and if you must know, yes I did get 100% on the exam ;-) It was very easy though. Both of our dive courses went on for 4 days starting at 8am and not really finishing till 5pm during which time Charlton, who decided he couldn't possibly go diving, stayed in the room the whole time ordering room service and watching sky TV and movies, he thoroughly enjoyed himself. I also loved the diving, not the theory or the 4 hours spent in the pool but the diving was so cool and I couldn't believe that after developing a fish phobia a few years ago, here I was swimming amongst them. Both Adam and I saw turtles, sharks and plenty of nemos and other gorgeous fish, Adam also saw a manta ray and I was really sad that I didn't but I guess it means I'll have to keep diving so that one day I see one. The guys on our courses were really good fun and the instructors were amazing, they got the measure of me straight away calling me a chronic moaner, I don't know what they're talking about! On the last night we went out for a celebratory meal as we had completed our courses and Charlie came along too, one thing I failed to mention about Gili T is the fact that most of the coffee places also happily sell you milkshakes or namely magic mushroom shakes and this was the night the boys decided they would buy one. It made for a very entertaining last night with their uncontrollable fits of laughter and obsessions over bright lights and loud music but it wasn't so funny then next day when we had to make the long journey back to Bali.
Padangbai, Bali (again)
After having stayed here for so long before we went to Lombok you would have thought we would have wanted to scoot straight through but Adam and I wanted to do some more diving and Charlie had realised he'd wasted all his beach time in the room in Gili T so he wanted to get sunbathing. So Adam and I went north to Tulamben where over 60 years ago the WWII wreck of the US cargo ship 'Liberty' sunk. The ship is now encrusted with reef and teeming with life, we saw many beautiful fish and I saw a sting ray, still no manta though. We also saw a barracuda fish hovering under part of the ship with its mouth wide open. Small blue and yellow fish were swimming in and out of its mouth and I was very upset, it wasn't until we got to the surface that Tankas (the dive master and also the same local guy we drank with on new year, remember back that far?) told me that the fish were just cleaning him and he wasn't eating them, I felt much better! One thing that was different between this dive and the dives in the Gillis was that this was a shore entry. The driver stopped us at the end of the road and then we walked down to the edge of the beach. I sat down and had a drink wondering how we were going to get our gear when local ladies started delivering the gear carrying it on their heads. They can apparently carry up to 40kgs on their head and that's why Indonesians are short, so they say! I was unable to walk out of the water and up one step carrying one dive tank on my back and I saw one lady carrying two tanks on her head down a hundred metres of steps, incredible.
The journey to get to Java was the longest so far though not that bad as far a journey's go. We got a taxi to Denpasar, the capital of Bali and then we got a coach all the way to Java with a short ferry crossing. On the crossing there were a small group of local boys who apparently come on board most trips and get tourists to bid for how much they will pay for them to jump off the top. I don't mean westerners either, we were certainly stared at and the lads tried to get us involved but in the end they jumped for 3000 rupiah, that's 21 pence, quite something eh?! We really didn't need to be in Probolinggo as there is nothing there, we were heading for a small village in the hills called Cemero Lawang, but it was as far as we could make it in 1 day and it was already 2am so we got our heads down. The next day we were very pleased to discover that there was a time difference and we had gained an hour and started on our journey up the mountain to do our sunrise at Bromo the following morning. As with the Bangsal harbour scam, we had heard that many people are also tricked in Java, they are not so into karma and also not as used to the tourist dollar as they are in Bali. A couple on my diving course had paid a group to take them up the hills to Bromo but half way up the driver stopped and demanded more money. When they refused to pay the driver left them there for 3 hours until they were forced to pay to get up and then back down the mountain. I already knew this story but had gleefully forgotten as I was paying for the accommodation and transport at what seemed like a bargain price but as we were on the way up a wave of panic came over me, it was raining very heavily and it looked like there had already been a number of mudslides already, I reached for the ticket and there was no name, no phone number or agency and we had no idea who the driver was either as it was public transport and locals kept getting on and off. When we arrived at the guest house the driver stopped and came in with us and paid, I was relieved but realised that even listening to everyone else's cautionary tales had not really helped me, it was shear luck that saved us in the end.
Ngadisari and Mt Bromo, Java
We had arrived at the guest house which was comfortable enough though the difference in temperature from when we had been down in the town was amazing, earlier I had been sweating, I know ladies are supposed to glow but I was dripping with sweat it was so, so hot. Now I was wearing trousers, socks and my fleece and even got in the sleeping bag. We had not much else to do but wait until the next day, we weren't exactly in part central so we snuggled up and watched movies though even that was interrupted when the power went of for a few hours. We all had a really early night ready for the big day.
At 4am we started our ascent of Mt Penanjakan at 2770m high we were fortunate that the 4wd drive took us most of the way because sunrise was at 5.30am and I would have never made it. Lots of guys were offering to take us up by horse back and I8 think I was only a couple of years away from saying "Ooh, yes please" Mt Bromo stands 2592m tall so we were looking down over the crater, lots of people do the crater walk whereby you walk down Mt Penanjakan, across the plateau and back up Mt Bromo but clearly no-one was going to be doing this today with lava and ash spewing from the volcano in eruptions that happened every 15 minutes. As the sun rose over the town below the view was lit up and then true magnificence of what we were seeing became apparent. In fact I felt rather silly to think it was even a good idea to be standing where we were when the true force of the volcano became clear. It was stunning and I loved every cold and frightening moment of it.
We then embarked on another very long journey to get from Bromo to Yogyakarta that took all day meaning we arrived once again in the dark. The city is called Yogya for short which is pronounced Jogja and whilst it was a busy city with all the hustle and bustle you would expect I really enjoyed our time here. The one thing I wasn't so keen on though was how we really were like mini celebrities, people would turn to look at us, almost to the point of causing an accident on their bike, locals waved and pretty much jumped out of the way, I caught one lady nudging her friend and turning round and pointing, it felt so very strange to be the minority.
While we were there we wanted to take a tour of the city and I was going to do it on foot but the concierge twisted my arm and convinced me we should travel by becak, a bicycle-rickshaw and I am so glad we did. It was such a lovely day and the poor driver pushed Adam and I on one and then another driver pushed Charlie on the other and the drove us around all day from 10am till about 8pm for the equivalent of £3.50 per driver. We visited the Palace of the Sultans, the Kraton, where the Sultan still lives and conducts all his business. The Kraton is effectively a walled city where around 25.000 people live and 1000 of these are employed by the sultan, there is a school and markets inside the kraton. We had a tour of the inside of the palace which still retains many of the original features from its origin in 1755 but some of the architecture is new as the 2006 earthquakes caused much damage but you can see the Dutch influences here very clearly. (In case you are unaware there was a rather big war going on in 1942 involving the Japanese and the allied defence of the Dutch East Indies) We visited a small batik gallery where we bought a contemporary style painting produced using the traditional methods we also visited a small shop where they hand carve and paint marionettes but they were a little out of our price range but lovely to see. We headed on over to the Yogya bird market where they were selling all manner of birds, bird feet (maggots crawling with ants) cats, dogs, colour dyed chicks, snakes, lizards and even an owl. We wanted everything but we did the right thing and bought nothing. After this it was time to head to Kota Gede where the silver industry in Yogya started in the 30s and still continues today, again too expensive for us but lovely to look. It was then time to head back into town and the traditional market and then time for McDonalds (I know, sorry) and time to head home. On he way back Adam asked if he could ride and the driver sat with me in the front, we got some funny looks and some apparently rude heckles from the locals about the driver and I, "Ay ay!" but it was a great experience.
Borobudur is the name of a Buddhist temple that was built over 1200 years ago but as the power in Java moved to the east soon after it was built it was abandoned and became covered in volcanic ash over the following centuries. It wasn't until 1815 when the area was uncovered and then the restoration project started in the 20th century by the Dutch. It was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 1991 and contains 60,000 cubic metres of carved stone, I think that's a pretty impressive project! The temple now sits in large gardens and from the top you can see the tips of the volcanoes all around, the carvings are on almost every stone and are so ornate, the Buddha statues sit looking down on you, I loved the serenity of the place. On the same day we also visited Mendut temple which paled in comparison but inside was a 3m high figure of Buddha and it's said that this is the oldest untouched statue in Java. It was also here that I used my best bargaining skills to get a very reluctant lady to sell me a bronze head of Buddha for £1.40 when she wanted £5.60, she was following me down the street shouting other prices but when I eventually pulled the money from my bra, waved it in her face and said "Now or never" that her face was priceless, she started to laugh and conceded.
Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia and every traveller I spoke to told me they hated it so I really didn't know what to expect, in truth, I liked it. I think the main problem is that if you go to Skegness and expect Fiji you are going to be disappointed. I know that Jakarta is the capital city of a non-western county and that it is the biggest capital city in South East Asia so I was ready for the heavily trafficked streets, the pollution, the slums alongside the obscenely large shopping malls. There are few western tourists in Jakarta so we were look upon with interest, not quite celebrity status more of a nudge and point (this happened in the queue in the airport for the plane from Yogya to Jakarta). We had decided to fly as time was running out and we didn't think we could have coped with another 14 hours of a non air-conditioned jolting bus ride. So with the shopping malls calling we made an obligatory stop at the monument built by the last sultan which was a tall monument with a flame covered in 35kgs of gold leaf, they call it his final erection. I know I'm childish but that made me giggle. We then found one of the many malls and Topshop, Borders, Dorothy Perkins, Marks and Spencers, Zara, Mango, I could have been in England, even the prices we pretty much the same, hence the fact that I didn't buy very much but really enjoyed the whole western feeling. The other amazing part about the malls was the AC. I haven't really mentioned it but the weather for the whole of Indonesia apart from 3 days was amazing. It was sunny and hot all the time, temperatures were up to the mid thirties and humidity hit 80% most of the time so AC was amazing.
It was finally time to say goodbye to Indonesia and as we were waiting in line to check in I smiled to myself as I remembered my excitement at ordering chicken satay for the flight way back when I was in Australia. I had eaten so much satay by this point that I'm surprised I didn't have peanuts coming out of my ears. I glanced over to look at Charlton's ticket, all fancy in colour, looking very professional in comparison to my crappy black and white one. It was then that I spotted that he had made a hue mistake, his flight was for the same day and an hour after our flight and it was from Jakarta but it was to go back to Bali, not Bangkok where he needed to be to catch his connecting flight 2 days later to Sydney. In a mad rush we managed to secure a seat on a flight to Bangkok that day and a disaster was averted but as we said goodbye we were leaving a very distressed Charlton. I had thoroughly enjoyed having him with me on this leg of the journey but the time had come for us to go our separate ways, Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia was only hours away.