Back to Indonesia - Bali and Jawa
Indonesia has been one of the favourite countries of the kids so far and we were all looking forward to going back, being at Melbourne airport I was thinking that it would be nice to once more leave westernised culture and head into the second part of our trip away.
First up was 4 nights in the Conrad again booked with points to ease us back into travelling mode, lazing around the pool and eating out of the executive lounge was the order of the next 4 days.
The Conrad had a complimentary kids club and we thought we would try it out, it was strange leaving all 3 kids for the first time on this trip with strangers and reminded us of the first time we dropped them off at nursey but a lot less painful. The kids at first were hesitant but eventually agreed to spend the day away from us. It was a surreal experience being around the pool with silence surrounding us, no screaming children, no having to referee children's disagreements and not being asked for something every 5 mins like a drink or could we swim with them. We were expecting a call from the kids club all day with at least one child asking us to return but none came, when we went to pick up the kids they were excited to see us and all 3 tried to grab our attention to show us what they had made that day which including how to tie a sarong, kite making and paper umbrellas. The kids really enjoyed their time and where looking forward to returning, this allowed us to peacefully catch up on the blog to date.
When travelling you do change clothes less often than at home as your laundry cost money and is not readily available, but whilst having a family cuddle in bed you know you are pushing the boundaries when Arabella pipes up "Dad, you smell of cheese", this turned into a running joke and anytime the slightest whiff came from someone the analogy to cheese was used. It came to light where the smell was coming from, back in Nepal Luca bough me a necklace and I had been wearing constantly, it just needed several washes.
At breakfast the Conrad had been serving up dragon fruit similar to what you get in the UK but purple flesh instead of white, Arabella had loved it and eat many pieces, but a request came from the toilet via Maddalena that Arabella was worried and need mummy, after further investigation Arabella poo had turned purple due to the amount of dragon fruit eaten, panic over! But this put the others off eating it as they didn't want their poo to turn purple.
The Conrad was beautiful but probably came at the wrong time, if we had had been back on the road for longer we would of appreciated it more. We left on the 4th day early in the morning heading for Java (Jawa), the next few days consisted of many hours travelling and today was no exception, 6 hrs in a minivan to the ferry, 1 hour for the ferry from Bali to Java and then 6 hrs in an Elf van to Bromo, our destination for the night. I also knew this leg would be exhausting but with limited time I felt we should cram as much in as possible in the 4 days before heading to Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo.
After arriving late we had straight to the hotel restaurant and ordered Indonesia fare as we are trying to encourage to eat local food as much as possible and then head straight to bed as we needed to be up at 3.30am for our sunrise trip. The next day we head up to the view point blurry eyed at 4am, Bromo is a volcano that sits in a large extinct caldera, in the shadow of the largest volcano on Java, truly spectacular. One of the advantages of being in Indonesia in low season (Rainy season) is a lot less crowds, normally where 100s of people would be fighting for a spot to view the sunrise only a handful of us are there to experience the view, the disadvantage is you cannot guarantee the weather and today was indeed cloudy so no sunrise could be seen, still the site slowly emerging as it became light was spectacular enough for us. The plan from here was to take horses and trek across the caldera and climb the volcano up to the rim. This was not to be the case as Bromo had erupted and few days earlier and the walk had been closed for a few days and we were awaiting news as to whether it would reopen today. News eventually came and the government had official opened the route but the local people would not allow visitors to climb until a spiritual ritual had been performed and wouldn't be opened until noon, with our packed schedule we couldn't wait and had to move on. Although we were disappointed not to climb we felt it was right that the locals should be allowed to exercise their customs and agreed that visitors shouldn't be allowed to climb. Today we had another long day after getting up at sunrise, a 5 hour drive to Malang, 7 hr train to Yogyakarta and then 1 hour to Borobudur. On the drive to Malang there was a number of incidents where I clinched up as the driver overtook, undertook generally on blind corners or when traffic was coming in the opposite direction. The driving here was crazy we think even more than India.
It was around 9.30pm when we arrived at the hotel in Borobudur and when headed straight to sleep as we had another sunrise tour booked for the morning. Up at 4am to meet our guide Azaa in the lobby and we head over to Borobudur temple to climb the 150 steps to the top. The Buddhist temple looks roughly like a pyramid and is built from 2 million stone cubes, we sat at the top awaiting sunrise, again the crowds were low but it was foggy and again we didn't see the sunrise, still Borobudur built in the 9th century is pretty spectacular and an amazing feat of engineering considering the time period, we all embraced the peaceful sunrise and sounds.
After breakfast, we headed into Yogyakarta to see to main sights, on the way Azaa took time to teach us Indonesian greetings and common sayings the kids really enjoyed learning. Our first stop in Yogyakarta was the Sultans Palace, as we approached a hawker tried to sell us a blow pipe, initially I couldn't see how we could get this in the suitcase but when he demonstrated it came apart I felt at £3.50 was the prefect souvenir for Luca, we both had a go and were impressed by the range of the darts, I have been a bit worried with Luca as at his age he is not that interested in souvenirs and more often just wants to buy toys you can get back home, so I am making a conservative effort to make sure he has little memories to reflect on when we get back home.
We weren't that impressed by the palace but the guide made it very informative and got the kids engaged. After we went on the hunt for some Batik art. These are paintings on cloth and are traditionally how sarongs are made here, we made all the children choose a design, I think Maddalena reflected Indonesia the most, Arabella choose a cat and Luca a dragon. I felt the need to continue looking for local trinkets and then asked the guide to take us to the silver market for both lunch and shopping. Again everyone ended up buying something, even Edwina who gave me a number of looks every time I suggest souvenir hunting but she always regrets not buying stuff.
After the silver market we started to head back via probably one of the cruellest things we have shown the kids, the bird market, it is full of really cramped caged animals you can buy birds, monkeys, cats, dogs, c*** for fighting, fish and even multi coloured chicks.
Tomorrow was Arabella birthday and she had decided all day to call this her birthday eve and didn't stop talking about buying a cake, she was so excited the whole day and was pleased on the last stop before the hotel the bakery, Arabella typically choose the pinkest cake in the shop.
The next day was Arabella's 8th birthday, candles on and she was presented with her cake in bed. I had given her some choices of activities for her birthday before we left home and she had already chosen cave tubing at Goa Pindul an hour out of Yogyakarta. As we arrived the place was overrun by loud, enthusiastic Indonesia school groups, very funny to watch. We eventually found our guide and headed down to the river and got into our inflatable inner tire tubes and proceeded to float into the cave. Maddalena felt uneasy as we approach the dark areas but her fear was quickly overcome. Towards the end of the cave there was a jump into the water, Luca was quick to volunteer to jump off. Azaa our Yogyakarta guide had come with us and was brilliant with Luca not just with the jumps but all day swimming with him, when we asked if he minded he replied with the sweetest comment "I am a father to a son aged 1 and this is good training for me to be a father". Another group had a photographer with them and started taking photos of Luca, although we exited the cave now we decided to hire a photographer for the second part, tubing down the Oyo River. The section had a huge jump in it and again Luca wanted to jump, uncertain of where the rocks lay we decided not to let him jump, although initially disappointed the guide found another jumping point much more manageable and still high that Luca could continuously jump from.
With the delays at the tubing centre we didn't get back to Yogyakarta for lunch until late, the restaurant we had booked had burnt down a few months early a so we headed to Via Via a restaurant in the backpackers area, this area had a lovely chilled out feel to the place and somewhere where you could easily spend more time in. Arabella enjoyed her birthday tea of a large beef burger, fries and a milkshake a refreshing change from Indonesian food and well deserved for everyone after a great day out on the river.
The next day we boarded the 6.40am train to Surabaya to board our flight to Indonesian Borneo, Kalimantan.