Surfing turned out to be similar to trying to jump on and stay on a banana skin, sat atop a particular slippery piece of soap, whilst it's skating around an ice rink. In fact, after the second afternoon of trying, having fully stood up on the bloody thing in a way that resembled me surfing about 8 times in four hours, I sat on the beach and looked out at all the people in the sea with surfboards. Of, i'd guess about 50 people, I'd say 2 were actually stood up surfing. The rest were trying to get out to sea, trying to get on a wave or falling off. Falling off in a wave is one of those near death experiences; you kind of feel like you're in a washing machine, and you don't know which way is up. This is happening as you're running out of air, and thankgod before you die you feel sand in one direction, push against it and pop out gasping. Even when you're actually on a wave, it ain't as thrilling as you'd think, lasting about 5 seconds, not seeming fast enough, and giving you just enough time to think that jet skiing is miles better.
And so, having ticked off another thing to before I reach 30, I headed out of Bali for Java, roughing it with the locals on an inter island bus called Wisata Komodo. Wisata Komodo is Indonesian for National Express I think. This might be a third world country to us in many ways, but they don't half do a great line in customer service. I'm sat on this coach, and even with my feet straight out in front of me I couldn't reach the seat in front! The seats fully reclined horizontal ala club class British Airways, we had free cake brought around within 5 mins of setting off, and watched Collateral on the TV (considering the kids on board I'm guessing they're not right hot on their film ratings). We had a ferry ride between Bali and Java, and on this in the seating area some local Del Boy type character stood up and proceeded to pull more objects out of a sack than could fit in, trying to sell everything from a plastic Boeing 747 to a head massager (two prongs with balls on the end). No one bought anything but everyone was sat lapping up this demonstration of new fangled technology.
One of the main reasons I came to Indonesia was for volcanos. In Java my first stop was Bromo, which is a volcano lite. It's still active, ie it smokes away, but as it's not killed that many people for a while (only 2 unfortunates in 2004 who were stood on the rim when it belched a bit) the locals have conveniently etched 300 steps into the side of it for people to climb. It's actually 2500metres high, but the surrounding land is 2000metres so not too bad a climb for the girlies. When you get to the top it's quite a view, the inside just looks like a one of those steam vents in Iceland, but it's smoke not steam. The wind blew smoke in my direction a couple of times, and it's incredibly sulphurous, feels like you're trying to breathe in Sherbert. There's a few locals who sit at the top all day, trying to flog you bundles of flowers to throw into Bromo to make it happy. Obviously being a Westerner I don't believe in Volcano gods, and saved my 20p.
I'm now holed up in Yogyakarta, which will be my last Indonesian destination before I fly out to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on the 25th June. Yogya is a really cool big city, still full of bloody mopeds like most of Indonesia seems to be, but quite cosmopolitan, full of bars, restuarants and things to do. There seems to be a few ex pats living here, and as you can buy a four bed house for 35k, eat everywhere for a pound, and get your culture fix I can see why. Everyone has been very friendly in Indonesia, and I was beginning to wonder if this was just because they want your money. In Bali this might have been the case, but Java is far less touristy, and unless they're being trained early, local kids waving, smiling and saying 'Hello Mister!" through school gates at you seems unprompted and genuine. Everyone can't do enough for you either, I think people are just happy to have a job here. It was hilarious in my hotel today; they have maid service every day here, and some fella came around and asked to clean my room. I told him not to bother today as I was doing some exercises. (Kung Fu, but don't ask). About an hour later I'm sat outside the room, and I see the fella from earlier. He's with another guy and this time the other guy comes over, all beaming smiles, and goes "I clean your room?". I told him it really didn't matter today. A bit later I pop out for food, leave me key behind reception, and come back about an hour later. "Your key no here Mr Nathan", says the receptionist when I get back. Yeah you can guess, the cleaners have only sneaked in while I went out and cleaned up! And, with that, I've just been brought complimentary tea and cake, which won't eat itself…