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Day 24 - Naturalists in the Nature Reserve !

rain 28 °C

We awoke to the sounds of Cicadas, followed by a refreshing cold shower out in the open air bathroom !
Shorty after breakfast we set off for a walk around the reserve to view the produce grown on the estate and
the natural species and odd wildlife, which were mainly large spiders (the size of your hand) dotted around the reserve.
We continued on and out of the the reserve and on to a nearby village were we met a 95yr old woman that
makes home ground coffee every day for the local workers, we went into her house and
watched her hand grinding the beans and then we sampled some coffee, quite nice but very strong.
Leaving the village we continued past rice terraces to a home made hydroelectric station that supplied the village just from a diverted stream.
We returned to the Eco centre just before midday, had yet another cold shower due to the humidity followed by lunch.
In the afternoon we drove to the base of Mount Bromo situated on the Tengger Massif about 3 hrs further east.
We were now entering the start of the rainy season in Indonesia and
during the past few days we'd had the "afternoon shower" a basic downpour for about 30 mins,
then sun and within another 30 mins everything had dried up (my kind of rain). however the showers were now getting longer and
today was no exception, a torrential storm broke out just as we stopped for a break,
it was so bad we had to wait in the gas station until it eased before getting back in to the minibus.
As we approached the Tengger valley the rain eased but as were halfway up the mountain, we were now in thick cloud - clag !
Our base for the night was a basic wooden chalet on the slope of the volcano as
we were going to make an early morning ascent to view the sunrise on the volcano.
Basic guesthouse was certainly an accurate description as all the walls were made out of bamboo, hence no sound proofing.
So after an early dinner we retired to bed at 9pm !

Posted by Andy-Irene 04:56 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 23 - Seloliman Nature Reserve

semi-overcast 29 °C

Today we left Yogyakarta after 3 great days here and via another train journey, each one another adventure - as always in Asia !
The central rail station in Yogyakarta was spotless with polished tiled floors and all the traders, hawkers and beggars are now banned from the inside all of Indonesia's railway stations, so we had a hassle free boarding procedures or a change.
The train travelled further east, working our way through the central province passing numerous rice fields and
their workers towards the Seloliman Nature Reserve, about 250Km east and situated on the slopes of the sacred Penanggungan Volcano.
After about 4 hours we arrived at our Mojokerto station and transferred to a small bus for the final part of the days journey,
once in the van we spotted our destination - a perfectly formed conical volcano named Penanggungan.
We were staying at PPLH, which was the first Ecological Centre setup in Indonesia in 1994.
The main bamboo building was surrounded by small bungalows each with an animal name not a number -
we had "Horse" a nice bungalow with a strange bathroom - opening the door to it went straight outside
where there was an open air sink, toilet and cold shower - all very atmospheric and refreshing !
We then had a group meal with all the ingredients from the fields and plantations at the centre.
After dinner we watched a wildlife video of Indonesia (hoping we'd spot some of it's "stars" tomorrow on our jungle trek).
Anyhow the video turned out to be a 10yr old BBC version which was good,
But now looked very dated compared to the techniques and HD we have now, although we watched the video in an open air summer room and during the film some Bats flew inside, right in front of the projector screen which made it a real "3D" film, quite funny at the time.
We then retired to our bungalow in the jungle, to the night chorus sound of cicadas.

Posted by Andy-Irene 04:50 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 22 - Bicycles and Ballet

semi-overcast 30 °C

Another full-on day was planned and we started by travelling out of the city by bus to a small village (with safer roads) for a bike ride around the local villages and to visit some local industries and farms etc.
After a short drive we all got a bike and helmet each, water bottle and set off around the countryside.

The roads were very quiet, mainly single track with the odd motorbike passing us and we only had to watch for the chickens crossing the road and
the odd dead rat laid in the road. Not long after setting off we stopped at a local "tofu" factory, it was a "real" sweatshop - boiling up the water to cook the tofu, straining and separating it etc. The guys work 10 hours a day (6.30 - 4.30) and nearly always 7 days a week !
Next stop was in a Paddy field, watching them re-sow the rice and also threshing the harvested rice, quiet interesting learning about the time it takes and the different types of rice etc. Then back on the bikes again for a longer ride before wadding through mud to a brick farm where they were making bricks out of mud.
This guy worked for himself, worked 8 hours a day, 6 days a week and made around 500 bricks by hand a day and all for around £350 per month.
We then started to make our way back, stopped lastly at a village museum and had a fresh juice, then joining our bus we returned to the hotel and went out for lunch. We'd had a nice morning doing just over 10 miles cycling the countryside.

We had a free afternoon so we went on a rickshaw to "Malioboro Street" a famous area for shops and the like. Our driver '(around 60 yrs old !) waited for us and then took us back later in the afternoon.
This was our last night in Yogyakarta and we'd managed to get some tickets to see the Ramayana Ballet,
A traditional/mythical love story of Indonesia.
We arrived just as the heavens opened and then found out it this performance was going to be open air ! (It's normally indoors until May).
The performance started and so the did the rain, now even heavier, so I went off and managed to borrow a couple of umbrellas off a security guard only to return to hear an announcement that the show was been postponed until the rain stopped !
We there we all were sat with brollies in the dark in the rain, we all joked that it was like Wimbledon but thankfully without Cliff Richard !
However after about 15 mins they announced that it would recommence indoors, it was then an mad rush with everybody heading indoors to grab there seats and escape the rain. (We originally had 1st class tickets) and
in the issuing chaos to get to our new seats, I spotted 2 empty seats in the VIP section on the front row.
Irene and I made a dash for them and just sat there, soon the ticket guy came round and I managed to blag it -
I said we'd accidentally left them outside in the rain and he accepted it ! So we ended up with front row seats and a fantastic view !

Posted by Andy-Irene 15:12 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 21 - Borobudur & Prambanan

sunny 30 °C

An early start - up at 4am in order to get to the Borobudur complex before sunrise and the hoards of tourists that would
no doubt would be descending on the site later in the day.
We got a pack up breakfast and left just after 5am for the drive north to the site about 25 miles away.
Borobudur was built in the 9th century is the worlds largest Buddhist temple complex with over 500 Buddha statues,
set on a hill, it circles it's way up the 9 levels to represent the 9 stages to enlightenment .
We were lucky - there were only a few people were there at 6am, we made our with our guide around the temple,
ascending up the levels to the stupa at the top and reaching "Nirvana" - Enlightenment ! - to get some great views.
After some free time walking around on our own and getting "attacked" by local tourists and school kids from Indonesia,
who wanted to speak and have there photos taken with "White Westerners" we made our way back to Yogyakarta.
We arrived back by mid morning and got dropped in the centre as we wanted to visit the Kraton area of the city where
The Sultans Palace (Royal Palace) was, before it closed to the public at noon.
The Sultan was in residence and certain areas were closed off but we got a good idea of the palace and
again we were no western tourists there apart from us. Nearby was another complex called the Taman Sari,
which was a series of secret underground buildings built specially for the Sultan complete with a
Water Palace, a Mosque and other quarters, it was hard to find but worth it in the end.
By this time we were in need of a break before the afternoon plan - a visit to Prambanan,
so we returned in the busy traffic on rickshaw to our hotel and went to a local Gelato ! and a chillout before leaving again at 3pm.
Prambanan is located about 10 miles east of the city and is the largest Hindu Temple in Java and
is mainly visited by the large Indian population of Indonesia.
On arrival we were greeted by the hoards of Hawkers and a rain storm, but no sooner had we borrowed a brolly,
the rain passed and it dried up immediately - as it always does in this part of the world and we escaped the rain and the hawkers !
Borobudur may have been a "must see place" but this in comparison was fantastic and certainly had the "Wow" factor.
Built just after Borobudur in the 9th century it has 3 main Temples representing the main Indian gods (Bahama, Shiva and Vishnu) and small ones around it. The park closed at 5pm, but we managed to stay inside as our guide "fixed it" with the security guard and
we saw a great sunset over the temples.
Soon after we returned to our hotel after a non stop 14 hour day and went out for some well deserved beers -
Bintang and Bali Hai, sadly both bland lagers but they were cold, 5% and did the trick :-)

Posted by Andy-Irene 15:05 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 20 - Yogyakarta

sunny 32 °C

Today we left Pangandaran in the central province and caught a train to the eastern province of Java and on to Yogyakarta.
Yogyakarta is certainly a tourist "must see" destination and you could tell as soon as we arrived,
Firstly it was the first time we'd see any other foreigners, not to mention the western cafes, pizza places and gelato outlets !
However, Yogyakarta is the cultural heart of Java and Indonesia and its main attraction is Borobudur -
The largest Buddhist structure on earth ! It also has the largest Hindu temple in Java - Prambanan located close to the city too.
Once we arrived into Yogyakarta station, we quickly transferred to our hotel, where would be spending the next 3 nights -
A nice change from unpacking-packing every night, plus this hotel had a swimming pool and
The bonus was it was right outside our room door ! So we quickly sorted our stuff out and dived in from our room door way into the pool,
well nearly :-)
We had spent much of the day travelling so it was nice to have cool off in the pool,
Plus tomorrow was going to be full on, as we would be getting up around 4am for an early start in order to get to
Borobudur before the masses arrived, so we met the group for a briefing about tomorrow's itinerary and
went out for an early dinner and an early night.

Posted by Andy-Irene 06:07 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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