A Travellerspoint blog

Day 19 - Penanjung National Park

sunny 32 °C

Today we spent a full day in Pangandaran, starting with a walking tour of the village markets which included a visit to the
Local Fish market where they were selling Dog Sharks - mainly for the "Shark Fin Soup" plus some Tuna and Red Snapper
(which we had the previous night).
We then went on to visit a local factory that was making Prawn Crackers - thousands of them all laid out,
drying in the field next door on Bamboo mats before they then fried and packaged them.
Afterwards we went to see a puppet maker and get a preview of the Traditional Indonesian Puppet Show
which takes around 7 hours for one person to perform.
It was now late morning and we were all boiling hot from the heat and humidity, so we set off to visit the famous "Green Canyon" for a boat trip and swim down the rapids, however when we got that here the "green" canyon was now tuning brownish in colour as
there had been heavy rain during the past few weeks, so we decided not to take a late morning mud bath and wait until we reached the beach.
We went by long boat upstream until reached a cascade and waterfall inside a collapsed cave arch,
the water at this point was flowing rather fast, so we just took a few photos and returned back to our jetty and
then went for lunch at the nearby beach.
After lunch we went for a beach walk and Irene had a quick dip in the warm sea alongside a few surfers,
although the waves weren't really good enough for surfing the swim was pleasant and refreshing.
We got back to our hotel late afternoon and then went with a local guide for a trek through the Penanjung National Park
which was just about 200m from our hotel.
As soon as we entered the park we were "greeted" by very tame Deer just wandering about, oblivious to humans.
The park very much still in a natural state with just basic footpaths, plus as during the past 2 days we didn't see any other tourists,
In fact we had the park to ourselves.
As we walked through the park we entered in to cave which went all the way through to the beach,
once inside we found a family of porcupines plus several bats nesting and flying about the cave.
Once outside again, our guide started showing us various nesting places of the various insects that live in the park, including a scorpions nest whereby he caught a very large one, which no one wanted to hold as one bite would give you serious poisoning (but thankfully not death !).
Light was now fading and the highlight was yet to come - the park was famous for the Flying Squirrels which only come out and fly after dusk.
Luckily we spotted a few sleeping up in the trees and as it darkened they started to jump and then just glide to the next tree, really great to see live.
By this time we were pretty tired, completely soaked by the heat and humidity, so we returned to the hotel and
went out to a local bar come shack overlooking the beach to have a few beers and then some local fish barbecued at the fish market.

Posted by Andy-Irene 15:46 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 18 - Train to Pangandaran

semi-overcast 32 °C

An early start - up at 5.30am, quick breakfast & checkout before catching a taxi to the main railway station for
the 8am train to Pangandaran,.
Pangandaran is a large fishing village situated around 250 miles south of Jakarta on a narrow stretch of headland
jutting out to the sea with it's National Park occupying the entire area.
We had already travelled on lots of Asian Railways, so we started to think back and count them up, it came to quite a lot ! -
India, Burma, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Japan, but this was our first in Indonesia.
The train was very spacious, our carriage was equivalent to a first class style layout on UK trains -
reclining seats, foot rests, individual tables and power points etc. We left on time for the 5 hour journey.
Travelling initially east across the country to Pukuwerto in the Central Java Province
During the journey we had an "inflight meal" service whereby you could order a "takeaway" meal -
Brought to your table as well as a hot drinks service.
We trundled along passing hundreds of rice fields with the workers busily working the fields.
We arrived on time and then got onto our own minibus to travel due south to the coastal village.
After a bumpy further 4 hours we eventually arrived at Pangandaran and our hotel - The Sunrise Beach Hotel and
we found out why - we actually had a sea view, on both sides as the hotel was situated on a very narrow stretch land,
(which was sadly wiped out by a tsunami back in 2006).
Our guide was from this village, so while we checked in to the hotel,he went home and then met us later for a visit to the evening fish market,
where you pick "your dinner", priced by the Kg and then they cook and serve it to you at tables the market,
(we all picked and had a great selection of Red Snapper, Octopus and jumbo sized Shrimps).
Asap then very kindly invited us all back to his house which doubled as a local cafe to to meet his family and
try a traditional Indonesian desert made of black sticky rice, coconut and salt, a strange sort of rice pudding but a lot more saltier.
Irene and I then went for a walk along the main street,
which was about 5m from the sea and then about 200m back was the sea on the other side -
and our hotel was in the middle on this very susceptible piece of land between the two !

Posted by Andy-Irene 15:08 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 17 - Jakarta

semi-overcast 32 °C

Today was our first full day in Java and after breakfast we went on a walking tour of Jakarta the capital city.
We got a minibus to the centre of town and started off in Chinatown, again !
(Every city in the world now seems to have a chinatown), anyhow we had an interesting walk through the fruit market area,
trying different types of fruit from the Asian region. A new one for us was "Snake Skin Fruit",
which was a pear shaped fruit with a snake skin look and feel about it, really strange, but inside was soft white flesh that tasted a bit like apple with the texture of a melon.
When then proceeded to the fish market where they were selling numerous fish and several unsavoury delicacies such as Sea Cucumber,
which looks like a giant slug, live crabs bound in string but still trying to move and Hermit Crabs again covered in mud and creeping about.
After a visit to the oldest Chinese temple in the city we went on walking tour through the Dutch colonial railway station,
with it's art decor architecture and the various buildings around the main square.
After lunch we passed by the Presidential Palace and the National Monument, before a visit to the the largest mosque in Asia and
the 3rd largest in the world.
It was massive and can hold 200,000 people, luckily for us it wasn't pray time when we arrived !
next door was a Catholic Church built by the French in the early twenties and like a lot of churches in Asia - beautiful on the outside and
very bland and basic inside.
Once we returned to our hotel, we went for another walk out to get some provisions for a long train journey the following day,
had a chilling then went out with our guide to try some local traditional Indonesian food before an early start the next day.

Posted by Andy-Irene 01:59 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 16 - on to Java, Indonesia

sunny 33 °C

After 20 hours flat out in Singapore, it was time to say goodbye and depart for our next destination - Java in Indonesia.
Java is the second largest island of Indonesia after Sumatra, Borneo and Bali in land size but is the main and capital island of Indonesia.
We spent a few more hours walking around Singapore in the morning taking in the last views of this impressive city before catching a
taxi to another very modern airport for our midday flight to Jakarta.
Java is 1 hour behind Singapore so we gained some time for a change, but still +7hrs ahead of the UK.
Once through customs we changed our money into Indonesian Rupees and became instant millionaires as there's around 16,000 to the pound !
A short taxi ride later and we arrived at our hotel, located in downtown Jakarta.
After we'd checked in and sorted ourselves out, we went for a short orientation walk of the surrounding suburbs in the 33c heat and
A similar humidity level to that of Singapore.
We found a few eating places & stopped at a local street food cafe for a cold shake before returning to our hotel for a
group meeting to meet a new group of travellers for the next leg through Indonesia.
Our new local guide was called "Asap" - a name you can't forget !
Our new group was only 11 which included Canadians, Aussie's, one Brit (apart from us) and a couple of "guys" from Sweden :-0
After our briefing 5 of us went out to local Seafood restaurant, recommended by some locals and we had our first taste Indonesian Food.
I had Nasi Goreng (rice) and Irene had Me Goreng (noodles), both really nice but not spicy even though we'd asked them for "spicy".

Posted by Andy-Irene 06:33 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Day 15 - Country No.3 - Singapore

sunny 37 °C

After 2 weeks in Thailand and Malaysia we left Melaka for the drive to the boarder to cross into Singapore.
We arrived at the boarder checkpoint around midday and made our way to immigration and customs.
Singapore has very strict customs regulations with regard to importation of certain items, i.e. the number one No-No is chewing gum !
It is completely banded, with heavy fines, also alcohol cannot be imported and
One packet of cigarettes only, plus they must have been opened, no new sealed packs allowed.
As such we were told that we may spend "hours" getting through customs and faced baggage searches etc.
so prepared for the worst we entered the customs immigration.
Added to this was that the public bus we were on only stops for 30mins to allow you to clear customs and then it goes with or without you !
So we all left the bus, sprinted to the immigration desk and hoped for the best,
All was going ok until the guy checking my passport started to read and check and every page/visa stamp I had,
then started on the questioning etc. However, we got though it and boarded the bus in good time before it left.
Once back on board we soon arrived in downtown Singapore and got out to be hit by the heat and humidity -
it was showing an outside temp of 37c but it was the humidity that hit you.
As we were spending less than 24hours in the city we checked in and then went straight on a whirlwind tour the city.
Singapore is amazingly clean, the footpaths are spotless, the grass verges and plants perfectly manicured all shadowed by
the skyscrapers that dominate the city.
First stop, money exchange - all the money you get is brand new and plastic,
The we took the fast, clean and efficient metro to the "Gardens by the Bay"
A very famous landmark, which holds the worlds largest indoor cloud forrest and flower dome centre,
plus the famous "Supertree Grove" - triffid like plants that are about 50m in the air.
Following this, we headed to the "Singapore Flyer" which is basically the London Eye,
but again bigger at 165m high and took about 30 mins to complete a revolution.
It was now early evening and we starting to get a bit tired and thirsty after a none stop day,
so "when in Singapore"......we had to make the trip to the Raffles Hotel
After after taking out a small Mortgage :-) we ended a fast paced and enjoyable day having a "Singapore Sling" in the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel.
A perfect end to a fantastic day

Posted by Andy-Irene 07:53 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

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