For only the 2nd time in my life (the other one ending in a fantastic trip to Namibia) I found myself with time and resources for a trip, but I just couldn’t decide where to go.
To be more specific, I’ve always had lists (if you saw my bedroom wall as a small boy, there were lists of things everywhere).
In this case, many of the places on travel lists, were either already booked, in hand for future years or I’d costed them AHP (after house paid for !).
So, I resorted to reading through a brochure. A train trip across Indonesia looked interesting. I’d had no previous plans to visit the place and since I knew so little about it, seemed quite exciting.
The 1500k journey would take us from Jakarta, by train and minibus to Kalilbaru, where a boat would take us on to the Island of Bali.
As usual on tours like this, we arrived a day early. You need to be rested and ready to go, when a trip like this starts, so the obvious options are:
- Fly business class, and arrive 3 hours before the tour starts
- Arrive 24 or 48 hours early, to acclimatise and get some rest
1 or 2 extra nights in a budget hotel are far cheaper than business class, so we always pick option 2.
We arrive in Jakarta, get some rest and then visit the National Museum.
It had too many interesting things to show here (ranging from canoes to dinosaur bones).
Three wheelers (or Tuc Tuc’s as they were originally known in Bangkok, and now practically everywhere else) are a cheap and quick way to get around.
The National monument.
A symbol of Indonesian independence from the Dutch.
The park it’s in was enormous.
We wander around the old town.
Our organised tour included formal visits to all these places, so we just used the time to relax and find somewhere nice for coffee (were on an Island called Java after all :).
At 6pm, our tour begins in the hotel reception.
Although I’ve already filled in my insurance and NOK details onto the web portal I end up being handed a form and told to fill them all in again (this happens on every trip).
Although everyone in the group has been told how much the tip kitty is and in what currency, half the people have to go back to their rooms to collet the money etc. (this also happens on every trip).
Enough of my moaning, our guide introduces himself, gives an overview of the trip, and then takes us to a local restaurant to try a local version of Thali (which washed down with cold beer, is quite delicious).
Up early the next morning, and we start our city tour with a trip to the local antique market.
None of the antiques are too my liking, but I find a useful knife sharpener in the hardware stall.
After an uprising against the Dutch by the Chinese, they were moved to an area just outside the city call Glodok.
Here we visited the Dharma Jaya Toase bio temple.
Wandering into Fatahillah Square in old town Batavia.
The Si Jagur is an old Portuguese canon with a sort of rude thumb arrangement at the back.
Across the square, the exclusive Batavia café where we have lunch in Colonial surroundings.
Cafe Batavia had this strange urinal in the gents toilets with a full length mirror.
Sunda Kelapa port.
They only allow smaller ships now, which travel between local Islands.
Standards of health and safety fall a bit short of what we’d expect in the UK, as shown by this “ladder”.
And this unusual way of transferring people from dock to boat !.
One of the most incredible sights I’ve ever seen, the Istiqlal Mosque.
As the largest Mosque in South East Asia its 4 stories has and the size of a football pitch.
And just for religious balance, a picture of the Cathedral Church.
Jakarta was quite a modern city. Although our hotel wasn’t in the centre of town, we managed to find this nice Italian Restaurant with an excellent selection of wine.
The following morning, and it’s time to leave Jakarta.
The train is spotless, the seats comfortable and there’s even a film on the screen for those who don’t have anything to watch on their tablets or phones.
Best thing about it ?. It’s a train, so I can read without getting motion sickness as I would in a car or minibus.
And the view out of the window.
After an easy five and a half hours on the train, the next leg of our journey to Pangandaran is by minibus.
Although air-conditioned it was another three and a half hours and very tiring.
Moral lifted briefly, with this amusing scene of a man on a bicycle, holding onto the back of a lorry and being towed home.
We finally arrive. The peninsula is beautiful, but we’ve arrived late and its about to turn dark.
So we go straight to our first activity a tour of the Penanjung Nature Reserve.
Pangandaran is 80% secondary rain forest and I’m really looking forward to a couple of hours in “proper” nature.
The park was about to close, but they let us in all the same.
Near the entrance, these beautiful friendly animals introduce themselves to Tina.
A bit deeper inside the secondary rainforest, I see the sort of tree’s common to the Daintree rainforest in Australia.
Trekking along through the trails. After hours in a minibus the sense of exploration and adventure was a welcome relief.
We wander into the mouth of a cave, where lots of bats and small creatures live (quite difficult to photograph in the dark unless you work with David Attenborough).
As we continue through the cave, there is an opening at the other end, which leads out onto the beach.
We wander back along the beach to our hotel.
After getting changed and having dinner, Nikki and I wander around the town.
Not much going on unfortunately, but lots of local tourists, were driving around in these pedal cars with music “blasting” from phones.
In the morning before breakfast, we go for a walk along this beautiful beach.
But all around were these Tsunami Signs – our guide said to make sure at any given time, we knew which direction to run to reach high ground.
Didn’t seem particularly dangerous to me, but thousands had died during the Tsunami so it made sense to take it seriously.
A visit to the village to see local culture and commerce.
The vegetable market. I only really like potatoes and I’m frequently criticised for my lack of variety.
A stall holder took his through her entire selection. There were over 30 kinds of vegetable. I’d lost interest after 4, but I kept quiet so others on the trip could immerse themselves in the experience.
In the fish market, they even have Shark.
We wander into the main village.
There’s a special celebration today ! Several young boys are being circumcised.
Were asked if we’d like to join in. Err, no.
Away from the disfigurement, were shown how palm sugar is made and see these rice crackers drying in the sunshine.
Wayan Golek puppetry is very popular in Indonesia.
The puppeteers have to make their own puppets, and this chap gave us a demonstration (he even had 2 apprentices).
He gave a brief demo of a scene from the Ramayana. In a “fight scene” he made a loud clicking sound, did some background music with symbols (while still operating the puppets).
A school in the village where nurses were trained.
The nurses were thrilled to meet visitors, but unfortunately, only females were allowed inside the school.
Also, the nurses weren’t allowed to be photographed, so our womenfolk got this picture with the Director of nursing.
The final excursion of the day, a bot trip up Green Canyon.
As we got further into the canyon it was right out of Dr Livingston.
We finally stopped and people were allowed to disembark the boat and swim the remaining 200 metres up the canyon.
It sounded like a fool’s errand to me, so I relaxed in the boat.
People sometimes see pictures of me relaxing and think I look bored. I’m not, its just when I relax, I relax my face as well.
Meanwhile, the swimmers reached the top of the canyon and took this picture.