24.12.2010 31 °C
After a night out in Djakarta, I can tell you that the Indonesians know how to party. You totally forget that you’re in a Muslim country. Apart from the nightlife, Djakarta is a heavily trafficked and polluted city. Often lacking pedestrian crossings and traffic lights, it can take up to five minutes to actually cross the streets.
Last month in Kuala Lumpur I met Hamish and Victoria, two interesting characters. Both of them from London, though Hamish is brought up in New Zealand. After having a couple of days together in K.L. we decided to catch up in Indonesia, since all of us were going there in December. So it happened, after a long over night train journey I finally arrived in Yogyakarta. Having met other travellers along the road, we were now a group of eight hanging out.
The volcano of Ganung Merapi near Yogyakarta had a massive eruption just a month ago, destroying an entire village with its brute force. Hundreds of people lost their houses after the hot lava leaked down the valley. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to go up and see the devastation.The town of Yogyakarta is however worth visiting only for its street art. I remember spending hours on a walkabout just enjoying the small colorful alleys, filled with art in shapes of graffiti, old Vespas and paintings. Mainly concentrated to the artistic area, the vibe was visible even throughout the town.
After a couple of days two people left the group, following their own path. The mix of guys traveling on towards new adventures now consisted of six people. Apart from me we have Alex and Thomas (both from the extremely small German speaking community in Belgium), Will (a young bloke from London traveling solo) as well as Hamish and Vic. The next natural stopover before reaching Bali was Ganung Bromo which also is an active volcano in east Java. Unfortunately we didn’t see the famous beautiful sunrise due to bad weather, but after driving down from the viewing point we found ourselves in a near dreamlike environment.
The only bad thing with the whole volcano experience was the temperature; I literally don’t have any long trousers or long sleeve shirts apart from my wind jacket. At night and early morning it was only three degrees above zero. Not ideal when you’re dressed for the beach. Now everything is back to normal again though, being on Bali. Even while I was prepared for full power tourism, it came as quite a shock to me. I haven’t been in this high a degree of commercial environment in a long time; if it wasn’t for the surfing and the friends here I would probably leave as soon as possible. Having said that I bought myself a surfboard for my birthday. It’s my new baby and she´s 6.8ft.
If you rent a scooter on Bali you can easily ask for one with a surfboard rack. It’s really convenient choosing your break of the day; strap your board to your scooter and go for it. The only issue is that you apparently need a document that states you’re driving license is legit. The majority of the foreigners do not have this and the police take the advantage. I’ve been stopped twice already and they almost force you to bribe them, now I don’t carry more than five € worth of local currency which apparently is the fixed rate of bribe.
I got really hooked on the sport back in Sri Lanka, now I’m dedicating the next four months to it. Rather than heading up north and jumping aboard the cold Trans Siberian railway, I’ll have a four month surf trip in South East Asia. After Bali and its surrounding areas, I’m off to some beautiful breaks in the Philippines, a short stopover in Bangkok and then to Sumatra and the legendary world cup breaks of Nias and the Mentawais for two months. The tickets are booked as well as a flight to London in April (260 € for Kuala Lumpur to London). The following flights are as follows:
Denpasar – Djakarta, 21st of January
Djakarta – Manila, 22nd of January
Manila – Bangkok, 10th of February
Bangkok – Medan, 12th of February
Kuala Lumpur – London, 15th of April
I need to do a one day visa run from Indonesia, so I’ll probably book a flight in and out of K.L. the same day just to get another 30 days in on Sumatra.
Me and the guys are really enjoying ourselves, having found a quiet retreat with an almost surreal luxurious feeling. After staying in the most shady hotel rooms in India, this place is just off the scale. We’re staying in the three bedroom villa for one week to recharge our batteries in Christmas time. Have a look and tell me what you think: http://www.villa-lalu.com/
Merry Christmas and happy New Year to everyone!
Thank you for reading.