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Posts for the 'Javanese' Category


Lava in Java

After declaring that I would never catch another Indonesian long distance mini-bus following my hair raising experience from Bandung to Yogyakarta, I found myself on another 11 hour journey yesterday, once again manned by a kamikaze driver in a vehicle with poorly-working air conditioning in the searing Indonesian heat. Regaled by stories about the beauty of Gunung Bromo (Bromo Volcano) and hungry for more adventure, I had decided to detour from my original plan of flying straight to Bali and made a pit stop to Bromo instead.

Mount Bromo and Semeru

Mount Bromo and Semeru

Starting with a 3.30am wake up call to watch the sunrise, it was a truly spectacular view. Java is dotted with volcanos and Gunung Bromo is one of its most famous. The object of many postcards, it is flanked by volcanoes on either side, with Java’s most active volcano and highest point at 3,676m, Gunung Semeru, also towering in the distance. Occasionally tempestuous, Gunung Semeru is known to occasionally billow puffs of smoke to complete the postcard setting.

Gunung Bromo (Bromo Volcano)

Gunung Bromo (Bromo Volcano)

We trekked afterwards to the crater’s rim and arrived back at the hotel at 8.30am for breakfast. I had nasi goreng (fried rice) and fried egg, which had been a pretty standard breakfast choice in the hotels I’d stayed at to date. Typically, other options have also included eggs and toast. It was a simple breakfast, but there was something about waking up at the crack of dawn, braving the freezing cold that is common in places of altitude, to take in amazing views of the sun rising over the volcanoes that made a simple breakfast that much more enjoyable.

This was my last breakfast in Java. Next stop, Bali.


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Streets of Yogyakarta

On the streets of Yogjakarta

On the streets of Yogjakarta

My health restored to full strength today after my stomach virus, I felt like a phoenix. Reborn anew, I was once again keen to engage in the role of foodie discoverer. Having befriended an intrepid Canadian explorer yesterday on the tour bus (she once travelled continuously for two and a half years), we decided to set off together in search of our dinner. With me at the helm, and my newly found friend in tow, we headed off to navigate the minefield of shops, curio stalls, warungs (food vendors on mobile carts), pedestrians and traffic that was law of the land on Yogyakarta’s high street, Marlioboro.

Lumpia ayam (chicken spring rolls)

Lumpia ayam (chicken spring rolls)

The warungs on Marlioboro offer up all sorts of Indonesian food including the standard Indonesian fare; curries, sates, noodle and rice dishes. Some vendors cooked to order, but as was quite typical in Indonesia, there were also a number of warungs that served pre-cooked dishes. Chillies act as a preserving agent, thereby allowing Indonesian dishes to be pre-cooked and served throughout the day.

With so much choice, we finally settled on lumpia ayam (chicken spring rolls) (about 10p each). Plump full with an abundance of finely shredded chicken, it was served piping hot from the deep fryer and drizzled with a sweet chilli garlic sauce. The sauce was delicately sweet and the garlic added great zing to the spring roll which was so delicious I couldn’t stop at just one.

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Temple visits: not full

I’m of the belief that the only way to kill a stomach bug is to starve it as much as possible. This seemed to have held me in reasonably good stead when I backpacked South America for five months. However, starving the bug means starving me, and I couldn’t decide which was worse – enduring the discomfort that comes from bathroom woes, especially with third world toilet facilities, or enduring the pain that comes from not eating, for I truly love to eat. However I tried to commiserate myself, searching high and low for that silver lining. “You’ll lose weight”, I told myself. “You’ll look better trying to squeeze into that bikini on Kuta Beach.”

True to my word, in the last 24 hours or so, I had subsisted on only one chocolate cookie, one packet of crisps, two coffees and two deep fried banana cakes topped with shredded processed cheese which I devoured this morning at the Buddhist temple, Borobudur. Having had a 3:30am start this morning to catch the sunrise at one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Indonesia, I was absolutely famished. I thought the cakes rather tasty, even if the cheese was a little rubbery. One of my Swiss travelling companions wasn’t too impressed however, so perhaps my taste buds had been tarnished due to my recent food deprivation.

After Borobudur, we visited another famous Yogyakartan temple, Prambanan. On the way back from our tour, I asked my tour guide about a matter which had been perplexing me over the last week. Why was it that every time I tried to book accommodation, the standard response had always been “sorry missus, we’re full”, even if the hotel wasn’t in fact full. As an example, I told him about how when I checked into my hotel in Jakarta, I tried to extend my stay beyond the one night that I had booked, to only be told, “Sorry missus, we’re full”. Thinking this implausible in a hotel with several hundred rooms, I made my way to the internet cafe, whereupon I was able to make the reservation online instead. My guide had no explanation. “See Mister, like me, not full”.


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Indonesian lunch: Lake Ciburial

The tea plantation was a delightful retreat from the congested city of Bandung, with acres and acres of land lush with the green of tea leaves. Hiking through the plantation, we made headway towards this miniature waterfall. It was not particularly spectacular, but the slight splash of the water against my face on such a hot day was particularly refreshing. There were also some locals, clearly a close group of young friends, whiling away their day with laughter around the falls and it was with a little envy that I watched them. What a carefree way to spend a day!

We broke for an Indonesian lunch at a little eating spot on Situ Ciburial (Lake Ciburial) run by a mother and daughter team, and ate on the balcony which looked out onto a lake that rippled beautifully from the reflection of the sunshine. It was a buffet style meal with about 14 different choices on offer. I tried a little of each, and all the food was delicious and fresh. There were a number of deep fried dishes, which on my travels so far had appeared to be quite commonplace; two different types of fish, one chicken, battered mash potato, and one of shredded pork. There was also a beef curry and a variety of stir-fried vegetables mixed with tofu, pork or mushrooms. My favourite though was the chicken steamed in banana leaf with lemongrass and spring onions, for in the cooking process the banana leaf had ensured that the fragrance of the lemongrass was deeply infused in the chicken.

A traditional Indonesian lunch

A traditional Indonesian lunch

Next we headed to Gunung Papandayan (Volcano Papandayan). I had seen other volcanoes before – Cotopaxi in Ecuador, Arenal in Costa Rica – but nothing prepared me for the spectacle that was Papandayan. We spent some three hours exploring its crevices, and at every turn there was a new wonderment to gaze upon. For all its destructive force (it last erupted in 2002), it had also left a legacy of extreme barren beauty; mud pools bubbling away, rocks swollen yellow with sulphur deposits, cracks in the earth steaming with gas, a crater filled with cobalt blue water. It was truly a spectacle to behold.


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