Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Big waves, beasts and beaches...

We have been in Indonesia for almost 2 weeks now - the time has flown by! We started in Yogyakarta, Java which is a sprawling, dirty city but the starting point for temple viewing. We visited Borobudur - a Buddhist temple from around 10th century which sits on a hill amidst paddy fields and volcanoes. It was gorgeous in the morning sun, though it was here we discovered the strange fascination Indonesian people have for Western travellers. Group after group asked to take their photo with us to our amusement and eventual annoyance; we've since discovered it is seen as a sign of intelligence to be able to speak English so the photo proves that they have conversed with Westerners. Not as Andy thought, that they had mistaken him for Brad Pitt. We also visited Prambanan, a collective of Hindu temples. Here I decided we should get a bit of culture and watch the famous Ramayana Ballet, because in a setting this dramatic, how could it be bad? Well, interpretive dance of a story we didn't know and couldn't really understand from the "dancing" on display, and a man behind us who clearly knew the story as he spent most of the performance talking loudly on his mobile phone was how bad .....Andy has now banned me from choosing our entertainment in Indonesia....

One of our favourite moments in Yogyakarta was when we went into a mall and tried to buy an Apple charger. Language was most definitely a barrier though we managed to get our point across though pointing and mime, only to be presented with a charger that cost the equivalent of one months' rent! Tourist tax, I think it's called....we declined. Hilariously, when we got back to our hotel Andy had a look at our charger (which I swore blind wouldn't fit the Indonesian plug socket) and made it work in seconds.....

After a couple of days in Yogjakarta we got on bus bound for Bali, glad to leaving the city, even if it meant a 18 hour bus ride. We passed through Bali, stopping only at Padang Bai, a nice harbour village for the night, and then we continued onto Gili Air.

Gili Air is one of three islands north of Bali, and close to Lombok. There was a lot more there than we expected; restaurants lined the beach and it was hard to find a quiet spot; it is basically a gorgeous Western styled holiday island. Andy snorkelled and I did yoga, which was great (yes, there was a studio on the island!), and we enjoyed the eating and drinking, but still we were looking for our perfect, isolated beach so we decided to keep moving, and head to Flores.

This tied in nicely with a cheap (and therefore basic) Komodo Dragon boat trip we'd read about - 4 nights on a boat - snorkelling, swimming, seeing wildlife galore (flying foxes, dolphins, turtles, manta rays to name but a few), 2 days of trekking in the Komodo National Park and seeing dragons before ending up in Labuan Bajo, Flores.The first afternoon on the boat was fun; getting to know our travelling group over a Bitang or two. It soon became apparent however that the itinerary was very liable to change depending on whatever Vic, our guide, decided was best. To be fair, we did do an awful lot of snorkelling, but not a lot of wildlife viewing or trekking. We also spent a lot of time on the small boat feeling waves smash against it, as we attempted to sleep, but hey, I guess we have our sea legs now!

It was a great experience in the end with a fantastic group of people, and we did get to see dragons on the final day; they looked fierce! It ended in Labuanbajo, Flores on the roof of the boat watching thousands of Indonesians on the harbour stream onto a local "ferry" (the size of the Titanic!) and a couple of Bitangs to celebrate surviving 4 nights at sea!

We spent our next 2 nights on a gorgeous island, Seraya, off the coast of Flores and although the staff were incompetent (and all under 16; they kept the ledger in a Hello Kitty notebook!!) it is still the most beautiful, relaxing place we have been so far.

And now, back in Labuanbajo we are planning our next travels, through Flores......watch this space.

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