Tag Archives: Java

A day in Surabaya

We travelled the hundred kilometres from Probolinggo to Surabaya to check on snail mail. I was hoping from news from my other daughters’ travels in Canada. Stepping out of the post office with our letters, a local student befriended us and convinced us to visit the city’s zoo. I’ve never found zoos appealing, seeing animals confined, but my daughter was keen.

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Next stop—Surakarta/Solo

After what seemed like the glamour of Jogjakarta, Solo was a let down. This was partly due to the overwhelming January heat. We ducked into a movie theatre for the air- conditioning for a couple of hours of relief and watched a long-forgotten movie.

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The Dieng Plateau.

Some two thousand metres above sea level, we arrived on the Dieng Plateau. It was a bonus to enjoy the cooler air in a quieter part of the island. Rice was being harvested as we climbed up on our way to an ancient Hindu site built during the era of the Kalingga Kingdom.

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Jogja seemed like the silver capital of Indonesia. We spent a couple of days roaming silversmith shops and all the other goodies that Indonesia had to offer. I was after batik, but it had to be green and brown seemed to be the dominant colour on display. My daughter was drawn to fake Cartier watches. This was a dream come true for her because everything was cheap compared to Australia. We idled through markets where batiks hung like waving flags, tasbis (Muslim prayer beads) filled entire stalls in a multitude of designs and hues, and the food was to die for.

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The magic of Borobudur

I thought I was clever going to Borobudur on Christmas day, after all, this was a Muslim country. I guess I hadn’t learned my lesson from the train from Bandung. Instead of no one being at the site, the Buddhist structure was overcrowded. I soon realized it was a holiday in Indonesia. I’m not sure if it was a hangover from colonial times or that Islam revered Jesus (Isa) as a prophet and thus the holiday.

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Would we ever reach Jogjakarta?

Jogja was the highlight of the entire Java trip both for my daughter and me, but getting there was a nightmare. It was the Christmas weekend—not a problem in Muslim Indonesia, I thought. Wrong! Every train and bus was booked with students returning home. The only possible route out of Bogor, was a taxi to Bandung where we waited until the following day to catch a jam-packed train to Jogjakarta. After this grueling nine-hour journey, my daughter started counting the days before we’d be back home. “Twenty-one days to go,” she moaned as we wearily dumped our packs in our room. At least I scored one point landing in a hotel with a swimming pool. 

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Bogor and a muddy mountain trail

We didn’t stay long in Indonesia’s capital. We reached Bogor, sixty kilometres south, and relief at being away from Jakarta’s congestion washed over us in more ways than one. A guide approached as we left the markets and soon convinced us to visit Mt Salak the following day.

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First steps on to Java

Years after I left Bali, I often regretted not seeing more of Indonesia—my nearest neighbour at the time. It wasn’t until well over a decade later, I landed in Jakarta with my nine-year-old daughter. Her two older sisters had gone to Canada, so I grabbed this opportunity like an Indian passenger half out of a rail carriage door but clinging on. I intended to explore Java from one end to the other.

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