Indonesia itinerary 2008: Jakarta- Yogyakarta- Borobodur- Mt Bromo- Bali
Indonesia is still a relatively unexplored part of South Asia and is best known for its islands of Bali and Lombok. It is a highly active part of the world with many volcanoes and much volatility. As a result of this wildness it is full of incredible scenery and vegetation like you will have never seen before. Indonesia is split into many parts and warrants many repeat visits. On this trip the focus was Java with Bali as an ad- on. A Bali- Jakarta return can easily be arranged from Jakarta itself. It is also easy to arrange the far more tempting Bali- Komodo- Rinca and beyond route that can take you all the way across to Maumere and Mt Endo (famous for its three coloured crater lakes), and beyond that Papua New Guinea. This would be my preferred route if I ever return. For first-time visitors to Indonesia however, hiring a van and taking in the sights of Borobudur, Mt Bromo (pictured below) and Bali, is probably enough.
Bali was actually not as bad (touristic!) as I feared it would be. Kuta is what most people think of when they describe Bali as tourist nightmare. It’s a pretty standard drag of shops, Starbucks, restaurants and information centres. There is a lot of surfing here. However there are many incredible sights once you get in your van and head out to the picture postcard temple of Tanah Lot set amongst the crashing waves of Beraban Village, Ulun Danu Beratan on the western side of Beratan Lake, and Ubud deep in the interior of Bali. Ubud is a must, and looks like its straight out of the pre- historic era. It is best known as a haven for artists and there are many strange artists houses (palaces!) you can visit here. Jimbaran is another popular place to relax and eat crabs.
A visit to Mt Bromo involves a 3am start, a pitch- black drive up a perilous drive (these roads are not good!), and a horse, or sometimes a donkey. The standard way to visit is to take a van across the Sea of Sands, and then your driver will arrange for a horse to take you up the volcano. I’m still confused as to whether the volcano you are on is Mt Bromo, or if the Volcano you are looking at as sun rises is Mt Bromo. One or other of the volcanoes is Mt Semaru, or is it Mt Batok. Either way as the sun rises the volcano in front of you is certainly an impressive sight. I actually found a more picturesque spot as you descend the volcano. You sometimes find hardcore hillwalkers standing here and taking snaps.