We're back with another adventure! How are you liking our first entry to the Solo Traveler's Journal series, theCurious Cambodia? I hope you enjoyed it.
Today we will be visiting an archipelago with one of the most diverse people and culture in Asia, inspiring Indonesia. I chose Indonesia because first, it is near where I live (Thailand) and there are low-cost flights flying from Bangkok to Indonesia daily. Secondly, Indonesia has one of the most diverse landscapes in Asia from active volcanos to beaches in Bali. This is the kind of country I like to visit, a country truly rich in history and culture.
For this trip, I decided to test my limit and squeezed as many activities in as I could in a 3-days trip.
- Took a flight from Bangkok (6:15 am) to Bali (11:30 am).
- Traveled around Bali for 6 hours, Saw the Tegallalang rice terrace, tried their Luwak coffee (the most expensive coffee in the world) and other places if have time.
- Boarded a flight from Bali (7:20 pm) to Surabaya (7:10 pm).
- Drove to Mt Bromo (3 - 4 hrs) and arrived around 11:35 pm. Took a nap at a hotel and woke up at 3:30 am for a sunrise trip at theMushollaPenanjakanspot near Mt Bromo (40 minutes trip on a jeep).
- Explore Mt Bromo until 12:00 pm and left for the train station in Surabaya.
- Took a train to Yogyakarta (4 hours) and sleep at a hotel that night
- Woke up again at 3:00 am for a sunrise trip at Borobudur.
- Stayed there until 10 am and left for another temple,Prambanan temple.
- Stayed there for a few hours and left for the airport to board a flight from Yogyakarta to Malaysia and Malaysia to Bangkok.
Note: I do not recommend anyone to follow this itinerary. It was brutal. I was unproductive for a week after I came back because I slept only 8 - 10 hours on that 3-days trip. The purpose here was to test myself whether if I could do it, so try to spread your itinerary out to maybe 4 - 5 days instead.
- Bali has a traffic problem so spare some time for the traffic especially if you are traveling during the rush hours (8 - 10 AM and 4 - 6 PM).
- Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport was under expansion when I was there and it is scheduled for completion by 2013 so prepare yourself for delays if you are traveling before the end of 2013.
- Indonesian currency is the Rupiah and the rate is approximately around 10.000 rupiahs for US$ 1. The majority of stores I've been accepts the only rupiah so you better prepare your spending in rupiah.
- 3G SIM card I used was by simPATI.I bought it at one of the booth available outside of the Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali. It cost me a few dollars to get a 3G and a few minutes of phone calls.
- When you are booking a hotel (especially at Mt Bromo) through an agency or websites like Agoda, call the hotel and confirm the booking first before you arrive. When there are problems the hotel usually contact the agency (Agoda) instead of contacting you directly and sometimes the agency forgot to tell you about it.
- The weather at Mt Bromo is very cold during the night and morning but it dropped rapidly during the afternoon so prepare accordingly.
- The hotel I stayed at Mt Bromo (Cemera Indah) didn't have a functional hot water so you should check it before you check into the room.
- All the hotel at Mt Bromo are overpriced so prepare to pay at a premium and expect the quality to be subpar. I paid around 725000 rupiahs (US$70) for a room with a dysfunctional hot water.
- There are ways for you to book a train ticket online in Indonesia. Seat61 has written a comprehensive guide here.
- I'm not sure if it is a norm here but I had to pay for my driver's meals as well.
- If you need a car with a driver to Mt Bromo and back, try emailing theThe Pink House Car Rental. My driver (Brahm)was very good. Contact them and ask for Brahm. Feel free to mention me (Pete from Thailand) and you might get a discount. :)
- Traveling around Asia on a plane can be extremely cheap if you book a flight with low cost airlines such asAirAsia.
Without further a due, let's begin the journey:
Day 1: Bali 6-hours Trip
The Airasia flights are extremely cheap from Bangkok to Indonesia. It only costed me around ~US$300. They fly twice a day from Bangkok to Bali.
As I was walking in the Bali's Airport, I was welcomed by this unique Balinese architecture. You gotta love the uniqueness of the culturehere.
First stop is to try out the infamous Luwak Kopi (Luwak coffee). They had me walk through a garden where they grew their own coffees and teas. This is an old lady brewing the coffee.
After I walked through the garden with a guide explaining all the steps required to produce the Luwak Kopi, they had me seated at this beautiful tent where people can enjoy their coffees while looking at the breathtaking view of rice fields stretched over the plain.
Here it is, the most expensive coffee in the world. One cup of coffee cost me around US$5. All the small cups of flavored teas and coffees are complementary though, so it was worth it.
The traffic was way worst than I originally thought. It took me an hour and a half to reach this place, theTegallalangrice terrace. I wish I had more time so I can walk down the terrace.
Here are a few more shots.
The village atop the terrace. With a narrow road like this and people parking their cars on the side, no wonder why the traffic in Bali was so bad.
I saw this guy walking around with baskets full of rices so..
..why not borrow his baskets, right? :) As usual, he expected a tip.
Unfortunately, that was all the time I had in Bali. I headed back to the airport and boarded a plane to Surabaya.
Day 2: Surabaya - Mt Bromo
The flight from Bali to Surabaya was delayed because the airport was undergoing an expansion, so it was a mess at the airport. I eventually arrived at the Surabaya's airport around 8:00 pm and met my driver.
Tip: If you are looking for a car with a driver rental service in Surabaya, I recommend The Pink House Car Rental. It costed me around 1 million rupiahs (US$97) for 2 days of service.The driver (Brahm) is one of the best driver I've met. He speaks almost perfect english and he took me to many cheap restaurants to try out local foods. He also gone off his way to help me in many ways. My 3G sim card by Simpati ran out of credits and he took me to the service centre in Surabaya and translate everything for me.
During the drive, I noticed vast differences in the architecture, the clothings, the culture and religion of people in Surabaya (Mostly Islam) compared to Bali (Mostly Hindu). It was like landing in a different country. After 3 - 4 hours drive up a mountain from Surabaya to Mt Bromo, I arrived at 11:30 pm. I went to the hostel I originally booked with Agoda called Cafe Lava Hostelbut apparently the hostel was fully booked. They said they had already told Agoda about it and they did not have any spare room left. I had to call Agoda and asked them why they screwed up my booking, and they said they had already booked another hotel for me but they forgot to tell me about it. I was so tired that I had no energy left to even shout at their mistakes but eventually I went to the other hotel they booked for me called Cemera Indahand after minutes of confusion by the people at the reception, I finally got a room to stay for the night.
Tip: The weather was freezing at Mt Bromo so prepare accordingly. The hotel I stayed in didn't have a functional hot water so you should check it before you check into the room.
Tip 2: All the hotel here are overpriced. Prepare to pay at premium and expect the quality to be subpar. I paid around 725000 rupiah (US$70) for a room with a dysfunctional hot water.
I woke up at 3:30 AM and took a jeep (80,000 rupiahs or US$8 provided by the hotel) with other fellow travelers to the sunrise spot overlooking Mt Bromo, Mt Batok and Mt Semeru. Unfortunately the driver was late and we weren't able to climb to the top-most spot in time for the sunrise so we stayed at the lower spot called thePenanjakan 1.
Fog sweeping through the plain.
A few more photos of Mt Bromo at the sunrise spot. It was beyond amazing.
After a few hours at the sunrise spot, I took a Jeep to see the Mt Bromo up close. Me and other travelers had a great conversation about how the driver screwed up our plan to see the sunrise. It was nice to have a group of people to talk to while traveling. :)
You could choose whether you want to walk up (15 minutes walk) or ride on a horse. We decided to walk so we can take photos on the way.
Welcome to the Barren. I was not even sure If I was on Earth or on the moon at this point.
Mt Batok up close.
A few more steps to go..
And here it is, the crater of Mt Bromo.
Since I will most likely be here only once, I decided to walk up to the top-most part of the crater where there was no fence. It was worth it. There were fewer people and it gives a better view of the surroundings.
Here's me at the top.
After an hour at the top, it was time to walk down. Boy, it was crowded.
As I walked down, I noticed a small Hindu temple and snap a few pictures. Unfortunately, I couldn't go in, because there were people praying inside.
Back at the hotel. Here is the view of the hotel and I gotta say, thank god they switched the hotel for me. This is the best view you can get from a hotel around Mt Bromo,
After saying good bye to my companions, It was time to leave this beautiful place.
Trying all sort of local foods on the way back to Surabaya.
I arrived at the train station around 5:00 PM and left Surabaya toYogyakarta. It took me 4 hours and several naps until I arrived at theYogyakarta train station and was picked up by the hotel.
Day 3: Borobudur - Yogyakarta
I stayed at theRumah Palagan Guest House. This is the best hotel I stayed in Indonesia by far. Very cheap (US$29), and high quality.
I decided to hire a car with a driver (450.000 Rupiah or US$45 per day )provided by the hotel to drive me around the city starting with the sunrise at the Borobudur compound.
The Borobudur is not really a temple but a collection of stupas. It only took around 15 minutes from the hotel to this place. The compound is usually close until 6:00 AM so if you want to see the sunrise, you will have to go through the only hotel located on the same ground as the compound calledManohara Hotel. The price was a little expensive (~US$35) but it gives you a chance to see the compound at sunrise in peace without the crowds.
More photos around the top part of the compound.
Tip:Local people here really love taking photos with foreigners. I had several kids asking for a photo of me and their friends while walking around the compound. I had no idea why but it was a fun and a unique experience.
Stone carvings and statues at the bottom of the compound.
At the foot of the compound.
Day 3: Prambanan - Yogyakarta
After a few hours at the Borobudur, I asked the driver to take me to another well known Hindu temple, the Prambanan. The Prambanan is the biggest Hindu temple compound in Indonesia and a UNESCO site. The entrance fee for foreigners isi US$18 (162,000 Rp) or US$9 /Rp81.000 for a registered student.
As I approached the temple, I was met with a stunning view of this unique architecture.
Each temple was dedicated to each gods.
Another look back at the compound. It was quite stunning. There are other temples in the Prambanan area as well and I wish I had the time to explore them all. Too bad, I had to depart at 5 PM to Malaysia and back to Bangkok.
I walked around the area for 2 hours, letting myself absorbed this place in slowly. This is the benefit of traveling alone. You can just sit, relax and let your mind wander for hours at places like this.
After enjoying my time at the Prambanan temples, I left for the airport and return home.
Flying back home.
And this concludes my trip around inspiring Indonesia, the second entry to the Solo Traveler's Journal. I hope you enjoyed this entry. There are plenty of adventurous activities you can do here in Indonesia and no matter what kind of adventurers you are, you will enjoy your time in Indonesia.
If you have any suggestion or recommendation of places we should visit, let us know in the comment.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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