Wednesday, 18 December 2013


We also had another journey to undertake and that was to see the other drawcard temple, Prambangan.  It wasn't that far a ride but once we got there and saw the entrance fee, decided against going in and just looked from the fence. 

It looked pretty good but I wasn't going to pay another $30 to see a temple, Borobudur was expensive already by my standards, besides there were many cool temples in the area that were not as big, but free and void of any tourists, bar a couple.  Go and have a look if you don't feel like paying the ridiculous prices at the main temples.

We ended up riding far and wide and the scenery was amazing as usual, plus I just love getting out for a ride in the insanity that is Indo traffic.   We visited Sambasari Temple which was unearthed by a farmer ploughing his paddock one day and hitting the very top of it, the area has now been excavated and is worth a look if you have the time.  

Not spectacular but still pretty good, plus we visited a few other temples and viewpoints in the area, then found ourselves in the middle of nowhere with amazing views from the mountain tops and enjoyed it immensely. 
The next day Yuni and I had a couple more trips to make before we parted ways, she having to go back to her studies and me continuing west through java.  We took the scooter towards Mt Merapi, another volcano with jungle and waterfalls to explore nearby.  

After riding most of the way up the hill, we switched to a jeep for a tour of the volcanic fields, with a view of the mountain peak, but with the clouds regularly rolling in mid morning, we couldn't see the mountain top at all.  The 'lava field' tour was ok, nothing special, a bunch of rocks, black ash and sand and the hot lava they promised us was nothing more than a couople of slightly steaming rocks!  Oh well, we came, we saw, left again!  On to the jungle...

At Kaliurang, the park, jungle trails and waterfall were beautiful, but the fall was dry,  it would no doubt be awesome when flowing though.  So we walked the jungle trail which was great and took us to a peak overlooking the mountains and valley where I was once again an instant celebrity, with everybody wanting photos.  

That was until 3 blonde German girls turned up not long after and the boys went crazy, but were too shy too ask for a picture with them!
A couple more side trips on the bike checking out the scenery and a few more local attractions around the town itself saw our time together come to an end, Yuni had to return to her studies and I would continue West to Jakarta.  

It was a sad goodbye as Yuni hopped on the train to head back to Malang, we still keep in touch and I hope to see her again in Indonesia when I can, she is such a nice girl and a really great travel companion. 

Update May 2014, I have just read that I missed seeing Mt Merapi erupt in September and November 2013 by a couple of weeks!

 Temples nearby to Prambangan


Unsure the name of this one, but it had great views from the hill

More self-portraits from Yuni, you should see how many there actually are!!

Sambisari Temple

Mt Merapi volcano tour

My awesome 4wd

This is what happens to bikes in volcanoes....   or after Noddy has finished with em'

Kaliurang Park

It's tough being a celebrity!!

Tobacco fields
Apparently this is rabbit, looks suspiciously like cat to me.....

oh well,  he was bloody tasty!

Saturday, 14 December 2013


Next stop was Green Canyon, or Sri Gethuk Waterfall, about halfway back to Jogya, an amazing little oasis that has only opened up in the last 2 years, I would suggest to get in there soon for a visit before it becomes a major tourist trap. 

The place really was special, from the car park we walked down a paved hill section and the most beautifully scenic jungle setting opens up.  Yes there are a few stalls along the way, but fairly minimal compared with a lot of other places, I fear it will continue to expand though until it is the usual hawker circus.  

There is an awesome river with thick jungle and waterfalls everywhere feeding into the canyon.  A quick raft ride upstream takes you to the main swimming spot with a big waterfall and rocks to jump off into the beautiful cool water.  It was obviously crowded like everywhere else at the minute but it wasn't too bad.

  As usual i was the only bule and was an instant celebrity like many places I went.  Everyone wanted photos and handshakes, some people were trying to sneakily take pictures with their phones while their friend stood nearby so I would just walk up and put my arm around their shoulder and instruct them to get a proper picture of us together!  They loved it!

 i got ready for a swim and after asking the guys already in the water if it was deep enough, jumped off this huge rock.  Cheers guy's, I just bumped the bottom a little bit.  Yuni laughed because everyone was talking about me, and for once it wasn't how white i was, or that i was simply a bule, or jumping off the rock....   it was because i wasn't wearing a life jacket! 

Everyone else was donned with fluorescent life vests, for a country with over 18,000 islands I’m surprised how many people can't swim properly. 

Yuni, being inquisitive and adventurous like me, suggested we go for a walk the other way up the river side where there was a little trail, great idea as we were the only ones there.  The walk was scenic, but dam hot, and we continued on for maybe half an hour seeing nobody except a water dragon swimming in the river which was a very cool sight. 

It was time to continue on to Jogya though and we were back on the bike and heading back to tourist town, but the room had to wait for our stomachs as we were both hungry and we ended up in the town centre for delicious chicken satays. 

I had to laugh, without thinking I asked the lady, who was clearly Muslim, during Ramadan, if they had pork satay's?!  haha   oops. (for the uninformed, Muslims don't eat pork)  After a shower we went out and found a new little bar we hadn't been. 

It had been a very quiet couple of weeks after my party time in Surabaya and I had actually gone a week without a beer in Malang, as I simply couldn't find one and to be honest didn't feel the urge, which is strange for me as i'm sure you have gathered from reading!  Plus Yuni didn't drink much so it was no big deal to go without.  But tonight I decided i was in the mood for whiskey and made it my mission to find some!  

We found a little bar a bit further from where we normally strayed and found a spot upstairs overlooking the action on the street.  I had my first Jack Daniels since Surabaya (i'm normally a Wild Turkey or my homemade rum drinker, but you take what you can get on the road) and Yuni had her first JD's ever. 

Ive never seen anyone get such a buzz off 2 whiskey's and she thought the Jacky D was pretty good.  It was a fun couple of hours but time to head off to the room after another big couple of days riding and exploring.  Those visiting Jogya, make the effort to check out Green Canyon, you will not be disappointed.

Green Canyon

View from the hill, stopover on the way home


We finally made it down to the South coast of Yogyakarta and went looking for all these secluded beaches we had read about.  Well somebody forgot to mention that being a massive holiday period, everybody had time off and i'm pretty sure half of Java had the same idea as us. 

I have never seen anything so hectic in my life, the traffic and people at some of these places was seriously unbelievable.  I didn't ride all this way to sit on a beach and feel like I was in the city mall, so all we could do was follow the coast and stop in at all the different beaches for a look. 

The riding was great though and eventually we found a beach that was a fair bit quieter and pulled up for some food and a cold beer after a swim and watched the sun go down.  

Don't expect to find beer there though, maybe after Ramadan, but I smuggled in 2 large beers under the scooter seat and just ordered a glass with ice.  For those thinking I was being insensitive to the locals, we did ask first, no problems!

 The food was delicious even if it was giving my mouth 3rd degree burns, Yuni thought it was hysterical watching me keep eating even though the food was far too hot for me to handle.

Now the fun part..  trying to find a room in Wonosari, what a mission.  It took a couple of hours of riding around and constantly asking locals before we found something.  The first place pretty much told us to fuck off as we were an unwed interracial couple and gave us discerning looks as we left in shame.  We got the same treatment at another place, while one guesthouse simply said he had to notify the police if there was a bule staying there?!  WTF?!

The boys at home will understand when i say 'That's racist bro'!

  So I said jam that and eventually we found a nice little shithole.... I mean basic establishment, and called it a night after a few room supplies from Indomaret.  Yuni is reading the blog and she will note that I skipped the part about me getting quite pissed off during the whole saga!!  

Not wanting to endure another night in Wonosari or visit the beaches again whilst so busy we decided to head back to Jogya via a few stops on the way.  We went cave tubing at Goa Pindul, it was not what I was expecting but would probably be cool outside of the major holiday, there was no escaping the masses anywhere and we just had to bear it.  

We sat on tyre tubes and floated down a river section through a cool cave, on an average day they take about 300 people through, today was around 3000!  Worth a look though, especially if you haven't done that sort of thing before.   We actually do it a bit when our river back home floods, but it was an enjoyable experience and fairly cheap.

Sunday, 8 December 2013


I think by now it was the weekend and I had to find somewhere with fast wifi so I could watch the Australian Football on my laptop.  I have a subscription that allows me to watch every game live if I have a good connection.  The place was Andrea Hotel in Gang 2 I think it was, the owner is a great guy and most obliging.

  The first night there I actually brought my own beer to watch the footy as he was out of stock, it was a great little place to sit and watch the happenings up the tiny alley or get some work done on the computer.  

I would have stayed there but he was booked solid the whole time, but we did end up leaving our bags there while we did a road trip later.  Like I said, a really nice guy and by the looks of it, a great establishment.

Yuni actually ended up enjoying the football on weekends, we would relax with a beer or 2, though she rarely drank more than 1, but she seemed to enjoy the little shorts and muscly physiques on the players more than the game! 

As I can watch the games anytime, we only stayed in town to see my team play, the mighty Sydney Swans, then set off on a road trip to the south coast to explore the numerous beaches there.

Our backpacks sorted and our other gear left at Andrea Hotel, we set off on another trusty scooter (I really should have got pictures with every bike I rented) and tried to navigate the often confusing streets of Jogya.  

They have some one way sections that aren't listed on the map so it makes for some confusing routes if you don't know them, we learnt the hard and long way.  I couldn't work out why the signs kept leading us in the wrong direction until we got to the one way streets.

Once out of town the riding was.... insane to say the least.  I love getting out on the bike but these guy's were fucken crazy, as I said, there are seemingly no road rules anywhere in Asia, but this was perhaps more wild than riding in Thailand.  At least there we all understood the system and it kinda worked, but here it was a free for all and no unspoken rules that were adhered to.  I loved it!

  We were out on these country roads but there was as much traffic as the cities, mostly due to the holidays, often jam packed the whole way, but fun as hell.  We would be dodging and weaving through layers of traffic, sometimes doing around 100kmh, with buses, bikes and cars to avoid.  

You have to ride like that in Asia, fairly aggressive because nobody is gonna give you a break, but 100% aware of everything around you.  It can get quite tiring being on full alert all the time, I always say  ' i'm not worried about my riding, just everybody else'.

  These guys will, and do, pull out right in front of you without a thought to look around.  Most bikes don't even have mirrors and those that do are merely for aesthetics and never used.  You just concentrate on what is ahead, those behind you will have to fend for themselves.  

When learning in Thailand I used to just get behind the craziest, fastest maniac on the road and follow them, it was usually the mototaxi guys, but it was a good way to learn. 

Now I find I am usually the craziest, fastest maniac on the road and i'm rarely ever passed by anyone, so if you're travelling in Asia and you see a foreigner wearing my normal scooter riding outfit you will see in the pics (long sleeve fishing shirt, face mask and gloves for the sun) then follow me!

The pedestrians are just as mad, they will just step out into oncoming traffic with a little wave of their hand and everybody usually stops as they cross the road.  Well they didn't count on the fact that I was totally unaware of this and quite a few people were nearly run over on my journey.  Sorry!

My usual scooter mission outfit, to keep the sun off


At a very bloody cold 4am we took off on the bike, the journey supposedly around an hour and a half to make it to Sentembu Hill to watch the sunrise over Borobudur Temple and Mt Merapi (I think) in the background. 

The ride was bitterly cold and we got lost several times even with the hand-drawn map the owner of the guesthouse had given us, though without it we possibly would never have found the place.  Sure we could have jumped on a tour bus, but where's the sense of adventure in that?!

We finally arrived and made a mad dash up the steep hillside where we joined a throng of other western tourists to enjoy the stunning and serene sunrise, it was more than worth the effort.  We stood on top of the hill with Borobudur shrouded in mist and fog in the valley below us and Mt Merapi in the distance as the sun rose right behind the peak. 

I am never underwhelmed by these sights, never blasé about any of it, i appreciate everything i get to experience on this adventure i am so fortunate to be having.  At this minute I am typing on Ipad on a ferry to Flores after a hectic couple of days on public transport from Lombok across Sumbawa to the tiny port town of Sape whereIi left from, but more on that later. 

It was the highlight of the temple visit for me and should not be missed if you are in Jogya.  Many tours will only take you to Borobudur so make sure you ask about watching the sunrise or get bold, grab a bike and make the dark, cold early morning mission under your own steam.  

It gave us free reign to go where we liked and leave when we liked, and we checked out some other sights and smaller, uncrowded temples in the area on the way home. 

The temple itself was very impressive and beautiful, though I was a little disappointed with our visit.  The temple is in the middle of town, is surrounded by hundreds of little stalls trying to sell you crap and you never get to experience the true peacefulness that these temples normally inspire, due to the massive crowds that flock there.  

Yes, i am spoilt, but i like my temples to be more natural, with no hawkers and less crowds, preferably somewhere a little more isolated, but hey, you can't have everything. It really is a massive and beautifully crafted monument, a testament to the building knowledge and spiritual beliefs of the time.  

After now having finally visited Cambodia's Angkor Wat in the last couple of weeks I am more amazed by the size and elegance of Borobudur.

I got to visit many great temples already on my travels and this one left me in 2 minds, absolutely impressed by the size and beauty of it all, though slightly disappointed in the  circus it has become.  

 It is definitely worth a look, it is by far one of the most impressive temples I have seen, but they don't need to be perfect or monumental for me to enjoy them. It is normally the setting that really makes it for me and this just felt too much like disneyland.  The sunrise is a must do for those visiting and the temple i'm sure is spectacular for all that witness it.

Sunrise from the hill, overlooking Borobudur

Borobudur temple

Yuni, the queen of self portraits!