To me, the highlights of the trip were :
#1 : Discovery of the hidden magnificent and unspoiled rice terraced fiels of Selogriyo region
#2 : Mount Bromo at sunrise
#3: Unexpected beach time and delicious barbecued fish on a quiet beach (Pasirputih, on the road before Situbondo)
If I had to do it again, knowing what I know now:
I wouldn't change anything
If I had to do it again, with a little bit more time:
I would have travelled from Jakarta to Jogjakarta by train, instead of flying. Probably stopping at Bogor then Bandung, taking my time.
I would have spent more days in Jogja, to better see the city and its surroundings, spending a night in Borobodur, going on a hike to Mount Merapi, discovering villages around Jogja, and testing more tasty food from Viavia cafe and other warungs
I would have stayed for a day and night of rest at the beach, before heading to Kawah Ijen
So many possibilities....
Had a great time with Yvonne, discovering this wonderful country where she lives. Time flies, and before I knew it, it was already over.
How did she experience this trip? She'll tell you herself :
"Livia, who I have known since studying abroad in Spain, came to Indonesia (...)
T. almost got arrested at Borobudur. Richard Gere decided to go the same day we did, but he was early bird. In an effort to get a shot at our Pretty Woman star, T. climbed an ancient temple that he was not supposed to. See Livia's video documentation for proof.
It turns out Richard Gere was not the only star that day. Every Javanese school girl wanted to take pictures with Livia. In fact, at The Keraton, one lady touched her hair.
Also at the Keraton, we discovered the wonders of Javanese traditional music, which kind of sounds like a cat dying. The dancers all seem to reach their career peak at the age of 55. One of the museum panels read that post-menstrual women are sacred, which may explain the age of the dancers, and which also makes me look forward to my golden years.
The Ramayana Ballet with a Pambanan backdrop was amazing, and long, and pyrotechnic. Although I have to say I think Rama is a bit of a jerk. He spends the whole play looking for Shinta, and then when he finally finds her, he accuses her of impurity, and asks her to throw herself into a fire. If that were me, I'd say "Sorry, Rama, there's other fish in the sea." But of course, this was back in the ancient Hindu times, and Shinta couldn't say no. Of course, there's a happy ending, she gets saved because she is in fact pure, which also is kind of unbelievable since she was in the jungle for who knows how long with a creepy older king, etc.
We escaped near fatal death was when a dangerous serial killer who posed as a friendly guide at Taman Sari led us through an underground layer. The tunnels were full of "musicians" who were high on ganja. In the end, we paid him some money, he showed us a good Gudeg warung and we saw some pretty ruins that were leftover from the Sultans' glory days.
Jogja residents are very friendly, especially when they work for the tourism board. (They) were lucky enough to meet one on the first day just walking in the street, who they again ran into at Taman Sari. He told the real price of a becak, which despite the quantity of available becaks, is incredibly hard to get at market price. It might have something to do with my Japanese looks or Livia's Hollywood features.
Livia is convinced that if you want to travel in Java, you must add about an hour to your estimated trip duration, because it's inevitable that you will get stopped and have to make chit chat. When we went to Borobudur, and we waited in the car, she was convinced the taxi driver didn't know how to get to Selogriyo. In fact, he found out after talking two minutes with the government official; it's just that they just spent half an hour catching up. They discovered that they have a mutual acquaitance that is somehow related to the driver. Then government official went through all his sms's (because he hasn't discovered the Add Contact function on his cell phone yet) to look up the acquaintance's phone number. In the end, it turns he had deleted the sms that bound them together.
Our trip from Jogja to Bromo was quite a feat in itself. We are all alive. We weren't so sure, especially since the driver puts on warning signals and then passes every motor vehicle in his path, and then we saw a huge truck pulled aside after it had crashed doing the same.
Indonesians have a different concept of personal space. Case in point, I was woken up at 3:45 this morning, which I was told would happen because we needed to get into the Jeep and head to Bromo before sunrise, but then the guy started reminding me as I was taking a poop. "Miss Chen, we are waiting for you!" I heard from behind the bathroom door.
At Bromo we met a "traveller" who may be the reason why there is a recession in Europe. He is from Spain and has been travelling on the government's expense since last November. As local Hong Kong hires who enjoy every single minute of their well-earned holidays, (our) jaws dropped when he had fully revealed the number of countries he had been to. I mentioned Indonesia's Blackberry market and I think there was a miscommuniciation because Spanish traveller became convinced I came to study Indonesian because I wanted to work for Blackberry, but really I'm just here to fight terrorists. In Sulawesi he was stopped and was probed for hours. They finally let him go when he revealed his country of origin, which is the capital of football: FC Barcelona."
a star is born