A Travellerspoint blog

March 2012

Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

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We had a long train ride to Yogyakarta, or Jogja as the Indonesians and travellers call it and after arriving it was only a short walk from the station to the area with all the cheap guesthouses are located.

The only annoying thing, which is common throughout Asia, but they have really adopted and embraced it here in Jogja, is people scoping tourists for commission. Walking the little claustrophobic streets in the Sosrowijayan area you are passed between different Indonesian men with varying dentistry issues who have an uncle, cousin, or sisters boyfriends ex wife who owns a cheap guesthouse, so 'come come, cheap this way!' In the end we picked the cheapest one and decided we would look ourselves tomorrow without our bags and a posse of Indonesians pretending to be our best mate. We went out to check out the area, accosted again as we went by different people making small talk with the intention of ripping us off, and eventually sat down to some very nice street food. 

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(different modes of transport in Jogja).

The following day after walking up in possibly the worst room of our travels yet (it would breach human rights regulations for prisoners in soppy old England) we decided to seek new accommodation. I consider myself to have a good sense of direction but after getting lost several times in the mazy alleyways  we found a place only a touch more expensive but ten times better and moved in after breakfast. We then decided to aquaint ourselves with different alleyways and passages which hold a certain charm!

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(view from the communal balcony at our new accommodation).

Jogja has many tourist attractions within driving distance, two of which we were very interested in exploring, the two different temples Prambanan (Hindu - 9th century) and Borobudur (Buddhist - 9th century). All of the travel companies in town did day trips to both these temples, and we decided to see if we could get a deal if we bought that tour, with a tour that would take us two days later to mount Bromo and then onto Bali. We eventually, after many tour operators, touts, and leaches (those commission hunters) managed to get the cheapest deal. Which as it turns out was only a few pounds off what most people were asking.  

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(Regaee culture!)

We had to be up early to go to the temples, the first stop was Borobudur, a huge Buddhist pyramid, but not how you might think of the Gaza pyramid. It isn't classed as a pyramid, infect it's called a Stupa. Upon arrival we were all fitted with sarongs, which we thought might be a joke played on tourists, but even the Asian visitors wore them. Apparently it's just out of respect and modesty, which on reflection, Smith and my reaction wasn't. Until we grew up we initially acted like kids playing dress up, performing curtsies and being daft, not in full public view I hasten to add!!! 

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The temple itself was pretty spectacular, from a distance it looks quite a basic stone temple, but when up close there is some fantastically intricate carvings and statues. It looked even better in the morning sunshine, which was cool enough to wander about without passing out. Much like China though, kids on school trips and even some families stop us and asked to have photos taken with us and some groups of teenagers learning English regularly tried to stop us to ask questions to help with their courses. 

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The next stop was the Hindu temple of Prambanan, in the grand scheme of things, both temples actually share many similarities and are actually considered contemporaries. There are many records of marriages between Hindu and Buddhist nobles during the time. From afar it looks more spectacular than Borobudur, with it's tall spires, although I wouldn't say the carvings were as intricate as at Borobudur. 

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The following day we used to relax before the next travel laden instalment of the trip, to Mt. Bromo and on to Bali.

Posted by Christian25 13:08 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Jakarta, across the Equator.

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We landed on new soil, the first time in my life I have ever crossed the equator, in Jakarta, Indonesia. After the usual boarder inspections and paying for our visa we gathered our bags and headed via taxi to Jalan Jaksa, the travellers hangout in Jakarta. It has all the cheapest guesthouses and a few bars down a narrow one way road. Once we arrived we spent a little while searching for cheap rooms, all were pretty grimy. Then on a road just off Jalan Jaksa we found a hostel with a nice room, slightly more expensive, but it had everything we needed and was very comfortable. We went out for a little wander quickly and decided to grab a bite to eat. It was already noticeably hotter in Jakarta and we decided to take shelter until it cooled down a little later on.

That evening we met up with Jesse who we originally met in Kuala Lumpur, she was kind enough to come meet us after work and showed us a nice restaurant nearby which was nice. Afterwards we headed to a little bar where an Indonesian Reggae band were playing, they were very impressive, and they looked the part too with their dreadlocks and afros! It surprises me how popular Reggae, and Rastafarian culture is in South-East Asia. A lot of them seem to live a laid back lifestyle, as well as indulging and embracing some other famous Rastafarian cultures!

The following day we went for a walk to have a look at some local landmarks. I'll be honest nothing too impressive, and in fact the day can often expose some of a cities less finer points, as of course a night can. The only issue with Jakarta being it's uncleanliness, especially mixed with it stifling heat. It bodes for a bad impression. 

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(The Presidencial Palace)

That evening I received some news which I had been anticipating for a while, but was still ecstatic to read in a message from my Brother-in-Law, that my sister had just given birth to a baby boy! Harry was born on the 22nd of Feb, to two very proud parents, and I cannot wait to meet him!

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(Recieving the good news! I was just out of the shower, that's why I look a little dishevelled. I havnt taken to walking around with my flies and belt undone, hair unkept and no shirt on!)

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(My Nephew Harry on his way home, making a bid for freedom from the Hospital!)5

That evening we decided to treat ourselves to a bit of western living by going to Pizza Hut and then to the Cinema. I'll be honest the Pizza Hut was nothing to write home about, in fact it was a little bit of a disappointment, but I really enjoyed the cinema, I had forgotten what it was like, you cannot beat watching a film there. When the light came up it was bizarre. I could have left the theatre and walked out into the big car park outside the Vue at Westwood Cross, it was a little strange when we didn't. Instead punched in the face by the night heat and smells of the noisy city.

We had read about a water park just outside Jakarta and thought it would be a good laugh, unfortunately the taxi driver took us to the wrong one, it was pretty dire and clearly few westerners go there which was a great shame! That evening we met up again with Jesse, grabbed some street food, Indonesia's famous satay. We had arranged another cinema trip, after all it only cost a few pounds and we met up with Stephanie, Jesse's friend, and fellow English teacher. After the film we said our goodbyes before we headed for Yogyakarta the following day. 

Posted by Christian25 05:25 Archived in Indonesia Tagged indonesia travel Comments (1)

Singapore!

all seasons in one day

Singapore is a good few hours bus ride from Melaka, and unfortunately we arrived in an area we didn't expect to in heavy rain. After spending a while trying to flag down a taxi we were soon on our way to our home-stay accommodation in little India called Al's Nest. The place was actually recommended by Howard from Melaka. Al's Nest was nice enough, not the same atmosphere as Ringo's, but then Al had his family living there and from the pictures on the walls had been doing it for sometime. Singapore is an island off Malaysia, however, like Hong Kong, it's a city state and therefore has it's own currency, government and laws.

We decided to have a wander round the local area, little India, which is where we were staying. We found a little food quarter which was pumping out some delicious smelling Indian food, so we decided grab a bite to eat and we were not disappointed! That evening we had a couple of beers outside a trendy bar that cost an arm and a leg, Singapore is not cheap!

The next day unfortunatly was a little bit of an anti climax, the weather was poor so we spend most of the day wandering round ridiculously expensive shopping malls, Singapore isnt mucking about, they have money and they are flaunting it!

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We had decided that the following day we would go to the Singapore zoo, we were lucky with the good weather so thought we would make the most of it. It's easily one of the best Zoo's I have been to, there is a fantastic variety of animals and the enclosures are fantastic. The animals are almost always visible because of the way it is designed, but the wellbeing of the animal isn't compromised by this fact. It was a great example of a well run and designed zoo! The added bonus was the fact that we got to see Orangutang's, which I had never seen before, their enclosure was ingenious, with them being able to get to trees and platforms above the paths that the zoo-goers  walk along without it being enclosed. That evening we had a little wander around china town. 

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(China Town)

Following day wander at the harbour area which has received heavy investment and the majority of the buildings are space age, and cutting edge in design. It felt like you were an extra in a science fiction film, a microcosm of what the developing world may look like years from now! That evening in Little India, being a Sunday, Indian men gather in their hundreds on the grass greens and mingle, when we went out to get some food it was almost intimidating, and we only saw a handful of women if that. the food we had that evening was arguably the nicest curry oi have ever had!

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(Indian male gathering)

The next day we had to be up early to catch a flight to Indonesia, and after our exploration of Singapore, I think it might be a world apart!

Posted by Christian25 18:51 Archived in Singapore Tagged singapore travel Comments (0)

Melaka.

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Melaka is a new member of the 2012 world heritage sites. It is a really pretty town, with it's old colonial buildings and mazy streets filled with little galleries, boutique shops and trendy cafes. This is a place to enjoy a wander and have a chilled out time.

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We arrived at our accommodation, Ringo's Foyer after a while of searching to be greeted by a smiley Chinese man by the name of Howard. We initially chilled out and then he recommended that we check out the weekend Market and get some food from there. He said that the people staying at the guesthouse had had a heavy one the previous night and that we should join them on the roof for a tea party as everyone attempted to recover!

The following day we went for a wander around the local area and explored the town in the evening we went for a bike ride with Howard to the food quarter and around the town at night. it's a regular thing that he does with his guests, it's a nice touch, he is all for his guests bonding. Every now and again he would stop and tell us all about different sites of interest. Considering the price of the room Howard's service to his customers is second to none.  

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(Howard told us a story about how the local government decided to put about 40 ducks on this river, he said that after they were released with in a day or so they had vanished, he joked that the Chinese will eat anything and everything!)

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(The monitor lizards were a common sight around Melaka, and again, Howard said that Chinese tourists have asked if they are edible!)

The following day Howard informed us of an opportunity to get a free lunch. So a group of is from tue guesthouse followed through Melaka to go to a book launch. Howard's a bit like the pied piper, except he goes everywhere, on foot or bike with tourists following him. Melaka has just become a world heritage site and they were putting on a book launch and free food to celebrate this. That evening we ventured out on another Bike ride to the big night Market for snacks for the evening, we had asked Howard about getting some beers to have on the rooftop, and he offered to sorts us out with beer on the cheap from a friend. There was a nice group of us up on the Rooftop chatting and playing games. It actually resulted in a bit of an All nighter, Smith myself and a new friend Sumiyah chatting and chilling until the morning. The next day I didn't get up till the early afternoon and next day was a bit of a right off. Smith and Kailey had already been out and found a Pizza Hut, but Smith couldn't bring himself to eat. I was a bit jealous that I had missed out on Pizza Hut, so me and Sumiyah headed out to find it. That even was taken up with relaxing and watching films, much need!

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(at the book launch)

The following day we had almost said goodbye to all of our little group from Ringo's, we went and had a wander around a shopping centre during the day and in the evening we were chilling in the lounge area while Howard was out on his usual bike ride with some guests and some people turned up, later in the evening we had some beers with them, they were from Australia and kindly said we could crash at their house when we passed through which was kind. 

We were all sad to leave Melaka and the the little community that develops at Ringo's Foyer, all down to Howard!

Posted by Christian25 20:04 Archived in Malaysia Tagged travel malaysia melaka Comments (0)

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