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Lombok to Java: Patience is a virtue

Yogyakarta, Indonesia


Our island magic is now just a memory and we are abruptly thrown back into the madness of the mainland. A little under the weather (both physically and spiritually), we took a ferry to Lombok and were greeted by a plethera of touts trying to pry the money from our wallets. They are friendly enough, but very sly... if they even touch your backpack, they demand a small donation. We managed to brush them off, only to step into another group of them while we waited for the bus to our destination.

Sengiggi is certainly nothing to write home about. Outside of some entertaining bartering during our beach front breakfast and a very friendly local that helped us get to the airport, it was really just a place to nurse Tim back to health and rest of weary heads. We made our way to Mataram the next day in hopes of catching a flight to Java, but after loitering around the ticket window for a couple hours, it was clear that we were stuck in Lombok for one more night. Mataram felt a bit like the Twilight Zone, perhaps only compared to the backpacker friendly Gili T... we ventured out to find a bite for dinner and found ourselves lost in a web of commercial buildings, army barracks, dingy back alley flats and rustic food carts on every corner. No one spoke more than one or two words of English and the locals seemed to find us rather odd. They either ignored us, tried to run us down with their motorbike (I exaggerate here a little) or sent their children running to the streets to wave and practice their English - "good morning" they all say, no matter what time of day it is. We managed to find the "mall" and chowed down on McDonalds before heading back to the hotel for another so-so night of sleep. Any town that forces you to eat at McDonalds is not one that we will see again.

The flight to Surabaya in Java was delayed, the airport was bland and we were both annoyed and ready to leave Lombok. Unfortunately, Surabaya was more of the same. The second biggest city in Java, it was hustle and bustle with no real place to comfortably drop our bags. We hopped on a bus to the transit station, ran to the (leaky) city bus in the middle of a heavy thunderstorm and arrived to the hotel drenched from head to toe. The hotel was empty, over-priced and shared a wall with the night club around the corner... you can tell how happy Jen was, no? We put in our ear plugs, got a little shut eye and found our way to Mt. Bromo the next day.


Ahh, happiness again in Cemoro Lewang, a little town on the rim of Mt. Bromo, one of Java's most impressive volcanoes. The bus ride up the steep and winding hill was, well... something we continue to laugh about. To save money, we took a public mini-bus and found that what appeared to be a 12-seater was slowly, but surely filled with 22 people... and there may have been one or two dudes riding on the roof as well. Classic. We arrived at Cafe Lava with battered knees, but in good spirits. After a well-deserved night of rest, we skipped the recommended sunrise walk to the summit of Mt. Bromo and opted for a late breakfast and a stroll along the outer rim. That afternoon, Tim was caught in a serious storm and flash flood - I was in the middle of a nap and awoke to the crack of thunder, so it was a bit of a worry session for me (Tim was fine outside of some seriously wet boots). It was this storm that delayed our trip down the hill the next day... the bus couldn't get more than a few miles our of town due to the landslides, so we put our backpacks on and walked down the hill, which ended up being a really nice way to see the landscape.
After the final decent down the hill on the bus, we transferred to a van with 4 folks from Spain and made the 9 hour trip to Solo... a 12 hour day of travel total. We've found that travel days are some of the toughest times for us. One or the other of us is usually hot, tired, bloated, cramped, smelly or all of the above. It's also a crux which demands decision making - in a quick and confident fashion as to avoid the dozens of transportation and hotel operators ready to intercept us as we de-board the train, bus, boat, etc. We are not particulary good at decision making, so our relationship has been tested in these situations time and again...

Solo is a cute town in Central Java and we decided to spend a couple of days here to accomplish a few errands - you have no idea how bad it can get after wearing the same few outfits for 3 weeks in this humidity! Laundry, another package sent home and plenty of walking through back alleys that have much more to offer than one would think. I took a half day batik course while Tim worked away on the computer. We had good food and our hosts at the Istaya Guaya Hotel were wonderful. We boarded the local train on Thursday and headed to Yogjakarta, the cultural capital of Java.

Since Tim is waiting for me to finish up and we are having little luck uploading photos from here, I will say goodbye for now. We have a 7 hour journey to Pandangaran tomorrow where we will relax on the beach for a couple days before heading to Jakarta and then into Malaysia. Once we get to Kuala Lumpur, I will share our photos from our visit to Borobudor today - it is a blog topic of it's own, so maybe Tim will volunteer (despite the time it takes him to blog, he gets more excited about it every time).

A belated Happy Easter to you and warm thoughts from a far...

Selamat Malam,
Jen

permalink written by  TwoSouls on March 28, 2008 from Yogyakarta, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Indonesia: So many islands, so little time
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Thanks Jen,
You are such a good writer. I love hearing from you. Do you keep a handwritten journal as well. THat would be something to read.
I get so fearful sometimes just reading your adventures. I used to think of myself as adventurous but not now. I don't think I'll ever be a tourista but would need to be closer to civilization. THe kids have changed me and my world. I look forward to the time when they're older and we can explore more than just our local area.
God Bless, Be safe. We love you,
Angie


permalink written by  Angie Ten Napel on March 29, 2008


Hey Angie,

I haven't repsonded to a commet on our site yet, so I'm not sure this will reach you. I just wanted to say hello and thank you for your loving thoughts... it REALLY helps to know that our family is supportive of our trip and following our adventures as we move along. And it's especially nice to hear from you and Doug since we havne't been in touch for so long. I am really proud of you Angie - raising 4 kids is hard work and very courageous, so I hope you feel pride in what you do... a whole set of adventures of it's own! Tim and I are talking more about having kids, especially now that Jules and Bri are expecting. We are talking about cutting the trip short - for numerous reasons - and once we get settled back into a normal routine, we will probably think about starting a family. We've both been on the fence about it... scared to lose our freedom and quiet time, but I think it's a very worthewhile experience in life and something I hope we'd do well at.

Travel is tough... and after 4 months on the road, I wouldn't consider myself the traveling type. I am homesick and I get irritated quickly at times when I can't find any comfort in my surroundings. But the journey has been amazing and has definitely served to shed some light on the luxuries and choices we have at home. I think we'll be more relaxed and more tolerant and more simplistic when we return...

So, we are waiting for a 3:30 bus to Kulua Lumpur. We met an ex-pat from the States in the airport at LAX and she and her family have offered us a plac e to stay and relax for a few days. We can do laundry, get cuaght up on errands and plan the next month ahead. And it will be nice to get their perspecitve as ex-pats - something we originally thought about, but it seems we are both anxious to get home... jsut gotta decide if that's in Santa Cruz, Lake Tahoe or elsewhere.

Well, I hope all is well with you and DOug and the kids. I'm glad you got to spend some time with my Mom and I'm sure she really enjoyed being with you and the kids. Keep up the great work and I'd really like to plan a visit when I'm in Southern Cal next.

Be well and lots of love,
Jen

permalink written by  TwoSouls on April 2, 2008

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TwoSouls TwoSouls
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We are going to explore the unknown and there's no turning back now. Why explore? Here are a few reasons why we start on this journey...

- To breathe deeply, appreciate the moment and SLOW DOWN
- To let go of our fears
- To rebel… prove that we can live outside the system
- To challenge...

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