In my previous post I marveled about Indonesia’s beautiful island, Bali. But, Indonesia is more then just Bali. So today I want to share my experiences about traveling thru the island Java. Java is an island three times the size of the Netherlands. Its capitol is Jakarta and my boyfriend and I also entered Indonesia by Jakarta’s airport.

Jakarta
To give you a heads up: it was a bit of a culture shock. We were in Malaysia before, in Kuala Lumpur to be exact, which is a really clean and friendly city. So when we arrived on the island Java, in Jakarta, I was totally in shock. It started with a “drugs = dead penalty” sign. So far the “warm welcome and glad you arrived safe” sign… When we walked out of the airport the shock got even bigger.

My boyfriend and I were surrounded by taxi drivers, which shouted to come along with them and already grabbed our suitcases. Once we finally picked a taxi we had to carry our suitcases ourselves to the end of the parking lot. Which was a 500-meter walk or so, not a problem at all. But, five meters before we reached the cab four men, friends of the taxi driver, came out of nowhere and took our suitcases. To finally ask, no…let me rephrase that…demand to pay each and every one of them money. Since they ‘assisted’ the cab driver and were his friends. Eventually we made a fuzz and he drove off when I threatened him that I would find another driver…

So when we arrived at the hotel, I DID NOT like Jakarta. Maybe the jetlag did not help either, but I was not feeling the vibe at that time. Eventually we started to explore the capital. And, as can be expected, we got screwed a couple of times again. Even though we discussed the subject before we left the hotel. An older Indonesian men, who came to chat with us when we were in a mosque, eventually asked for money, he claimed he just gave us a tour…while I was like, what tour? And taxi drivers trying to drive a detour so that the meter could run longer and they can charge extra money. We eventually used GPS on our phone, and gave exact directions to the driver, that helps! But you have to be on guard! But, to be honest, besides all of the hustlers walking around in this capital, it is a dazzling city and once you are settled in, it is an impressive city!

Jakarta

Jakarta is a really big city, so we only had minimum time to visit some of its highlights. We chose to visit Batavia, this used to be the headquartes for the VOC in Asia. You can still see some of the colonial buildings that refer back to that era. Even though the VOC had its dark side in Dutch history, Batavia is definitely a must visit.

The villages around Batavia are really poor but the people living there were very welcoming. Some other highlights in Jakarta are the shopping malls like Senayan City. Also we visited the Istiqlal Mosque, the second biggest mosque in the world.  After two days exploring the capital we left the city for country life.

Landward
First we visited the botanic gardens in Bogor and after we had seen the gardens we left with our tour guide, and stayed at his home for a night. He and is wife and kids were very welcoming and we slept in the middle of the jungle. His children showed us the hot springs and waterfalls. The day after he introduced us to Yoko, who would drive us thru the island of Java and left for our road trip.

We drove from Garrut to Purwokerto to Yogyakarta. During our drive we visited several villages, plantings, factories and hot springs. We actually saw how noodles and krupuk were made! When we visited a small town I noticed that the people were not used to visitors. One older woman actually walked by to touch my arm, and was amazed that it was that white. Other kids in the village were just impressed by the height and hair of my boyfriend, who is 1.93 meter and has white blonde hair. It was really funny to see that we were so strange looking according to them.

On our way to Yogyakarta, we had some car trouble. We got some assistance from locals who helped us getting the car started again. In exchange they wanted to take our pictures, really funny. Before we arrived in Yogya we stopped at the Borobudur temple, to see the sunset. Absolutely stunning! The temple is really impressive by itself and the sunset made it even more beautiful.

Borobudur-temple

Yogyakarta
When we arrived in Yogyakarta we made a three-day plan. We first wanted to see some of the various palaces the king has. They are open for tourists. We also visited the bird market, a farmers market where they sell, besides rice and oats, snakes, owls, scorpions, various birds, mice, chicken etc. Really impressive but I found it horrible for the animals. They are put together in really small cages and some of the farmers did not take care of the animals well. But it shows how business is done in Yogyakarta!

From Yogyakarta it is also really easy to visit the Prambanan temple. Seriously an amazing temple, which was collapsed due to several earthquakes. It has been restored and looks impressive. Take your time to visit the temple, take pictures and just realize you are actually there! After Yogyakarta one of our absolute highlights was on our schedule: the Bromo volcano.

Bromo volcano
We arrived in a little village just 30 minutes away from the viewpoint in the evening. We booked, a really crappy room, but hey; you can ask the maximum rate when you are that close to the volcano. We stayed in this hostel and decided to watch the sunrise on a viewpoint facing the Bromo volcano directly. We set our alarm at three in the morning. Made ourselves a breakfast box for the rest of the day and got us a ride to the viewpoint. First it was a 15 minute drive and then we needed to hike for 45 minutes to the viewpoint. It was definitely worth getting up that early.

Bromo

The Bromo volcano is seriously impressive, breathtaking and just beautiful! I would recommend everyone ever visiting Java to do this hike and watch the sunrise. Its a memory for life! After the sunrise we actually climbed the volcano. We walked on the edge of the volcano and looked inside of it! It is still active so smoke was rising out of the mountain. Afterwards we grabbed our stuff and traveled to the port where we would take the boat to Bali, our next stop.

The Island Java is seriously pretty! If you are traveling to Indonesia and you have time to explore the island Java, I recommend that you do so. You will definitely not regret it, I promise.

Danielle