Nothing makes us happier than hearing tales of the road from our satisfied travelers, and we just had to share this story with you. This is a guest post from Jean Henrickson, a foreign correspondent for the Roleystone Courier in Australia on her trip with us through Java:
Ken and I have been to Bali over forty times. We have also travelled eastwards to many of the islands in the Indonesian archipelago. This holiday we decided to explore Java. We tried to find an Australian Tour Operator, that would let us design our own tour, without success.
On the internet I found an Indonesian tour operator called Backyard Travel. They proved to be wonderful! They were not expensive and they were one hundred percent reliable at every point in the journey. We had our own driver in a very new 4 wheel drive and a guide who spoke excellent English. Everything was done for us – even to the point of giving us bottled water whenever we needed it. Nothing was too much trouble.
We began our trip to Java by catching the ferry from Bali to Ketapang Harbour in Java. The tickets cost 75c each! The trip took 35 minutes. Our first night we stopped in Kalibaru – a delightful little laid back country town. The locals were so friendly! Ken’s watch developed a leak in the swimming pool and the local watch maker charged a whole $2.50 to fix it! We were almost bankrupt by his prohibitive bill!!
The next morning we left for Mt Bromo. We stayed in a fabulous hotel with the most wonderful view. We had to get up at 3 am to watch the sunrise. Part of me did wonder if I could stay in bed and watch the video instead! It was very cold and we were transported by jeep up to the viewing post. Once up there it felt like the base camp of Everest. Dozens of people, heavily clothed against the cold, drank hot drinks and ate banana pancakes. Vendors did a hot trade selling scarves, beanies and gloves. A great air of excitement prevailed. When the sun eventually rose the view around us was breathtaking! There was a panoramic view of volcanoes wherever we looked.
We travelled by train to Jogjakarta, booked into a boutique hotel and began exploring. The Hindu Prambanan Temple is a protected world heritage site that was badly damaged by an earthquake in the 1960s. It has been beautifully restored and has intricate carvings that tell the tale of Hindu gods. One night our resourceful guide managed to get tickets for the Ramayana Ballet that was played in an open air theatre against a magical back drop of the floodlit Prambanan temple. It was a memorable night!
Borobudur was amazing with so many detailed statues telling the tell of Buddhism from its origins. Wherever one walked there was a frieze depicting a story. The view over the surrounding country side was fantastic too.
Our time in Java was wonderful! It is completely different from Bali – less sophisticated and less tourist orientated. There are a few little down sides! Traffic congestion is very bad in some towns. On the way to Borobudur it took us over an hour to travel 30kms. At sunset the prayers from the mosques are melodic to the ear. At 4am they are disturbing and ear plugs are needed! Wine is unknown and beer is very expensive. But apart from these minor disadvantages I would recommend Java to anyone who is thinking of a holiday a bit different from the usual trip to Bali!
Read Jean’s delightful tale on p. 15 of the December issue of the Roleystone Courier. Or if you’ve already begun daydreaming about your own customized vacation in Java, just contact us to explore the possibilities!