Permanent Vacasian

The traveller sees what he sees; the tripper sees what he has come to see. – G. K. Chesterton

There’s No Place Like Home

July 26, 2009
by Tina
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Jakarta, Indonesia – The final stop on our nine month journey was Jakarta. From there I would fly home just in time for my Neurotech appointments and Stuart would travel solo for three more weeks in Borneo. We decided to travel the seven hours to Jakarta via train. It seemed fitting to end our trip the same way it began – riding the rails. We felt like old pros until we almost got off at the wrong station in Jakarta. What a rookie blunder!

There was a big convention in town, so our picks for lodging were slim. We ended up at a decent, but shabby hotel located in the tourist ghettos of Jalan Jaska. Not the prettiest part of town, but I don’t think there is a pretty part of Jakarta. It’s pretty much your typical big, ugly city and was just a point of departure for us anyway. But we got in a few more great meals and a lot of last minute shopping for gifts.

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Driving Mr. and Mrs. Lazy

June 22, 2009
by Tina
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Yogakarta, Indonesia – We took a 1-hour train ride from Solo to Yogakarta, which literally cost $0.30 each, and checked in to a guesthouse that turned out to be quite lovely. They served us tea on our little porch every day which we enjoyed most afternoons while listening to the parishioners singing Gospel music at the church next door. Stuart needed to give his knee a break, and it was a great place to do so.

On Sunday, after being awoken first by the morning Call to Prayer at 4.30am and the Christian’s singing at 6.30am, we got up around eight and headed over to the main attraction in Yogakarta, the Kranton Palace. Some guy told us it was closed. Of course he did – the guidebook warns that they try to trick tourists into going with them to visit Batik and jewelry store stores which pay them for bringing in customers. Well, we aren’t suckers and so we ignored him and went to investigate ourselves, only to find that it was in fact closed because of some holiday!
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O Solo Mio

June 20, 2009
by Tina

Solo, Java, Indonesia – From the smoking Bromo we traveled to the city of Surakarta, referred to as “Solo” by travelers and locals alike.  When traveling in SE Asia we had to put in a fair amount of energy in figuring out how to get from one place to another.  The Lonely Planet is probably the best guidebook when it comes to travel logistics, but it obviously can’t cover everything.

There are typically two ways to get from here to there – the  ‘local’ way and the tourist way.  The tourist way usually being the easier, but more far more expensive option, and the ‘local’ way being cheaper, but longer and more uncomfortable.  The tourist tickets are easy to come by, especially in Indonesia where everyone and their mother extends non stop offers of ‘transport’.  The local way can be a little more difficult to obtain information on.  Sometimes it is as easy as going down to the local bus station and asking around, but frequently the bus stations are located outside of the town center, or the people there lie about price and times.  So we always feel like we are guessing as to the ‘best’ way to travel.

By this time we were no dummies when it came to transport so we were usually able to get good information with some persistence and a decent, if not ‘local’ price, when we opted for the ‘local way’.  We preferred to travel this way, not only because it is cheaper, but because it is far more interesting to travel with the locals, and the chickens and the bags of rice than with a bunch of Aussies (no offense to my friends from down under).
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On Top of Old Smokey

June 9, 2009
by Tina

Gunung Bromo, Java, Indonesia – To get to the village of Cemoro Lawang from Gili Air we took a horse cart, a boat, a car, an airplane, two buses, and a minibus (a 14 passenger van which at one point was crammed full of 30 people – and that’s not counting the guy who was hanging off the side).

Everyone visits Cemoro Lawang, to see the sun rise over the active volcano, Gunung Bromo and to hike its peak.  Most people it turns out, do this via a Jeep tour, departing their hotel rooms at 4.00am and driving to the viewpoint for the 5.30am sunrise and then continuing on to the base of Bromo to climb the 300 steps to its creator.

We, of course, are not most people.  Why would we take some cushy jeep tour when we could hike up to the viewpoint?  Jeeps are for sissies.  So we got up at 2.45am and set out on the two and a half hour hike to the top of Gunung Penanjakan in the pitch dark.  The first 45 minutes were easy as we just had to follow a road, but then we turned off on to the forest trail and it got a bit more challenging.

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Go, Go Gili Air

June 5, 2009
by Tina

Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia – Still searching for the perfect tropical island experience, our next destination was the Gili Islands, which came highly recommended by a Canadian guy we met in Kuta. The Gilis are actually three small islands located near the island of Lombok. We decided on Gili Air, which is smaller and less crowded than the more popular resort destination of Gili Trawangan, but has a little more infrastructure than the smaller Gili Meno.

To reach Gili Air we took a bus from Ubud and then transferred to a ferry. For some reason the ferry company times their departure from the port on Bali so that they arrive at the Gilis just as the sun sets. The islands don’t have piers so we when we arrived at Gili Air we had to climb from the ferry into a smaller boat and then wade to shore with our bags, all in the pitch black of night. A task which, I can assure you, is fairly difficult even when I can see.

We had already decided on where we wanted to stay, so upon arrival it was just a matter of figuring out how to get there. There are no cars or motorbikes allowed on Gili Air, so we weren’t descended upon by hordes of drivers offering ‘transport’, although we did have to firmly brush off several people who were aggressively trying to get us to stay at their hotels. Because it was so dark, we decided to take the only form of transport available on the island, a horse drawn carriage.

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