Volcanized in the last days of Java

A few words here in the beginning this time:

Indonesia is becoming one of our favorite countries we have to admit. Friendly helpful people everywhere, astonishing landscapes and even though the traffic in some areas and the street conditions are a nightmare we really do enjoy it. Going around here and getting known the details and differences in each area is just astonishing. We prolonged already our visa but we feel already sad of the idea leaving the country and not having seen places like Sulawesi, Papua or Borneo… Anyhow for sure we have to come back to meet all the incredible people we became friends and also visit many places which are outstanding!

We divided this section in three parts as we took way too many pictures of these astounding places we have been visited… and we will try to pass you some background information about the locations as well. But for anyone who is more interested at a certain location please look it up in the net… because conditions are changing constantly and we are not an encyclopedia ;)

Mt Merapi – beauteous and scary at the same time…

Mt Merapi, the mountain of fire, is a real active volcano, actually the most active one in Indonesia. The last eruption was in 2010 and still you can see the impact… beauteous and scary at the same time. The people told us how intensive they could feel the eruption and the shakes. It was raining ashes for several weeks in Jogja which is about 50 km away. Thanks to Johnny (a friend of Shinta and Andy) and his cousin we went up little narrow roads and through the lava river to have the closest spot in the dawn. We got internal information about the activity of this volcano and had an amazing trip together with them. Some of the houses we saw have been covered with ashes till the top of the roof. At the same time it is just a big playground, sandbox for all Off-road enthusiasts… Thank you Johnny for taking us there and showing us the place!

At this point we would like to THANK Shinta again! She gave us a lovely home in Jogja and introduced us to her nice family and friends!!! Hope to see you soon again!

1. Dreamlike Mt Bromo…

We skipped Borobudur… we have seen many temples; it is vacation period… not in the mood to see some ruins crowded with tourists and “hello mister people”.  It will look the same in 5 or 10 years… still time for that one day.

So we were heading direction Mt Bromo. BUT at an unusual approach… We entered the area from the northwestern part over Totur (I guess riding the bike there you could call it as well: “Torture”). It was misty cloudy and looked like rain but we stock with the plan we had… Driving up a narrow path not to be called a road anymore we reached the mountain villages at 2400m altitude. Passing accidents on the track of touring trips with jeeps we were happy not dependent on one of those. We entered the scenery of the volcanic area after a long and steep uphill climb.  Caused by the mist and upcoming rain we chose the loop around instead of going through the volcanic sand desert. What a mistake that was! Again like we already experienced in Berastagi area we were heading down the more or less none existing road in a big loop: steep down on shitty trails full of big stones and pot holes. And of course it started to rain as well. Finally we reached Mt Bromo viewpoint area at the northeastern part in the darkness. At the next morning we saw what easy road it would have been to go the straight way through the Sea Of Sand, just 10km a bit of sand… Have a look at the Route Section to have a lough…

Located in a homestay we settled after some negotiation, had a snack and a tea in a local Warung while looking at the stars and put the alarm clock at 3am!  We did not wanted to be in a sandstorm of jeeps going up the hill for the sunrise…Nevertheless we overpassed many of them… We do not know how many went up there in the end… But we did right! We enjoyed seeing the sunrise in this dreamlike scenario. And the secret was just to stay a little bit longer than all the others…

So we could enjoy the Bromo View in the end more or less alone…, when we went down towards the temple and the crater nearly everybody was gone already. The crater we went up when everybody came down already… in the end we were ALONE on the top of the crater.  The whole landscape looks… hard to find the right words… it is really unreal but incredible beautiful!!!! And finally Sascha had a lot of fun driving through the Sea Of Sand which is surrounding the crater – I guess you can imagine!!! :-)

As well we had a look around the more uncommon areas and we were leaving about early afternoon Mt Bromo  happy and full of impressions!

Impressive Mt Ijen (we are becoming volcano experts ;-) and crossing to Bali

Not that far away but still a fair bit of a ride… When we entered the idjen plantation area where they grow coffee, cacao, and fruits we felt a bit like in a fairy tale… having another wake up coffee with the smoking Ijen in the background we were continuing through this more or less non touristic region which has a one-kilometer-wide turquoise-colored acid crater lake. The lake is at the side of a labor-intensive sulfur mining operation, in which sulfur-laden baskets are carried by hand from the crater floor.

We spend one night up there. We built up our tent and we were chatting, laughing and eating with the workers at their fire place. It is hard to put our impressions and feelings in words… this is one of the hardest jobs in the world we guess. Each of the buckets they carry up the crater and then down this 3km steep dirt track is about 60kg… Unreal!

Early the next morning we had rice breakfast with coffee at a local place – and we could see already the guys coming down with their sulfur buckets. For us it was time to leave direction ferry port and we were driving down to the east coast.

We bought a ticket hopped on the ferry and 30 minutes later we entered Bali. We decided to go first to the north coast and as soon as we left the main road we were driving nearly alone on a perfect tarmac road. Wow! This we did not have for a long time…

Bali is different. The style of buildings is different and you have a great infrastructure. Indonesian`s tourism island number one. Even though we went north where less tourism is supposed to be, it is still nearly everywhere developed: resorts, homestays and hotels on each corner. Nearly everybody is speaking English and the prices increased considerably in comparison to all other places we had been before so far in Indonesia. A little bit outside of Lovina beach in the little fishing village of Anturan we stayed directly at the beach front for two nights. It was time for swimming, chilling and starting to work a little bit on our next update.

Currently we stay in Ubud located in the hilly inland surrounded by rice paddies. It´s focus remains on Balinese culture and around are temples, ancient sites and handicraft villages. Sometimes it seems you are driving through a giant museum. We found a nice place a little bit outside in the jungle for a fair price. A huge room with terrace facing the jungle, own bathroom with hot shower, drinking water, coffee and tea and much as we want and a great breakfast included for about 8€. This we took as our base to explore the rest of Bali and finishing our update of the blog.

Yesterday we went to Denpasar for shopping and today we will have a look at the Batur volcano area and probably visiting some temples or ancient sites on the way. But actually we are looking forward to go over to Lombok as soon as possible – perhaps already tomorrow…

Route section updated

Hello everybody,

the Route Section is now updated till Bali… now we are going slowly over to Lombok…

next Update is in progress, we took so many photos it will take some days to sort them…

Route Section

cheers Sascha and Kerstin

Last days in Sumatra – An incredibale warm welcome in Java

… from Danau Minanjau, Padang to Krui along the west coast, Danau Ranau, Kalianda

Recovered we left lake Minanjau on a mountain road towards the west coast. Smelling the sea we rode down until we reached a little beach south of Padang. We had a jump into the ocean and were chilling at the beach directly in front of our room until late night. Heading further south along the coast the rain caught us half way to Krui. Krui is a well-known surf location and we had difficulties to find a non over prized accommodation. In the end we did, we hung out our clothes for drying and went for dinner. Unfortunately the food was not good and the result was that Kerstin hanging on the toilet for the whole night. Not feeling well and flabby we decided to go only until Danau Ranau a small volcanic lake close by in the mountain. Not many accommodation offers in that area are available but in the end we found a nice family where we could stay with a view over the lake and got served with tea.

Time was running and we started the next morning direction Kalianda which is just 40 km away from the ferry port to Java. Cruising around at the end of the day to find a room Kerstin lost her rain liner which she was carrying in her hands – stupid! But feeling broken-down and dizzy without eating the last two days it was not really surprising that something like that would happen… Of course we had a look around immediately when we recognized it, but if you lose anything here it will be picked up by anybody within seconds for sure. While having dinner (time for Kerstin to try eating some plain rice) in the garden of a restaurant Sascha saw his first wild cobra! Two cats were playing with something in a bush when suddenly the cobra rose up, it was only a baby but nevertheless Sascha was trying to explain the owner of the place that he has a snake in his garden. When he got it everybody was shouting immediately “ular! ular!” and started hunting. We learned a new vocabulary and they caught the snake ;-)

The next morning we left for the ferry to Java. We were in contact already with Lutson, a member of the HTML- Club (Honda Tiger) from Tangerang and he organized that we get picked up by some club members from Cilegon which is close to the ferry port. We jumped on the ferry and after 2,5 hours we arrived at Java. A view minutes later three guys from the HTML-Club arrived. They escorted us until we got out of Cilegon on the right road to Tangerang. It was just great how fast we got through the traffic! The last 20km before Tangerang were really painful: The traffic turned crazy, the road became more and more narrow and full of pot holes and we were more standing than driving – nearly wide as a car with the panniers on it is impossible to sneak through the cars, trucks and busses. Finally we arrived at the meeting point where other HTML members were already waiting for us. Ivan, the head of the HTML-Club for the Tangerang district invited us to stay in his place where we drove all together.

 

… Tangerang, Bandung, Pangandaran, Dieng Plateau, Yogyakarta

Honestly! These guys are incredible!!! Everybody welcomed us so hearty and everybody was offering his help. The hospitality of Ivan and his family was just unbelievable!!! We found a “home” and GREAT NEW FRIENDS!!! The plan was to get a new front tire in Tangeran. But in the end thanks to the help of Ivan, Lutson and all the others we got as well a new horn (Sascha was dreaming of getting a truck horn since a long time alreadyJ) and we could extend our visa within two days for another month (time is running just to fast hereJ). And the most important: Our new friends introduced us to their culture, their life style, their tradition and their great hospitality. We joint the weekly HTML-Club meeting, we attended a traditional celebration for pregnancy, we got served traditional food all day around, we had our first Durian (a smelly but delicious fruit) and we were accompanied wherever we had to go. Thanks to Pitri, Ivans wife, we felt like home and additional got done all our laundry. And thanks to Fathir, their lovely little sun we learned a lot of new vocabularies and had always a nice entertainerJ

We were really sad after 4 days to leave but we are sure we will see them all again… one day! There are no existing words to impress how much we enjoyed meeting YOU ALL!

Of course we got escorted out of Tangerang by Lutson and we got the contact of the HTML-Club head of Bandung district, Lutfee, who was welcoming us with his friends before we reached the city. They helped us to find a place for the night and we enjoyed riding at the back of their tigers up the hill to have dinner together with a great view over Bandung at night. The next day they accompanied us out of Bandung. Heading direction Pangandaran we enjoyed the ride over the mountain roads while catching some views to the volcanic scenery. The traffic became less and less and in the middle of the way we got stopped on the road by a group of traveller. It was the “Ring of Fire” team: A family who is riding on Tenerees around Indonesia and working on a great documentary for the local television and for the Discovery Channel. They invited us for lunch and we had the chance to exchange our experiences. We got great tips for riding from them and we could watch some of their impressive videos.

When we reached Pangandaran at the south coast we found an accommodation in a guesthouse of another HTML member ;-) The next day we explored the close by Green Canyon, the coast line around and the nature reserve area. The sunset we spend swimming and sitting and the white beach, watching the monkeys, deer and huge bats.

The next destination was the Dieng Plateau, a high plateau surrounded by volcanoes. It was a great riding day. And a lovely scenery when we reached our destination with misty green hills and swirling clouds within the volcanic landscape. We had a look around in the dawn until it turned dark and the next morning we started at 5AM to hike up to the view point. Later on after breakfast we were riding around the plateau area up to the mountain villages and the volcano lakes finally heading direction Yogyakarta.

We had an invitation from Andy to stay with him in Yogyakarta. Unfortunately he had to leave for a job so we will not meet him personally. His lovely girlfriend, Shinta, welcomed and guided us around. Yogya is a nice city, with small lanes, not much traffic, a lot of green, cultural scenery… we had some walks around at the water castle, Taman Sari and the underground mosque, we met Shinta`s family, got invited in her uncle´s restaurant which is located in a part of the royal palace and who is riding a tiger as well. Today we will go together with a friend of Andy, Tommy, up to Mt Merapi, Mountain of Fire. It is Indonesia´s most active volcano. He knows the area very well and we are looking forward having a nice afternoon on the motorcycle!

As you can see, we have a lovely time here in Indonesia and we are impressed by the hospitality, the friendliness and last but not least the breathtaking landscapes. As we do not have internet connection that regular like in other countries, the up-dates are less often and perhaps a bit longer… We hope you enjoy it anyhow!

 

Sumatra …

… Danau Toba – Reunion with Nick and Kanchan

Danau Toba was just the right place to hang and drive around – we loved it!!! Finally Nick and Kanchan arrived as well from Malaysia and we could explore the landscapes partially together. But… of course we had to continue one day and we were heading direction Berastagi…

… Getting wet and riding a hard treck: Berastagi, Bukit Lawang, Medan, Taratung, Lake Maninjau

We chose the way along Lake Toba with incredible views and some strange “creatures” along the way, like a giant metal fish in the middle of the jungle which was supposed to be restaurant ones upon the time… When we arrived in Berastagi we were welcomed by a school class in the middle of the town and had to take several pictures with all of them. Close by there was a little volcano which we explored. We spend the night in a nice little guesthouse up the hill and planned for the next day to go to Bukit Lawang. We asked several people if the road over the mountains still exists, we got several different answers and we just decided to give it a go.

So we left the next morning quite early. We were passing a little volcano lake and driving up nice narrow roads. The road led to the jungle up the mountain and we reached 1850m above sea level with stunning views. Now the downhill part started and the road turned to rough gravel with big loose stones and muddy clay ground steep down… at one point already sweaty and Kerstin was already walking partially we were stopping, watching the “road” and thinking of going back. It was so steep and clear if we go down here there is no return.  Suddenly we were over passed by a guy on his little scooter hopping down the big steps and stones! OK! Let us try it! The next three hours we were sweating and cursing and Kerstin was mostly walking down – HOLY SHIT! Additional a monsoon rain rushed in… this was too much. The bike felt down, up again… nothing we could do except continuing. Finally we reached a village in the middle of the jungle and we took cover under a wooden roof while the road became a river. It did not look at all like it would stop raining so we continued – exhausted, completely wet and meanwhile freezing. After a while the road became partially a road again and the rain stopped. We were looking forward and hoped to reach Bukit Lawang before dawn. So we did!!! We found a place to stay and went for dinner and to sleep… It was not the nicest place to stay, it was hot and muggy and the sleep was not good at all. At 5 am Sascha jumped out of the bed, shouting on somebody and cursing like hell. Somebody was trying to grab into our window. What a night (mare)!!!

When we went up we were sleep-deprived and felt every bone and muscle. We had a swim in the river and at noon we got the message that out new screen for our GPS arrived in Medan – a real good message! We left immediately and met our friend Awi. Thanks to him we did not have to go to the center, we met him outside. We did not have much time unfortunately and we left Medan with a heavy rain. The rain went with us until we reached Berastagi – soaked to the skin we met Nick and Kanchan for Dinner and were fixing our GPS afterwards. HURRAY it is working again!!!

Together we left the next day passing Lake Toba and reaching Taratung via the mountains. Driving within Indonesia is definitely more time consuming than elsewhere! The landscapes are beautiful but the streets are bad. So we did only around 180km the next day – sometimes the average is 30km per hour   ;-(  And it is not easy to find places to stay where there is no tourism. Yesterday we reached Lake Maninjau, a volcanic lake, next to Bukettinggi and we were all looking forward to have at least one day break to recover (our bones and muscles are still hurting), hanging around with the monkeys and catch up for you guys! It is a peaceful relaxed place and we are enjoying it a lot!!!