Monday, March 12, 2007

Java Island - Indonesia

I flew from Singapore (see blog) to Yogyakarta on March 8th and soon learned that the flight I almost booked for the day before crashed upon landing killing 21. There have been many concerns about airline safety in the region due to aging aircrafts, lack of maintenance, and the need to keep flights cheap. Here is a link to one of the articles (click here).

I met a Taiwanese guy who was headed the same way so we shared a cab into the small town of Borobudur to visit a Buddhist temple that ranks among the three greatest monuments in SE Asia along with Bagan (Myanmar) and Angkor Wat (Cambodia), both of which I also plan to see on this trip. Borobudur has almost 1,500 panels that illustrate the Buddhist tales and teachings. The temple was abandoned but rediscovered in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles who was the governor of Java (main island of Indonesia) at the time and also responsible for transforming Singapore. We ended up splurging ($20 each per night) to stay at the Manohara Hotel which is directly at the base of the temple with spectacular views from everywhere including the free breakfast.

After two days at the temple we headed to the east side of Java Island to see Gunung Bromo, an active volcano in one of the most incredible volcanic landscapes I've seen. We stayed at a great hostel near the edge of the park and paid about 50,000 Rp ($5.46) per night for a private room with great views and again a free breakfast. We chartered one of the many old school Landcruisers to drive us into the crater and up to a viewpoint for sunrise. We hiked around the rim of the crater through plumes of acidic vapor. One of the many things I enjoy about traveling in developing countries is you can still venture into some of the most spectacular places, to your own peril if you're stupid enough.

I'm off to Bali (see Blog) to warm back up and find some good diving.

Daily Budget – 200,000 Rp – ($22.00 US)
Private Room – 50,000 Rp – ($5.46 US)
Internet (per hr) – 7,500 Rp – ($0.82 US)
Dinner – 25,000 Rp – ($2.73 US)
Beer – 9,000 Rp – ($0.98 US)
Flight to Malaysia – 602,000 Rp – ($65.79 US)
Load of Laundry – 25,000 Rp – ($2.73 US)

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