Our blog which is now focusing on our travels in Europe during the Winters and working across the UK in the Summers.
It also has all our adventures from travelling India and South East Asia in 2018, the Philippines in 2020 and Sri Lanka in 2021/22
After being woken at 6:15 by the morning call to prayer we
waited for the Javanese style breakfast we’d been promised the day before. At
7am the tap on the door came and Paul went out to fetch a tray with 2 plain
omelettes and a pile of toast with cheese and chocolate on it! The egg was
quite nice but the toast was so stale/ toasted that it was now a closer
relation to a Farley’s Rusk and cheese with chocolate sauce does not go. The
coffee wasn’t much better and we quickly grabbed our things and left before
they could poison us further.
We knew we had to get a bus from Wonosobo to
Semarang but that was as far as we’d got with our plans, so next stop was the
bus terminal. Upon arriving we wandered around looking lost until directed to a
small booth. Here they asked where we were going, clarified that it would be a
mini van that left at 9, and relieved us of 140k rph, then at 8:50 a guy rushes
over to us and gestures that we needed to get in a big 6 seater car with 2
other Indonesian ladies as this would be our transport to the city.
should take about 3hrs but this guy managed to get us there in about 1.5
because his foot was either on the gas or the brake – there was no in-between
and I was very glad to get out in one piece at the end although I felt as sick
as a pig.
Our accommodation for the next 2 nights was a Quest hotel
near Chinatown, same chain as the Favehotel in Jakarta and Neo hotel in
Yogyakarta. It was a slightly tired looking business hotel but it was cheap and
included a buffet breakfast. The most pressing need was for us to get some
laundry done, so a quick freshen up and we went out to explore with our 5kg of
The first place was shut for a week due to staff holidays, the second
and third places were closed because it was Sunday but hidden away on a back
street was Sweety Laundry and here amongst the rats and litter we left our
clothes and agreed to collect them the following evening.
Gasping for a drink
we stopped at the first little resto we saw and gazed at the non English menu
wondering what we should try. Help arrived with a young waitress that was eager
to practise the English she was learning at uni, so after talking about
weather, London, high heeled shoes and sneakers she helped translate the menu
for us. I’d already sussed that a local speciality was Lumpia – a kind of
spring roll, so we had a couple of them and something the waitress recommended
called Es Campur. Es Campur was basically a bowl of shaved / crushed ice, some
weird cubes of fruit jelly, coconut shavings and a sickly sweet syrup. It was
certainly different but way too sweet for me.
That evening we walked down the road to a street food market
which was near. The smells and sights was amazing and I think this might have
been the best night market we have been to on our travels. We grazed on satay
stick, pork belly, squid, dim sum and ice cream marshmallows, until we were
Near the entrance to the market we spotted a tobacco shop and as I was
running out of baccy and it wasn’t sold in the normal stores I went to have a
look. It was just like being in an old fashioned pharmacy or sweetshop but
instead of medicines and candy, the jars and bottles were filled with various
shades of brown tobacco. I was slightly out of my depth but the guys working
there were nice and showed me the ones that were most like what I was using,
and you were welcome to try anything you wanted before you purchased.
One of the main reasons we stopped in Semarang was because
I’d read about the rainbow village they have here. It’s only a collection of
houses on a hill that have all been painted in different colours but it looked
very cool. The walk there was along a large waterway, which was used more as an
open sewer, as we saw one local squat to demonstrate that morning, but everyone
you pass smiles and shouts ‘Halo Mister’ so even amongst the dirt and the
litter it was a nice walk.
It was hot in Semarang, the buildings effectively
stop any breeze and as the bricks and concrete heat up they blast warmth back
out, by the time we’d walked the 30mins to the rainbow village we were in a
The rainbow village colours although slightly faded are still
beautiful as the residents have painted every brick wall, garden fence, door
frame, window frame and even the paths a different colour, they have also hung
bright flags and streamers out so the whole hill side looks like a festival. We
walked up and down the little lanes taking some pictures, dodging chickens and
cats and saying ‘Selemat Pagi’ to all the residents.
Nearby there was a huge colonial building which was the
former headquarters of the Dutch East Indies Railway (Lawang Sewu). It has been
extensively renovated and is now a local landmark with some historical exhibits
inside, replica trains and large function halls that they rent out. The architecture
is stunning and although the exhibits were all in Indonesian we had great fun
walking around the slightly spooky maze of empty rooms and doors leading off.
We didn’t see any tour guides when we went, which was a shame as I hear this
building has some rather gruesome stories associated with its past and is
supposed to be haunted – something to do with the basement being used as a
Japanese prison and executions taking place. We did go up into the roof to see
the small group of bats that live there but weren’t brave enough to climb the
rickety ladder up into the 2 bell type towers overlooking the grounds.
We didn’t do much that evening except collect our
beautifully laundered clothes and ate at the hotel.
Early morning we squeezed in a buffet breakfast and then got
a taxi to the train station. We had a two leg train journey to make today and
the first was a 4hr trip to Surabaya, then a change of station and a second 2hr
trip to Proboliggo. The east-west and north-south train tracks don’t meet up so you have to change stations in Surabaya, which just means a taxi through the
busy streets but was easier said than done. Up until now we’d had no problems getting Grab taxis from trains
and airports but this now changed as the local taxi companies have monopolised
any pick ups near tourist spots, we didn’t realise this and it took quite a few
cancelled Grabs and a walk away from the station before we could get a pickup. We
had a few hours to kill before our train so went for some lunch at a nearby
mall and then walked to the second station.
As we were on this train for sunset
we got given a free meal and drink to celebrate the breaking of the Ramadan
fast. It was just Nasi Goreng (fried rice with egg) but was very tasty and it
was nice not to have to sneak sips of drink for the last few mins of the
Arriving at Proboliggo we again were accosted by the taxi touts that
wanted to charge us 60k rph to go a short distance to our homestay, on principle
we said we’d walk although neither of us really fancied a 30min walk with
backpacks on. We didn’t have to walk long down the road though as a 6 seater
pulled over and said he’d take us for 30k, which was much more reasonable.
chosen accommodation for here was Clover Homestay which had great reviews and
offered info and tours to Mt Bromo. We had a ground floor aircon room with
bathroom just across from the reception / seating area, which was already
filling up with other travellers discussing tours for the following day. We had
a chat with the owner and he told us all about Mt Bromo, what tours he could
arrange, how to do it on public transport and even helped with train stations
and routes for the next bit of our journey.
We ended up with a sunrise Bromo tour with 4
other guests (so it worked out very cheap), but it would leave at 2:30 so we’d
need to be getting organised and in bed early.He even let us pay by card in advance, with 3% bank fee, as we didn’t
have much cash. A quick trip to the supermarket for snacks and water then back
for a delicious meal at the homestay, and they even had a cold beer on offer.
2am and the last thing I felt like doing was getting in a
car with 4 strangers, driving an hour + and then climbing up a volcano… but
that’s exactly what we did. We were sharing the car with a couple from Germany
and an English couple, all of us were doing a similar route round Indonesian so
the conversation flowed as we compared notes on different places. The sunrise
stop is on King Kong hill, located on the old crater rim.
You arrive with
enough time to have a coffee at the car park then walk as slowly as you need up
to the different view points, you can even get a pony to take you up but I
wouldn’t have submitted any animal to carrying my weight up that steep concrete
road. There are no signs to direct you up to the viewing platforms but we just
kept climbing up as long as there was a clear path or steps (sometimes these
steps were still under construction or a landslide had wiped them out) and soon
we arrived at a large walled area that looked like that too was under construction.
You could clamber a bit further but you would be clinging onto muddy slopes and tree
roots so we all stayed put, plus although chilly it certainly was not cold and
everyone was hot and sweaty by this time.
I’ll admit that if I hadn’t seen the most amazing sunrise at
Dieng Plateau a few days prior I’d have been disappointed with this one, as the
actual horizon that the sun comes up over is obscured by the side of the hill
you are standing on.
What was magical was the way the sun flooded through the
valley and slowly lit up the crater below you, where you could see the smoking
crater of Mt Bromo, the green slopes of Mount Batok with the large and looming
Mount Semeru in the background. It was very beautiful and the only thing that
would have made it perfect was to be able to see the sun breaking the horizon.
We even saw Mount Semeru give off a puff of smoke but we couldn’t be sure if it
wasn’t just a cloud lined up perfectly with the summit.
Having taken 500+
photos each we walked back down to join the driver and went down the mountain a
bit and onto the next bit of the tour. This involved a change of vehicle to a
4x4 and we were soon speeding across the sand to the foot of the active Mt
The cars drop you off about 800m from the base and you walk the final
bit across the uneven terrain and then finally up 253 steps to the crater rim. Again
you can get a surefooted pony to take you most of the way, and although these
didn’t look like unhealthy or thin animals we declined their transport and I
was very glad we were first onsite as didn’t want to think what state they’d
have been in by mid-day.
The sight that meets you at the top of the stairs is
worth every step; steeply sloping sides lead your eye down to a steaming /
smoking hole where you can just about see bubbling mud and yellow sulphur
deposits. There is a concrete rail around the edge of the first bit you climb
up to but a short walk left or right and this disappears and you can walk a bit further on
the narrow rim edge with nothing to stop you toppling down into the volcano.
Another 500 photos and we went back to our 4x4 for the journey back to the
homestay for breakfast. As it was now about 9am the 4 others from the tour were
literally grabbing their bags and shoveling down their food as the taxis
arrived to take them to the station. We’d decided we were too old for that sort
of rushing around, plus we had time on our side, so we’d booked an extra night
at Clover. This meant after breakfast we had the luxury of going back to bed
and catching up on sleep… which was bliss.
After a few more hours kip, some photo sorting and book
reading we went out to the common area to have a drink. The manager joined us
and we had a really nice chat about local customs, different areas in Java,
Muslim practises and his own travels around the world.
Although the food had
been great at the homestay we decided to venture out that night and having
wandered around a bit we found a restaurant called D&C 19. It was very busy
with locals here and the menu was all in Indonesian but we knew a few things to
order by now so had Nasi Goreng, Beef Redang and Tempe.
It was very nice and
although they had warned me off a spicy version of the rice, it was actually
the beef redang that knocked our socks off. The best bit was the final price as
for everything including two iced milos only came to about £3.50.
Yet another short monthly update, it's now 5 months (22 weeks) since being back in the UK so here is what's happened since last the last blog. We splashed out and got some new crockery and new saucepans, frying pan etc as we were fed up using the ones we had since getting Daisy which actually came with her! Daisy got a few more bits of work done for the MOT, including front brake pipes & hoses, caliper and the previously mentioned power steering issue was just a pipe which saved us a lot of money. Anyway she passed her MOT first time, with only a couple of advisories which will be sorted soon, so that's a relief and now means her MOT is a July date which suits us better as we will be in the UK around that time each year. So with the MOT done and the leak fixed, we took off up to the Peak District for an overnight stay at a pub campsite, just to get out of the city for a bit and also I had a couple of DIY jobs needing doing which required hook up. First up was a small
Can't believe we have been away exactly 6 months already, seems to me as if it has flown in! 😯 I just wanted to post this interactive map that I have been using to plot our route so far, it has a point for every place we have had overnight stay or a flight transfer. It's only when I look back over it, then does the time feel slower and I realise it was a long time ago that we swam in the beaches of Goa! Here is a link to some of the stats - Click here View Full Size Travel Map So what is the plan for the next couple of months and beyond? Well after our 8 weeks in Indonesia, we fly to Ho Chi Minh City and travel up Vietnam, then probably over into Laos and then into Cambodia. Then money permitting, we may go back into Thailand and do the northern part, although we did originally plan to be away a year, it's looking more likely it will be 10 months or so. x
So the first day has been at Vasco de Gama. We only picked this place because it was so close to the airport and when you land at 1am all you want is a nice bed for a couple of nights. The hotel is really nice, we have a double bed each, a balcony, plus a toilet/wet room complete with built in viewing window. We slept most of the day and then went for a wander into town in the afternoon. The roads are chaos and everyone was staring at the 2 crazy westerners walking along side the cows, goats, dogs and locals.... There are no tourists in this town and everyone wants to shake your hand and say 'Hi'. Sadly town at that time is mostly industrial car workshops, closed pharmacies, closed bars and hardly any people but on the way back to the hotel we found a dingy little bar with 2 beer fridges and some locals having a curry and pints. 2 kingfishers later and after they started closing all the shutters and doors with us inside, we thought it best to go back to the hotel.