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Reisverslag monkeys, fish and vulcanos in western indonesia
17 mei 2016
monkeys, fish and vulcanos in western indonesia
It’s been a month ago that I arrived in Indonesia. A lot of new adventures, to many to describe in this weblog, so I will make a selection of the most impressing moments.
I arrived in Medan, capital of Sumatra, and was warned that it was not a very safe city, with not many tourists. Well, that’s true, I met only 3 white people during 1,5 days and one of them was a dutchman who warned me again that people try to rip you off whenever they can, so be very arrogant and self secure and try to travel together with other people. Next day I had to take a local minibus from Medan busstation to go to Bukit Lawang in the jungle. Arriving at the busstation, 5 boys run up to me and told me my bus would be there in 10 minutes. Many minibuses left the platform, but none of them apparently was bound to go to Bukit Lawang. After 30 minutes they showed me an empty minibus, no driver, but I had to get in. I didn’t trust it, but 5 minutes later another guy walked upto the bus who appeared to be the driver. Two women got in, so I stepped in myself. Then the boys told me I had to pay 150.000 Rp (10 euro) to them. I know you normally pay when you arrive and it should be around 20.000 Rp, so I denied. They kept on talking to me and said I had to get of the bus. The driver didn’t react so I still didn’t pay, but when the bus finally left, two of the boys went with me on the bus. OMG!! 2 minutes later the bus stopped again and the driver got off. Again the boys on the bus warned me I had to pay or I had to get off. When the driver came back after 5 minutes, I noticed he was trying to drive off with the bus, and eventually the boys got off. Then the driver gave me his ‘thumb up’ so I did a good job, although I would have liked when he actually would have supported me before. Anyway, this was a good warning to always be alert with payments and prices in Indonesia. From that day on I tried to travel with more people and in a more expensive but reliable way.
Bukit lawang is one of the few touristic places on Sumatra. This is the place to see orang utans in the wild. So I booked a guided tour and spent 3 days hiking up- and downhill through the jungle, together with 4 other dutch peole, sweating about 5 liters per day, looking for the ‘forestman’ (= orang utan) and other monkey species. Every afternoon we arrived at a basic camp next to a river so we could cool down. The last day we went back to the village by tubing (floating on a big tractor tube in the water).
The next day we took a rest and hang around a small hidden beach next to a river. I lost my neckledge during a dive from the rocks but luckily the water was quite clear,though full of leaves and stones. After 10 minutes I suddenly saw it on the bottom but then the challenge was actually get it back without diving goggles. Fortunately after 3 dives I managed to hit the right spot and at the moment I was getting out of air, I suddenly felt it, so although unexpected I managed to recover it.
After leaving the jungle and friendly local people I continued to Lake Toba, the biggest crater lake in the world. Inside the lake is a big island, the size of Singapore, where the Batak people live. Especially their houses are very typical, with high pointed roofs and beautiful wood carvings.
My plan was to continue further south towards Java, but I found out that there’s not a lot of interesting places in the centre and south of Sumatra, so instead I travelled all the way to Banda Aceh in the north of Sumatra. It’s a real moslim area, where people live according to the Sharia, so no alcohol or women without Hijab, but it’s a safe and friendly place, though absolutely not touristic.
There is not much proof of the devastating 2004 Tsunami that destroyed the whole city, except for a giant ship that was moved 4km inside the land and is still there as a museum and reminder of what happened.
Banda Aceh has no tourists,but the small Island north of it, Pulau Weh, attracts many tourists, domestic and international. That’s for a reason because the water on the north side of the Island is shallow, transparant and full of tropical fish, so a perfect snorkelling place, although even from my hammock on the balcony in front of my room I could watch them. WOW!
Unfortunately indonesian people don’t care a lot about beautiful nature so the whole coastline and water is full of plastic bags and bottles an other garbage and most coral is destroyed through tourism and fishing. Nevertheless I was so beautiful that instead of my planned 3 days, I stayed for 5 days, enjoying the peace, the marine life and the excellent food.
When I eventually managed to leave this paradise, I made my way to Jakarta. The old centre is supposed to show the big influence of the dutch, but actually all traditional buildings are seriously falling apart and the nice rivers are used as a common waste bin and sewage system. The big governemental buildings that are still in use, don’t resemble anything that I would describe as ‘typical dutch’. Fortunately I met a nice local man in Jakarta who spoke very good english and loved to show me around the city. He even introduced me in the nightlive by taking me to a Karaoke bar. I always thought people would perform in front of a big public, but no. everyone rents his small private room with soft seats to sing together with his friends. Weird people, those Indo’s!!
Next destination was Jogjakarta, the most touristic city on Java. When I arrived there I found out that whole Indonesia had a four-day long holidayweekend, so apart from western tourists, the city was filled with local tourists. I had planned to apply for my visa extension here and because of these extra free days, I had to wait for 8 days before the new visa was finished. (The day before I could pick it up, they suddenly told me it would take 2 more days, but I didn’t accept that and a bit later they said that probably it would be ready next day. Luckily it was, because I didn’t want to wait another 2 days).
While waiting I visited the world famous Borobudur, the oldest buddhist temple in the world. I was definitely not the only tourist there, and in contrary with the temples in Angkor Wat, this one is just one temple with no access to go inside, but still all foreign tourists have to pay $20 to see it. Locals pay around $3 by the way. The same type of discrimination can be witnessed at the entrance of a big Hindu temple complex called Prambanan, also close to Jogja. I tried to get in as a local, but as I don’t speak the local language, they didn’t believe me.
As I had to wait a week for my visa and passport, I had so time to just hang around the city walking around with no fixed plan. These turned out to the best days because two days in a row, a local girl walked up to me, wanting to practise their english and getting to know western people. One of them was so happy to get to know me that she showed me around for the next 3 days and functioned as my translator whenever necessary.
Another thing I managed to do while hanging around the city, is applying for a job in the Netherlands. One of the schools reacted very soon and invited me for a job interview and luckily I found a strong Wifi connection at a university building so I could have a Skype conversation with them.
When finally my new visa was finished, I could move on towards the east of Java and see some active vulcanos. I didn’t want to loose a lot of time getting to the vulcanos, so I booked an organised 3day trip this time. After a whole day of driving towards a village close to Mt Bromo, I could sleep 4 hours before getting up at 3.30am to watch the sunrise over Mt Bromo and the neighbouring vulcanos. It was definitely worth the early wake-up but again, I wasn’t the only tourist on the lookout spot. The climb to the rim from the car drop-off is only 20 minutes and there are stairs in the vulcano to make sure any tourist can climb it. Weird people, those Indo’s! Though I must confess that it’s really impressing to stand on a volcano and watch the sulfuric steam coming out of its centre.
After one hour we had to get back to the car, get back to the hotel for a short shower (but warm water, first time in a month), a very basic breakbast in a little box and getting ready to drive to the next vulcano, Mount Ijen.
This time we had to get up at midnight to get into the crater before it gets light. This one is less touristic and that’s not only because the climb to the rim and down into the crater is more difficult. On the bottom of the crater is a big sulfur mining business as the hot sulfur is really streaming out of the earth here, together with lots of very toxic smoke and gasses. Even with the gasmask I was wearing, I had to sit down every now and then because the smoke was to harsh to keep standing. During the 60 minutes I spent here, I lost about 5 years of my life probably. Imagine those mineworkers who have to be here every day. I never have enjoyed breathing fresh air as when I was back down from that mountain. An interesting experience, but never again.
From Mount Ijen it’s only a short drive to the eastcoast of Java and a short ferry distance to Bali. But that story is for another time.
Foto's bij verslag (9)
18 mei 2016 21:52 | Door: Onno Roosenschoon
Very nice to read about your adventures in Indonesian, a country where my mother was born. Good that you "survived" Sumatra and Banda Atjeh. Quite some changes there the last 20 years i've heard from people who have been there. In Indonesia on Java there are still some relatives of mine living there. They had to change the surname Roosenschoon to Rosandi in the 1950ies. Interesting story, by the way.
I have never been to Indonesia myself, i hope that it will happen one time. Keep us informed, your stories are always a nice read.
Good that you already had a serious job interview, or at least a 1st talk in preparation of a job interview. It must be very nice to know you have a job when you return so we will keep our fingers crossed.
Happy traveling the next couple of months and talk to you later,
13 juni 2016 15:20 | Door: Wouter Lepp
Leuk om te lezen dat je laatste verslag geschreven is vanuit mijn geboortegrond. Zelf geboren in Bogor, getogen in Nederland.
Hoe vergaat het Maleis (of wellicht Bahasa Indonesia) je?
"Applying a job in The Netherlands." Hopelijk heeft het jou inmiddels wat concreets opgeleverd?