Saturday, 30 September 2017

Pemuteran | Bali Part 1

     We've finally reached the last location of my two month long summer trip which started way back in July, and that's Bali. My tour through Indonesia had already covered Java over the last week and a half, and now there were a few days in Bali before it ended, followed by a couple of extra days there by myself, giving me a total of a week spent there. We crossed from Java on the ferry, arriving at the port at Gilimanuk, and then taking a bus transfer to our hotel. Bali's traffic can be pretty hectic at times, with lots of narrow roads and not many alternative routes available, but the north west region that we arrived in wasn't too bad; it's around Ubud and Denpasar where you can be grid-locked for hours at a time. We were spending our first couple of nights in Pemuteran, on the north west coast, and were greeted at our hotel (Kubuku Ecolodge), with frangipani flowers, welcome drinks, and our names spelled on our beds with flower petals, much to our delight.

Pemuteran beach, Bali, Indonesia

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

East Java | Java Part 4

     After three nights in the centre of Yogyakarta, we continued on our journey east across Java, to spend our remaining nights there in three different, much more rural locations. Each of the places we stayed only needed a night there, and we typically arrived late in the day, did our activity the following morning, and continued to the next destination in the afternoon. The most popular tourist location in East Java is Mount Bromo, which was our second of the three locations; before that, we spent a night at a nature reserve in Seloliman, and afterwards a night in Kalibaru to cap off our time in Java. We departed Yogyakarta by train, and then transferred from the next station to the nature reserve by bus, the same bus which would be with us for the remainder of our time on Java.

Rice fields & volcano in East Java, Indonesia

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Yogyakarta | Java Part 3

     After a couple of days of quiet and natural scenery in Pangandaran, it was time to head inland to another city again. Yogyakarta (sometimes spelled Jogjakarta, often nicknamed Yogya/Jogja) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Java, with plenty of options of things to do and see (more so than in Jakarta generally). There's lots of culture and history here, from local industries and crafts, to ancient temples and famous sights, like the Sultan's Palace. We were back in the middle of a busy city here too, and after we arrived on the train mid-afternoon, it took a while for the bus to get us to our hotel, in the hectic, sometimes grid-locked streets of traffic. Although it's a big city, Yogyakarta felt easier to get around to me, compared to Jakarta anyway, which felt massive. Our hotel was near Jalan Prawirotaman, which has plenty of restaurants and bars, and a few shops, and there were plenty of motorbike or bicycle trishaw taxis to get to other parts of the city. On the first day, we arrived at the hotel in the late afternoon, and spent some time relaxing before heading to that street to have dinner and a couple of drinks, and get accustomed to the city a little.

Batik workshop, Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Pangandaran | Java Part 2

     We left the bustling busy streets of Jakarta behind and headed to the coast, to the quiet peninsula at Pangandaran. Apparently this town used to be very popular with tourists, but many Westerners stopped going after the tsunami there in 2006, so now the tourism businesses in town live for the weekends and holidays, and the domestic tourists that come to visit then. We were there mid-week, so it was very peaceful for the most part. We took a train from Jakarta to Central Java, then transferred to Pangandaran (in the West again) by minibus, the total journey taking almost 8 hours, but since we'd started early in the morning, it was only late afternoon when we arrived in Pangandaran.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Jakarta | Java Part 1

     Hello Indonesia! This is the final country on my crazy 9 week long summer trip, before I eventually fly home. I'll be here for about two and a half weeks, travelling through Java and Bali, starting with the second half of my Intrepid group trip, before I spend a few extra days in Bali on my own at the end. I flew from Singapore, after finishing the first half of the trip there, arriving in Jakarta just an hour and a half later, then catching a taxi to the hotel; public transport isn't very good in Indonesia apparently! I did have a few hours to spare that afternoon, but I was feeling pretty exhausted - especially after how busy we were in Singapore! - and Jakarta is a big city, so there wasn't too much close to the hotel, so I just stayed in and relaxed instead. That evening we had the welcome meeting for this half of the trip, and there are five of us in this group - after just four on the first half, these have been my smallest Intrepid groups so far! We had dinner together too, and our tour leader took us to Sabang Street, to eat some local Indonesian food. I've already noticed that fired rice, fried noodles, and sate skewers are pretty much staples on every menu, and I've tried all of them so far - that first night was chicken sate (which is the same as satay by the way!) for me.

Fatahillah Square & Si Jagur fertility cannon, Little Holland Old Town, Jakarta, Indonesia

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Singapore in 1 Day

     How to see the best of Singapore in less than 24 hours? That was the question facing us, as the first part of my group tour was coming to an end. I booked one long trip, lasting 4 weeks, but it's composed of two shorter ones, and the group and leader would be changing for the second half. This also meant I couldn't book any extra time in Singapore, as I had to fly on to Indonesia immediately. We left Melaka in the morning, and took the public bus down to Singapore, which of course meant crossing the border, by disembarking the bus twice to pass out through Malaysian immigration, and in through Singapore's. We arrived at the hotel in the middle of the afternoon, and only had the rest of that day to explore, as my next flight was first thing in the morning!

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Monday, 4 September 2017

Melaka | Malaysia Part 3

     When travelling to other places, I strongly encourage you to check if there are any holidays taking place while you are there; for instance, it's recommended to avoid China during Lunar New Year, as everything is congested and expensive. I didn't do this when booking all my travelling this summer, and therefore didn't know that Malaysia's National Day falls on the 31st of August. We already saw the celebratory fireworks at midnight back in Kuala Lumpur, which was definitely a good aspect of being there during a holiday. And we were spending the actual holiday travelling from KL to our final destination in Malaysia, Melaka, which took longer than usual because of traffic (2 hours increased to about 3.5), but meant we weren't doing much else that day. However, as it fell on a Thursday, most of the country was taking a long weekend - related fact, Malaysia has more public holidays than any other country - so on our full day in Melaka, the Friday, almost everything was closed! We still managed to do a few things, and it was nice to have some time to just relax, but it was a little frustrating too. So, this post might be shorter than some of my others!

Clocktower, church and trishaws at the Dutch Square, Melaka, Malaysia

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Kuala Lumpur | Malaysia Part 2

     Penang and Kuala Lumpur definitely feel like very different places! Where Penang is filled with British colonial architecture, and quaint Chinese jetties and the old town, KL is a modern, multicultural metropolis, fitting for the capital of such a melting-pot country. Evidence of its history and culture is still apparent, especially for us since our hotel was in Chinatown, but it's combined with towering skyscrapers and international brand names. By this point in the trip, we had a better idea about Malaysia's history too, so we could better understand the enthusiasm bubbling in the city, as they were approaching their National Day, the 60th anniversary of their independence, which we would witness more of at the end of our time in KL. The SEA games had also been taking place, and were coming to a close, so the city was certainly full of activity! Our arrival came after a few hours on a bus from Penang, and a private bus transfer from the terminal to our hotel, putting us there in the middle of the afternoon.

I <3 KL sign, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Friday, 1 September 2017

Penang | Malaysia Part 1

     A new day, a new country! My time in Thailand is up now, and I've crossed into Malaysia, a melting pot country of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures. It was a long travel day to get there, with about a 5 hour drive on the Thailand side, then another 3 (I think, there was a traffic jam too) on the Malaysian side. The border crossing itself was pretty easy itself, taking the bus there and walking through, stamping out of one country and into the next (no landing cards or customs forms either!), and getting on our next bus on the other side. I'll be spending about a week in Malaysia, visiting its most notable towns and cities, first up being Penang. I hadn't actually realised this was an island at first, though that shouldn't be surprising since I didn't know much about it at all. It's connected to the mainland by two massive bridges, one of which we drove over on arrival, and the other when we left two days later. Penang was the first place to be colonised by the British, and there's still plenty evidence of that, especially in the area we were staying in, Georgetown, named after the British monarch of the time, as well other cultures represented, like in Chinatown and Little India.

Chinese clan jetties, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

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