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Curious what backpackers do in Indonesia? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Promptly leaving India we arrived in Bali in which we pre booked an (Airbnb) 2 story house for a week. Small things like cooking for yourself are very comforting and a little cheaper here and there. We decided to enroll in a 3.5 week immersion class of Ashtanga yoga (the hardest kind) as Beth says this school is internationally known and well respected. I dislike yoga because I am terrible at it, my body does not agree with the ever so slow movement isometrically contracting whilst deep control and awareness of the breath. I get frustrated with myself very quickly and then instantly cause myself increased suffering through bad thoughts and sweat. As I am learning, everyone feels the same way about it and that's why some people love it.....and that's the point! Mastering your body and mind and self control makes the rest of your life easier just like another form of "swimology". As my wise grandfather says "results are directly related to input" so slacking will result in even more difficulty sooner or later. Thanks grandpa I was thinking of you :) !! I know that for me to continually grow outwards into my aversions in life will result in nothing but numerous positive benefits. However, on the morning of day 2, I already begrudgingly sulked to Beth and said I am uncertain on how long I will last ahaha. Today we headed to the beach to soaked up some sunshine and flop around in the water.Read more

  • So far Ubud has been an interesting experience with a somewhat of a normal routine helping reduce the inflammation of constantly travelling and adjusting to new things. Mornings filled with Ashtanga yoga, afternoon adventures and excursions. The roads here are very well maintained compared to Nepal and Thailand so a 115cc scooter has been our Lamborghini of transport. Random traffic jams caused for no reason, random torrential rain storms almost daily, no speed limits, all with a wonderful humidity sitting around 70-80%. This style of Yoga I can tell you very succinctly expresses every little muscle imbalance, weakness and lack of flexibility you might have. My spine is much happier with the trunk rotations done with so many postures and now I can experientially confirm that custom orthotics are just a band aid type solution with any imbalances whether intrinsic or extrinsic muscles of the legs and or feet. Without them my balance is similar to an abandoned new born baby kitten. Which by the way we ended up adopting one for a few weeks. We had been out running errands and had pulled over to escape another afternoon downpour of rain drops the size of bricks under an abandoned building. There were some other locals there and we gravely acknowledged the egregious situation. Hearing a very strong shrieking meow from under one of the others' scooter, we looked and found a small kitten screaming for its life. Beth attempted some kind palpation but was met with strong fear, so declined. Hours later that day we discussed the situation again and decided to try to help somehow. We went to the market and purchased the necessary supplies(Beth knew what to get, I just bought some chocolate), took it to the vet a few times now and will take care of her until we leave. We have a local family here that will care for it afterwards.Read more

  • Bali - naja ich sage es mal so:
    Die Insel und ich hatten einen schweren Start, haben uns aber dann doch noch ineinander verliebt ;)

    Der Flug nach Denpasaar, Bali war aufgrund technischer Probleme erst einmal um 4h verspätet - was aber nicht weiter schlimm war, da ich mit ein paar netten Rucksackreisenden ins Gespräch kam; u.a. einem Südafrikaner, der bereits länger dort lebt und mich netterweise gegen Mitternacht auch mit ins Hostel genommen hat.

    - Kuta (Fr/Sa):
    Das Hostel an sich war super:
    Sauber, warmes Wasser, sehr gutes WLAN - nur leider total leer und in Kuta;
    Nach mehreren Gesprächen mit anderen Rucksackreisenden ein absolut zu meidender Ort - viel zu touristisch, voll, keine schönen Strände und wie ich es nannte: der Ballermann für die Australier :P

    - Ubud (Sa-Tu):
    Deshalb hieß es für mich auch nach 2 Nächten und 1,5 Tagen: nichts wie weg hier :D
    Am besten kommt man in Bali mit dem Roller voran (Tagesmiete 60,000 IDR = knapp 4€). Allerdings fahren die Einheimischen hier wie die Verrückten und gerade längere Strecken sind auch eher anstrengend, v.a. mit 10+5kg Gepäck.
    Eine bessere Möglichkeit sind da Grab, das indonesische Pendant zu Uber oder Perama-Schuttlebusse (1,5h Kuta-Ubud für 60,000 IDR). An die Busstation ging es natürlich auf typisch balinesische Art mit dem Roller und nicht schließbarem Helm :)
    In Ubud selbst habe ich dann ganz spontan vor Ort ein Hostel gefunden für 120,000 = 8€ für 3 Nächte + je 15,000 = 1€ für leckere Omelettes und Bananen-Pfannkuchen zum Frühstück und Live-Musik jeden Abend.
    Ubud an sich ist im Landesinneren, landschaftlich total schön umgeben von Reisfeldern, Tempeln und bekannt für sehr gutes, auch vegetarisch-veganes Essen, Yoga, Spa & Erholung etc.
    - Su, 06.
    -->Monkey Forest
    Sehr schöne dschungel-/regenwaldartige
    Landschaft mit Dutzenden Affen - eigentlich ganz
    süß, allerdings klauen und schnappen sie alles
    (Essen, Wasserflaschen, Sonnenbrillen, manchmal
    sogar Handys/Kameras) - also gut aufpassen ;)
    -->Ubud palace and market
    Ein Gebäude sowie großer Tourimarkt für
    Souvenirs, Kleidung, Obst etc - aber zu touristisch
    und überteuert
    - Mo, 07.
    Rollerausflug mit einem Mexikaner
    -->Goa Gajah Temple
    Bekannter schöner Tempel in regenwaldähnlicher
    -->Tegalalang Rice Fields
    Bekannte Reisterrassen, sehr interessant
    - Tu, 08.
    -->Wanderung zum Sonnenaufgang Mt. Batur
    Abholung war um 2 Uhr morgens und nach 2h
    Fahrt sowie leckerem Tee und Bananen-
    Pfannkuchen zum Frühstück sind wir knapp 2h
    den Vulkan Mt. Batur hochgewandert - mit
    Taschenlampe und super steil war das zwar auch
    sehr anstrengend, aber ich liebe wandern und der
    Sonnenaufgang war einfach gigantisch :)

    Bali - well let me explain it like this:
    The island and I had a pretty tough beginning but in the end we finally fell in love with each other ;)

    First of all, the flight to Denpasar, Bali was delayed by 4 hours due to technical issues - but it wasn't as bad because I got to know some other nice backpackers, amongst them a South African living in Bali for some years already and who was so nice to bring me to the hostel around midnight.

    - Kuta (Fr/Sa):
    The hostel itself was superb:
    Clean, warm water, very good WiFi - but unfortunately empty and located in Kuta;
    After several discussions with other backpackers a place to avoid - way too touristy, packed, not really nice beaches and as I used to say: Aussies Ballermann :P

    - Ubud (Sa-Tu):
    As a result I decided quite quickly after 2 nights and 1,5 days to let's get the hell out of there :D
    The best means of transport in Bali is definitely a scooter (daily rent 60,000 IDR = 4€). However, the locals drive like hell and especially longer routes can be quite exhausting, in particular with a 10+5kg luggage.
    A better possibility is Grab, the Indonesian version of Uber or Perama shuttle buses (1,5hrs Kuta-Ubud for 60,000 IDR). For sure the way to the bus station was made in Balinese style with a scooter and a helmet you couldn't close :)
    Having arrived in Ubud I found a hostel for 120,000 IDR = 8€ for 3 nights + 15,000 IDR = 1€ each for delicious omelettes and banana pancakes for breakfast and live music every evening.
    Ubud is located within the island, surrounded by rice fields, temples and well known for very good, also vegetarian-vegan food, yoga, spa & relaxation etc.
    - Su, 06.
    -->Monkey Forest
    Very nice jungle/rainforest type landscape
    with dozens of monkeys - in principle quite cute
    but they steal and grab everything (food, water
    bottles, sunglasses, sometimes even phones/
    cameras) - so be aware ;)
    -->Ubud palace and market
    A building and huge tourist market for souvenirs,
    clothes, fruits etc. - but too touristy and expensive
    - Mo, 07.
    Scooter excursion with a Mexican
    -->Goa Gajah Temple
    Well known beautiful temple in rainforest type
    -->Tegalalang Rice Fields
    Well known rice terraces, very interesting
    - Tu, 08.
    -->Sunrise Trekking Mt Batur
    After being picked up at 2am, a 2hrs drive and a
    delicious tea and banana pancake breakfast we
    hiked up volcano Mt. Batur for roughly 2hrs - with
    torch and pretty steep that was quite exhausting
    but I love hiking and the sunrise was just
    incredible :)
    Read more

  • Just arrived back from an amazing Sunrise Trekking Tour!!!
    ☆ 8hours of walking ☆ Sunrise on top ☆ Bali Kopi on top ☆ 3142 meters ☆ beautiful landscape ☆ very nice Guide ☆ funny people ☆

  • February 14th.
    Today we visited the country of Java, specifically the Borobudur Temple, which is the largest Buddhist Temple in the world. It was built of lava rock in the 9th century and was designed to blend the Javanese architecture with the Buddhist concept of achieving Nirvana. There are 504 Buddha statues as part of the temple. There is evidence the temple was abandoned in the 14th century during the decline of Hindu kingdoms in Java and the conversion to Islam.
    There are a number of active volcanos on Java, and it is thought that the temple of covered in ash and was undiscovered until 1814 and was then restored between 1975 and 1982. By the way, there seem to be volcanoes erupting either right before we get somewhere or right after we leave. I hope our luck continues to hold out!
    In any case, the temple was an incredible sight if only in the sheer massiveness of the building. The over 2000 carved panels serve to tell/teach a story as one walks around the temple and up the levels.
    The drive to the temple through Java’s cities, villages and coutryside was quite hair-raising at times, but fascinating in the variety of sights along the way.
    It is getting quite steamy as we approach the Equator again – not a complaint, just an observation. The Java Sea remains extremely calm – it almost doesn’t even feel like we are on a ship.
    We have learned to eat an Indonesian hot sauce called samba olec. It is quite hot and we have enjoyed putting it on many things here on the ship. When we were out to lunch yesterday in Java, Jeff and I spied a bowl of samba olec and piled it on our plates. WOW! It was a lot hotter and took a lot of rice and water to put the fire in our mouths out!
    Read more

  • Borobudur - the name sounds like a haunted place from a book or as a legendary figure from mythology. And indeed, Borobudur is a special place near the volcano Merapi, located on the Indonesian island of Java.

    Borobudur is one of the largest Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia. The square complex with nine floors was about 750 - 850 built and has been forgotten by the political power shifts in the country. Only in the 18th century, the plant was rediscovered and exposed by the vegetation.

    Another cultural and architectural highlight in the region around the city of Yogyakarta is Prambanan, one of the largest Hindu temples in Southeast Asia. Prambanan consists of eight main temples dedicated to the gods Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma and hundreds of individual temples. The UNESCO appointed Borobudur and Prambanan in 1991 a World Heritage Site.

    A visit of Borobudur at sunrise, is particularly worth seeing. So I got up at 4 am in the morning to take the scooter through the frosty night to drive to the 30km distant temple. On the temple grounds with their beautiful perforated stupas have been already waiting hundreds of tourists armed with flashlights and cameras looking for the perfect place for memorable photos of the sunrise.

    But Java is not just famous for temples. The island has numerous volcanoes. And to one of these volcanoes I was driving with a scooter at night again. The volcano Kawah Ijen offers a memorable view at the fabled-like Blue Fire. At this place is the most important sulphur accumulation of Indonesia situated.

    About an elaborate pipe system sulphur fumes are directed to a deeper extraction point, where the sulphur is leaking in liquid orange-yellow form. After the liquid is cooled down and solidified, workers break the sulphur plates with iron bars and carry the loads in baskets 3km on a steep path to the crater rim and into the valley. Each worker is carrying up to 90kg on his shoulders. Up to six tonnes the workers mine each day, always accompanied by the hungry eyes and camera lenses of tourists. This is a the only place worldwide to be so close to the mining operations and the Blue Fire. The fire spectacle is caused by overheating. The sulphur gas can spontaneously ignite and then burns in a bright blue. Especially at night this is a mystical-like spectacle.

    The visit of this phenomenon is only bearable with proper gas mask. And even with this I find it hard to breathe. Orange slices in the mask help against the gag reflex. Nowadays no tourist is visiting this place without these masks. Simple dust masks are absolutely useless here. However, iI also saw miners without protective equipment. Some merely keep a cloth or scarf over his mouth and nose. Continuously the wind is changing directions in the crater and the highly toxic sulphur fumes force me to squat and to keep my eyes closed. Breathing then is particularly difficult. Locals speak of the breath of Kawah Ijens. In these moments, I struggle with the desire to leave this place as soon as possible. But this is impossible because I can see no yards. The job destroys the health of the sulphur miners and the pay is low. But they earn with this work still more than on the surrounding plantations. An extra income is the selling of carved figures from that very sulphur. Very popular carvings are currently the Minions.

    The sulphur is bought by the chemical industry and pharmaceutical companies. However, the sugar mills of the area also use the sulphur to bleach them. Why? Because of this sulphur is still cheaper than the one that is traded on the world market.
    The sight of the blue fire moves at these conditions almost in the background. Individual flames dance wildly in-between the dense columns of smoke. Every moment I expect the song of Rumpelstiltskin in my ear combined with an furious laughter. The place is so inhospitable and so fascinating. The conditions to make a stunning photo, are difficult. Again and again turns the winds and the flames disappear in the smoke. I decide to leave and rise up to the crater rim before sunrise, accompanied by the strong sulphur miners and their heavily laden baskets.

    My visit to Java was unfortunately only short and felt in the time of Ramadan, which unfortunately had a significant impact on my culinary experiences. The island is rich in interesting monuments and has a beautiful nature.

    Though the Hindu-influenced life on Bali and the countless temples that dominate the landscape have yet more drawn me into the spell. In the predominantly Muslim island of Java, I realized how much I really miss those.

    Maybe I visit Java again sometime, but my next destination is the beautiful climbing area on the beaches of Thailand - Tonsai Beach and Railey Beach.


    Borobudur – der Name klingt wie ein verwunschener Ort aus einem Buch oder wie eine Sagengestalt aus der Mythologie. Und tatsächlich ist Borobudur ein besonderer Ort in der Nähe des Vulkans Merapi und befindet sich auf der indonesischen Insel Java.

    Borobudur ist eine der grössten buddhistischen Tempelanlagen in Südostasien. Die quadratische Anlage mit neun Stockwerken wurde um 750 - 850 erbaut und ist mit den politischen Machtverschiebungen im Lande in Vergessenheit geraten. Erst im 18. Jahrhundert wurde die Anlage wiederentdeckt und von der Vegetation freigelegt.
    Ein weiterer kultureller und architektonischer Höhepunkt in der Region um die Stadt Yogyakarta ist Prambanan, eine der grössten hinduistischen Tempelanlage Südostasiens. Prambanan besteht aus acht Haupttempeln, die den Göttern Shiva, Vishnu und Brahma geweiht sind und hunderten Einzeltempeln. Die UNESCO ernannte Borobudur und Prambanan 1991 zum Weltkulturerbe.

    Borobudur zum Sonnenaufgang zu besichtigen, ist besonders sehenswert. Dafür lohnt es sich, um 4Uhr morgens aufzustehen, um mit dem Roller durch die frostige Nacht zur 30km entfernten Tempelanlage zu fahren. Auf der Tempelanlage mit ihren wunderschönen perforierten Stupas warten bereits hunderte weitere mit Taschenlampen und Kameras bewaffnete Touristen auf den Sonnenaufgang und suchen nach dem perfekten Platz für unvergessliche Fotos.

    Doch Java hat nicht nur Tempel zu bieten. Die Insel besitzt unzählige Vulkane. Und zu einem dieser Vulkane bin ich ebenso Nachts mit dem Roller gefahren. Kawah Ijen lockt mit dem faszinierenden Blue Fire von brennenden Schwefelgasen. Hier befindet sich die bedeutendste Schwefelansammlung Indonesiens.

    Über ein ausgeklügeltes Rohrsystem werden Schwefeldämpfe zu einer tieferliegenden Entnahmestelle geleitet, wo der Schwefel in flüssiger orange-gelber Form austritt. Wenn diese abgekühlt und erstarrt ist, brechen Arbeiter mit Eisenstangen, die so genannten Schwefelstecher, Schwefelplatten aus und tragen diese in Bastkörben 3km auf steilem Weg hoch zum Kraterrand und hinab ins Tal. Pro Gang schultern sie dabei um die 90kg. Bis zu sechs Tonnen bauen die Arbeiter täglich ab, stets begleitet von den hungrigen Blicken und Kameralinsen der Touristen, die hier in Indonesien die einzigartige Möglichkeit haben, nahe an den Minenarbeiten und dem Blue Fire zu sein. Das Schauspiel entsteht durch Überhitzung. Wenn sich das Schwefelgas entzündet, brennt es hellblau und ist vor allem Nachts ein mystisch anmutendes Naturschauspiel.

    Die Besichtigung dieses Phänomens ist nur mit Gasmaske einigermaßen erträglich. Und selbst mit dieser fällt mir das Atmen schwer. Orangenscheiben in der Maske helfen gegen den Würgereiz. Kein Tourist geht heute ohne diese Masken bis hinunter zur Abbaustelle. Einfache Staubmasken sind hier absolut unnütz. Vor Ort sehe ich jedoch auch Schwefelstecher ohne Schutzausrüstung. Einige halten sich lediglich ein Tuch oder Schal vor Mund und Nase. Immer wieder drehen die Winde im Vulkankrater und die hochgiftigen Schwefeldämpfe zwingen mich dazu, mich hinzuhocken und die Augen zu schliessen. Das Atmen fällt dann besonders schwer. Die Einheimischen sprechen auch vom Atem des Kawah Ijens. In diesen Momenten kämpfe ich mit dem Wunsch, diesen Ort schnellstmöglich zu verlassen. Das ist aber unmöglich, da ich keinen Meter weit sehen kann. Der Job zerstört die Gesundheit der Schwefelstecher und der Lohn ist gering. Aber sie verdienen hier wohl immer noch mehr, als auf den umliegenden Plantagen. Ein Zubrot erhoffen sich die Arbeiter durch den Verkauf von geschnitzten Figuren aus eben jenem Schwefel. Sehr beliebte Schnitzfiguren sind derzeit die Minions.

    Der Schwefel wird von der Chemieindustrie und Pharmakonzernen gekauft. Aber auch die Zuckerrohrfabriken der Gegend nutzen den Schwefel, um diesen zu bleichen. Warum? Weil dieser Schwefel noch immer billiger ist als derjenige, der auf dem Weltmarkt im Überfluss gehandelt wird.

    Der Anblick des blauen Feuers rückt bei diesen Bedingungen schon fast in den Hintergrund. Einzelne Flammenherde tanzen zwischen den dichten Rauchsäulen wild hin und her. Ich erwarte jeden Moment den Gesang des Rumpelstilzchen in meinem Ohr verbunden mit einem wilden Lachen. Es ist so unwirtlich und so faszinierend zugleich. Die Bedingungen, ein atemberaubendes Foto zu machen, sind schwer. Immer wieder drehen die Winde und die Flammen verschwinden im Rauch. Ich ziehe mich zurück und steige vor Sonnenaufgang zum Kraterrand hinauf, begleitet von den kräftigen Schwefelstechern und ihren schwer bepackten Bastkörben.

    Mein Besuch auf Java war leider nur kurz und fiel ebenso in die Zeit des Ramadan, was leider einen erheblichen Einfluss auf meine kulinarischen Erlebnisse hatte. Die Insel ist reich an sehenswerten Denkmälern und besitzt eine wunderschöne Natur. Die hinduistisch beeinflusste Lebensweise auf Bali und die unzähligen Tempel, die das Landschaftsbild prägen, haben mich dennoch mehr in den Bann gezogen. Auf der muslimisch geprägten Insel Java habe ich gemerkt, wie sehr ich diese doch vermisse.

    Vielleicht besuche ich Java irgendwann nochmal, doch als nächstes besuche ich die wunderschönen Klettergebiete an den Stränden Thailands – Tonsai Beach und Railey Beach.
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  • We pulled into Bali not really knowing what to expect so we booked a tour of the temples and Orchid gardens. We were glad we did because it was quite the culture shock to see the very busy cities and countryside of this beautiful country. The country is largely (97%) Hindu but is part of Indonesia which is largely Muslim. The people live predominantly in compounds with other family members in a very strict organization. Each group of the extended family in the compound has their own temple and the ritual offering of small amounts of food, etc on a daily basis seems to be similar to the Christian tradition of prayer before meals. They have a large number of public temples for celebrating the frequent festivals. While the conditions would seem fairly spare by our standards the people were not poor and modern conveniences seemed to be plentiful if just not needed as much in the fairly stable weather and warm climate of the area.
    Rice is the food staple and there is no prettier site then the terraced rice patties all along the road. We went to two temples that were very old. One was a beautiful one out on a rock in the ocean that unfortunately has developed a fairly thriving tourist enclave around the entrance that detracted from the majesty of the two actual structures. The other was in a smaller community outside the main town and was done much more like a park and was quite nice.
    We then went to an orchid garden that benefited from the large amount of rain they get every year and since it is the "rainy season" we of course got to see it in all it's glory. Of course Jeff and I couldn't help but try some of the Lewok coffee that is made from the coffee beans that are gathered from the civit cat's poop. At about $600 per kilo we didn't feel the need to buy any but the little sip we got was pretty good.
    Nancy of course couldn't help but try the local dance.
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  • Spent some beautiful days at Gili Meno!!!!

    relaxation pure★pool★delicious food★lovely people★best service★great ocean★snorkeling★perfect resort★bale hut★running around the island★advent breakfast at the sea★no cars★silence★just doing nothing★hooooot★sunburn★boat trip★dolphins★

  • After yesterday's various disasters, we were really hoping for a better day today!! Alarms went off at 2:45, and we were dressed and out the door just after 3. The winds of fortune had shifted in our favour - the sky above was almost completely clear and glittering with stars! We were on for a good sunrise. So with a renewed spring in our step, we forged along the darkened roads, passing through fields of crops and little homesteads dotted around.

    The first 40 minutes or so was pretty easy going as it was mostly level along the crater rim, just out of sight to our left. Still lots of mud on the road from last night's downpour so we had to be very careful and judicious with our torch usage! Eventually the road began to climb more steeply upwards, and the going was pretty tough. Lots of guys with horses offering a lift, but we were more interested in the hike.

    After about 70 minutes had passed we reached our initial destination - Viewpoint 1 with uninterrupted views of the sunrise and the crater itself. There was probably 20 people already here, along with a couple of little old ladies (locals) who had stalls selling tea, coffee, Milo and pot noodles. We'd read that you could hike for another hour steeply upwards to reach Viewpoint 2, but we decided to stick with where we were.

    At this point it was about 4:30 and sunrise was about an hour away, so we grabbed a hot Milo and some instant noodles and waited. It was definitely well worth it. The eastern sky was lighting up by 5, with long shafts of light projecting way up into the atmosphere. As the light grew we could make out more details of the crater in front of us - the smoking cauldron of Mount Bromo, distant Mount Semeru (the tallest in Java) that would belch smoke and ash every 20 minutes or so, and closer in the cinder cone of Mount Batok.

    By 6:30 we'd done enough cooing and started the long walk back down. The plan was to walk back to our hotel then descend into the caldera and hike across the huge ash field to climb up the rim of Mount Bromo's smoking cauldron. But we'd only gotten maybe 15 minutes down the mountain before some locals on mopeds stopped and offered us a lift on our planned route for 75k each. Shandos was keen on hiking but I insisted as I was tired from Ijen and had a sore knee from the bus ride.

    So it was within 10 minutes that we found ourselves at the base of another uphill climb, this one up the remainders of Bromo's cone which still constantly belches sulphuric gas (though unlike Ijen, the gas doesn't come straight for you). Up we went, again past all the guys with horses offering rides. Saw one tourist fall off his horse when it put a foot into a large mud crevasse and fell over. Thankfully he was OK. The last part of the hike was a large set of about 250 stairs which was tough but (just) manageable.

    At the top you've got a great view back around the caldera, and of course straight down into the cauldron where all the sulphuric gases are coming from. Very impressive, and again well worth the hike up! Yelled some abuse at a Japanese man who washed some mud off his shoes with a bottle of water, and then threw the empty bottle down into the crater!! Me and a German tourist nearby just couldn't believe it and both shouted at him to stop, though of course he didn't understand English and just looked at us dumbfounded. Jerk.

    We enjoyed the view for a bit longer but then headed back down as the rim was only quite narrow and crowded with tourists. Our motorbike dudes were still there at the bottom, so we jumped on their backs and headed for the hotel, arriving back by 8am, just in time for breakfast!

    Next step was checking out and finding a ride back to Probolinggo where we could catch an onward coach to Malang, our next stop for the night. Nearby we found a bus with 6 other passengers waiting, so with us there were 8 and we only needed another 6. But there weren't many people around and it looked like a long wait. I'm sure in cities and large towns this system works fairly well, but out here on a well-travelled but sporadic route it just feels dodgy. We all argued with the driver about just going but he wouldn't budge on the total, and the others were all backpackers unwilling to pay extra.

    Almost unbelievably, a group of 6 Spanish backpackers turned up after about 30 minutes, so by 10:30am we were on the road and only paying 35k each for the ride. Back in Probolinggo we found the coach to Melang easily enough, after dodging all the "tourist information" and "travel agent" touts/scammers. Shoved onto the bus past the fake conductor scam and waited for it to leave. This one was nicely air conditioned, and in 2x2 seat configuration so we had more space than the previous day. While we were waiting to leave, a man got on the bus and spoke only to me (not to the several other locals on the bus), saying that I needed a ticket and had to go over to the office over there, and it was government rules and blah blah. I said I was going to buy from the conductor on the bus, which he said "wasn't possible", and I said I was going to do it anyway, and at that point he got off the bus rather downcast. It amazes me how blatant the scam is!!

    We left soon afterwards and the bus wasn't very full, thankfully. Contrary to that man's dire warnings, the conductor was more than happy to sell me a ticket just like everyone else on the bus, and it was only 33k each (I'm guessing his tickets would've been 100k+). The 2 hour journey to Malang was uneventful; I spent the time chronicling the awful previous day while Shandos just dozed and edited photos. Not much scenery to report other than the usual distant rain-shrouded mountains, rice fields, ugly concrete buildings and lots of traffic.

    Bus station in Malang was typically chaotic, but managed to find an actual proper taxi rank with metered taxis! We had to ignore at least 20 touts to find it, but once there we got a driver, politely insisted on the meter rather than bargaining, and off we went. Hotel is rather like the one in Banguwanyi - business-oriented, semi-new, clean and modern but uninspired. Though we're up on the 8th floor with a nice view across the city.

    Malang is supposed one of the last places on Java where you can see remains of the Dutch influence, though after a 4-5 hour walk around the city we didn't see a whole lot of evidence of it! We took a pedal-cab to a large park in front of the main mosque and soaked in the atmosphere. Encountered our first McDonalds since the night we arrived in Bali, and since we didn't have a proper lunch I decided to indulge in a "Moroccan" meal which had an ultra-spicy lentil sauce. Surprised me that the most popular item on the menu seemed to be fried chicken meals!

    Sat in the park in front of the mosque for a bit and got asked to be in a few photos - I guess they don't get a lot of Westerners coming through here! Though we managed to find one and struck up a conversation, he was an American named Colin who'd just moved here for a year with his Indonesian girlfriend. Seemed like a nice guy, though he was pretty clearly desperate for another English speaker to chat with! We kept wandering around the city, across to a large boulevard that was quite pretty - wide and lined with trees which is very unusual for Indonesia. It was clearly the richer part of the city, as the neighbourhoods down the side-streets all had huge houses with barbed wire fencing, security cameras and so on. Some nice little parks and stuff though!

    We ventured into a huge shopping mall the size of Westfield Bondi Junction, and it was absolute chaos since Ramadan ends in a few days (the final day of Ramadan is Eid-al Fitr and is essentially Islam's version of Christmas, with gift-giving, feasting etc). Lots of people out shopping. While on a visit to the men's room I had my first close encounter - I sat down before realising there was no paper holder; yep a bum-gun-only toilet. I asked the cleaner and he had a spare roll which he loaned me - a process that's kind of gross I guess! A worthwhile 10 cent investment.

    By the time we emerged from the mall it was dark and time for dinner. Decided to hunt for a street market about 20 minutes walk away which we eventually found. We were a bit early as a lot of stall-holders were just setting up, but still plenty of street food to pick and choose from. We had a meatball soup, some satay sticks (along with a hilarious miscommunication, the woman serving thought I wanted two plates of 14 sticks each when I actually only wanted 4 sticks total), and a couple of other things I can't remember or name - but all delicious!

    Eventually tired and exhausted we wandered back to the main square by the mosque, which even at 9pm was heaving! It's hard to explain how different the atmosphere is in places where alcohol isn't at the centre of social life. But it's always felt very safe and very welcoming. People are always interested in where we're from and where we're going next, though limited English and zero Bahasa means conversations are generally very short! Hopped in another pedalcab and got a lift back to our hotel. I really felt sorry for this bloke, he looked about 80 years old and used to pedalling around women and children, so my hundred kilo frame jumping in the front gives them a good workout!! I gave him an extra tip because I was a little worried he was going to have a heart attack on the ride!

    Apologies for the long entry, but it's been a very long day! Just travelling planned for tomorrow, a 7 hour train trip from here to Yogyakarta where I think we'll spend a few days.
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  • February 12.
    Benoa, Bali, Indonesia
    I’m not sure what I expected from Bali, but the magic of Bali enveloped all of us. The Balinese are Hindu and there are over 1,000 temples on the island that ascribe to their beliefs. Each temple is an individual work of art. I was aware that there would be a great deal of Asian and Hindu inspired decorative elements and architecture in Bali, but I had no idea how pervasive it would be. Literally every family housing compound, hamlet (multiple family houses) and villages (the group of hamlets) are covered with decorative elements and ornament. The roof peaks, the window surrounds, the gates, the fence posts, etc. are all heavily ornamented. Also, each house has it’s own shrine complete with “offerings”, fringes, statuary and fabrics. These fabrics (poleng), as well as curbs, light posts and other various public items are alternating black and white patterning, representing the balance between good and evil.
    The Balinese believe that every living thing has a spirit and will even pray to a flower as they pick it. Each day an offering is made to the spirits – it is a small leaf plate containing flowers, food, candy, etc. and it is placed at the entrance to the house or place of business.
    We visited 2 temples, a traditional, rustic inn at the edge of a rice paddy and a local woman’s house. We wound up our trip at an orchid garden. We all agreed that if all we had done was take the bus trip, we would have been happy even if we didn’t make any stops. It was truly a sensory overload and my head is still whirling with the exotic nature of Bali, especially after the ship hosted a group of Balinese musicians and dancers before we sailed.
    The first photo is of the inn along the rice paddy where we had lunch, the second photo is of a temple that we visited and the third photo is the front of a typical house you would see in Bali.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Indonesia, Indonesien, Indonesia, Indonesië, Indɔnehyia, ኢንዶኔዢያ, اندونيسيا, İndoneziya, Інданезія, Индонезия, Ɛndonezi, ইন্দোনেশিয়া, ཨིན་ཌོ་ནེ་ཤི་ཡ།, Indonezia, Indonezija, Indonèsia, Indonésie, Индонези, Indonesia nutome, Ινδονησία, Indonezio, Indoneesia, اندوزی, Enndonesii, Yndoneezje, An Indinéis, ઇન્ડોનેશિયા, Indunusiya, אינדונזיה, इन्डोनेशिया, Indoneska, Endonezi, Indonézia, Ինդոնեզիա, Indónesía, インドネシア共和国, bidgu'e, ინდონეზია, ឥណ្ឌូនេស៊ី, ಇಂಡೋನೇಶಿಯಾ, 인도네시아, ئیندۆنیزیا, Indonesi, Yindonezya, Indonezi, ອິນໂດເນເຊຍ, Indonēzija, Initonīhia, Индонезија, ഇന്‍ഡോനേഷ്യ, इंडोनेशिया, Indoneżja, အင်ဒိုနီးရှား, Indonesiya, ଇଣ୍ଡୋନେସିଆ, Indonezja, اندونیزیا, Indonésia, Indunisya, Indoneziya, इन्दोनेशिया, Indunesia, Ênndonezïi, ඉන්දුනීසියාව, Indoneesiya, Républik Indonésia, இந்தோனேசியா, ఇండోనేషియా, อินโดนีเซีย, Indoneziýa, ʻInitonēsia, Endonezya, ھىندۇنېزىيە, Індонезія, انڈونیشیا, In-đô-nê-xi-a (Nam Dương), Lindäna-Seänuäns, Orílẹ́ède Indonesia, 印度尼西亚, i-Indonesia