4th October 2011
The day dawned bright and sunny once more, and the wind blew stronger than ever as we arose and partook of breakfast. The morning was taken up with packing whilst the boys studied and then occupied themselves with their hand held games. I think that I am getting quite good at cramming all of our possessions into the 5 rucksacks now, and as the journey we are taking tomorrow involves 16 hours on an air conditioned bus I also make sure that the fleeces are all at the top of the bags and so instantly accessible.
As morning turns to afternoon we grab the beach stuff (minus flippers which were the first things packed) and find a restaurant that offers free WiFi and sun lounger if you spend 25,000 Rp each. The boys had mithered for sausages, but instead chose burgers, and then pinched mum’s sausages when they came. The beach was short here and quickly dropped off into the deep. Snorkelling was difficult because of poor visibility, and a very strong current that pulled you out and then along the coast towards the “harbour”. So the boys amused themselves by splashing in the shallows, whilst Tania and I researched Yogya on the internet, checking out hotels and means of transport to get there.
The sun disappeared behind the tall trees lining this part of the east coast all too soon and so we gathered our things and headed for home. Some quick washing of towels and ourselves of course, and we set off for dinner at the Blue Marlin, the place we had eaten on our first night on Gili T. There was only white snapper on offer tonight as the fishermen’s catch had been poor due to the strong wind and rough sea. So, unfortunately our fishy cravings were not to be satisfied this evening. No matter, we ate well and headed home to bed.
5th October 2011
We were up early to finish the packing and get breakfast out of the way so that we would be on time for the fast boat to Bali. Hoofing our sacks up the street to the harbour, we waited with our fellow passengers for the boat to arrive. Finally, it appeared in the distance, carving through the waves, spray flying from its bows. It “docked” as close as it could to the beach, and it was clear that we were going to get a little wet wading to the boat! The crew, waist deep in the water passed the bags in a chain from beach to shore, before it was our turn to board. The boys were carried on, and Tania and I timed our boarding as well as we could to minimise our wetness.
The boat was full when we left at 11am, so we had to stand to begin with. The waves crashed over the bows and ran the length of the roof to shower those of us at the stern in a waterfall of seawater as we sped over to Gili Meno. Discharging some passengers, we had a space inside to sit, whilst Oskar and Luca headed up to the cockpit to hang out with the skipper. It wasn’t long before sea sickness struck Oskar and he had to spend the rest of the journey sitting in the stern with Tania, occasionally emptying his tummy into the sea – bless him. Luca and Mateo were taught the colours in Indonesian by some of the crew, and the trip to the toilet was definitely an interesting exercise in balancing! Mateo’s resistance to the tossing lasted a little longer, before a little whimper of “Daddy” signalled that he too had succumbed to sickness (on me) and I had to carry him to the stern to join Tania and Oskar. Luca was absolutely fine but joined us too and we passed the last 10 mins altogether in the open air with the friendly crew.
We arrived in Padangbai and took another iniquitous Bemo to Denpasar – or rather to Sanur where we were deposited near the entrance to the beach we had visited some time ago. Fortunately, a Blue Bird Taxi was just exiting a hotel opposite and we flagged it down to take us the Ubung bus terminal. On exiting we were besieged by ticket touts trying to get us to take their bus to Jogja, one of which was extremely pushy. Negotiations done, and vehicles inspected, we boarded the bus and it departed shortly afterwards.
The driver, highly skilled in driving the bus, was however a complete stranger to ensuring the comfort of his passengers. Spurring the leviathan onwards like some crazed Ben Hur he swung us left and right through the corners, and performed almost suicidal overtaking manoeuvres, darting out into oncoming traffic and then breaking hard to fit into a gap to await another chance to satisfy his adrenaline dependency. We were still reeling from the fast boat ride, so it was not long before first Oskar, and then Mateo were violently sick again, despite having taken travel sickness pills. Luca was once more unaffected having what you may consider a cast-iron stomach.
6th October 2011
Finally, we all fell asleep and dozed away the journey to the port where we boarded a ferry for a quick trip across to Java. Enough time to stretch our legs and have the Indonesian equivalent of Pot Noodle before we mounted the bus once more, and with a different driver, passed a smoother journey enabling us all to sleep soundly. At 11pm we stopped for food in a vast hall with self-service. Tania and I partook whilst the boys carried on sleeping, and then we were off once more for the last leg to Jogja. We hit the outskirts of Solo as dawn broke, passing industrial units intermingled with paddy fields and at around 8am we finally arrived in Jogja. The coach crew enquired as to where we wanted to stay, and rather than taking us to the terminal, they dropped us by the bus stop which would take us to our intended destination – the Sosrowijayan area of Jogja.
We alighted on Jl Malioboro and walked up to the accommodation area. Having identified a few places, we struck out at the first one, but took the opportunity to have some breakfast there – which was excellent and very much needed! Tania went exploring/negotiating and found us a place to stay nearby. Fairly basic but a pied a terre where we could dump our stuff and then explore a little. Availing ourselves of washing facilities we all showered and changed and then hit the streets of Jogja in the direction of the Kraton, the Sultans Palace.
It was hot, and all around were cars, motorbikes and scooters, and 3-wheeled bicycles with a double seat in front. The fumes were strong and overpowering and it became rapidly apparent that the map we had bore no real relation to the actual distance we ended up walking! A local restauranteur called Anton (who had spent some time with Medecine Sans Frontieres) accompanied us to the Batik art market where we saw a demonstration of the craft, and looked at the beautiful examples on display. It was not long before we parted company with some Rp in exchange for a couple of cloths, but they were very beautiful and not too expensive.
We stopped for lunch at a little roadside vendor of soup with balls in it – evidently one of Barak Obamah’s favourite dishes (called Baksah I think) and chatted to a local who advised us about traps and tricks, and the right entrance to go through to see the dancing. We were advised to wait until Sunday before going to the Kraton as that was when the shows were on, and instead he suggested going to see the ballet.
So we walked on to the ballet house where we met the man again and he showed us to the ticket office. Kind of him, but the tickets were a lot more than we expected, and in any event, we wanted to see the puppets rather than real life dancing! As we were close to the other accommodation area (Prawirotaman) we carried on to have a look around and see if we could find a cheap hotel with a pool. We eventually got an economy room in Hotel Duta from the following day and after Coffee and Cake at the nearby Ministry of Coffee we took a bicycle home again… one bicycle, 2 adults and 3 children – we didn’t really negotiate with the pedaller, but I reckon he earned his Rp on the 2km trip back to our hotel.
We changed and headed for Anton’s restaurant for supper which was filled with travellers and we passed a few hours chatting with a couple of Lithuanian girls (one of which kindly taught Mateo the intricacies of Chess) and a linguistic chap called Tim who was a useful source of knowledge on Indonesia having spent some considerable time there. Oskar fell asleep on my lap whilst we talked and Mateo won his game of chess (with a little help!)
I carried Oskar home through the maze of little alleys and we all fell asleep quickly, bringing to an end a very long 3 days.