A Travellerspoint blog


land in Jakarta

graveyard of the orient, find a losmen

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Thursday 14th February.
Pick up ticket, change last money, pack, eat and set off for the airport. Write several letters at the airport post office. Lose and find keys, great relief. Due to the rain my clothes have not dried properly and will now be sour by the time I reach Jakarta. Have only enough cash for one 24 colour print film. Wide bodied Airbus with air hostesses dressed in silk shot through with gold, beautiful Thai Air. Get two seats to myself, the stewards wear striped blazers. Enjoy cold meat salad with wine, fresh crusty French bread and coffee.
 Travellers information said turn right outside the airport for the buses. Realise this is wrong and so wait 40 minutes for an 89 bus before giving up. Young lady gets me on a 41 to Celitan bus station, from there get bus to Senen district and walk. Check in Wisma Delima’s slightly off colour dorm for 1500 rupiahs. Think I have a cold coming on. Aircraft airconditioning concentrates and disseminates an international selection of rhinoviruses. £1 = 1186 rupiahs.

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street walking in Jakarta

no letters at post restante, sniff

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Friday 15th February.
Sleep fitfully, much tormented by mosquitoes and the sniffles. Trudge to the Post Office, no letter from British Council, and no letter from Claude and Damien. Walk past the National Monument, presidential palace and national museum. Change money. Am offered ganja and cocaine and 20,000 rups for my Walkman, (but I wanted nearer 60,000.) Sleep well in the afternoon.
 Evening: visit cultural centre, but only heavy Western plays in Indonesian are on. Chicken curry 950 rupiahs. See many fine diplomat’s houses, it looks like Newmarket Road in Norwich.

Posted by 1985 trip 12:58 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

no messages at the losmen or post office

feel on my own

sunny 30 °C
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Saturday 16th February.
Last chance for messages today. I shall leave tomorrow. Its about 30 degrees centigrade day and night. No rain though. People have a piss here with great freedom, behind the bemo door in the gutter. Saw young man open his bowels into large ditch in Jakarta’s City centre. Tourist office very helpful, and charming. But later discover most of information only approximate. It was said with a smile though.
 Visit National Museum along with coach loads of school kids. The older ones wish to practice their English. I give 3 of them (the prettiest) 45 minutes. Good display of ethnic crafts and general hardware from native Indonesia. Fine ceramic section to. 
Buy bunch of bananas in market 400 rupiahs.
 Visit Chinatown. It is a thriving market place late into the evening. Pierre passes through Wisma Delima’s going straight to Surabaya.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:01 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

long journey to Pangandaran

need to keep moving, got to get round the world by Christmas

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Sunday 17th February.
Spend Sunday on my backside. Up at 5.30am finish packing and catch bus to coach station. Wrong coach station. Get right bus. Town buses cost 150-250 rupiahs depending on the quality of the seat. At Cililitan station get hustled on to the Bandung bus. The plan is to get to Pangandaran. North of Jakarta there is a high scenic pass. The train goes around this. So its an early start to do the first leg by bus (1400 rupiahs) and pick up the train at Cianjur. As it turns out I get to Cianjur but missed the train at the pass! Find Keratapi and buy third class ticket to Banjar. Have long since missed the Yogyar Express. Train ticket 1800 rupiahs. Much hassled by two likely lads “where you from etc” They want me to visit their home as train is not for two hours. However I am suspicious. It arrives thirty minutes later and I bid them a courteous farewell. A firm but good humoured “get lost” is the correct approach to these bums. Jakarta-Cianjur approximately 100 km. Cianjur Banjar change at Bandung about 180 km. The train of course was full, but not long before two well wrapped (in faded batik) old ladies let me squeeze in. Good for a laugh I am, and I’m worth a good stare too. At least three people practice their English, if only they knew one or two other phrases apart from “where you from?” “How long Indonesia?” “Where you going?” and “are you married?” Their concentration time is short so the questions get endlessly repeated.

By the time I get to Banjar it has been dark an hour or two. Everything was sold on the train. It stopped everywhere and hawkers get on and off at each stop. The candle sellers came on, so we rattled along by candle light towards the end.
I ignore the trishaw touts etc at Banjar and find my own way (not far) to minibus station. Eat very good Nase Ramus 300 rupiahs, and have to pay 1000 rupiahs for the ride to Pangandaran (60 km). As its the night bus and will come back empty. Forge out on my own at Pangandaran-initially in the wrong direction and walk the 2 km to the end of the wide isthmus where they village lies. Check into Adem Ayem, fine concrete building, I take a first floor balcony room 1500 rupiahs.

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manta ray caught off beach

love a banana pancake

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Monday 18th February.
Hauling in the catch

Hauling in the catch

Day of rest, have superb banana pancake with chocolate and peanuts for 350 rupiahs. Do washing, sleep, explore village. Indonesian holiday place, many mock neoclassical balustraded miniature hotels. Small place though. Fishing village. Watch 20 people haul in a large purse string net, must be half km of rope on each side, two teams haul along the beach to slowly close the net. Then as the net starts to come ashore, and the fish leap, its quicker work as the fish are forced into sock. Enough small fish for thirty people to have a bowl full each. They also have a small manta ray, maybe 18 inches across with more than a yard of tail. This is looped back through its gills, and tied off forming a handle. He’s carried off still waving his shirt.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:10 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

drink bat's piss


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Tuesday 19th February.
Pangandaran beach 1985

Pangandaran beach 1985

Up early and off into the nature reserve following advice of some previous explorers met last night. Skirt the entrance by tracking along the coast, find path by stream and follow it through jungle along the top of precipitous cliffs. Many overgrown Nippon trenches and ammunition stores. See two sorts of monkey, and a more cat like creature timidly staring down from the trees. Dark in colour with pointed ears and a long tail. Fancy it had hands rather than paws. Lots of butterflies, spiders and lizards but no leeches. Trail gets narrower and narrower, deer or buffalo prints and excrement. Eventually break out onto wider track. In a beautiful flower strewn clearing near a white coral beach is a small bungalow. I wonder if it’s for rent. Eat my crackers and bananas on the beach, fall asleep. Woken by a young buck deer eating the banana skins. A stream comes from a limestone cave with a low entrance. When close the whirring of countless bats can be heard. Can you catch rabies from drinking bats piss? The water tasted OK, anyway I had already drunk about a pint before spotting the bats.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:13 Archived in Indonesia Tagged indonesia world_war_ii japanese_trenches Comments (0)

to Dieng

by ferry and 5 minibuses

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Wednesday 20th February.
The view from Dieng Plateau

The view from Dieng Plateau

Woken by Budi et al for early start for the trip to Dieng. Local bus to Kalipucang 200, 8.30. Ferry crowded with people, food sellers, coconuts, bicycles, babies and chickens to Cilicap. A 3 hr journey through esturine swamps stopping at every little stilted village, 900 rupiahs. 200 rupiahs minibus to bus station. Thereafter four different minibuses up to Dieng. They tend to say they are going all the way, but if too many get off and not enough on then it’s all change at the next bus stop. Comfortable ride through lush Javanese countrside, exotic and beautiful. Fine and ancient terraces twinkling in the harsh sunlight. Dieng looms up at dusk, clouds cling like a tattered shroud to its slopes. Black volcanic peaks poke out. The road weaves to and fro searching for the way up. Inside we heave to and fro, smirking when a groping hand grabs a knee instead of a handle. Inside I heave to.
Arrive well after dark, settle for the third Losmen at 1000 rupiahs. Small wooden house with three rooms. Have good Nase Ramus 350. Laugh and joke with family all wrapped up in tatty sarongs around charcoal brazier. Other rooms contain lorry drivers.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:17 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

exploring volcanic Dieng plateu

breakfast on peanut fritters

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Thursday 21st February.
Dieng volcanic crater at 2000m

Dieng volcanic crater at 2000m

Tea and peanut fritters for breakfast then off to explore the plateau. Cabbages and potatoes grow in immaculate fields. People toiling everywhere. Roses fuschias and poinsettias grow wild. The central plain is rather marshy, but the excellent stonemasonry of Palace and Hermitage are easy to see. Six one man Temples, the earliest from the 800’s.
Indonesia's oldest temple

Indonesia's oldest temple

Gargoyles guard the lintles. A violent storm in the night has blown down many trees, everyone is out chopping and hauling the timber home. Kids all helping too. Sarongs used to carry the load. Noisy geothermal power station, seething sulphurous mud pools. Long winding paths through the scrub to the crater lip with fine views of Banjar Negara and beyond. Dieng is a collapsed crater. Walk for miles. Light green Lake, a few small caves locked up. Many friendly people, laugh with you whilst carrying 60 kilos of turf in double panniers on their shoulders. Reckon I saw most of Dieng on this walk. Sleep very well in the afternoon. Discover at last how to do my name in knotted braid. Spend the evening around the brazier at Losmen. What a jolly lot.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:18 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

mighty Borobudur

splendid in a tropical thunder storm

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Friday 22nd February.
The stupas at the top of Borobudur

The stupas at the top of Borobudur

Breakfast in Losmen they persuade me to take midday minibus to Borobudur. This turns out to be a manoeuvre to get me to stay for lunch. Change minibuses a few times as usual and reach Borobudur village. Ignore Bechak touts and walk two km to the Temple. No great views, until you come upto it. A huge mass of stone with terraces around and stairs ascending from terrace to terrace. The galleries are lined with complicated bas relief telling of man’s struggle for spiritual achievement. There is a 5 km walk around these terraces ascending to the open celestial circular terraces on top. After an hour a heavy thunderstorm races up the valley, the hawkers flee and I walk home in the rain without hassle, and soon get a lift with a family in their own minibus. The gathering storm

The gathering storm

He is a doctor of Islamic affairs. Exchange addresses. Arrive in Yogyar about 8 and trudge around the Losmen district just south of the station in the little alleys. Many full. After one hour find a little place for 1000 rupiahs.

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not sure what happened today

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Saturday 23rd February.
Saturday remains a complete blank. Travel to Jogya somehow apart from no letters at Post Office. Great disappointment as always.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:23 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

the Kraton Jogjakarta

and the sultan's palace

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Sunday 24th February.


Do an interesting tour of the Kraton. Dignified old men of the Sultan’s Court show one around the pavillions etc. Peaceful courtyards, and wide cool pavillions with tiled floors, cast iron and teak pillars, decorations all symbolic. Some old photographs of a previous Sultan, fat and naked to the waist with little round spectacles. The whole walled 1 km sq Kraton was a self contained unit, with all the people necessary to support the pomp and ceremony of the Court. The Sultans of different states used to try and out do each other in this respect.
 One area of the Kraton is now particularly tumble down, but you can still see some fine arched roofs and tunnels. The Kraton

The Kraton

This was a Sultans pleasure Park a couple of hundred years ago with streams, cool passages, gardens, pools of bathing concubines, boating lake, lillies, waterfalls. Now it’s a maze of little tumbled together houses, chickens and children flying paper kites. “Hello Mr”
 At the end of the tour come across a classical Indonesian dance rehearsal. A recently revived art. More old men sit at their gamelan instruments banging away at random intervals, although they do have some sheets of music to refer to. The dancers enter the area with great respect, crouching low and crawling the first few steps. Boys enter from one side, and girls from the other. The dancing is very slow and the dancers completely remote with blank faces, their gaze fixed 3 yards ahead of them. They hold complicated postures. The whole effect is very serene and tranquil. Elderly teachers move slowly amongst the dancers poking them here and there with a corrective finger. The dance last a long time. At the end there was a mock fight. In fact a lot of the dance movements are ritualised fighting moves.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:24 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

looking for a batik course

find some kool guys

sunny 29 °C
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Monday 25th February.

Yogya is lovely, the main street is embellished with ornate lamps, monuments.
 Eat interesting steamed coconuts and brown sugar in a short bamboo stem, pushed piston like out of its tube, served on a bamboo leaf. Buffalo heart Sumatran style curry for dinner.
 Decide to do a batik course. Go and see Affandi’s oil paintings, a famous artist now an old man, his large splurges of colour are typical, on large canvases the giant swirls have to be viewed from a distance, he does self portraits, Borobudur, fishing scenes. On my hired bike I eventually find batik Sofi. Recommended by Dalton for their imaginative clothes. Pleasant house, cold tea and biscuits, mostly female clothes, some interesting antique batik. I buy a dark room primissima open sarong with a gargoyle and garuda motif.
 Visit two courses, one well known and very well organised by an older man, 5 ½ days for £20. Other course a group of younger Indonesian hippycats, talented but very relaxed, guitars, rock music etc. Negotiating 7 days for 15000 rupiahs after slow bargaining, start tomorrow.

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learning to Cant

on batik course

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Tuesday 26th February.
Our teachers on the batik course

Our teachers on the batik course

Trudge down to the water palace area and Andrea’s dive. Get straight on with some canting work. Decide to do a hand rising from the cracked earth, the thumb is a flaming candle, and there is barbed wire around the wrist. This attracts great admiration from my mentors for its heavy symbolism and surreal style. Meet Dave and Lehla his Japanese girlfriend. By mid afternoon the effort of concentrating over my cloth whilst sitting on a low stool by a small smoking wok of hot wax has made me unusually tired, have siesta. Play cards all afternoon. Meet Rick from New York.

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making a fist of it

on the batik course

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Wednesday 27th February.
Ageing hand today and boiling off the wax. Earth is not black enough. Rick throws his dollars around and shares a bottle of vodka. He has just finished a degree in business economics and is travelling for four months. Lehla teaches English at home when she is not travelling which she does a lot of. She has been to most countries over the past seven years. She met David here in Yogyar 7 months ago, they have spend most of this time in Australia. David has an economics degree (I think) and was doing photo litho printing before leaving the UK 1 year ago. He sees applications for batik work in this process.The finished piece 'HOPE'

The finished piece 'HOPE'

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getting into the batik

and dye my own Ming vase

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Thursday 28th February.
Work out complicated perspective of blue dots on a Ming vase with success, put a couple of bright flowers in and a shadow forgiven a cracked glaze in a couple wax process. By accident dye from a fallen petal bleeds into the vase = a reflection. Toto has some large and fantastic surrealistic batik paintings. He has a sponsor in Sweden where he is going to exhibit. He thinks they will be priced at $250. Andreas does abstract works. The whole gang make striking tie dyed and cracked wax T shirts and little waistcoats at casual intervals through the day, in between singing Bob Dylan songs and playing the guitar.
batik ming vase

batik ming vase

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