Adventures In Java



Adventures In Java

Explore The Island Of Java

The jungles and beaches of Mama Bali were my second home for 5 years. Alas, the neighboring island of Java is pretty incredible, and I spent some time exploring it as well.

Many people think of Bali when traveling to Indonesia. In fact there are over 17,000 islands making up the archipelago nation of Indonesia, and Java houses its capital, Jakarta.

I’ve visited Jakarta several times and have enjoyed certain historical gems and its delicious culinary scene. However, this is one city I’d be happy to never return. Jakarta tops my ‘worst traffic’ list, beating out both the notorious winners of Bangkok and Delhi. Overall I found its hectic and overly-commercial energy clashing for my taste, and prefer the central or eastern side of Java.

Yogjakarta was full of vibrant adventures: shopping for ingredients at local markets, decadent cooking lessons and fascinating cultural exploration.

This region rightfully boasts an ancient wonder, Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the entire world.

We cannot forget the Royal Place and legend of the 2 Trees at Alun Alun, of which I had to try for myself and passed the renown challenge. During the weekend, evenings spice up at Alun Alun and vehicles decorated with lights parade around the square, creating a mobile dance party. I got my groove on atop a purple unicorn buggy!

Surabaya’s lush backdrop of jungles and volcanoes, contrasting with their bustling commerce and large malls, is another fun city to visit in the east.

The ultimate highlight was achieved from a very special journey to hike the infamous and beautiful volcano called Bromo.

During the arduous and windy mountain drive, our guide stopped near the top at a small village to buy some groceries for a family of farmers. My companions and I kicked in a few bucks toward simple gifts like bags of rice, coffee and cigarettes to present the farmers. I was amazed at how grateful they were for such a humble gesture.

The farmers first showed us their amazing terracing techniques across the mountainside, complete with gorgeous vegetables and other shrubbery. This was really difficult work!

Then the family led us to their home, excitedly beckoning to enter a small shack, and we sat on the cold earthen floor in front of a fire and drank coffee with them.

The family of six all slept in the same tiny shack along with their cow. They were gracious, happy and kind, and seemed content in their lives, however challenging and impoverished it appeared to me as an observer.

There are moments in time that warm my heart and invoke a huge smile, this moment being one of them.

After settling into my quaint accommodations in the tourist village next to Bromo, I visited the local seismologist to learn more about geology and earthquakes.

The next morning was unforgettable! The 2 Javanese guides awoke me at 4 a.m. and together, with my companions, we drove a red jeep into the darkness across the Sea of Sand, while I played the Indiana Jones theme song, which seemed perfectly suitable for the quest.

We climbed a big hill and trudged through a tiny village in the foggy, rainy morning mist, then waited for the sun to explode through the clouds. It was absolutely stunning!

In the light of day we walked across the Sea of Sand vs. ride a little Javanese horse, like many tourists chose, and made the exhilarating climb to the top of Bromo, a dormant volcano, still spewing vapors and potent sulfur.

If you don’t feel fully alive after a morning like that, I don’t know what will do it for you.

The cultures of Java and Bali are quite different, notably as their religions of Islam and Hinduism. Bahasa Indonesian is the common language spoken throughout Indonesia, despite there being thousands of other dialects throughout the island nation. I picked ‘Bahasa’ pretty quickly, as I found it quite simple compared to other more challenging languages.

With 17,000 islands to explore, I’ve only been to 6 in Indonesia so far!

Flores, the island known of its famous Komodo dragons and spectacular diving, is high on my bucket list.

When I lived in Bali, a large Komodo dragon trotted through my friend’s backyard, while simultaneously their new kitten went missing. We hoped and prayed the cat wasn’t lunch for the dragon, and hours later found it accidentally locked in a bedroom. What a relief!

Indonesia has far more to vibrancy, scenery and culture to explore, and I look forward to the day when I’ll return.

Enjoy the Photo Gallery below.


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