Indonesia is big. It's really more like a group of separate countries - an island chain stretching across three time zones and with diverse culture, religion, and scenery. We began our explorations back at the end of April in Java, a place Karl visited on his last big trip over ten years ago and had fond memories of. Time had faded his recollection of the distances involved, so it was a surprise to both of us quite how far apart everything was. There were three places Karl especially wanted to revisit, and on the map it looked straightforward. In reality it took at least ten hours on cramped and bumpy buses or hot, crowded trains to get between each of these spots, and travel here quickly became draining.
|Noodles for breakfast!|
|Smiles in Java|
|You never have to wait long for a bemo!|
|Posing for family portraits|
|Catching a wave in Batu Karas|
Gunung Bromo National Park in East Java was a complete change of scene- high up, cloudy and really cold! Here there are thick woolly socks for sale, cabbages growing instead of bananas, and, even under two blankets, it's chilly at night. The attraction is a massive volcano crater, 10 km across, with 3 newer volcanoes inside. The crater has wildflower filled savannah grasslands and the atmospheric 'sea of sands' where mist swirls around beneath the steaming summit of Gunung Bromo. A unique scene, especially when viewed from above a cloud inversion at sunrise.
|Watching sunrise at Gunung Bromo|
|The amazing coral reef at Pulau Bunaken|
|Tarsiers- always surprised!|
Leaving Sulawesi, we journeyed to West Timor. The people here resemble aboriginals in appearance, and we haven't found all of them to be quite as welcoming- or maybe that's just our experience, mainly based on an aggressive public transport mafia. Kupang in West Timor is just another town we keep getting stuck in en-route to places we actually want to be! It does have a fantastic street market at night where you pick your fish for the grill, alongside fresh avocado juice to drink.
|Alluring waters of Alor|
One evening there was a party for the islanders to celebrate the completion of a new boat. They danced around a banyan tree to the beat of a drum (accompanied by the local palm wine home brew), singing a traditional melody about being far from home. On our last night we swam under the stars, the water so clear that you could see the fish by moonlight. A real haven, and just the break we needed from harder travels in Indonesia!
|Our Alorese house|
|Lion fish at Alor|
|Karl heading off to surf at T-Land|