The internet is full of it, blogs about backpacking… However, the approach of this blog is slightly different, I will take you with my first backpack trip to Indonesia!
For a few years I have felt an enormous urge to see the world and discover places (no, not as Columbus did ;)). This urge has only increased since I was 18 and now (4 years later) I can already tick off a lot of beautiful destinations. The urge is only getting bigger and my next trip is already on the schedule. And besides, don't worry! I'm not going to put the word 'Wanderlust' in my mouth, because what makes me itch!
Two years ago I got (as often) a spontaneous hunch. I wanted to leave! As a 20-year-old travelling on your own to the other side of the world with 20 kg of luggage on your back and without any experience I found just a step too far. Together with my cousin we decided to be the first backpack destination safe for Indonesia. Nevertheless, a country we both wanted to see!
Indonesia consists of an awful lot (read more than 17,000) small and large islands and is due to its great diversity a very popular country among backpackers. Because the country has become 'accustomed' to this form of tourism, it is an ideal destination when you have little (or no) experience as a backpacker. So for me! With a total of 4 weeks on the schedule we decided to visit the islands of Java, Bali and the Gili Islands. In this blog I take you back to the roots of Indonesia : Java!
Jakarta: the capital of Indonesia
Indonesia's westernmost island, which also includes the capital of the country of Jakarta. Indonesia has many Dutch influences because of its rich history. These influences can often be found in Jakarta where children cycle on brightly colored bicycles through Oud Batavia (says enough anyway…). When planning your trip to Indonesia, take into account Ramadan and the Sugar Festival. During this period, many trains and accommodations are already fully booked by residents who will visit family members in the larger cities.
Bandung: tea plantations and volcanoes
In my view Jakarta is too big and busy city to stay long so that we moved quickly to Bandung. Because I had no expectations in this city, I was very surprised by the many sights. The city itself has grown very quickly, so there is not much to see here. On the other hand, there are plenty of beautiful sights in the vicinity of Bandung. At many different points it is possible to arrange a tour that shows you the highlights from the area in one day. These tours take you to the still active volcano Tangkuban Parahu, the well-known tea plantations and the sulphur lake Kawah Putih. The road to Kawah Putih, or the White Crater is a little longer, but an incredibly special place to have seen! The turquoise color of the water and the white fumes (also the heavy stench contributes) give a unique effect.
Pangandaran: natural beauty
Between Bandung and Yogyakarta is the village of Pangandaran. The beach of this village see the inhabitants as the most beautiful of all java, but this mainly says a lot about the beaches of the island. Don't count on white beaches and a clear blue sea. These are plentiful in Bali, but on Java this is something else. Pangandaran is also known for the No Valley and Green Canyon. Here you enjoy the natural beauty, enter an underwater cave and there is the possibility of body rafting. The latter was not so suitable for me, bobbing around and drifting quietly with the flow of the water though!
Yogyakarta: the temples of Indonesia
Many people see this city as the most beautiful of all of Java and I agree with that! The city has many cultural attractions that take you to the history of the country. The most famous attraction is without a doubt the Borobudur. You come here very easily with a taxi or rented scooter as this miracle is only one hour outside the city centre. In addition to the Borobudur, there is another famous temple in Yogyakarta that is personally my favourite; The Prambanan. This is the largest Hindu Javanese temple complex and was unfortunately largely damaged during the 2006 earthquake. Meanwhile, most of the temple has been restored and you can definitely not skip a visit to this temple! I recommend planning a stay of several days in Yogyakarta as you will definitely need it and even on departure you have often not been able to see everything.
Go higher: Mount Bromo & Kawah Ijen crater
From Yogyakarta you travel very easily to Bali, but not without making a stopover at Mount Bromo and the Kawah Ijen crater! A visit to these two is often bookable in combination with the crossing to Bali, ideal. Also count for this trip several days as the distances to be covered are very large.
Mount Bromo has been in the top 10 most beautiful volcanoes in the world for years, and when you see photos you understand why. In the middle of the night, you'll leave with Jeeps (which sometimes can't handle the steep slopes) to the viewpoint from which you look at the sunrise. Then drop it at the starting point where you start your journey to the edge of the crater on foot. I'm still surprised that accidents don't happen here weekly considering the crater without a fence starts 1 cm (not excessively) next to the sole of your shoe. Anyway: watch out!
In the night, a night bus takes you to the Kawah Ijen crater. This crater climbs with good weather in 3 hours (I certainly didn't know this luck) and takes a total of about 5 to 6 hours. Don't look up on the hike, because when you're already out of breath, you're going to get it hard. Once upon a time you arrive at the crater, the turquoise water shines here, or yes that's the intention. My visit was a little less well planned so my view was not very much more than a grey haze… From Kawah Ijen you can easily travel from the port 'Ketapang' to Bali by ferry.
In my next blog I show you the big differences with Bali and the Gili Islands! Keep tuned!