28 November 2014

Honored guests in their pyjamas

Traditional Javanese mask
Solo is a place where people like to celebrate. Most of the time festivities are traditional ceremonies with very strict rules, but that doesn't mean that people look sad or serious. Usually Indonesians make a very happy impression, but they rather stay calm and express that only with a beautiful smile. During festivals or happy ceremonies though it gets loud and colorful.

When our host mom told us that we should quickly have a look outside because something would be going on, we had no clue what we would get into. So we just stepped outside, in our pajamas and fully unprepared for the huge spectacle.

24 November 2014

Bali backroads

Hidden beach on the Bukit peninsula
Lisa and I both have been to Bali several times. Lisa has been there twice for conferences and once for a holiday with her siblings, I have been there in January before flying to New Zealand and again a couple of times in between flights. We both loathe the overcrowded beaches around Kuta (aka Mallorca for Australians) and the overpriced resorts around Benoa and Nusa Dua. The hidden gems Bali indisputably has are tucked away from the crowds in small coves in the South and in the North and East of the island.

19 November 2014

Blue fire and yellow bricks

Crater walls in the morning light
Daria and I left Bromo almost in a hurry because we wanted to head immediately to the next volcano: Kawah Ijen. We knew the way would be long and climbing Ijen would involve a wake up way before dawn. We descended the same route as before to Probolinggo by minibus and at 11am already caught a bus to Banyuwangi for only 32'000 IDR (2 EUR). But here our luck ended. Or, better said, we got what we paid for. A slow, uncomfortable bus that we had to exchange half way for another even slower, more uncomfortable one. After something over six hours, our ordeal was finally over and we arrived in Banyuwangi. Together with a Spanish couple we met on the bus we caught a microlet to the seemingly only hotel the locals could point us to. The room we got for 200'000 IDR (13 EUR) wasn't the cleanest one, but clean enough and we were anyway tired from the trip.

11 November 2014

Bromo – an ocean of sand and smoke

Smoke rising from the crater of Bromo
Our Indonesian friends advertised Bromo with plenty of superlatives: spectacular, stunning, a lifetime experience. In consequence, our expectations were high when I set out with my friend Daria to explore the volcanoes of East Java.

A comfortable night bus (Rosalia Indah) brought us for 115'000 IDR (8 EUR) from Solo to Probolinggo. We arrived around 5am, a perfect time to head to the bus terminal to continue the journey. Quickly we found the minibuses to Cemoro Lawang, the village on the rim of the outer crater. Unfortunately, we were the first ones to arrive that morning. The price of 30'000 IDR (2 EUR) was not an issue. But the minibuses leave only once at least 16 passengers are crammed in. As the trickle of tourists wasn't that steady this morning, we finally left around 9am. During the first hour we crossed the usual cities, villages and rice fields. It was the second hour that got more interesting. The road climbed steeper and steeper, the lanes got more narrow with every meter, but the traffic didn't slow down. We arrived safely and happily in Cemoro Lawang at 11am.