Saturday, December 18, 2010

Indonesia, part 5

The other big activity we did was a helicopter flight over one of the volcanoes on Bali.

Our transport:

Helicopter 10

The village that has been established on the side of the volcano:

Helicopter 06

The site of the most recent lava flow - about 40 years ago:

Helicopter 07

Lava field, old caldera, caldera lake:

Helicopter 08

And a view from the helicopter of some rice paddies, which shows the amazing terracing they do on the hillsides.

If you ever go to Indonesia, and it is worth it, I recommend you pay attention to the weather.  We didn't and went in the wet season, which meant that although it was very warm - about 31C every day - it also poured with rain every single day.  Luckily all of our activities were in the morning and it rained mostly in the afternoon,  but when it rained, it RAINED.  As in, torrential downpours every single day.

You get used to that after a few days.

Indonesia, part 4

One of the activities we did whilst on Bali was visit the elephant sanctuary at Taro.  Most of the 30 elephants there have been rescued from unpleasant lives on Sumatra, and they come to Taro and live a lovely comfortable life.  The park offers elephant rides which we of course had to do.

Elephant 01

Is it just me or are elephants the happiest looking animals on earth?

Elephant 05

One of the babies born in March 2009:

Elephant 06

It was awesome fun and the elephants all look happy and healthy so if you ever get to Bali I highly recommend it.

Indonesia, part 3

After driving for what seemed like days, we made it to Ubud, the town where we were staying on Bali.  Our accommodation was the Ubud Hanging Gardens, which was the best decision I have made in years.  It was brilliant.

Ubud 05

Ubud 07

And our pool:

Ubud 06

Across the valley we had a view of this temple:

Temple 01

Which at night was beautifully lit:

Temple 02

And the gardens and surrounds were gorgeous, and all the staff were lovely, and if you are ever going to stay on Bali I highly recommend it.

Ubud 03

Indonesia, part 2

We survived the drive to Ijen (just) and spent the night at the Ijen Resort before our 4am wake up call.  The setting for Ijen Resort was quite spectacular, high up in the mountains and surrounded by rice paddies, but there was a torrential downpour which started about 30 seconds after we arrived and continued until sometime early in the morning.  Our wake up call was for 4am, and we set off to drive to the base of Ijen at 4.30am.

The drive to Ijen was along possibly the worst road I have ever been on.  The first bit was relatively flat but the tarmac had so many holes and cracks it was like driving over rocks.  And further along we were in fact driving over rocks.  And by then we were going up some steep hills too.  It was only a 17km drive but it took over an hour to get to the park ranger's station.

So we set off up the path.  Me, the boy, and our ever-cheerful guide Prad.  The signs said it was a 3km walk, and some of it was steep.

Some of it, my ass.  The first 500m was a gentle slope and the rest was practically a vertical climb.  I made it up 1.7km before throwing in the towel, after nearly having an asthma attack.  The others continued up the hill while I sat on a conveniently place concrete plinth and recovered.

I'm glad someone made it to the top, because it was totally worth it:

Ijen 03

See the yellow bits and the smoke? That's a sulphur mine. It's a barbaric place to work. Local men climb the hill, hack the sulphur out of the mine, then cart it back down the hill in baskets. They get paid approximately 7 cents per kilogram of sulphur. Most of them carry between 60 and 80 kg in their baskets.

Ijen 06

Ijen 01

And it's a horrible work environment. They don't have proper gas masks, or protective clothing. A lot of them were either in thongs or had bare feet. A few wore gumboots.

Ijen 02

Ijen Panorama

After collecting me on the way down, we walked back to the car and then spent 123456789 hours driving back to Bali. And I am glad I didn't finish the climb, the boy said the second half was a lot worse and even he thought about not going all the way. But I'm glad he did.

Indonesia, part 1

Yesterday we arrived home from Indonesia.  We were gone for 12 days and had a horrible overnight flight from Denpasar to Melbourne.  I had managed one hour of sleep in about 27 hours so I felt like rubbish when we got home, and had to go to bed for five hours.  I'm feeling slightly more alive today so it's time to update this blog and tell you all what we've been up to!

We flew Garuda Indonesia which wasn't too bad.  Their business class seats are reasonably comfortable to sit in but horrible to sleep in.  And the service, although friendly, was a little lax at times.  If Garuda wants to move up the Skytrax world rankings they're going to have to get their butts in gear.  But no matter,  they got us there and back safely and that's the most important thing.

Our first adventure was to the island of Java, to do some volcano hiking.  After flying to Surabaya from Denpasar, our guide picked us up from the airport and drove us to Malang, where we spent the night.  Well, I say night, but actually we had a 1am wake up call as we left Malang at 1.30am in order to make it to Mt Bromo in time to see the sunrise.

Bromo 03

Bromo 01

Note the lack of actual sunrise pictures. Yeah, not really worth it.

Bromo 05

Anyway the erupting Mt Bromo was quite spectular so it was (almost) worth the ridiculously early start to see it. We're both pretty sure it would have been just as good at 10am as it was at 5am.

In the bottom left corner of that picture above, just above the tree, you can see a little camp where the locals have a temple.  When Mt Bromo is NOT erupting, you can go across the caldera floor (presently covered in fog) and climb to the crater itself.

And what you can't see behind the smoke and ash coming out of Bromo is Mt Merapi in the back ground, the very same volcano that erupted in October and killed a lot of people.

Bromo 10

Later that morning we left Bromo and spent hours and hours (and hours and hours) driving to Ijen Resort in preparation for climbing Mt Ijen the next day.