Sunday, 22 April 2012


On the journey to Bromo it was another pretty pretty empty bus ride. The driver was fucking mental and scaring the shit out of all the people on board, which in a funny way united us more. The only people I remember being on the bus was a couple of argentinians and an American guy. The American guy was called Wade, he was 40 and had done a fair bit of travelling in his time. I wasn´t sure if I was going to get on with him as typically Americans tend to be hard work and also he did that annoying pigeon English thing where by a native english speaker speaks to someone who doesn´t have english as their first language with bad grammer. so instead of saying ´´where have you been travelling" he would say "where you go travelling before?". It does my head in as it´s embarressing, patronising and doesn't help them learn. Anyway, he turned out to be an absolute hero and we had a really great chat on the way to the volcano.

On arrival at Bromo we checked into the hostel we were to be staying at, and the argentine couple were in one room and me and Wade were next door. I was shattered and not really hungry so while Wade went off to get some dinner (this was at about 9 o'clock) i'd popped a valium, put my ear plugs in and went to bed. The door to the room didn't shut unless it was locked from the outside or the inside but as wade was only going out for 20 minutes I told him to knock on the door when he got back and I'd let him in. So 20 minutes passes, wade gets back to the hotel room and knocks on the door. no answer. so he knocks again. no answer. then he pushes the door open a jar and shouts at the top of his voice. no answer. so he gets the hotel manager to go into the room behind ours and whilst he banged on the wall next to my head wade banged on the door. no answer. I was stone cold asleep and there was no waking me! which was a problem for poor wade as we had to be up at 5am the next morning to see the sun rise over bromo! I woke up at about 4am, looked over and wade's bed was empty. I was worried that he might have got lost or something on the way back and the thought didn't even cross my mind that I might have slept through his attempts to wake me. I wondered through to the lounge area to find wade drinking with a couple of polish girls and a couple of guys. they were pretty drunk and making a tonne of noise. fortunately wade wasn't annoyed about the fact that i'd locked him out of our room as he thought he was in with one of the polish girls. he wasn't! So instead of going to sleep, the 4 of them had decided to pull an all nighter and get battered on cheap polish whiskey. Seemed like a good idea at the time. every hour or so a different guest would pop their head out and tell us to keep the noise down, but unfortunately they were just too drunk so kept getting louder and louder. Then someone busted out the twister board so shit got real! I was pretty sober so I was spinning whislt the other guys where doing the bending and flexing. It was hillarious to watch! One of the guys was definately gay, the other was difficult to tell. So a couple of hours passed and then we decided to walk up to the viewing platform to see the sunrise over bromo. It was stupidly cold but fortunately the polish girls were happy to cuddle up whilst we waited for the sunrise. not that there was any sun to see though! Then on the walk back the gay guy was complaining about being tired, and he was supposed to be doing Mt Everest in a couple of months! The funny thing about the walk home was that 4 days later wade and I were on a bus ride and a couple of guys sat in the seats directly behind us were talking about a noisey rabble that had stayed in the same hostel as them before bromo, that they'd seen looking sorry for themselves walking back from the view point. They reffered to us as the ´'bromo walk of shame" which I found hillarious! So wade turned around and apologised to them and we all had a laugh about the situation. The walls must have been really thin as they heard everything that the drunken rabble were saying so they were like "so who was the gay guy?" and "who was the guy who hadn't had any in 6 months" and "who was the mupped to who locked his room mate out of the room"!

basically bromo would have been a really disapointing spectical as the weather had been so crap. But alcohol and a complete lack of sleep managed to make for a great time a a good story to tell. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Pangandaran and Jogjakarta

Pangandaran is a pretty cool place. I only spent one full day there so can't really give too much of a judgement call on it but from what I saw it was a nice quite little beach town which was great for surfing and kicking back with some acoustic tunes on the beach at night. And that's exactly what I did. I got up and rented a surf board from one of the random beach hut places. At first I started with an 8 foot amateur board to try to perfect my technique. Within a few minutes I was standing up pretty much every time so I decided to switch up for a 6 footer. As before I was mainly sticking to the white waves while I got used to the stance I needed to be in. Then there was a bit of a lull in the waves so I paddled out a bit into the deeper water. all of a sudden a big(ish) wave started to form so I said to myself, I'm either riding this bitch or getting battered by it! So I quickly pivoted round to face the beach and started paddling. By this point i'd learnt that long powerful strokes were far more effective than frantically clawing at the water so I managed to get up enough speed to catch the wave just as it was forming up. All of a sudden I felt a massive push on the surf board as I caught the wave and it felt amazing. Then, as I was being shoved along by this wave I quickly jumped up and onto the board and rode it for a good couple of seconds before the wave started to slow down for the reform. It felt amazing. It was the first time I could say that I properly caught a wave and successfully rode it :-). So I decided to retire as raining champion of surfing, end on a high and went back to the beach hut to bask in my glory.

That night I met up with the dutch girls who had decided to move to a cheaper hotel as they had a mouse in their room which kept them up all night at the place I was staying at! I was more than happy with the place though, especially as it had 3 computers and free use of internet. The three of us went for some local food then headed to the beach to catch some local music. I got up and sang a few numbers with the band then headed back at a reasonable hour.

The following morning I caught the mini bus from the hotel and decided to be unsociable and listen to tunes whilst soaking in the pretty views out the window. Just as I was thinking to myself "I've been travelling for 7 months now and haven't been in a vehicle that's broken down yet" we got a flat tire! It was amazing how quickly they changed it, it was like a formula one crew in action! No shit, from the time they'd got everyone off the bus to the time they got everyone back on again it took them less than 10 minutes. Really impressive.

Arrived at the train station where we were to take a train the rest of the way to Joga (Jogjakarta) and managed to grab a window seat so I could get some kip. One of the ticket guys was curious about what I was watching on my ipod so the two of us sat there and watched Avatar together (thanks Adz!) which was kind of surreal! When I arrived in Joga a friendly chap, who I was obviously skeptical about, offered to show me how to get the transfer train to the main city, which he said was free. As the conductor who I'd sat with said it was legit I went along with him. Somehow I was completely separated from the other tourists on the same bus but it turns out that's cus they all fucked up! They got off at the same place as me but didn't get the free train back to the city and instead either walked for an hour or paid for taxis. tee hee. I went to a hostel that the last place had recommended armed with their price guide leaflet only to be told that they were 'last years prices' and they'd gone up by about 30%. I wasn't having that so I shopped around a bit and found a place that was reasonably priced. I got chatting to the tour guide there who suggested that I chill in Jog for 2 days then grab a tour back to kuta via bromo as Joga was cool, but 2 days would probably be long enough to see all the tourist sights. And he was spot on to be fair. This guy was cool as, he spoke perfect english and knew everything there was to know about English football. And not just the usual crap, he knew some of the Reading players from when we were in the premiership and when we were discussing the English national team he was talking about up and coming players from the under 21's. So in addition to buying a tour that went via bromo to bali I also bought a morning tour to Borobudor. He gave me the option to see a mayan temple too but he said that as I'd already seen Angkor Wat there was no need to go. So he wasn't even pushing the up sell which I was impressed with. I grabbed some sleep for a couple of hours then jumped into one of those bicycle taxi things to the grand palace to see this traditional hindu puppet show. It was wank. It actually gave me a headache, in one of the scenes they wanted to depict the fact that they were building a damn so one of the orchestra was smashing this metal can constantly. I left after about 20 minutes and took another bicycle taxi thing to a bar I'd been recommended by the tour guy. Now before I went to the puppet show I'd splashed out a bit on some fancy shortbread biscuits to eat while I watched the puppet show. So when it came to negotiating for the price to take me back to the city it went something like:

Pete: How much to the bintang bar?
Taxi: 4 dollars
Pete: Come on, it was 2 dollars on the way here!
Taxi: Yes, but it's up hill
Pete: Yeah, but you should be really fit, your job is cycling!
Taxi: Ok 3 dollars
Pete: 2 dollars and a cookie
Taxi: No, 3 dollars
Pete: Ok, 2 dollars and 3 cookies, my final offer. (by this time I was sick of them as I'd eaten most of the packet!)
Taxi: ok

So he took me off to a bar but the band wasn't playing yet so I went to the bar opposite. Just as I was checking the drinks menu to see if it was within my price the bar lady came over to entice me to come in. She was like an Asian rhiana; smoking hot! So it didn't take her much convincing! I ended up spending the night there as there was a really cool rock a billy band there and as it was one of the band members birthday there family was there. As I'd been chatting up the bar girl (Muta) she invited me over to join with the family and watch the band and they gave me loads of free drinks from the jug of Irak coctail they had. Pretty eventful night that one ;-)

The next morning I had to be up at silly buggers o'clock to go to see Borobudor. Fortunately there was a really cool english guy there as I really couldn't be dealing with speaking in broken english with the hangover I had. He was a ledge, he's spent the last 4 years travelling, 2 on a working visa in Australia and 2 on a working visa in New Zealand. So he had some really funny stories and it was nice to be able to not think about what I was saying in case the other person didn't understand. After the tour I exchanged details with the English guy and we agreed to meet at the live music place I'd been at the previous night. Unfortunately I was to discover something that i'd been told a few times previously, that asian girls are very jealous and protective as when I got to the bar and was chatting to a couple of dutch girls Muta kept coming over and putting her arm around me and that just to show that I was her property.... even though I clearly wasn't! Then she got really drunk and told me she was in love with me, so I did the honorable thing..... and ran away! I went to another bar which had some pretty decent rock music before going back to the hostel to watch the manu Europa game in which they got royally out played by some spanish team. The game finished at 4 am and I had to be up at 7am for the tour.

The next morning I got up to get the mini bus tour that was to take me to Bromo. And I was shattered!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Bogor and the Tour to Pangandaran

Took the most crowded train I've ever been on to get to Bogor. It was only a couple of hours but it was hell and I kept having to keep an eye on my pockets for fear of theft as everyone was so close. Got there in one piece though and managed to find the hostel I was looking for with no issues. Then I decided to have a wonder to the bus station to find out about how to get to the Pangandaran. On the walk there I spotted a couple of western looking girls so asked them what they where up to. They where both dutch and backpacking through Indo for a couple of months. One of them was a lot more talkative than the other but they both seemed pretty cool. So we exchanged numbers then I wondered off to find the bus station. Couldn't find it for shit so thought fuck it, I'll just go to a pub to watch the Football. Proper splurged (by indo standards this is) and nailed a few european beers whilst eating Pizza and watching footy. I tried to skype Rob and Lillerz back home on the PC's in the corner of the bar but they stupidly didn't have any headphones but had web cams! Anyway, the Dutch girls met up with me and we played a couple of games of pool before heading back to the hostel. I was kicking ass at pool that night, think I potted 6 balls and the black in one sitting in one of the games! The rest of the people playing where pretty shite so I really looked like a super star :-)

The next morning I woke up and headed off to the botanical gardens, cus that's what you do in Bogor. It was pretty cool really, nice to get away from the urban sprawl and see some nature as it had been a while. Nothing particularly to report though, there was a load of school kids trying to practice their English which I was happy to help with. Then I got a call from the dutchys saying they were talking to a tour guide about a 2 day tour they'd been discussing. It sounded pretty good and to be honest I was over negotiating prices of hostels and trying to find public transport so decided to splash out a bit on it. And in hindsight it was a good call as it was a really enjoyable tour. The more time I spend travelling, by the way, the more organised tours have been the more enjoyable way to get around and see the main sights. So I hauled ass over to the hostel to pack up my shit then we went off to meet the tour guide and his driver. Off we went in our private little mini van to the first place, which was on the outskirts of Bandung. We stopped off at a few pretty view points and I got to see a rice paddy type mountain which was one of the things I was keen to do before leaving South East Asia:

That night we stayed in a place that was on top of a natural hot spring so had mini swimming pool/bath's in each room which was luuuuuuuush! My first bath in 7 months. Mint.

The next morning we got up pretty early and headed off to some volcano. It was my first volcano i'd ever been to so it made a nice change. weeeeeeeeee, this whiskey has gone straight to my head. typing is becoming difficulty. anyway, volcano. errr, yeah it was cool, lots of steam and that. Oh, some really cool looking rocks that made it look like we where on a different planet. Check my photos on FB in the album Indonesia.

Then we went off to Pangagadangardang which is this beach town and checked into a really cool hostel. right. off to get shitted with my cousins.

Laters potaterz


"Lets be honest, Jakarta is a difficult place to love" - this is the opening description from the Lonely Planet. And it's pretty spot on. Jim had already spent a bit of time there so knew some of the 'good' places to go and how to use the public transport. We checked onto a pretty decent hostel which was on top of a bar. It was cheap and reasonably clean and I was surprised how quite it was in the evenings considering it was on top of a bar. Jim and I then grabbed a tram to 'china town' which was just a random side street with maybe 4 chinese brick a brack shops and a few street vendors. Ok, at this point I just want to state that although Jakarta was essentially a shit box a place is only ever as good as the people you're with and me and Jim managed to make the most of our time. If anything, the shitness of the place and the things we were seeing/doing made it more fun! We grabbed some street food and chatted to a few locals. The usual banta went along the lines of:

"Where you from?"
"England, you?"
"Cool, do you like football?"
"Yes, I love Manchester/Liverpool. Where you from in England?"
"I'm from London, I'm Frank Lampard but I'm on holiday. Are you Christiano Ronaldo?"


We had a quiet drink back at the bar whilst watching a half decent covers band lead by a local girl who belted out a pretty tidy rendition of Someone like you - Adele among other popular hits.

The following morning we got up and headed off to the docks to get some culture. On the way we stopped in at a dutch themed restaurant that had been kept preserved to look like how it did when the cloggies owned Indo. It was really nice decour and the food was bloody good. Cost a fair whack but I figured I'd stick to local food afterwards to keep to the budget. We visited the naval museum which was literally just a random collection of naval junk with absolutely fuck all thought put into it. Again, it was hilarious how crap it was, ok example, they only had one room where they bothered to even put the junk into glass containers and in one of the 10 odd containers was a bell, standard issue old school bell, with the description: "this is a bell, the captain would ring this to tell the other sailors when it was meal time"! After that we went off to the fish market which smelt more of rotting sewage than fish! On the way back to the train station we sat down in the square outside the dutch restaurant and where set apon by the usual array of local salesmen. One lady came up to the two of us trying to sell drinks and engaged with Jim in conversation. I kept quiet then when she went to speak to me to ask "where you from?" I pretended like I didn't understand her. Jim played along beautifully explaining that I was French and didn't speak any English. Then she asked him what my name was and she told him, and to this day I don't know how we both kept a straight face, Francois. This was going fine until a group of school kids came over and wanted to use Jim for their school video. The problem was that the sales lady was still there and we didn't want her to lose face so we had to perpetuate the lie that I was French so Jim had to explain to the kids that I was French. Then all of a sudden one said so9mething to another and he went off to grab his french friend.... who was studying french at the uni! Shit. So I had to not only bust out some pretty rusty GCSE french to this girl whilst showing some sort of resemblance of a french accent! Fortunately the Sales lady eventually left just as I was running out of french phrases so I explained to the girl, in English, what the game was. That's the second time I've tried to pretend to be french and its the second time it's backfired!

On the walk back to the hostel there was a massive protest by hundreds of muslims. I'll be honest with you, my western ignorance took over and I was worried I was about to get my head cut off, but we were told that they were protesting about the price of fuel going up so I relaxed a bit. That night we met up with a couple of girls Jim knew. The four of us headed out for some grub then went to a Karaoke place. Before we went into the Karaoke room we went up to the top of the building to see the skyline of Jakarta lit up at night. As usual the view of the city from up top at night was really impressive compared to how the city looked at street level in the day time. Then, all of a sudden one of the girls, who was a really sweet muslim girl turned to me and said "You have really pretty eyes" which kinda took me a back. I don't think she was hitting on me and she was obviously completely sober, but I'm not used to complements like that out of the blue. I guess that may be a cultural thing, perhaps us westerners don't compliment each other enough as we just rip the piss out of each other all the time (and yes, I know I'm the worst for it!). Then we all went off to the Karaoke room and sung our hearts out. This Karaoke place had kind of a sing star type points system that would tell you how well you sang the song after wards. I'm not too sure what the criteria was for it but after I belted out a pretty beautiful version of Snow Patrol Run and got 70% then Jim butchered some gay ABBA song and got 95% I didn't really pay any attention to it!

The next morning Jim and I headed to the train station where we were to part company (sob sob) as I was off to Bogor and he was flying to Singapore. Shame to part though, Jim was a hero.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Bali/Nusa Lembongan

Arrived in Bali with a bit of a shock as to how expensive it was. I was knackered and lacking in real direction for what to do until Australia so when I found a place that the lonely planet said was supposed to be 50k a room (5 dollars) and they said that it was now 120k I was pissed. Also when I went for a meal they stuck on a service charge and VAT on top of the listed price. Tired, and grouchy I decided to just check into a hostel and get my head down. After a few hours sleep I felt a bit better and decided to plan out where to go next. Originally the purpose of going to indo (indonesia) was to do some diving and maybe even do my advanced padi course. I did some research into where to go and how to get there and it all seemed like too much hard work! So I spent some time skyping the folks back home and worked on my blog for a bit before having an early night.

The next morning I woke up, took another look at the lonely planet and saw under the discription of Nusa Lembongan "this is the bali that many backpackers look for and few find" and decided it was the perfect place to go and chill. On the boat ride over I got chatting to a German couple and a dutch guy called Jim who I was destined to spend the next week and a half with. On arrival to the shore at Nusa we where looking for a place to stay and the german guy realised that at some point his money belt had been lost/stolen. He was a pretty bug unit and he was pissed off. An hour later of hanging around while he looked for the money belt and eventually he gave up and we decided that we'd find somewhere to stay and they would sort out the cards/money etc after we'd ditched our bags. He'd fucked up big time, in the money belt was all the couples bank cards, a digi camera and around 100 euros in indo rupies. So whilst wondering around looking for a place to stay we came across Aldi, a local guy who was basically a freelance tourist guide and he hooked us up with a sweet place to stay called Wahyu that had really clean and nice rooms and a swimming pool for 10 dollars a room (5 dollars each). Bargain. Not only that, they had really cheap and good food at the restaurant and all the staff where laid back, friendly and a good laugh. It was the perfect place to chill and spend hardly any money for the next 8 days.

In our time on Nusa we rented a moped from Aldi on a couple of occasions and rode around the island. We visited a few different beaches, went to a place where you can actually rent a monkey for the day (not that we did as it was really hectic) and did a 12 meter cliff jump into the sea. That was one of the coolest things I've done on my travels. On the way to do the dive I was bricking it so when we got there I let Jim and this english guy do the jump first. They both landed a bit awkwardly and had painful landings. So when I came to do mine I was seriously close to flaking out, it was only when someone started filming me and gave me a count down that I had to jump otherwise I would have looked like a pussy on film! I jumped off and swore the entire way down. on landing I crossed my legs and somehow managed a pretty much perfect entry so it didn't hurt in the slightest. On my second dive I decided to go for a swan dive from the 8 meter jump which went pretty well too. It's nuts, 8 months prior to that day I would have never had the balls to swan dive from that height but I've done so many high dives off numerous boat trips (sober and not) that I've got so much more confidence in doing extreme shit now. Oh, by the way, this cliff dive place was fully regulated by the cafe it was next to and it has it's own website and youtube site so it's not as if I rocked up to a random cliff and jumped into the sea! I was going to do a Ron Burgendy tribute and do a cannon ball video from the 12 meter but I was too scared of fucking up the entry and ending up with a sore ass/back.

The evenings where largely spent getting drunk on Irak - cheap indo rice wine and playing card based drinking games. The swimming pool made for endless entertainment when drunk so we where never bored in the evenings. We also went to a cock fight one night which was an interesting experience. I won't go into the gory details here in case anyone reads this feels it's animal cruelty so feel free to message me if you want more details.

In total I spent 8 days on Nusa and spent around 150 pounds which was pretty good going I thought. Me and Jim took a ferry back to Bali as we decided to hang there for a few days before catching a flight to Jakarta.

Bali the second time round was far more enjoyable. Jim and I checked into indo Camala and split the price of the room again. I've said it before but it's worth repeating, when you're travelling in pairs its so much cheaper on accommodation prices as few places outside of Thailand and Vietnam seem to have single rooms or dorms. In the day time we went surfing at Kuta beach which is pretty poorly maintained in terms of the beach as I think a lot of people drop rubbish when they're pissed there at night. The surf is perfect for beginners though and for three pounds a day you can rent a surf board and carve up the waves. I've done a bit of body boarding back in my uni days but I'd never really tried surfing before. My first day I took a 6 foot maliboo and wasn't having much luck with catching the waves. I was getting a bit frustrated as i was trying to get out to the big waves which was a classic case of trying to run before I could crawl. Also I low sided the board a couple of times which is the worst way to bail as you spin a couple of times in the water, get a face full of water and the board can sometimes crash into you. So the next day I took an 8 foot beginner board and instead of trying to get out to the blue waves (as they're forming) I stuck to the white and just waited for the reform before simply jumping into the path of the wave so I didn't even need to paddle. I did that for a couple of days and by then I was starting to get up... before quickly falling over! On the last day of surfing Jim and I started drinking with some local guys who were incredibly welcoming. They were dishing out a fair bit of banta about where everyone was from (there was a chinese guy, a dutch guy and an english guy there) and the only mildly annoying part was when one of the guys kept saying to us that they where just joking and we shouldn't get annoyed, even though we kept laughing along with the banta and showed no sign of getting offended. The way he came across when he said it was just a bit patronizing as if we where suddenly going to kick off. Maybe he'd offended some tourist in the past who flipped out. Anyway that was great to mingle a bit with the locals.

In the evenings in Kuta (the town we were staying in in Bali) we usually hit sky garden, a massive 4 story club, between 9 and 10 as it was free drinks with no entry fee. Then we'd usually just bugger off somewhere else as the usually drink prices where pretty expensive. A particular favorite of mine was a live music bar across the road from Sky Garden that had a really great covers band. They also let people come up and sing along and they had a music list with a bunch of western songs on it. I put in a pretty good performance of time of your life by green day but kind of ruined my rep a bit when I sung a coldplay song as Jim came up and sang along.... badly!

Then it was off to Jakarta to get back to some sight seeing...