What you can read here is just notes. It’s not a full transcript. These are notes I wrote to help me remember details about my travelling experience. You should listen to the episode to get the full account.
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Notes Start Here (Remember, they’re just notes – they’re not all complete sentences)
What we saw and did in each place
30 hours of travelling? Something like that.
How to deal with jet-lag.
Podcasting in a toilet on a plane.
Paris to Kuala Lumpur (nice airport)
KL to Jakarta (“My wife’s gone to Indonesia”)
Delayed flight to Yogyakarta. The plane just sits on the runway. Less stress if you’re late, but not if you’re in a hurry to leave!
Surrounded by people at the airport, all trying to get us into their taxi. Quite overwhelming and hard to know who to trust.
Taxi journey to the hotel. Scooter filled streets. Houses, warungs, government buildings, all kinds of shops, garages and other buildings by the side of the dusty roads. Lush green rice fields, coconut trees. More scooters. Colourful flags by the side of the road (don’t know what they represented). Friendly taxi driver but limited English.
D’Omah hotel in Tembi. Owned by an Australian man called Warwick Purser.
Employed people from the village. Worked closely with the local community, and it shows.
Lovely quiet town with friendly people.
It was nearly destroyed in an earthquake.
A labour of love for Mr Purser.
The staff were unbelievably lovely and friendly.
It was a really first class experience, thanks to my girlfriend who is good at finding these places.
We paid a bit more than normal, but we wanted a nice place to start with after our long flight. It was worth it.
Describe the rooms and hotel.
Ristafel on the first night.
Music played by the locals. So charming and sweet – a combination of ukuleles, guitars, a cello, a violin and some traditional wire percussion instruments and drums. It was lovely.
Chicken sate and other traditional food.
Yogyakarta – the sultan’s’s palace and the water castle. Apparently there is still a sheik for Yogyakarta. The region is unique as it is governed by him, yet he’s not elected. It seems a bit odd. The people of Yogya can vote in national elections, but they are governed by the sheik. He lets tourists into his palace in the mornings, and relaxes there in the evenings.
Gangs of school kids practising their English.
Broad sandy squares with pagodas for relaxing & playing music.
Galleries presenting beautiful fabrics, paintings of the sheiks through the years and various bits of treasure and so on.
Taman Sari: The water Castle, built at the end of the 18th century – a place where the sheik would spend time with his concubines. There are pools of water where his concubines (women ‘taken’ from different places he had conquered) would wait. The sultan would sit in a tower and watch them, and then pick one or more to then spend time with. He’d probably have sex with them. I wondered how that must have felt – either these women would be horrified (they’d basically been kidnapped) or would they be honoured, because in a way this was an honour and it could mean a slightly better life, and the kids of the sultan born of his concubines had privileges and were considered quite high-status people. It’s amazing that it all occurred there and we were able to see it, including his massive bed and everything.
We were shown around by a guy whose family had lived in the grounds of the castle for generations. He worked as a kind of warden and tour guide, but told us that the modern-day sultan was in the process of selling that land to foreign investors and that in fact it had been sold to Starbucks and they were going to develop it. Imagine what the place might be like in a few years.
Drinks in town – hard to find places. Fun and yet slightly worrying taxi rides in the night into nowhere.
Frogs surrounding the place.
Birds, lizards in the ceiling, a crab in the shower.
Ducks, geese and chicken roaming the village.
Children playing in the streets.
Incredibly loud call to prayer at 4.30AM.
Borobudur – it’s a buddhist temple about an hour from Yogya. It was built in the 9th century. That’s a hell of a long time ago.
6 square platforms with 3 circular platforms on top.
You walk around each platform and look at the carved reliefs on each wall. They tell different stories of the buddha’s life, and of cautionary tales of how a life of pleasure can lead to suffering. There are over 2,500 relief carvings and 504 buddha statues.
The concept/idea of the temple. Attaining Nirvana.
Apparently it was abandoned in the 14th century after the decline of Hindu religion and the introduction of Islam into Javanese culture. It was discovered again in the early 19th century by dutch engineer H.C. Cornelius, on the instruction of the then British ruler of Java Governor-General Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. H.C. Cornelius set out into the Javanese jungle with some guidelines from the locals. They found it, but it was overgrown, covered in earth and volcanic dust. Gradually over the years it was uncovered and restored. UNESCO did a huge restoration job on it in the 70s and cleaned it up. Now it’s a pilgrimage site and the #1 tourist destination in the country.
We also visited Pranbanan – a hindu temple, similar to Ankor Wat in Cambodia. It’s a number of large temples dedicated to different hindu gods, and with all kinds of carvings on the walls of each temple. Statues of the gods used to be inside each temple but they’re not there any more. Almost the entire thing was knocked to the ground by an earthquake but was rebuilt, although many other surrounding structures are still in rubble. We stayed for the sunset and went home.
There are other things we could have done, including a demonstration of a traditional Ramayana ballet dance telling the old hindu story of King Rama. We didn’t see it in the end – again, we couldn’t do too much!
Flew to Lombok, via Surabaya – a bit of a nightmare to be honest. We stayed in a hotel which we thought was just 10 minutes from the airport, but turned out to be 90 mins away. We had a very long taxi ride in which we were convinced the driver was taking us on a very long route. We arrived at our hotel and it was a bit grim – although nothing too bad! For some reason my g/f was really turned off by it. Other people’s hair in our bed, weird stains, the smell of stale cigarettes and dirty carpet, cigarette burns on the chairs. Nothing too terrible, but enough to freak her out a bit, especially after our long taxi ride into the unknown. We went out to a great hotel (the name escapes me) and had truly delicious chinese food, and wondered why we weren’t staying there instead. We were up very early for our flight to Lombok – stressing that we were going to miss the plane again.
I can’t go into too much detail. Lombok is the next island after Bali and it’s less touristy than Bali, but just as beautiful with lush greenery, sandy beaches, friendly people and a large volcano in the middle. We stayed in the resort area of Senggigi to get some beach-side relaxation. Snorkelling, reading, listening to the live band at sunset, swimming in the pool, enjoying the delicious local food in street side warungs, buying some handicraft in the local market, strolling along the beach at night.
We also started planning our Mount Rinjani climb. I’d like to tell you about that in more detail now.
It’s the second largest volcano in Indonesia, but it’s still pretty massive. It’s nearly 3 times the height of the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. It’s an active volcano. It rises up about 2,500 metres to the crater rim which is about 7km wide and has a large lake inside, and a smaller volcano which last erupted in 2010. Then the peak of the mountain is on one side of the crater and rises to 3726 metres above sea level.
The Boat Journey (again)
No, we didn’t really capsize in the middle of the sea. The boat arrived safely on the island and we had a lovely 3 days. But, it felt at any moment that things could have gone wrong, and in fact they did go wrong for a similar boat near another Indonesian island just a few days earlier. As I said before in this episode, travelling is an amazing experience, but at times it feels pretty scary! I just wanted to express the adrenaline rush and the fear factor that you can experience in these situations. On that boat ride, and during the Rinjani trek, I really was trying not to panic sometimes. I was trying not to get freaked out by what could have happened. You might be thinking – Luke you worry too much, or something like that, but I think I’m just being realistic. We do have these moments of fear. That’s what makes it exciting. Sometimes you have to get a little close to the edge in order to really experience real life. When everything’s so safe it can get a little boring, can’t it? It’s character building stuff.