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Indonesia Travelogues

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The first thing that strikes you when you look at a map of Indonesia is that it is huge. With only 3½ weeks, we knew there was only so much ground we could cover, but even with modest ambitions we spent more time on buses than we care to remember.

The island of Sumatra straddles the equator, and our first stop, Bukittinggi, was little more than 50km from that line. Bukit tinggi means “high hill” in Bahasa Indonesia, and at an altitude of 1000m, the climate was pleasant and refreshing rather than the steamy equatorial heat you might expect. Luckily for us and our rock-climbing plans.

Indonesia is perhaps the most volcanically active country in the world, and at Lake Maninjau we saw first hand the way the geography of the country has been shaped by the seismic upheavals. A cataclysmic eruption tens of thousands of years ago left a crater that today is filled by a 400m-deep lake. As we cycled around its 60km circumference, the crater walls rising sheer above us, we shivered just imagining the enormity of the event.

Yogyakarta on Java is famed as a centre for the arts, and in the traditional silversmithing quarter of town we tried our hand at making rings. The cutting may not have been straight, the filing may not have been even, but we were pleased with our efforts nonetheless.

In Sumatra we had explored an extinct volcano, but on Java we got up close to a couple of very active ones. At Mount Bromo, the views of the smoking craters in the early morning light were ample compensation for the 3am start. En route to our next volcano, we stopped off in the small town of Bondowoso for longer than we anticipated after meeting up with a great bunch of local climbers. Kawah Ijen, with its smoking crater lake, was our last stop on Java. The volcano spews out massive amounts of sulphur everyday, and as tourists in their hiking boots carefully negotiate the steep and slippy return journey down the mountain, they are overtaken by miners in flip-flops carrying huge loads of this valuable commodity.

From Kawah Ijen we headed straight for Bali and some well deserved relaxation. After chilling out for a couple of days, we took off by car to explore the island. Truly relaxed, we were ready for the surf’n’party resort of Kuta, where our last few days in Asia passed in a white-water blur.

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Picture of a climbing competition in Bukittinggi Sumatra Indonesia Travelogues
Photograph of Barbara by Lake Maninjau Sumatra Indonesia Travelogues
Rock climbing in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra

An arduous cycle round Lake Maninjau

Picture of learning to silversmith Java Indonesia Travelogues
Photograph of Caelen by Mount Bromo Java Indonesia Travelogues
Silversmithing in Yogyakarta, Java

Sunrise over the smoking crater of Mt Bromo

Photograph of our friends in Bondowoso Java Indonesia Travelogues
Photograph of Kawah Ijen lake  java Indonesia Travelogues
Rock climbing with the locals in Bondowoso

The volcanic lake of Mount Ijen
Picture of Barbara and her car Bali Indonesia Travelogues
Picture of traditional fishing boat near Kuta Bali, Indonesia Travelogues
Crazy driving on Bali
Surfing and people watching in Kuta