Archive for February 1st, 2012

February 1, 2012

Indonesian Grand Tour Part 2: “Trekking” in East Java

by Tabitha Kidwell

With a little hole in my plans, between scuba diving in the Gilis and meeting colleagues in East Java, my friend Jackie and I snuck in a tour of East Java. It’s a little tricky to get around, so we booked a car and a guide for a private tour. We were especially interested in climbing some volcanoes and trekking though the rainforest, so we were sure to include those things in our tour itinerary.

After this long in Indonesia, though, I should have realized that things in Indonesia will almost certainly not follow the itinerary. Our “trek” to Bromo volcano for “sunrise” ended up being more of a “drive” to Bromo volcano to “stand inside of a cloud.”

Ijen Crater, which would have been a 4-5 hour hike, was closed due to poisonous gases.

(those aren’t clouds!)

And Alas Purwo, where we were supposed to stay overnight at a lodge in the rainforest, was mysteriously closed to visitors. I didn’t totally understand why. One person told me it was because of corruption, because the government officials wanted the lodge to always be available for them and no one else. Another told me that there had been a shipwreck of refugees in the South Java Sea, and bodies might wash up on the beach. In the end, the only thing that was clear was that we were not allowed to stay there.

So the trip didn’t end up looking much like the itinereary we had planned. For one, it ended up being more sitting in the car than we had thought. Still, the guide did a really good job of replacing the things we couldn’t do with other interesting options.

The first day, after the morning fog burned off, and after we were asked to be in many photos with Indonesian tourists, Bromo volcano was very cool.

That evening, we stayed in a little town that had a hot springs and a really impressive waterfall that was overworked after a rainy afternoon.

The change of plans meant that we met up with our friends Megan and Elizabeth who, because of flight timing, were on a similar but different tour. We went to go see another cool waterfall the next morning, which was yellow due to the high sulfur content of the volcanic rocks and soil.

We also stopped the car at various intervals to see how coffee, cloves, cinnamon , and chocolate grow.

We stopped at a seaside town and visited a harbour full of beautiful, intricately painted wooden fishing boats.

Though Alas Purwo was closed for the night, we got to go on a little day hike, and saw monkeys, buffalo, and deer in the wild. (I was hoping for a panther, but it’s okay that we didn’t see one.)

We also got to see the beach, thankfully free of dead bodies.

And we got to visit the oldest Hindu temple in East Java!

We stopped the next morning at a rubber factory. The process of making rubber was so cool that it will get it’s own blog post!

And we got to meet some nice ladies making gula jawa, the palm sugar that is used in traditional sweets here.

In the end, our trip ended up being more of an agricultural visit than a trekking tour, but it was still fun. We got to see a region of East Java that a lot of people don’t get to. And we didn’t see any dead bodies, die of poisonous gas ourselves, or get mauled by a panther. With parameters like that, this definitely qualifies as a good trip!