JAVA updated, Dec.2006
I brought a dual-band mobile phone from Germany, it worked in Indonesia.
Prepaid cards are easily available and an Indonesian driver's license is useful to register it.
It helps to understand some Indonesian or let a local guy do the initial setup.
Visit to Borobudur
Entrance fee is USD 11 (or Rp99,000 in Dec.2006)
The attraction is in excellent condition.
Visit to Prambanan
Entrance fee is USD 10 (or Rp98,000 in Dec.2006)
Locals enter for free.
Several smaller stupas have collapsed in a recent earthquake. The central structures appear OK but there's a fence around them to keep visitors at a safe distance.
Touts: First we were confronted with hordes of folks trying to sell stuff to tourists. Having gotten past them, there was a guy who asked every foreigner if he / she could help him with his English homework. On the way out, we met a supposed English teacher who asked my companion and me if we were going to work with him for a few minutes and show his class some examples of western behaviour. No clue what the business idea behind this is, but we said no, no, no.
In Magelang we stayed at Sadewa Griya Hotel, Jl.Mayjend Bambang Sugeng No.1, Telp.0293 363990.
Fan double w/ attached bathroom cost Rp60,000. Halfway clean but could need a little repair. Friendly service.
What's best is the carpark inside the hotel complex. A small shopping mall is just next door. Mobile phones can be topped up (berisi pulsa) at a shop just to the right of the mall.
Visit to Kraton
Entrance fee is Rp 4,000 per person. Our guide asked for Rp 5,000.
The video presentation relied on government electricity which was down.
After the Kraton, our guide brought us into various art and handicraft shops. Aunte came with a fairly good idea of what she wanted to buy, but we just couldn't find a shop that had it.
We stayed at River Castle Hotel (b/w Yogya airport and Carrefour Hypermarche). The place looks interesting from the outside, like an old castle. There's an outdoor swimming pool out the back.
Rooms start at Rp120,000. Our room (double, fan, attached b/r) was Rp220,000 but basic things didn't work and it could have been cleaner. Next time, I'll avoid this place.
From the hotel to Marlioboro, it's around 6 km and a Taxi is best to get there and back.
Shopping at Malioboro
There are 2 different qualities of T-shirts: The expensive one sells for Rp22,500 (cotton), the cheaper one for Rp12,500 (not 100% cotton).
A baseball cap (hat) typically goes for Rp 10,000 after bargaining, same for a wallet.
Most street vendors' asking price is higher than what one should pay, but some offer the right price rightaway. The people are generally gentle and soft-spoken with the exception of becak-men.
The shops and department stores in Marlioboro offer more predictable quality goods than the street vendors and they have a better selection.
JAVA, Indonesia: Dec.1999 / Jan.2000
Past Xmas / New Year, I've been biking in Java / Indonesia.
I was using the 1st edition of your Java Guidebook.
Here the details:
Prices of travel in Java
Jakarta International Airport Tax: Rp 50,000
Coconut (kelapa muda): Rp 2,000 .. Rp 6,000 (in village .. in Jakarta restaurant)
Bakso: Rp 2,000 .. Rp 4,000 (on street .. in foodcourt)
Martabak: Rp 5000, 6500, 8000 (biasa, istimewa, super)
Terang Bulan Rp 2000, 4500, 5500
Meal at fast-food restaurant (McDonalds, Hoka2): Rp 12,000
Meal at Chinese restaurant: Rp 20,000 1.5 l water (Aqua) at shop: Rp 2,000
Parking: Rp 500 (motorbike), Rp 300 (bicycle)
1000 km bus ride (Yogya - Jakarta, non-aircon): Rp 30,000
30km bus ride (non-aircon): Rp 3,000
30km metered taxi ride (Yogya): Rp 50,000
1 liter of gasoline (for car): Rp1000
Parking (motorcycle): Rp500 (in Jakarta's better malls, secure parking with hourly charge !)
Cheap hotel: Rp 20,0000 (Rock bottom is Rp 8,000 in Yogya, Marliboro area)
Because of the current crisis, very few places charge higher during holidays.
Note: Better places add tax to the price. Such places include McDonalds and most supermarkets.
Exchange rate: EURO 1 = Rp7000, Rp10000 = EURO 1.43
Leisurewear of "Dagadu Djokdja" brand. Good prices in Yogya. Good-quality T-Shirts from Rp 15,000 on. However, be careful, some can be 100% synthetic.
Pirated computer software: Rp 20,000 / 1 CD
VCD movies: Rp 35,000 to 54,000 for original, Rp 15,000 for poor-quality copy (from cinema screen)
Fake Nike (etc) sports shoes (sometimes OK quality): Rp 50,000
Safety in Java
Beggars are common and particularly near trafficlights, you will find people who wipe your car, play you a song on a guitar and ask for money. If you give them a chance, some of these people steal from you.
In traffic jams or at red traffic lights, some of the poor people check if the trunk of a car is open. Some steal goods from trucks, if none watches. It makes a lot of sense to lock the doors of your car or to keep items away from bus windows.
I never had them steal anything from my bicycle, only was asked what were the things I carry in my luggage (and I usually say, "It's full of money"). I later stopped 50m before the traffic lights as not to have these people around me.
When asked about your origin, it is currently very unwise to say you are from Australia. Germany and Holland are safe answers. Though relations with Australia have improved, don't count on everyone to know this.
If you stay longer in a place with people who don't often deal with tourists, these people will create their own image of you. This can be rather negative and I have the feeling it can trigger a mob to go after you, though fact is, that it never happened to me. However, I personally feel safer not to stay too long in one place. It definitely helps to speak Indonesian, so you can put things right before a whole village is convinced that you are one of the bad guys that they talk about on TV.
It is not very obvious to the visitor, but there is quite a bit of racial tension. The many burned-down buildings, particularly in Chinese areas of Northern Jakarta, prove it. Word of my Chinese friends is, that Indonesians can turn extremely violent against them. This is hard to get into ones head if one hasn't experienced it. So, when you stand in front of a destroyed
mall, it is not a good idea to walk up to the nearest person and ask "How comes ?".
I myself caught just a bit of this feeling: I was standing in front of a Chinese shop in Garut, when one guy came running and shouted close, close !
Immediately, the people from the shop stopped whatever they just did and went to closing. Other people were running around nervously and the road was rather empty, just like in the wild-west movies, when 2 guys start duelling.
I didn't know what was going on and decided to move a bit. A few minutes later in the market, while I was buying oranges, again people around me started to turn nervous. I asked why and learned that a demonstration was cruising town. Again, I hopped on my bike and got out of the way by a safe distance. I just caught a glimpse of the procession's tail. Heavy police escort and heavy rain kept this a peaceful event.
In other words, your safety depends to some extend on the color of your skin.
Holidays / Festivals
Indonesia is a bit different during Ramadan: Hunger can become a problem.
During daylight time, Muslim folks shouldn't eat and many restaurants are closed. Those that still serve food, they close windows and doors, or put large banners of cloth over the windows.
In the cities, people are more relaxed in religious matters and food can be found. In towns and kampungs however, you might want to take your breakfast at the hotel and when lunchtime comes, knock on the door of a Chinese restaurant, if there is one. Some restaurants sell packed (=bungkus) food for people to take home. My personal experience is, that wherever I stop to eat it, even on a remote mountain sideroad, people will come out of nowhere, gather and stare. When I say sorry, move on and stop elsewhere, the same thing happens again. If asked, they don't mind that I eat, but still make me feel like a sinner.
So, best thing is to find a restaurant that serves food and eat it there.
The last evening of Ramadan is Takbiran. Then, plenty of folks cruise city streets on trucks. They don't drink but beat drums and throw firecrackers, feels as if a war was going on. My Chinese friends don't really enjoy this evening, as such a lot of people on the road can transform into a destructive mob. Even for a visitor, it's not necessarily good to wander around at that time: People are in the need for money to celebrate plus there's a lot of firecrackers, trucks, traffic jams everywhere.
The day after Takbiran is Lebaran, and many go on holiday. At that time, Jakarta is a bit less congested with not just a few shops closed. Shopping is still possible at the malls.
Coins: Rp50 Rp100
Bills: Rp100 Rp500 Rp1000 Rp5,000 Rp10,000 Rp20,000 Rp50,000 Rp100,000
Credit card: My Mastercard worked fine on all ATMs and Bank Bali has the most of them (ATMs)
Public coin phones work on Rp100 coins, but it is not possible to call a handphone from these.
Public phone card telephones are also common - I haven't tried them.
From Wartel shops, one can call national, international and handphones.
In Jakarta, lots of folks carry handphones. You might borrow one.
In general, telephone lines are not bad but it happens that you can't get your connection. Try again later.
Note that at the Jakarta airport, most of the coin phones are defective. If you are trying to place a call, a guy will approach you and ask if you want to buy a phonecard from him, so you might try your luck with a card phone. Looks like a bad trick, I myself checked 20 coin phones until I found a working one.
Here a little story that I was told at Puri Bali: For many years, the homestay lived happily with a normal telephone line. One day, an incredibly high bill came in that they refused to pay. They were disconnected and bought a handphone that works on prepaid cards.
According to official papers, it is illegal to bring handphones into the country. In the real world, none bothers.
My bus from Yogya to Jakarta (DWI MARTA) never came into the terminal. Had not the people informed me that this bus waits outside, it would have left without me.
Bus DWI MARTHA has the reputation of being one of the fastest lines, as I was told by the people at the reststop. Never ever one vehicle, even not a motorcycle, managed to pass us while many had to give us way - luckily, they did.
In places where there is no alternative transport like taxies, the last bus of the day may ask horrendous fares from passengers, from locals as well as from foreigners.
Several times when using taxis, busses, Angkotan, upon arrival, I was asked to pay some extra beyond the agreed fare. I never saw this happen to locals. People are very persistent in their demand and say "fuck-you" if you disappoint them.
For more transport-related issues, see the CYCLING section at the end.
Taman Raya Bogor
Nice spot to relax, but not worth to come from far.
Heavy traffic jam (mostly Angkutan minibuses) around the garden throughout the week.
Person: Rp 2,500 (weekdays), Rp 1,500 (holidays & sundays)
Car: Rp 5,000 (weekdays), not allowed to enter on holidays & sundays
Motorcycle: Rp 500 (weekdays), not allowed to enter on holidays & sundays
Homestay Puri Bali
Dorm Rp 30,000 all prices include a solid Indonesian or Western breakfast
Single Rp 40,000
Double Rp 50,000
Since there were virtually no people, I had the complete 4-bed dorm to myself !
Rooms are clean and people are nice, invited me to join family meals.
The homestay has a large and warmly-furnished sitting area and dining room.
The restaurant outside operates independently.
A word about management of Puri Bali: The mother who normally runs the homestay, explained to me that she gives the management to each of her children for a year, so that they learn about doing business. Year 1999 was rather quiet as her daughter whose turn it was, put first priority on her study. Before, when one of her sons managed the place, the restaurant was very busy with his friends.
One traveller told me that Pensione Firman (next door down the hill) is managed in a rather stiff way and not as nice as Puri Bali. When I was there, none opened.
The road over the Puncak Pass is busy, not only on weekends. There is tourist developments (villas, restaurants) all along the road, and traffic jams also.
Though you may find a lot of local tourists, it's not too difficult to find a place to stay, as there are also lot's of touts running around, trying to rent out one of the many villas.
I checked one near the pass, toutet by a guy called Miing: A chalet with a real fireside, firewood supplied, nice hillview, 2 bedroom, Rp 150,000 per 24h was the asking price.
Since Puncak is so busy, I can't really recommend it to those who want to relax or cycle.
CIPANAS (nr Garut)
Many places offer rooms with mandi, whereas the mandi usually has a hot pool (supplied from the hot spring).
There are lot's of places around and I stayed at one of the cheaper ones that looked OK: Putra Lugina, 2-bed rooms for Rp25,000, 3-bed rooms for Rp35,000 and 40,000, no breakfast, rather clean.
Hotel Antralina is more upmarket (and located uphill), prices (weekend price in brackets) are: Single Rp40K(55K), Douple Rp60K(77K), Bungalow Rp75K(100K).
Sumber Alam is a top class resort-style place with spacious restaurant, karaoke, pool, ... Prices range from Rp110000 for a 2-bed bungalow on weekdays to Rp820000 for a Suite (2 doubles) on holidays. All major credit cards are accepted.
Nice for cycling is the road from Cipanas towards Garut, turn right at the sign to the Geothermal plant, bear for Cisurupan (past Gunung Papandayan), and on to Pameungpeuk. Once you are past Gunung Papandayan, it is pretty much downhill to the sea.
The asphalt road up is really steep, hence down is rather swift (for a bicycle).
You can hire a motorcycle taxi at the foot of the mountain in Cisurupan.
Entry fee to the developed area nr the crater is still Rp1000.
There are maybe 30 little shops around the large parking nr the crater, but only one was open on the weekend when I was there. Apart from me, there were only 2 cars. They say it's the crisis.
A few meters from the parking are some chalets and a camping site. The paths there are partly flooded and the whole place looks neglected. I was told it can be booked from Garut. I would suggest, if you want to pitch your tent there, find a dry spot and just do it.
From the parking lot you have to walk, guides offer their services.
Before you get into the town center from the North, you will pass Beni Mekar Hotel. It's OK. Prices are Rp 15000 upstairs, Rp 20000 downstairs, all double rooms with fan and traditional mandi, w/o breakfast.
PAMEUNGPEUK to CIPATUJAH, along the coast:
When asking for the way to Cipatujah, people in Pameungpeuk will usually send you via Garut, but there is a way mostly along the coast, though a bad one. It's even drawn on the Nelles map, but you would think twice before you do it. It's possible to get thru with a mountainbike, so this is the challenge you were looking for.
Alternatively, you can walk which should not be too much slower, if you find some motorized transport for the first part and the end. Start not later than 9am, and if something goes wrong, stay overnight in a village. It's good to carry some food supplies like coffee, tea, sugar, cake, .. for your hosts or for yourself.
Near the Pameungpeuk market / bridge (where you can buy your supplies), an asphalt road branches east along the river. Follow this road and after some km, the asphalt gives way to stones. No vehicle can go fast there, but bigger tires are better. At Mi Mare, the road turns North-East. Some km later, it passes over a waterfall and swings back South-East where it enters
a plantage. There you ask for directions to Cipatujah, as the roads within the plantage are confusing. At one point, you will go down a steep hill, then pass through several remote villages and over some more hills. The villagers pushed me thru, as the wheels of my mountainbike were jammed with mud and I myself had problems getting up and down the slippery hills.
After this, a river is in the way. The villagers maintain a raft and will help you across. Follow the path over a fragile wooden bridge, after this bear right. Now straight on for several km (some stretches can be cycled) South-East along the river until you reach more villages. At the point where currently a steel bridge is being constructed over the river, the path descents from the hills and joins a stony road, just as bad as the one you had at the beginning. When it get's dark you should have made it up to this point, from where on you can't get lost. The road follows the river to the sea. From the beach, another 8 stony km East to Cipatujah.
The whole trip is between 60 and 70km (I had some trouble with the cycle computer, hence not accurrate). It makes sense to carry a spare set of brake shoes. It also makes sense to ask for the way frequently.
If you use a GPS, you can follow these waypoints in sequence: Pameun, Mimare (=Kampung), Wafa1 (=Waterfall), Rakit (=Raft), Bridg1 (=Fragile bridge), Coleng (=Kampung), Sederh (=Hotel Sederhana in Cipatujah). Refer to attached file.
Hotel Sederhana is friendly and clean at Rp10000, Rp15000, Rp20000 for doubles with bathroom. The restaurant opposite belongs to the same family.
From the junction of the East-West mainroad, this village is 6km South.
When you reach the village, it is best to go West over the hill, beyond that is a nicer beach with more accommodation choices:
Hotel Tratai: Doubles with mandi are Rp25000 and Rp60000
Hotel Melati Indah: Doubles with mandi are Rp27500 upstairs, Rp35000 downstairs, including coffee or tea in the morning
Alanas: Huts with mandi and sitting area out the front: 4-person Rp 50000, double (2 beds) Rp 30000, double (1 large bed) Rp 25000. Surfboards can be rented at Rp 50000 / day. The place seems to cater mostly to western visitors. These days, there ain't many but huts are still maintained OK.
Their restaurant does currently not operate (due to a lack of visitors).
Staff is friendly. I stayed there.
GREEN CANYON(Some people call it "Grand Canyon")
Coming from the West, pass the turn-off to Batu Karas and cross the bridge.
Follow the mainroad that turns right and you will reach the departure point for the boats.Opening hours: Everyday 7:30 - 16:00, except Friday 13:30 - 16:00
Fee: Rp24600 per boat (max 5 people)
It is not possible to hire a boat elsewhere, people will all send you to this official start point.
On the other side of the road is a large parking lot with restaurants around.
Most visitors are locals on a weekend trip.
If you want adventure or want it cheaper, you can WALK TO GREEN CANYON:
Again, coming from the West, pass the turn-off to Batu Karas, cross the bridge and turn left. At the corner are some Ojek waiting. You can hire one or just walk. Walk up the steep hill, continue on the plain about one km and reach another small but steep hill. Right on top crosses an Irigasi. Here you get off the Ojek. Turn left and walk along the canal on a small footpath. As soon as you see a wide meadow under trees to your left, cross the canal by means of a little bridge, cross the meadow and climb the mountain behind.
You could now use my GPS breadcrumbs (Green1, Green2, .... Green6) or ask the farmers that you hopefully meet. The way is not straightforward, count on 1.5 hours walk. In the area of Green6, you can get down to the water. It is easier on the left side. On the right side, you climb down the cliff to the point where the boats turn back.
Instead of walking back, you can wait for a boat to take you out (agree on the price before you go, they are not doing you a favour). If there's no boat, why not pack your stuff in your waterproof backpack and swim with the current back to the bridge ? I found a boat, so I can't tell you how well the swimming works. Maybe be a bit careful as not to be run over by a boat.
It's supposed to cost Rp2000 to enter the area, but none was there to collect this.
Pondok Moris was by far the cheapest and nicest place I found. The entrance is not too obvious and the way in is narrow, but it's well-made, well-maintained, well-managed by an older man. Prices are:
Double: Rp35K (1 night), Rp30K (2 nights), Rp25K (more than 2 nights)
Single: Rp30K (1 night), Rp25K (2 nights), Rp20K (more than 2 nights)
Holiday prices are higher
The "huts" are rather rooms in a long house. They are nicely seperated with plants and have a little sitting area in front, so you feel like it's huts. They all have bathrooms.
Above prices include good breakfast and extra tea / coffee. From the restaurant, you can order food to your hut.
The National Park is a good place to relax. Not a big thing, but very accessible and just nice for a weekend.
Chez Mama Cilacap serves good Chinese food and is a bit more busy than the others places. Count on Rp40000 per kg of seafood.
Lonely Planet is the ultimate place if you want to see many Chinese in one spot. Though Pangandaran was almost deserted, the Lonely Planet Restaurant was jammed, still crowds of people waiting outside. Absolutely no hope to get in. Every seat occupied. Staff at this restaurant wears custom-printed Lonely Planet T-shirts !
I sat down in an empty restaurant 2 doors from Lonely Planet. I found nothing wrong with their very affordable lobster.
FERRY from KALIPUCANG to CILACAP
Departing from Kalipucang at 7am and 1pm. Trip time is 4 hours. The morning boat is busier than the afternoon boat.
When I came, there was no afternoon boat. They said it had broken down and was going to be repaired within 2 weeks or so.
4km North-West of Kalipucang is Donan Cave (waypoint GDONAN from attached file).
A large parking for tour busses is nearby and a few bats are inside the cave.
When I was there, the official ticket booth was closed but a crowd of villagers lingered around, asking an admission fee of Rp2000. No need to pay if you don't mind that they shout fuck-you.
The cave is not really worth a visit, walk in from the front and out the back in less than 5 minutes.
For a picnic however, the area outside / on top of the cave is not bad.
From the bus to the railway station it is 1.86 km direct line, but road is not direct. Don't think you can walk it in 5 minutes, as you write in the book. I take around 10 min by bicycle.
The people at the bus station are terrible. I was looking for a bus to Yogya. One guy, tout or conductor, offered me a ticket at factor 12 of the real price (OK, including my bike). The bus driver refused to bargain with me, asked me to deal it with the tout. I could not lower the price at all and the other touts adviced me to wait for a later bus. The bus driver got pretty impatient and left. Another 2 busses just the same.
I tried to find transport to Purwokerto and the only option seemed that I hire an Angkotan.
Rather late at night, I was offered a seat on a Yogya-bound bus for little more than the train would have cost. I left with relief.
Most accommodation choices in Yogyakarta are around Rp20000 .. Rp25000 for a double, where Prawirotaman area is slightly more expensive than Sosrowijayan (Malioboro) area.
Out of all the guesthouses, Superman I (Sosrowijaian, Gang 1) is the best value for money that I found. They also have a nice restaurant that is popular amongst western travellers.
Room prices are:
Single (outside bathroom) Rp 8000
Single (attached bathroom) Rp 10000
Double (attached bathroom) Rp 15000
Meals not included, but you get a few cockroaches in your room.
A few meters further down Gang 1 is Superman II with an even larger restaurant and Internet corner. It is said to be similar to Superman I.
Near the Umbulharjo bus station, Asri Graha Hotel offers OK rooms and a safe yard to park your car (or bike). Their budget-line of rooms cost Rp22K, 27K, 33K, all doubles with fan and attached bathroom. Reception is open 24h.
Kedai Pujayo (restaurant) has changed. Today, there is no more Pizza. Instead, the ground floor has some Indonesian-cuisine food stalls, tables and an Internet Cafe (Rp1000 / 10 minutes - the cheapest I found, provider is IDOLA, looks fast, uses LAN). The floor above has more tables plus Karaoke facilities.
Prawirotaman International Bookshop, I couldn't find. People said it's gone.
The Kraton charges foreigners Rp8000 entry, this includes a camera permit and a very competent guide.
The entry fee for Taman Sari / Water Castle is Rp1000. The guides that go after you don't necessarily bring you to a batik shop but they expect to be paid in the end. I did not want to be bothered by a guide and tried to send him away, didn't work. When afterwards I didn't pay him, he was just sad, not aggressive at all.
The people in the area seem to dislike it, when tourists come and take photos. Actually, the Water Castle is more of a kampung and less of a castle, so by walking around, you disturb them.
Due to the crisis, this beach wasn't crowded at all, when I was there.
I stayed at Agung Garden, a place slighlty nicer than other places, friendly owner speaks English. However, the man could pay some more attention to maintenance.
Double rooms with mandi rent out for Rp15000 (optional Western breakfast: + Rp5000)
GUA LANGSE (nr Parangtritis)
Locals reach this cave in a 2 hour walk & climb from the village of Parangtritis. Head towards the "Queen of the South", once you get off the asphalt road ask for Gua Langse. At the last hut before you reach the cliff, an old lady will ask you for a donation. People typically donate Rp2500 (as can be seen from the donation book).
Many of the bamboo ladders that lead down the cliff have been turned into new steel ladders (11/99). On top of this, handrails / hand holds have been anchored into the rock in a number of places, so the descent is now safer. Still there are enough lousy stretches left, if you want to get hurt.
The cave is definitely worth a visit, even if just for the climb down the cliff.
When I visited, one monk stayed there, though he should now have finished his meditation and returned to his village.
Unlike written in the 1st edition of the Lonely Planet Java, the cave does now NOT have branches that extend deep into the hill. There is one large chamber (more deep than wide) with a longish pool along the left side. On the right side, a mandi has been constructed.
At the end of the large chamber, stairs lead up to a more round-shaped small chamber. Inside there, you'll find a spring. Possibly the cave once continued from that small chamber, but it has been sealed.
The water from the behind chamber runs out thru a pipe into the mandi, from the mandi down into the pool, from there it seeps into the sea.
At the entrance of the cave / the large chamber, concrete platforms have been built. You can sit, sleep, meditate and eat there. If you plan to spend the night at the cave, no problem.
Near the entrance of Gua Langse, there are said to be a few other, smaller caves. Need to climb there.
Entrance fee is Rp1000(foreigners) / Rp500 (locals)
I didn't have the right change and got in for Rp500. So, if you are really on a budget...
BOROBUDUR and PRAMBANAN
These very well restored temples are surrounded by boring, sterile gardens with only few trees, hence little shadow (I say that after I saw Angkor Wat).
For each of them, the entrance fee is US$5 (foreigners) or Rp2500 (locals).
For foreigners who prefer to pay Rp, staff has a table to calculate the equivalent of US$5. At Borobudur, there are even money changers.
Foreigners get some extra, for the money they pay: The US$5 include colored admission tickets, rides on little trams, free entrance to the museums, booklets about the tempels, cool-looking (though useless) A4 size "diplomas" that say you've been visiting Borobudur or Prambanan.
On the back of one of these booklets that you get, there is an advertisment for Ratu Boko Archaeological Park, it says 3km South of Prambanan. Haven't been there, you might want to check it out / gather some info about it.
Most of the visitors to the tempels were locals. They love to climb the monuments and scratch the old stones, too. There are signs that exactly this is forbidden. Foreigners were few and I always saw them treat the heritage with respect.
Still a good place to stay is "The Westerners":
Double (one person, w/o bathroom): Rp12000
Double (2 person, w/o bathroom): Rp13000, 14000, 15000
Double (2 person, w/ bathroom): Rp20000
Breakfast is Rp3500 for coffee, toast, butter, jam, egg, salad
Water and tea are free.
"The Westerners" is a very clean and well-maintained place. People are helpful and friendly. A sign says: "It's strictly prohibited to make noise and get drunk"
They offer a local bicycle tour, for tourists to visit a Gamelan factory, Krupuk factory, Batik factory, two Kraton. It takes from 9am to 4pm and you'll do around 15 relaxed kilometers. The charge is Rp23000, including bicycle hire.
Restaurants: Tio Ciu 99 is a popular, reasonably-priced place with a good selection of Chinese dishes.
Matahari Department Store (#54 on the LP map) has been burned down and the structure has badly collapsed. It's not sure if it will ever be rebuilt. There is another Matahari on the other side of the city, it was also destroyed but has been rebuilt. Refer to my GPS file.
Many other buildings in Solo have been destroyed, amongst them several banks. Sad story. For the tourist however, it is not a problem to find a working ATM.
GUNUNG MERAPI from the North
A small local road passes from Solo westwards between the two peaks of Merapi and Merbabu, further on to Blabak, near Borobudur. Between the two mountain peaks lies Kampung Selo, from where a track leads up to Merapi.
This track from the North is rather safe and people in Selo told me that today, it is the only practicable way to climb the peak.
A bit up the hill, following the sign to the peak, there's a "basecamp" (a wooden house with mats on the floor) where you can stay for free (donations are accepted). On weekends it can become a bit busy. It's a good place to find out about the climb or to find a guide.
At the house opposite the start of the track, you can ask Mr.Sony to find you a licensed guide or porter. Asking price for a porter is Rp100000, a guide is Rp50000..Rp100000, if English-speaking almost certainly on the high end. I was told that prices are fixed depending on the qualification of the guide. My guide claimed that he receives 30% of the fee, the rest goes to the
association (or whatever). So expect to pay these 30% or less if you ask around for a guide yourself.
What you should avoid are guides from the cities of Solo or Yogya, they usually are less experienced and more after money than the ones from Kampung Selo.
How long does the climb take ? At the start of the track, there's a sign that reads "4 hours to the peak". Some of the folks I met at the basecamp said it was 6 hours. They were climbing the mountain the 4th time in a year and looked strong and well-equipped. Other people were coming down in the afternoon, they claimed that they started out at 1am in the morning. Knowing that I'm not too great in mountaineering, neither properly equipped, I felt a bit uneasy. I'd better take a guide, I thought.
What equipment is needed ? People bring all sorts of things, lots of food, water, tent, sleeping bag, cooking utensils, gas. The minimum requirement is a flashlight (1 set of Alkaline D-cells is more than enough), some warm clothes, shoes that stay on your feet, 1 liter of water, some bisquits and choclate.
My guide was a farmerboy from the village, speaking zero English, having strong feet, wearing a Sarong, climbing the peak twice per week. We left at 1am, middle of the night, with flashlights. He started out running up to the basecamp, were I suspected that he would pick up his backpack and get his boots. Well, he just went past the camp, straight on with his worn-down slippers and Sarong.
It was going steeper and more difficult, I went slower and slower, while he continued steadily with little effort, stopping again and again to let me catch up, looking bored.
After 1.5 hours climb, we stopped for a break. I asked him how long he took to climb to the peak and he said: 4 hours from the start. He pointed out, he alone, running. With me, rather 4 hours from now on, maybe. The track would go steeper, now. I remembered the 6 hours that those other hikers took.
We had some food, talked a bit, he explained to me that it wasn't really safe to carry on because of poisonous gases and that it would anyway be a good idea to wait at this point, where the sunrise was best. I didn't want to ask for trouble and agreed. We huddled together near a rock that protected us from the cold wind.
It was a clear and pretty cold night. In the early morning, winds rose and mist started to move in. Sunrise came, we caught a glimpse of it, before the mist covered it up again. The cold drove us down very soon.
During the descent, we had several great views of Gunung Merbabu and the valley. First from above the clouds, then from below. Not bad. Merapi instead was hardly ever free of clouds and not easy to see anyway, standing right on its slope.
My guide ran and jumped, as if it was a flat surface. From time to time, he squat down and waited for me. When we got back, I wondered why his feet were totally unhurt.
When I checked with some other people later, I was told that the poisonous gases are not really a risk, probably my guide just didn't want to go to the peak, feeling cold and having to wait often along the way.
My recommendation for those who plan to climb Merapi from Selo:
1) Plan 6 hours if you are not new to mountaineering, otherwise more. Take more water and food, if you're a beginner.
2) Hire an unlicensed guide from the village, English-speaking unless you speak Indonesian.
3) Settle the price before you go. Make it clear that you may be back later than expected, so he cannot plan to work the following morning.
4) If you know that you will be going slow, make sure that your guide brings enough supplies (batteries, food, water) for himself.
5) Expect that your (poorly equipped) guide will feel very cold while waiting on the mountain. You may have proper clothing, but he will rely on you to warm him.
End of Merapi
If comparing this place to Bangkok, I'm not sure which is messier, which is better for shopping, for going out, for work.
Probably it needs a long time to know all the details of such a city. So here comes one bite of the Big Durian:
..is open from 8:30 to 17:00. Entrance fees are:
Adult: Rp500 (yard), Rp3000 (top)
Student: Rp300 (yard), Rp2500 (top)
Child: Rp250 (yard), Rp2000 (top)
Add a mandatory Rp100 "insurance" to all prices.
Entrance fee is Rp500. Half of it was flooded with sea water. The schooners don't really look so great, rather in need of some paint.
ACCOMMODATION in Jakarta
Now not a lot of travellers can be found in Jln Jaksa, doesn't really appear like a backpacker's area.
I checked out most of the budget places in the area. I was a bit diappointed, comparing with Yogyakarta.
Unless stated otherwise, all rooms are with fan and shared bathroom, prices include tax & service, no breakfast:
Djody Hostel: Single Rp19K, Double Rp27500, Triple Rp42K, incl breakfast
Djody Hotel: Single Rp20K, Double Rp33K, Triple Rp42K, Double-AC Rp47K, Double-AC-Bath Rp53K & Rp60K. It was the place of my choice. Clean, nicely arranged (trees in the inner yard), 24h open, while not priced higher than Guesthouses or Homestays. It has a restaurant and a foyer with TV.
Nick's Corner: Dorm Rp15K, Double Rp35K, Double-AC Rp50K, Double-AC-Bath Rp50..60K
Bloem Steen: Double Rp20000
Kresna (this place was actually full !!): Double-Bath Rp25K
Wisma Delrima: Dorm Rp12500, Single Rp20K, Double Rp25K
Yusran Hostel (Indian): Single Rp13K, Double Rp20K (one large bed)
Hostel Borneo: Double Rp20K, Double-Bath Rp30K
Hostel Bintang Kejora: Single 20K, Double 25K, Double-Bath 35K (this place is a bit shabby / dirty)
Norbek Hostel: Single 20K, Double 25K, Double-AC-Bath 50K (people look very much OK but place is a bit dirty)
SHOPPING in Jakarta
Clothes: Pasar Baru
Computer, soft- and hardware: Mal Mangga Dua, Computer center on the 4th and 5th floor.
Electronics (parts and complete sets): Harko / Glodok. Note that a lot of businesses in this area have been destroyed and many shops did not reopen.
Books: It wasn't easy to find English language books, particularly Lonely Planet guidebooks. Shops don't stock a lot of these as they are expensive to them.
Bicycles: Pasar Rumput (near the Manggarai bus station): Cheap shops outside the market sell well-done 2nd hand and local or Chinese bikes. Roxy Mas (shops outside the mall): High-quality imported bikes as well as a good selection of high-class spareparts. Prices are reasonable (lower than Thailand). Asam Rekes (some shops not far from Mangga Dua): Quality between Roxy Mas and Pasar Rumput, not too much choice, need to bargain a lot.
Lots of other things: Try the malls (plaza). There are plenty of them, and for many Indonesians, malls are the places to relax, meet friends and spend time.
An Kokos, Jln A.M. Sagaji No23, is a pretty famous coconut bar. Though it could need an upgrade and cleanup, it's a popular place amongst locals.
Es Italia, Jln Veteran1 No10 (parallel Jln Juandu, nr the Istiqlal Mosque) has real Italian-tasting ice cream. It's a popular and long-run shop. Their receipes date from Dutch times.
Restaurant "Pagoda" (Thai Chinese, 4th floor of Hotel Dusit Mangga Dua). Excellent Chinese food with good variety. You get what you pay for.
Taman Impian Angcol: Promenade (along dirty beach), Marina, open air music, restaurants, souvenir market, cramped with Jakarta folks on weekends. More cramped on public holidays, and difficult to find a parking lot inside. The roads around this area are often traffic-jammed.
Taman Ria: Fun Fare
Senayan Sports Stadion: Go for a swim amidst Jakarta's skyscrapers. Or a run, if you like.
TRENDS in Jakarta
To survive in Jakarta, you don't need a towel and a guidebook. Neither do you need a gun. What you need is a handphone, your own set of wheels, credit cards, appropriate clothes.
Taman Anggrek is currently the trendiest mall. Nicely done. Take a look, chances are that you don't have a greater one at home.
CYCLING in Jakarta and Java
True, none of my Jakarta friends doubt's that I'm crazy.
Should you be into crazy things, take my word: Bicycle is a very workable form of transport in this city. With a bike (and maybe a GPS), you get a lot of things done in very little time.
Indonesian traffic, compared to Thai traffic, is somehow more tolerant and more accustomed to bicycles. I don't mean to say there is no opportunity to get hurt.
The main risk of cycling in Jakarta is that you appear unstylish. A second risk is the polluted air, but if you don't stay too long, you don't really have to go into preventive measures. The third risk is that someone runs over you, but this risk you can effectively minimize. My advice for cycling is:
1) Don't confuse people*. Go steady and straight. Like this, you can even go at 45degrees across a road.
2) Indicate turns clearly*
3) If a fast vehicle approaches you from behind without sounding the horn, take a quick look.
4) If you must ride at night, use adequate lights and reflectors
5) If in doubt about the way traffic flows, follow the other people (some traffic lights show wrongly)
[* In Thailand, you would do just the other way]
In Jakarta, all sorts of bike spareparts and qualities are available. You can get a Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub as well as a Shimano XTR group. Refer to the SHOPPING section. In a village you will find mostly parts for Taiwanese and Chinese bikes.
One can park a bicycle at a motorbike parking, and it seems to be safe - mine never disappeared in 20 days, though people liked it a lot.
Should you ever require to put your bike on a bus, you will have some trouble: It's common and OK to pay 3x the regular fare, but anything is possible and people will exploit your situation. It's particularly bad for the last bus of the day.
Local busses (Angkotan) collect passengers along the way. They also do detours. This results in an average speed of around 20km/h. For someone who has a bicycle, it makes little sense to use Angkotan.
On trains, you normally have to send your bike as cargo. This is a bit complicated, the bike is out of sight, and it needs to be paid, of course. Most of the time, bus is the cheaper and faster option.