February 05, 2012


We left the relaxed, surfing town of green waters and vegetation to head upwards and westwards over deep rivers and heavier traffic. A little lost and confused on a late arrival in Cianjur, we only had 1 hotel referral which was full and nobody spoke English. Out of the blue (or should I say, out of the dark night along a busy highway), a young guy asked if we need help. Ahhhhh... our guardian angel! Jay works as a manager, just across the street at a trendy cafe. His English is excellent from watching movies and helping out other lost backpackers who end up in exactly the same situation as ours! He has surpassed all his classmates in a hospitality program that will send him to Italy in a few months to work on a cruise ship. He is incredibly busy (school 8-1 pm, work 2-12 am, watches a movie until 2 am, prays 5 times a day, then up again at 6 am) but still managed to help us out tremendously during our stay.

After a very long day, we were rewarded with a homestay arranged with Jay's Parents! Following a very warm welcome, we crashed in a little pink room covered with cutout hearts and stars :) The next day, we went on a fruit-hunt and then headed to Jay's Aunt's house to play soccer and draw with his cute cousins. Jay's mom closed the door to the kitchen while she cooked up a storm, then emerged a couple hours later with a traditional Sudanese meal--the best I've eaten in Java. Delicious crispy catfish, homemade tempeh, a tamarind-broth-vegetable-bean soup, various vegetables, and hot-red sambal (wow the kids loved that!).

February 01, 2012

A Few Cities Later

It's been a while, so here are a few highlights. Borobudur: Sunrise at the ancient Buddhist temple, bike ride towards the surrounding mountains and villages, playing soccer with a group of children. Dieng Plateau: Moto ride to the craters, steaming lakes and vistas of miles of mountains, chilly air deserving many teas, hot chocolates and kopis (coffees) with great company. Pangandaran: Made an Andy Goldsworthy-inspired art on the white sand beach, ate fresh calimari, jumbo prawns, and tuna--much better than from the can!

Having traveled from East to West Java, I can confidently say that the transportation system is not as efficient, and definitely not as comfortable, as I had expected! Maybe my legs have grown longer (definitely not), or I've become less tolerant with age (hey, I'm not old), or as I see more places, my expectations are gradually becoming more unrealistic (that makes no sense!). We have been able to adapt and in my opinion have been quite lucky with the rainy season, but the roads look like they had just been through a few earthquakes, and our bodies have been shaken around as if we were preparing for our own eruption.

However, today was worth the two-hour, pot-holed, moto ride to Green Canyon! The river was a milky-green, tall trees leaned on either side, and plants dripped off the sharp, black sides. Winding along in the boat, a dark tunnel lay ahead with hanging stalagatites, long vines, and dozens of small waterfalls dripping into the water. Illuminated drops and green moss glowed against black rock. A couple of us jumped in to swim further into the canyon. Absolutely peaceful and beautiful!