Thursday, 24 February 2011

Heather: Indonesias Number 1 Tourist Attraction.

Borobodur Temple, Java, Indonesia

So, I am in Java, and it rains all the time. Its stupid hot, sweating my life away over here, yet its so tropical it rains. And at night, they have the loudest thunderstorms you've ever heard in your whole life, with monsoon rains. Insane.

So this picture, which I cannot claim to be mine, is of Borobodur Temple - one of the largest in the world. It is around 46km away from Jogyakarta, Java - which I have been based the last 4 days. Its impressive, and Im glad I got to come here, as it was one of the main reasons I wanted to come to Indonesia.

But yet I can't help but feel its all a bit empty on my own. After 5 months travelling, you come and go, meet people, hang about and then you leave them. At least I won't be on my own for much longer :)

And I have become the tourist attraction, at the tourist attraction. Not even joking, I think I must have had my picture taken at least 200 times, posing with school girls, teenage boys, old men, families and young children - its crazy! I think that its low season here, so they dont see many tourists. And they are all eager to speak to you - to improve their English and just have a chat, which is good and means Im never lonely for long here!

I have met so many locals - I love it! The Indonesian people are by far the friendliest I have ever met. Everyone smiles at you, talks to you, they rarely want anything of have an agenda, they are just happy and friendly. And its super safe for a young girl travelling alone. People ask why you are alone, and can't believe that you dont have a husband - everyone says just how beautiful you are, just walking down the street. Even when you are in the oldest clothes, sweating away - they think you are beautiful. Good for the ego i guess!

So its been quite an experience here, Bali is different, Kuta is crazy and im not a fan. Its full of western kids getting drunk on motorbikes, with dirty beaches and people trying to sell you stuff. This is not representative of Indonesia. Padangbai - where the boats go to Lombok/Gilli Islands, is much nicer - quiet, calm. Im going to Sanur tomorrow, the quieter version on Kuta and only 30 mins away - dont want to be around the craziness! Not until I have my dancing partner Jess with me - who arrives in Bali on monday - cant wait!

So i'd like to show you some pics, but the comps out here arent great, so you will have to wait for the next installment.

Prambanan, Java, Indonesia

I have also been to Prambanan the other day - the highest hindu temple in the world, another impressive sight. And another place where I was the main tourist attraction! They take school groups of local kids here so that they can talk to tourists and practise their English. I also got a free guided tour from a 17 year old school boy who was on tourism training here, again, practising his tour in English. Its amazing, these kids learn English very well, as they know its their ticket out of there. Many have dreams to work in tourism and to be able to work in America and Australia.

A guy I met who works in Ahola cafe in Padangbai shares these dreams. He offered to take me to the local temple on a motorbike, as I wasn't sure how to get there myself, and technically speaking, tourists cant drive out here without a permit. So I hired the bike and he kindly took me to the temple, got me a sarong to wear (as neccessary) and gave me a tour around the temple. 

After a while, we sat down and just chatted about life and stuff. I learnt that he has applied for a job on a cruise ship to America and has had to save hard for the application, which isn't cheap. He has made it through 2 rounds of interviews out of 1000 applicants - and I really hope he gets it. I am reminded yet again, how many people around the world long to travel, but just dont have the means. People are genuinely surprised when you tell them that you're 'holiday' is 10 months long. Travelling is not a real concept here.

So I am learning lots everyday - and trying new things as well. Instead of eating at the western places, I have been eating in the little warungs on the street, where at night, on Malilioboro, you sit on a rug on the street and eat at a low table - whilst local musicians play guitar to you. This is how I met a few young Indonesian guys, who are street musicians and sat with me for dinner. We discussed many things, including the strange topic of whether vampires are real or not. I thought this was a joke question, but I saw that they weren't sure of this strange vampire idea - i guess all the films and books at the mo dont help either. So I explained that they werent real, just like ghosts. But they believe in ghosts here, many people claim to have seen them.

Oh and I am learning to speak Bahasa Indonesian - very similiar to Bahasa Malaysian, so will keep in handy to remember all of this!

An interesting time has been had in Java. A lot of local interaction, great local street food and interesting but actually quite easy, local bus travel. Who wants to go on a tour bus full of Americans anyways?

So for now, terima kasih and muchos love xxxx

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I really enjoyed this post, makes me wish i was there getting to experience it too...maybe one day! Miss you my lovely xxx