After New Year we traveled to Krabi Town, rested up for a couple of days and booked our bus out of the country for new pastures further abroad. In less than two weeks we would journey hundreds of miles from Thailand to Indonesia, using every type of transport available to us and feel near exhausted by the end of it. By the time we got to Jogjakarta on the island of Java, Indonesia, we were in much need of some rest and recuperation. It was during this leg of the journey, that for the first time I really did feel a very long way from home.
We left Thailand on the 5th January by coach destined for the capital of Malaysia...Kuala Lumpur. We arrived there at 3am and went straight to McDonald's for a early breakfast (Why Not?) and waited there until after 6am...this way you don't have to pay for that nights accommodation...top tip. Most travelers refer to the capital as, KL. To Malaysians the city is much more than a capital, it is there monumental achievement, their economic flag ship, a thriving metropolis, a symbol of their ingenuity and determination. And there is no better visual example of this here than the massive sky scrapers that dominate the sky line including the record breaking Twin Petronas Towers. They stand at 452 metres tall and are truly breathtaking to behold. The weather was great while we there, and we spent a few days walking around the city, window shopping and eating some lovely Chinese and Indian food. There is so much cultural diversity here, especially the thriving Chinese and Indian community; hustle and bustle, heat and energy, a common theme during the next two weeks of travel through this part of south east Asia's multicultural cauldron of life.
|The Petronas Towers|
|The Twin Towers|
Melaka was our next destination in
|Notice the distance from Melaka to London|
|Who's the Daddy? Outside the statue of Malaysia's strongest man|
|The ambiance at night in beautiful Melaka|
We originally planned to get the boat to
|Stunning architecture day and night|
|Singapore comes a live at night|
|Sitting on the harbor in awe at this beautiful neon lit skyline|
We arrived at Jakarta airport the capital of Indonesia late on the evening of the 12th January. We got a tuck tuck into one of the backpacker areas, booked into a dodgy cheap little room and decided to book on a train out of the city early the next day. Jakarta is a big capital, similar to Mumbia in that its big, populated and polluted. I remember sitting down in this smokey bar late the first night after all that travelling, got a beer and sat back and looking back at me was a picture of The Beatles in their prime, 1964; just when you need a little bit of home comfort, the best band in the world from my home city is shinning down on me...'love you yer yer yer'. We left by train at 6am the next morning to Yogyakarta, and it was during this eight hour journey that for the first time I felt a long way from home.
The journey was fine, we felt safe as the people here are really friendly, however that doesn't stop you padlocking your rucksack up and fastening it to the overhead rail. But, on this journey I just had this feeling of discovery, like I was another planet for the first time, a feeling that seemed to grow with every mile. Perhaps it was the number of new sensations my receptors where all at once exposed to, bombarded with, forced to make sense of this new and curious world. We where the only foreigners on the train, a great feeling, sometimes a little daunting but a challenge since you have to learn a little of the language...I actually learnt a lot of Indonesian and the people are so appreciative of this, it gets you along way in a foreign land. The train stops every few hours,and when it does a dynamic floating market comes aboard selling everything from exotic foods and coffee to silk scarfs and carpets. Poverty is all around you. People playing out of tune Guitars sing and serenade you, women carrying young infants malnourished and tired looking seek your money, beggars mostly children sweep the floors around you, people from all directions put a solitary hand out and deliver you a piercing dejected look that never fails to pulls at my heart strings. All this energy and commotion and noise. And then the train gently begins to move off and this market of beggars and hawkers disappear like ants leaving you to anticipate the next stop a little more educated in how to avoid eye contact and avoid any unnecessary emotional guilt.
I love the rhythmic movement of the train, its therapeutic...relaxing. The biggest change of the train journey was the landscape. Ancient volcanic mountains, grey and black strike out of the ground like giant broken teeth in the distance set against a mixture of barren and fertile lands. Small villages and towns pass us by, men and women can be seen working this land...I wonder what there life is like out here in this wilderness? It's rainy season again, so the clouds sang grey and stormy against this back drop. I like to spend some time standing by the door of the train. Its not like England, the trains are primitive here and the doors are open. With the cool air in your face, looking out at this spectacular landscape is an unforgettable experience...free and timeless.
One incident made me laugh on the train. I was making my way back to my seat and there was a few children with their mothers playing, so I said hello and was trying to make them laugh making faces and funny noises as you do. Well they all started crying, one child even ran away from me screaming. Was it because I was different? Yes...but it was probably more to do with the fact that I was sporting long hair and a big scary beard. Well it made me laugh to think how ironic it was, to think that it was the English children over two hundred year ago who were afraid of the Indonesian people, the so called 'Bugis' people. These warriors had a fierce reputation for being barbaric sea faring wanderers, and it was said that European sailors should beware of the 'Bugis man' during voyages. Maids of families during European colonialistion of the 'spice lands' told this story to young children in bed time stories to make them behave, hence the saying...'Beware of the Boogie Man'.
What a journey. We arrived in Yogyakarta late in the afternoon and spent 4 days recovering, eating good food, visiting markets and exploring temples. I even exchanged places with a Tuck Tuck driver just to give him a break from all his hard work on his bicycle. We stayed in a great little place called Utar, a family run guest house who's owner was the secretary of President of Indonesia. We booked our trip to Gunnung Bromo, a very active Volcano to witness sunrise on the crater at over 3000m above sea level for none other than my birthday; the 16th January...what a present I had in store for myself!!!
|Me and the Secretary for the President|
|Exchanged places...giving the Tuck Tuck driver a well earned break|
|Which way mate?|
|The realisation that I had bitten off more than I could chew|