Our second month on the road has been much less dramatic than the first – we’ve really started to find our groove and have visited some amazing, one of a kind destinations.
There are probably three phrases I would use to summarise this month – aching muscles, looooooong travel days and dodgy hotel rooms. Here’s the low down on what’s been going on!
In my last few days in Bali I was fortunate enough to catch up with not one but two friends of mine who were in the country at the same time! It was so lovely having some company after spending the two weeks prior on my own. I’m fairly sure I talked the entire time – sorry Sofie and Meagan!
Mike and I met back up in Yogyakarta, Java. Considered the cultural capital of Java, we saw some fantastic sights from here – the old Palace, an overnight trip to Borobudur, and the Hindu temples of Prambanan. The stay in Borobudur was the first of the dodgy hotels, with a tiny room, a bathroom so bad you would feel cleaner if you didn’t shower, and what felt like the entire town having a party next door. The terrible night almost deterred us from our sunrise outing to see Borobudur, but we persisted anyway – you can read all about that experience here.
We moved on to Solo from Yogyakarta, spending a few days here before moving further east. I hadn’t really planned anything for this stay, thinking we’d find something to do and it would be good to have a few days rest before some quite taxing days ahead. The two of us got a little restless here, with Mike questioning why we were spending precious time in a place where there wasn’t anything to do. After several hours of discussion we concluded that whilst we do have this incredible privilege of traveling full-time – life is still short and we don’t know what’s around the corner. We want to make the most of every day. We therefore decided to both make a more concerted effort in planning our future travels together, with both of us agreeing on each stop – and stops that are worthwhile to make.
Onto east Java, and we spent over 13 hours travelling in the one day to reach Bondowoso, the gateway to our next stop, and also the next dodgy hotel. With cockroaches dead in the corridors and dust and grime everywhere, we paid over $40 for our stop there – exorbitant, but we didn’t have any other choice. The hotel staff were lovely though, helping us get to our next stop and arranging a place to stay after discovering we’d booked a homestay in the completely wrong village.
The next 24 hours were tough going – after an incredibly bumpy trip to the village of Sempol, we took off right away to trek to Kawah Ijen – a large sulphur lake that has ‘blue flames’ at night. Ijen is definitely a highlight of our trip to Java, but as I wasn’t in the right headspace physically and mentally I didn’t enjoy it as I should and missed out on getting the most from the experience. You can read about the trek and my ramblings here.
The next long travel day took us from Sempol, to Probolinggo, to Cemoro Lawang. Cemoro Lawang is the gateway to Gunung Bromo, the most famous volcano of the Tengger massif – recognised by the fact it’s entire top has blown off in a previous explosion. The entire area is incredibly picturesque – the ‘sea of sand’ has a diameter of 10km, and looks like the location of a Star Wars movie. Mt Bromo sits in the middle, with the active Mt Semeru nearby also. Our hotel (not one of the bad ones!) was in the best spot in the town – we had a view over the entire caldera. On the full day we had there, we went hiking out to an incredible vantage point, giving us a view over the entire town. We then trekked back and hired motorbikes and zipped across the sea of sand to the volcano – definitely the highlight of the day! A couple hundred stairs took us up to the rim of the volcano, where we sat mesmerised by the constant billowing of smoke from it’s depths – an absolutely unreal experience!
Mt Bromo concluded our travels through Java, and Indonesia. Next up was Singapore – but to get there – yes, you guessed it – another long travel day. We travelled from Cemoro Lawang to Probolinggo to Surabaya – the first leg normally takes an hour, however we got caught in a parade in one of the local villages just before reaching to Probolinggo – for over two hours! The mini bus literally turned off the ignition and had to wait in the boiling hot sun. We eventually got to where we needed to be, and decided the best antidote to another terrible day in a cramped bus was a date night – McDonalds and a night at the movies it was!
Singapore was fantastic – a much welcomed respite after a physically exhausting last week through Java. There’s nothing about the time there we could fault – other than the dodgy room – yes, one more for the month. We paid over $115 a night for our room – the cheapest we could find – and it barely contained the double bed, let alone the two of us and our backpacks. It was a fun couple of days! Luckily we spent the majority of our time out and about – visiting the malls, Sentosa Island, Gardens by the Bay, the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, the Botanical Gardens, the Raffles Hotel and Clarke Quay area. An expensive city, we managed to enjoy most of our activities for free or for less than the usual price – you can learn how to do the same by checking out this article.
We parted ways in Singapore, Mike heading back to work and I took off to Phuket, Thailand – where I’ve been the last two weeks. Phuket was the first place I ever visited overseas, and was our first time travelling together back in 2011, so I was happy to venture back here on my own. Most of it is as I remember – the same restaurants, tailors and shops still exist.
I’ve been amusing myself by going for walks along the beach, visiting the Food Bazaar I discovered at the local shopping centre every day for dinner, getting a few hours in the sun each day to work on my tan (when it’s not raining!), going to the cinema on Wednesdays (it’s half price!) and working on this website and completing my online courses. I spoke to Mike the other night and said how I’m starting to feel like a local to a degree – I know which housekeepers work on which day, at the exact time to raise my hand and say no to the tuk-tuk driver down the street, can read the traffic – it’s quite a nice feeling, that you’ve been somewhere long enough to know the places and people around you.
As Singapore was so expensive, I’ve opted not to do the typical tourist activities here in Thailand – visiting Phi Phi island, Maya Bay, James Bond, going to the shows etc – we did all these the last time we visited, so I’m not phased on going again in the effort of trying to save some money. I did however attend a cooking class last week, with Kata Thai Cooking. I love Thai food and was determined to learn the recipes for a few of my favourite. You can read all about my time at the class and download the recipes I learnt here.
Mike and I meet back up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday – cannot wait, especially as Mike will have worked a 17 day swing instead of the usual 14 by that time. We will finally have a bit longer together too, just shy of 3.5 weeks. In this time we’ll be exploring Malaysia together – in particular the western part of Peninsular Malaysia, before flying over to Borneo Malaysia – we’ve looked into some incredible activities which we can’t wait to do – and then share with you!
Apologies for the long post, it’s been a busy month with lots going on, many things which don’t make their own blog articles so this is where I share a little bit more with you all. We really appreciate your support in checking out our articles and liking all our photos – the messages of ‘I love your writing style!’ and ‘I downloaded your recipes!’ are just the best!
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Have a great day everyone!