Using a pinch day before Waisak day, we took a four day break to the volcanic islands of Ternate and Tidore islands in eastern Indonesia’s North Maluku province. It’s a four hour direct flight from Jakarta to Ternate, which we chose to do on the rather brutal red eye that leaves Jakarta at 1 am and arrives in Ternate at 6am. If this was not much fun for us, it was even less fun for our friend Olivier who had just arrived in Jakarta from Vancouver on Friday lunchtime. Still, we all got a bit of sleep on the plane and arrived safely in Ternate, a landing that involves circling clockwise around the volcano and dropping to land on the runway (at the second attempt in our case).
At the end of April we joined Java Lava for a trip to climb Gunung Slamet in Central Java. The travel novelty was getting the train from Jakarta to Tegal to start the hike rather than having to fly. Andy and I took the train from Bogor on Friday afternoon and spent a couple of hours at Gambir station watching the buildup to the royal wedding in a café. The train journey takes about 4 hours and was very comfortable in the AC executive coach with table service for drinks and food (better than a UK train journey any day!).
After climbing Kerinci, we had a great time in and around the mountain resort town of Bukittinggi. We had a bit of R&R and did some “normal” tourist stuff, before our legs recovered and we were tempted again to head off the beaten track to climb Gunungs Sago and Singgalang.
Based on a recommendation from a traveller in Kersik Tua, we stayed in the great Kartini Hotel. It’s kind of caught in a time warp, but is clean, has hot water and we took the great top floor room. The staff are friendly and serve up a decent simple breakfast. For the fives times daily call to prayer, the place literally vibrates from the speakers from the mosque opposite. Part of the fun in Bukittinggi.
Kerinci, the highest volcano in Indonesia, has been demanding to be climbed for a few years, and we finally did it. We flew from Jakarta to Padang, and then had Pak Subandi and his driver from eponymous Subandi Homestay pick us up for the 7 hour drive to Kersik Tua in the picturesque Kerinci valley. The drive itself is not as brutal as it sounds, and after climbing out of the Padang coastal plain the scenery is very nice – in particular around the Dibawah and Diatas lakes.
Arriving at Subandi homestay after dark, we had our first taste of Ibu Subandi’s delicious home cooking (best tempe in Indonesia?) and got an early night. Kerinci doesn’t require an early start, so we had a pleasant breakfast and from Pak Subandi’s front porch looked at Kerinci towering above the valley and sending lots of gas up from the crater.