We decided to escape from our German and Dutch friends who were smugly still enjoying the World Cup, with both their teams playing quarter final games. Actaully, we managed to watch Brazil lose to the Netherlands before leaving on our trip, leaving the Dutch celebrating in the pub. We decided to return to PP Linkungan … [Read more…]
For the long weekend at the end of May we decided to head to central Java to climb Gunung Merbabu and to take in the sights of Solo. We flew into Semarang on Thursday night and took a taxi directly to the hill village of Kopeng, where we met our trip organiser Pak Totok. It was straight to bed as we arrived late and we were aiming for a 5 am start the next morning. We dragged ourselves out of bed at 4.30 am and forced some fried rice down our necks before setting off for the trailhead in an angkot with our two porters. By 5.45 we were already on the trail. After about 15 minutes the porters stopped for breakfast; we knew then it wouldn’t be a record breaking climb in terms of speed. Andy and I hiked on ahead and waited at several points for the porters to catch up, including a 1.5 hour break with a nap at lunchtime! We learned our lesson on Tambora – don’t get too far ahead of the porters, especially if it looks like rain, as they might decide to stop for the day without bringing your tent to where you are waiting! The forest was pretty along the way, not too dense and as we got higher it turned into grassland with sparse trees. We got some good views of Gunung Sumbing and Gunung Sindoro to the west.
A trip planned a last minute turned into a really great weekend, including relaxing and eating great food on the shore of the giant Lake Toba and bagging a very seldom climbed mountain – Gunung Pangulubao.
We flew to Medan, arriving in the early evening and after some bad food and a juice in the hotel, we headed out to enjoy a few cold beers in the small cafe bar, strangely right next to the huge local mosque. The next morning, our driver picked us up and we headed south along the busy trans-Sumatra highway, before turning west and starting to climb into the mountains. After about 4 hours driving we arrived in Parapat, which is the main place to catch a ferry across Lake Toba to Tuk Tuk. Parapat gets a bit of a bad write up in the Lonely Planet, but it’s a pretty nice place with a decent market square and places to eat. It is much better to head across the lake, and we chose to stay in the popular Tabo Cottages, which has accommodation in traditional Batak Style houses, a bakery, and really good food. Tuk Tuk is pretty quiet, and when you walk though the village, most of the restaurants and cafe bars are empty – you are probably going to be the only customers.
We once again failed to make it to Flores for Easter, but a trip to East Java and Bromo was a good last minute choice for the long weekend. We headed off with our friends John, Michael and Karen to Surabaya on a much delayed Lion Air flight, stayed one night near the airport, and … [Read more…]