Java; Orangutans, temples and volcanoes!

Every trip to Asia for me, should always start with a whirlwind visit to a chaotic and colourful city, so 24 hours in Jakarta was perfect!

Adjusting to the heat, time difference and hectic Asian driving was followed by jumping in a taxi for a mystery tour of this sprawling and quirky city! The Muslim influence can be seen (and heard) everywhere, and as usual you’re greeted throughout with a mixture of fascination, smiles and stares. We headed to an amazing restaurant for some Indonesian cuisine, then sat with some locals and enjoyed some of Indonesia’s finest beer for less than 50p. Was great to be back!

I’d been to Malaysian Borneo several times, but had heard so much about the far less touristy and undiscovered Indonesian side, Kalimantan. An hours flights bought us into Pangkalan Bun and a quick drive to the jetty to board our boat. Here we were supremely spoilt! Our Deluxe boat awaited, with our own crew, guide, chef and engineer came complete with outdoor bed, sun loungers to relax on deck, hot shower and indoor four-poster bed.

The next 3 days were spent meandering up the rivers around incredible Kalimantan, stopping off for jungle treks, orang utans spotting, a visit to Camp Leaky for the orang utan research centre, witnessing fire flies at sun set, and soaking up the atmosphere of the tranquil and wildlife rich jungle. We were lucky enough to see wild orang utans on the river bank, including seeing a baby and its mother around 7am while eating our breakfast…which was an amazing experience and an absolute highlight of mine.

We were hugely sad to leave our boat and amazing crew, and say goodbye to the peace and beauty of the jungle.

A short flight took us to Semarang, and time for some ultra-luxury….staying at the breathtakingly beautiful Amanjiwo resort, located right next to the famous Borobudur Temple; somewhere that’s been on my Asia to-do list for years! A day of relaxing by the pool and racking up an impressive cocktail bill was followed by a bracing 4am start, to witness this UNESCO wonder at sunrise. Well worth the tired eyes!

Heading to Yogyakarta bought another days exploration of a popular and culturally rich Asian city. Yogya is thought of as the center of academia in Indonesia, and attracts people from both the East and West which makes for a melting pot of sights sounds and traditions, and I loved it! We stayed at the popular and colonial Phoenix Yogyakarta hotel, right in the heart of town, and headed out for some food and to experience the city’s nighttime heartbeat.

Yogyakarta’s most famous attraction is Prambanan, another UNESCO treasure, and impressive Temple complex. The Royal Palace is well worth a visit, to discover more about the colourful recent history of the Javanese Royal family and political systems.

Something on my wish list was to travel Java by train, and we were hugely impressed by the standard and comfort of the train from Yogya – Melang, and I’d definitely recommend crossing Java this way if you have the time. Again we were spoilt by the ultra-unique and luxurious Tugu Melang where we stayed for a quick pit stop before heading to Mount Bromo for a crater trek.

As a volcano geek… Mount Bromo was an awesome as I’d expected. Leave yourself time to do this, I’d recommend 2 nights minimum as you need an early start and a long days travel.

We’d travelled the whole of Java, and Bali was to follow, which being possibly my favorite place in the world, made me more than a little excited…

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Written by Holly Brightwell
South East Asia Specialist

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