After separating with my amazing new friends in Klaten I found myself on a train headed to Surabaya with few expectations or ideas of how the next few days would unfold. I decided to schedule a few days in the city for a change of scenery, before venturing towards Bromo mountain. I figured rather than exploring on my own I'd leave it in the hands of some friendly locals, I only hoped the amazing hospitality I had experienced thus far would continue. After some back and forth on Couchsurfing, I finally settled my plans to stay with Titi (her aunt and cousin) the same girl I'd agreed to travel to Bromo with, and as an added bonus she offered to pick me up from the station. As I exited the station into the swarm of eager taxi drivers I felt a swell of relief when I could utter the words, "A friend is picking me up". This of course sent eyeballs rolling, none of the drivers wanted to believe that the little white girl had a friend coming to get her. True to her word though, Titi and her cousin Galih soon arrived, as friendly and full of life as I was expecting.
While my visit to Indonesia didn’t include much in terms of sightseeing there were a few things I wanted to make sure to accomplish. The first, Borobudur, I completed within a few days of arrival, the other though would take some time. I hoped to visit Mount Bromo in East Java, a place I had heard about via various travel blogs I’d been reading. From the information I found one was to work their way via public transport to the town of Cemora Laweng, wake up much earlier than the sun and hike two hours in complete darkness to the viewpoint where you’d join loads of other tourists. I didn’t bother thinking about the logistics of this trip and just jumped into it.
People often ask me why I travel and as time goes by my answer to that question has evolved, from a simple desire to explore to something much deeper. The first time I left home it was to fulfill my thirst for adventure, to see somewhere new and experience a culture different from my own. During my service trip to Jamaica in 2009, I realized that meeting and interacting with the local people is an integral part of [my] travel. Now, after two years of living [and teaching] in a foreign country, countless Couchsurfing experiences, volunteering and exploring nearly 20 countries I’ve realized people really are at the core of it all.
About a year ago walking along the boardwalk in Puerto Princesa Philippines I made a ‘resolution’ that I wasn’t going to work a day of the year. Most people only make it a few days, weeks if they’re lucky, with their new years resolution but I’m happy to say I completed mine with flying colors. I spent the past year working my way through SE Asia, exploring a little bit of my own backyard, finally visiting New York and LA and once again returning to Asia. I managed to avoid having to earn a paycheck for the year, but eventually I started to feel a little worthless, therefor on this visit to Asia I’ve decided to do a bit more volunteer work and put my teaching skills to use.
Once again I found myself in a new country with minimal plans, no guidebook and a wide open agenda. What I did have though was arrangements to volunteer in Klaten with Rani and her friends, teaching English. I knew I wanted to visit the two major temple complexes, Prambanan and Borobudur, along with Mount Bromo in East Java, but the details of these were all yet to come together. As I anticipated plans were not necessary, shortly after I arrived in Klaten I was told I’d be visiting Prambanan the following day and we’d also all go visit Borobudur for sunrise on Saturday.
Well known as the parent to ever-famous Bali, this is a country that has so much more to offer. Similar to the Philippines the beauty is spread out over thousands of islands, which means you need time. Once you start exploring, trust me, you won't want to stop.