Jakarta to Bali and Lombok
May 1983
Part I - Java

If you want to skip directly to the other parts, then just hit
Part II  - Bali or
Part III - Lombok/Bali


This is an abridged description of a trip to Indonesia in May 1983. The intention is to give a firsthand personal experience of how I did get to and through the country. Despite the fact that I did not book anything in advance at all (except for the flight to Jakarta) it was no problem getting any means of transport (except for the train from Jakarta to Jogjakarta) or accommodation on the same day. I only did some kind of pre-planning in so far that I wanted to be back in Jakarta at least one day before my scheduled return flight to Germany.

At the time of writing all this, more than 25 years have passed. What I had seen and experienced, may not be the way today anymore. Cultures and customs change rapidly in our global world, not necessarily to the better.


The ticket from Amsterdam to Jakarta with Garuda (the national carrier of Indonesia) did cost around 1,600 DM. In order to get to Amsterdam, I had to take the train from Cologne (3 hours ride). On arrival at the airport in Jakarta I knew where to go: Jalan Jaksa, the cheap backpackers row. And my accommodation was a hole. But it was my challenge to travel on the shoestring (with my Lonely Planet) and the hard way because I also needed some "survival training" after sitting in an office all day.

One night, though, was enough to stay in this hole and in a city of ten million inhabitants (one more day when coming back). Just to recuperate from the long flight. But still, I had to look around. Met surprisingly my Dutch neighbor from the next seat on the plane, so we could explore the city a little bit together. That's it, about Jakarta.

Remark: The photos on the right side may not be correctly adjusted if you use Mozilla Firefox or Chrome. I propose to use the Explorer of Microsoft instead.

Click the small picture to get it enlarged

Jakarta main thoroughfare Batik painter in a department store
Happy children Poor people
I was told that a train to Jogjakarta was leaving in the evening. So I went to the Gambir railway station early enough before the scheduled departure time. But it was not easy to buy a ticket to Jogjakarta. Hundreds of people were squeezing and pushing each other while trying to get to the only open ticket counter. No line, no queue. Not to use your elbows would have meant: no ticket. I was lucky not to have to do that. Two tall Swiss guys, I met, offered to do the pushing and were able to buy the tickets (also for an Irish lady, that's four of us).

Then, as soon as the train rolled in, one Swiss guy was able to storm into one of the carriages as one of the first passengers to occupy four seats. But what a ride. Eight hours sitting on a wooden bench, not easy to sleep. The train was cramped. People lying in the aisle were better off by being able to stretch out. I may have gotten a ticket anyway as a last passenger for this train with seemingly unlimited capacity.
Hard seats train ride Arriving in Jogjakarta


This city was an old capital of a part of Indonesia and thus had some history, and had a traveler scene (a lot of eateries serving fruit salads and pancakes). A city worthwhile staying here for a longer period. To see it all I couldn't be lazy. First night, visiting my first Javanese puppet theater.
Puppet show Gamelan player
Next day was palace visiting tour. It has been built in the 18th century by a sultan. You can read all about that in any guidebook of Jogjakarta.
Museum guide Wedding procession
At the museum I met a German couple on their last sight-seeing tour before going back to Germany after the man has worked in Indonesia for several years. They had their own car with chauffeur. They invited me to join them. So the next destination was the famous Hindu temple complex of Prambanan.
Hindu temple site Hindu temple relief
Hindu temple tower Ganesha, the elephant god
Then back to their hotel for lunch and a walk around the vicinity, where I saw something interestingly. Arrangements being prepared for some kind of a festival or parade. No such thing but just for a wedding ceremony next door, I was told by the lady.
Gamelan band in the hotel lobby Flower binding for a wedding
This looks like a very good neighborhood. Nice houses with nice gardens and it seems that very open minded people are living here. But will they open me if I would slide up and down the wooden prick in the slit?
Let's ring the bell This looks more like a bell
The afternoon tour with the German couple was leading to Borodubur. This is the biggest temple in the southern hemisphere. Build around 800 AD but then from around the year 1000 it was covered with volcano ashes and overgrown with vegetation until discovered by an Englishman, Sir Raffles (also founder of Singapore), and then restored by the Dutch. The second restoration was just finished 1983 and reopened for the public when I arrived (how lucky).

It was fantastic to walk between the bell shaped stupas, 72 altogether, with a Buddha statue still inside in many of them. Furthermore, there are reliefs all around on nine levels, covering a distance of five km, symbolizing Buddha's spiritual journey. Most of the blackening fungus could be removed, which gives an impression how bright this monument must have appeared before the eruption of the volcano.
Within each bell sits a Buddha That's the whole of Borodubur
Another Buddha sitting in a niche and the relief telling Buddha's life
Back to the German couple's hotel. I mentioned the wedding around the corner, but they weren't interested to join me, so I went alone to take a look. But that was not the only thing, I also was invited for dinner, a show and a drink. How lucky I was, and the only foreigner, to experience a real traditional Indonesian wedding. Join me and take a look yourself. The pictures will tell enough.
The finished flower bouquets already cost a lot of money Will the guard let me in as a photographer from Germany?
Then passing another men's row until I could get to the real show
Right on time and I was not sent away but able to watch the start of the défilé
The groom and the bride
Coming towards me and passing by
Then sitting down with their parents waiting sadly for what comes next
They are being watched by the high society who are also being served with tea
Having Dinner in a nice frame then twiddling thumbs again
Next comes a dance drama out of the religious Ramayana
A beautiful princess in a nice dress
In the rhythm of the gamelan sound Prince and princess are dancing around
The prince is very smart he let fight his body guard
Against the demon in a fighting dance The warrior body guard has no chance
The bride and groom are leaving relieved and all the bridesmaids are now released
The next following day I hired a pedi-cab or rickshaw bicycle to carry me to more interesting places in the city, which had to offer much more than the following photos show.
Back to the street and its hard life especially for the driver pushing the bike
Some women selling juices or making some music
Cutting pineapple ready to eat or "painting" in Batik on fabric
This Batik picture is for sale also birds in a cage are for sale
What about the hole in the ground Some kids are lingering around
Then finally I had to hit the road to continue my trip to Bali. And I was lucky that the bus did not hit anybody or anything, because it was chauffeured by a hell's driver, who had his conductor standing in the open door to wave the oncoming traffic to their shoulder while overtaking another car or truck with full speed. I only could pray to stay alive but still could not stay awake and fell asleep. After 14 hours we safely arrived at the eastern end of Java. There was no pier, just a beach, where our bus did get stuck in the sand and it took two hours to get it on the ferry.
My bus and a friend leaving for Bali Sun rise. On the other side: Bali
The ferry took only a half hour until we reached Bali's west coast from where we had to hell's drive almost two hours again to get to Denpasar, the capital city of Bali.

Ok, that was Java, though only a small part of it. There could have been seen and done a lot more. Also I could have written more. If you want to know more all about the places I have visited, then just look up any of the many guidebooks or in the internet.

If you want to skip now to the other parts, then just hit
Part II  - Bali or
Part III - Lombok/Bali

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