Well we have just come to the end of over 3 weeks travelling around Indonesia and Malaysia,it nearly didn,t happen due to my coming off my scooter just a week before we were due to go I was driving through a local market when a guy in front of me,without looking or indicating did a 90 degree turn in front of me I swerved hard to miss him and ended up going down.One guy picked up my scooter and helped me up everyone else had their mobiles out taking shots of me ha-ha,luckily i only had a few cuts and bruises.
I also recieved a copy of the Asian travel magazine that published my photo on their article on faiths which i will try to upload onto my blog site.
We left Beijing at 2am for a 6 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur then 5 hour stop over followed by another 2 hour flight to Jakarta where we stayed overnight before taking a 8 hour train journey across Java to the city of Yogakarta.We observed a lot of poverty around the railway tracks and under flyovers where shanty towns have sprung up,and the huge use of motorcycles and scooters gives the whole place a feel of the start of the Isle of Man TT at every junction. Also noticed the train had a lot of cracked windows and the engine cab had metal guards around it we found out the reason why when a brick hit the window i was looking out of after about 20 minutes travelling,but once we got out of the city suburbs and into the countyside it was beautiful countryside, mountains and rice fields everywhere. When we arrived in Yokakarta we took a local peddicab called a bekak to the backpack hotel but he got lost and had to ask someone directions this happened another 3 times over the next couple of days one time ending up in some very badly lit area where we jumped out and walked away I only realized later that when i showed them the address or pointed at a map of where we wanted to go they couldn,t read or write and would just nod and set off.
One day we set off to visit the world heritage Buddhist Temple site called Borobudur built about 1,300 years ago and took a local bus it was so old and rickety you wouldn,t think it could go anywhere doors tied up with bits of rope, holes in the floor i could see the road through,picking up food and parcels on the way and dropping them off at other stops,horn blaring as he raced in and out of other traffic,all for £2 return for both of us.
The Buddhist Temple was amazing but quite busy and temp in high 30,s We were interviewed 3 times by students and asked to pose for photos with locals at least 10 times it was great fun everyone smiling,laughing.Also visited the old fort and palace of the Sultan,beautiful architecture with lovely huge bathing pools in the centre where the Sultan would watch from a tower all his 40 plus wives bathing.There was undeground caverns part of which was a Mosque as well, and we came across a model photo shoot that had flew in from Hong Kong in the grounds.
Our next stop was a 4.30 am flight to Bali followed by a 2.5 hour drive to the far east coast at a group of fishing villages named Ahmed to stay at a small diving resort run by a Belgium woman and her English husband who made us very welcome and one of their cats came to our bungalow checked us out jumped on the bed and adopted us ha-ha. Our first night we walked the beach and watched the sun go down over the Volcano which is still very active with the most recent eruption being in 1963 which killed 1,900 people.
Jun started her diving the next day and I hired a scooter and set of exploring the area making sure I had my licence with me and a couple of dollars for when the police stop you for not having an International driving licence so you can offer them some money even though children as young as 10 ride all over on scooters and motorbikes,it,s a big scam but an accepted way of doing things. As well as riding along the coast I went up into the hills and stopped off at some villages they are so friendly and always smiling the views were amazing of the mountains and rice fields.One evening Jun and I went to a Hindu Temple to watch a beautiful service of over 200 people after we asked them could we go, there were dances masks food offerings and water blessings.
One day Jun was going with the group to dive the world war two wreck of the USS Liberty torpedoed by the Japanese so I went along and did some snorkeling as one part of the ship is only 4 metres below the surface but it drops down to over 30 metres the sea was quite rough with large waves according to some locals a black magic ritual was performed the previous night to bring a storm and rain as someone had just been cremated,and that night there was a storm.Our last day there we were swimming at dawn 6.30am watching the sun come up I said to Jun "Is it my eyes or is the top of the volcano glowing red?" Then realized it was being touched by the rising sun ha-ha.
Our next place was inland to the town of Ubud a very beautiful place full of arts and crafts,healing and therapy centres,retreats,etc it was the place that Julie Roberts was in in the film "Eat,Pray,Love.The place we stayed at was fantastic you walked up an alleyway off the road and entered this original Balinese courtyard with 4 houses, fountains, pools full of fish,birds a little bit of paradise breakfast included for 20 dollars a night.
We did quite a lot in and around Ubud,massages in a fabulous centre in our own therapy room with music,incense overlooking rice fields,we visited the forest monkeys one jumped onto my back then onto Juns and I tried to knock him off and got a lot of teeth baring and growling.We watched another grab a full bottle of orange juice off this guy and he held the bottle cap between his teeth and turned the bottle around till it was open then guzzled it till a bigger monkey came and took it off him ha-ha.Hired a scooter and went into the countryside visiting rice fields,temples and one evenng went to the village of Petula to watch all the white herons come in, local legend says they are the souls of massacred people during the troubled in the early 60,s.Visited the most holy Hindu Temple on Bali where people come from all over to bathe in the waters,Jun and I had to be content with sitting on the edge with our feet in.We also drove 40km upto Lake Batu to see it and the surrounding volcanos,then drove down into the village next to the lake with some very steep hairpin bends.
It was so nice we decided to stay longer before going down to the south of the Island for a couple of days to the beach resort of Wu la watu famous for its surf,we spent one day on the beach swimming with its amazing rocky outcrops and the huge waves crashing through them and lost the hotels towels to the surf,we drove upto the Temple of the Sea God right at the top of the cliffs and had been warned the monkeys there were more aggressive than at Ubud,we had only been in 5 minutes when a large male leaned out from the wall and snatched Juns glasses off her face then snapped them in half with a look as if to say "what are you going to do about that" I carried a stick after that ha-ha.
We left at 3am for our flight to Kuala Lumpur for our final destination we stayed in a small hotel right next to the main train station,metros and skytrains so had great access to everywhere, our first night we spent in the park overlooking the famous Petronas towers all lit up and listening to a free rock concert it is an amazing city.We visited China town,Little India,Theravadin temples,Mosques,old colonial buildings like the old railway station as well as the most fantastic modern buildings.
On our last full day we went by train 2.5 hours north to the old Colonial city of Ipoh this was like stepping back in time a hundred years in the old town it had incredible old buildings we followed the heritage trail around the town photographing and reading the history,like the Royal country Club,Concubine lane, old Photography studios were a woman named Maaji Hosaka spied for the Japanese before the 1941 invasion,old Theatres Gentlemens Clubs,St Michaels Institution school occupied by the Japanese as their HQ it just went on and on a fantastic slice of history.
But now after a long flight overnight we are back home with just enough time to prepare for our visit back to England in November,so looking forward to seeing you all then.All my photographs will be going on to my website over the next few days www.billybarnettphotography.zenfolio.com