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Trip 2 -- Southeast Asia

Part 1: Indonesia (24 Sep to 6 Oct 1998)

Exchange rate: US$1 = 10100 Indonesian rupiah (IDR)

24 Sep
Subway: A line,
42 St-Times Square to Howard Beach-JFK Airport
(20:00; 59m; $1.36)

24 Sep-25 Sep
Air: Cathay Pacific #889, New York JFK to Vancouver
(22:10; 5h 13m)

25 Sep
Air: Cathay Pacific #889, Vancouver to Hong Kong
(2:05; 13h 1m)

The days before this trip weren't quite as well-planned as those before Trip 1. As a result, I ran out of the apartment just over two hours before my departure for Hong Kong, and it wasn't until I got to the subway that I realized I'd left my stereo alarm on, which meant that my neighbors (if listening carefully) would be treated to an hour of Closer Than Ever each morning until I got home.

So I got to JFK Airport 40 minutes before departure, and all that was available was an aisle seat on the plane - not as good as a window, but not as claustrophobia-inducing as that middle section. On the hop to Vancouver they ran out of paella, and there wasn't any port at all (despite a statement to the contrary on the menu), but the abalone and chicken congee were tasty. And we got to watch Sliding Doors.

The second flight (Vancouver to Hong Kong) was delayed for no apparent reason, but according to schedule I'd have three and a half hours in the Hong Kong airport anyway, so the delay didn't bother me. And I can't say that seafood rigatoni was what I was expecting on a Hong Kong airline, but it was good.

25 Sep
Air: Cathay Pacific #777, Hong Kong to Jakarta
(10:00; 3h 54m; left 5m early)
The new Hong Kong airport had recently opened, and boy, did it look new. It had people-movers and escalators and bookstores all over the place, and there wasn't a manually operated sign in the building. And at one point they made an announcement that the gate for my Jakarta flight was changing from 23 to 23! This flight saw more traditionally Asian food - braised seafood satay.
25 Sep-28 Sep

Where to start; Catur; friendly teens in museums; a taste of wayang kulit; stunning views; an all-in-one theme park...

In Jakarta's airport I made the fastest exchange of cash that I'd ever made. They had cash pre-packaged in 1010000-rupiah bundles, and I handed over $100 and became a millionaire. No passport check, no signature - just instant cash.

I was fortunate enough to catch the bus to the city (IDR 4000; 52m) only three minutes after exiting the airport; unfortunately it didn't go to the part of Jakarta that I wanted. I was hoping to get to the Gambir train station, a central location that would be convenient for finding a hotel and beginning my sightseeing. Instead it stopped somewhere in the northern part of the city, a kilometer or two from the Kota train station. But the driver helped me find a bus that he said would go to Gambir, so I hopped on. (Boarding a bus in Indonesia was just like boarding one in India - the buses never really stop; you just hop on as they drive away.)

The bus was packed, and I hadn't gotten to figure out the money yet, so when the conductor approached me I just gave him a handful of change. It turned out to be plenty (about ten cents' worth). However, this bus didn't go to Gambir either. I could tell it was heading in the opposite direction, so I got off at the Kota train station and decided to get my bearings.

Where I began my sightseeing depended entirely on where I was able to cross the street. The Kota station was surrounded by a wide boulevard with continuous traffic, there were no traffic signals, and I hadn't yet learned how to cross streets yet (you motion with your hand for the cars to slow down so that you can cross). So instead of crossing the street and starting with Taman Fatahillah, I walked along the boulevard until I was in the northern, older part of the city.

After passing the Chicken Market Bridge (a small 17th-century Dutch drawbridge), I climbed up a watchtower to get a good view of the city; to do that I was charged 1000 by someone at the entrance, though I don't know whether that was standard practice. It was an excellent view - the harbor on one side and the vast city on the other.

I continued north along Pasar Ikan, a narrow street jammed with little stores and people's homes. In one store I bought a couple of three-cent packets of Head & Shoulders (it is surprisingly hard to find travel-size bottles of the stuff in the United States). The street was barely the width of a car, and all over there were children playing and people rushing about to buy what they needed for dinner.

Back near the entrance to Pasar Ikan (which means "fish market" - there's an early-morning market here), I started talking with a man named Catur. He identified himself as a travel agent, though he was selling stuff along the road when I found him.

Catur offered to take me into the nearby Maritime Museum, which was closed - he had access to it. The museum contained many brightly painted boats, and Catur explained how some of them worked. He then took me along Pasar Ikan to the harbor by way of a pedestrian bridge watched over by two old men who charge a small toll for its use. We hired another old man to row us around the harbor so we could look at the magnificent schooners (which are just as brightly painted as those in the museum). These schooners are still used for moving merchandise among the Indonesian islands.

Catur lived near Pasar Ikan, and he invited me to his place for dinner and, later, to stay the night. His wife and their baby greeted us. The house had a comfortable living room about four meters square, a small room with just a television and a mattress on the floor, a kitchen with a shower in back, and an upstairs room accessed by a ladder. The house was adjacent to the street, and the door was usually open, so there were often neighbors poking their heads in and talking with Catur and his wife.

I feel asleep for an hour or so, and then Catur offered me the chance to shower. I didn't really feel like doing that, but he insisted, and so I made an attempt at using a mandi (Indonesian shower). There's no running water - there's just a vat of water, and you take a small pan, scoop water over yourself, and then soap up. This takes some getting used to.

Dinner was barbecued tuna and white rice - a tasty meal. Catur and I then walked to Taman Fatahillah (the place I'd wanted to start all along), a cobblestone square with a huge Portuguese cannon and two museums that I'd visit later. Catur then took me by bajaj (a powered rickshaw) to a night fish market, held in what looked like a huge warehouse. There were rows and rows of people cleaning and selling various kinds of fish, and it was hard not to be stampeded by people carrying cleaning supplies through the aisles. After the fish market, we went back to his place, where a few teenage neighbors stopped by to have the chance to talk to an American. Then Catur and I went to sleep on the mattress in the television room.

We awoke around 5:45 and had a breakfast of fish and nasi goreng (fried rice). I spent much of the morning in their living room, where I talked with a boy learning English from a workbook named Headway. Catur had CDs playing throughout the morning - at one point I was astonished to hear Linda Eder (the Broadway star) singing "It's Only Love." The song was followed by Hanson's "Mmm Bop," so this was a very strange compilation indeed.

Catur offered to take me more places, but I really wanted to start seeing the city on my own, so we went back down to the entrance to Pasar Ikan, where we'd met, and we went our separate ways. I thanked him for the wonderful night and the chance to meet his family and stay in his home, and I gave him IDR 200000. He asked me to call him that night once I found a hotel.

I walked back to Taman Fatahillah and visited the Jakarta History Museum, but the collection was sparse except for a bunch of old, interesting maps. The Wayang Museum, on the western side of the square, was much more fascinating. It had a huge variety of wayang kulit (shadow puppets) and wayang golek (wooden puppets) from the various parts of Indonesia and from abroad. There was also a performance of wayang kulit - this was the primary reason I'd come to Indonesia!

In a wayang kulit performance, a puppeteer mans several puppets at once; the puppets are attached to sticks so that they can be easily held and moved or stuck into the scenery so that they stay in place. There's a screen in front of the puppeteer and a light behind him, so all that is visible on the other side of the screen is the shadows of the puppets. The puppets, made from buffalo hide, are carved so finely that one can see detail even though only a shadow is visible. The puppeteer tells the story accompanied by a collection of 30 or so instruments played by musicians seated on the ground. The instruments are mostly percussion (there are a couple of strings), and the ensemble sound is tuneful and rhythmic. The audience can sit either facing the screen or on the side with the puppeteer and the musicians. I checked out both sides - it was more interesting for me to watch the musicians.

After I left the performance, about a dozen friendly children about 14 years old surrounded me. They started asking all sorts of questions about my life, and then they demanded my address. One did write to me a month later.

The next stop, after a long walk, was the National Museum, near the center of the city alongside Merdeka (Freedom) Square. This enormous museum traces the development of pottery, tools, batik, and textiles in Indonesia, and it contains a plethora of relics from all over Asia, but of most interest to me was the collection of Indonesian instruments. Sadly, the museum closes early, and I didn't have time to see everything. And here, too, I gave out my address to a bunch of enthusiastic teens - and again, I received a letter a month later.

In Merdeka Square is the National Monument. After a long wait, I took the elevator to the top for another stunning view of Jakarta. Downstairs in the monument was a small museum that displayed Indonesia's struggle for independence in a series of dioramas.

I figured I'd better find a hotel, and that didn't take long. Just south of Merdeka Square were numerous cheap and mid-range hotels, and since I was there just a few months after the political unrest (students had staged an uprising in May against President Soeharto), there were not many tourists. Thus, all the hotels were nearly empty, and I was able to stay in a nice mid-range hotel, the Sabang Metropolitan, for IDR 150000, including breakfast, CNN, air conditioning, and a newspaper dated 31 August.

That night I walked to the southeastern part of the city center. There was a huge arts complex, and I saw an exhibit of the modern painter Soegang. Nearby I dined at Raden Kuring, where I had vegetable soup (sayur asam), goldfish (no, not that small) steamed in banana leaf, and fruit juice. A tasty meal, and there was a good dancer, but the fans didn't keep the place cool enough and the mosquitoes were abundant. Back at the hotel, I checked in with Catur and retired for the night.

The hotel breakfast consisted of rice and various fruits, vegetables, and meats that go with rice. I spent the morning in Lapangan Banteng, a large square in the northeast city center that contains several impressive government buildings built by the Dutch. I visited a nondescript Catholic cathedral, saw the Free Irian Monument, and paid someone a few rupiah to show me around the enormous and fascinating Istiqlal mosque. Indonesia became independent on 17 August 1945, and those numbers are featured in the mosque: the dome is 45 meters in diameter, and there are pillars 17 meters high. A large drum calls people to prayer. There are several floors, and my guide said the place is packed on Islam's main holidays.

I took a taxi to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, a cultural theme park containing museums and replicas of traditional homes found in Indonesia's 27 provinces. It took a while to find a map; once I did, I tried visiting all those homes. The outsides were interesting, but the insides were very touristy - they were essentially souvenir shops with hints of cultural authenticity. The Museum Indonesia was better - it had a good collection of Indonesian currency, gamelan instruments, and puppets.

28 Sep
Bus: Jakarta to Bogor
(39m; IDR 1300)

Taman Mini, still in Jakarta but a 40-minute ride through grueling traffic from the city center, is next to the station for buses to Bogor. They leave frequently, so I hopped on - and because this trip was all on the highway, it took less time to get to Bogor than to drive through Jakarta to Taman Mini.

28 Sep-29 Sep

Where gongs are made; my first scorpion; a wonderful outdoor dinner...

The main attraction in Bogor was the gong factory, where I saw them beat gongs into shape and sweat from the heat of the coals. Bogor's botanical gardens were beautiful, even with the scorpion plodding along the walkway (this was my first encounter with one), and they had a nice cafe at the top of a hill, where I stopped for some fruit salad, fried banana, and fruit juice.

I checked into the Wisma Pakuan, a beautiful guest house run by a Czech woman. IDR 71500 got me a comfortable bed and a basic breakfast. I had a Sundanese dinner at Si Kabayan (Sunda is the area of West Java and the Sundanese are the descendants of the natives from several centuries ago). The meal, served in open-air huts, consisted of a couple of salads (pepes oncom, described as "scramed," and sambal oncom, with chillis), ikan gurame (tasty grilled fish), and nangka (jackfruit) juice. I also ordered soup, which didn't arrive, but there was plenty to eat - all for $4. On the walk back to the guest house I bought a bottle of water from a kid for IDR 900 - I couldn't understand the price when he told it to me, but he grinned when I somehow gave him the correct amount.

29 Sep
Bus: Bogor to Bandung
(8:15; IDR 8500; 3h 26m)
After a breakfast of toast and jam, I walked the short distance to the dusty Bogor bus terminal and boarded a bus for Bandung.
29 Sep-30 Sep

Walking through the hills; another great view; an elusive restaurant...

On arrival in Bandung I took a taxi to the Museum Geologi, which had a comprehensive collection of rocks, minerals, and gems and interesting exhibits on evolution and vulcanology. Bandung's east and west sides flank a valley, and I walked north, hoping there would be a place to cut through the valley - but I wasn't able to get to the other side without a detour of a couple of kilometers. It was a gorgeous walk, though, as Bandung is lush with trees and the terrain is hilly.

I ended up on Jalan Cihampelas, noted for its rows of jeans shops. I stopped in a rumah makan (little restaurant or eating house), where I pointed to a few meats and vegetables and hard-boiled eggs that I wanted; these were all combined together on one plate with rice for IDR 15000.

I walked to Bandung's train station and bought a ticket to Yogyakarta for the next morning; then I tried a cheap hotel (the Patradissa II) but was discouraged at the lack of air conditioning, so I splurged on the elegant Savoy Homann, one of Bandung's top hotels - rooms are large and there's a pleasant atrium garden. According to the guidebook, rooms start at $119; the regular price that they quoted me was around $42; and because of the lack of tourists they charged only $25.

After a walk up Jalan Braga (a hilly street with some nightlife), I took a taxi the few kilometers up a winding road to the Dago Tea House for a snack of marquisa ice and coconut and a drink of coconut, ginger, and palm sugar (about IDR 5000). The restaurant is perched on the Dago Hill in an affluent residential area and has a terrific view of Bandung. My guidebook recommended the Penineungan Endah restaurant nearby, but the address given was a residential complex, and when I asked the security guard where the place was, he said it was "tutup" - closed.

That's when the lock on my money belt stopped working, and I couldn't get it open. Only after a few tense minutes of cursing and prying it with a stick was I able to jam it open.

The elusive Penineungan Endah wasn't near any other restaurants, so I took a taxi back to the hotel and had the fine rijsttafel (the Dutch multi-course meal) there for about $4. It started with a fish ball, then came beef soup, and after that was an assortment of fish, chicken, and vegetables - sweet, salty, sour, cold, hot, everything. For dessert there were pastries and fruit salad, and then I walked up Jalan Braga but didn't find much to do.I hurried through the buffet breakfast of fruit, rice, chicken, and other goodies in order to get to the station in time to catch the 7:30 train to Yogyakarta.

30 Sep
Train: Bandung to Yogyakarta
(7:30; 8h 2m; IDR 54000)
The train made many stops, but I didn't mind - it was a stunning ride through lush terrain with trees, rivers, valleys, and hills. On the train I met Alex from Germany and two Dutch travelers; I ended up running into them a couple of times in Yogyakarta.
30 Sep-2 Oct
Yogyakarta and Borobudur

A palace; my first durian; a scam attempt; more wayang kulit; the Ramayana ballet in Prambanan; a nine-story temple...

Jalan Malioboro is the central street in Yogyakarta. It runs south from the train station and is lined with hotels, food vendors, and souvenir stalls. At night, the sidewalks are jammed with makeshift restaurants - vendors set up mats, and sometimes tables and chairs, and serve tasty fried chicken and other delicacies.

I checked into the Hotel Mutiara for IDR 125000 per night. It's a large place that's fairly ugly from the outside, and I think there were only about four rooms occupied. Still, the location was great, and breakfast was included in the price. Near this hotel, I went into the more upscale Natour Garuda Hotel to practice that event done so rarely in Indonesia: changing money. The $100 I'd changed at the airport had lasted six days, and I certainly hadn't been skimping!

I took a long walk through the city to the Jalan Prawirotaman area in the south. It's an area with lots of hotels, cafes, and travel agencies; I stopped in one agency to buy my plane tickets to Denpasar and Surabaya. The tickets had to be delivered by car a half-hour later, so I went across the street for a drink while I was waiting, and the travel agent brought me the tickets when they arrived.

In between Jalan Malioboro and Jalan Prawirotaman is the kraton, the walled palace built in the 1750s. The palace is still the sultan's residence, and the streets are open to the public. Unlike the city outside the white walls, the kraton's streets are narrow and labyrinthine. There's a large square where people perform such acts as fire swallowing, and people set up blankets to watch.

The Sono-Budoyo Museum has nightly wayang kulit performances, so of course I watched. The show was about two hours and included all sorts of music (fast, slow, and recitative), and the puppeteer was animated and immersed in the story he was telling. Alex was there, and after the show we spoke with a man who owned a wayang kulit shop. He showed us the shop, where a few people were diligently carving out little holes in the puppets and painting them vividly. Then Alex and I went to the Legian Restaurant for a snack - I went for fried banana and mixed-fruit juice. After we parted, a man aggressively tried to sell me batik and a few minutes with a 17-year-old Indonesian girl (he seemed insulted when I declined, and even more so when I saw him the next day). I stopped in one of the makeshift restaurants for some chicken before going back to the hotel.

Chicken was the story for breakfast, too, and then I took a tour of the interior of the kraton even though everyone said it was closed. The guide also showed me the water castle (where the sultan would bathe), the underground mosque, and the bird market, and, when he found I was interested in wayang kulit, he took me to a puppet shop - which turned out to be the one Alex and I had visited the previous night! The owner recognized me, and I bought two puppets from him and had them shipped back home ($75); they didn't arrive until the end of January.

I had some fried chicken at a food stall, and I tried ice durian - a dessert made from the foul-smelling fruit. Many Asians love it; I was not impressed. A Thai man struck up a conversation with me, bought me lunch, and wanted me to meet his niece, so we took a taxi to his guest house on Jalan Prawirotaman.

There I learned the real motive behind the invitation. He asked whether I was interested in card games, and then he showed me how we could cheat together and win money from his friend from Brunei, who would be arriving shortly. This is a scam described in the Lonely Planet guide - the scam artist makes it so that you start winning, and then when you lose he lends you money, and then he wants the money back and you lose a lot. I stayed along for the ride until his friend arrived, and then I made up a story about having to meet someone in a few minutes and took my leave.

That night I attended a performance of the Ramayana ballet in Prambanan, about a half-hour drive from Yogyakarta. The ballet is performed over four nights at the time of each full moon during the summer, and the outdoor theatre in Prambanan is a spectacular place to see it, as the magnificent ninth-century Shiva Mahadeva temple is directly behind it. Unfortunately, it rained, and the performance was moved indoors, but at least we got a glimpse of the temple in the background before we filed inside. (A few petty travelers had the gall to ask to be reimbursed the $3 ticket cost because the show wouldn't be outside.)

The ballet, accompanied by a full gamelan orchestra, was excellent despite the change of venue, and Alex and the two Dutch travelers were there. After we returned to Yogyakarta I had one final serving of fried chicken (the Yogyakarta specialty).

The next morning I took a bus to Borobudur, a giant pyramid about an hour northwest of Yogyakarta. The huge stone construction dates from about 800 and consists of nine levels and almost 3000 stone panels that tell the story of Buddha's life and depict Indonesian life from long ago. There are over 500 Buddha statues, and the ones near the top are large and partially enclosed in stupas.

2 Oct
Air: Garuda, Yogyakarta to Denpasar
(13:30; 53m; IDR 426000)
The flight to Denpasar, on the island of Bali, left the gate early, and we arrived very early. I walked the short distance from the airport to the highway and caught a bemo to Denpasar.
2 Oct-3 Oct

Where you can buy any little creature you want...

Denpasar isn't a particularly attractive town. I checked into the Queen Hotel for the night (IDR 70000 with a toast-and-marmalade breakfast but with no running water) and made my way to the central market, a place crowded with people selling fruits, vegetables, clothes, animals, and everything else. Nearby I dined at a Chinese restaurant and had pig's bladder soup and fried pigeon with oyster sauce. Near the hotel was a large department store, where I finally found a travel-size bottle of Head & Shoulders (only in Indonesia!). Then I stopped in the Amsterdam Bakery and had a coconut croissant and a Fanta.

The Bali Museum, my first stop the next morning, had a noteworthy collection of dance items and clothing, and it was attractively situated in a garden. But more interesting was the group of military officers doing calisthenics and playing band music in the park across the street. I tried to visit the state temple (Pura Jagatnatha) next to the museum, but it was closed. Back at the central market, a woman showed me around and helped me buy an assortment of fruit; then she showed me the bird market, which had monkeys, dogs, and other little critters in addition to birds.

3 Oct
Bemo: Denpasar to Ubud
(39m; IDR 1500)
On the bemo (minibus) to Ubud were two Dutch women and a few Indonesians, one of whom spoke Japanese. Throughout the ride the Indonesians tried to get us to buy some sort of foot-massage device, and the Dutch women eventually took two of them.
3 Oct-5 Oct

The Monkey Forest; a performance of Balinese dance; my own cottage for $3 a night; getting lost among the rice fields; a scrumptious Balinese banquet...

Ubud, a beautiful place with a small-town feel, is situated where the Cerik and Wos rivers merge, and it's got steep hills, forests, and waterfalls. It is also an artsy town. One forest, the Monkey Forest, is aptly named because of the monkeys who inhabit it - it's a popular pastime in Ubud to go to the forest to feed them. The street that leads to the forest (aptly named Monkey Forest Road), is lined with travel agencies and hotels. I found Puri Muwa Cottages, a place run by a friendly elderly couple, and they offered me my own little cottage, complete with porch, tea set, breakfast, and singing bird. I thought about looking at other hotels, but when I said I might do so, they dropped the price from IDR 40000 to IDR 30000 per night. How could I resist this small paradise (albeit with no electricity or running water) for only $3 a night?

I had a lunch of tuna curry and fruit juices at the Ibu restaurant, and then I made my way to the Monkey Forest. The place was abuzz with monkeys snatching food that people either had in their hands or threw to them. One monkey picked up something that looked like food and, discovering it was a frog, threw it away. And the place went still when an elderly woman, one of the park's caretakers, fell a few meters off a large rock as she was trying to rescue a non-digestible item from a monkey.

That night I saw a performance of Balinese dance - a good smattering of lots of different types of dances, but the obscene number of camera flashes going off during the performance was distracting. I dined at the Nomad Restaurant and had fried duck and some sort of tropical drink made from rice wine.

The breakfast they served at Puri Muwa was called jaffles - some sort of compromise between waffles and toast. The first museum of the day was Puri Lukisan, which contained some great Balinese art depicting stories from the Ramayana, Hindu mythology, and everyday life. Then I visited the Neka Museum for another wonderful sampling of art; this one traced the development of art more chronologically, showing the Dutch and German influences. There were also some bizarre works of the modern artist Made.

After a snack of fruit salad and lemonade (yes, this is what I go for in the tropics), I took a long walk to more rural-looking area of Penestanan on the western outskirts of the town. I'd planned to follow the road through the forest to get back to the center of the city, but somehow I got lost and ended up among the rice fields.

An elderly man found me and pointed in the right direction, but there was no road - just rows and rows of rice fields. So he escorted me through them, and although his feet looked completely worn-out he was a lot more agile than me among the rice fields. It was hard work to balance myself on the terraces without falling into the swampy water, but I managed to keep pace with him. We walked for about 10 minutes through the fields and then he pointed in the direction I should go. I started, but it soon became clear that I was not going to find the way, and he came back. Indeed, it was another 20 minutes or so until we got to the forest - where we had to cross a river.

I've always been terrified of heights, and the only way across the river was over a precarious pedestrian bridge suspended about 15 meters above. One side of the bridge had a rope to hold on to, the other side offered no protection, and the bridge swayed as the man crossed. I knew the only alternative to crossing was to make my way back through all those rice fields, so I held his hand and crossed, and then we were at the southern end of the Monkey Forest and I knew where I was. I gave the man a night's rent at Puri Muwa for his help.

I'd made a reservation for dinner at a place simply known as Ketut's Place, where the host, Ketut Suartana, shows people around his traditional family compound and then treats them to a wonderful array of Balinese dishes - all for about $5. The compound consisted of four buildings. The north building was used for the honeymoon couple and the eldest relatives, the south was the kitchen, the east was for the retired and the resting place of the dead, and the west was where everyone else lived. The compound also contained a temple, and offerings were made each morning to the demons and each afternoon to the good spirits.

The meal was splendid - bututu (smoked duck), duck liver, fried pork, satay, tempeh, salads with fruit served in a banana leaf, black rice pudding, fresh fruit (nangka, papaya, watermelon, something that looked like a cantaloupe, and something that might have been soursop). Drinks included rice wine, beer, and tea.

There were lots of other tourists there (Americans, Australians, Norwegians, Canadians, and Slovenians at my table), and while we were all discussing our travels, one couple described a scam pulled on them by a travel agent in Zanzibar: The agent, in trying to arrange a flight, made several phone calls but discovered that none was available. The agent still wanted the couple to pay him for his troubles, though, and the argument took them all the way back to the couple's hotel. The hotel manager, upon seeing the harassment his guests were suffering, paid the agent the demanded fee in order to get him out of there, and the couple, amazed by this gesture of kindness, reimbursed the hotel manager. It turned out that the whole thing was a conspiracy between the manager and the travel agent.

5 Oct
Car: Ubud to Denpasar

5 Oct
Air: Bouraq, Denpasar to Surabaya
(6:30; 34m)

To catch my 6:30 flight to Surabaya the next morning, I hired a car to pick me up from Puri Muwa at 4:45 and drive me back to Denpasar. No one was awake at Puri Muwa, so I left my payment in an envelope with a note of explanation at the entrance to my bungalow.
5 Oct-6 Oct

Offers of fish; shooed from the mosque; welcomed at the temple...

The early flight got me to Surabaya far too early to do anything useful, so I took a taxi from the airport to the train station and walked to the northern part of the city, where there is an abundance of Dutch architecture. Eventually I found a bustling Chinese market, where everyone tried to sell me fish - I didn't think that would be a very practical purchase.

The Ampel mosque is approached through an Arab bazaar filled with religious shops and beggars. When I finally got to the mosque, a man lectured me on my presence there - he decided I shouldn't have been there since I wasn't a Muslim. But he showed me around anyway and then, for his efforts, demanded a little money. It didn't break the bank.

The Kong Co Kong Tik Cun Ong temple, a Chinese Buddhist temple with Confucian and Taoist influences, was friendlier. It was colorful inside, and the incense was so thick upstairs that I could barely breathe. Here I was treated to a short wayang performance, and I sat and rested and took in the action for a while.

I checked in to the Weta Hotel (IDR 125000), took a short rest, and headed for some ice cream at Zagrandi's - Surabaya doesn't have that much else to do, and it's not a great place to wander. That night I went to a shopping mall (with lots of places to sample food in the basement), and outside a man taught me a few Indonesian words ("I am an American" is about as far as I got). Behind the mall was an amusement park that was supposed to have a comedy performance, perhaps even in English, but it never happened.

I had an early flight the next morning, so I hurried through the nasi goreng breakfast and checked out. The hotel staff tried to charge me for minibar use, but I don't think I even knew my room had a minibar.

6 Oct
Air: Cathay Pacific #780, Surabaya to Hong Kong
(8:10; 4h 21m; 29m late)

6 Oct
Air: Cathay Pacific #903, Hong Kong to Manila
(16:30; 1h 31m)

The flight to Hong Kong arrived late, but it didn't matter - I still had two hours until my connection to Manila. I spent the time in the bookstores in the Hong Kong airport browsing guides to Africa. Go on to part 2