Published on July 16th, 2014 | by Louise Burton
13 things only people who’ve been to Java will understand
Read time: a bit over 4 minutes
Java is a small Indonesian island. It is also a wonderful place; full of smiles, delicious food, kickass beaches and people. Yes, there are a lot of people here. In fact, Java is one of the most densely populated places in the world and is home to 57% of all Indonesians. Mental.
That in mind, you know it’s going to be a full-on travel experience. But that’s pretty lucky, really, because it just so happens that ‘FULL-ON’ are exactly the type of travel experiences we like, right?!
Here’s some stuff you can count on happening on the magical island of Java.
1. You’ll become a celeb
You are likely to become a celebrity in Java, where locals will come and ask for a photo with you. Whether you are at the beach, at a temple, or just waiting for a train…international superstardom awaits!
2. The local guides are the best!
Yeah, you have your awesome Geckos trip leader, but there are people out there who specialise in specific areas, and really know their stuff when it comes to history and contemporary culture. Not only do these guys rock, but when you pay for their services, you’re spreading the money across the local economy, which is super beneficial.
3. Like snacks, but weirder
Salmon teriyaki, chicken paprika, and Nori Seaweed are obviously the flavours of chips we were searching for until now right? Forget salt and vinegar, cheese and onion, and prawn cocktail because they are nowhere to be seen in Indonesia. You should make it a personal mission to find the strangest flavour combination you possibly can.
4. So many temples
From Borobudur temple just outside Yogyakarta, to Golotuldo temple in Selilomen, you are sure to fall for the serenity of these places. Borobodur has eight levels of Buddhist statues and carvings, and covered in volcanic ash from nearby Mount Merapi and overgrown with jungle for several centuries! On the smaller side is Golotuldo, a Hindu temple set on a mountainside surrounded by jungle, which has the fifth freshest spring water on the planet, and is considered holy by the locals. The best bit about this one? You can dip into the fresh H2O, while also drinking it. Double whammy.
5. The call to prayer alarm clock
Light sleepers might not appreciate the morning call to prayer at 4:30am, but it tends not to be too intrusive. In fact with it’s soothing tones, if you wake up then it is sure to lull you back to sleep. Don’t worry if you are a heavy sleeper – there are four more calls to prayer throughout the day so you will definitely get the opportunity to experience it! The evening call to prayer, just as the sun sets, has a pretty special vibe about it.
6. The locals don’t travel light
Whether on the road, or watching from the side, you will see people carrying crazy amounts of things on a scooter. Towers of toilet rolls, livestock, and boxes; we can’t quite understand how they manage to balance, but think they are darn talented!
7. Can’t move for paddy fields
Java is rife with paddy fields. From the reflective water paddies, to the fully grown rice ready for harvesting and terraces drifting into the distance, they are everywhere you look in rural Java. No wonder rice is on the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for Indonesian peeps.
8. The hostesses with the mostess(es)
For those of us who know who the ‘Thunderbirds’ are, you will appreciate the hostesses on the train to no end. They wear awesome bright turquoise outfits, and come along the train serving tea, coffee, fresh juices and chicken pies. There is a restaurant cart but there’s no need to leave your seat…unless you need to use the stainless steel squatter after all those fluids. It isn’t that bad.
9. Fumble in the jungle
When you reach the jungle area in the north-east of Java you really do know it. With huge elephant ear leaves surrounding you at some points for miles around, with your legs hidden in the undergrowth, it’s a bit like being in Lost – without the plane crash and giant polar bear of course!
10. The street art is awesome
The street art in Java is not only awesome in terms of the talent that produces it, but it’s also highly political. You can learn a lot about contemporary culture in Java from perusing the graphed walls around Yogyakarta… if that’s what your into. Otherwise, it’s just rad to look at!
11. If you don’t Angklung by now…
The Angklung is the ultimate traditional Indonesian musical instrument. Made entirely from bamboo, each instrument creates different notes. If you are lucky, you will get the chance to learn how to play, and even take part in a small rendition of ‘Que Sera, Sera’.
12. Cycle cars in Pangandaran
We reckon these are as close to a golf buggy as any vehicle we have seen before – apart from they are pedal powered, and covered in neon rope lighting with a sound system playing Indonesian pop. The best bit? You can rent them by the hour and actually own one of these for an evening. Just be sure to drive on the left.
13. Epic volcanoes
Indonesia’s landscape is volcanic, so most of the time you are looking at mountain looming above, but really Mount Bromo takes the trophy for the best volcano vista from afar and the experience on it’s almighty rim. You can either walk up it or be lead up on a horse… your choice!