Places of the world

Here’s some info on the places I’ve visited so far. Hopefully some of this will come in handy should you ever go there yourself.

Montenegro:

I love Montenegro. I knew nothing about the place until I rocked up. But out of the 40 countries I’ve visited in my life, it’s in my Top 5. (Don’t worry, I won’t do a tedious Top 5 list though). Montenegro, which sits just below Croatia, means black mountain. And as you fly in, you’ll see why.
The rugged coastline and deep green sea is surrounded by towering mountains of rock and dark trees that makes the landscape look black – beautful but formidable.
It truly is one of the most stunning countries in the world.
There are old towns with fortified walls nestled on the water.
There are beaches with make shift bars set u in summer where it’s perfectly acceptable to binge drink in your speedos all day.
And there’s heaps to do, such as mountain biking, water rafting, skiing, boating, kayaking, and, well, putting on a pair of budgie smugglers and drinking at a beach bar all day.
Budva, Tivat and Kotor are all good places to base yourself.

 

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BEST PLACE TO STAY IN MONTENEGRO:

I stayed in Jana apartments on the he water just outside Tivat and would highly recommend it.

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The view from our balcony

 

Turkey:

Istanbul: Lonely Planet Zombies

Istanbul is one of the world’s greatest cities. From the late fourth century it was the capital of the Roman Empire and then the capital of the Islamic Ottoman Empire from 1453. Ancient Roman structures sit neatly by palaces and mosques of the Ottomans.
And it’s like each emperor or sultan of the time was trying to impress their God the most with an elaborate, expensive place of worship.
To add to the “holy shit that’s stunning” factor, all these mind blowing structures are perched around the waters of the beautiful Bospherous Strait.
This legendary sea divides Asia and Europe.
In Istanbul, you can literally jump on a ferry to have lunch in Asia, then back in Europe for tea.
The problem with great cities though, is that there’s too much to see and too many other jerk travellers trying to see it too.
You become a slave to your Lonely Planet. You obey it to the death, mindlessly shuffling to all the sights it says you “must see”.
And you’re constantly surrounded by all the other brainless tourist zombies hungry to feast on history.
But some of it is pretty cool.
Check out the Blue Mosque. It’s multiple domes and pillars are like something out of a sci fi film. And it’s free.
Also cruise up the Bospherus for a day.
And visit the Basilica Cistern.

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Best place to stay in Istanbul:

The blue house hotel.
Great view of the blue mosque and right in the heart of it all.

Canakkale: The Gateway to Gallipoli.

A pumping student town on a beautiful harbour. Good food, good people and it sits opposite the Gallipoli peninsula (20 mins by ferry) so it’s a good place to base yourself for a Gallipoli tour.
Check out the maritime mueseum on the water.

Best place to stay in Canakkale:

The Yellow rose Pension – cheap ($20), central, clean and friendly local family owners.

Gallipoli: Take comfort, you’ve never made a mistake this big.

The Gallipoli campaign was a fuck up of historical proportions. Well from an allies point of view anyway.
In World War 1, Winston Churchil thought he could break into Istanbul via a navy fleet in Gallipoli and open up a route to the Russian allies. Well, the first 3 ships that made their way up the strait were sunk and it just got worse from there.
The failed campaign lasted 8 months and resulted in over 500,000 casualities:
130,000 dead. 87,000 Turkish, and 36,000 allies consisting of 8800 French, 8700 Australians, 3000 Indians and 2700 Kiwis. All dead.
And even though less ANZACS (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) died than other allies, we commiserate this battle every year on ANZAC Day, April the 25th. These commiserations involve copious amounts of drinking, gambling and silly behaviour. Maybe that’s what the fallen soldiers would’ve wanted. Maybe.

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Ephesus:

I do wonder about ancient ruins.
Saying they’re so many thousands of years old. Claiming Caesar walked there. Or John the Baptist took a poo there. It’s hard to know the truth of it all with no real evidence.
It could all be a ruse to bring in the tourist dollar. Just like New Zealand with our Lord of the Ring Tours:
“um yeah, thus field was a part of the shire in the fulm The Hobbit”.
Whatevs bosso, that’s just your family farm in Matamata.
But To be fair, Ephesus is a very impressive ancient city from Greco-Roman times. There’s 1800 year old libraries, theatres and even whore houses. Worth a visit for sure.
To get to Ephesus, we based ourselves in Kusadasi and took a bus from there.

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Pamukkale:

Stepping into the calcium carbonate terraces of Pammukale is like stepping into another world. Over millions of years of calcium build up has created limestone terraces with natural hot spring pools flowing down the cotton-like landscape. It looks like a snow resort on Saturn.

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Bodrum:

The super yacht, luxury beach town of Turkey. It’s a bit of a cheese fest to be fair. But there are some beautiful beaches around if you want to lie on a sun chair and binge drink all day. Seems most people are quite partial to that kind of thing.
One of the best things to do in Bodrum is a boat day trip. You’ll do a bit of snorkelling, see lots of other beaches and go to a natural rock pool where Cleopatra apprently bathed. All in all, good, wholesome times. Unless you get up and gyrate on the top deck to top 40 music. Nothing wholesome about that.

Cappadocia: Ancient Rock Cocks

Cappadocia is a large province which is the result of a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. With its red rock and surreal formations and ancient cave dwellings it’s what I’d imagine Mars to look like. I’ve never seen anything like it. These rock formations do look like large rock penises though so parental supervision is advised.
The many caves and rock formations were used from the 4th to 11th C AD by Christians hiding from Pagan persecution. They built and hind in large underground city systems. Pretty amazing stuff just quietly. Thousands of locals still live in these cave dwellings.
Best Place to Stay in Cappadocia:
I stayed at Yasmin’s Cave House. Was a pretty cheap, family run operation. Not bad, service was a bit sketchy at time but pretty cool to be living in cave for a few days.
The best restaurant in Cappadocia by a long shot is the Old Cappadocia Cafe.
There’s a lot to do in this region including Quad Biking, mountain biking, horse riding, hundreds of treks through crazy landscapes, hot air ballooning and tours of the ancient cave dwellings. Stay at least a week if you can.

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ENGLAND:

London:

There’s not much I can write about London that hasn’t been written before but it’s definetly worth a visit. From the big bloody Ben to Bucko Palace, the jaw dropping, iconic landmarks peppered along the impressive Thames River never fail to stop you in your tracks.

Plus if you prefer to have your cultural experiences in the pub, there’s one on just about every corner.

And although most people think a holiday in London will cost you an arm and a leg and a liver, the truth is you can do it on the cheap.
Most of the world leading museums and galleries from the science museum, history museum and the classical and modern Tate art gallery are free entry. And even a night at the theatre isn’t too expensive if you search for deals online like a cyber-jippo.

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Best place to stay in London:

Couchsurfing.

Screw expensive hotels and dumpy hostels.
Through the website http://www.couchsurfing.com we were offered a free couch to stay on. The guys who lived there were great and will be friends for life. And all it cost was a few home cooked curries, a bottle of duty free booze and a hangover…or two.

INDIA:

Kochi: History, Culture and Tuk Tuk Driver Con Artists.

Kochi was the centre of Indian spice trade for many centuries and was visited by the Greeks, Romans, Jews, Syrians, Arabs, and Chinese in ancient times.
It was then occcupied by the Portuguese Empire in 1503, making it the first of the European colonies in India.
Because of this, there’s shed loads of historic churches, ruins, markets and other such sites to feast your beady little eyes on.
And the best, or at least the cheapest way to see them all, is by doing a tuk tuk tour.
The catch is, the driver also takes you to high end craft stores in the hope you’ll buy something so they can take a commission.
Thing is, what with me sporting an untamed, patchy ginger beard and wife-beater, it was pretty obvious I wasn’t in the market for a $3000 carpet or marble elephant. I played the game though. Pretended I needed a stone monkey for my place back home. It was mildly amusing. The full day tuk tuk tour only cost me $1. I tipped him 50 cents though….I’m not a total jippo.

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THE BEST PLACE TO STAY IN KOCHI:

The strangely named Honululu Homestay is the way to go. It’s cheap, spacious, clean and family owned and operated.

Kerala Backwaters: Slum Boat Millionaire:

Cruising in a houseboat through the majestic canals and backwaters of Kerala is a Lonely Planet must do. So we did it.
I recommend booking your houseboat in advance or getting there early in the morning to negotiate a good one. We got there late and got a real dunger.
I could hear rats scampering about each night as I was trying to sleep. Counting them didn’t help me nod off either.
Still, lying on the top deck couch with Kingfisher beer in hand as you cruise through the canals isn’t a bad way to spend a few days.
It was crazy hot so I decided to jump in the water with a festering foot wound. That was crazy stupid.
Needless to say, my foot got infected and it blew up like a balloon.
We found a floating medical centre that serves the 15000 villagers of the area.
It’s governement funded which means locals get treated for free.
So did I. Thanks India.

I felt like a bit of a jerk though ‘cos most people there had genuine problems – whooping cough, missing limbs – and here was stupid white man with a sore foot.

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Varkala: Feeling high on the clifftops.

This is the place to base yourself if you want to surf in India (unless you’re going to the Andaman Islands which is meant to be off the proverbial hook). Nearby beaches and points can have good waves. Talk to Soul and Surf – they do trips to different spots, rent boards and host a surf retreat.
Varkala itself is surrounded by clliffs with a long sandy beach below and 2000 year old temples dotted around the village. The cliff is lined by restaurants and bars so it’s a good place to sit and watch the view and get slowly merry.

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Kavolem: Timeless Tourist Trap.

Kavolem means A Grove of Coconut Trees. They got that right, and due to its tropical beaches, it’s been a trourist trap since the 1930s. To be honest, it’s a bit cheesy but it’s still beautiful. For the best view of this scenic coast clamber your way up the lightouse at the far end of the beach.

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BEST PLACE TO STAY IN KOVALEM:

The Good Morning Guesthouse.
This place is just one minute walk from the beach at the lighhouse end. Owners were friendly, it was spacious and cheap as chips. It was $4 a night – literally the price of a punnet of chips. Stoked.

Mumbai: Glamour, Ghettoes and Cheap Curries

Way, way, way back, Mumbai was made up of seven separate islands occupied by fishing communities. Then in 1783 the British East India trading company underwent a project to reclaim the land to create one mega port to make trading easier. Now Mumbai is considered one of the top ten commerce centres of the world.
History aside, Mumbai was not what we expected. We didn’t get diahorrea. We didn’t get hassled. It wasn’t hectic. Even though over 20 million people live there, everything just kinda works in a chaotic kind of way.
Stunning British buildings are juxtaposed with shantie slums. The rich and poor share the streets with dogs, taxis and tuk tuks.
There’s a lot to see and do but really just walking through the city, checking out the architecture, sampling street food and drinking beers at seedy bars is a great way to spend the day.
If you get bored in Mumbai, you’re boring.
Stay in Cobala or The Fort. Do a slum tour with Mystical Mumbai.

http://mysticalmumbai.com

You’ll learn a lot on the tour. Maybe even become a better person. Probably not though.

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Hampi:
Ancient Temples, tuk tuks and rocks.

Hampi will blow your little mind. From 1300 to 1500 AD it was the centre of one of the largest Hindu empires in Indian history. There’s over 500 spectacular temples, shrines and ruins dotted throughout the hills and boulders. Every time you look up you can’t help but say: “Holy Shit-balls, look at that!”
The best thing to do is take a tuk tuk tour around all the sights as some of them are spread quite far apart.
Remember though, Hampi is a temple town, so there’ll be no booze for you Mr Drunken English Backpacker. Plenty of weed though, so you’ll be sweet. Rooms range from $4-10 a night.
Go there before March, or you will melt.
To get to Hampi we took a 17 hour bus from Mumbai. The bus was awesome because you got your own bed to sleep in. Problem was, we slept through our stop. We ended up having to get a tuk tuk to drive us an hour and a half through rural India back to Hampi. Idiots.

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Goa:
Sun, sand, arrogant cows and Russian Sugar-Mamas
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Goa’s history goes back 20,000–30,000 years. The rock art engravings there exhibit the earliest traces of human life in India. Once the birthplace of civilisation, it’s now occupied by hordes of good for nothing beat-nik hippies who go there to live a drug-fuelled, hedonistic but ultimately pointless life.
But they come for a reason. Goa is the beach state of India. There’s over 100kms of beautiful, tropical coastline graced with plentiful sunshine.
We stayed in Agonda in South Goa, near Paolem. It was very chilled. There were more cows roaming the streets than humans. The cows know they’re holy and that no one’s gonna mess with them. They have a confident swagger about them. They’ll just strut into your bungalow without a care in the world. Arrogant. I liked them.
The other interesting thing in Goa were all the middle aged Russian women with young playboy Indian dudes. It was nice to see. Makes a refreshing change from your usual fat old white man with a young South East Asian girl. Why can’t a big binge drinking Russian lady get some young piece of ass? I’m all for it. I just didn’t like watching the young Indian guys hand feeding them food though. Made me feel a little sick.

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Sri Lanka:

Hikkaduwa: Surfing with Turtles and man-ssages

If I was God, this is the place I’d create. Perfect surf, great snorkelling, turtles everywhere, friendly locals, beach cricket and most importantly cheap curry and beer. Every time I surfed a turtle would pop up to say hello. But the thing I’ll never forget in Hikkaduwa is the oily man to man massage I got. Only a man truly knows what a man wants. Life changer.IMG_2194

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Marissa:

An hour and a half south of Hikkaduwa by train is Marissa. It’s more beautiful than a mother’s love for her baby.

There’s a little right hander wave to surf and a fun left if you walk 15 minutes north up the beach. There are better surf spots a short scooter ride away though. If you’re a real jerk like me, you’ll go up the hill to the luxury resort and use their infinity pool and drink their beer.

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Unawatuna:

Just south of Galle sits the cool little beach town of Unawatuna. A Big Buddah is nestled on the hill, looking down over all the tourists drinking cocktails on lounger chairs. Quietly judging them all.
Walk over to Jungle Beach to get away from the crowds. There’s good diving in the area, some surf spots not too far away and a generally chilled vibe. Stay at Amla’s across the road from the main beach. Definitely worth a few nights if you’re in the area.

Thailand:

Koh Lanta:

Diving, dodgy massage bars, deep caverns and fish soup. Just a few of the things you’ll find on Koh Lanta.
It’s a massive island in the Krabi region with countless beaches stretching up the coastline. The best thing to do is hire a scooter or even your very own three wheeler tuk tuk and go exploring. We stayed on Long Beach. It’s….long. On the main road, across from the scooter shop is a fish soup lady. Funnily enough, she makes really good fish soup. Up the road about 5kms is a vegan restaurant called Kundu. It’s run by a heavily tattooed Polish lady. Best food on the island. Eggplant cavia, home baked bread and pasta that will make you gleefully squeal like a little girl.

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But there’s more to do on Koh Lanta than gorge on food.
You can kayak, snorkel, dive, paddle board, binge drink, play petanque or even get a dodgy massage if you’re a scum-bag.
Kana decided to volunteer her time to an animal welfare shelter. I also donated my time to animals by learning to dive. I spent a lot of time with tropical fish, moray eels and much more. I went with Phoenix Diving and they were great.
If you do end up going to Koh Lanta, do yourself a favour and visit the caves in the middle of the island. You descend deep into a series of underground caverns, full of bats, dodgy ladders and bridges. You’ll feel like Indiana Jones.
Overall, Koh Lanta isn’t the most beautiful island in Thailand, but it’s super chilled, family friendly and there’s lots to do if you can be arsed.

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Koh Phi Phi:

Koh Phi Phi is one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand. If not the world. And doesn’t everyone bloody well know it. I quickly became one of those jerk tourists who whinges about all the other tourists. As if I’m somehow different from the rest of the hordes. And hordes there are. Swarms of young, cool backpackers covered in tattoos strut around with a fashionable pout set to their lips. The bonus is that when they get drunk you can watch them belt the crap out of each other in the Reggae Bar amateur kickboxing ring. You can also watch them burn themselves at the pyrotechnic beach parties each night.
Other things worth doing on Koh Phi Phi include a snorkel tour, hiking over to Long Beach (there’s a Long Beach everywhere) cliff jumping, going to Maya Beach where the movie, The Beach was set (don’t expect it to be uncrowded though) or just strut around trying to look young and cool.
All in all Koh Phi Phi is beautiful and fun. Maybe I’m not.

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Kuala Lumpur:

K.L has it all. There’s the rich and poor, the future and the past, tradition and technology, jungle and concrete, all in the one city.
It’s also a melting pot of races. Malays, Chinese, Indians, Bangladeshis, Vietnamese, Thai, Europeans and the rest all call this city home. And the best thing about multi-racial cities is that the food is awesome. Any dish you want, you can get it. Indian for breakfast, Thai for lunch, Frog legs for dinner. Fan-fucken-tastic.

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The mainstream religions all live side by side too. Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists all live in perfect harmony. This makes it a great place to start your own religion. There’ll be no crusade against you or any of that other stuff that’s bloodied human history. Everyone just does there own thing. I’m thinking of starting my own cult there. Nige-ism. Enlightenment is found through curry and beer.
But most people don’t go to K.L to start their own religion. They go for the shopping. I got a wireless keyboard for $23. I was stoked. It can be stinking hot in the markets though. Beware of sweaty sacs and chaffing. Avoid this by doing a jump on jump off bus tour of the city. See all the sights from the two towers to Little India without breaking a sweat.

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Langkawi Island:

In the north west of Malaysia sits Langkawai island. It’s right on the border of Thailand so is a convenient stepping stone beween the two countries. There are many islands waiting to be explored by boat and some very nice beaches to be found if you hire a scooter. It’s quite a large island and there are a fair few resorts and lots of tourists.
The best thing in Langkawi for us though, was a humble beach bar. The genius dude who owned it just parks up his jeep every night, unfolds his trailer and hey presto, a fully stocked bar on the sand. There’s mats to lie on, little tables with candles and even a live band playing chilled, beachy music. As you drink your beer or cocktail, you’re lying under a galaxy of stars and the water is lapping only metres away. Look out for it if you go there.
All in all though, the east coast islands of Malaysia like the Perhenthians are way more tropical and untouched, so I’d go there if that’s more your thing.

The Perhentian Islands, Malaysia.

On the far north east coast of Malaysia sits paradise. Two islands – one big, one small. Graced with perfeclty white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, colourful coral, and teeming with marine life. A great place to take photos and post them on social media to make your friends jealous.

And the diving is some of the best in the world.

There’s no road, no cars, no pollution. The locals are mellow and so are the people that visit.

I loved this place and would marry it if I could.

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Things to DO on the Perhentian Islands:

  • Dive. I did a discovery dive at Angel Dive shop. They were super friendly, relaxed and professional. The thing I find funny about divers is they all smoke. The one thing you need to be able to do is breathe clearly, yet they all fill their lungs with toxins. Hilarious. You don’t have to be an athlete either. Half the divers I’ve dived with can hardly squeeze into their wet-suit. It’s fun to judge.
  • Do a snorkel trip. I’ve done boat-loads of snorkelling trips in my life -this was one of the best. You can see turtles, sharks, tropical fish, pufferfish, moray eels and only the odd plastic bag fish.
  • Surf. In monsoon season (Oct-Apr) you can surf on Long Beach. This is just a short stroll through the jungle from Coral Bay on the small island.
  • Hire  a kayak and paddle from Coral Bay ’round to Mira  beach – It’s an un-spoilt paradise. On your way there, stop at the lighthouse for some of the best snorkelling on the island. You can also jump off the lighthouse which is fun. The side closest to the pier is deep. The other side is all coral.
  • Eat BBQ’d seafood every night. Delicious and cheap at 20 MR (AUD $7) for fresh seafood of your choice, potatoes, rice, salad and fruit.

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Places to STAY on the Perhentian Islands:

We stayed at Maya Chalets at Coral Bay on the small island. Was only 50 MR for a beachfront hit.

If you really want to get away from at all, stay at Mira Beach. A water taxi can get you there from Coral Bay or get the speedboat to drop you there when you first arrive. There was a young Austrian working at Mira Chalets but his main job just seemed to be sticking sticks into the sand.

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GET TO the Perhentian Islands:

From Kuala Lumpur (or anywhere else) take a bus to Kuala Besuit. Then take a 1 hour speed boat to the Perhentians.

Avoid staying at Kuala Besuit if you can. People only stay there to get to the beautiful Perhentians and the locals know it.

Kuala Besuit is like the unattractive girl who’s best friend is ridiculously hot and gets all the attention. And she’s a bit bitter about it.

Cherating:

Cherating is a beach town on the east coast of Malaysia, about a 3-4 hour bus ride north from Kuala Lumpur.

It’s a sleepy surf/fishing village full of monkeys, cats and not that many humans.

In the monsoon season (Oct – April) a long left hander breaks from the river mouth. Was only small when we were there but the waves go on forever.  After a hard day’s surfing, there are a few nice seafood restaurants and cheap local eateries to fill up.

Things to DO in Cherating.

  • Surf or Learn to Surf. You can rent boards there.
  • Do the FireFly tour (25 MR, around $8) . You’ll be taken down the river at night on a  boat to see the fireflies. At the risk of sounding corny, this was actually a really magical experience. It’s like little fairies are flying towards you. Unfortunately I forgot I was wearing insect repellent so the poor little fellas got a bit dizzy when they got close to me. Even worse were some others on our tour who were swatting them away. Jerks.
  • Kayak down the river by day. Keep your eyes out for pythons and big lizards.
  • Watch baby turtles hatch.
  • There’s also snorkelling tours and fishing trips.

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Places to STAY in Cherating:

There are beach bungalows everywhere.

We stayed at Payung Chalets for around 50-60 MR a night (around AUD $17-20). Chilled garden environment, close to the beach, and best of all, the friendly and informative YaYa manages the place.

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GET TO Cherating:

Go to the main bus station in Kuala Lumpur, on the fringe of Chinatown. Go up to the top floor and ask for the counter that sells tickets to Cherating. Was about 30 MR ($10 AUD)  for the 4 hour trip.

Java:

Java is the most densely populated island in Indonesia, with over 140 million inhabitants.
But you wouldn’t know it. As soon as you’re out of the main cities you feel like you’ve gone back in time. It’s rural, isolated and feels untouched by tourists. You can go days, even weeks, without seeing another foreigner. Which is strange, ‘cos Java is well worth visiting.
The island hosts 38 volcanoes that rise up to the sky – many of which you can trek as long you don’t mind your shoes melting on the lava (no joke). Both coasts are graced with world class waves that are seldom ridden and there’s plenty of culture and ancient temples to feast your eyes on…if that’s your vibe. Plus it’s cheap. Really cheap. But what really makes the place are the people. And they’re the smiliest, friendliest bunch you’ll ever meet.

Cimaja:

Cimaja is a 3 to 4 hour drive from Jakarta on the west coast. It’s a small surf town with a small town vibe. Everyone knows everyone’s business. And most people will know you within the week. When I first turned up, I thought I was the only tourist there. But within the hour, I saw a few other travelling surfers lurking about. There’s also a few interesting ex-pats living there. They’re either trying to find themselves, or lose themselves further.
The main attraction in Cimaja is the surf. Right in town is a right hand rocky point break. It bowls up and can be heaps of fun.
There’s also a left hand river mouth break just out of town that needs a big swell.
An hour from Cimaja is Sarwana, a quality, powerful left hand reef break.
There’s many other spots around, including some very isolated waves only accessible by boat. But best to ask about those when ya get there.
There’s also some hot springs around 10kms out of town which are well worth a visit.

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Things to DO in Cimaja:
• Surf Cimaja point
• Scooter to Sarwana beach. On the road there, the locals will scream and wave at you like you’re some type of superstar.
• Go to the hot springs, where geysers shoot out to the sky and there are plenty of natural hot pools to chill out in.
• Hire a local boat and go fishing or to isolated surf spots.
• Become mates with the many friendly locals.
• Drink the day away at Sunset Plaza then once the confidence is up, stumble downstairs for karaoke.

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Places to STAY in Cimaja:
• Daun Daun (on the main road). Super friendly staff. Surfboard hire. 5 minute walk to main break. Nice clean, rooms with A/C. Around 100,000-150,000 per night ($10-15)
• Sunset Plaza. The ex-pat owner has a few stories to share over many a beer. Right on the beach with great views, a pool and very good western food – from wagyu steaks to wood-fire pizza. Starting from around 300,000 rps a night ($30).
• Cimaja Square. Right near the main break. Nice place with cable tv, pool table and cool Dutch lady owner. Not sure how much it is a night.

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The view from Sunset Plaza

GETTING to Cimaja :

Bus from Jakarta to Bogor. Then take another bus to Pelabuhan Ratu. From here you could take a small bus to Cimaja or a taxi as is only 15 mins away.
Or Hire a private driver from Jakarta for around 750,000 rps ($75) Be sure to buy your driver a feed when you stop.

PACITAN:

Pacitan is a quiet little beach village a few hours drive from Yogyakarta in Central Java. The place is mellow, the people are mellow, and the waves are mellow. (Although super heavy breaks aren’t far away).
It has a a long left hand surf point by the river mouth. It’s pretty relaxed out there so the bigger the swell the better really.

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Places to STAY in Pacitan:

  • Harry’s Surf accommodation is the place to stay. Good little vibe going on there, friendly owners. Dorm bed from 30,000 ($3) to private room with A/C and bathroom 110,000 ($11).
  • There’s another couple of places along the main beach road but I didn’t stay there so can’t comment on them.

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Things to DO in Pacitan:

  • Surf the sandy point break or learn to surf on the beach breaks.
  • Go to the hot springs (about 40 minutes out of town)
  • Go to Srau beach and Watu Karas, a big wave surf spot that Bruce Irons put on the map.
  • Eat very good (and cheap) seafood at Seafood Plaza restaurant.

GETTING to Pacitan:

Get yourself to Yogyakarta first by a domestic airline such as Lion Air. In Yoyga you can get a mini van to Pacitan from around 80-120,000 rupees depending on whether they charge you for your surfboard or not.

YOGYAKARTA:

Drink in the culture or just drink. Jogyakarta in Central Java has it all. It’s the island’s most touristy city and for good reason. There’s all sorts of cultural stuff to see, like the world’s biggest buddhist temple, Borobudur. Jogya is also the gateway for volcano trekking. Plus there’s other touristy things like river rafting available and a backpacker district. Again, people are so friendly here you kinda just want them to take you home and adopt you.

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Things to DO in Yogyakarta:

  • Visit Borobudur (Buddhist) and Prambanan (Hindu) temple ruins. Not cheap (around $20 entry each but overall a good experience, if a little touristy).
  • Visit the active volcano, Mount Merapi, only 26kms from Jogya.
  • Go river rafting.
  • Hang, shop, drink in the backpacker street of Jalan Maliboro.

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Places to STAY in Yogyakarta:

I stayed in EDU hostel.
80,000 ($8) for a dorm bed with free breakfast.
Very clean, very well run, very cheap, very helpful staff. But was a little soul-less. If you’re looking for more of a backpackery vibe, then I heard Via Via is good or other places in the Maliboro district.

GETTING to Yogyakarta:

I travelled to Jogyakarta from Pelabuhan Ratu (near Cimaja). I took 2 buses to get to Bandung. Then a train from Bandung to Yogyakarta. It’s about a 16 hour mission.

On this mission, I had a good experience and a bad experience.

The Bad Experience: On the bus to Bandung the bus ticket guy was a rapscallion of the worst kind. He tried to charge me four times the ticket price because I had a surfboard. I offered to pay double the rate to cover the board (even though it was stored in the luggage compartment under the bus). This wasn’t enough for the greedy devil though. He started yelling at me in Indonesian, the word tourist being flung around angrily.  I held my ground though. He ended up sitting with me at the back of the bus. He just sat there smoking, staring at me. Jerk.

The Good Experience: On the train to Yogyakarta the train steward offered me some strange looking food.

I said “What is it?”

To which he replied with a big grin: “I don’t know sir. But it’s delicious”.

That was a good enough  sell for me. And he was right. It was delicious.

JAKARTA:

A sprawling metropolis where east meets west….but it’s a bit of a shit-hole really. The people are super friendly though.
You’ll spend a lot of your time stuck in traffic studying bumpers. When I was there, it rained a lot and many parts of the city were flooded, so this may have distorted my view of the place. Apparently a few years before, the city got so flooded a few took to the streets in jet-skis. Rad.

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Things to DO in Jakarta:

  • Visit China town.
  • Eat street food at the local warungs.
  • Go drinking in the CBD.
  • Get stuck in traffic.
  • Shop.

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Places to STAY in Jakarta: 

I stayed at 6 Degrees hostel. Really well run, clean rooms, good vibe and friendly Irish owner.
There are dorms, single rooms and doubles.
Price ranges from about 120,000 to 230,000 rps for a double (I think).

GETTING TO Jakarta city from airport:

From the airport it’s at least an hour to the city. Taxi fare was around 150,000 rupees ($15).
If you’re on a budget and know where you’re going you could take a bus.

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