Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunshine and a Volcano

After the traumas with the weather yesterday, all we could hope for today was a few minutes of blue sky – just enough to maybe get a paddle in the sea before going to a bar or café to sit out of the storm – However, we really didn’t need to worry about anything as this morning it was hot and although a little cloudy, there was plenty of sun.

I got up about 8am and had a run around the town. Its the first run I have been able to do in a while because of constant moves and the places we have been haven’t been the kind of roads to run on, but this morning it was a good day and a great location for it. Yesterday the town looked bleak and empty, but today the sea looked great, there were lots of people about and with the sun out it looked like a different place. It was lovely.

After the run and breakfast, Anto took 18 of us to the small national park that lies just on the edge of town. We saw monkeys, found a cave full of bats and walked through the jungle, looking at beautiful large butterflies floating on the breeze and got bitten by big red ants.. We saw fisherman’s huts out at sea on stilts, where the fisherman stay a few days at a time, whilst they get their catch. It was a lovely morning and even when a monkey pick-pocketed some nuts from Antos pocket it was all taken with a smile. Everyone smiled themselves when we rounded a corner to see the sea in front of us and a nice beach. We stayed there a while swimming and enjoying the sunshine before finally returning to the hotel at lunchtime for a rest. The rest didn’t last long though as me, Donna, Liv, Michele and Jennifer Parsonage walked the 30 metres or so to our local beach, hired some body-boards and spent a couple of hours in the waves trying to drown ourselves. The waves were great, helped by the breeze and we all managed to catch a few of them and ride them back to the beach. Myself and Michele also ended up with board-rash from or efforts, but it didn’t dampen a great time. We also saw a group of local fishermen dragging their nets into the beach and unload their fish.

After a rest and a play in the Hotel pool, including spraying water everywhere by blocking the water jets in the jacuzzi, we went out for lunch and had some really nice local seafood in a café just 20 yards behind the hotel, before wandering around the shops. We managed to find some booze that wasn’t beer - 'Smirnoff ice', but there were only 3 on the shelf. Luckily, David and Helen were in the same shop and asked the assistant who produced a full crate of 24 from the back of the shop! We grabbed 3 each (bottles, not crates) and carried on around town. We fancied some meat for dinner so went to checkout the steakhouse down the road. Its a really nice little place with enough room for about 12 people and after chatting with the staff we finally managed to get them to understand us enough, so that they will put on the final grand Prix of the season when we return for dinner later tonight. Me Liv and Jennifer Parsonage then wandered back along the beach enjoying the sea, sand and sunset.

Back at the Hotel everyone talked about their different days, some went for a bike ride, which was really funny to watch earlier as Natalie and Janet tried to start riding their tandem. Others just vegged by the pool, while some went down to the tourist market.

The overall opinion though was that everyone had had a great day and we are now all a little redder or browner than yesterday.

After an hours rest, we all met up again and headed towards the steakhouse just after 7pm. We arrived to find Lana, Awal and Kenneth just being served their steak dinners. The bar staff remembered us from earlier and immediately set about finding the grand prix on the TV, which they did. The commentary was even in English, so we sat there for a couple of hours, watching the race, eating a nice pepper-steak and drinking beers and some strange coconut vodka that we had bought from a little shop on the way to the steakhouse. Linda and Janet were also there eating and before the end of the race, we were joined by Cristina, just in time to see Vettel crowned as champion.

It was then back to the hotel and an hour sat chatting by the pool before me, Michele, Liv and Jennifer Parsonage decided on a final walk to the beach just after midnight.

The sound of the crashing waves, the warmth and the bright stars made a perfect end to what had been a great day and we just stood there chatting and taking in the atmosphere for a while before heading back to the hotel and off to our massive double beds!

Its amazing what difference a day makes – When we arrived, I didn’t like Pangandaran – It looked tired, empty and dull – But give a place a chance and a bit of sun then everyone and everything changes. This is really a lovely little local resort – Everyone is friendly and asks politely to have their photos taken with us whiteys!. Jennifer Parsonage, Maartje and Natalie, who all joined the bus 3 weeks ago in Kathmandu are now all really happy as they have spent a large amount of their time on the trip, just travelling long days on the bus. But now they have enjoyed a really great day. Its a pity we cant stay just one more day to enjoy the lovely hotel, the people and the beach, but unfortunately as is always the way of the bus, we have to leave now and head towards and past Yogyakarta. We are driving towards and staying at a town called Solo. We should have been staying in Yogyakarta itself, but because of the recent volcano eruptions in the area it has been decided to put us up a little further away and travel to Yogyakarta for a day trip tomorrow, dependant on the conditions and eruptions. Its going to be a long day on the bus again – perhaps 11-12 hours, but everyone is happy and chatting about the lovely couple of days we have just had.

We have had a good day so far – The weather is gorgeous – blue skies and a light breeze, but we are on the bus! Its not a problem though as I need to rest my slightly burnt shoulders after yesterday.

We just stopped for lunch in a nice little café, where we had a plate of rice, which was cooked in front of us and then we sat in a shaded seating area overlooking the paddy fields below with a view of the mountains in the distance. Its a really beautiful spot and we wouldn’t mind staying a bit longer, but its back on the bus and off we go again.

We entered Yogyakarta just after 4pm and picked up a Vulkanologist – Andy. He is a volunteer and knows a lot about the volcano 'Merapi', which has been erupting recently and has killed a number of people. We actually drove out of the city and parked by a temple, which had a great view of the volcano with smoke billowing from it. It really is spectacular and we are hoping for a closer view tomorrow. After continuing to a town called Solo we got our Hotel and then me, Liv and Jennifer Parsonage headed out for dinner. Most people went to Pizza Hut, but we were on the look out for some Sate.

We never found any, but did find a small street café, that sold all sorts of Indonesian food. We picked 3 dishes that we didn’t know what we were getting but the food was really nice. Add to that the fact that we were serenaded by a group of locals playing guitar and bass, whilst we ate! It was really surreal, but they were really good and we gave them a big tip when we left an hour later.

We eventually returned to the Hotel, but by now my back was aching, I think because of the waves throwing me about yesterday when we were body-boarding. So I decided on a few beers and then some painkillers before bed!

Ill try and add some pictures tomorrow!!!

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