Last week, we bid a sad farewell to my parents who, after 2 week together in Malaysia, headed back to the UK. Not seeing your family for months is a very strange thing, I found: even though I had missed them like crazy over the last 4 months, it didn't feel strange to see them again…it just felt like normal. That also applies to saying goodbye again….this time, I managed to hold it together until they were out of sight at which point I burst into tears (last time, I was a blubbering wreck!). Perhaps I am still in that stage babies go through where they truly believe they've been abandoned if they can't see their parents! Haha!
As mum and dad's plane took off, back to Blighty, Alex and I boarded our plane to Singapore. We had hurriedly made a plan to swing by there and then head over to Java. We wish we'd stayed longer in Singapore now! It's lovely! We loved the futuristic vibe, as well as the cleanliness and overriding feeling of safety. Despite it being much more expensive that the other Asian areas we've visited, we enjoyed splashing out a bit on some yummy food, wine and UNIVERSAL STUDIOS! If you know me, you'll know that I am borderline obsessed with theme parks so, when I saw that Singapore had a Universal Studios, there was no way we weren't going to visit it! We had a great day going on the all the rides, watching all the stage shows, eating all the junk food, feeling all the nausea and just generally loving life! Alex even shrugged off getting wet in the rain, which is almost unheard of! That's how much fun he was having! The only downer was the lack of queue structure there….it's amazing just how British I found myself becoming as I tutted and tsked at people who would literally push us out of the way to get ahead of us in a queue. One woman ripped Alex's flip flop in half by stepping on it, in her rush to overtake us!
Theme park geeks!
After 2 nights in Singapore, we hopped on a flight to Jakarta. The taxi driver who took us to the airport slightly gave us the heeby-jeebies by recounting all the robberies and security measures he witnessed while living in Jakarta. Essentially, he really put us off even the one night we'd booked to stay there. So, with the hours of waiting at the airport, we decided to see if we could book a flight straight to Surabaya for one night, and from there we'd head down to Mount Bromo.
The gardens at Hotel Majapahit
Little did we expect that we'd get a brilliant deal on a 5* hotel (Hotel Majapahit http://www.hotel-majapahit.com/) where, not only could I get pampered (hair cut, hair spa, head/neck/back massage, manicure for the equivalent of £30…in total!) but they'd also organise a trip to Mount Bromo for us! We only found this out at 5pm yesterday and, by midnight, we were on our way to watch the sunrise over Mount Bromo! Luckily, it's low season at the moment so there were a mere 300 people(!) up at the view point but, had we come in high season, we may have had to battle with 700/800! The sunrise, although cloudy, was lovely and it was rather magical watching the clouds rolling beneath us, as well as seeing a mini explosion from a nearby volcano (I forget the name of it now but it takes 3 days to hike to the top!).
After a bit of breakfast, we headed to an ash plateau at the base of an active volcano mouth! There, we were each given a pony to ride up to the top. I have never ridden a horse so small! I was afraid I was crushing it but I was assured regularly that they are much stronger than they look! Some of the ponies were beautiful and a lot of them had Mohawk manes! They were all stallions but, apart from one very minor scrap, I didn't see any antagonism between the horses and they stood docilely waiting for their owners. The more spirited animals were ridden by locals and they pranced around as only ponies can. They were pretty lovely to watch!
At the top of the volcano, we got to look into the bowl and watch the plumes of sulphuric clouds billowing from the mouth. Apparently the local Hindu community hold religious festivals at the volcano where the priest throws flower offerings into the mouth and the laypeople try to catch them! Akin to catching the bouquet at a wedding….but with more risk of burning to death in lava!
We have one more night at the Majapahit and then will make our way down Java to the Ijen Plateau (another volcano but, this time, with an acid lake at the top!) and then onto Bali for a couple of weeks before Alex heads back to work! That will conclude our Asia leg of our trip, as I will then fly to Australia!! Mind blowing!