Sunday, November 17, 2013

Planning for Java 2014

My next trip to Indonesia, in April next year, will be to Java. Now that I've made my decision it's full steam ahead. And since I've travelled in Java before I sort of know what to expect.

The next step in my personal travel preparation is destination research. I'd done some pretty extensive research on Java back in 2010, but I need to do a little updating. My scummy old LP Indonesia (2007 edition) has already been downsized by separating the Java section from the main book and there's even handy little post-its from last trip indicating points of interest. There's little point purchasing a new guidebook, if anything the more recent LPs have less destinations in them, and I've never had trouble finding somewhere to stay or eat. Of course I already own a map of Java.

I love maps. I haven't really got into Google Earth/Maps for trip preparation as yet, but I love poring over large format paper maps contemplating heading off up some small minor road and seeing where it ends. Or sketching out a route to take...

In 2010 I skipped the entire West Java, so after about 15 minutes of contemplation I decided to book a flight to Jakarta and start there. Those 15 minutes were taken up with deciding between 2 scenarios:

  1. grab a flight from Bali to Jakarta on arrival from Perth. Arrive in Jakarta at lunchtime, take a cab to the western bus station and head west outta there. Note the airport is to the west of Jakarta so I'm in the right general direction to start with. Start Java holiday in West Java and slowly head east. Jump on a through bus or flight to Denpasar when my time is up.
  2. head east overland from Bali. Risk spending too much time in East and Central Java and not give myself enough time for the west. The thought of making my way in to Jakarta from I don't know what direction, to get to the airport, seems worse than getting out. 
I'm now really excited, because I love planning my own itinerary. This isn't a day by day trip plan with accommodation and transport pre booked, but more a schedule of potential destinations to visit within a 58 day time frame. It's a what's out there, what's possible kind of plan. It's flexible and open to change. Except the end date - I still have to get back to work when my time is up.  :(

It may still be over 5 months till I leave but I'm starting early for a number of reasons. I really like to research extensively. This means poring over maps, doing multiple google searches and then using Google translate for the Indonesian language sites. Indonesians are keen travellers, and frequently blog about their experiences. Finding these sites and information opens up so many more possibilities than what's available from Western language guidebooks. Of course this sort of research takes time.

I'm keen to use this trip as a trial run for my extended overseas travel once I retire in 2015, so I want to pack and travel with gear I intend to take with me permanently. Doing the research, selecting the equipment, and then giving it a test run is an awesome opportunity. I mean how often do you hear "I wish I'd had ....." or more often "I wish I hadn't brought ....." from travellers on their return? Certainly my lurking on travel blogs reveals gear talk to be a common point for discussion.

I have some issues with gear because not only do I want to travel light, I want to camp, trek and climb mountains. I was limited last Java trip by not having gear for sleeping outdoors, yet I had a number of opportunities to do so. I didn't fancy dying from exposure however. Don't be fooled into thinking tropical places don't get cold. Once you climb into the mountains the temperature plummets. Kerinci in Sumatra is 3800m ASL, it was freezing up there, as was Bromo, and the day I wanted to climb Lawu it was raining and cold.

Once I've got my gear together I'll write about it. That will be in a few months though. The challenge is to carry lightweight camping gear plus electronics/camera gear and keep it to 7kg max.

The reason for this imposition is I have a 7kg carryon luggage limit and I'm not checking in luggage on my flight out of Perth.

I'm loving the challenge!!

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