Next year's trip will be my sixth time visiting my neighbours to the north. Part of the attraction is it's just so damn close to home, but more than that, it's such a fascinating place. The spectacular scenery, the friendly people and so much cultural diversity it's staggering. Plus it's cheap.
I have a return flight Perth to Bali (purchased on the fly whilst in Tekapo Backpackers back in September) and am now in the process of deciding where I will spend my time and what I will take with me.
At present I am trying to choose between either heading east to Nusa Tenggara, in particular Sumba, Flores and Alor islands, then making my way west back to Bali, or heading west over to Java and exploring further than I had time back in 2010. I am yet to see a Bromo sunrise, there's a lot more of Central and West Java for me to see and there's some volcanos I want to climb.
|my Bromo sunrise April 2010|
|this sucker has my name on it.|
My main concern is the weather, as it is only the start of the dry season, and my experience in Java in April 2010 was there was still a lot of rain, which closed access to climbing some of the mountains. Dying in a landslide isn't my idea of a birthday treat!
East Nusa Tenggara, OTH, has a dryer climate and should have finished raining earlier than further west. But in the tropics, surrounded by sea and volcanic mounts, local ecosystems cause their own weather, so who really knows? I could just leave it to the last minute, hoping I can swing a flight east on the day I arrive in Bali, and if not head west instead.
I'm swinging towards Java for a bunch of reasons:
- I know I can't do East Nusa Tenggara justice in 2 months. Transport is slow and laborious and the way I travel I'm concerned that I'll be frustrated at having to miss out on some places just to make it back to Bali in time. I suspect I can do Sumba, Alor and Flores quite thoroughly in my 58 days, but that still leaves West Timor, Sumbawa and Lombok. Places I could do on another trip, but more practical to do with a visa extension and/or a visa run to East Timor. There is an impending retirement coming up after all...
- Although I made some sacrifices on my Java trip in 2010 to get to Bali in time for my birthday and return flight, I mostly took my time to explore places and was able to experience some fantastic hospitality from strangers I met along the way. Some of those people are now friends I'd like to see again.
- Java has a lot more infrastructure, like access to internet, and I want to trial my gear and system for blogging on the road whilst still travelling light. It will be the first time I backpack with a laptop, and I want to see whether my set up works. Sort of a trial run for the big trip. East NT, however, is still an internet backwater (not such a bad thing really).
- There's a lot of Java still for me to explore, in fact more than 2 months' worth. And when my 2 months is up it'll be no trouble to jump on a cheap flight back to Bali to connect with my homeward flight. Flights back from Nusa Tenggara, sadly, are renowned for their unreliability and frequent cancellations. The upshot of that would be a very long and arduous bus and ferry trip to get back in time for my flight, cutting into my actual "tourist time" by probably a couple of days.
Nothing like writing things down to get some perspective...