Take Java. Said to be the most crowded real estate on the planet, and also the most geologically active island in the world just in the sheer number of lava belching volcanos. Ring of fire indeed.
So there I am doing my best to get as much information as possible about all these mountains and volcanoes and national parks that I'd like to visit. Because I'm a wee bit obsessive. Because I like to work out whether I really need a guide for something or if it's perfectly easy to do solo if the path is unambiguous, the route defined, and the place not excessively dangerous. I can communicate adequately in Bahasa Indonesia. I am past the beer ordering phase, but not beyond it!
I like to start with a guidebook. Lonely Planet actually does a sterling job of describing quite a few options beyond the well trodden path of Bogor, Bandung, Yogya and Bromo. It manages to provide information on a staggering number of volcanos, craters, and volcanic lakes besides the Bromo, Ijen, Merapi, Krakatau quartet.
The on line world isn't up there with a researched guidebook yet. It's quite a job plugging in keywords and trying to find blogs and other sources with the sort of information I'm looking for. My smattering of language and the good old services of old friend Google Translate helps a lot, and I've just started lurking on some Indonesian backpacker sites too.
I don't even bother posting a question on an international travellers' forum. I guess with limited vacation time most people concentrate on visiting just a few famous, and usually the tallest, mountains and leave the smaller ones to the locals. On every trek I've done in Indonesia I've met groups of Indonesians camping out and enjoying the sunrise from the summit. It's those trip reports I'm hoping to find by trawling the webs....
I've been to most of the main tourist destinations in Java in 2010, so this time I plan to explore further afield, as well as revisiting a few.
This trip you can look forward to seeing and learning about some less visited (by foreigners) parts of this fascinating island and culture. I've decided to start with an exploration of Jakarta, because this city gets a lot of bad press yet if you read between the lines it's actually got quite a lot of things to see and do. I'm not going to stay in the city, because budget accommodation is poor value for money, but will be doing day exploratory expeditions into its underbelly. Nah, it's not gonna be that exciting.
There will be a National Election on when I'm there though....
From Jakarta I'll head west to Banten and the west coast and from there I'll be making my way slowly eastwards. Just how far I'll get is anyone's guess. My rough itinerary finishes with round 2 Bromo sunrise then a flight from Surabaya to Bali and home, but who knows where I'll actually end up.
I will be guided by my map. All those little roads heading somewhere interesting...
Now you know the reason this blog's called What's Next.
I don't even know