Have a blast on a bud­get

Shepparton News - - WEEKEND FEATURE - By Hay­den Thom­son

My back­pack­ing trip to In­done­sia can be summed up in a few words: par­ties, beach, hik­ing, tur­tles, tem­ples, Bin­tang.

Last month, I spent four weeks trav­el­ling from the west side to the east of this South­East Asian beauty.

Rather than spend­ing two weeks get­ting drunk with thou­sands of other young Aus­tralians in Bali, I thought I’d pre­tend to be more cul­tured.

Boy oh boy, did I have fun — and I can­not rec­om­mend the trip highly enough.

Many young peo­ple aged 18 to 25 spend their hard-earned cash on a AEight to Europe and pour thou­sands down a drain un­der the Eif­fel Tower (don’t get me wrong — I’ve done it, and it was fun). But this was some­thing else. I spent just $1900 in my four weeks of fun which in­cluded AEights, ac­com­mo­da­tion, food, drinks and non-stop ac­tiv­i­ties.

Be­gin­ning in the bustling cap­i­tal of Jakarta on the is­land of Java, it wasn’t ex­actly the par­adise I’d ex­pected.

Af­ter spend­ing two short days there I had seen enough; it was not un­til af­ter an eighthour bus jour­ney to Pan­gan­daran, on the south coast, that my trip re­ally be­gan.

SurÅng lessons quickly brought my skills up to scratch but later watch­ing footage of my­self surÅng two-foot waves, it was a bit of a let-down.

On to Yo­gyakarta and a visit to the must­see his­toric Borobudur and Pram­banan tem­ples.

Borobudur was built in about 800AD, 300 years be­fore Angkor Wat in Cam­bo­dia, and in the late 20th cen­tury was des­ig­nated a World Her­itage Site.

At the end of my Årst week I spent two days hik­ing In­done­sia’s most fa­mous vol­canos, Mt Bromo and Ijen.

These two days con­sisted of set­ting the alarm at 1 am to travel to the base of the moun­tains, be­gin­ning the hike about 4 am and walk­ing to the top to see the sun­rise.

That was enough ex­er­cise to last a life­time, so I booked a AEight to the ex­otic is­land of Lom­bok, east of the in­fa­mous Bali.

My time in Lom­bok was too short, just one week, but that time was spent surÅng and par­ty­ing at the world-renowned beach vil­lage Gerupuk.

The waves were at the in­ter­me­di­atead­vanced level and, be­ing a be­gin­ner, I spent most of my time in the wa­ter catch­ing my breath.

Tak­ing a speed­boat jour­ney from Lom­bok to Bali I spent four su­perb nights on three tiny is­lands called The Gilis.

Gili Trawan­gan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are char­ac­terised by sandy beaches fringed with palm trees.

They are also known for their coral reefs just off­shore, where tur­tles and ex­otic Åsh swim.

There are no cars, no mo­tor­bikes and “no wor­ries” al­lowed on the is­lands what­so­ever.

Jump­ing be­tween reg­gae bars and bouncy clubs at night and non-stop swim­ming dur­ing the day was a blast but ex­haust­ing.

My last week in Bali Ånished off the trip nicely.

I spent a cou­ple of days div­ing and snorkelling in Ahmed, three or four in the mon­key vil­lage and rice ter­race town of Ubud and my last two in touristy Kuta.

My high­light of Kuta was a night at the Sky Gar­den Rooftop Lounge where a chance en­counter with a large group of Ar­gen­tini­ans saw me up un­til all hours of the morn­ing.

Boy, could they party — but it didn’t help that we en­joyed an all-you-can-eat-and­drink buf­fet from 5.30 pm to 9 pm that night for just $11.50.

South-East Asian coun­tries are cheap, fun, un­usual and just on our doorstep.

In­done­sia is not to be missed.

Mt Bromo in Java.

Hay­den Thom­son with lo­cals at the fa­mous tem­ple Borobudur in Java.

Hay­den Thom­son and friend at Ubud, Bali.

Loung­ing about on a ham­mock at Gili Trawan­gan.

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