The second part of the longest day trip ever did not delay as much as the writing of this post!
We jumped back into the van at 9am or so, and headed our way to Dieng Plateau. The road twisted and turned, and at one point construction work was being done on a bridge, and they constructed a make-shift bridge ON TOP of the construction work, with big timber planks that had major gaps between each of the planks; we weren’t sure it was even going to hold.
But the view at the top was worth all the twists and turns: every inch of the mountains were being put into practice as farmland (although I’m sure it’s heavily sprayed, unfortunately). I identified onions, cabbage, potatoes. And then I enjoyed another sayuran, roasted corn. Unfortunately, the lady selling the corn was out of strawberry or pineapple jam, so we had it plain. I think it tasted just fine without being sweetified. After the lookout, we headed up more winding hills to reach 3 small (relative to Borobudur) Hindu temples. In the high mountain mist of the afternoon, it was refreshingly cool. The temples are swarmed by everyone; you can even climb on top of them. This was photo shoot central. There were also people dressed up in traditional Hindu costume, and for 5000Rupiah you could get your photo taken with them, and they posed in a ferocious manner. I politely declined.
After checking out the temples, we made our way to the active volcanic geyser on Dieng Plateau. We wanted to stop by a lake along the way, and since there weren’t really direct signs to our next destination, I led the group through some farmer’s field. Those who were wearing flip flops, or ‘sandal jepit’ weren’t really impressed when I decided to jump over a small irrigation creek. :) But we eventually made it…. there was a market just in front of the ‘geyser’ area, and so we had some snacks before getting sulphurized. I wasn’t sure if eating before was a good idea, because the sulphur smell was so strong, I wanted to upchuck the cassava fries I just ate. I managed to stay away from the direct sulphur wind flow and save my snack, but I wasn’t quick enough to stay away from all the Indonesians who wanted to take a photo of us. We should have charged them 1000Rupiah for each photo; we would have walked away rich! I’m not really sure why it’s such a big deal to take a photo with a bule (pronounced ‘boo-lay’, literally means ‘albino’, and it’s slang for white person), there could be so many reasons. So it is a big deal, and we complied for the most part, but when one person gets to take a photo, then suddenly you’re surrounded by many others in line, and it can get a bit ridiculous. I mean, I almost feel like I’m at the zoo, and I’m the new exhibition. Some people even tell you to smile if you’re not. At one point, a bunch of girls were obviously wanting our photo, but were too shy to ask, so instead, they were ‘discreetly’ taking photos of themselves and with the bule in the background. I finally asked if they wanted a photo with me, and they were so stoked. And this is not just at tourist destinations where this happens. Today, I was shopping downtown in Yogya in the city, and two boys asked for my picture with them. Daily, I go through feelings of extreme frustration that I want to be left alone and not be such an exhibition to feelings of whatevs, if it makes them happy to have a photo, why not….I’m new to them, they’re new to me. And if they get to take photos, then I just might want one with them too! :) So I whipped out my camera with the rest of them, and took some sweet shots of my bule comrades with the locals. And after it all, we walked into the sulphur sunset.