Wednesday, 8 November 2017


I had no plans to end up in Sardinia on holiday, but my housemate Justine suggested we go somewhere (warmer than London) and the flights were super cheap - we paid just £68 each for return flights and 6 days car hire!

We flew into Cagliari just before lunch and after some complications with credit cards that could have been disastrous, we picked up our Dacia Duster, which was nice but a lot bigger a car than I anticipated. Even driving it out of the car space was an ordeal, especially considering it was my first time driving a manual on the right side of the road. We even had to Google how to put the thing in reverse. Navigation also didn't get off to a good start, with the car GPS directing us to a dirt road that ended in a pedestrian bridge. My first observation about Sardinia was that all the speed limits are ridiculously low, but that's OK because everyone drives at least double the limit. I fit right in.

Our first stop was the ancient Roman ruins of Nora on the south coast, which was by guided tour. Confirmed that the Romans knew how to do houses, because why the hell do we not still have open roofed atriums in the centre of the house in which rain falls into a pool!? The ruins and view from the tower on the peninsula were nice, but honestly the best part was being able to walk around in the sun in a singlet in November.

Then it was onto our cute little Airbnb (Casa Di Rosa) in Chia, a tiny coastal town with some of the island’s best beaches. At this point it became clear exactly how useful Justine's fluent Italian would be, as our host didn't speak a word of English. I'm sure we would have gotten by, but it was nice to get things like local restaurant recommendations. We drove along the coast a little and went for sunset at a tiny unnamed beach we saw from the road.

(Sunset in Chia)

(Spaghetti alle Vongole)
(Cala Cipolla)

Here I’ll say that our trip was dramatically different to one that you would get if you came to Sardinia in peak season. Tourism is such a huge industry here that most businesses outside Cagliari make their living in 2-3 months over summer and then close for the rest of the year. People come here for summer and not much else. While we never had a problem with finding places to eat and stay, our choices were sometimes very limited and the lack of people meant that places weren’t as alive and vibrant as they could have been. While I really enjoyed our trip, I would definitely recommend coming in the summer.

Our sole option for dinner in Chia was Mirage, just down the road from the accommodation. As our first official Italian meal, we went all out with a tasting plate (or nine) for entree (mostly seafood) and then I went straight in with the spaghetti alle vongole (clams) which was SENSATIONAL! Our course of local desserts was also accompanied by trying to figure out if the guy on the next able over was wearing a bathrobe (turns out it was just a terrible jumper).

Day two was official beach day. We started the morning at Cala Cipolla, a cute little beach in a cove. I could have stayed there and slept in the sun all day. In the crystal clear water we were constantly followed by some little fish … we couldn’t figure out why they had no fear - they just kept swimming around our legs. Justine’s more adventurous spirit led us to bush bashing around the headland to the next beach over, the larger Su Giudeu, which was a bit too windy that day to relax on. We did get an ice cream though.

The afternoon was spent trying to explore Pixinamanna forest, but we kept getting met with locked gates on all the tracks we found on the map. We ended up taking a main track that climbed up a small mountain to get some views before heading back before dark. I think it was the low season hitting again - the river was bone dry after all. As we were near Pula, we stayed there for dinner, where we (unsurprisingly) ordered too much food. I tried horse steak for the first time (I don’t think I would have been able to tell the difference between beef) and discovered the sheer delight that is mozzarella and tomato.

(Morning rainbow in Bosa)

(Leaving Bosa)
(Night in Bosa)

Stop one the next day was meant to be the dunes at Porto Pino, further along the coast to the west, but after driving along a spit to a dead end, and then being faced with a long walk to what we could see were some average looking dunes, we decided to bail. We hit the road and didn't stop until we hit the city of Oristano for a lunch break. We had no plans to go here originally, but it was a logical stopping point. The sun was back out, making the break in this beautiful little city a surprising plus on the trip. When ordering pizza I made the mistake that I'm sure nearly every tourist makes … thinking that pepperoni is a sliced meat, when actually it's the Italian word for capsicum. It was meant to be however, because my vegetarian pizza was one of the best pizzas I have eaten in my life. By this stage Justine was about to murder to get her hands on gelato and I thought she might break down when the place we spotted earlier had already closed. Luckily for all involved, we drove past a different place on the way out of the city.

Another unexpected stop was the small town of Cuglieri, which loomed ahead of the road, perched on top of a mountain. Although it was (like the rest of Sardinia at that time of year) pretty dead, the tiny, winding, cobblestone streets were enchanting, and the views from the church at the pinnacle were fantastic.

Our final destination was Bosa, which boasted stunning views of a colourful, hillside city overlooking the water. We were a little alarmed when we drove into Bosa Marina and saw nothing of the sort (I thought maybe we had gotten confused and looked up Bosa, Croatia) but around another bend the city came into view. We stayed in Torre di Alice, a cute little B&B right in the heart of things. The first room we got shown had nothing dividing the bed and the bathroom/toilet except a glass wall, which we explained to our host was not the most appropriate for us. With dusk upon us, we got out to explore and take photos in the beautiful light, climbing above the city for the views. We also found an olive tree and were curious about how raw olives tasted … absolutely fucking disgusting. I am scarred.

I will always remember Bosa as the place where I discovered that Martini was a brand of Vermouth and not just a cocktail, and also where I learned that Vermouth was a thing. A very delicious thing. We had Martini Bianco at a streetside café and then Martini Rosso with our dinner, a rabbit pasta, which has easily made onto my list of favourite meals in my lifetime, along with Duck and Waffle's foie gras crème brulee and the lobster bisque in Iceland. Bosa is also the place where I introduced Justine to No Doz (caffeine pills), which are lifesavers when you’re a perpetually sleepy nana, but you need to stay up past 8pm to go out for drinks.

The morning brought rain and so after another short wander, we decided to kick it over to the east coast where the weather promised to be not as shithouse. Almost killed us both by driving into an oncoming car while marvelling at a bridge. Just outside San Teodoro we stayed at B&B La Minditta, with a nice view and very close to the reason we came, La Cinta beach. While the beach was in fact beautiful, we only got a few minutes of weak sunshine before the clouds and wind rolled in. By chance we discovered a smaller beach just a bit further north at Porto Taverna, just as lovely and much more sheltered. The most impressive thing for me about this area was Isola Tavolara just off the coast, a massive peak jutting out of the water and visible for miles. Spiaggia di Porta Taverna had perfect views of the island, as well as a small boat which I saturated pants jumping in and out of.

(Isola Tavolara from Spiaggia di Porto Taverna)

(La Cinta)
(La Cinta)

The larger town of Olbia further north was quite lovely, but like most places we visited, completely deserted. Not so the case when we stopped by the indoor shopping mall to pick up snacks and more Martini, leading us to believe the entire population of Sardinia was in fact hanging out at Auchan Olbia. Dinner was just too hard, so we stayed in and ate bread and cheese.

Being on the east coast, we forced ourselves to wake for sunrise, heading back to Porto Taverna. It wasn't pointing in the ideal direction, so after finding another beach on the map, we headed there. Unfortunately it was some kind of private beach and a 20-minute walk from the road, so after jumping some fences and sneaking past some houses, we made it just in time.

When the weather continued to be temperamental, we wasted no time getting on the road and heading back down south to Cagliari, where at least if it was raining, we could enjoy the city. Our B&B, Biddanoa, was right in the centre of things and on the most picturesque, tiny little street. Spoiler alert, parking is a bitch to find and the roads shrink to footpath size with little to no warning. All we really did in Cagliari for a day and a half was walk around and eat a lot. As the island’s capital city, it at least had people around and a bit of life. It reminded me quite a lot of a smaller Lisbon, in terms of layout, architecture and colour. Among other things I had horse steak pizza, porceddu (suckling pig), a lot of Sardinian baked goods.

On our last day I was basically a walking zombie, but we still managed to hike up Sella del Diavolo, the promontory on the city edge, for the views. I even learnt a bit of Italian from Justine on the way.

The journey home was not so great, after being stuck in the line for immigration at Stansted for an hour and a half, missing the last express train (which we pre-booked) and slumming it all the way home on buses, finally getting back at 2:30am, thoroughly exhausted.

(La Cinta)


Tuesday, 31 October 2017

London: The Food List

I'm all about food while travelling, and London is one of the best Western cities to get cheap, interesting eats ... big cities love Instagrammable food gimmicks! I've realised that nearly all my picks are in Soho, but I guess that makes it easy to try them all!

(Soft Serve Society)


Bone Daddies

This is the number one place I recommend people for a good cheap eat. It's all ramen, and the broth is divine!

Crosstown Doughnuts

Now growing into a chain that you can find across London, I rarely venture into Soho without getting a donut from here!

Soft Serve Society

One of the little stalls that make up Boxpark, here you can get some delicious matcha soft serve, or even the black charcoal and coconut!


You get a box of crisps with a selection of sweet or savoury dips. While most people got a medium box of 4 dips to share, we got two large boxes between two people, with 12 dips in total. We barely made a dent, but it was worth it to sample so many delicious dips!


Champagne and hot dogs ... as if that isn't a winning combination!

(Cereal Killer)



Cereal Killer Cafe


This place seems to have every box of cereal ever, and the cereal cocktails on offer will make you struggle to pick just one. For someone who loves cereal as much as me, this was heaven!


South Kensington
A matcha menu ... need I say more?


A tiny little eatery, pop in and get a few of of the tiny yet delicious bao. The buns will melt in your mouth!


All vegan (yay lactose free) frozen yoghurt. Delicious, and with big serving sizes!


So look, the food as this Asian-fusion restaurant isn't fantastic - but you don't go for the food. You go for the interactive tables that let you order your food, watch it being cooked and even play games with your dinner mates!

(Rinkoff Bakery)

(Nosteagia at Pump)

Rinkoff Bakery

A bit further out, but totally worth it for the cakes and pastries like the creme egg crodough!


Japanese that is (Roch has argued) better than Bone Daddies, serving udon. I went for the Japanese breakfast.


Set in an old petrol station, Pump is a street food market with some good picks including my first experience of bubble waffles from Nosteagia!

Fire & Stone

Covent Garden
Pizza in a venue that feels a little fancier, and very delicious!

Franco Manca

This chain has extremely simple, yet delicious pizzas. The novelty has worn off a little for me because we get it for free every Friday at work, but you should try it!

Duck and Waffle

And the best for last ... By far and away my favourite restaurant in the world. You may have to book two months in advance on the day bookings open, but the incredible food and views from the 40th floor are worth it, and it's not even that expensive! You can also go to Duck & Waffle Local near Piccadilly and while not the same menu, still a great meal!

(Duck and Waffle)
(Duck and Waffle)

(Duck and Waffle)

London: The Fun List

I'm the kind of person who is always looking for something new to see or do. So, having now lived in London on two separate (albeit relatively short) stints, I have trawled a fair few 'to do' lists and found some alternative things to occupy my time. I've created this list for people who have a little bit of extra time in London and want something a little bit more than the usual staples such as Borough Market and The London Eye ...

God’s Own Junkyard

A huge collection of neon signs.

Sky Garden

I’m forever telling people to forego the cost and queues of the London Eye and head up to the Sky Garden at the top of the Walkie Talkie. You do have to book in advance, but it’s free, and there’s a bar up top. They even have events up there such as sunrise yoga (with breakfast buffet)!

Waterloo Graffiti Tunnel

Head around the back of Waterloo Station to find this tunnel, absolutely covered in graffiti - it’s London’s answer to Melbourne’s Hosier Lane. If you’re lucky you might also spot groups of emos, looking like they’ve come straight out of 2002.

Grant Museum of Zoology

I wasn’t that excited about this, but I was surprised - this place is amazing! A huge collection of skeletons, artefacts and things in jars. Look out for the 4000 jars of mice skeletons, or the jar of moles!

House of Dreams

East Dulwich
A house turned private museum containing the art of Steven Wright - loud and eclectic! It’s only open certain days a month so plan ahead!

The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities

A museum of curiosities, as well as a cocktail bar and on some days, a petting zoo for peculiar animals!

Old Brompton Cemetery

London has Seven Magnificent Cemeteries, and this is one of them (that I have been to at least). If you like the sound of 35,000 gravestones, stoned arcades, catacombs and a chapel, then take a visit (and maybe the other six too). You can also check out Fulham Palace nearby.

AccelorMittal Orbit

Olympic Park
The world’s longest and highest tunnel slide. I will say no more.

Morning Gloryville

This is a dawn ‘rave’ held once a month around London. Expect crazy costumes, smoothies, yoga and a lot of dancing - all sober! A lot of fun.

Junkyard Golf

London has a few novelty mini golfs, but I really enjoyed this one. It has a super chilled, low-key vibe and the courses themselves are really well done.


I am yet to get to this one, but you can’t go wrong with a cocktail bar accompanied by a pit filled with one million balls and UV lights.

The Four Thieves

This is a pub with a bit extra in Clapham Junction. Downstairs is good food and drink, then head upstairs for remote controlled race cars, VR booths, mini golf and arcade games!

Queen of Hoxton

I always recommend this place because of the rooftop, which changes theme seasonally. When I went last it was completely rainbow, with a fort tower you could climb and sit in and food such as a rainbow bagel icecream sandwich. At the time of writing the’ve just launched the new Moroccan medina theme!


London’s first board game cafe - eat and drink from the menu while playing one (or five) of the 600 available games! Remember to book.

Evans and Peel Detective Agency

South Kensington 
Upon entering you’ll have an appointment with the detective who will go over the case you wish to be solved, before being let into the secret speakeasy bar. They’ve also just opened a pharmacy in Chiswick!

Sketch Gallery

A number of rooms, but the standout is the entirely pink suite for afternoon tea. Make sure you check out the toilets.

Primrose Hill

This is a great place to hangout in the summer. One of the only actual hills I know of in London, it had fantastic views over London. Take a picnic and drinks!


This is a Shoreditch ‘cafe’ with a twist; help yourself to tea, coffee and biscuits from the kitchen, play an instrument, read a book on a beanbag, the only catch is you pay to be there by the minute. It’s actually quite cheap, and great if you need a homey place to chill or work.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Java: The Beach Crawl

To read about the beginning of this trip, check out my post, Java: Yogyakarta.

After gorging myself on bubur (Indonesian rice porridge with coconut milk, omg) at the breakfast buffet, we had our hire car delivered to the hotel. There are lots of local vehicle hire places in Yogyakarta that are much cheaper than big international companies (checkout this list); we went with Iwan Transport and had no troubles!

Heading south out of the city was super easy, it was just one long road to Parangtritis for about 45 minutes. Parangtritis is a little seaside town where the locals of Yogya head for the weekend and holidays. Being a weekday we found it completely deserted, which was actually a little disappointing, especially as all the shops and eateries were empty or closed. With our accommodation at Villa Alcheringa not as luxurious as we were expecting things were looking grim, however we ended up having a fantastic, if bizarre day.

The main attraction is Gumuk Pasir, the ‘sand dunes’ a few minutes out of town. Hilariously, this is just a long slope of dirty grey sand, covered in photo taking opportunities like large novelty signs, flower garlands and a swing set. We ended up sitting on the swings for a good half an hour taking photos and boomerangs and just laughing about how ridiculous it all was. The beach had a similar vibe to Maungmagan in Dawei (Myanmar) with warungs lining the beach front, although the sand is a dirty grey and the water, being the Indian Ocean, is a bit too rough to enjoy swimming in. Again we spent a hilarious amount of time just sitting at the waterline getting smashed by the waves and making hilarious videos. The amount of sand that we carried home in our bathers and butt cracks and then deposited in the shower was absurd.

After some time in our infinity spa, we went hunting for the spot where you can go paragliding over the beach, however they were closed that day. Gutting, because when else do you get to go paragliding for $35!? Nearby though was Goa Langse, the path down to which some (apparently) call one of the most dangerous climbs in Indonesia. All I can say is that while it’s steep and the infrastructure questionable, I never felt scared of unsafe. Leaving Angela (who wasn’t game) and her book at the top, I scaled down the Amsterdam-steep stairs, ladders and bamboo poles, the cliff face overlooking the ocean and waves crashing on the rocks below. At the bottom is a little compound of buildings at the entrance of the cave. I was not allowed to enter too far into the cave itself because it’s a religious site, but it really isn’t that remarkable anyway. What was stunning however were the huge rocks, waves and sunset - totally worth it! Worked up quite a sweat on the climb back up, mostly because it was getting dark (is anyone surprised, anyone?). Near the top I heard Ange calling out to me, because it had occurred to her we hadn’t made any kind of plan and if I’d had an accident down there she was stranded by herself in the middle of nowhere. Oops. The 30-minute trek back in the pitch black was not ideal. Back at the room we treated ourselves to an in-room massage.

In the morning the real beach crawl began. The south coast of Java is littered with noteworthy beaches and after some thorough research I had short-listed a number of them to visit. This was no relaxing-in-the-sun type of trip, this was a see as many as we could kind of deal.

First up was Pantai Wohkudu, which was only an hour from Parangtritis and reachable on a very pleasant and sealed road, followed by a 20-minute walk. This beach was a tiny, secluded bay with some beautiful rock overhangs providing shade to lie in. This would be the perfect spot to bring a picnic and book and chill for the day away from any crowds. I did some serious rock scrambling to get some great shots of the rocks and waves. Like almost all of the beaches, we found that swimming was almost impossible with the swell from the Indian Ocean just too rough.

Next up was Pantai Kukup, just another hour along with reasonably good roads. This beach was more built up, with a village of shops and places to eat and more locals enjoying the good weather. And it really was just locals - we barely saw any other tourists or white people between Yogya and Bromo. We got our lunch to go (in a bungkus, wrapped up in paper) to eat on the beach. Literally as soon as we set down, we (and all our belongings) were engulfed by a wave that I saw coming in the nick of time. There’s a second half of the beach with no one on it you can access by running across the rocks/sand while the swell is out. Kukup was nice, but nothing overly remarkable.

(Pantai Wohkudu)

(Pantai Wohkudu)

(Pantai Kukup)

Yet another hours drive along the coast (actually each time we have to drive back inland a bit) was Pantai Timang, which we went to not for the beach, but for the crazy cable car over to Pulau Timang. The last stretch of the drive was our first experience of the rough and narrow roads I had been expecting, but nothing the hire car couldn’t handle. For the last stretch you have to park and then pay to be driven on the back of a motorbike with a local. I think our car could have definitely done it, but I wasn’t in a mood to argue over how they do things and the incredibly bumpy ride was like a rollercoaster. At the coast are some high rock outcrops and an 80m stretch of crashing waves over to a small, rocky island. The locals have built a rope bridge on the left, and on the right a hand-pulled cable car with an absurd amount of rope. Over on the island an incredibly helpful and friendly guide showed us all the best spots, kept us safe and most importantly, gave us our own private photoshoot - his photography skills were to be commended! I asked if we could return via the bridge and he said that foreigners were not allowed, right before a gigantic wave swept over the bridge. It was probably one of the most unique things about the whole trip.

With the day getting late, we decided to skip nearby Pantai Jogan, Nglambor and Wediombo (to be honest, I was being far too optimistic about the amount of beaches we could fit in) and head straight to Watu Karung, which was the most likely place to find accommodation (we hadn’t pre-booked anything). This is where the roads really went full Asia. 20-40km/h was the max we reached, driving along narrow and rocky roads, now in the dark, through forest and tiny villages. To be honest it’s the kind of adventure I love and that kind of driving makes it far less likely I will fall asleep …

(Pantai & Pulau Timang)

I had looked up a place called Pasir Putih Villa but we (and the incredibly friendly and obliging locals) couldn’t find the place at all (I think in the end we decided it had closed down?) and we were led to a very average homestay (Angela reported there were cat sheets, which I unfortunately missed). Also the whole town’s wifi was down. Claiming we needed to go get food, we bailed and instead found our way eventually to Chill Hill Homestay which was much nicer, and right on the beach! We then stumbled upon this cool little outdoor bar run by a foreigner that served pizza. The opportunity to speak a little English and have a non-Indonesian meal at the end of a long and exhausting day was very welcome, especially since the power socket in our room electrocuted me.

Sunrise revealed that we were staying on the most stunning beach in a small sheltered cove. There were a number of other foreigners here too, mostly visiting for the surfing - we got to check out a few very hot surf bods on our morning stroll. This would be the kind of place, in the middle of nowhere, where I could have stayed and checked out from reality for a week or two … but to be brutally honest I don’t think I or anyone I know would say that that kind of holiday is ever going to happen for me!

We headed out early on the back roads to double back to Pantai Klayar, which was suggested as the best of the beaches in the area. The morning drive there along the roughest roads yet, in the middle of nowhere, was really nice. Klayar definitely took the cake on our beach crawl. You can drive right up to and park at the beach, where there is a stretch of shops etc. There’s a long beach that ends in some large rock formations, behind which is a smaller (still connected) beach. The impressive waves constantly crash against and wash over the rocks and beach in different ways, making for stunning scenery. The sand (some white, some black) and the water was beautiful. At the far end you can climb up to a lookout to see the beach in its entirety as well as a blowhole in the rocks. We basically had the whole place to ourselves and wish we could have lingered all day. But we had a 10-hour drive to get through!

You can also check out my video, Java by Instagram Story.

(Watu Karung)

(Pantai Klayar)

(Pantai Klayar)

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Java: Yogyakarta

In 2014 I spent seven weeks working at an arts University in West Sumatra and from that developed a fondness (as well as some language skills) for Indonesia, so when the opportunity came up to make a return trip, I jumped at it. My trusty travel partner Angela and I had eight days in Java. I was not prepared for the sheer amount of amazing sights and things to do in Central Java alone, and as I suffer from severe FOMO, we moved through the place at breakneck speed.


We started our journey in Yogyakarta, the Melbourne (cultural capital) of Indonesia, a city that is worlds away from the hot, dirty, unappealing and sprawling mess that is Jakarta (seriously, don’t go). We checked into Greenhost Boutique Hotel, which met all of our expectations of super-cool, Instagram-worthy (yet affordable) Asian accommodation. Every wall is covered in hanging greenery, all surrounding a gorgeous central pool, and the breakfast buffet and top-floor bar received our high praise.

Our first stop, other than hiring a scooter next door at Bamboo House, was to try the traditional Javanese dish Gudeg at Gudeg Yu Djum, which was a great way to dive back into Asian food. While we were unsuccessful into getting into Taman Sari (the Water Castle) because it closes in the afternoon, we had fun wandering around the area until some friendly locals told us we could go around the back and get a great view looking over the wall. This was a fantastic tip, and we got better views of the pool than if we’d gone inside (and it was free too)! Further exploration led us to Masjid Sumur Gumuling nearby, an old Mosque with circular rooms and central staircases that made for some great photos.

There are two main tourist areas in Yogyakarta; Prawirotaman, where we were staying and filled with guesthouses and great places to eat, and just a bit further north, Malioboro, home the reputable markets and shopping strip. We headed there next for a look around, before deciding to come back for dinner after a rest at the hotel, a dip in the pool and some mojitos at the bar. Dining choices along Jalan Malioboro are almost entirely limited to street foot in the curb side stalls. Only one day in, Angela was not feeling so adventurous - we found her some Japanese in a food court, and I had some ayam goreng (fried chicken) at one of the stalls.

Day two saw us up early to make the hour long ride out to Borobodur for sunrise. You can pay an exorbitant fee to book through a neighbouring hotel to be let in before sunrise, but some extra research told us that it was sufficient to just go in as normal as soon as the temple gates open at 6am. We were the first in and made it to the top to watch the sun come up through the clouds. While Borobodur doesn’t compare to the scale of temple complexes such as Bagan and Angkor Wat, it’s still impressive and very beautiful; a definite must if you’re in the area.

Only about fifteen minutes away is the lesser known Gereja Ayam (Chicken Church), literally a church inside a giant chicken. The inside is filled with hilarious, politically charged wall paintings and you can climb up through the tower to look out it’s beak and then stand on its head for some reasonable views. On the walk back, while chasing some chickens, I walked into a massive spider web and basically had a seizure trying to brush potential spiders off of me.

Next up was another hour or so ride east to Kaliuran, a village on the side of the active volcano, Merapi. We made it just in time to Vogels Hostel for lunch before it started pouring and enjoyed some delicious ayam paniki, a kind of vegetable soup with chicken, heavily scented with lemongrass. By the time we were ready to leave, the rain had stopped, and we rode up to the carpark of Bukit Pronojiwo, a good place to lookout over the lava fields. Apart from being ridiculously overpriced, the cloud cover totally wiped out the views, so we turned back in time to be propositioned by a man in a bight yellow jeep, offering a 2-3 hour expedition up the volcano. Done!

Sitting in the back of the open topped jeep, we bounced along (with Ange laughing hysterically) the roughest roads I have ever experienced. We stopped at a decimated house (now museum to the last volcanic eruption), an old bunker, the underwhelming ‘alien rock’ and some fantastic views over the lava fields, with the volcano looming the in clouds in the background. Every stop was accompanied by groups of locals asking to take photos with us … we vowed that on the next trip we would provide them with a hashtag so we could make a collection of all the randoms uploading photos of us.

I only speak a bit of Indonesian, so on the way back when our driver asked us if we wanted to do something involving the words ‘water’ and ‘circle’, I assumed there was some kind of water wheel he wanted to take us too. Next minutes, he goes off road and we’re doing mad wheelies in the river under the bridge. Definitely the highlight of the day.

Back on the scooter the next leg took us to another temple, Prambanan (which kept getting Black Betty by Ram Jam stuck in our heads). By this stage we were flagging in energy and motivation, and the ambience of Prambanan was compromised by the epic Tupperware convention taking place on the grounds. We stopped at the exit for food and I had another Indonesian favourite, gado-gado, a kind of satay salad.

Battling the traffic back into Yogyakarta, we stopped by the Kota Gede neighbourhood so I could try a black soupy dish called Brongkos from Warung Jawi (reputably the best); not something I would need to have again, but I’m glad I tried it. By the time we got back to the hotel we were well and truly dead (remember, this is all still on day two) and we spent the rest of the night in.


After our epic beach crawl and trip to Mount Bromo, I still had two more full days in Yogya, with Ange leaving in the afternoon of the first. We got a private room at Venezia Garden Homestay, quite near our previous accommodation (but a lot cheaper), which was quite nice and near a lot of places to eat. We checked out Bu Ageng, a swanky looking restaurant that came highly reviewed, but I found the staff unusually rude and the food which took a long time to arrive, not great. I think it was probably geared towards fussy, white tourists … I would much rather eat in a dingey, street side warung.

In the morning we hired a scooter (bright pink this time!) to go and check out Kraton, the Sultan’s Palace. On the drive there, a local guy stopped beside us and offered to show us the way, protesting that he wasn’t trying to scam us. He led the way, and when we stopped he gave us directions and suggestions including to see Kraton with a guide and to check out the real batik school (as opposed to all the ‘galleries’ which are just scams). Turned out he really was just a nice guy helping out, which is increasingly rare in Asia. Kraton, which historically significant, is nothing special to look at and I wouldn’t have been disappointed if we missed it. However our friend was right; a guide was essential in making the site interesting and explaining a lot of things we would have walked past without a thought.

Nearby was a batik (a traditional Indonesian art form using wax and dye to make art and clothing) school that was sponsored by the palace in order to preserve local culture. If you’re going to look at and buy batik, this is the place in the city to do it - all of the shops and galleries along Malioboro sell fake, mass-produced batik at inflated prices and pay hawkers on the street to direct people in. At this school you can speak with the artists themselves! Ange ended up buying a piece, but not having a home I thought it a little impractical for me. We then walked up to Malioboro to check out Pasar Beringharjo, a massive market. We bought some matching couples t-shirts from the street, but otherwise Beringharjo was no different than any Asian market packed with cheap (and mostly useless) goods.

After Ange left for the airport I basically laid in my bed and bummed around in the room for the rest of the night before reluctantly going out to find food (I’d eaten all the oreos) - I did find some fantastic satay nearby!

My last full day was packed! I left early morning to ride east out of the city to Goa Jomblang, where I befriended a couple of German travellers while we waited. At Goa Jomblang you are lowered by rope in pairs around 50m down into a huge sinkhole, in which a forest is growing. Only a short walk through the dark (and intensely muddy) cave, you emerge into a larger cave with a round opening in the ceiling high above. At a certain point in the day light streams down through the canopy above and into the cave, making for some spectacular photos. Definitely a must do if you go to Yogya. Back at the camp I bought a hilarious tourist photo on the abseil rope with me and a random Singaporean dude I didn’t know.

Next up was some river tubing through Goa Pindul, also in the area. Everyone knows that tubing is my number one favourite thing to do in the world. The first part included floating in a group through the cave itself, which was filled with tiny bats and some beautiful ceiling openings near the end. Overall though, it’s quite short and largely unremarkable. After climbing out, you and your tubes transported by pickup truck to a more open river. This was beautiful, the river winding through a small, picturesque canyon - our guide mentioned that at another time of year the water is fluorescent green. We came to a waterfall, which has a ladder embedded that you can climb up, and a platform to jump seven metres back into the river. Even that height felt daunting for me, but I did it twice (the impact really hurt my balls!).

My German friends had hired a car and driver, which I guess is good (and cheap enough) if you can’t be bothered driving and navigating, but for me, being able to ride a scooter/motorbike, especially in good, hot weather, is the best part of travelling Asia (rather than being secluded away with tinted windows and air conditioning). In saying that, I did take a wrong turn on the way back and got a bit lost …

The rest of the night and the next morning was spent bludging in my room, thoroughly exhausted, before heading off to perform in Sumatra.

Check out the next leg of our journey in between our stays in Yogya, Java: The Beach Crawl.

You can also check out my video, Java by Instagram Story.