Today the road will take me from the hustle and bustle of Yogyakarta to the quiet mountains of the Dieng. The start and end of my day will be a stark contrast. Yogyakarta is big, busy and hot while the Dieng only has small quiet villages and cool temperatures.
The four of us (Mum, my aunt, Gos Rider and I) follow quiet country roads past the Borobudur and through the mountains to the Dieng Plateau. Gos Rider doubles my Mum on a scooter while I double my aunt on the motorbike. Later in the day we will swap so Mum and I can catch up.
The scenery is magnificent. We travel past small riverside farms cut from the jungle.
And through water filled rice paddies cut into mountains.
We stop to take some pictures just as a swarm of school children ride past on scooters and motorbikes. This is a regular sight here on Java around 11am and again at 2:15pm. Young children walk, cycle or catch the bus. From about 12 or 13 years old, the children start to double each other on scooters and motorbikes. The more rural the area, the younger the children riding motorbikes and scooters are.
After we pass Wonosobo the road climbs steeply up to the Dieng Plateau. The area is famous for fruits and vegetables due to the temperate climate.
Clouds roll in and start to fill the gaps between the mountain spurs. It’s absolutely beautiful up here and I am glad we were able to organise the motorbikes instead of relying on public transport. This way we can stop whenever we want to take photos and we can feel the cold moist air against our skins instead of being separated by a bus window.
We reach the Dieng Plateau township where visibility is limited due to the clouds. I feel like I have entered a new world. Am I really still in tropical Indonesia? We check into a homestay with a lovely balcony overlooking the street and surrounding volcanic cliffs.
We head down to the nearby Candi Arjuna and the fog starts to lift. Gos Rider talks with the parking guy and gets us into the Candi for free by dropping someone’s name. There are some temples here in the same style as those at Candi Gedong Songong because the two temple complexes are contemporaneous.
We cross to the other side of the temple complex and stop to drink tea at a warung. As we sit there the heavens open so we decide to also eat some food. It’s cosy and dry under the warungs’ tarps. I eat mie ongklok (noodles with a satay-style sauce). It’s a local specialty and tastes delicious. Sitting here on the wooden benches as the rain buckets down outside I feel relaxed and content. I like sitting at Warungs watching the world go by, whether it’s people and traffic or just the pouring rain.
The rain stops so we walk back through the temple complex to the motorbikes and ride down to Kawah Sikidang, which is a volcanic solfatara field. It’s almost 5.30pm when we arrive and the ticket booth is closed. There is no gate so we just ride in and park near the solfatic field. There is a sign warning of the dangers of the volcanic area but we follow the path past it towards a fenced area.
The smell is disgusting. But it is worth it to see this volcanic place at night. We can hear mud bubbling in a crater but cannot see it clearly. Thunder is starting to rumble across the mountains, adding to the eerie atmosphere. I must admit to feeling a little scared being here. Scared in an exhilerating ghost story while sitting around the campfire sort of way. We’ve had a brilliant day.