Elana had asked a friend of hers, Pita, who grew up in Salatiga, to take us up to the mountains and to the rice patties for a little tour of the countryside. My, oh my, Indonesia is a beautiful country, and viewing it on a motorbike was quite the experience! We left around 9:45 under the threat of rain. Wondering if we should even head out, we decided to take the chance since the ponchos were stored in the bike seats and we could always stop in a cafe if it got too rainy. We wound our way up to the mountains through little villages and roads that didn't have much pavement left on them. We nodded and smiled at the villagers as they stared cautiously at these "ludo" (white people) bouncing their way through their village. The kids were funny as they'd stare and yell "Ludo! Ludo!" and chase us for a few steps. Pita soon went off the road and parked her bike, saying "this is usually where I stop." And wow, what a place to stop! While foggy and cloudy (hence the bright sky) the greens were amazing!
We walked around a little bit and I took some pictures, then we made our way back down the mountains (very cautiously) and headed to the rice patties. While still cloudy, the sun was shining and it was a pleasant day. The air was clear and crisp in the mountains while getting continually hotter as we made our way down.
The beauty of the country is truly breathtaking. The variety of the greens, the terraced farmland making its way half way up the steep mountain with the terra cotta roofed homes clustered in villages throughout the landscape cannot be captured with any camera.
Not sure what condition the roads will be in for the route to the rice patties, we were prepared to turn around at any point. However the roads were clear and not flooded, so on we went!
Here's a quick video from my perspective:
It was in these little villages we rode through that I noticed the beauty of the Indonesian people. Often as we approached, the residents would stare with curiousity and timidity at these light skinned folks. However, as we'd pass, we'd nod and smile, and we'd be greeted with a glowing face nodding back at us with a toothy grin (often with several teeth missing!). Such beautiful, hardworking people.
As we had yet to see rain, we went on to the rubber tree forest. We headed down into the city only to climb into the mountains again. Soon we saw the unmistakable sight of the rubber trees -- dark trunks with carvings curving around to draw the rubber out and collect in small cups near the base. Elana joked she was hoping to see rubber tires popping out of the trees; I added, or condoms. I was thinking condoms would be popping out. We had a good giggle and then wondered if Latex was the same as rubber. Hmm... a debate for another day.
We ended up not stopping to take any pictures, so I just snapped some blurry ones on my iPhone.
After the rubber forest--and more than 60 kilometers on a motorike--our butts were sufficiently sore and we wanted a snack. The gals took me to a Salatiga specialty called Ronde (ron-day). It's a sweet soup made of soaked peanuts, some ginger and weird jelly things. Let me tell you, this is the randomest thing I've ever eaten. It was pretty good, just so strange!
As we were eating, the rain finally came and we had to venture out into, so we donned our ponchos for the ride back home.
Overall, an adventurous and beautiful day!