From Kericini we took a car with a Dutch couple back to Padang. A few days earlier I had been quite convinced that I was going to overland it to Java. The journey from Lake Toba had changed my mind instantly. On arrival I wondered around travel agents and airplane shops hoping to secure a ticket for the following day. At first it wasn’t successful, the prices were high and availability low. To my rescue however came a travel agent that might as well have been shut with how it carried itself but somehow it found my a great price on the correct day of departure.
With tickets in hand we wondered over to Padang beach which doesn’t exist outside of a few rocks being bashed by waves full of rubbish. The market closer to it was a little more interesting with horse drawn carriages and frantic atmosphere.
The next day I flew to Jakarta as Paul returned to England. It was the first domestic flight I have ever taken and was incredibly smooth. On arrival in Jakarta I got a bus straight from the airport to the town of Bogor an hour and a half away. Jakarta is the definition of urban sprawl. I had absolutely no intention of spending any time there at all.
Not that that much more can be said for Bogor. It has almost been engulfed by Jakarta and its traffic seems to standstill most of the time. That said there is a reason for coming, a reason that I imagine made my parents wonder what has happened to their son over the past year. At the center of Bogor with chockablock roads surrounding it lays one of the most impressive botanical gardens in the world. With the help of Kew it covers a substantial amount of ground and is very impressive. When George Bush visited in 2006 the only site he saw in Indonesia were these gardens.
I have little interest in plants beyond thinking they look nice, or oh that’s pretty tall, so apart from seeing the world’s tallest plant, my time in the gardens consisted of a pleasant stroll for a number of hours. It was made all that more enjoyable by going on a Sunday. The lonely planet warned against it because of the huge numbers of locals who flock then, but frankly it made it that much more fun. There were family gatherings everywhere, playing sports and having competitions such as the egg and spoon race. It was a joy seeing so many people making the most of the gardens.
I left Bogor that evening. I hoped to go all the way to Yogyokarta, but as is typical with local bus services nothing ever works out the way you understand it should.