So that bastard early start I mentioned? Yeah, that happened today. Dwi from the hotel runs guided tours around town that start with a ride up to Gunung Sikunir to watch the fiery skyball rise but given that we’d already carted our out of shape arses to most of the places he went to he said we could just do the sunrise tour which left at 4am. This would probably be fine to be fair, I’m not overly adverse to getting up for a sunrise even if it’s located up a hill. I do generally like to insist on a few hours kip beforehand though but you remember those bikers I told you about? They literally didn’t stop all night. Not once. All. Fucking. Night. Tearing up and down, leaning on horns, shouting, revving. Don’t these fuckers ever sleep? We both lay awake that night staring at the ceiling until it was time to get up and go look at this sunrise as fantasies of kicking all their fucking bikes over whilst laughing manically ran through my head. Obviously I’m far too British for that so I settled for clutching my tea and politely saying, “It was quite noisy last night wasn’t it?” Dwi said they come up here four or five times a year, it’s some manner of biker community gathering.
This sunrise then. It’s an actual thing that people come to Dieng to do. If you can somehow get yourself there you don’t really need a guide but there are a lot of viewpoints to choose from and it’s clearly going to be pitch black. Dwi said he’d take us to the highest one. Oh good. Nothing like extra inclines in the morning. You have to pay to get into the car park but I’ve no idea how much because it was included in the price of the tour and guys, there were hundreds and hundreds of humans heading up this hill. I gasped my way up like I’d sold a lung for cheesecake and stopped frequently, puffing like a fucking steam train on crack. Everyone else seemed fine. They all seemed to be able to maintain conversation, the only noises I could muster were quiet whimpers as every step was labouriously dragged from my legs which I’m pretty sure were plotting some manner of mutiny. Just when I thought we were there Dwi led us through some more trees and up another slope until we rounded a corner and if I had any breath left in me it would have been taken away by the pre-dawn view. Yeah okay then, this was worth it. Plus I actually managed to get up a hill for sunrise before breakfast without nearly passing out a few times which is basically unheard of, but to be fair I’ve got enough fat reserves at the moment to power a small army up a mountain.
I can’t remember the name of the volcano in front of us but that classic cone shape, letting off little puffs of whatever it is volcanoes let off little puffs of without wiping out entire towns, it’s very very pleasing to the eyeholes. We all just chilled there as clouds swirled and dissipated and it got lighter and lighter. The sun eventually rose behind some broken cloud. Guys, it was beautiful. But fuck me, we were starving. Dwi took us to look at another pretty view before we headed down to the food stalls that line the way because as I said, this is a big, big thing and it was hard not to launch myself at vendors to relieve them of all of their potatoes on the way up. Because potatoes are also a thing here. They can’t grow rice, it’s not warm enough, so they just grow a metric crap tonne of spuds instead. Dwi told us that they’re mainly farming folk around here. They grow tea too, all the tea we’d been drinking was local tea and what lovely tea it was too. I like potatoes and I like tea and I like sunrises. This totally made up for the utter lack of sleep the previous night. My legs still hadn’t forgiven me though, my left quad muscles was killing me, I had to favour it to lower myself down the steps on account of a sprained right ankle which, although was pretty much healed, didn’t have enough range in it yet to get down stairs.
There are a couple of volcanic craters in the area and the driver took us to see one called Kawah Sikidang on the way back to town “kawah being the Indonesian for “crater”. We didn’t know this until it was too late, but the entry ticket you buy here will also get you into the Arjuna Temple Complex. It’s… well I don’t know what to make of it. It’s obviously a big bed of rock and sulphur, and you can walk along a path lined with stalls selling everything from souvenirs to vegetables and, of course, potatoes, to get to a boiling pool of water. It’s odd. Go see a crater, do your weekly veg shop. And to cap it all off they’ve stuck signs proclaiming the name of the crater everywhere so you can have your photo taken in front of them. There are people with captive owls which you can have your photo taken with, and there are swings, like playground swings, which are again only there for the photo opp. And there’s a statue of a gorilla. I’m not even shitting you. I don’t know why it’s there. We climbed up a hill on the other side of the boiling pool for the view over the whole thing before heading back through a field of selfies with domestic tourists to the car.
So next stop was Borobudur which is home to a massive, ancient Buddhist temple. You can either get there with local buses which is clearly the cheapest option and will take you from Dieng to Wonosobo to Mageland to Borobudur changing each time and will set you back around Rp40,000 assuming you don’t get overcharged, or you can get the local bus to Wonosobo for Rp15-20,000 and book a minivan for Rp60,000. We weighed up the price difference and the fact we’d basically been awake what felt like half our lives and decided to treat ourselves to a shuttle because our lives are non stop adventures and this is how we have a good time now. Show me that convenient and direct transportation. Yeah baby. This must be how the other half travel all the time, it was amazing, we got into the air-conditioned vehicle and were dropped off not far from the temple itself where we checked into Lotus 2 which we didn’t even bother haggling for because it was only one night and the room was amazing. I mean, not that you need a hot water shower when all of your cells are trying to dump their entire water content in protest at the heat, but it’s nice to have that option. And a four poster bed may not be necessary but the mozzie net draped over it certainly is. Tarrant is getting a right good savaging at the moment. Usually it’s me, I’m normally a beacon for blood suckers, mosquitoes love my blood. I’m a one stop all you can suck banquet for biting insects but they seem to prefer Tarrant over me. I’m not sure whether to feel pleased or insulted.
You get so much shit done when you’re up for sunrise though. Since we’d been awake we’d walked up a mountain, seen a crater, relocated and we still had time to go and look at a church on a hill shaped like a giant chicken. Do not adjust your sets. I definitely said giant chicken. It’s a few kilometres away from the guesthouse though, we didn’t fancy walking that so we borrowed bicycles and I don’t know what made me think that might be a good idea. I’ve never gotten on particularly well with bicycles. It’s the kicked-in-the-cunt feeling they give you after about a mile. It doesn’t seem to matter how much cake I consume, I just can’t get enough padding on my arse to make cycling less painful. Clearly I’d forgotten all of this when we asked to borrow the demon-transportation and off we went to find the big chook. I first heard about this from my all-time favourite website, Atlas Obscura, and it turns out it’s a proper tourist attraction now but I think that’s a recent thing. It was left to rot for a long time and was vandalised but they’ve cleaned it up and it’s open every day if you can get up the bastard fucking hill. Seriously, Indonesia? Do all of your fun things have to involve getting up some manner of incline? We locked the bikes at the bottom, parted with Rp30,000 each and began the slog upwards. It’s the steepest hill I’ve ever climbed in my life. I swear. Everest Base Camp trek? Practically fucking flat compared to this.
This church though. Apparently some bloke called Daniel was having a little chat with God, as you do, and God said he should probably build him a place of worship on a hill in the shape of a chicken. It’s not recorded in history how many mushrooms Daniel had consumed prior to this chat. Actually it’s not even a chicken, it’s meant to be a dove which makes way more sense but it doesn’t matter what angle you look at the bad boy from, it’s a chicken. It’s built on Bukit Rhema, I think it was started in the 80’s, I don’t even know, but you really need to visit this thing. You can climb up to the head for stunning 360° views of beautiful jungle, check out the basement where there are small, tiled rooms which would have been terrifyingly horror movie like before they refurbished it, then you head to the chicken’s butt where you’re given some complimentary food. It’s singkong which is cassava which, a quick Google search reveals, is some manner of root. Delicious, delicious root. I’ve never even heard of the fucker but if it makes its way into my life again I won’t be sad about it.
After spending several minutes sat in the arse of a giant chicken shovelling cassava into our chops we figured we should probably head back because our bicycles didn’t have lights but to be honest that was the least shit thing about them. I think I have a permanent imprint of the saddle in my butt cheeks. I feel like I’ve been kicked by an angry donkey. I’ve been in Indonesia less than a week and already several of my body parts are planning to leave me for someone who will keep them in the sedentary lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed.