After a memorable visit to Salatiga, we decided to continue the reminiscing and head to Kopeng, where Lizzy had been on holiday with her family when she lived in Java. It was just a short local bus journey up into the mountains and we found ourselves there before lunchtime and looking for accommodation. We’d expected it to be a bit more foreign-tourist-friendly, but we got strange looks as we walked through town examining the different hotels on offer. After visiting a few less-than-desirable options, I finally discovered a nice little place down a little track and we booked in for the night.
We had 2 things on the agenda for Kopeng – firstly to find the “Shangri La” guesthouse where Lizzy had stayed with her family 20+ years ago, and secondly to find our way the next morning to Ketep Pass for views of Gunung Merapi and Merbabu.
Finding Shangri La was relatively easy (the locals fortunately understood the name of the place combined with our basic Bahasa Indonesia for ‘where is:’ “Di mana Shangri La?”). Unfortunately though, it seemed to have closed a long time ago – the gates were padlocked and the gardens overgrown. We could only catch glimpses of the house itself through the gate and gaps in the fence as we looked around. Nice to find the place, but a shame that was where it ended – it was always going to be a let-down after our incredible success in Salatiga!
Our second mission proved somewhat harder. After having asked the only english-speaking person in the town (who promptly drove off with his small french tour group) about getting to Ketep Pass, he suggested we get a car to take us for $50 (!) or hire a motorbike and drive there ourselves for about $10. Neither seemed appealing – the former was way too expensive for a 40km round-trip and the latter seemed a little too ambitious considering the distance and state of the roads. However, we looked into both options and couldn’t progress either of them given the language barrier. We decided we’d just get up early the next morning and see if we could figure out a way there… and we were glad we did!
Getting up before 6am, we meandered out of our room with no idea how we’d get to the pass. Fortunately one of the owners was up already and told us we could get a public bus and then hire a motorbike nearer the pass. After 20 minutes waiting for such a bus, we were embarassed that the owner was still waiting with us on the road and he seemed to sense this and stopped a passing bemo (tiny minivan-come-bus) which we chartered for a few hours. After dropping his whole family at the market with their goods to sell for the day, we headed up to the pass.
When we arrived at the pass, the surrounding landscape was shrouded in cloud and we thought perhaps the trip hadn’t been quite worth it (another few hours’ sleep wouldn’t have gone amiss!). The whole place – museum, restaurant, terraces etc – was deserted and we figured everyone else knew better than us! However, as we stood there, the clouds cleared and we got amazing views over the valleys and across to Gunung Merapi (Indonesia’s most active volcano) which was spewing brown smoke and also to Merbabu. Well worth the early start and expense in the end!
More photos @ Picasa (with the Salatiga ones)