February 25, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 51

Day 51 Semarang Java, Indonesia. As the ship backs into the port, there is about a 100 piece marching band playing on the pier to welcome our arrival. It is a combination of college cadets, military personnel and police officers. After the gangway is in place, the departing passengers pass between two lines of officers that salute the passengers as we walk by in single file. The kind of reception I would normally associate with the arrival of a head of state.

About 80 passengers are taking the same tour I am. We occupy two large buses, and are escorted by two police cars, one in front, and one behind. Being escorted by the police means many things. Traffic lights are ignored. Speed limits are ignored, and we travel as fast as the bus is capable. If there is a vehicle in front of us going a little slower, that means we use the opposing traffic lane regardless of any oncoming traffic or road conditions. Yes even on very windy narrow mountain roads, the whole road was ours for the taking. Oncoming traffic is forced off the road, and often forced to stop. Stop signs and traffic signals are for others, not us. Nothing slows our buses.

Most local residents along the route wave, or at least look up to see what all the noise is about, yes sirens blared for the entire 4 to 5 hours we were on the road.

Actually the ride would make a good amusement park thriller ride. I would call it "The Bus Ride". Despite the many close calls and narrow misses, the buses did not have a single dent. The drivers are good, and all the fellow passengers on my bus at least survived the trip, even if they wouldn't say they enjoyed it. Most of us actually did.

The Temple of Borobudur is over 1000 years old, and like many other historic sites lay buried in the jungle covered with vegetation and volcanic ash for centuries until discovered in the 1900s. The carvings are numerous and very detailed, and the grounds well manicured. Many of the passengers climbed to the top and walked around the many levels, I did not as some of the steps were 14 or 18 inches high, too high for my old short legs. The humidity was very high, and temperatures probably in the low 90's

The other main stop on the tour was at the train museum. They probably had about 30 old narrow gauge steam engines, mostly from the early 1900s. I doubt if any of them were functional anymore. Our 30 minute train ride took us by many rice paddies and across a lake where many of the locals were fishing from their boats. Again the passenger cars were from about 1900. I rode on the platform between cars for a better location to capture some images. Unlike other countries, the engineer and conductor could care less.

About 15 tour buses arrive at the pier within minutes of each other. Only about 30 minutes after boarding time. I can't imagine how late we would have been without the escort.

Tomorrow we will be in Tanjung, Priok, (Jakarta) Indonesia. We have been told the traffic here is probably the most congested of anyplace in the world.