It’s exactly five years since I set foot on the most populated island in the world, Java in Indonesia. For a slither of land that’s comparable in size to New Zealand’s South Island, Java is somehow home to 143 million people as opposed to the South Island’s one*. And yet Java remains one on the most ruggedly beautiful, exotic places in South East Asia. Hopefully these 50 photos from that 2010 adventure give a sense of how a scarcely-believable population density hasn’t completely destroyed the charms of the island.
The photos include my failed attempts at learning to surf, the outskirts of Pangandaran’s incredible Green Canyon where we clambered over rocks to dive into deep pools of water, the ever-present monkeys and monitor lizards, the volcanic landscapes surrounding the famed Borobudur temple, the rice-paddies of East Java and the moon-like scenes of the still active Mt Bromo. The only urban photos are the one immediately on the left, the 137-metre National Monument in Jakarta, opened 1975, and the shots of the Kraton (palace) in Yogyakarta.
You’ll also notice several fine characters throughout the photo album, including England’s greatest card Chris, the world’s most acclaimed diplomat Rosey, Holland’s oft-talked-about sisters Djoeke and T-Dog and Germany’s recognised champion of plain yoghurt, the outstanding Justine.
*New Zealand’s South Island is actually slightly larger than Indonesia’s Java with 150,437 square kilometres compared to 138,794 square kilometres.