Some airlines, like the one that crosses the atlantic are OK, but Malasian Airlines are towards the top of the pile and so the journey was less arduous for my old bones. I love the whole thing about Asia and Indonesia and it doesn't disappoint There is the hussle and bustle but not so much as Indian cities, there is culture and there is Durian, try it, to me it tastes like mild pickled onions with the texture of thick cold custard. It is truly an acquired taste. Then there is the gamalan music, that jangle of percussion instruments which, if you listen carefully, works in just the same way as a western orchestra.
My favourite has to be the wooden instruments, they just conjour up the calm of the countryside and chillin' with a bunch of little bananas in a shady spot. The highlight of this trip was the climb up and views from the top of Kawah Ijen [OK the smell was pretty strong if you stood in the wrong place but its volcanic and active so.....].
After a steep climb, about 3km up an average 1:6 gradient i thought i did well to maintain the back marker position but the experience was as much about the journey as the view from the top. [See 'Human Planet part 5]
I could't help wondering how this compared to Mt Bromo, I doubt I'll never know but I feel sure this was better so thank you mother nature for your timely intervention triggering Bromo's activity. We did drive past it but sight of the rim was obstructed by cloud and ash.
The second highlight was the 4 hour walk from Kastala to Tenganan on Bali. A bit hot and sticky especially through the jungly bit of the walk but worth every step, the local guide was excellent as were the refreshments half way through [with a toilet to die for....in Indonesia] with the farmer almost blinded by cataracts playing the local music on a gamelan angklung [bamboo zylophone]. Brilliant. And the people, I can say 'hello' in several languages but i've never been to a place where the town and countryside people appear to enjoy a brief exchange of words like 'hello' 'how are you' 'I'm good thanks' 'goodbye' as much as here. My recommendation.... learn a few phrases before you go, its an easy language with simple syntax [not at all like english] and make the people smile and engage with you. (JV -4th June 2011)