At some point the bike simply stopped. The road was too steep for the two of us and the small engine just couldn’t take it any more. We were halfway over the hills leading to Dieng, Central Java, at this point. If we looked behind us we could see the view of the valley spread out for miles behind and below us. On the lower slopes of the valley were the endless fields of tobacco that fed Indonesian’s insatiable appetite for cigarettes, while surrounding us on the higher slopes were fields of tea. In short we had everything that we needed for an Indonesian party, but this was not the reason why we were here. With a sigh, we got off the bike and pushed it up the final part of the hill.
The panoramic view vanished as we topped the hill. We got back onto the bike and headed slowly down the rutted track following the winding road, down, up and around the endless hills. We drove slowly, enjoying the sunshine and the cool highland air and the changing scenery. It took another hour for us to reach Dieng and the Telaga Warna (the Colorful Lake), our final destination for the day, but up here in the highlands there was little traffic and none of the terrible buses that belched filthy black smoke.
Most people have probably never heard of Dieng. In fact, the day before we set off, neither had I. Officially, the region is famous for two reasons; the sulphurous turquoise lakes and Carica, a fruit that is similar to papaya, but smaller and sweeter. However, alongside these classic tourism attractions, I’d be quick to point out just how beautiful the region is. Wonosobo, which is the town nearest to Telaga Warna is located in a shallow valley surrounded by gently sloping hills. Dense woodland and rice terraces cover the sides of the valley. At the centre of the plain is the small town of Wonosobo, which stretches along the main road.
Luckily for me, the town was almost empty of tourists when we arrived and so we had the lake almost to ourselves. We paid the entrance fee and walked along the concrete path, glad to be able to finally stretch our legs and then I saw it. The view of Telaga Warna is completely obscured and you don’t see the lake until a final curve in the path, which makes its appearance so striking.
The land surrounding the lake is a mixture of woods and marshes, while waters of the lake are a mixture of different hues of blue ranging from topaz through to turquoise. The view was amazing with the sun overhead reflecting the light on the shimmering surface of the lake. We spent the next forty minutes walking along the small wooded paths and photographing the lake from different angles trying to get the best view of the colours.
After visiting the lake we visited the ruins of a small Hindu temple, Candi Arjuna, located in a park in the centre of town. We wondered around for a short while enjoying the fresh air and the beautiful views. However, by this point in the day it was already late afternoon, which meant it was time to get on our motorbike for the trip back to Yogyakarta. It was time to prepare my bum for another three hour bike ride!