Java, Indonesia

Sorry for the long absence! We’ve been off the grid travelling Australia and New Zealand by camper. Can’t wait to share what that was like with all of you! But before I do, let me finish up with Indonesia…

We decided that we wanted to experience a little bit more of Indonesia than just Bali so we hopped on a quick (just over an hour) and cheap ($50 round trip!) flight to Java to visit the Buddhist temple site of Borobudur and the Hindu temple site of Prambanan as well as to see Mount Merapi, the most active volcano in Indonesia. All three are easily accessible by flying into Yogyakarta in central Java. We based ourselves close by Borobudur and travelled by hired car to Prambanan and Merapi.

Seeing Borobudur and Prambanan, we couldn’t help but compare them to Angkor in Cambodia. Stylistically they are similar having been built around the same time and eventhough Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, both Borobudur and Prambanan are dwarfed by the size of Angkor (since it is a site of a city, not just a temple). Borobudur and Prambanan are also listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Borobudur

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Walking up to Borobudur

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Looking out from Borobudur

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Two of the many panels of carved Buddhist reliefs covering the temple

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Lots of boy size ledges to rest

 

 

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Some of the 72 stupas of Borobudur

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Inside each stupa is a seated Buddha

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An exposed Buddha sitting inside a stupa

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Us of course:)

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Another shot of the iconic stupas

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West side (back) of Borobudur

Mendut temple (one of the two other temples that form a straight line with Borobudur)

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Prambanan

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Walking up to Prambanan

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It’s clear Prambanan is a Hindu temple from its more intricate structure

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One of the smaller temples in the Prambanan complex

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The restoration efforts are daunting

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Mount Merapi (aka Fire Mountain) has erupted regularly since 1548 with the most recent large scale eruption in 2010. It can easily be visited on the way to or from Prambanan.

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The way most people visit Merapi without having to hike it.

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Smoke is always rising out the top of Merapi

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Route the lava flowed in the 2010 eruption

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Many damaged and abandoned homes like this one all around Merapi

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A memorial for the 2010 eruption shows the carnage in the form of animal bones, melted household goods and lava booms

Our experience in Muslim Java was quite different from Hindu Bali. The people were friendly but definitely more reserved than the Balinese. And the sound of prayer woke us up in the morning and lulled us to sleep in the evening. I’m really glad we were able to visit a different part of Indonesia to give us a different perspective.

 

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Bali, Indonesia

I always thought Bali was the quintessential tropical island getaway. I had visions of lounging underneath billowing canopies and a perfectly blue sky looking out over a powder fine sand beach towards a clear turquoise sea. Turns out Bali is not quite like this. The sky was a mix of blue and stormy during our visit. The beach was a little less fine and a little bit more littered. The ocean might be turquoise if you venture past some of the muck. And I’m sure you could find a place to lounge under a billowing canopy but it will cost you. This is sounding like a negative review of Bali but it isn’t really. Bali is just different from what I had expected.

UBUD

We stayed in two parts of Bali so that we could get different experiences since it was our first visit. We started out in the laid back town of Ubud which many consider to be Bali’s cultural heart. It’s in the interior of the island but from there any of the coast is within a day trip away. If we were to return to Bali, this is where we would base ourselves. Here are some scenes from around Ubud:

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Bali is the Hindu enclave in Muslim Indonesia

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This is a small hotel in Ubud. Very typical look for private homes, small hotels or homestays in the town.

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An example of ornate Balinese decorations found on buildings.

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An elaborate entrance in a temple but this kind of intricate decoration is also found on private residences.

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Offerings like these can be found daily on most sidewalks, doorsteps, shrines, etc. 

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Balinese women carry things on their head. Even heavy construction material that require others to assist you in getting it on your head.

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Statues like these are found all over Bali.

When in Ubud, the must visit destination is Monkey Forest, where there are so many monkeys you’ll literally trip over them. These monkeys are the naughtiest we have seen in all of Asia. We got clued in we were close to Monkey Forest when a monkey came running down the street (crossing traffic no less!) to snatch the bag of chips out of Dominic’s hands. By the time we realized what was happening, that little cheeky monkey was already back across the street and ripping through the bag.

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This monkey was actually outside the forest waiting for unsuspecting visitors.

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Just another day in Ubud.

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Yep that baby has his mama’s teat in his mouth.

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If you didn’t care for monkeys, Monkey Forest is lovely just for a stroll.

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Top monkey

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Pretty spaces in Monkey Forest

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Hoping Marc had something for him in his hand

To recover from Monkey Forest, we took a nice peaceful bike ride around the Bali countryside. Take a look:

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During the bike ride we stopped to talk to a couple harvesting cocoa beans. Yep, this is the start of heavenly chocolate.

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We passed pretty villages like this one.

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And farmers tending to their crops.

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We stopped to chat with these woman who had gathered to make preparations for a community celebration in three days time. The whole community comes together for the preparations.

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The most expensive coffee in the world comes out of this sad creature’s bum. Yep, we stopped for refreshments at a coffee plantation where the specialty is Luwak coffee or otherwise known as civet poop coffee. 

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After the beans have been “processed” by the civet, it gets hand roasted (likely by little old ladies like this one).

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A complimentary flight of coffee and tea. This does not include the Luwak coffee. A cup sets you back $5 which is enough for a meal at a restaurant in Bali.

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After the bike ride, we went for a stroll in the countryside.

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And crossed rivers with only a soft plastic pipe as a bridge.

We completed our Balinese experience by watching a Kecak performance (dance and music drama) and fire dance. The Kecak performance involves over 100 men sitting in a circle creating music by rhythmically chanting while the main dancers performs the story of Ramayana.

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The setting for the performance.

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The Kecak performance

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The fire dance where the dancer kicks and dances through hot embers.

But no matter how we spent our time in Ubud, we always took time out in the afternoon to refresh. For $50 a night, we got a huge room with breakfast and this lovely pool.

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Just lovely and peaceful.

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Until these guys get in. The boy got so good at jumping and swimming that he has now given up his swim bubble and free swimming. Yay!

SANUR

Since we stayed in an interior location, we decided on the beach town of Sanur for our other location. From everything I read, it was slower pace than the main beach town of Kuta and had a nice beach good for families with young children. Sadly, it was unimpressive. During our three days, we went to the beach once and then spent the rest of our time hanging out by the very nice pool at our hotel. Nevertheless, here are a few photos from our stay in Sanur.

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Just an ok beach.

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Colourful Balinese boats

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The pretty pool at our hotel.

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We did manage to visit a tiny sea turtle conservation (tiny = 4 tanks on the beach) and saw these adorable baby sea turtles.

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And a few gorgeous adult sea turtles like this one.