Read more about the article Bali – Indonesia
Bali - Indonesia

Bali – Indonesia

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The Island of a thousand temples

The last part of this Indonesian trip, yet the one taking half of the entire time we had with one full week. No surprise why this much, after such an incredible busy past days non stop, we wanted also to relax and enjoy doing nothing but lying in the beach and by the hotel’s pool. Still, with so much to see and do in the island, even a week is not enough and you will need to prioritise and plan ahead what you really want to see. The best way in doing so? Having a driver to take you around and explaining you a bit on the places. This is not really a high cost but surely is something you will not regret but be thankful instead.

Bali ranks among the lists of number one destinations of places to visit on “to do before you die” and on every travel magazine. It’s a major tourist destination that keeps gaining strength with more and more people coming here every year. Such fact is not fortuitous, but has to do with the incredible culture legacy and facilities offered. Literally there are over a thousand temples in such a “little space” that the island is, and to this, the spectacular rice terraces and nature, mountains and volcanoes, and the hundreds of kilometres of beaches aligned with great resorts and hotels. An ever growing thriving nightlife, and day life too!, and countless activities for everyone. No, you will not definitely be bored at any time and wished for the days to have more hours!

As for the cities, pretty much everything is located on the southern tip of the island, with its capital Denpasar, and the resorts of Kuta and Nusa Dua. Also the airport is located on the narrow strip that divides Denpasar from Kuta. Half of the entire island’s population lives just in this small area in the south, that’s over 2 million people. (more…)

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Read more about the article Mount Ijen – Indonesia
Mount Ijen - Indonesia

Mount Ijen – Indonesia

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The blue lava volcano

The most unexpected trip we could ever have imagined we would be doing. And all it happened while having a chat with out driver we got to show us everywhere in Bali island, where the subject of blue lava came as a thread. I must be honest in saying I’ve never ever heard about this to be real or that any place in the world would exist with this but hey! The surprise kept us on a high knowing we were in fact not that far from one of the only 2 places in the world with blue lava! Yet things get even more thrilling after learning Mount Ijen is in fact, the only accessible of them 2. Merely for information, the other such volcano is in Iceland and it is inaccessible.

Giving up the splendid beach and pool at the resort we stayed in Bali was hard and kept us thinking if we should go ahead in doing this trip or not. Once I keep telling you then you will know why. This was not just getting there at any time and that’s all, but instead it required travelling in the night, and spend the entire night awake, hiking at terribly unsocial odd hours in the middle of the pitch black night. Then after sunrise, thinking on the same way back with a much longer driving time due to the heavier traffic. It took almost 24 hours since we were picked at the hotel and until we were dropped off.

Now if you ask me if the terrible tiredness, and extreme danger we were constantly when hiking up and down to the caldera of the volcano, I can tell you YES! Do it. Never think twice or you will regret not doing this. It is something so unique you might never have another chance in your lifetime, unless you travel back here on purpose. (more…)

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Read more about the article Bromo Tengger Semeru – Indonesia
Bromo Tengger Semeru - Indonesia

Bromo Tengger Semeru – Indonesia

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The most active volcano in Indonesia

Here we are on the last stop while in Java before leaving to the island of Bali, visiting this spectacular national park. Never before we’ve come across a place where to see such impressive volcanoes and so many on a birds eye view, with 2 of them active. Not even in Central America we’ve seen it this way, only coming close Guatemala with Lake Atitlan with the view of 3 at once. The most active in the whole of Indonesia, Mount Semeru, meaning Great Mountain, is like a Swiss clock and every 20 minutes or so it releases a cloud of steam and smoke. Mount Bromo, in the other hand, is constantly releasing a white cloud of smoke. Just for the fact of having such incredible view in front of you is quite unique hence why such a great tourist attraction not only in the region but the entire country with so many national and foreign tourists coming to admire.

Basically, take any Indonesia travel brochure and you will see a picture of this place. Another of the must do in the “list of places to visit before you die”. No wonder why. It really paid off all the hassle we experienced to get here to the point I would not mind in doing it all again to see it one more time.

Unfortunately getting here from Surabaya is not an easy nor fast task. If you decide to go on the cheap, then your only option is by bus and will set you up to at least 4 hours per way. In the other hand, the best you can do is to rent a car with a driver. This is what we did and worked perfectly! Not only that saved us plenty of time, we also arrived in great comfort and secured, while the driver waited for us as much time as we needed there. Please ask me if you need the contact of the driver who took us there or drop me a comment in this post and will provide the details to you; he is more than happy to have as many recommendations as possible since after all, this is his job.
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Read more about the article Surabaya – Indonesia
Surabaya - Indonesia

Surabaya – Indonesia

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Capital of East Java

Continuing our tour across Indonesia we arrive to the second largest city in the country. Not only because of the many hundreds of gorgeous Dutch colonial buildings scattered everywhere through the city, but also because it was the perfect base and gateway to reach the incredible Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, where the most active volcanoes of Indonesia are, while the area is worldwide known for its incredible beautiful landscapes. This was for us, no need to mention, the actual main purpose for this stopover in Surabaya.

Having always been a powerful city, and even becoming during the Dutch period the largest and most important city in the colony, it survived pretty much intact until the Japanese occupation in 1944 during World War II, when it was heavily bombed and as such, losing most of its character, charm and historic buildings legacy from the ex-colonial times. The revolution of 1945 also did not help much and claimed the loss of thousands of lives in the city. This date, 30th of October is a big celebration in the city named Hari Pahlawan, meaning Heroes’ Day.

Nevertheless and as we personally experienced, there are plenty places to see and things to do to keep you busy and enjoy a full day. This was our original plan, sparing the first day for visiting the city and the second for the excursion to the national park. This worked perfectly but unfortunately a bit rushy through the city as distances are very big between sights. Remember to have in consideration that by 18.00pm is already dark! This means the day will be even shorter. (more…)

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Read more about the article Borobudur – Indonesia
Borobudur - Indonesia

Borobudur – Indonesia

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The largest Buddhist monument in the world

On the following day after our very packed cultural sightseeing day we had at Prambanan archaeological park and nearby temples, the next obliged visit was to Borobudur temple, a little bit more far from Yogyakarta than the previous one at some 40 kilometres northwest from the city, around 1 hour away. This is the most visited monument in the entire country and also the finest, without any doubt one of the key reasons why to visit Indonesia. No wonder it is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Once again, as it was the case for the Prambanan complex and surroundings, a day is well more than enough to visit the entire place and the nearby minor temples. In fact, half a day is all you will really need in this case giving you plenty of time to enjoy the site at slow pace. It was such our case that on this same day we flew to Surabaya later in the late afternoon. In the other hand, of course, there are way too many more temples scattered nearby and all around Yogyakarta that could easily keep you busy for some days should you be looking to visit them, or at least the most important ones.

Borobudur in any case will impress you from the beginning and the many hundreds of pictures you can take in such short time from every angle is priceless. The most spectacular one is when heading towards the exit when you will get to see the entire temple from far on two of its sides and all of its height and levels. Expect nevertheless thousands of tourists everywhere, unlike much quieter Prambanan.

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Read more about the article Prambanan – Indonesia
Prambanan - Indonesia

Prambanan – Indonesia

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The largest Hindu temple in Indonesia

Our next move while in our Yogyakarta base would be for spending the entire day visiting multiple temple complexes located just few kilometres to the east of the city; among them, of course, the must see world renown masterpiece of Candi Prambanan, and UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique history and grandeur, and great state of conservation due to the many ongoing restoration projects that kicked off already during the Dutch colonial times.

If you are planning on visiting only this temple then you will end up with plenty of free time to…coming back to Yogyakarta? Well, if you don’t really have much time then it’s fine, but otherwise don’t fall in the mistake most of the tourist do in “forgetting” this area is full with many other temples as impressive and shocking as Prambanan itself and literally few hundred of meters away from each other! Most of them are inside the Prambanan archaeological park itself. I must admit that I personally did not know about the existence of that many other places around that near until I received an Indonesia guide I ordered online to read through about all the places we were planning to visit and prepare our trip to include as much as possible while around.

On a good side, if you have an entire day for sightseeing outside of Yogyakarta then let me tell you it is perfectly possible to visit not only 1 but another 3 or 4 archaeological sites on top! And all without any rush and giving you plenty of time. (more…)

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Read more about the article Yogyakarta – Indonesia
Yogyakarta - Indonesia

Yogyakarta – Indonesia

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Yogya: Suitable, Karta: Prosperous

Moving onto the second stop along Indonesia we come to the city commonly known as the center of education in the country: Yogyakarta. Also commonly seen written as Jogjakarta or simply as Jogja. Nowadays, the second most visited city by tourists after Bali due to the proximity to two of the most beautiful and impressive temples in the entire country: Borobudur and Prambanan. But it is not only those nearby temples but for the beautiful yet small old town and much history that can be seen and felt across the city. It is the center of the Javanese culture, and without any doubt, one of the best stop-overs along an Indonesia tour you could ever do.

As said before it is very highly likely that tourists skip the visit to the city as they head directly on mostly organised day tours to the temples, but is worth to spare a day in here, see the cute Dutch fort, Great Mosque and the beautiful Sultan’s Palace. A good note I can give you in here about the palace is that the first building you get to see once you enter the complex is not the true beautiful one. That one lies afterwards, and unfortunately has a limited opening hours; same as is with the Taman Sari (or Water Castle as it is also known). Why would I mention this you might ask? Well, because it happened to us and we were too late there when it was already closed, being able to only see the first buildings that are nothing special unfortunately.

All other sights were not a problem and easy to see them all. What is best is that all of them are within walking reach from each other hence no public transportation involved in between plus saving you lots of time. The city after all is quite small, and one day will be more than enough to visit in full.

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Read more about the article Jakarta – Indonesia
Jakarta - Indonesia

Jakarta – Indonesia

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Old Dutch Batavia

Ready for the next big holiday to a far destination, Indonesia, starting at its vibrant capital Jakarta. That’s the 3rd great trip so far this year, or 4th if considering the long-weekend trip to Turkey just few months earlier in the year, and of course plenty of weekends all over Europe. And as I know it won’t be still the last for this year it means I remain excited and will remain happy even when this holiday is over after returning from Indonesia and looking forward to the next one; or well, not that much long to wait, just 5 more days until flying again for one of the usual weekend trips.

If last year was Philippines, this year is the turn for Indonesia. It does not really matter when in the year but there is always one trip to anywhere in Southeast Asia or far East Asia; and I hope to keep it going this way as it works really well while always escaping the bad weather back in Europe in search of sun and heat at destinations mostly within the Tropics. Not the longest daylight hours per day but hey! I cannot see any other “downside” point apart from that. The only workaround is starting the days very early in order to maximise the day, and rest in the evening once sunset.

Jakarta was our entry point and first encounter to Indonesia. This huge capital city is not what you might have though and been told on first instance. I’ve always heard from my friends who’ve been there before that there is really nothing to see and do and that everything is ugly and unorganised. This was in reality very untrue!. The city is instead very vibrant, day and night, and so vastly large there is always something to do and places to go. From the ultramodern skyscrapers mushrooming everywhere, to the more traditional Indonesian, and to the great Old Town, former Dutch colonial city which has retained majority of its buildings almost intact and unspoiled, nowadays beautifully restored to their former glory with a much larger ongoing project to recover more and more of these structures and make the city more tourist friendly.

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