Beauty of Indonesia

07/21/2015 - 08/05/2015
by Andy

Day 1 - 8 Bali

We visited Indonesia as part of our longer trip across Asia. We took a reasonably priced flight from Singapore to Denpasar, Bali. The minute we got of the airport we were greeted by taxi drivers offering us their services, but we continued to the official taxi booth and got taxi there instead. The drive to hotel in Kuta was pleasant, but quite long durind the evening traffic. We chose a hotel about 8 minutes walk from the beach, so it was quiter there and the room was excellent (for about $17 a night). Kuta is really a place where it lives, many people wondering around, fresh coconuts, sweetcorns on the stick and other great things almost at every corner. The beach itself is long, mostly not very good for swimming (due to waves), but good for surfing and having fun.

Trip to Ulawatu temple

As always we rented a scooter and went exploring Bali. Our first afternoon trip took us to the Ulawatu temple, located on the south of Bali. Along the way we stopped at Kedonganan Beach, south of Denpasar airport. Even though the distance from Kuta to Ulawatu is short, with the traffic, it took us around 90 minutes. The roads are narrow and there are many crossings, we had offline maps in our phone, which were really useful to orientate, there were not many signs to guide you. By the time we got to the temple it was late afteroon, probably just the perfect time for visit, it was cooler, not too many people and the views were amazing. Couple minutes after sunset a huge number of bats left their caves and went hunting. All around the temple, you can find many monkies, just be careful, they might be aggressive when they see you have something to eat, drink. We drove back to Kuta when it got dark and the road was a bit dangerous.

Trip to Goa Gajah, Campuhan Ridge walk and Pura Tanah Lot

Another day we decided to drive to the north from Kuta. This was a longer day, we left our hotel in the morning and managed to get back after sunset and drove around 120 km on a scooter (bit more than expected, since we got lost a couple of time). Our first stop was at Goa Gajah temple. Beautiful place in the mountains, there is a short trail leading to the temple and pools, through jungle. Before the entrance to the temple, there was a small market, where everyone was trying to sell us sarong (piece of cloth, you should wear at the temple). The ladies selling them will insist you have to buy it from them before the temple, but it is a lie, as at many places in Indonesia, you get appropriate clothing at the entrance either for free or for a small fee, so just wave them away.

From there we continued to the Campuha Ridge walk, great place for an afternoon stroll, it was quiet there with not many people around. Just watch out for wildlife.

Then we continued to Pura Tanah Lot, many people visit Monkey forest (but we did not fancy visiting it, since there are monkeys almost everywhere). Pura Tanah Lot was another nice temple, at the coast of the sea, accessible only at the low tide, but do not expect to get inside the temple, it was not opened to the general public. This place was really crowded, but if you go far enough from the temple, you can find a quiter spot with nice view.

Trip to the North - Ulun Danu Beratan, Git Git waterfall, Ulun Danu Batur, Pura Besakih

This was probably our longest one day trip from Kuta, we got up really early, more than 2 hours before sunset and hit the road. First we climbed all the way up to the Ulun Danu Beratan, nice temple next to a lake. This place is at higher altitude, so it was only about 10°C in the morning, but the views and rolling clouds were outstanding. From there we continued to Git Git waterfall and took many stops along the road for breathtaking scenry. There was a path to the waterfall, which took about 20 minutes and there were stalls, where we could by local stuff (most of them were closed, since we got here before 9 am).

From there we continued to Ulun Danu Batur - another temple close to the rim of a crater, we did not find it very interesting, but the views and the road to the bottom of the crater and around the lake was fabulous, deffinitely worth taking.

Then we continued to our final stop, Besakih temple. This temple was again crowded with tourists, it was a bit unclear where to buy tickets and how to get to the temple, since the guide insisted we could not enter the temple on our own. The temple at the base of beautiful mountain was nice, but the atmosphere, rude guides and street sellers were really annoying so we did not spend here long. The road back to Kuta was really long and in a traffic, so it took us about 3 hours. It might be good idea to wear a face mask when you drive a scooter, otherwise you might get sick from the fumes and dust.

Day 9 - 11 Kawah Ijen and Mount Bromo

After having enough time in Bali, we decided to move on. We arranged for a taxi from Kuta to Gilimanuk, which was harder than we expected, noone wanted to drive that far at first. We left the hotel at around 3 am and in about 4 hour we got to Gilimanuk, where we boarded a ferry to Ketepang, from there we wanted to visit Kawah Ijen. We found a nice guesthouse close to the train station and from a neighbor rented a motorcly which was just perfect for our trip. We hit the road an climed all the way to the parking lot at Kawah Ijen, from there it was about 2 hours uphill hiking to the crater itself. We then spend most fo the afternoon up there admiring the views of other volcanos around and the crater with blue lake. After sunset we watched the blue flames and then returned back to our accomodation.

The next morning we took the first train bound for Probolinggo, where we needed to wait from a tourist bus up to Mount Bromo, we tried to find a local transport, but did not succeed. After waiting for 2 hours and about 1 hour ride up we were finally there. We decided to walk to the viewpoint of Bromo in the afternoon. The hike up too us around 2h30 minutes and we managed to get there about an hour before sunset, the views were great, eventhough clouds were rolling in. We then returned to our accommodation (which was expensive $50 and horrible - no heating, no running watter). There were few other options where to spend the night, but most of them were far more expensive, I guess they know that they can charge whatever they want.

The next morning we took a secret path to the bottom of the crater and continued inside the crater towards the temple and another crater viewpoint. This place was filled with tourist, no surprise, since everyone takes the same tour with the same itinerary. After an hour we got back to our starting point and took the bus down to Probolinggo, from where we continuer towards Yogayakarta.

Day 12 - 14 Yogyakarta

From Probolinggo we took a bus to Yogyakarta, quite long, expect to pay more than locals if you do not speak the language. Yogyakarta was a pleasant city, with busy center, many street markets and many people around. It was a great base for visit of Prambanan and Borobudur temple. It is also a great base for trip to mount Merapi, located nearby, but we did not go there. First we visited the Borobudur temple, easily accessible with local transport, the entrance fee is quite high, probably because many people compare those two temples to the Angkow Wat in Cambodia (well, I would rather not, since we found Angkor Wat way more impressive). The temple was very popular among tourists, so eventhough we visited it during morning, it was quite crowded.

The same goes with the Prambanan temple, again easily accessible with local transport and beautiful temple to visit. Just be careful, the grounds are quite big and if you visit during the noon, it might be too hot. There was an ongoing restoration during hour visit in 2015, therefore some parts were obstructed.

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