Thursday, February 26, 2009


komodo dragon
Komodo National Park lies in the Wallacea Region of Indonesia, identified by WWF and Conservation International as a global conservation priority area, and is located in the center of the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores. Komodo National Park includes three major islands: Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as numerous smaller islands creating a total surface area (marine and land) of more than 1,800 km2. As well as being home to the Komodo Dragon, also known as the Komodo Monitor, or Ora (to Indonesians), the park provides refuge for many other notable terrestrial species. Moreover, the Park includes one of the richest marine environments.


The ferry service between the cities of Sape on the eastern tip of Sumbawa and Labuanbajo on Flores drops of passengers on Komodo once or twice every week. There is no port on the island, so passengers are unloaded onto small vessels which ferry's them into the islands only village - note that it's not all departures that has this service, so check beforehand. Bima, a short drive from Sape, has an airstrip with flights to Denpasar.

Travellers coming in from Sape to the west (those travelling overland through Sumbawa and also those arriving at Bima airport) should note that the once-daily ferries from Sape can be suspended indefinitely due to bad weather, so if you want to be sure of your travel arrangements, flying to Labuanbajo is a much safer bet. (If you get stranded at Sape, the best Bima airport will be able to offer is a flight back to Denpasar on Bali.)


The main reasons to travel to Komodo National Park are the Komodo Dragons, the superb beaches and the unspoilt corals.

Unless really interested in fauna, traveling to Komodo just for lizard-sightseeing may be too time and money consuming.


The Komodo Dragon has a history of attacking humans. Beware of getting too close, and if you are visiting via the park's office (which you should), ask for a guide and stick close to him. Do not wander off or do anything without his consent. Komodos may approach the guest rest area during annual feeding time, but in this time, find a building (which are usually elevated) and stay clear from the railings. Komodos can and will jump to obtain food if necessary. Park rangers are usually present at these events and will deflect any Komodos trying to get in (which they can do).

You may be given a large pole with a split on the end, forming a "Y" shape. This can be used as a walking pole or for moving things on your path - however, if wild animals threaten, it can be used as a last form of defense (despite being hardly useful against komodos). Overall, try keeping a watchful eye and steer clear of any wildlife.

Komodos are extremely dangerous if close enough. They can run faster than humans (and accelerate very quickly), so best not approach if necessary. Jumping into water (as Komodos are often found near the beach too) doesn't help either, as they can swim faster than humans, can dive, and can also swim against strong currents (in fact, sometimes Komodos are found on neighboring islands, suspected of swimming there). Although their saliva is falsely believed to be poisonous, it is laden with harmful bacteria and will require medical treatment (which is usually not immediately possible ), and their jaws can mean instant death. It may also charge at its victims. It's tail is equally deadly and may be swung dangerously, knocking victims off their feet.

Younger Komodos may live in trees. While not as dangerous as their parents, they can still jump off suddenly and cause panic. Snakes, monitor lizards, and other animals are also present and may cause minor problems.

Saltwater Crocodiles are not present on Komodo Island but they may be present on the surrounding islands and in the ocean. Any area with estuaries and river mouths should permit extra caution as, although they are technically not present on Komodo, the islands ARE within the species natural range. It was once believed by Indonesian natives that monitor lizards (including the Komodo dragon) were capable of warning humans of a crocodile's presence.


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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


G-Land is an internationally renowned surfbreak situated on the Bay of Grajagan, East Java, about half a day by road from the popular tourist destinations of Bali.

G-Land was first surfed in 1972 by Bob Laverty and Bill Boyum. Bob saw the break from the window of a flight he was on from Bali. When you see G-Land from this perspective, it is easy to see why Bob put together an expedition to find this amazing wave shortly after sighting it from the plane. Bill Boyum went along for the ride and they traveled from South Bali to G-Land on fat-wheeled Suzuki 80 motorcycles. The surf was great on their first trip. Three days of surfing bliss ended with sun-burnt eyeballs and the discovery of one of the planet's best lefts.


A very long, world-class, barreling left hand reef/point break breaks along the east side of Grajagan Bay. It has long been considered one of the world's best left hand waves. The correct name of the point upon which the main wave breaks is "Plengkung". The wave becomes shallower and more critical the further down the point one rides the wave. It is one of the most consistently rideable waves in the world in season, with offshore winds and often plentiful swell between the months of, roughly, mid April to mid October.

The G-Land surf break has been divided up into several sections. The first, at the top of the point, is called "Kongs", which breaks up to several hundred metres in length, and can hold quite large sizes (from about 2 to 12 feet+, Hawaiian scale). It is not usually a barrel, nor genuinely world-class, but more a series of takeoff zones with some long wall sections, although it can also barrel on occasions. This section picks up a lot of swell, and is rarely less than 3 feet, and can be a saviour when the rest of the point is too small. This wave can sometimes link up with the next section called "Moneytrees". Moneytrees works from about 2 to 10 feet (Hawaiian scale, or about 4 to 20 feet wave faces), usually breaking over several hundred metres, and is a long, testing, barreling, world-class wave. The barrels become more critical the lower the tide and the larger the swell. Moneytrees may also occasionally link up with the next section called "Speedies", with an outside takeoff section between the two called "Launching Pads". "Launching Pads" can catch the surfer offguard, as it can break a significant way out to sea in larger swells. "Speedies" is the heaviest wave at G-Land, but can be a perfect, very round barrel for several hundred metres, rideable from about 2 to 8 feet+ (Hawaiian scale). It usually needs larger swells, and low tide can be very dangerous. Most severe injuries at G-Land have occurred at "Speedies".

It is not common to ride a wave more than about 300-400 metres at G-Land, even though the section of the point where rideable waves break is considerably longer (over 1km long), because the waves usually don't link up with each other.

There are a few other, smaller waves further down and within the bay, which include "Chickens", "20/20", "Tiger Tracks" and a few unnamed others. These waves generally only work on larger swells, but are surprisingly good alternatives when the main point is big. All of these waves can barrel in the right conditions, which generally require higher tides. There is also some right hand waves on the other side of the peninsula at G-Land, but which are fickle, requiring large swells, and no wind or off-season winds.

Another right hand wave is situated about a one hour or more drive, and boat, west of G-Land, which has been featured in Indonesian surf magazines, and dubbed as "Reverse G". It is apparently a quality, long, right hand wave (the 'reverse' of G-Land) but which is very difficult to get to, requiring some boat access, and furthermore only works in off-season winds (about October to April).


- By Bus/van from Bali (around 7-8 hours)
- By Speedboat from Bali (around 2 hours and cost around US$ 125 per person)*


Image source:

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Carstensz Pyramid, called Puncak Jaya by some, and Puncak Jaya Kesuma or only Jaya Kesuma by others, is located to the west of the central highland called Jayawijaya and Sudirman Mountains. It is the tallest mountain in Australia and Oceania. Technically this means that Carstensz Pyramid is the tallest mountain between America and the Himalayas.

Carstensz Pyramid is the highest mountain in Australia and Oceania. It is the eight summit in the Seven summits project (7 summits on 7 tallest mounatins on 7 Continets). Carstensz Pyramid is situated in west Papua (now named Papua province Indonesia). This Indonesian Province was called Irian Jaya till 2005. It lies in New Guinea, which is the world’s second largest island.


4884 m
(16023 ft)


S 04°04.733
E 137°09.572


New Guinea
west Papua


The climate of the Carstensz Pyramid, and its nearest surroundings, are quite diverse. During the day the temperature rises from 12°C (53, 6 F), up to 37°C (98, 6°F). At night the temperature near the Base Camp decreases to k –8°C (17, 6°F). The temperature on the summit of the Carstensz Pyramid might decrease even to below –10°C (14°F). Usually it rains for several hours during the day.


The first option is a several days long trekking from the north (from Illaga) via the New Zealand Pass, or from a different airport near the Carstensz Pyramid. The second alternative is a flight with a helicopter directly to the camp in Zebra Whal (3800 m, 12467 ft). The trip via Freeport of Indonesia is not possible anymore, because the management of the company refused to issue permits to climbers for passing the mine.

There are several travel agencies in the world, which organize the climbing of the Carstensz pyramid with the support of helicopters. From time to time, one of the individuals tries to organize a trekking expedition.


Trekking in the Carstensz Pyramid surroundings, is some of the most beautiful in the whole world. To say the truth, we don’t know of a more beautiful place. There are tropical forests, snow covered summits, endless forests of gigantic ferns, jagged walls, alpine massive, pure rivers, sky-blue lakes, and lovely white glaciers.

You can also see:

- Gigantic ferns and Kembalo Plato

- The lake scenery

- The Snow Mountains and the New Zealand Pass

- Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya) and the Descent to the Lake Valley


For climbing the Carstensz Pyramid, you need many permits from Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, and several other permits from Jayapura, the capital of Papua province of Indonesia. Getting any of the permits is very tough. It is necessary to get a permit from BAIS – Indonesian secret police (similar to the U.S. FBI or Russian KGB), from the army, from the ministry of foreign affairs, from the ministry of tourism, from federal police, and many more. From similar authorities, it is necessary to get provincial permits in Jayapura. These permits are issued based on permits from Jakarta. Without a permit from Jakarta, you won’t get a permit from Jayapura. On the other hand, authorities in Jayapura are not obliged to issue you a permit even if you already have one from Jakarta.


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Monday, February 23, 2009


At 3,726 m, Rinjani is the second highest volcano in Indonesia, second only to Java's Mount Semeru.
Rinjani is best climbed during the April-November dry season. It's possible to climb during the rainy season as well, but tours are often cancelled at short notice if storms develop.


Climbing all or part of Rinjani is very popular among visitors to Lombok. Very few attempt independent travel, as all guesthouses and travel agents on the island can arrange trips, including camping equipment, porters, food and other necessary supplies and logistics.

Most visitors arrive via the village of Senaru (600m), on the northern side of the mountain and thus closer to the main resort area of Senggigi. The other possible entry point is Sembalun Lawang (1150m), on the eastern side, which is closer to the summit.

Entry to the park costs Rp. 150,000 per person.


  • Segara Anak Lake, in the crater
  • Aik Kalak hot springs, at the crater rim
Within the park the only way to get around is to hike. Porters can be arranged to carry your supplies.

Most visitors only opt for the hike to the lower crater rim (~2600m), about 7 hours one way from Senaru, which can be done fairly comfortably overnight. Going down from the crater rim to the lake (~2000 m) will generally require spending two nights, while going up to the summit will require at least two nights. Many operators offer three or four night hikes covering the lot.


There is no lodging in the park itself, but some simple hotels can be found in Senaru.

  • Pondok Indah Hotel
  • Pondok Senaru
  • Rinjani Trekking Lodges

Camping is possible at designated rest shelter areas along the trail and on the crater rim.


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Sunday, February 22, 2009


Also referred to as Mahameru ("Great Mountain"), Mt. Semeru is a stratovolcano in the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, in the province of East Java. Semeru is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. What stands out most about this mountain is the fact that it erupts periodically (and very reliably so). Every 20 minutes or so, the volcano belches out a huge cloud of steam and smoke, sometimes interspersed with ash and stones. The scenery on the way is beautiful (the erupting volcano, the mountain savannah, the lake), and the views from the top are spectacular. You see the vast Sandsea caldera with other volcanoes, among them Bromo and Batok, and the sea. Semeru is a must for all mountaineers, hikers and nature lovers who happen to be in Indonesia. If you are flying from Denpasar to Surabaya, you can see Semeru, and you may see a horizontal chain of clouds stretching away from the peak. These clouds all have the same distance to each other due to the volcano's periodic activity. Many people climb this mountain, tourists and Indonesians alike.


Most visitors will arrive via Indonesia's major gateway airports Denpasar (Bali) or Jakarta. The closest domestic airport is inSurabaya, about 3 hours' drive away. Now there are flights from Jakarta to Malang.

The starting point of the hike is the village of Ranupane. You can get there either via Malang and Tumpang or via Pasuruan/Probolinggo, Sukapura, Ngadisari, and Cemoro Lawang (see Mount Bromo for details on these).

You can take a microbus from Malang to Tumpang, and then a 4WD vehicle from Tumpang to Ranupane. But the latter of the above-mentioned routes is the more interesting because it leads across the 9-km-wide Sand Sea caldera and passes Bromo, a post-caldera cinder cone. A dirt road leads across the flat bottom of the caldera, up to Jemplang on its southern rim, and on to Ranupane. You have take a 4WD vehicle (unless you prefer to walk).


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Thursday, February 19, 2009


Lake Toba is an immense volcanic lake covering area 1707 sq km (bigger than Singapore) with an island in the center. Formed by a gigantic volcanic eruption some 70,000 years ago, it is probably the largest resurgent caldera on Earth. Some studies say it might have been associated with causing previous ice age/climate change.

The island in the middle - Pulau Samosir - was joined to the caldera wall by a narrow isthmus, which was cut through to enable boats to pass; a road bridge crosses the cutting. You get a ferry from Parapat to Pulau Samosir Island, they run every 1-2 hours, the last one at 6:00 pm (Rp 7000). Self proclaimed 'Tourist Hunters' may befriend you on the boat but are harmless and often helpful to find things, arrangements etc (Bintang can fix you up with anything). Tuk Tuk is the main town to stay on Samosir.


The main town is Parapat, about 4 hours by car from Medan (4-6 hours by public bus). Public Bus fee is 22,000 IDR. A scheduled and shared 7 passenger minivan costs 60,000 IDR and can be arranged by most hotels in Medan (Feb 08).

In reality you need to plan an 8 to 10 hour journey from Medan to Samosir Island, which is where the real tourism is. Parapat is a nice little town with reasonable hotels/guest houses, good food options and so on. However its on the island itself that you get the real feeling of Danau Toba. The car ferry terminal is almost impossible to find, even with local help, or perhaps because of it. The ferry leaves according to a schedule that is hammered to the ticket office wall, or whenever the ferry is full, or whenever the ferry captain feels like leaving! Dont bother asking the staff any questions, if they do bother to reply it will be wrong anyway. Stay close to you car, and push on at first opportunity.

The ferry ride over is fantastic, just truly peaceful, apart from the car radios playing, the ladies selling peanuts, aqua, mee or pretty much anything else. Some spoke excellent English which was a little surprising. Landing at the other end of the one hour ferry journey is daunting, but again, behave like everyone else in Indonesia and just push, ever so politely, but firmly and eventually you will get off the ferry and onto the main road.

The road signs are pretty much useless, as is asking the locals for directions, why is it so hard? Anyway if you are going to Tuk Tuk keep going, even though it may seem to be taking forever and you have been stuck in the Kijang for 8 hours with 10 other people, but you will get there and the hosts will be wonderful.

Do not, I repeat, do not try to drive out of Samosir Island by going up and over the top to the land bridge. The road is very bad and even my Indonesian relatives eventually gave up, took my advice and turned around (perilously) and headed back to the ferry.

Raja Taxi +62 (0)617 366-555 operates a shared cab service leaving from Medan airport at scheduled times that costs 75,000 IDR per person (Dec 08). Alternatively, you can book the whole taxi, a Toyota Avanza which seats seven, for 450,000 IDR.

Another great way to get to Lake Toba is by train. Two or three trains leave each day in that direction and you want to get off either at PT Siantar or Tebing Tinggi (note: the train stops at one or the other). The train is a wonderful way to travel. Once you are in your seat and have a stream of buskers, food vendors and friendly local passing by you will know why this is often the best way to travel overland. From Siantar (1 hour Taxi) or T Tinggi (2 hour Taxi) you will need to hire a taxi or a bus for road transport to Parapat.


There are hot springs on the western side of the island just across the causeway from Pangururan. The water is hot. Locals usually use their hands to get some water out of the pool, standing in the pool is possible, but you probably won't be able to swim. The fee to enter to the surroundings is Rp. 2'000. The pools are free, there's some special foreigner pool for Rp 5'000.

  • Samosir - Many Big Statues as Cemeteries for Batak people ancestors
  • Samosir, Simanindo - Batak Museum with traditional dance performed twice daily
  • Samosir, Ambarita - Stone chairs used for judgement and executions
  • Just on the other side of Samosir, near Pangururan are hot springs
  • From Tuk tuk you can see a waterfall up the mountain behind you. It's a great walk with a rewarding fresh swim!


  • Tabo Cottages is the most luxurious accommodation on the island. Prices start at around Rp.120,000 per night and climb up from there. The rooms are very clean and quite modern by Sumateran standards. Internet is available from the family's computer for a nominal rate and the western-styled food served in the restaurant is very good.
  • There are numerous hotels and guest houses, mainly in Tuk tuk but with a few scattered in other small towns around the island.
  • Hotel Carolina is a nice place with 49 rooms set in a lush tropical garden. It has a good restaurant with a verandah overlooking the lake. Staff is very helpful. Prices start with a bargain of Rp.20.000 for small Batak style cottages up the hill with cold water only and go up to Rp.100.000 for the luxury rooms on the lake shore which come with hot water, a bath tub and a fridge. Rates subject to a 10% tax. Good access to the lake for swimming with a pontoon to relax. The Hotel can organise trips, rents out motorbikes, has an internet parlour and even offers free WiFi, though the speed can be very slow., phone 0625 451210/41520. Ask the ferry boat from Parapat to drop you at the hotel jetty.
  • Liberta Homestay is a good budget choice for 35000Rp/night+. It has quiet private cabins on the lake. Friendly owner Mr Moon will sing, cook, and go out of his way for you.
  • Bagus Bay is a lovely place next to the lake. A dark wood and bamboo bar/restaurant give the place a particularly relaxed feel. The rooms are basic and range between 25000 and 50000 rupiah. Good food and cold beer at a reasonable price.
  • Samosir Cottages accommodates many of the travellers who arrive late in Parapat, as there is usually a representative to ship them to the cottages. This is not a bad thing, however - the place is large, with a big variety in the price of rooms (Rp 30,000 and upwards). The waterfront is clean, and the restaurant is large and serves good food.
  • Christina Guesthouse is a small relaxing place with lovely scenery and good swimming. Rooms are clean and located in several houses (e.g. traditional Batak-houses). Prices per night from Rp. 25000 upwards. Internet & Skype are available for reasonable price. Western- and Indonesian style food is served in the restaurant. Guesthouse manager Juan gives gladly general tourist information and good tips about Sumatra.
  • Romlan is a small guesthouse with about 15 rooms and includes two batak cottages (40,000 per night) and traditional rooms in a single and two storey building (about 60,000 per night). The rooms are super clean and very comfortable with attached bathroom and nice furniture. All rooms have direct lake view and the swimming area is good for swimming and relaxing. Also great local and indonesian food including some german meals. Highly recommended. Ask the boat to stop at the private dock.
  • Mas Cottages. Mas Cottages is closer to the ancient ceremonial stone chairs than downtown Tuk-Tuk. It is a quiet sanctuary from the rest of the world with a variety of accomodation options all directly on the lake including VIP suites and traditional Batak houses. Safety and security are unparalled at Mas Cottages. Prices are a bit higher for this secluded location at 60-70,000 rps.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Bromo isn't the highest mountain in Java — that honor goes to nearby Mount Semeru at 3,676m — but it's probably the most famous one. Bromo is in fact only one of many peaks inside the massive Tengger Caldera, but it's easily recognized as the entire top has been blown off and the crater inside constantly belches white sulphurous smoke. The inside of the caldera, aptly dubbed the Laut Pasir (Sea of Sand) is coated with fine volcanic sand and the overall effect is unsettlingly unearthly, especially when compared to the lush green valleys all around the caldera.

The major access point is Cemoro Lawang at the northeast edge, but there are also trails from Tosari (northwest) and Ngadas (west). The village of Ngadisari, on the road from Probolinggo about 5.5 km before Cemoro Lawang, marks the entrance to the national park. Both Cemoro Lawang and Ngadisari are rather picturesque, with brightly-painted houses and flower beds outside.


By plane

The nearest major airport is in Surabaya, three to four hours away by car (and more by bus).

By bus

The nearest larger town is Probolinggo, on the north coast of Java. It's about one hour from Probolinggo to Ngadisari and another half hour all the way to Cemoro Lawang, and it's (just) possible to visit on a day trip, although most visitors prefer to climb overnight and see the sunrise.

To go there, take a 'Damri' shuttle bus from the Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, to go to the Bungurasih bus terminal(terminal Purabaya). Then, take an express Patas air-conditioned bus for a 2-3 hours ride from Surabaya to Probolinggo.


When timing any activities in the area, bear in mind that sunset is soon after 5 PM and sunrise is correspondingly early at around 5:30 AM. This means you'll usually need to get up by 3:30 AM or so to get there in time for dawn.

  • Mount Batok (2440m) is a brown volcanic cone at the north center of the caldera. Unlike the other nearby peaks it is no longer active and actually has some vegetation growing on it, mostly the local cemara tree that somehow manages to survive even on volcanic ash.
  • Mount Bromo, edges tinged with white sulphur and always bubbling, is the main sight. To reach it on foot, pick the left fork at Cemoro Lawang's solitary crossing, then head down the ramp into the caldera and then across the caldera to the Hindu temple at the foot of the mountain. From the temple a steep path of 250 steps leads to the edge of the crater and a precarious meter-wide ledge from where to gaze into the volcano. Beware of local jeep-hirers, who often try to persuade tourists the journey to the mountain is not walking distance (in order to hire them jeeps, or horses). The walk from the tourist centre to the top of the mountain should take no longer than 1.5 hours by foot, and is about 3km.
  • Mount Penanjakan (2770m), located just north of the caldera, is a mountaintop viewpoint accessible by paved road from Tosari and hence popular with jeeps and even tour buses. Most of the crowd comes to see the dawn at 5 AM, and you'll likely have the large concrete observation post to yourself if you arrive later in the day.
  • Viewpoint #2, along the trail from Cemoro Lawang to Mt. Penanjakan, is an excellent way to get a stunning view of the caldera (see pictures above) without the crowds. To reach it, head west from Cemoro Lawang (past Cemero Indah) for 6 km, past farms and fields. The paved road eventually turns into a twisty mountain trail that ends with a flight of stairs on the right, and the viewpoint (with concrete shelter) is at the top. Allow 1.5 hours for the climb up at a steady pace, and bring along a torch if attempting this at night.
    • From here, you can continue onto Mt. Penanjakan by following the trail upward, after which the trail merges onto the paved road to the viewpoint (total time about 60 minutes one way). If planning to return the same way, mark the spot where the trail emerges onto the road (if you pass a stone lantern on the way down, you've gone too far!), and note that descending on this section can get slippery due to loose sand and rocks.


There are plenty of accommodation options around the mountain. Facilities at Cemoro Lawang side of the caldera are rather basic, but there are good hotels in Sukapura and Probolinggo

  • Java Banana Bromo, Wonotoro, tel. +62-335-541193. A cozy boutique hotel with the beautiful landscape of Bromo. It's a lodge, cafe, and gallery. Room rates start from IDR 650,000 (Jan 2009).
  • Bromo Cottages, Tosari, tel. +62-31-515253. Despite the name, it's actually an upmarket hotel. Net rates from US$47 for a double.
  • Cemoro Indah, Cemoro Lawang +62-335-541019. It has a nice view of Mount Bromo and provide hot water. You can sit down in its restaurant and view the Mount Bromo directly. An ecomomy room is 75,000rp.
  • Lava View Lodge, Cemoro Lawang, tel. +62-335-541009. The most upmarket option in Cemoro Lawang, located at the caldera edge some 500m west of the village and price is more up then other hotel
  • Yoschi's, Ngadisari, tel. +62-335-541018. Cozy guesthouse done up to look like a Balinese temple. Note that the cheapest rooms here don't have hot water.
  • Cafe Lava, Cemoro Lawang. This is the best budget option at 120,000 for an economy room.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Senggigi is the main tourist strip of Lombok, stretched out along nearly 10 kilometers of beachfront just to the north of the capital Mataram.

Senggigi can be broadly divided into three parts: northern Mangsit Beach, central Senggigi and the southern stretch near Batu Bolong, with headlands separating the three. Mangsit has quiet resorts and very little other development, while nightlife and other restaurants are concentrated in Senggigi and the Batu Bolong area.

That said, Lombok's post-2000 misfortunes hit Senggigi hard, with many developments halted and a businesses closed and boarded up. Things are starting to improve again, with a few new villas going up, shops re-opening and attracting more tourist who seek the solitude and unspoiled scenery of Lombok. Senggigi is the place to find hotels/resorts with manicured grounds and swimming pools - often a short distance from the beach. Senggigi is not a typical tourist resort town where a day can be spent shopping and socializing at the local bars and restaurants (such as found in Bali). Most visitors use Senggigi as a home base and take day trips to the waterfalls, the Gili Islands, or just exploring the still authentic villages, temples, and jungle habitat found within a couple hours drive.


Senggigi is about 15-20 minutes north of Mataram and its airport. Taxis charge around Rp 30,000 for the trip, while bemos will cover the distance for under Rp 5,000.

If you are frugal or intrepid and take the slow ferry from Bali, it's best to arrange transport in advance from the ferry dock to Senggigi, since the dock on the Lombok side is in a remote spot several kilometers south of Mataram. Travel agents on Bali offer transport from any point in southern Bali to Seggigi, including the ferry ticket, for about Rp 140,000.


  • Pura Batu Bolong, 2 km south of Senggigi. Small Hindu temple located in a scenic spot at a cape overlooking Senggigi beach, named after a rock (batu) with a hole (bolong). At the tip is an empty chair representing Brahma, the god of creation. Free entry, but you'll have to loan a sash (Rp5,000 a throw) from one of the urchins if you don't have one already. Sunsets seen from here can be very impressive.
  • Senggigi Beach. A spit of sand stretching out from central Senggigi, this is Senggigi's raison d'etre but, by Indonesian standards, it's not all that spectacular. The beach is a little dirty, the hawkers are a nuisance and the Senggigi Beach Resort has grabbed most of the land. Some local surfers brave the smallish waves.

Senggigi is a popular launch point for other activities on Lombok. Without the hassle of Mataram, you can visit several other locations and come back to the same hotel each night. Tour operators can arrange these trips for you at around Rp. 300,000 for the day for a private car and driver or cheaper if you go with a group.

Popular excursions that can be done in a day trip include:

  • Village visits, including weaving villages and other handicraft-producers
  • Waterfall visits

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The national park is located in the extreme south-western tip of Java on the Sunda shelf, includes the Ujung Kulon peninsula and several offshore islands and encompasses the natural reserve of Krakatoa. It is Indonesia's first national park and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 for containing the largest remaining lowland rain forest in Java. In addition to its natural beauty and geological interest – particularly for the study of inland volcanoes – it contains the largest remaining area of lowland rain forests in the Java plain. The mainland part of Ujung Kulon was formerly farmland until it was devastated and depopulated by the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa after which it returned to its original forested state.

The most precious of all the animals in the parks is the Java one-horned rhinoceros, the rarest large animal on earth. It is also one of only two homes of the critically endangered Javan Rhinoceros. A population of fifty to sixty live in Ujung Kulon, a smaller population of possibly 10 or less, live in Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam.

Once found across much of south east Asia, the first accounts of the Java rhino date back to China’s T’ang dynasty (A.D. 618-906) when Java was noted as a source for rhino horns. In Java during the 1700’s rhinos were so numerous and damaging to the agricultural plantations that the government paid a bounty for every rhino killed, bagging five hundred within two years.

Ujung Kulon’s rhino population is now estimated at around fifty individuals and they were believed to be the last remaining Javan rhino in the world until a small population was recently discovered in Vietnam. However, these are so few in numbers that their viability is unlikely and so Ujung Kulon remains the last home of this magnificent pachyderm. In appearance the Javan rhino is closest to the Indian rhino, both having a single-horn and skin folds or plates but there are distinct differences between their neck plates and skin textures.

The Javan rhino also has a long prehensile upper lip which extends below the lower allowing it to grasp foliage. The body shape of the Javan rhino is designed to push aside the undergrowth and only the male Javan rhino has a prominent horn while the female has a lump similar to a halved coconut. Earlier this cenntury Javan rhinos were measures as being over 170 cm. At the shoulders, more than 3 metres in length and 2,200 kg. In body weight but a recent photographic survey indicates that the largest rhino in Ujung Kulon may be around 150 cm. in height. Rhinos range over a maximum distance of 15 to 20 kilometres a day in the densely forested lowlands of the Ujung Kulon Peninsula and to the east of its isthmus.

They are most mobile at nights, like wallowing in mud pools and sometimes venture onto beaches and grazing grounds. Although actual sightings of rhinos are rare, their prrints and droppings are often found on the trails, sometimes unnervingly fresh. Javan rhinos are believed to be capable of running as fast as a person and so advice to visitors, should they happen to come across one, is to climb the nearest tree and take a photo - in that order.


The easiest way to get in is by purchase a tour from a resort in Anyer. The price will be around Rupiah 1.5 million - 3.0 million depend on the length of stay. As like many other places in the world, the price will go down if the number of the people join the tour increase. It will take around 3-4 hours from Anyer to Peucang Island where all the accommodation and also national park office concentrate here.

The cheapest way to get here is by public transport. The journey can start from Kalideres bus station in the West Jakarta. The bus is a green color bus with direction to Labuan. The cost is around Rp 25000 one way. It takes 3 hours to arrive in Labuan from Kalideres bus station. From Labuan, the journey will continue to Sumur or directly to Taman Jaya the last point before Ujung Kulon National Park. In Labuan, a lot of touts telling you there is no bus to Sumur or Taman Jaya. They offer ojek (motorcyle transport) for the transport and off course more expensive than the bus. There are buses to Sumur every hour, but only one bus go directly to Taman Jaya every day. The bus to Taman Jaya leaves at noon around 12.00 AM, so it is better to leave Kalideres in the morning around 7.00 or 8.00 AM. The bus to Taman Jaya is not parking in the bus station. It usually park outside the bus station around 20 meters on the left side of the bus station. The bus will leave after full with the passengers. The bus fee to Sumur is Rupiah 25000 (USD 2.8) and to Taman Jaya Rp 40000 (USD 4.5). It will not easy drive. Most the road along 98 km is in bad condition. The journey to Sumur takes 3 hours and to Taman Jaya 4 hours. If you cannot manage go to Taman jaya, the trips suppose to be continued by Ojek from Sumur. The cost will around Rp 30000-40000 (USD 3.5-4.5) depend on negotiation.

Actually, there are also options to get a tour in Sumur and Labuan, but most of the local budget traveler will be heading to Taman Jaya to get the cheapest option to travel to the Ujung Kulon National Park. In Taman Jaya, there is a famous local people even in Sumur and Labuan named Pak Komar. He organizes transport (boat) and trip to Ujung Kulon. The price for the boat is Rp 1000,000 (USD 105) for one way. It is better to organize a trip here. Take a trip for 3-4 days with boat in Ujung Kulon. If you are lucky to have more than 10 persons,the price will not higher than Rupiah 1000,000 (USD 105) for 3-4 days trip. The price will include guide, food (local offcourse), park entry fee, accommodation in Peucang Island and boat. There is also organized jungle trekking from Taman Jaya to Ujung Kulon for 4 days to 1 week. All the price are negotiable and cheaper.


  • Canoeing. Canoeing at Cigenter River where usually one horn Jave Rhino seen is an interesting experience, but the rhino is hardly to see. The rhino is easier to see on dry season from April to October. You can see also some snakes hanging on the tree and swamp crocodile. You will be guided by the ranger on your canoeing journey. It takes around 45 to 1 hour exploring the river by canoe.
  • Snorkeling and Diving. There are some spots for the snorkeling and diving but don't expect much because most of the reef is damage.
  • Jungle Trekking. If you want to have jungle trekking, it is better to arrange it from Taman Jaya. Pak Komar, the owner of Sunda Guesthouse can arrange it for you depend on how long you will explore the jungle. The jungle trekking will start from Taman jaya and end up at Peucang Island (crossing by boat from mainland to Peucang Island. The price includes the guide and food.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009


Malioboro is a well-known shopping promenade and very popular among Indonesian as well as international tourists. Spans from the Tugu Station to the Sultan's square, Malioboro is 2 kilometers in length and home to hundreds of shops and street-stalls which offers various kind of handicrafts. Several notable places in Malioboro are:

  • Pasar Beringharjo (Beringharjo Marketplace), Jalan Pabringan 1, Yogyakarta 55122 (north of Vredeburg Fort), +62 274 515871, 561510. Literally means slanted land, Beringaharjo is the largest traditional marketplace in Yogyakarta. The vendors sell many kind of goods, ranging from basic household items (vegetables, fruits, meats) to many kind of handicrafts. Haggle furiously.
  • Mirota Batik (opp Pasar Beringharjo), Jalan Ahmad Yani 9, Yogyakarta 55122, +62 274 588524, 518127, 547016 . The large family-owned store offers plenty of handicrafts, not only from Yogyakarta but also from all part of Indonesia.
  • Dagadu (lower ground floor Malioboro Mall). Offers funny contemporary t-shirts and souvenirs that revolves around Yogyakarta people's culture.

If travelling on foot is not your thing, you can ride the pedal-powered trishaw called becak, or the andong horsecart.

Warning: While Yogyakarta is safer than Jakarta, it's not free from pickpockets. Most of the time, Malioboro sidewalk is overcrowded, take standard precautions to protect your belongings.

Shopping Malls

While not as populated as Jakarta, Yogyakarta has several trendy malls which shows a glimpse of the alternate side of Yogyakarta culture.

  • Malioboro Mall, Jalan Malioboro 52-58 Yogyakarta 55001, +62 274 551888 (fax: +62 274 588242). Yogyakarta's premier shopping mall for shopping in hassle-free, air-con comfort. Features a large Matahari department store, a Hero supermarket (B1F), a Periplus book store with a good English selection (B1F), and all the usual suspects of Western and Indonesian fast food (McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC, EsTeler 77, etc). Home to the largest Dagadu outlet.
  • Galleria Mall, Jalan Jendral Sudirman 99-101, Yogyakarta 55223, +62 274 583661 (fax: +62 274 583711). A compact mall anchored by Matahari department store. The food court at the basement is popular among the youths. Features many interesting restaurant including KFC, McDonald's Express, Thai Express, Bakso Gress (Chinese meatballs served with noodles), Mie Nusantara, Bee's (Japanese Bento), Es Teler 77, Cheers Cup (assortments of fresh drinks).
  • Plaza Ambarrukmo (Amplaz), Jalan Laksda Adisucipto Yogyakarta 55281, +62 274 4331000, (fax: +62 274 4331001). Located next to the historical Ambarrukmo Hotel, the huge 5 floors shopping complex features a Centro Department Store, Carrefour Hypermarket, Gramedia Bookstore, Timezone, 21 Cineplex, Bread Talk, Starbucks Coffee, Dagadu, etc. The food court is located on the 3rd floor. ATM center is located on the lower ground floor.
  • Saphir Square, Jalan Laksda Adisucipto 32-34 Yogyakarta 55001, +62 274-558777, (fax +62 274 558666). A large trade center located next to the Saphir Hotel consists of small shops. The shops int first floor sells many counterfeit goods like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Guess bags.


  • Saptohoedojo Art Gallery, Jalan Solo km 9 (500m from airport). This fascinatingly weird sprawling complex houses an utterly eclectic collection of Indonesian art, ranging from abstract modern paintings and batik shirts through gamelan instruments and stuffed tigers to Papuan tribal totems complete with the skulls of vanquished enemies. Everything is for sale and previous customers, pictures of whom are proudly pasted on the walls, include Pope John Paul II and the Dalai Lama. While the adjoining restaurant looks quite attractive, the food served is rather disappointing.
  • Tjokrosuharto, Jalan Panembahan Angkurat 58, Yogyakarta 55131, +62 274 375208. This handicraft shop opens its door for business in 1954 and still operating today. It offers a large selection of javanese handicrafts such as wayang kulit (leather puppet), wayang golek (wooden puppet), batik, keris, silverware, sculptures, traditional outfits, etc.

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There is a great place to dive in the off-shore of Sorong, precisely situated on RAJA AMPAT ISLAND GROUP. The Raja Ampat area of Northwest Irian Jaya is filled with islands, surrounded by reefs and inundated with fish! After 9 years in the area we have only begun to discover the natural treasures awaiting us on each dive.

The Raja Ampat island group spreads out over a huge area and consists of over 610 islands. The four largest islands are Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool and are located at the Westside of the "Bird head peninsula" in Irian.

The Raja Ampat has only recently been discovered by scientist to house world's richest reefs systems. The group of islands is situated on the equator, is part of Papua and counts more than 600 islands. Till this very day the area is virtually unexplored and unknown due to its size, what we do know is that it has revealed to harbor an amazing diversity of breathtaking underwater life. The first dives in this area was pioneered in 1990.

The area's reefs are covered in a diverse selection of both hard and soft corals. Most of the areas reefs are pristine, with mile after mile of perfect hard corals, drift after drift of Dendronephya (soft) corals of many species and colors ranging from brilliant red, to shocking yellow pretty pink and exotic purple. Most reef dives are very colorful.

Among, above, and on top of the corals are fish. Schooling fish, solitary fish, beautiful fish, ugly fish, large fish, small fish! Some fish that are considered to be rare in many parts of the world are abundant in the Raja Ampat area. For example, many Sargassum Frogfish are found in the floating weed in front of the dive resort.

Wobbegong Sharks are found on many dives, often lying atop perfect table corals like a fish carefully arranged by a chef on a dinner plate. The Epaulette Shark, a small shark only a foot long, is numerous and found very often on night dives in the seagrass or even on the shelf of a wall dive.

Giant Clams are found at many of our dive sites. These clams are large enough to swallow a child, but are embedded in the reef and covered with soft corals, tunicates and sponges so thick they can barely close their shells. Wai Island has a "Giant Clam Area" just off the beach.

The offshore reef sites, especially those near Kri Island are poplulated with MEGATONS of schooling fish! Many different species school in the current sometimes mixing so that a diver is surrounded by a chaotic mass of fish life. The most common to see are barracuda, jacks, bannerfish, surgeonfish, fusiliers, parrotfish and snappers. All in many species. The fish are so dense that they sometimes block the view of your dive buddy or the surface!

The Raja ampat area is not only stunning underwater. Topside, the islands have a very diverse topography with steep mountain shores and deserted white sand beaches. The area is far off the beaten track and is rarely visited by foreigners. The raw beauty of the islands will fascinate you. It's dense jungle interior is known for its many orchids and the paradise birds. Waigeo and Batanta have the Wilson's and the Red Bird of Paradise both endemic to this area, as well as abundantly present Lorikeets, Parrots, Kingfishers, Eagles and Hornbills.


As you might have notice that the Raja Ampat island group spreads out over a huge area and consists of over 610 islands, there are two resort for accommodation on the Raja ampat Islands:
Kri Eco Resort and Sorido Bay Resort.


This is the longest established resort consists of traditional buildings over the water, along a jetty and offers traditional Papuan accommodation with excellent food and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.


The new "Sorido Bay Resort" offers western comforts in traditional Papuan setting. It is a combination of modern and traditional building methods to create a balanced and comfortable resort. This resort is built for the more demanding diver and specially the underwater photographer.


Image Source: National Geographic,

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Bunaken is one of Indonesia's most famous dive/snorkeling areas, and it draws scuba divers & snorkelers from all over the world. In addition to Bunaken itself, a rather featureless banana-shaped island, the National Park includes the neighboring islands of Manado Tua, a distinctive cone-shaped extinct volcano, Siladen, Montehagen, Nain, and Nain Kecil.


Bunaken is about 45-60 minutes by boat from Manado. Most resorts will arrange transfers from the airport for their guests. Alternatively, a public boat leaves daily except Sunday at 2-3PM from the canal on the north side of the market. The cost is 25,000Rp for tourists (7,000Rp for locals). It returns to Manado from the jetty in Bunaken village around 8-8:30AM every morning except Sunday. You can also charter a boat both ways at anytime.


Tourism on Bunaken has been very much geared towards divers over the years, but the trend seems to be changing and more and more snorkelers are visiting the area as too are those who wish to just relax immersed in nature...away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Possible activities for landlubbers include:

  • Beach-combing, especially at low tide when the reef top is accessible
  • Hiking to some of the secluded coves on the Eastern and Northern part of the island, but trails are poorly marked
  • Fishing, but only outside of the park boundaries: hire a boat or join one of the local fishing boats.
  • Dolphin & Whale watching, either while on diving or snorkeling boat trips or by hiring a boat.


The thing to do in Bunaken is dive, dive and dive! However, the steep walls and occasionally strong, rapidly changing currents mean that many sites cater more to the intermediate/advanced diver, although there are beginner-friendly sites too and all dive shops can arrange intro dives and Open Water Diver courses. The North Sulawesi Watersports Association offers oodles of detail on diving in the park. The park also offers outstanding snorkeling!

The snorkeling is fantastic just in front of many of the resorts that surround the island, with an incredible amount of marine life living in the shallows and also on the outer walls. Remember not to snorkel without fins as the currents can sometimes be strong, and change quickly even when they are not. Pick a reference point on the island and do not stray too far unless you are a confident swimmer.


  • Bastianos Dive Resorts, Will pick up from Manado hotels.
  • Bunaken Cha Cha Nature Resort, tel. +62 813 56930370 (Skype: bunakenchacha). On the eastern side of Bunaken; 10 cottages all with en-suite bathrooms (hot water showers), large balconies, all Superior Cottages are equipped with A/C. Private white sand beach, "House Reef" with floating pontoon for snorkelers, Massage treatments available. Restaurant above the beach, Wifi in bar/restaurant, PADI Dive Center. Packages start from US$60 per person/per night ; Accommodation & Dive Packages from US$145 per person/per night.
  • Bunaken Village Resort. Located along the Pangalisang beach on the east coast of Bunaken. 8 cottages, restaurant, dive shop, beach bar, and swimming pool around a nicely landscaped small garden. Rooms 20-25€, 2 boat dives 40€. Next door just south of Two Fish Divers.
  • Froggies Divers, []. A high quality dive operator with comfortable bungalows and excellent food.
  • Living Colours, tel. +62-812-4306063. Diver-oriented resort run by the shop of the same name, the bungalows are spacious and clean. Rooms 35€/person, including three excellent meals. Lately chosen as " Best resort all around Bunaken" by Lonely Planet Indonesia.
  • Lorenso's Bungalows. 5 min down the coast from Living Colours, offering cheaper but more basic bungalows at 125,000- 250,000 Rp. per person, per night
  • M.C. Dive Bunaken. Located near the Bunaken Village Has a very nice beach just next to the village and offers relaxed diving. Also offering Padi Dive Courses and Specialty's, Basic cottages 14€, more "luxurious" bungalows: 20€, including all meals, coffee, tea and water. 2 dives 40€, third dive 15€
  • Siladen Resort & Spa, tel. +62-431-856820. Small exclusive international resort on Siladen Island across from Bunaken. Multilingual PADI dive center, gourmet restaurant, lounge bar, Spa, large salt water pool. Located on the secluded western side of Siladen on a 300 meter stretch of white coral beach facing Manadotua Vulcano. Only 15 villas. PADI courses and full packages available.
  • Two Fish Divers, tel. +62-811-432805. Small and friendly PADI Gold Palm IDC Resort based on Bunaken Island. Cottages are basic but comfortable, and are right in front of the mangroves. The food is reliable, if monotonous. Vegetarians are usually offered fresh grilled fish in place of meat dishes. Offers fun dives for experienced and inexperienced divers, with small groups of 2-4 divers per dive guide. Also offers a full range of PADI dive courses from Open Water Course through to Instructor. Rooms start at 12 Euros per person to 25 Euros per person.

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Built over a period of some 75 years in the 8th and 9th centuries by the kingdom of Sailendra, constructed out of an estimated 1,600,000 blocks of volcanic stone, dredged from the river and assembled solely by human labor, the nine-terraced temple is a representation of the transition towards nirvana and is famed for its 1,500 intricately carved reliefs, covering a total length of five kilometers end-to-end. The volcanic Mount Merapi, one of the most active volcanoes on Java, can be seen steaming on the horizon directly north of the site.

The first archaeological study of the site was initiated in 1814 by Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore. First restored in 1907, the monument suffered from neglect and war and was once more in effect rebuilt in the 1970s under the guidance of UNESCO, who designated Borobudur as a World Heritage Site. The massive restoration process involved the removal and refurbishing of over one million blocks, rebuilding the foundation and adding drainage systems.


1. By plane

The nearest larger airports are inYogyakarta and Solo. Both are well connected and it's possible, if a bit rushed, to visit Borobudur on a day trip from Bali.

2. By public transport

Usage of public transport from Yogyakarta or Semarang is usually discouraged by the more cautious guide books and other authorities due to the increase in pickpockets and others on the usually crowded buses. Muntilan is the nearest town on the Yogyakarta to Semarang road. If you are not easily harassed by such issues, it is well worth the experience.

3. By car

Yogyakarta is about 40 minutes south of Borobudur by car. Most of the route is on a well-maintained (for Indonesia) four-lane (in many places) highway and there are frequent bus services (see above). Taxi from Yogyakartato Borobudur costs 175 000 IDR (around 20 US $) as on October 2008. Public bus ("indian style") from Giwangan bus terminal of Yogyakarta to Borobudur bus station now (Nov, 2008) is 20 000 IDR (~1.30h) for one way (plus 2 500 IDR for city bus #4 from Jl.Malioboro to Giwangan terminal). So, price in travel agencies around every tourist places of Jogya, for, still, 50-60K IDR for minibus travel door-to-door is very reasonable now.From Jombor bus station is 10,000 IDR


ntry into the Borobudur site costs US$11 - Rp93,000 (US$7 student, or Rp9,000 if you are Indonesian) and the site is open to the public from 6 AM to 5 PM. However, the Manohara Hotel runs a daily Borobudur Sunrise Tour for an additional US$10 (115 000 IDR) per person, which gets you a flashlight and a lift up to the temple gate at 4:30 AM, in time to see the sunrise and explore for an hour and a half before the hordes arrive, and is well worth the money. Hiring a guide who can explain the reliefs well costs Rp 50,000. You should ask for a guide in the evening before going to tour in the morning.

Borobudur consists of a single stupendously large structure, which can be divided into layers as follows:

  • The platform at the base of the structure, which was clearly added on later and hides some reliefs, is of uncertain provenance and function. The main theories are that the platform was added to censor reliefs depicting earthly desires or — rather more likely — to buttress the subsiding structure and prevent it from collapsing. A section of the platform has been excavated at the southeast corner, showcasing some of the hidden reliefs underneath.
  • The bulk of the structure consists of four square terraces connected by steep staircases. Each terrace has reliefs in two layers on both sides, recounting the story of the Buddha's past lives and his enlightenment. The "correct" way to view the reliefs is to start from the east gate (the main entrance) and circulate clockwise.
  • After the square terraces the structure suddenly opens up to reveal the final four circular terraces. Comparatively plain and unadorned, there are no more reliefs here, just several hundred domes housing half-hidden Buddha statues (many headless, some lost entirely).
  • The peak of the structure is a central stupa. The two chambers inside the stupa are empty, and it is unclear whether they were empty from the beginning as a representation of nirvana, or whether they originally contained now lost statues.
  • You can discover 6 different postures of buddha's statue for bottom level to the top. They are "contact with earth", "giving and helping", "mediatation", "no fear", "teach and learn", "turn of wills".
A few sights of interest are located outside the main temple itself.
  • The rather lacklustre museum, a few hundred meters to the north of the temple, does a haphazard job of presenting the restoration process. Perhaps the most interesting bits are the exhibition of the Karmawiharga reliefs, with explanatory comments, and the photo gallery of old 19th-century shots of the complex before it was restored.
  • Candi Mendut, 3 km from Borobudur (along the road to Yogyakarta). A comparatively small temple that may have acted as a waypoint on the road to Borobudur. Now notable primarily as the start of the Waisak procession

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Located 85 km north-east of the airport, on the east coast, Candidasa offers a good base for exploring east Bali. A low key, laid back place close to cultural treasures like Pura Besakih and Tenganan Village - a unique village belonging to the original surviving Bali Aga aboriginal communities. It has lots of rustic charm.


Elevated above the beach are the exclusive Amankila Villas.
Recommended hotels Alila Manggis.


The beach is not one of Bali's best and not suitable for swimming, but nevertheless the tranquility of the place has attracted a number of exclusive hotels like the Amankila and The Chedi.


Enjoy the beach. Jimbaran has a rustic feel with local restaurants and shops.

Diving: About a 30 minute drive along the coast, lies Amed - a top dive destination. Nearby Tulamben also has good dive sites, particularly the wreck of the Liberty, a 1915 U.S. cargo ship. This submerged ship is probably the most popular dive site in Bali.


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Tanjung Benoa, or the Benoa peninsula just north of Nusa Dua, is a scenic 5 kilometres of coconut palms and fine sand. The area is the almost exclusive home of luxury hotels, private villas, fine restaurants, open air cafes and water sports facilities.

The resort has become busier over recent years with with more hotels like The Conrad Bali Resort and Spa joining impressive resorts like the Aston Bali.


Excellent hotels include the Novotel benoa Bali Resort, Conrad Bali, Grand Mirage, Club Bali Mirage, Ramada resort.


The shape of the beach, also makes Tanung Benoa perfect for watersports with no shortage of shops catering to marine sports enthusiasts.


Right at the tip of the peninsula is the quiet port of Tanjung Benoa, with its village like alleyways and rows of traditional fishing boats and yachts. Offshore "Turtle Island" is the site of a sacred sea temple.

Tanjung Benoa has something for everyone - especially if you're a watersports fan. Snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, water-ski-ing, power boats, banana boats and reef fishing (The reef is just 200 metres from the shoreline at the north-eastern tip).


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Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Located on Bali's west coast - Jimbaran offers a small secluded beach area, where tranquility and peace are the perfect antidote to a stressful world. The land gently slopes away from the beach revealing exclusive celebrity haunts hidden under a canopy of leafy tropical forest.


Luxury five star hotels like The Intercontinental and Four Seasons resort consistently rank in the top 100 best hotels in annual readers polls conducted by the prestigious travel companies. On the hillside overlooking the sea the awesome Ritz Carlton. Coming in 2006..... the five star plus Bvlgari.


Gentle tides, dramatic sunsets, fine seafood restaurants. No watersports available on the beach although some may be arranged with the hotels who provide equipment and boats for snorkeling trips and sea canoe excursions.


Envelope yourself in five star luxury. Gorgeous Spas, fantastic views, ocean breezes, friendly impeccable service. You rarely need to leave the hotel - but if you do, local fishermen will be glad to take you sightseeing along the coast!

Jimbaran's other premier attraction is the local seafood market at the end of the beach. Walk along the beach to reach the market and the excellent local seafood restaurants that line the seafront. Popular with both locals and visitors, it can get very busy at mealtimes!


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Monday, February 9, 2009


A few miles north of Kuta is Seminyak which is the hippest part of southern Bali. More upmarket than Kuta and home to Bali's best bars, clubs and restaurants with new places opening almost weekly. Creative energy is the phrase that best sums up Seminyak, energy which also extends to the fashion boutiques.

Cool comes at a price, featuring strongly are world class hotels and resorts located next to the beach. Expect prices to be a little higher than Kuta.


Seminyak has some excellent boutique and five star resorts with lovely gardens, Asian style and Balinese features.


Limited road access to the beach means that it's less busy here than Kuta. Conditions are monitored less here than in other places so be very careful when swimming.


Lots of trendy restaurants, cafes and stylish bars are to be found in Seminyak which attract a cool crowd of locals and hotel guests from nearby boutique hotels.

It's still part of the Kuta area - but the trendy sophisticated end.


Seminyak over the last few years has quietly established itself as a centre for excellent shopping and fine dining.

Seminyak is a great place to go shopping. A walk along the main road can take much longer than planned because there are so many interesting individual shops to browse. Unlike many resorts where you will find the same goods sold in every shop, here you'll find so many different designs, styles and unusual items, reflecting Bali's unique culture. From jewellry to local designer clothing to lifestyle items.


Everything you need is withing walking distance Seminyak and Kuta centre is literally a five minute taxi ride.

Metered taxis and Bemos (a small open-air bus) can be found easily.


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In many ways Ubud is considered Bali's cultural heart. Located in the cool mountains, just one hour's drive north of the airport and the resorts of southern Bali, this traditional country town is the home of the Balinese Royal family.

Ubud is also a flourishing crafts centre. Around Ubud the surrounding villages like Camphuan, Penestanan, Peliatan and Batuan specialising in crafts and woodcarving which are sold all over the island. There are hundreds of shops selling antiques, woodcarvings, crafts, textiles, paintings and jewellry as well as some of the best art museums in the country, dozens of art studios, an excellent local craft market, and galleries selling local and international art.

Ubud's role as the epicentre of Balinese culture makes it the perfect place to see traditional Balinese dance and drama. From the early 1920's the royal family ensured that most talented teachers of dance, music and drama were brought to Ubud to entertain the King and pass on their knowledge. Dances like the Legong, Ramayana, Baris, Kecak and Sanghyang (the fire dance) are performed nightly in the village of Bona, just 15 minutes drive from Ubud. Bali's most accomplished dancers, musicians, painters and carvers live in just 10 square kilometres.

Balinese Hinduism remains stronger in Ubud than elsewhere in Bali so it's highly likely you will come across a festival, cremation ceremony or celebration of some kind during your stay. Balinese Hinduism is distinct from that of India and has absorbed the animism of Bali's pre-Hindu ancestors - inspired by the extraordinary beauty of Bali's landscapes - rice fields, mountains, river gorges, villages and ancient temples.


The outskirts of Ubud has some excellent five star hotels and luxury villas in stunning locations like the stylish Maya Resort on the river Ayung with its riverside Spa, and Alila Ubud in Payangan. Smaller local hotels and guest houses can be found discreetly situated around the town, enabling Ubud to retain its local charming atmosphere.

Hotels like the Puri Wulandari, Kupu Kupu Barong, Four Seasons Ubud, Pita Maha, Komenaka and Villa Teratai all have a uniquely Ubud flavour.


Visit the Ubud Monkey Forest - a natural forest reserve popular with both locals and tourists. Inhabited by wild monkeys (don't even think about petting them) who will steal your camera, bananas, handbags, toupes, etc., These mischievous monkeys provide lots of entertainment. Interesting meandering paths lead to charming places like the bathing temple surrounded by lush remnants of ancient forest.

Just off the main square a lovely arched stone bridge leads to the Hindu elephant-headed Lord Ganesh overlooking a small, square, moss-covered pool where several koi swim at his feet.


Go whitewater rafting down the breathtaking Agung Gorge about half an hour outside Ubud centre.

Ubud is an easy place to walk around. The main streets are lined with local shops and restaurants, studios, gift shops and galleries. Browse the art shops and take a leisurely stroll around the town.


Peliatan: Located between Ubud and Mas, Peliatan is the traditional centre of music, and dance.

Batubulan: A small town on the road to Ubud famous for its excellent stone carvers. Workshops are located all along the roadside and visitors are welcome to see the carvers at work. Local legend states that all the men from teenagers to old men are accomplished carvers.


Ubud is one of the best places to see traditional dance and drama accompanied by superb traditional orchestras. For information on performances, transport schedules, temple festivals, and special activities, inquire at the Ubud Tourist Information Center, across from the Pura Desa (village temple).


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While the rest of Bali's beaches have developed at a breathtaking pace, Bali's first beach resort remains largely unchanged.

Sanur is one of Bali's biggest traditional villages but it's also one of the most established tourist areas. Fine hotels, restaurants and modern entertainment venues compliment traditional village activities like drama and dance, so it's a good place to enjoy the delights of a tropical island and gain a real appreciation of Balinese culture and local life.


Gradual and early development has meant that Sanur has grown alongside the village, with hotels located right next door to local meeting halls and Brahmanic temples. Many hotels have expansive gardens that face the ocean in a picturesque unbroken seaside promenade.

Excellent value in all categories. Our recommendations: Bali Hyatt (distinctive rustic charm) Sanur Paradise Plaza (formerly Radisson) Sanur Beach Hotel, Puri Santrian, Mercure Sanur, Segara Village, Waka Maya Resort.


Hang out, sunbathe on the soft sand beach. Located on the east coast, Sanur has a coral reef that makes it ideal for snorkeling - you can even do sea-walking. While local beach restaurants and bars provide an ethnic alternative to hotel dining.

Watersports. More and more popular, both within and beyond the reef.


Sanur is an important religious centre and the venue for many colourful ceremonies and traditional dances that mark the calendar each year. It's also the kind of place where exclusive hotels, boutiques and chic restaurants nestle in with the local shops and cultural centres.

Explore Sanur's shady lanes and discover traditional markets, shops nightspots and local life, especially in the late afternoon.


Nightlife in Sanur is pretty relaxed. It starts and finishes earlier than in Kuta. Most restaurants fill up early in the evening and apart from a few bars and the disco, generally wind up around midnight.


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Bali's most prestigious resort area, Nusa Dua is where you'll find international world - class luxury hotels elegantly lining beautiful white sands.

Quiet and exclusive with superb facilities... you really don't have to venture far from your luxurious hotel room... but if you do, the rest of Bali's attractions are within easy access. Located on the Bukit peninsula, in the southern part of Bali, approximately 10 km from the international airport.


pectacular luxury resorts are the norm in Nusa Dua, with many incorporating contemporary Balinese style buildings and beautifully landscaped gardens, ponds and pool areas. Deluxe ocean view suites and stunning architecture like the Javanese Imperial Palace style at the Aston Bali are quite breathtaking.

Deluxe beachfront hotels include Bali Hilton International, The Grand Hyatt, Nikko Bali, Sheraton Laguna, Westin, Putri Bali, Melia Bali Sol, and the Nusa Dua Beach. As well as spas (the elegant Grand Mirage Resort and Spa has a thalassotherapy spa specialising in saltwater treatments) many have convention facilities; swimming pools; excellent sports facilities and a selection of restaurants, night clubs or discotheques. There are also smaller cottage style hotels.


The white sand and shallow water at Nusa Dua beach is an ideal safe place for children to play in the sea, lifeguards are usually on duty.

Nusa Dua means two islands, at low tide the seabed is exposed so that two islands are joined to the mainland - great for exploring.


Nusa Dua is really about taking it easy and relaxing in total luxury. As most of the hotels are 5 star, every comfort is at your disposal as well as a gorgeous white sand beach.

The kind of activities on offer gives a flavour of Nusa Dua.... The Bali Golf and Country Club, an immaculately landscaped 18 hole ocean view course. The Bali International Lawn Tennis & Lawn Bowls Club next to the Galleria Nusa Dua a spacious shopping mall with boutiques and upmarket restaurants.

Close by the Chandra Koka Amphitheatre provides a venue for traditional entertainment including arts festivals like the Nusa Dua Arts and Culture Festival. Stroll to the northern end of Nusa Dua for parasailing, jetskis, snorkelling/diving trips or better still, head for Tanjung Benoa.


Nusa Dua has a huge selection of restaurants with excellent five star dining.

Popular restaurants include the Watercourt (voted locally the Best Balinese) at the Grand Hyatt, Maguro at Nusa Dua Beach Hotel (voted Best Quick and Casual Japanese Bite) Eight Degrees South - (Best Mediterranean Seafood of the Year).


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A few years ago Legian was a small village situated a short distance from Kuta, which has spread out so much that Legian is now part of the greater Kuta area.

Legian is a quieter alternative and with a more sophisticated nightlife scene focusing on dining-out and socialising rather than full-on partying.


Legian has seen extensive development over the last few years, with boutique and first class hotels like the Bali Padma and Jayakarta adding to local family-owned guest houses and hotels like the Paradiso and White Roses Hotel.


On the beach... Legian and Seminyak have a more laid back beach style - less hustle, fewer vendors, but good facilities. You can rent surfboards, play volleyball, or just relax and take in the scene. All on the beach.

Close to the action but far enough for some down time, Legian still retains something of its village atmosphere and is easy to walk around. Good shopping, restaurants and, while nightlife is not so frantic, Legian does have its own entertainment scene around Jalan Gado-Gado.


Legian is easy to walk around. If you can't take one step further, its easy to find an meter taxi or Bemo (a small open-air bus) Kuta is a 5 minute drive away.


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