Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CANGGU - BALI

canggu bali
Canggu is a district north of Seminyak that lies midway between Seminyak and Tanah Lot. It is a largely rural area that is starts a few kilometers inland and borders on the western coast of Bali.

It has dark or black sand beaches which are not particularly good for swimming but do offer some renowned surfing spots.

The area is popular place, being roughly 25 mins drive from Seminyak, with many local expatriates and many villas owned by overseas nationals are located here as well. Much of the area features quietly undulating terrain with the rice paddies that categorize much of central Bali.

To the south lies Umalas or kerobokan and to the north lies Tanah Lot.


HOW TO REACH CANGGU

Taxis are hard to find in this area and most travel tends to be by private car or motorcycle.


WHAT TO SEE AND DO AT CANGGU

bali nirwana golfThe nearby Nirwana Bali Golf Course at the Le Meriden Hotel, was designed by Greg Norman, and was voted the number 1 golf course in Asia; it is situated beside the dramatic, waved-lashed sea temple of Tanah Lot just to the north.

Horse riding - Umalas offers the Umalas stables, formally named the 'Umalas Equestrian Centre’

Various activities are offered at the Canggu Club www.cangguclub.com/- Bali's first country club.

The Hotel Tugu is located on Canggu beach with the good waves for surfing. The hotel is a living museum of priceless antiques and rare cultural artifacts, and it also offers the attractions of fine dining together with the facilities of a delightful spa.


WHERE TO STAY AT CANGGU

There are a variety of small hotels and bungalow collections in this area. The most prevalent form of travel accommodation is private villas.

Private Villas
  • Semarapura Villa, Cemagi, Canggu www.semarapuravilla.com. New to the market after an extensive renovation in 2008, the 5 bedroom Villa Semarapura is an expansive luxury beachfront villa, located between Canggu and Tanah Lot, 40 minutes from Seminyak on Bali’s southwest coast. This private Bali rental villa is comprised of a series of pavilions, swimming pool and ornamental ponds, leisurely spread throughout an expansive 5000 square metres (one acre and a quarter) of rolling lawns. Fully staffed and ideal for events.
  • Villa Mako, Canggu www.villamako.com. A peaceful 3-bedroom retreat, complete with swimming pool and large garden, located in a quiet traditional village above a small river valley. The single-storey villa is neo-colonial in style, similar to the Dutch guesthouses of the Javanese and Malay hill stations, characterised by louvre shutters, old teak doors, and spectacular high wooden ceilings built of seasoned timbers. The eclectic interiors reflect the travels and passions of the owners, introducing Balinese and Javanese antiques, combined with a bold use of colour to create a very personal atmosphere. The villa is fully staffed and has a private swimming pool. Prices vary from US$370-490++ per night(depending on season).
  • Niloufar Villa, Canggu www.niloufar-villa.com. Luxury private villa built in 2007, it blends its exceptional location with outstanding facilities, service and privacy. Embracing the trend of ‘Destination’ villas, the property has been designed to contain as many features and amenities as possible, complemented by top levels of service, intended to ensure that guests feel no need to go out for top quality dining and entertainment. The villa boasts a 17 x 5 meter swimming pool and a fully equipped gym. The meandering Buwit River borders the villa’s expansive gardens; the property is surrounded by nature and blessed with beautiful views and riverside trails. Managed by BHM www.BHMvillas.com. Five bedrooms, private pool and garden - fully staffed (private cook, maids, etc). Prices vary from US$700-1000++ depending on season.
  • Simona Oasis and Spa, Canggu www.simona-oasis.com. This spectacular 5-bedroom villa with its own 1000m2 private spa rests upon a venerated spurs of land fed by a holy spring at the confluence of two rivers and is located among the ricefields, walking distance from the beach. Fully staffed, and car and driver included within.
  • Umah Di Beji, Berawa, Canggu www.umahdibeji.com. Accessed via its own 150 metre driveway and bridge, the five bedroom Umah di Beji enjoys a most secluded location amongst the paddy (rice) fields. The fully staffed villa itself is set in a picturesque location, with gardens forming a natural amphitheater. Various buildings, all with traditional Balinese alang-alang (thatched) roofs, frame the gardens and house the five king-sized suites. The mature garden and numerous water features range down towards the dramatic, lava rock private swimming pool. Prices vary from US$800-1250++ depending on season.
  • The Beji Private Villa, Berawa, Canggu www.villabeji.com. Built in 2007, this magnificent six-bedroom villa is bordered by rice terraces and a river, within walking distance of Berawa Beach. The property, ideal for families and suitable for disabled guests, is comprised of ten single-storey pavilions, together with one double-storey building, a 27-metre swimming pool and a series of ornamental ponds, leisurely spread throughout lush, expansive gardens. The contemporary style is restful with a fresh cool d├ęcor and modern furnishings. Recreational facilities at the villa include a tennis court and a gym. The Beji is also perfect for weddings and parties and is adjacent to its sister villa Umah di Beji www.umahdibeji.com. Prices vary from US$1100-1650++ depending on season.
  • Puri Bawana Estate, Canggu www.PuriBawana.com. Opened to the market in 2008, the splendid 5-bedroom Puri Bawana Estate, complete with 30-metre swimming pool, rests upon almost 2 acres of land (7000m2) surrounded by emerald rice fields, within walking distance of the beach at the fishing village of Canggu on Bali’s southwest coast. The Estate is resourcefully integrated into the natural terraced contours of a hill. Its luxury villa is comprised of a series of thatched pavilions, housing a remarkable open living pavilion, an elevated dining pavilion, an entertainment Room, two kitchens and five bedrooms, completed by additional smaller bedroom suitable for kids or a nanny. Fully staffed and serviced by BHM www.BHMVillas.com, the Estate also boasts a membership at the Canggu Club www.cangguclub.comwhich means its guests enjoy access to the numerous sporting and social facilities featured at the country club. Prices start from USD650++ a night, and vary depending on season.
  • Villa Emerald River, Berawa, Canggu www.hotcangguvillas.com. The 4 Bedrooms Vacation Villa of 620 m2 is composed of 3 different 2 storey buildings linked on the second floor by a large terrace from where guests can admire a magnificent sea view especially for the sunset. The large manicured garden features an amazing 100 m2 lava stone swimming pool surrounding the buildings dedicated to the bedrooms. Prices starting from US$450++.
Source: iguide.travel
Image Source: blog.baliwww.com, http://www.flickr.com/photos/66086592@N00/247295878/


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Sunday, March 22, 2009

BEDUGUL - BALI

bedugul bali
Bedugul is an area in the central mountains of Bali. Bedugul Area is composed of 3 lakes (Bratan, Buyan and Tamblingan) and one main town (Candikuning).


HOW TO REACH BEDUGUL

Bedugul is located 48 km north of Denpasar, on the main road from South Bali to the North Coast (Lovina and Singaraja).


WHAT TO SEE AND DO AT BEDUGUL

The most visited places of Bedugul are:

  • Ulun Danu Temple on Lake Bratan. Unique Temple on a small island on the lake.
  • The Bedugul Botanical Gardens (Kebun Raya Eka Karya) with trees collection and Bali Treetop Adventure Park.
  • The Traditional Market of Candikuning.
  • The Bali Handara Kosaido Golf and Country Club.
  • Bali Treetop Adventure Park, Bedugul Botanical Gardens, Tel.: (62)(361) 8520680. The park includes six main circuits that stretch from tree to tree, as well as nets, Tarzan Jumps, and bridges. Each run also features "Flying Fox" zip-lines of up to 160 meters, providing heart-pounding thrills to guests as they fly through the air. Two circuits are designed for young children from 4 years old.
  • Bali Handara Kosaido Golf and Country Club. At an alitude of 1.142 meters above the sea level and surrounded by green mountains, crater lakes and ancient forest, the course is considered as one of the greatest golf course in the world.
  • Water sports on lake Bratan. Parasailing, speedboat, jetski.
  • Trekking in the mountains. Departure from the Lake Bratan or from Bedugul Botanical Gardens
  • Soaking in Angseri hot springs. Angseri lies about 20km to the south. From the main market head directly south. It is well sign-posted.

WHERE TO STAY AT BEDUGUL

  • Many small and affordable guesthouses in Bedugul.
  • Pacung Indah Hotel, 10 kilometers before Bedugul. 8 bungalows with panoramic views.
  • Bali Handara Kosaido Golf and Country Club. Up market hotel in the golf course.
Source: www.wikitravel.org
Image Source: www.flickr.com/photos/ronni_photo/174915027/


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Thursday, March 19, 2009

ULUWATU - BALI

uluwatu temple bali
Uluwatu proper is a small village on the west coast, south of Jimbaran, but for most visitors it refers only to the famous temple of the same name, several kilometers further south. Many people also use it to refer to the area south of Jimbaran. The entire area is also called the Bukit Peninsula or just The Bukit, while Pecatu (peh-CHA-tuh) refers to a small village inland.


HOW TO REACH ULUWATU

A taxi from Kuta to Uluwatu takes about 30 minutes up and down winding roads and will cost about Rp 50,000 one-way. As it can be difficult to find transport, get the driver to wait for you for the trip back (figure on Rp 10,000/hour). Joining a tour can be cheaper way of getting to Uluwatu.

If you are riding a rented motorcycle from Kuta, be aware that you need an IDR (International Driving Permit). Police perform frequent checks for driving licenses on the road between Kuta and Uluwatu, especially targetting foreigners. If you can not present the necessary paperwork you will be faced with a fine anywhere from Rp20,000 to Rp300,000.


WHAT TO SEE AND DO AT ULUWATU

uluwatu temple baliUluwatu Temple (Pura Uluwatu) is one of Bali's six directional temples and Uluwatu's only site of significance. Though a small temple was claimed to have existed, the structure was significantly expanded by a Javanese sage, Empu Kuturan in the 11th Century. Another sage from East Java, Dang Hyang Nirartha is credited for constructing the padmasana shrines and is claimed to have attained Moksha here. More remarkable than the temple itself is its location, perched on a steep cliff 70 meters above the roaring ocean waves. There are more steep headlands on either side, and sunsets over Uluwatu are a sight to behold.

Entrance fee is Rp 3,000. As usual, you need to be properly dressed to enter and sarongs and sashes can be rented at the entrance. Guides, once famously mercenary, hassle visitors less than they used to, although they will offer to "protect" you from the monkeys, for a tip of course. Note that while you are free to walk around the temple grounds, the central courts can only be entered during special rituals.

The temple is inhabited by large number of monkeys, who are extremely adept at snatching visitors' belonging, including bags, cameras and eyeglasses. Keep a very close grip on all your belongings and stow away your eyeglasses if at all possible. If you do have something taken, the monkeys can usually be induced to exchange it for some fruit. Needless to say, rewarding the monkeys like this only encourages them to steal more. Locals and even the temple priests will be happy to do the job for you, naturally in exchange for a tip (Rp 10,000 - 50,000).

There is also a very scenic Uluwatu cave with rock formations leading into a beach close to the temple. This is a popular spot for surfers.

  • Surfing — Uluwatu is a well known destination among surfing enthusiasts. Most of the surf spots are only suitable for advanced or experts.
  • Kecak dance (aka "monkey dance") performances are held at the temple daily between 6pm and 7pm. Tickets for the visually spectacular if rather unoriginal show (it was invented in the 1930s) performed for tourists cost Rp 50,000.


WHERE TO STAY AT ULUWATU

Uluwatu started life as a surfer's haven. Small bungalows close to surf points where the only options for a long time. Now the area has sprouted an impressive collection of expensive villas and resorts as well. Beware false advertising though: only the most expensive "villas" are completely private and self-contained, while most share at least some facilities (eg. pool) and the cheapest ones are just clusters of bungalows.

Hotels
  • Blue Point Bay Villas, +62-361-769888. Small resort with villa accommodation. Two pools, restaurant, spa. US$230-680.
  • Bulgari Resort, Jalan Goa Lempeh, Banjar Dinas Kangin, +62-361-8471000. Clifftop superluxury resort every bit as stylish as you'd expect from a boutique hotel run by a fashion label. Plunge pool, private elevator to the beach, excellent restaurants, and a price tag to match. US$1400.
  • Tanah at Ulus, Uluwatu (South west in Badung Regency, near Uluwatu Temple), +61359856898 (). Tanah at Ulus Family house is brand new with inground pool, 3 bedrooms, air conditioning and with a single-booking policy for complete privacy. US$120 nightly: US$700 weekly.
Private Villas

All the villas listed below are standalone and feature private entrances, accommodation and their own swimming pools.

  • The Istana, Uluwatu. 5 bedroom clifftop luxury private overlooking the famous Uluwatu search break. Featured in DestinAsian Magazine's top 10 villas in Asia on two occasions, the villa has been written up in such publications as W Magazine and the New York Times. Managed by BHM - which operates some of the top villas on the island. Sleeps up to 10 people, two private pools and extensive gardens - fully staffed (private cook, maids, etc). Prices vary from US$1500-2500 per night depending on season.
  • Villa Indah Manis, Uluwatu. Six bedroom private luxury villa . Managed by BHM. Fully staffed and serviced, this villa sleeps up to 12 people, features two private pools and has a pool table and dedicated private spa. Prices vary from US$600-950 per night depending on season.
  • Villa Moonlight, Uluwatu. Private luxury villa featuring 4 (four) bedrooms and ocean view. Located just above Uluwatu surf beach and its world famous break. Built in 2008 to the highest standards of architecture and decor.
  • Villa Pemutih (villa pemutih uluwatu).
Source: www.wikitravel.org
Image Source:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/colloidfarl/58924772/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielcheong/495618162/


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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AMED - BALI

amed diving bali
Amed is the most recent tourist development area in Bali. It was only in 2000 that tarmac was laid on the roads, telephone lines were installed in 2003, and it took until 2007 for a bridge to be built over a section of the road that regularly washed away during the rainy season. To this day, phone lines are so limited in the area that most hotels only have one landline each, so it is wise to bring a mobile phone (cellphone) when visiting if you need to stay in touch with the outside world. Local Indonesian SIM cards can be purchased in thousands of places around Bali. There is also a public telephone office in the centre of Amed and a couple of internet cafes (the connection speed is V-E-R-Y slow, though).

English is widely spoken in all the hotels, restaurants and shops.



HOW TO REACH AMED

amed map diving baliAmed is located on the north east coast of Bali, about 2.5 hours drive from Kuta. But if you stay overnight at Tulamben, it will take approximately 20 Minutes drive to the south of Tulamben.

The easiest way into Amed is by hiring your own transport and driver. Beware that Amed is stretched out over ten kilometers so make sure that transport to your hotel is included in the price.


WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN AMED

Most people come to Amed as a getaway, including expats from other parts of the island. It's a favourite honeymoon destination for tourists and is also popular with divers and snorkelers. Sailing trips in small Balinese sail boats can be arranged, and day trips to local places of interest such as the Water Gardens of Tirta Gangga and Bali's most sacred temple, Besakih, high on the slopes of Mount Agung.

amed temple baliLempuyang Temple, half hour drive from Amed. One of the eight most sacred temples on the island. Park in the car park and walk up the steps to the temple. The lower temple is always open but the upper temple (at the top of the dragon staircases) is often locked, so it is best to go with a Balinese driver who will usually be able to arrange for the temple priest to open it up for you. It's situated high up a mountain and there are magnificent sunset views at dusk.

For entertainment, a local live band performs at Double One Restaurant once a week and there are sometimes free Balinese dance performances in some of the restaurants. A local Gong & Genjek group performs about once a month in the Bali Mandala room at Dancing Dragon Cottages.

  • Snorkeling -- Amed has some fine snorkeling within meters of the coast. A reef follows the majority of the coastline. Due to the limited number of visitors to the area, the sea life is healthy and abundant.
  • Condor Sailing, Phone/Fax: +62 363 23462, email: info@ameddivecenter.com. Enjoy Nature, Go with the Wind on a 18 m traditional sailing boat for sailing, diving, fishing, exploration, dolphin watching, snorkeling, or just swimming and relaxing.

DIVE SITE

There are two dive sites outside Jumeluk bay, Amed Reef and Amed Wall and both of which can be done as a shore or boat dive. The boat is a traditional fishing boat ( Jukung ) which is a small outrigger with the max capacity of 3 divers.

Jumeluk bay is suitable both for novice and experienced divers. The condition is easy, very rarely any wave action at the surface and the visibility is usually 15 to 30m.

amed diving baliAMED REEF
Located at the left side of the bay and by Jukung ( small outrigger ) it will take approximately 10 minutes with the depth ranging from 12-22 meters. You will find much different kinds of sponges, gorgonian, and marine life including everything from gobies, shrimp, to school of barracuda and blue spotted ray. Many different kinds of reef fish such as parrotfish, angelfish, surgeonfish, and moray eel.

If we go little bit deeper to 30 meters , you will see some sleeping white tip sharks on the sandy bottom.

Should there be any current, which is usually very rare and flows to the south, this will make for a relaxing drift dive.

AMED WALL
This dive site is located on the right side of the bay which takes approximately 5 minutes by Jukung. The depth ranges from 10 – 35 meters and although the wall itself is a relative small part of the dive, here you can usually find white tip reef shark, napoleon wrasse, school of batfish, and some big trevally.

Once you pass the wall you will find a deep slope which is rich in corals and very interesting. If you turn right towards shallower water, you will see big bommies on the sand, and the bommies are richly covered with gorgonians.


WHERE TO STAY AT AMED

There is a wide range of hotels in the area, with rooms ranging from $20 - $200 per night. Most of them have been built by westerners in partnership with Balinese people and have brought a welcome increase in employment to the area. Everyone knows everyone so there is a real feeling of village community, but the hotels are well spaced out so you feel that you have your own private space there. There are no TVs in most of the hotel rooms, so bring a good book to read or better still, spend your time getting to know the locals. The pace of life is very slow and relaxed in Amed, the people are friendly, and they have time!

  • Apa Kabar Villas is a small and quiet collection of ocean front bungalows (sleep four) and Balinese villas (sleep six) surrounded by lush gardens. They also have a lovely restaurant, swimming pool, and some nice coral for snorkeling right off of their beach.
  • Dancing Dragon Cottages, Amed, Bali, Indonesia, 0363 23521 (, fax: 0363 23521). checkin: 3.00pm; checkout: 12 noon. Feng shui boutique hotel. Air-conditioned thatched cottages with ocean views, 100-person conference center, pool, restaurant, bar. From $48.
  • Villa Sinar Cinta, a traditionally built seaside villa with privacy and excellent service. It is the perfect place for maximally eight persons. Also with its large swimmingpool of 15 x 3 meters.
  • Hotel Uyah Amed, Phone/Fax: +62 363 23462, (email: hoteluyah@naturebali.com). We have implemented and maintain an environmental management system to reduce the consumption of natural resources and to prevent pollution by waste separation, energy and water - saving installations and programs. We try to communicate our environmental goals to the local community and our guest s in order to be in harmony with this beautiful environment.
  • Eka Purnama Cottages and Restaurant phone="+62 (0)828 372 264" "mailto:ekaamed@gmail.com" "http://www.eka-purnama.com" Eka Purnama is a family run, budget hotel located in Amed on the Eastern most tip of Bali, an area renowned for its traditional Balinese fishing communities, superb diving, snorkeling and outstanding natural beauty. All the comfortable cottages overlook the sea and are a short step away from the beach. The reasonably priced cottages are comfortable with a double bed and single bed, a ceiling fan, wardrobes and a spacious bathroom with shower and a western toilet.
  • Villa Flamboyant, +62 828 372 2636 or +43 676 400 3869 (), [10]. "http://www.balivillaflamboyant.com" VILLA FLAMBOYANT is a private villa of 500m2 wide, located right at the sea. On the upper floor there are 4 exclusives dobble bedrooms with there own bathrooms. From the terrace you have a lovely outstanding few to the mountains, the 3000m2 garden and over the ocean. Downstairs there is a big living room optical divided by one step from the dining room about 400m2 wide suroundet by a generous terrace and in front of the living room is a big swimming pool with about 60m2 In the morning you can see the sun rising out of the ocean and many fisher boots out on the sea. The staff is friendly, helpful and used to treat guests the special way of feeling at home and giving everyone a polite individual attention.
Source: www.wikitravel.org, www.prodivebali.com
Image Source: www.asiarooms.com, www.blog.baliwww.com, www.divesitedirectory.co.uk


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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

TULAMBEN BAY - BALI

tulamben bay bali
Tulamben is now one of the most famous diving areas in Bali and attracts divers from all over the world, Here, is where you can hear the news about conditions in the different parts of the island or exceptional events, like the sighting of a whale shark or mola and here is where you are likely to meet internationally recognized underwater photographers and writers.

It is Tulamben bay which just like the rest of Bali, is situated in the world's richest marine biogeographic zone with more than 2500 different species of fish and 700 corals.

tulamben bay baliSituated on the north east coast, the bay receives very plankton rich water from the major ocean current that moves from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean or vice versa. The wreck, rocky wall and sand slopes provide a wide variety of physical habitats. All of these factors, combined together will explain why the Tulamben bay contains an incredible diversification of the underwater ecosystem.



HOW TO REACH TULAMBEN BAY

Tulamben bay is located in North East Coast of Bali, approximately 2.5 hours drive from Kuta.


WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN TULAMBEN BAY

Diving! Here's some of the diving sites in Tulamben Bay:

The Liberty Wreck

Its a lovely dive site, and recognized as one of the world best and easiest wreck dives. The wreck is very popular for photographers as it is totally encrusted in anemones, gorgonians and corals. Perhaps the magic comes from Tulamben's black sand which provides an excellent colour contrast for the incredible variety of marine life.

It's quite difficult to list what you will see on this dive because you will come across just about everything in any Indo-Pacific reef guide book. From the minute angel fish, nudibranches, pipefish, goby through to the areas of garden eels, huge schools of silver fish called big eyed trevally, sweet lips, batfish, butterfly fish, then add invertebrates, the hard coral, black corals, sponges with crinoids, sea fans, make this variety unique and amazing.

Current is rarely present and at most it will be mild. Visibility is usually 20 - 30 meters.

The wreck is great for night dives, particularly if the moon is full, you may see Spanish dancer, flashlight fish, or sleeping parrotfish. You will notice the different behaviour of marine life, compare to the daytime. Where else on this planet can you make such as easy, relaxing, perhaps romantic and varied night dive.


THE DROP - OFF

The basic structure of the drop off is a spur of volcanic rock leading out from the rise on which the temple sits. It is an old lava flow from mount Agung. It is located at the opposite end of the bay from the wreck.

The dive starts off on a steep sandy slope with nudibrances, flounder, shrimp ( be careful with your fins ) at 10 meters. There are big sponges with many varieties of shrimp, lionfish, and continuing to the right, the slope develops into a reef with very impressive topography, and becoming a vertical wall from 15 meters and descending to below 60 meters. Here you will find a sea fan, almost 2 meters across, at a depth of 28 meters, which is probably the crown jewel of the drop off - inhabited by pigmy Seahorses.

THE CORAL GARDEN

tulamben bay diving baliJust in the front of Tulamben resort, ( where we usually have our delicious lunch ) in 5- 12 meters of water is a delightfully rich little patch reef, which is dominated by croporid, hard coral, including some large table and fire corals, interspersed with anemones as well as sponges.

Though only less than 200 meters long, this reef also supports a diverse fish population, snapper, angelfish, wrasse, parrotfish, black tip shark, and millions of common reef fish. Also you can see some rarities, like blue ribbon eels (the juveniles are black) frogfish and unusual scorpion fish and even the rare ghost pipe fish.

BATU KELEBIT

Just around the corner from Tulamben bay, 15 minutes by Jukung ( traditional Balinese fishing boat ), At this beautiful site, Batu kelebit there are two large underwater boulders lying just off shore from a point marked by a jagged crest of lava. The dive site is dramatic and consists of steep ridges encrusted with an incredible diversity of hard corals, sea fans, fire coral and sponges and between the ridges separated by valleys of bright white sand. On this dive site not only the colour of the sand differs from Tulamben bay, also the species of even the most common reef fishes are different too!

In fish and invertebrate life, Batu Kelebit is perhaps even richer than Tulamben bay. Because of the steepness of the site combined with the structure of the ridges and plankton rich water, you will have more chance to see big pelagic including dog tooth tuna, mantas, schools of barracuda and you will always see the reef white tip sharks at Batu Kelebit.

Because Batu Kelebit receives deep off shore water, the visibility will be excellent and the temperature a little cold. Current in here usually tends to northwest, however the ridges here provide excellent protection, so it doesn't create any problem at all.


WHERE TO STAY AT TULAMBEN BAY

Source: www.prodivebali.com





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Monday, March 16, 2009

PRAMBANAN TEMPLE - WEST JAVA

prambanan temple west java
Prambanan is a collection of massive Hindu temples (candi) built by the 10th century Mataram Kingdom, rulers of central Java and defeaters of the Sailendra Dynasty. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, in most any other country constructions on the scale of Prambanan would be quickly designated as a national symbol, but in Indonesia they are somewhat overshadowed by the even more awe-inspiring bulk of Borobudur just next door. The two sites are quite different in style though, with Prambanan being a collection of sharp, jagged pyramids instead of the vast horizontal bulk of Borobudur, and both are well worth a visit.

Please note that those in charge of selling tickets to Prambanan practice race-based discriminatory pricing, with anyone who appears foreign being charged more than ten times the price of anyone who appears to be a local.



HOW TO REACH PRAMBANAN TEMPLE

The nearest major city is Yogyakarta, 17 kilometers away. Solo is also within easy striking distance.

By plane

Yogyakarta's airport is just ten kilometers from Prambanan. A taxi direct to the site should cost about Rp 20,000.

By bus

There are regular buses from Yogyakarta's Umbulharjo bus station (30 minutes, Rp 4000), as well as a wide variety of tour agency-operated minibuses shuttling directly to Yogya's backpacker haunts. Local buses to/from Solo are also easy to find (90 minutes, Rp 10,000).

TransJogja, Yogyakarta's newest bus service, also serves a direct route to Prambanan. The bus is air-conditioned and it costs Rp 3000 per person for a ride (as of 2008), regardless of the distance. Ask the attendant at TransJogja's bus stop for further details.


WHAT TO SEE IN PRAMBANAN TEMPLE

The main site of Prambanan contains four temples scattered about a large, landscaped park. The complex is open daily from 6 AM to 6 PM and entry costs a fixed US$10 (US$6 student), try to get there early to beat the heat. Guides can be hired at the ticket office, costs you Rp50.000

  • Candi Lara Jonggrang, or simply Candi Prambanan, is the largest and most-visited of the temples ju st to the left of the entrance. While there were 232 temples originally built, most have long since crumbled and the main remaining attractions are the six temples of the central court, richly decorated with carved reliefs. Three of them, known as the Trisakti ("three sacred places"), are particularly important:
    • Candi Siva, dedicated to Shiva the Destroyer, is the largest of the six, rising to a height of 45 meters. There are fine reliefs of the Ramayana in its forecourt and four chambers with statues. The largest chamber, to the east, contains a statue of Shiva himself, while the south has the sage Agastya, the west his son Ganesh (the elephant-headed) and the north his wife Durga. Durga is also known as Lara Jonggrang ("Slender Virgin"), a legendary beautiful princess turned to stone (see box).
    • Candi Brahma, to the south, continues the story of the Ramayana and has a statue of Brahma the Creator inside.
    • Candi Vishnu, to the north, tells the story of Vishnu's avatar Krishna and has a statue of Vishnu the Preserver inside.
    • Opposite the three large temples are three smaller temples originally dedicated to the vehicles of the gods. Only the statue of Nandi, Shiva's bull, has survived.
  • North of Lara Jonggrang is a poorly displayed museum laid out in a series of small houses connected by walkways. Explanations are minimal, but entry is free so you might as well take a look.
    • Prambanan Audio Visual, inside the museum grounds, is the park's term for screenings of a bizarre movie entitled "Cosmic Harmony", which seems to spend as much time lambasting the "industrial world" in general (and Jakarta in particular) as explaining the Prambanan site. Still, it makes for a fairly entertaining half-hour break and Rp 2,000 is not too bad a price to pay for the air-con. The film is available in several languages.
  • Candi Lumbung and Candi Bubrah, two Buddhist temples, are located several hundred meters further north. They lie in ruins and are fenced off.
  • Candi Sewu, a large Buddhist temple complex meaning "one thousand temples", is one kilometer north of the entrance gate and contains a large central temple surrounded by a cluster of smaller ones. The sheer size of the recently renovated and intricately decorated central temple is impressive, but the statue niches are all empty. Entrance from the east side only.

kraton ratu boko west java

There are also several temples and historical sites outside the park.

Kraton Ratu Boko, 3 km south of Prambanan, is a ruined palace or temple of uncertain origin, located on a hilltop 200 meters above the Prambanan plain (which makes for good pictures if and only if you have a good zoom lens). Only some building foundations remain and it's difficult to make any sense of the site. Now incorporated into the Borobudur Park Authority, entry to Ratu Boko is a separately charged US$10, which seems very steep for what you get.


WHERE TO STAY AT PRAMBANAN TEMPLE

The neighboring village of Prambanan has a few simple losmen if you want to spend the night, but most visitors daytrip from Yogyakarta or Solo.

Source: www.wikitravel.org
Image Source: www.indonesia.cz, antobilang.tumblr.com




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Thursday, March 12, 2009

NUSA LEMBONGAN - BALI


Nusa Lembongan, a small island between Bali and Nusa Penida in the Badung Strait, is the perfect location for a holiday hideaway, with few visitors and pristine unspoilt beaches. Overlooking Sanghiang Bay with its clear sapphire-blue waters, the Nusa Lembongan Resort offers a panoramic view of eastern Bali and the majestic silhouette of Mount Agung.



Nusa Lembongan is a pristine tropical island, its highest point is 50 meters above sea level. Lembongan has an average rainfall of approximately 1000 mm per year. Little temperature variation from 30 degrees Celsius occurs between the only two seasons this island experiences being the wet and the dry. The wet season is from December to February and the dry is from March to November. As it has only three months of rainfall, this island is dry for the remainder of the year. Little cultivation occurs, as almost 2/3 of the island is infertile. Seeding is normally done on the wet season and only corn, cassava and peanuts are farmed. Also found on the island are cashew nuts, mangoes and coconut. Fresh water is limited and most of the supply is derived from wells up to 60 meters deep.



HOW TO REACH NUSA LEMBONGAN

Take a taxi from Kuta to Sanur beach near the Grand Bali Beach Hotel and proceed with one of the following:

  • Public boats, depart daily from Sanur beach public wharf (near the Grand Inna Bali Beach Hotel). They can be a bit sketchy at times and usually very crowded. No same day return. IDR 70,000 one-way. The ride across is approximately 90 minutes. The sea can be rough.
  • Perama, www.peramatour.com a local transfers-only operator for the budget traveler, without same day return, IDR 100,000 one way, and has a network of connecting bus-links from around Bali. Boat departures daily at 10.30am. The ride across is approximately 90 minutes. The office of Perama Sanur can be found at friendly Warung Pojok in Jalan Hang Tua. Daily Perama buses depart from here to Ubud, Kuta, the airport, Padangbai (for Lombok) and now also Amed.
  • The Tanis Lembongan Express, +62 361 7432344, mobile:+62 081338737344, Fax: +62 361 240070, mailto:sales@tanisvillas.com, www.tanisvillas.com. A faster journey to Mushroom Bay of Lembongan Island crossing the Badung strait by speed boat. It takes 25-35 minutes from Sanur Beach near Grand Bali Beach hotel, return transfer USD 39.00/person and One way USD 27.00/person include: Hotel pick you up and return transfers speed boat. The boat schedule departure Sanur beach near grand Bali Beach at 09.00, 2.30 and 16.00, Departure Lembongan Island at 08.30, 13.00 and 15.30. Enter the heaven of Paradise at Lembongan Island, the complete experience of exploring Bali. Services are fishing trips, transfer only, surfing safari trip and day cruise include:lunch, return hotels transfers and activities.Special charters min 2 person and max 18 persons can be arranged.
  • Scoot Fast Boat, www.scootcruise.com leaves from Sanur too. It operates fast comfortable boats which take you to either Mushroom Bay or Jungutbatu for US$37.00 return. The tickets can be bought from the Scoot offices next to Dunkin' Donuts, by the Paradise Beach Hotel, or on the beach near the departure point. It takes 30-40 minutes and is probably the most modern scheduled passenger ferry on the route.
  • Island Explorer Cruises, +62 361728088 (email: sales@bali-activities.com), www.bali-activities.com. Transfer only or day cruise incl lunch & activities, super fast boats or leisurely sailing yacht to island. Departs Benoa at 9am yacht or 10.30AM fast boat. Does pick up from hotels.


WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN NUSA LEMBONGAN

This is a nice place to walk. A rocky coastal paths links nearly all the guest houses and hotels. Most trips will take you less than two hours. Bicycles can be rented at most places, and the mainly flat roads are quite well surfaced. Motorbikes are also available but may be unnecessary given the short distances involved. You can cross to the small island of Ceningan via a scenic suspension bridge.

Other Activities:
  • World Diving www.world-diving.com. The island's first full PADI 5 Star Dive Centre, located at Pondok Baruna guesthouse in Jungutbatu. All courses are offered from Discover Scuba Diver through to Assistant Instructor. This is the only dive school in Lembongan with a purpose built training pool.
  • Bali Lembongan Scuba www.balilembonganscuba.com. The island's first full PADI dive school, located at in Jungutbatu.
  • Bali Diving Academy Lembongan, www.scubali.com. Also situated on-site at Bungalo No7.
  • Beachcombing
  • Surfing www.baliwavehunter.com
  • Snorkeling
  • Tour the "Underground House".
  • Rent a bike or scooter and cruise around the small island.
  • Hiking
  • Take a tour through the mangroves in a sampan-style boat.
  • Big Fish Diving www.bigfishdiving.com Big Fish on Jungutbatu Beach offers daily diving, PADI courses, tour group scheduling & Manta / Mola specials. Professional, knowledgeable, fun - take a look at our website for more details today!
  • Sunset Beach - the sunsets are fantastic from Mainski Lembongan resort. sit by the pool or in the bar an enjoy an icy cold beer or one of thier fabulous cocktails.


WHERE TO STAY IN NUSA LEMBONGAN

Budget
  • Bungalo No7, www.bungalo-no7.com has clean fan cooled rooms (70,000 - 150,000) around a lovely garden right on the beach.
  • Mainski Lembongan Resort, email="sales@mainski-lembongan-resort.com" Jungut Batu Beach (In Front of Shipwrecks surf break), ☎ +6236624481, mobile Bruce (Wayan)on 08123619493 go to http://www.mainski-lembongan-resort.com
Mid Range
  • Dream Beach Huts, south coast of Lembongan Island,+62 81 338 737344" http://www.dreambeachlembongan.com.
  • Coconuts Beach Resort, +62 361728088 (www.bali-activities.com) well established traditional ocean front resort aircon or fan villas, ensuite bathrooms, hot water, 2 pools, restaurant, bar, internet, Cable.
Splurge
  • Batu Karang Lembongan Resort and Day Spa, info@batukaranglembongan.com +6236624880, www.batukaranglembongan.com 5 Star Boutique Resort, complete with facilities including Restaurant, Bar, Day Spa, 25m 2 lane lap pool, 9m by 9m swim up pool bar, 9m by 9m infinity edge pool, Steam room, Gymnasium, Day Lounge, Wedding pavilion, Conference facility and probably Lembongans best views.

Source: http://iguide.travel, www.nusalembonganresort.com
Image Source: www.nusalembonganresort.com, www. kayuaya.com


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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

KARIMUNJAWA ISLAND - CENTRAL JAVA

karimunjawa island west java
Karimunjawa is a chain of 27 islands north of Semarang, off the coast of Central Java, Indonesia.

Designated as a national marine park. Karimunjawa consists of many small islands, like Karimunjawa island, Kemujan island, Menjangan Besar island, and Menjangan kecil island.

We can find various kinds sea animal, like turtle, shark, fishes, in karimunjawa waters territory. In the land, especially in Karimunjawa island and Kemujan island, we can finds many kinds of bird, deer, and even snake.



HOW TO REACH KARIMUNJAWA ISLAND

There are chartered plane from Semarang that flies from Semarang to Dewandaru Airport in Kemujan island. There also a regular ferry that sail from Tanjung Emas port in Semarang and Jepara port to Karimunjawa island.



WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN KARIMUNJAWA ISLAND

Besides the beautiful beaches, many resorts in Karimunjawa, such as Kura-kura resort, provides diving activities. There are many interesting spots, like Taka Panyawangan and Gosong cemara, to dive in the Karimunjawa water. We can also go hiking around the island to find many places around the island that gives a beautiful panorama.

In karimunjawa and Kemujan island, we can rent car or motorcyle to go around the island. To go to the other island, we can use local boat or motorboat. Note: Be sure that you've booked the car before you arrived in the Karimunjawa. Because there still small amound of cars there. To make it easier, you can call your travel agent to arrange it.



WHERE TO STAY IN KARIMUNJAWA ISLAND

There are various kinds of accommodation there, from the four star hotels to homestay. There are also camping sites there.

Moderate

  • Melati hotel
  • Blue Lagoon hotel
  • Dewandaru hotel

Splurge

  • Kura- kura resort, located in Menyawakan island. It's a high class hotel with scuba facilities.
  • Nirwana resort, located in Karimunjawa island. It's a luxury hotel that provides by a lot of facilities.
Source: www.wikitravel.org
Image Source: tiacers.blogspot.com



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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

PUNCAK - WEST JAVA

puncak pass west java
Puncak, literally translates to Peak, is a weekend getaway that has beautiful view of tea plantation. Located about 100 KM South of Jakarta, West Java, Indonesia. Puncak swarms with hotels and mountain resorts.


HOW TO REACH PUNCAK

Two to three hour drive from Jakarta. Take the Jagorawi toll road to Puncak. Usually heavy inbound traffic on long weekends.


WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN PUNCAK

Taman Bunga Nusantara (Indonesian Flower Garden), Jl. Cipanas. Public park, with flower gardens from around the world, maze, giant clock and a tower. It has been created over 23 hectares with flora from around the world that will grow well in tropical Puncak. There is also a leisure park called Alam Imajinasi for the whole family, but especially children, to enjoy that exists over 7 hectares adjoining the gardens. For an additional Rp 5,000 you can travel around the gardens on the dotto train. Price: entrance fee Rp. 15,000.

taman safari indonesiaTaman Safari Indonesia, Jl. Raya Puncak No.601, Cisarua, 16750, +62 251 250 000 (, fax: +62 251 250 000). Zoo, with car safari trail that allows cars and tourist buses to see and/or feed elephants, zebras, goats, hippos and more, hiking trails, petting zoo. Buy carrots from the many vendors by the side of the road leading up to the zoo before your get there to feed to the animals. Inside the zoo there are more animals to see, shows to view such as the 'Wild-Wild West' the Lion show and the Sea-Lion Show. Ride the elephants and ponies. Rides and restaurants/food outlets. The cheapest souvenir shop you will ever find with good quality souvenirs. It is one of the biggest zoo in Indonesia. It also has accommodation in the form of caravans, traditional house or lodge. available at website.

Wisata Agro Gunung Mas Tea Plantation, (On the main road on the way up to Puncak.). See how tea is processed - get to the plantation early to see the factory actually in operation. Sit in the cafe and enjoy a cup of tea before walking or driving around the tracks to view the tea growing with the mountains as a backdrop. Watch out for locals offering pony rides. Rp. 6,000; Factory tour Rp. 7,500; Guide for tour Rp. 40,000 for a group up to 15.


WHERE TO STAY AT PUNCAK

  • Hotel Surya Indah, Jl. Gadog II / 45, Cipanas, Cianjur, Jawa Barat, Indonesia, (62)(0263) 512871, 513151 (, fax: (62)(0263) 512872). Hotel Surya Indah is an exclusive resort establishment in the city of Cipanas at the foot of Mount Gede about 100 kilometers from Jakarta. The hotel is equipped with villas, acres of lush tropical gardens, fishing pool, swimming pool, children playgrounds, tennis court, fitness center, sauna and massage service, coffee shop, restaurant and meeting rooms for up to 200 people.
  • Bukit Indah, Jl.Raya Ciloto No. 116 Puncak-Cianjur-Jawa Barat 43255 Indonesia (on), (62)(0263) 512903 (, fax: (62)(0263) 513262). The hotel is equipped with swimming pool, children playground, tennis court, restaurant. The menu in the restaurant is simple but good. standard room Rp. 325 000 per night.
  • Puncak Pass Resort, Jl. Raya Puncak (the highest point in Puncak area), (62)(0263) 512503 (, fax: (62)(0263) 512180). Puncak Pass Resort has been established since 1928. Spread over 5 hectares, you can stay in a variety of accommodation - hotel rooms or bungalows. There is a swimming pool, jogging track and children's playground, and you can play volleyball or football. From Rp. 500 000 incl. breakfast.
  • Novus Resort and Spa, Jl. Sindanglaya Raya No.180 Cipanas. Located on mountain area overlooking mount Gede and Mount Pangrango. Covers four hectares on the top of the hill in the midst of supreme panoramic hinterland.
Source: www.wikitravel.org
Image Source: www.tamansafari.com , metro.vivanews.com




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Monday, March 9, 2009

LOVINA BEACH - BALI

lovina beach bali
Lovina Beach is a long narrow strech of black volcano sand on the north shore of Bali. Virtually empty most of the year, Lovina, like most of Bali, fills up with tourists from all over the world in August. It is a nice break from the bustle of Kuta.



HOW TO REACH LOVINA BEACH

bali map
By Bus

Perama offers transportation all around Bali to all mayor tourist destinations. They use small mini buses without air conditioning and the prices are reasonable. Prices and timetables can be found on their website.

Bemo’s are the public transport buses. They are extremely cheap, however you need have some patience and Bemo’s can be crowded. They are a challenge for the experienced traveler.

By Car

You can hire a car and drive up from the South. Far better, given the relative costs and the roads/driving in Bali, hire a driver and car. You can travel from Kuta in less than 3hrs and from the airport or Sanur in about 2.30hrs. You will travel through (Pura Ulun Danau) Bedugul and could go the pretty way through Munduk if you are not in a hurry. So you could stop to take in the temple, lakes and rice paddies on your trip and make a day of it.




WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN LOVINA BEACH

lovina beach dolphin

Expect to be offered dolphin sighting trips every other minute. These trips leave each morning and have very mixed reviews as the boats tend to outnumber the dolphins, but it can still be an enjoyable ride. Prices are fixed by a dolphin cartel, they are around 50.000 (4 euro)

Air Panas/ Banjar Hot Springs — Located west of Lovina, Air Panas is an enchanting hot springs with stone carved mouths gushing water among a lush garden setting. A nominal entrance fee is charged.

Snorkeling and scuba diving trips leave from Kalibukbuk for Deer Island and other north shore dive spots. There are several dive operators based out of Lovina that operate daily dive trips to Menjanan Island, Tulamben and Amed, as well as night dives from the local shore. Spice Divers are based out of Lovina and offer day trips to all of the dive spots on the northern shore. Guides are available in a variety of languages and multi-day discounts are available.

Cockfights
are held around Lovina. You will see around Lovina many older people training the cocks, just ask them to bring you to a fight.

Spa

Lovina is lucky to have several spa facilities. While a little more low key than the spas to the south, the service is excellent and the prices, being much less than the opulent spas in the south, are an excellent value and well worth it.

  • Agung's Spa. Offers body scrubs, facials, massage, etc. It is also the nicest spa facility in Lovina, though by Balinese standards it is much smaller and basic than what you would find elsewhere on the island.
  • Bali Samadhi Spa (Tel. 081 338 558 260) — in Lovina offers a variety of massages. One is called Rebalancing Massage a very nice mixture between therapeutic and well-being massage. Mandi Lulur scrubs are available including the yogurt mask.

Diving

Lovina Dive, Jalan Raya Banyualit, +628123842415



WHERE TO SLEEP AT LOVINA BEACH

Budget

  • Ulam Segara, +62.361.8528521. 5-room "luxury homestay", 5 min drive from Lovina. Pool, ocean views, mosquito nets.
  • Suma was a cheap and clean hostel, however it's renovated and lost it's backpackers mentality. It’s still a good place to stay, with a nice swimming pool and location. Around $10.
  • Sanders is situated in central Lovina just next to the beach side. Rooms are clean and prices are around 50.000 (4 euro) for 2 persons, no hot water. It’s one of the best backpackers places in town.
  • Gede Homestay Bungalow, right at the beach, 2 kilometer of the Lovina center. The rooms are clean and prices are around 7 euro for 2 persons, the rooms have airco and hot water. It is a small family run homestay with a good restaurant and nice seats in front of the bungalows.
  • Elsa II A small but excellent new option in Kalibukbuk! Near the "Angsoka", in the middle of the village. Opened in 06/2008 offer you nice rooms, hotwater in private bathrooms, with fan or aircon, breakfast included from 70.000 Rp. a night.
  • Rini Hotel, central Lovina. Opened 1989.

Mid-range

  • Rambutan Beach Cottages,Tel: +62 362 41388. A fine family hotel near the beach at Kalibukbuk (the center of Lovina). It has two pools and a pleasant restaurant with a mix of excellent local and western food. This hotel has superb rooms and gardens and many amenities for children. It is suitable for families and couples alike. The owners and staff are extremely helpful and friendly and the hotel offers all the services you will need on your holiday. Room prices per night from the budget $15 per double up to luxury villas from $85 to $155.
  • Bali Paradise Hotel, +62-362-41432. Ocean and mountain view, huge swimming pool, huge rooms available. USD $50+.
  • Aditya Beach Resort, Tel: +62.361.8528521, or +62.81337536464. Room prices per night from the budget $35 - $52

Splurge

  • Villa Santhi — A private luxury home available for weekly rentals starting at 1000 Euro / week.
  • Villa Insulinde — A private villa with personel for weekly rentals starting at 650 Euro / week.
Source: www.wikitravel.org
Image Sources:
www.balihotelbeaches.com
www.inabeach.com
www.bali1.com




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Friday, March 6, 2009

BINTAN RESORTS - RIAU ISLANDS


Bintan Resorts, also known as Lagoi, is the northern part of the Indonesian island of Bintan.

Bintan Resorts is a colony of Singapore in all but name, full of expensive resorts and manicured lawns. Very much a family-oriented resort, there is little to do here but laze by the beach, golf and maybe dabble in water sports. The area is separated from the rest of Bintan by barbed wire, checkpoints and armed guards.



HOW TO REACH BINTAN RESORTS

While Bintan has a small domestic airport, virtually all travelers arrive by boat from Singapore.

Bintan Resort Ferries has 5-7 departures daily from Singapore's Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Bandar Bentan Telani at the western tip of the Resorts. You can obtain an Indonesian visa on arrival here. The trip takes 45 minutes and costs S$47.20/33.10 one-way return peak (Fri-Sun), S$36.20/25.10 off-peak; note that it's often cheaper to buy a package tour with lodging included.



WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN BINTAN RESORTS

As a destination, Bintan Resorts is rather artificial and the water is a mite murky (especially in winter). Still, the beaches are much better than anything in Singapore and most of the resorts are built to a high standard.

However, do not solely devote your entire vacation to the beach. Visit the town areas of Bintan especially Tanjung Pinang to savor a taste of the local lifestyle and enjoy cheap shopping and tasty local fare.

Golf is popular, with several excellent golf courses charging much lower prices than in neighboring Singapore. Water sports of all sorts are also popular, although the scuba diving here is lackluster due to the poor visibility.

Note that during the northeast monsoon (November until March), there is usually quite a bit of wave action on the beach. This is good for surfing and body boarding, but not good for most anything else.

Spas are increasing in number and quality in Pasar Oleh Oleh, with prices a little below that in Singapore.



WHERE TO STAY AT BINTAN RESORTS

Budget

Shady Shacks on the east side of Bintan is a small, family-run collection of wooden huts on the beach. Good value for money but extremely basic - just a mattress and mosquito net in each room, although there is an adjoining bathroom with cold-water showers and a manually flushed toilet. Perfect if you want a back to basics, away from everything break.

Midrange

* Nirwana Beach Club (formerly Mana Mana). Tel. +65-6339-8878, [6]. The cheapest digs in town, the chalets (beachside huts) here can fit three, offer air-con and attached bathroom, and go for S$100/74 peak/off-peak. The resort has no pool, but the beach is pretty good and this is the local hub for watersports like surfing and boating. Hosts loud beach parties on Fri/Sat only.

Splurge

Bintan Resorts is chock full of luxury resorts.

* Banyan Tree Bintan. Tel. +62-770-693-100, [7]. The most opulent option, all accommodation here is in private villas, with jacuzzi-equipped villas going for US$350++ and pool-equipped villas for a whopping US$750++ and up (discounted rates, not rack). The kind of place for a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon.

* Bintan Lagoon Resort. Tel. +62-770-691-388, [8]. Big villas available as well as well-equipped hotel rooms. The hotel owns two golf-courses, 2 swimming-pools and Alang Alang Sea Sports centre. This offers nearly every water sport excluding wind surfing.

Sources: www.wikitravel.org
Image Sources: www.realdestination.com


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Thursday, March 5, 2009

TANA TORAJA - SOUTH SULAWESI

Tongkonan in Tana Toraja
The land of the Toraja people, many notionally Christian but most in practice animist, is above all famed for their spectacular (and rather gruesome) burial rites. After a person's death, the body is kept — often for several years — while money is saved to pay for the actual funeral ceremony, known as tomate. During the festival, which may last up to a week, ritual dances and buffalo fights are held, and buffaloes and pigs are slaughtered to ferry the soul of the deceased to the afterlife (puya). The deceased is then finally buried either in a small cave, often with a tau-tau effigy placed in front, inside a hollow tree or even left exposed to the elements in a bamboo frame hanging from a cliff.

Prime funeral season is after the harvest in July to October.



HOW TO REACH TANA TORAJA

By plane

The only airport in Tana Toraja is in Rantepao, which was closed for several years for upgrading. The airport reopened in late 2005 and Dirgantara Air Service (DAS) now operates flights three times weekly, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, departing from Makassar at 10 AM (30 min, Rp. 250,000 one way). Note that the tiny airport can only handle turboprops and has no navigation gear, so flights are often delayed or cancelled in bad weather.


By bus

Tana Toraja is a solid 300-km, 8-10 hour drive from Makassar. The cost is 80,000 Rupiah on an air-conditioned bus from Makassar to Rantepao. There is usually a morning or an overnight bus. Frequent mikrolets/bemos leave from Makassar to the bus terminal and take about 40 minutes.


By taxi or charted vehicle

A chartered car usually costs about 700,000 Rupiah one-way from Makassar. It is possible to find one for a few hundred thousand less if you can coordinate with someone who is driving in that direction. If you plan on staying for a few days and would like the return trip as well, a driver with car should cost about 400,000 Rupiah per day.


WHAT TO SEE IN TANA TORAJA

Most hotels will put pressure to hire a local guide for 150,000+ Rp a day. Although it can be expensive if you are on a budget, a guide can provide a lot of insight into the local practices and customs.

It is still possible to visit most of the famous sites and funerals on your own, although information can be hard to find from most hotel operators. Tora Tora Primitive Art Gallery has a very friendly English-speaking owner who provides free maps of the area. It is located on the main street in Rantepao.

There are many walks (1-3hrs) that pass by many different types of gravesites, including the most popular sites. Most can be reached by short bemo rides from Rantepao and do not require guides.


Source: www.wikitravel.org
Image Source: www.weltrekordreise.ch



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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

BUKITTINGGI - WEST SUMATRA

jam gadang bukittingi
Bukittinggi is a city in West Sumatra. Bukittinggi (Indonesian for "high hill") is one of the larger cities in West Sumatra, Indonesia, with a population of over 91,000 people and an area of 25.24 km². It is situated in the Minangkabau highlands, 90 km by road from the West Sumatran capital city of Padang. It is located at 0°18′20″S 100°22′9″E / 0.30556°S 100.36917°E / -0.30556; 100.36917, near the volcanoes Mount Singgalang (inactive) and Mount Marapi (still active). At 930 m above sea level, the city has a cool climate with temperatures between 16.1°-24.9°C

There are some interesting legends surrounding the foundation and naming of “High Hill” Bukittinggi. The city has its origins in five villages which served as the basis for a marketplace. The city was known as Fort de Kock during colonial times in reference to the Dutch outpost established here in 1825 during the Padri War. The fort was founded by Captain Bauer at the top of Jirek hill and later named after the then Lieutenant Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, Hendrik Merkus de Kock. The first road connecting the region with the west coast was built between 1833 and 1841 via the Anai Gorge, easing troop movements, cutting the costs of transportation and providing an economic stimulus for the agricultural economy. In 1856 a teacher-training college (Kweekschool) was founded in the city, the first in Sumatra, as part of a policy to provide educational opportunities to the indigenous population. A rail line connecting the city with Payakumbuh and Padang was constructed between 1891 and 1894. During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia in World War II, the city was the headquarters for the Japanese 25th Army, the force which occupied Sumatra. The headquarters was moved to the city in April 1943 from Singapore, and remained until the Japanese surrender in August 1945.



HOW TO REACH BUKITTINGGI

Bukittinggi is located about 2 hours north-east by road from the international airport. The only way to get there is by car. But all the roads are good and smooth.

by chartered minivan

Known by the locals as "Travel" is cheapest way to get there. The approximate price is about IDR 25,000/person for one way. The vehicle is a Honda Odyssey 2.4 minivan with a capacity of 7 seats. Keep in mind that the bus driver usually waits until the chair occupation is about 75%. Once the car is "full", the minivan will depart and take the passengers to their destination.

by bus

DAMRI is the bus operator that goes to Padang (price $Rp 17.500) from there you can continue to Bukittinggi by minivan ("travel")for the price $Rp 15,000. Not recommended for those who don't want to stop at Padang.

by taxi

At BIM(Bandara International Minangkabau)-International Airport of Padang, there's an official desk where you can order a taxi. The trip price is fixed and you can't bargain. This is the better and faster way of getting a taxi. A taxi trip to Bukittinggi is $Rp 185,000. You pay 50% of the cost to the driver when getting in and the other 50% at arrival(January 2006). Recommended for small groups up to 4 people.



WHAT TO SEE IN BUKITTINGGI

In town

Bukittinggi is a small town, so these places are within walking distance with each other (15-30 minute walk).

  • Sianok Canyon (Ngarai Sianok) and the Japanese Caves (Lubang Japang), a network of underground bunkers and tunnels built by the Japanese during World War II. There is a two-story observation tower that overlooks the Sianok Canyon. Ticket price: Rp4,000 (Oct 2007). During dusk you can observe megabats flying from the gorges to the forest in order to feed from the fruits on the trees. This is also a good place to get in contact with guides for tours such as to Lake Maninjau (see below) or jungle/hiking trips through the Canyon.
  • Fort de Kock. A fort built by the Dutch (nothing is left, only a water reservoir is on top of the hill) and Bundo Kanduang Park. The park includes a replica Rumah Gadang (traditional house), used as a museum of Minangkabau culture (many curiosities, such as stuffed animals with two heads and six legs, model houses and traditional dresses, foreign currencies... entrance Fee an extra Rp 1000 [Oct 2007]), and a zoo with a few very sad Orang Utans, a few expired species which are still rotting in their cages, two obese bears - not exactly a example in modern animal keeping. The Dutch hilltop outpost Fort de Kock is connected to the zoo by the Limpapeh pedestrian overpass. Ticket price: Rp8,000 (Oct 2007), camera Rp100,000 (June 2008).
  • House of Bung Hatta (the first Vice President of Indonesia).
  • Clock Tower (Jam Gadang)

Around town=== There are two tours that hotels and tour agencies try to push, a tour to Minangkabau and another tour to Maninjau.

The Minangkabau tour will visit these places in east area of Bukittinggi:

  • The King's palace in Pagaruyung
  • Balimbing village with old century traditional house that is more than 350 years old
  • Handcraft in Pandai Sikek
  • Traditional coffee toasters

The Maninjau Tour will visit places in west area of Bukittinggi:

  • Lake Maninjau
  • Puncak Lawang, a place where you can see a panoramic of Lake Maninjau
  • The "44 turns", forty-four numbered(!) hairpin bends up the mountain from where you can see a panoramic of lake Maninjau.

Each tour requires at least 6 hours and usually held from 9AM to 3PM (including a stop at some restaurants). In 2006, the price is ranging from Rp 100,000/pp to Rp 160,000/pp or Rp 450,000/car for up to 6 people. Hire a car is highly recommended if you're in a group of more than 4 people. Car's price includes driver, fuel, entry ticket, and parking fee. Tips aren't compulsory, lunch invitation is more than enough. For your note, most of the places require ticket and will charge a parking fee. One tour will require about Rp 40,000 only for parking and ticket entry. Another option is hiring a car and arranging with the driver to visit the places in Minangkabau and Lake Maninjau. If you are alone, it is also possible to find guides in the Sianok Canyon park who will take you to Lake Maninjau with a motorbike (ask for Parta e.g., no fixed price, he will take what you give him). In any case, depart earlier, as the tour will take all day.

The budget option to Maninjau is to take the bus (or minibus) from the bus station (get there from the Bemo station near the market) to Maninjau (35km, 2hrs by bus, 1h by minibus). Unfortunately, a tourist racket has been set up so you won't get the ticket for the Rp 6000 (Oct 2007) the locals pay. Expect to pay at least Rp.10000 (Oct. 2007). Have the right change ready; don't expect to get any from the conductor. To get back, either try to catch a minibus (Rp 10000) or a big bus (Rp 15000-20000). The big buses you have to catch in the same direction you came, since the narrow road is a one-way for lorries.

The budget option to Minangkabau is to take the Batu Sangkar public bus for Rp. 7000 (Oct 2007) and hire a motorbike (Rp. 15000 return) from there (or walk the remaining 5km) to Pagaruyung. Minibuses and buses back to Bukittingi leave from the bus terminal or may be flagged down anywhere.

The Harau Valley is a pretty gorge about an hour east of Bukittinggi comprising a valley floor of rice paddy hemmed in by shear limestone(?) cliffs. There are several waterfalls with pools (both natural and constructed) for bathing, and you can go rock climbing on the cliffs. Overnight accommodation is available at the pleasant Echo Homestay, +62 752 77 50306 (unreliable). Rp. 300,000. , which is unlikely to have many guests except on weekends. Harau is reached via Payakumbuh. Another telephone no. mobile of Pak Adek is +628126730609

If you are interested in visiting the equator, you can take a bus to Bonjol where there is a monument marking the equator built over the main road, good for photo opportunities if you are keen to stand in both hemispheres simultaneously. There's also a museum on the site which houses a few artefacts of little interest - mainly coins and banknotes. Catch the bus from the Aur Kuning bus station, minibuses depart fairly frequently. Expect to pay Rp. 10 000 as a tourist. To get back there is a bus which comes from the opposite direction (or northern hemisphere) at 5 o'clock, or alternatively you can wait at the small roadside cafe right next to the monument where locals will help you flag down a bemo which is destined for Bukittinggi (its quite difficult for non-locals to distinguish between a service bemo and a someones car, but the locals seem to know what is what.)

SOMETHING NEW!

There is the Galang Karsa Karya (the GKK). The tour organizer. They offering something different, an exploration journey to defeat the Bukittinggi's land. Taste the truly satisfaction by learning in nature, among bushes, when riding on the unsmooth wet land or when you are covered by mud or even when you get stuck in swampland. Get close to their land in a simple detail while standing on the green open field. Grateful for a day in the open air.They packages are trekking, bicycle trekking, heavy motorcycle trekking, bamboo kayakking, rafting, rock climbing, camping and paragliding. contact them at Galang Karsa Karya (the GKK). Jl. Bagindo Azischan No. 7c, Bukittinggi - 26116, West Sumatera email : masbengky@yahoo.co.id +628 16 1145796



WHERE TO STAY AT BUKITTINGGI

The top hotels in the city are the The Hills Bukittinggi (formerly the Novotel Coralia) and Pusako Hotel. Although The Hills Bukittinggi is comfortable place to stay especially for tourists from the West, the cost is at least Rp 750,000 for a night; in comparison there are many small hotels around Fort de Kock that are around Rp 120,000 that are quite nice.

Small budget hotels are easy to find. Many locals offer accommodation which are like family-owned hotels that provide a "feel at home" atmosphere. The prices span from Rp 40,000 - Rp 200,000 per room without air-conditioning. Breakfast is included. There are no lifts in these small hotels, so be prepared if your room is on the upper floors. Room cleaning is not provided everyday in some cases, so don't hesitate to ask the hotel manager if you want a daily cleaning service.

  • The Hills Bukittinggi Hotel, Jl. Laras Datuk Bandaro, +62 752 35000 (fax: 62 752 23800). There are 98 rooms available in this hotel with a notable blend of Moorish and Minangkabau architectural styles. The hotel is located in the city centre, right next to the city's landmark - the Jam Gadang Clocktower.
  • Hotel Pusako, Jl. Sukarno Hatta 7, +62 751 22111. From US$54.
  • Hotel Royal Denai, Jl. Dr Rivai 26. From US$36.
  • Hotel Grand Malino, Jl. Panorama. From US$25.
  • Hotel Cindua Mato, Jl. Cindur Mato 96 (across the street from the Zoo), +62 752 21346 (fax: +62 752 22808). Around 10 rooms. No hot water. Rp65,000.
  • Hotel Orchid, Jl Teuku Umar, doubles from RP75,000 (2008), clean and bright in a quiet street, near the mosque.
  • Hotel Asean, Jl Teuku Umar, singles from RP60,000.
  • d'enam Hotel, Jl Yos Sudarso No. 4, double with toilet RP50,000, toilet outside RP40,000, dorm RP30,000 (prices 2008); located on top of a hill close to the mosque and the clocktower, friendly and helpful staff, telp. (0752) 32240.
  • Hotel Tigo Balai, Jl A. Yamin. smallish rooms but reasonably clean and nice staff. RP30,000.
  • Hotel Munri, Jl A. Yamin (north end). Quite pretty well-lit rooms, nice clean building. Rooms with two beds: Rp40,000
Source: www.wikitravel.org
Image Source: National Geographic


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