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Friday, May 30, 2008

Yogyakarta Tour Tips

06:00 - 07:30 Arrival with train or other land vehicles. Finish breakfast and other preparations at the fast services restaurant (Gudeg or Padang restaurants). Arrival with plane from Jakarta should confirm his ticket at the airline counter desk in Adisucipto Airport.
08:00 - 09:30 Visit Kraton Yogyakarta.
09:00 - 10:30 Visit Museum Sonobudoyo.
10:30 - 11:30 Visit Taman Sari including the batik artist around.
11:30 - 14:00 Visit Prambanan Monument & other monuments around. Eat lunch in the journey.
14:00 - 17:30 Check your flight or train schedule. If your next flight is the Garuda Airlines to Jakarta or Bali around 15:00, then you should go directly to the airport. If possible you may visit Borobudur Monument, including Mendut and Pawon monuments.
07:30 - 08:30 Arrival in Yogyakarta with plane, train or other land vehicles. Go directly to the booked hotel, check in and eat breakfast.
08:30 - 10:00 Visit Kraton Yogyakarta.
10:00 - 10:30 Visit Museum Sonobudoyo.
10:30 - 11:30 Visit Taman Sari including the batik artist around.
11:30 - 13:00 Visit Prambanan Monument & other monuments around.
13:00 - 15:30 Visit the Kraton Ratu Boko and Banyunibo Monument.
15:30 - 17:00 Returns to hotel, rest and preparation for the night tour.
17:00 - 20:00 Free tour or eat dinner.
20:00 - 22:00 Watch the Ramayana art performance at Taman Hiburan Rakyat Sasono Suko or Dalem Pujokusuman.
22:00 - 23:00 Eat supper at Malioboro or free tour, return to hotel and rest.
08:00 - 10:00 Preparation, eat breakfast, check out from hotel.
10:00 - 13:30 Visit monuments Mendut, Pawon and Borobudur, eat lunch.
13:30 - 15:00 Check your flight or train schedule. Visit art village at Yogyakarta - Solo province road on the way to the airport. Remember to always check your time. If you leave Yogyakarta by land transportation, visit Kotagede to shop silver souvenirs, watch or learn the silver-crafting.
15:00 - 17:00 Visit Gedongkiwo to watch Wayang Kulit performance at Agatsya organization.
17:00 - 17:15 Go to the Tugu Station directly if your train leave Yogyakarta around 18:00.
17:00 - 20:00 If you take the night bus to Surabaya or other cities eastward of Yogyakarta, may spend time to visit batik and leather producer or just hanging around at Malioboro. The night bus to Surabaya will depart at 20:00.
You will have enough time to visit most places in Yogyakarta. Feel free to write me for travel / accomodation tips.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Parangtritis and Glagah Beach

Glagah beach, located in the Bantul Regency - about 45 kilometres from Yogyakarta.

Parangtritis beach, located in the Bantul Regency too, since the Bantul Regency's territory is the southern side of Yogyakarta which border is the Hindia Ocean. It takes about 1 hour (approximately 35 kilometers from Yogyakarta).

Monday, May 5, 2008

Travel Bali

Topography of the island Bali lies 3.2 km (2 mi) east of Java and approximately 8 degrees south of the equator. East to west, the island is approximately 153 km wide and 112 km (95 by 69 miles) north to south, with a surface area of 5,632 km². The highest point is Mount Agung at 3,142 m (10,308 feet) high, an active volcano that last erupted in March 1963. Mountains cover centre to the eastern side, with Mount Agung the easternmost peak. Mount Batur (1,717 m) is also still active. About 30,000 years ago it experienced a catastrophic eruption — one of the largest known volcanic events on Earth.

In the south the land descends to form an alluvial plain, watered by shallow rivers, drier in the dry season and overflowing during periods of heavy rain.

The principal cities are the northern port of Singaraja, the former colonial capital of Bali, and the present provincial capital and largest city, Denpasar, near the southern coast. The town of Ubud (north of Denpasar), with its art market, museums and galleries, is arguably the cultural center of Bali.

There are major coastal roads and roads that cross the island mainly north-south. Due to the mountainous terrain in the island's center, the roads tend to follow the crests of the ridges across the mountains. There are no railway lines.

The island is surrounded by coral reefs. Beaches in the south tend to have white sand while those in the north and west black sand. The beach town of Padangbai in the south east has both: the main beach and the secret beach have white sand and the south beach and the blue lagoon have much darker sand. Pasut Beach, near Ho River and Pura Segara, is a quiet beach 14 km (9 mi) southwest of Tabanan. The Ho River is navigable by small sampan. Black sand beaches between Pasut and Klatingdukuh are being developed for tourism, but apart from the seaside temple of Tanah Lot, this is not yet a tourist area.

To the east, the Lombok Strait that separates Bali from Lombok marks the biogeographical division between the fauna of the Indomalayan ecozone and the distinctly different fauna of Australasia that is known as the Wallace Line, for Alfred Russel Wallace, who first remarked upon the distinction between these two major biomes. When sea levels dropped during the Pleistocene ice age, Bali was connected to Java and Sumatra and to the mainland of Asia and shared the Asian fauna, but the deep water of the Lombok Strait continued to keep Lombok and the Lesser Sunda archipelago isolated.

Bali has around 280 species of birds, including the critically endangered Bali Starling. The only endemic mammal of the island, the Bali tiger, became extinct in the 1930s. The Bali Barat National Park, located on the north western side of the island, is a refuge for wildlife such as the pangolin, common muntjac, chevrotain, leopard cat, black giant squirrel, macaque and leaf monkey.

The province is divided into 8 regencies (kabupaten) and 1 city (kota):
Badung, Bangli, Buleleng, Denpasar (city), Gianyar,Jembrana, Karangasem, Klungkung and Tabanan.

Tourism is now the largest single industry; and as a result, Bali is one of Indonesia’s wealthiest regions. The economy, however, has suffered significantly as a result of the terrorist bombings of 2002 and 2005.

Although significant tourism exists in the north, centre and east of the island, the tourist industry is overwhelmingly focused in the south. The main tourist locations are the town of Kuta (with its beach), and its outer suburbs (which were once independent townships) of Legian and Seminyak, Sanur, Jimbaran, Ubud, and the newer development of Nusa Dua.

The Ngurah Rai International Airport is located near Jimbaran, on the isthmus joining the southernmost part of the island to the main part of the island. Another increasingly important source of income for Bali is what is called "Congress Tourism" from the frequent international conferences held on the island, especially after the terrorist bombings of 2002; ostensibly to resurrect Bali's damaged tourism industry as well as its tarnished image.

Bali's tourism brand is Bali Shanti which derived from Sanskrit "Çantih" meaning peace.

The Culture:

Bali is renowned its diverse and sophisticated art forms, such as painting, sculpture, woodcarving, handcrafts, and performing arts. Balinese percussion orchestra music, known as gamelan, is highly developed and varied. Balinese dances portray stories from Hindu epics such as the Ramayana but with heavy Balinese influence. Famous Balinese dances include pendet, legong, baris, topeng, barong, and kecak (the monkey dance).

The Hindu new year, Nyepi, is celebrated in the spring by a day of silence. On this day everyone stays at home and tourists are encouraged to remain in their hotels. On the preceding day large, colorful sculptures of ogoh-ogoh monsters are paraded and finally burned in the evening to drive away evil spirits. Other festivals throughout the year are specified by the Balinese pawukon calendrical system.

National education programs, mass media and tourism continue to change Balinese culture. Immigration from other parts of Indonesia, especially Java, is changing the ethnic composition of Bali's population.

The Balinese eat with their right hand, as the left is impure, a common belief throughout Indonesia. The Balinese do not hand or receive things with their left hand and would not wave at anyone with their left hand.

Unlike any other island in largely Muslim Indonesia, Bali is a pocket of Hindu religion and culture, although Balinese Hinduism is so far removed from the original Indian variety that the casual eye will be hard put to spot any similarities. Every aspect of Balinese life is suffused with religion, but the most visible signs are the tiny offerings (sesajen) of flowers, glutinous rice and salt in little bamboo leaf trays, found in every Balinese house, restaurant, souvenir stall and airport check-in desk. They are set out and sprinkled with holy water no less then three times a day, before every meal.

Balinese dance and music are also justly famous. As on Java, the gamelan orchestra and wayang kulit shadow puppet theater predominate.

Dances include:

- Barong or "lion dance" — a ritual dance depicting the fight between good and evil, with performers wearing fearsome lion-like masks.

- Kecak or "monkey dance" — actually invented in the 1930s by early German resident Walter Spies for a movie but a spectacle nonetheless, with up to 250 dancers in concentric circles chanting "kecak kecak", while a performer in the center acts out a spiritual dance.


There are an estimated 20,000 temples (pura) on the island, each of which holds festivals (odalan) at least twice a year and there are many other auspicious days throughout the year, meaning that there are always festivities going on.

There are some large festivals celebrated islandwide, but their dates are determined by two local calendars. The 210-day wuku or Pawukon calendar is completely out of sync with the Western calendar, meaning that it rotates wildly throughout the year.The lunar saka (caka) calendar roughly follows the Western year.

- Funerals, called pitra yadnya, are another occasion of pomp and ceremony, when the deceased (often several at a time) are ritually cremated in extravagantly colorful rituals.

- Galungan, a 10-day festival celebrating the death of the tyrant Mayadenawa. Gods and ancestors visit earth and are greeted with gift-laden bamboo poles called penjor lining the streets. The last day of the festival is known as Kuningan.

- Nyepi, or Hindu New Year, usually March/April. This is the one festival worth avoiding: on Nyepi, also known as the Day of Absolute Silence, absolutely everything on the island is shut down and tourists are confined to their hotels (find somewhere with a pool). However if you are in Bali in the weeks preceding Nyepi you will see amazing colourful giants (Ogoh Ogoh) being created by every banjar throughout the island. On Nyepi Eve the Ogoh Ogoh are paraded through the streets, an amazing sight, not to be missed especially in Denpasar.

Nyepi is a very special day to the Balinese as this is the day that they have to fool all evil spirits that no-one is actually on Bali - hence the need for silence. If this can be achieved, then it is believed that the evil spirits will go looking elsewhere for their prey and leave Bali island alone for another year. Balinese people are very religious and life is full of ritual - Nyepi is one of the most important days in their calendar. Police and security are on hand to make sure that everyone abides by this rule.

Nyepi also serves to remind the Balinese of the need for tolerance and understanding in their everyday life. In fact, Hinduism on Bali is unique because it is woven into and around the original Balinese animistic religion. The two now have become one for the Balinese - a true sign of tolerance and acceptance.

All national public holidays covered in Indonesia also apply.


Bali is in the UTC+8 time zone (known in Indonesia as WITA, Waktu Indonesia Tengah), same as Singapore and Hong Kong, one hour ahead of Jakarta.


Electricity is supplied at 220V 50Hz. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7"Schukostecker" or "Schuko" or the compatible, but non-grounded, CEE-7/16 "Europlug" types. Generally speaking, U.S. and Canadian travellers should pack an adapter for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment in Bali.

Get in By plane:

Most visitors will arrive at Denpasar's Ngurah Rai international airport, Phone:(62)(361)751011. You can fly to Denpasar from major cities in Indonesia (Jakarta, Surabaya, Makassar etc) or from major cities in Asia and Australia.

Many travelers try to search for 'Bali' using travel websites and so for. It should be noted that Ngurah Rai's airport code is DPS. If you are flying internationally into Ngurah Rai, most nationalities are now required to purchase an Entry Visa (USD 25 or EUR 20 or Rp 250,000 in cash for 30 days.

In the low-cost carrier set:
- Jetstar Asia operate from Singapore.
- Air Asia operate direct flights to Denpasar from Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.
- Malaysia Airlines operate daily direct flights from Kuala Lumpur.
- Garuda Indonesia Airlines (GIA) operate direct flights from major big cities, check

Few other currencies are accepted so it's a good idea to play safe and have the required dollars on hand. Flying internationally out of Bali you are subject to the airport tax (150,000 Rupiah) which you would need to pay for in Rupiah so save some bills for the trip out. The domestic departure tax is Rp. 30,000.-

ATM machines are available at Airport Departure Lobby which accept Cirrus and Plus cards for withdrawals.

Some hotels organize free transfers from the airport but there are plenty of other taxis also available. Approximate price for getting from Ngurah Rai to Legian is Rp. 40,000. If coming from the airport ignore touts offering rides. After years of abuse the airport and legitimate taxi companies dictated that fixed prices be offered. There is a dedicated booth at the airport for arranging rides to town (and any other location on the island). This is on the right just through the arrival doors for international.

Since the second bombing, security at the airport has increased considerably and be prepared for rigorous scrutiny of luggage, including carry-on items.

Get around:

Bali's a fairly big island and you'll need a method to get around if you plan on exploring more than the hotel pool. The traffic is chaotic. There is a daily traffic jam in Denpasar, Kuta, and major tourist centres. Driving is on the left side.

For different excursions around the island sometimes it is common to buy a trip via a hotel or at one of the street agencies (they are seen everywhere in special tents marked "Tourist Information").

Once you arrive at your destination you may encounter difficult walking conditions if you need to walk along streets. Sidewalks in much of Bali are simply the covered tops of open ditches and in many places only 2 ft wide. This makes for extremely uncomfortable single-file walking next to traffic. Often the sidewalk is blocked with a motorbike or caved-in section, necessitating dangerous darting into traffic. Many of island's conventional streets are simply not pedestrian-friendly. Beach areas and major tourist areas are easier to walk around. Sanur in particular has a wide beachfront pathway with many cafes and bars.

By taxi:

Metered taxis are very common in southern Bali up to Denpasar but not available elsewhere. The starting fee is Rp 5,000 for the first two km and the meter ticks up Rp 5,000 per kilometer afterwards. Waiting time is Rp 20,000 per hour. Trips outside southern Bali will incur an extra charge of 30%, as the driver has to go back empty — if day-tripping, it's often cheaper and more convenient to arrange for your driver to wait and take you back.

You may also rent a car with a driver for half a day or for the whole day in order to travel around the island. You pay appr. Rp. 375 000 for the whole day and tell him what you want to see. The price is fixed and to be discussed before your trip. Do not pay until the end of the day.

By bemo:

Bemos, basically minivans which serve as a flexible bus service, are Bali's "traditional" form of transportation, but they have largely given way to metered taxis in the south. Fares on shared bemos can be very cheap, but drivers will often insist that foreign tourists charter the entire vehicle, in which case they'll usually ask for taxi prices or more.

By car or motorbike:

Car and motorbike rental is available, but may not be safe for drivers used to more formal traffic rules. Consider hiring a car and driver as you can relax, be safe, and not get lost. If you rent a vehicle, good bargaining skills should allow you to rent a car for about Rp. 80 - 120,000 per day, depending on the length of the rental and the type of car. Newer, large cars will cost more, but are of dubious value on Bali's narrow roads. Motorcycles, typically 125cc, some with automatic transmissions, rent for Rp. 30 - 35,000 per day. A proper-fitting helmet should be included, and its use is compulsory in Bali. Guide books state that Bali is no place to learn to ride a motorbike, and this is good advice. In areas outside of the tourist enclaves of south Bali, a motorbike is a wonderful way to see the island, but in south Bali, with its crush of traffic, the chances of an accident are greatly increased.

An International Driving Permit is required for vehicle rental, with motorcycle endorsement if renting a motorbike. The IDP is seldom requested by the person renting you the vehicle, but will be required (along with the vehicle's registration papers) if stopped by the police (Typically a Rp 100,000 "fine" will allow you to keep driving). An IDP is easily available from motoring clubs in your home country (AAA in the United States provides them for $10) and it is valid for one year.
By bicycle:

Travel by bicycle is quite possible, and provides a very different cultural experience to other means of transport. You should bring your own touring bike, or buy locally – there is at least one well stocked bike shop in Denpasar, but with a racing/mountain bike focus. While traffic conditions may appear challenging at first, you can acclimatise after a few days, especially once you escape the chaotic heavy traffic of southern Bali.

By rental car:

Rental car services owned by individuals or companies are easy to find in Bali. For the first timers, it's better to hire a rental car with drivers including gasoline. Using rental cars is for sure cheaper than taxi, and more efficient than using other public transportations. The drivers are usually English speakers, and they can also act as a tourist guide who will recommend you some good tourist destinations and good restaurants. Using rental cars from rental car companies is more expensive, but you can hire a cheaper rental car owned by individuals. You can ask a hotel staff or a security officer to recommend you a good individually owned rental car. Price is Rp. 400,000 - 500,000 for 1 day (10 hours) depending on your negotiation. Make sure the price already included gasoline and driver. Petrol costs, with the removal of some government subsidies in recent years have escalted dramitically, distance will be a factor in total costs. Entrance tickets of tourist destination and parking fee will be charged to guests. To visit most of the entire tourist destinations in Bali, you will need about 3 days.

Go to:

Bali's best-known attractions are its countless Hindu temples. Even the smallest villages usually have at least three, but the nine directional temples (Kayangan Jagat) are the largest and most important. Uluwatu, at the southern tip of Bali, is easily accessed and hence the most popular, with Tanah Lot a close second. However, for the Balinese themselves, the "mother temple" of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung is the most important of all.

Amusement Parks:
- Bali Treetop Adventure Park Air Bali, Dewa Ruci Building, Jl.By Pass Ngurah Rai 100X, Kuta Bali, Tel.: (62)(361) 767466.Fax: (62)(361) 766 581. Helicopter tour around Bali.

- Bali Treetop Adventure Park, Bedugul Botanical Gardens, Phone:(62)(361)852068. Flying-Fox, Zip-lines, Tarzan Jumps, and footbridges from Tree to Tree.

- Bird Park, Jl.Serma Cok Ngurah Gambir, Singapadu, Gianyar, Phone:(62)(361)299352.

(Left) The very rare Bali Sterling.

- Butterfly Park, Jl. Batukaru, Wanasari, Tabanan, Phone: (62)(361)814282.

- Camel Safari, Jl.Nusa Dua Selatan, Niko Nusa Dua, Phone: (62)(361)773377, Fax: (62)(361)773388.

- Children Jungle Camp, Jl.Nusa Dua Selatan, Niko Nusa Dua, Phone:(62)(361) 773377, Fax: (62)(361)773388.

- Eka Karya Botanic Garden/Kebun Raya Eka Karya, Candi Kuning, Baturiti 82191, Tabanan, Phone: (62)(368)21273.

- Elephant Safari Park, Desa Taro, Tegalalang, Gianyar, Bali - Indonesia, Phone:(62)(361)721480. Elephant Tour. A trip on the elephants in the jungles, that can last 15, 40 or 60 min. During this time if there are not many tourists it is possible to ride the elephant sitting on its neck, make some circus tricks, get into the swimming-pool. The price is approximately 60 USD.

- Odyssey Submarine, Submarine Safaris Asia,Ltd, Jl. Raya Kuta No. 9X Kuta, Bali 80361, Phone: (62)(361)759777, Fax: (62)(361)768333, [6]. Underwater tour.

- Rimba Reptile Park, Jl. Serma Cok Ngurah Gambir, Singapadu, Gianyar, Phone:(62)(21)299344. Adjacent to Bird Park.

- Waterbom Park, Jalan Kartika Plaza, Kuta, Badung, Phone: (62)(361)755676, Fax: (62)(361)753517. Swimming pool, water slides.

- Zoo Park, Desa Singapadu, Gianyar, Bali, Phone:(62)(361)249310. Fax:(62)(361)237966. Wildlife conservation area.


- Garuda Wisnu Kencana. Nusa Dua, Kabupaten Badung, 40 km south of Denpasar. Created by I Nyoman Nuarta. This is statue of the god Wisnu (Vishnu) riding the mythical Garuda bird.

- Bali Bomb, Jl. Legian, Kuta. This monument commemorates the 202 victims of the first Bali Bomb attack in October 2002, including 161 tourists from 21 countries. The site of the former Sari Club, obliterated in one of the blasts, lies adjacent to the monument. It has not been redeveloped.


- The scented oil menu at a spa in SanurBali Spa (Spa In Bali), Jalan Raya Seminyak Gg Palwa (Just Go to Villa Kubu), Phone: (62) 8123842415 fax: (62)(361) 731129, 1 - 3 hour, price USD 20++ - USD 45++. Bali Spa in Villa Kubu Most comfortable and luxurious place for your relax and harmony of body and soul in Bali handled by the best therapist in Spa Field. See that you will find the real relaxation and balance in special technique.

- Hot springs, There are several hot springs to be discovered in Bali. One of them, along the northern coast of the island, near Lovina, is Air Panjar where stone mouth carvings allow hot water to pass between pools which are set among a lush garden.

- Spa, Bali is paradise for spa lovers and all sorts of treatments are widely available, but the Balinese lulur body scrub with herbs and spices — traditionally performed before a wedding ceremony — is particularly popular. Balinese massage is usually done with oil and involves long, Swedish-style strokes. In steep contrast to exorbitant Western massage fees, Balinese massage is an incredible value, and visitors should definitely avail themselves this luxury. In local salons, a one-hour full body massage will cost between Rp. 40 - 60,000, and the two-hour mandi lulur, which incorporates a body scrub and hydrating yoghurt body mask in addition to the massage, will cost about Rp. 100,000.

The curiously named creambath is a relaxing scalp and shoulder massage, usually lasting 45 minutes, in which a thick conditioning cream is worked through the hair and into the scalp. A creambath typically costs about Rp. 40,000. Note that these same services in an upscale hotel will cost many times more.

- Weddings, Balinese wedding getting popular in recent years. The exotic tradition, ceremonies, music and costumes has a special attraction among western people. Many couples who are already legally married to each other choose Bali as the perfect place to renew their vows. Full wedding services are widely available in Bali such as: ceremony arrangements, photography, videography, flowers, musicians, dancers, caterers etc. There are about ten wedding chapels available in Bali today (largely in luxury hotels) and the number is growing. One you can find in Nusa Dua area is the famous Bluemoon Chapel.

You can find many professional wedding organizer to handle your wedding in Bali through the internet. One firm of repute is Elite Events Destination weddings, featuring all types of religious and presentation arrangements, are becoming increasingly popular with private villas being one of the island's many offerings for venues.

- Voluntary work: An excellent way to get to know and understand more of the country is to do some voluntary work. There are some organizations such as Travel to Teach that arrange work for international volunteers in Bali and other places in the region.


- Ayung River, Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai, Benoa, Phone:(62)(361)7801560. Fax:(62)(361)721481. Facility: white water rafting.

- Go Kart, Jl. Kartika Plasa, Kuta, Badung, Phone:(62)(361)289534.

- Paragliders, Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai No. 12 A, Kuta, Badung, Phone:(62)(361) 704769. Fax:(62)(361)704768.

- Scuba Diving: There are many interesting scuba diving sites around Bali such as the wreck of USAT Liberty Glo at Tulamben. Pulau Menjangan is particularly popular.

- Surfing: Warm waters, crowds, cheap living and reliable sets keeps Bali near the top of world surfing destinations. The southern coast, namely Kuta and the around Nusa Dua are the primary draws. Beginners will find the gentler, sandy areas of Kuta to be ideal for learning. You'll find surf instructors lounging around the beach; a one hour lesson including board rental from a beach teacher will cost you around $10 USD or less. The teaching done by these local beach teachers is very questionable. From a real surf shop, the price may be $45 USD/hr.

- Telaga Waja River, Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai, Denpasar, Phone: (62)(361)281408. Fax: (62)(361)281409. Facility: white water rafting. The whole rafting trip is 12.5 km, it takes 2.5 hours, consists of several rifts, 3-4 m waterfalls, at the end of the trip a shower and lunch are waiting for you. In summer there is a discount of 50% for this adventure (so if it is bought in Kuta by tourist agency it will cost 30 USD).

- Umalas Stable, Jl. Lestari No 9 X, Banjar Umalas Kauh Kerobokan, Kuta, Tel: (62)(361)731402, Fax.: (62)(361)731403, [11]. Facility: horse riding.


Bali has a huge variety of cafes and restaurants, serving both Indonesian and international food; see Indonesia for a menu reader. For better or worse, some American chains have established a presence here, although almost exclusively confined to the southern tourist areas. You'll see KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and Starbuck's Coffee. Interestingly, the menus are often highly adapted to the local tastes. The menu at Pizza Hut looks nothing like one you'll find in the U.S. Try the smaller local restaurants rather than touristy ones, the food is better — and cheaper. Be sure to try the ubiquitous Indonesian dishes nasi goreng (fried rice) and mie goreng (fried noodles). These dishes should rarely cost more than Rp 25,000 (sometimes a bit more if you add chicken — ayam — or shrimp — udang), so their cost on a menu can be a good indicator of a restaurant's relative cost and value.

Some of the most authentic food can be found from roving vendors called kaki lima, which means "five legs." This comprises the three legs of the food cart and the vendor's own two legs. Go to the beaches of Seminyak at sunset and find steaming hot bakso, a delightful meatball and noodle soup, served up fresh for a very inexpensive Rp 5,000. You can season it yourself, but be forewarned: Indonesian spices can be ferociously hot. Go easy until you find your heat tolerance level!

Actual Balinese food is common on the island, but it has made few inroads in the rest of the country due to its emphasis on pork, which is anathema to the largely Muslim population in the rest of the country. Notable dishes include:

- Babi guling, roast suckling pig, a large ceremonial dish that must usually be ordered several days in advance.

- Bebek betutu, literally "darkened duck", topped with a herb paste and roasted in banana leaves. The same method can also be used for chicken, resulting in ayam betutu.

- Lawar, covers a range of Balinese salads, usually involving thinly chopped vegetables, minced meat, coconut and spices. Traditionally, blood is mixed into this dish, but it's often omitted for tourists' delicate constitutions. Green beans and chicken are a particularly common combination.

- Sate lilit, minced seafood satay, served wrapped around a twig of lemongrass.
- Urutan, Balinese spicy sausage, made from pork.
- Grilled Chicken with Sliced Shallot Chilie and Lime (Ayam Panggang bumbu bawang mentah).

- Grilled Chicken with Red Chilie and Shrimp Paste Sauce (Ayam Panggang bumbu merah).
- Steam Chicken Cooked with Balinese Herb and Spicy (Ayam Tutu).
- Steam Duck Cooked with Balinese Herb and Spicy (Bebek Tutu).

- Mince Chicken with Shredded Rind combine with Spicy Sauce (Lawar Ayam, Klungah, Buah Kacang).
- Sliced Chicken mixed with Herbs and Spices Steam in Banana Leaf (Tim Ayam / Ketopot).

- Grilled Snaper (Ikan Bakar Bumbu Terasi).
- Special Balinese Salted Dry Fish (Sudang Lepet).
- Sliced Fish mixed with Herbs and Spices Wrap in Banana Leaf (Pepes Ikan Laut).
- Special Mixed Vegetables from Klungkung (Serombotan ala Klungkung).
- Water Cres with Shrimp Paste and Lime (Pelecing Kangkung).
- Fern Tip Vegetables with Shrimp Paste and Lime (Pelecing Paku).


Bali has, without a doubt, the best range of accommodation in Indonesia, from the $3-a-night losmens on Poppies Lane in Kuta to the $4,300-a-night residences at the Begawan Giri in Ubud. Backpackers tend to head for Kuta, which has the cheapest if also dingiest digs on the island, while many (but not all) five-star resorts are clustered in Nusa Dua. Seminyak, Sanur and Jimbaran offer a fairly happy compromise if you want beaches, nightlife and some quiet, while Ubud's hotels and resorts cater to those who prefer spas and cultural pursuits over surfing and booze. Legian is situated between Kuta and Seminyak and offers good range of accommodations. Further north on the west coast, and mid way between Seminyak and Ubud is the district of Canggu, which offers many traditional villages set among undulating ricefields. For rest and revitalization visit Amed, a peaceful fishing village on the East Coast with some good hotels and restaurants.

Thanks to Bali's balmy climate, many villas and bungalows offer open-air bathrooms, often set in a lush garden. They look amazing and are definitely a very Balinese experience, but may also shelter little uninvited guests and are best avoided if you have low tolerance for critters.


One accommodation option for which the island is becoming increasingly famous for is private villas complete with staff, although not every place sold as a "villa" actually fits the bill. Prices vary widely: some operators claim to go as low as $30/night, but realistically you'll be looking at upwards of $200/night for anything with a decent location and a private pool, and at the top of range nightly rents can easily go north of $1,000/night.

Villas in Bali mostly found around the greater Seminyak area on the west coast (Seminyak, Umalas, Canggu), on the east coast around Sanur and in the inner regions such as the hill town of Ubud and rarely found in the Nusa Dua area (peninsula)which is more famous for hi-end resort complex of international chain hotels, but other portions of the bukit, such as Uluwatu are seeing more and more villas come on line. Competition is fierce, but larger and more established villa agencies include Elite Havens, established in 1998, and BHM (Bali Homes Management). There is also another very nice set of villas close to Mt. Agung - Mahagiri Resorts.


For long-term stays, it's worth considering long-term rentals, which can be as low as US$4,000/year including a driver. Western-run agencies include the Moran Fraser Group. Restaurants and bars frequented by Bali's sizable expatriate community, particularly in Sanur and Ubud, are good places to find information about long-term rentals. Look for a bulletin board with properties' advertisements tacked up, or pick up a copy of the expat's local publication, The Bali Advertiser. It's not hard to find a nice house in the $350-450 range for a month's stay.

Stay safe:

Bali has been the scene of lethal terrorist bombings in 2002 and 2005, both waves of attacks targeting nightclubs and restaurants popular among foreign visitors. Security is consequently tight in obvious targets, but it is of course impossible to protect fully against terrorism. If it is any reassurance, the Balinese themselves — who depend on tourism for their livelihood — deplore the bombings and the terrorists behind them for the terrible suffering they have caused on this peaceful island. As a visitor, it is important to put the risk in perspective: the sad fact is that Bali's roads are, statistically, far more dangerous than even the deadliest bomb. It is still prudent to avoid high profile western hang-outs, especially those without security measures, and the paranoid or just security-conscious may wish to head out of the tourist enclaves of south Bali to elsewhere on the island.

Bali is increasingly enforcing Indonesia's harsh penalties against importation, exportation, trafficking and possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana, ecstasy and heroin. Several high profile arrests of Westerners have taken place in Bali since 2004, and a number have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms or execution. Even the possession of a small amount of drugs for personal use puts you at risk of a trial and prison sentence if searched. Watch out for seemingly harmless street vendors looking to sell you drugs (marijuana,cocaine, etc.). More often than not they are undercover police and will try to sell you drugs so that they can then get uniformed officers onto you and demand a bribe to let you go.

In Bali if you see a red flag planted in the sand, do not swim there: they are a warning for dangerous rip currents. These currents can pull you out to sea with alarming speed, and even the strongest swimmers cannot swim against them — the thing to do is to stay calm and swim sideways (along the shore) until out of it, then head for the shore.

Last but not least, be wary around the monkeys that infest many temples (most notably Uluwatu and Ubud's Monkey Forest). They are experts at stealing possessions like glasses, small cameras and even handbags, and have been known to attack people carrying food. Feeding them is just asking for trouble.

Stay healthy:

The midday sun in Bali will fry the unwary traveller to a crisp, so slap on plenty of suntan lotion and drink lots of fluids. However, don't carry liters of water as you can buy a bottle virtually anywhere. The locals tend to stay away from the beaches until about two hours before sunset, when most of the fierceness has gone out of the sun.

Get out:

- Boat services run regularly to Lombok, Flores, and islands further east. Combined bus and ferry service will take you to Java destinations such as Yogyakarta, though the trip can be long on winding jungle lined roads.

- Less than one hour, at the south-east of Bali lies Nusa Lembongan. From Sanur a ferry service can take you to this small and beautiful island. This island is a good place to go one or two days, if you want to get out of the touristic area from Bali. Along the beach you can find many small and cheap Homestays. Be aware you get wet feet getting in or out the ferry. And the island doesn´t have a Money Machine or Bank. Many people on this island live from farming seaweed. And the acres with the different coloured seaweed, just under the sealevel, makes a beautiful view.

- Yogyakarta has convenient air service from Bali on Garuda with scheduled service early in the morning and late in the evening, making it possible to have a full day of sight seeing in Prambanan and Borobudur and still make it back to your hotel in Bali in time for bed.

- Komodo, is an island and national park in East Nusa Tenggara. The island is famous for its komodo dragon (giant lizard).

See More Photograph at Upcoming article: The Bali Views.

Source: MSN Encarta, The Columbia Encyclopedia 6th Edition, Encyclopedia Britannia Online, Wikipedia and Wikitravel.


Bali is an island with two offshore islets province, 90 mi (145 km) long and 50 mi (80 km) wide, approximately 2,200 sq mi (5,700 sq km) and population 3,151,000 (2005). It is the largest tourist destination in the Indonesia and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking and music.

Bali is located in Central Indonesia, western most of the Selat Sunda (Lesser Sunda) in the Indian Ocean, East of Java across the narrow Bali Strait. The principal cities are the northern port of Singaraja and the capital Denpasar, near the southern coast. Although Bali is relatively small, it is densely populated and culturally and economically one of the most important islands of Indonesia. Largely mountainous, with active volcanoes, it rises to 10,308 ft (3,142 m) at Gunung Agung (Mt. Agung); there is a great fertile plain to the south. Fauna include tigers and deer. Bali is known for its giant Waringin trees, sacred to the inhabitants.

Economically and culturally, Bali is one of the most important islands of Indonesia. Rice is grown on irrigated, terraced hillsides; other crops include sugarcane, coffee, copra, tobacco, fruits, and vegetables. Cattle and hogs are also raised. The Balinese are skilled artisans, particularly in wood carving, and in fashioning objects of tortoiseshell and of gold, silver, and other metals. The women of Bali are noted for their traditional dancing and for their skills in weaving cloth of gold and silver threads, as well as for embroidering silk and cotton clothing.

Ethnic groups: Balinese (89%), Javanese (7%), Baliaga (1%), Madurese (1%).
Religions: Hindu (93.18%), Muslim (4.79%), Christian (1.38%), Buddhist (0.64%).
Languages: Indonesian (official), Balinese.
Time zone: UTC+8
Motto: Bali Dwipa Jaya ("Glorious Bali Island").
Official website:

The Balinese (a Malayan group closely related to the Javanese) are skillful farmers; rice, the chief crop, is grown with the aid of elaborate irrigation systems. Vegetables, fruits, coffee, and coconuts are also produced. Livestock is important; pigs and cattle are major export items. Industries include food processing, tourism, and handicrafts. The people are noted for their artistic skill (especially wood carving), and their high level of culture, which includes advanced forms of music, folk drama, dancing, and architecture. The principal religion on the island of Bali is a variation of Hinduism that incorporates Polynesian religious rites. They are Hindu in a nation that is overwhelmingly Muslim; their unique ritualistic culture, as well as the island's scenic beauty, has made Bali one of the great tourist attractions of East Asia. An international airport, the Ngurah Rai International Airport was opened in 1969.

The History:
Bali was inhabited by Austronesian peoples by about 2,000, who migrated originally from Taiwan through Maritime Southeast Asia. Culturally and linguistically, the Balinese are thus closely related to the peoples of the Indonesian archipelago, the Phillipines, and Oceania. Stone tools dating from this time have been found near the village of Cekik in the island's west.

Balinese culture was strongly influenced by Indian, and particularly Sanskrit culture, in a process beginning around the 1st century AD. The name Balidwipa has been discovered from various inscriptions, including the Blanjong charter issued by Sri Kesari Warmadewa in 913 AD and mentioning Walidwipa. It was during this time that the complex irrigation system subak was developed to grow rice. Some religious and cultural traditions still in existence today can be traced back to this period. Klungklung, North East of Denpasar, was the capital of the native rulers from the 17th century until 1908.

The Hindu Majapahit Empire (1293–1520 AD) on eastern Java founded a Balinese colony in 1343. When the empire declined, there was an exodus of intellectuals, artists, priests and musicians from fleeing from Java to Bali in the 15th century (1513 – 1528)

The First European contact with Bali is thought to have been when Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman arrived in 1597, though a Portuguese ship had foundered off the Bukit Peninsula as early as 1585. The Dutch East India Company began its trade with the island in the early 17th century. In the 1840s, a presence in Bali was established, first in the island's north, by playing various distrustful Balinese realms against each other. The Dutch mounted large naval and ground assaults first against the Sanur region and then Denpasar. The Balinese were hopelessly overwhelmed in number and armament, but rather than face the humiliation of surrender, they mounted a final defensive but suicidal assault, or Puputan. Despite Dutch demands for surrender, an estimated 4,000 Balinese marched to their death against the invaders. Afterwards the Dutch governors were able to exercise little influence over the island, and local control over religion and culture generally remained intact.

Dutch sovereignty was not firmly established until after a series of colonial wars (1846 - 1849), and the entire island was not occupied until 1908, after the quelling of two rebellions. Dutch rule over Bali came later, was more aggressively fought for, and was never as well established as in other parts of Indonesia such as Java and Maluku.

Japan occupied Bali during World War II during which time a Balinese military officer, Gusti Ngurah Rai, formed a Balinese 'freedom army'. Following Japan's Pacific surrender in August 1945, the Dutch promptly returned to Indonesia, including Bali, immediately to reinstate their pre-war colonial administration. This was resisted by the Balinese rebels now using Japanese weapons.

20 November 1946, the Battle of Marga was fought in Tabanan in central Bali. Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai, 29 years old, finally rallied his forces in east Bali at Marga Rana, where they made a suicide attack on the heavily armed Dutch. The Balinese battalion was entirely wiped out, breaking the last thread of Balinese military resistance.

In 1946 the Dutch constituted Bali as one of the 13 administrative districts of the newly-proclaimed Republic of East Indonesia, a rival state to the Republic of Indonesia which was proclaimed and headed by Sukarno and Hatta. Bali was included in the "Republic of the United States of Indonesia" when the Netherlands recognised Indonesian independence on 29 December 1949. In 1950 Bali officially renounced the Dutch union and legally became a province within the Republic of Indonesia.

Bali was particularly hard hit during the nationwide purge of Communists in 1965; more than 40,000 people were killed, and entire villages were destroyed. The island was part of a massive transmigration project in the late 1970s to relieve overcrowding.

On October 12, 2002, a car bomb attack in the tourist resort of Kuta killed 202 people, largely foreign tourists and injured a further 209. Further bombings occurred three years later in Kuta and nearby Jimbaran Bay.

Source: MSN Encarta, The Columbia Encyclopedia 6th Edition, Encyclopedia Britannia Online, Wikipedia and Wikitravel.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Lombok (population 2,950,105 in 2005) is an island in West Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia. It is part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with the Lombok Strait separating it from Bali to the west and the Alas Strait between it and Sumbawa to the east. It is roughly circular, with a "tail" to the southwest, about 70 km across and a total area of about 4,725 km² (1,825 sq mi). The administrative capital and largest city on the island is Mataram.

Located just east of Bali, Lombok has been promoted as "an unspoiled Bali" for quite some time, with beautiful beaches and the large, looming volcano of Mount Rinjani. However, an impending tourism boom was severely disrupted by riots in 2000, when mobs of Muslims and ethnic Sasak people, ostensibly protesting sectarian violence in Maluku, attacked and looted churches as well as homes and businesses owned by Christians and ethnic Chinese. The ensuing years have been quieter, but tourists have continued to stay away.

The more Islamic culture in Lombok compared to Bali may explain the reason why Lombok is quieter than Bali in terms of parties and nightlife, which can be either a positive or a negative depending on your point of view. Lombok is also becoming increasingly popular for honeymooners.

- Bangsal, little harbor servicing the Gili Islands.
- Kuta, a surfing mecca like its Bali namesake, but that's where the similarities end.
- Lembar, for boats to Bali.
- Mataram, the largest city by far.
- Senggigi, the main tourist strip, including the neighboring beach of Mangsit.

The Dutch first visited Lombok in 1674 and settled the eastern part of the island, leaving the western half to be ruled by a Hindu dynasty from Bali. The Sasaks chafed under Balinese rule, and a revolt in 1891 ended in 1894 with the annexation of the entire island to the Netherlands East Indies.

The Lombok Strait marks the passage of the biogeographical division between the fauna of the Indomalayan ecozone and the distinctly different fauna of Australasia that is known as the Wallace Line, for Alfred Russel Wallace, who first remarked upon the distinction between these two major biomes.

The island's topography is dominated by the centrally-located stratovolcano Mount Rinjani, which rises to 3,726 m (12,224 ft), making it the third-highest in Indonesia. The most recent eruption of Rinjani was in June-July, 1994. The volcano, and its sacred crater lake, 'Segara Anak' (child of the sea), are protected by a National Park established in 1997. The southern part of the island is a fertile plain where corn, rice, coffee, tobacco, and cotton are grown.

Lombok has much in common with nearby Bali, but less well-known and less-visited by foreigners. It has been working to increase its visibility to tourists in recent years, promoting itself as an "unspoiled Bali". The most-developed center of tourism is Senggigi, spread in a 10-kilometer strip along the coastal road north of Mataram, while backpackers congregate in the Gili Islands off the west coast. Other popular tourist destinations include Kuta (distinctly different from Kuta, Bali) where surfing is considered some of the best in the world by leading surfing magazines. The Kuta area is also famous for its beautiful, untouched beaches.

Lombok's people are 85% Sasak, culturally and linguistically closely related to the Balinese, but unlike Bali's Hindu they are Muslims. A notable non-orthodox Islamic group found only on Lombok are the Wektu Telu ("Three Prayers"), who as the name suggests pray only three times daily, instead of the five times required in the Quran. 10-15% Balinese, with the small remainder being Chinese, Arab, Javanese, and Sumbawanese.

Get In:

- By plane:
Lombok's only airport is Mataram's Selaparang Airport (AMI), which occasionally also shows up in flight schedules as "Ampenan" (hence the seemingly odd airport code). There are frequent connections to Denpasar on Bali (30 min) and Surabaya (1 hour) on Garuda, Merpati and Germania Trisakti ("GT Air"), but only a single flight per day to Jakarta (on Garuda). A flight offered from and to Yogyakarta (on Garuda) is currently not being scheduled anymore. International flights are limited to Kuala Lumpur daily on Merpati and Singapore thrice weekly on Silk Air, with visas available on arrival. Lombok Network maintains a useful, mostly-updated flight schedule listing all flights to the island.

- By boat:
Slow boats from Padang Bai on Bali leave about every hour for the four- to five-hour trip to Lembar (Rp 25,000). The slow ferries are a bit rusty and dusty, with minimal restroom facilities, and are used mostly by locals, with few tourists on board. Access to the passenger deck is usually from the vehicle deck via steep and narrow stairs, so maneuvering heavy luggage is a challenge. Would-be porters wait by the docks, and will happily carry your stuff for Rp 10,000 per item. Sometimes they insist on doing so even when you don't ask. They can be a bit intimidating, and sometimes try to overcharge. Lots of Kuta travel agents offer end-to-end transport, including a van ride from your Bali hotel to Padang Bai, the ferry ticket, and a ride from the dock on Lombok to your ultimate destination, for Rp 130,000 and up depending on where you are going in Lombok.

Fast ferries run from Benoa on Bali to Lembar on Lombok twice daily in season, one daily in the off season. The trip takes just 2 hours but costs US$25/30 depending on class. Perama Tour also runs daily cruises from Padang Bai directly to Senggigi for Rp120,000.

See and Do:

- The pepper-like sand, Tanjung Aan, a beautiful area near the Kuta Beach. The sand is very unique that it looks like pepper. Come early as the beach guards will be there by then. Otherwise you may get bugged by lots of hawkers (mainly children) trying to sell everything.

- See the local handicraft and weaving process in Desa (village) Sukarare. The price should be cheaper than in Sengigi shops.

- Narmada Park (Taman Narmada). Located 10 km east of Mataram, this park was the relaxation place for king during feodalism time. This park has a Hindu temple and swimming pool. Also it has a fountain which called "Youth Fountain" which is believed to give long life to a person that drink water from the fountain. Entry fee for this park is cheap. It will cost around Rp 5000.

- Traditional massage. There will be a lot of women offering the massage service. For more professional service, ask the hotel staffs.

- Snorkeling. There are several good sites between the Gili Islands. If lucky, you can spot and swim with turtles.

Nearly all of Lombok's better-quality accommodation can be found in Senggigi, while backpackers tend to make a beeline for the Gili Islands. See those articles for details; the following covers only accommodation elsewhere in Lombok.

- Novotel Lombok, Mandalika Resort Pantai Putri Nyale Pujut, Central Lombok, tel. +62-370-653333, Fax +62-370-653555, email: Might be a good choice If travelling with children, as the resort was apparently built with children's needs in mind - with interesting swimming pool design, good playing and sport areas for kids. The resort is located approx. 1h drive from Mataram. Rates: US$66-77/night.

- The Oberoi Lombok, Medana Beach, Tanjung West Lombok, Tel. +62-370-638444, Fax +62-370-632496. The most expensive hotel in Lombok. An ideal hideaway due to its 'secluded' area. Rates: US$270-952/night.

- Hotel Tugu Lombok, Sire Beach, OPENING SOON JUNE 2008. The upcoming Hotel Tugu Lombok is located on the pristine white sand beach of Sire, on the northwest coast of the island. Neighboring the site is an 18 hole-golf course and virgin landscapes, traditional village houses and empty green fields where local life continues in today’s age much the same as it has done for centuries. Tugu Lombok land comprises of approximately six hectares of mature palm plantations, facing the open ocean and the sunrise of Mount Rinjani. The clear blue water in front of Hotel Tugu Lombok is most ideal for swimming, snorkeling and diving during the day. At nights, a picture perfect tropical dream takes over: sparkling waters and the shadows of the whispering palm leaves float seductively under the silvery full moon as the distant twinkling lights of the Gili Islands lull the visitor into a dreamlike state of conciousness. Email: or

Private villa:
One accommodation option for which is becoming more popular, emulating what has has happened on its sister island of Bali, is private villas complete with staff, although not every place sold as a "villa" actually fits the bill. Prices vary widely: some operators claim to go as low as $30/night, but realistically you'll be looking at upwards of $200/night for anything with a decent location and a private pool, and at the top of range rents can easily go north of $1,000/night. Villas listed here have private courtyards and pools.

- The Anandita. Private luxury villa over 3 acres in size next to the Kosaido golf course and five minutes by boat from the Gili Islands. Nearby is the Lombok Oberoi. It boasts a 27 meter private swimming pool and a volleyball court. The villa includes four bedrooms, private pool and garden - comes with a full complement of 16 staff (private chef, maids, security, etc). Prices vary from US$830-1270 depending on season, for the entire villa.

Stay safe:

- There is no written curfew, but when travelling in villages or non-tourist areas you are best to stay indoors after dark.

- Always have locks on the zips of your bags. Not only do they keep thieving hands out they also prevent people slipping prohibited substances in.

- Dress modestly in villages and religious sites; long pants or sarongs are suggested and a blouse that covers the woman's bust and shoulders should do the trick. This is not so much a safety measure, but it does save you and onlookers from embarrassment.

Source: Wikipedia, Wikitravel

Mount Bromo

Gunung Bromo or Mount Bromo (2,392m), located in Tengger Caldera, in the Bromo - Tengger - Semeru National Park, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in East Java, Indonesia. It is an active volcano and part of the Tengger massif, and even though at 2329 meters it is not the highest peak of the massif, it is the most well known.

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 Legend:
According to a local folk tale, at the end of the 15th century princess Roro Anteng from the Majapahit Empire started a separate principality together with her husband Joko Seger. They named it Tengger by the last syllables of their names. The principality did prosper, but the ruling couple failed to conceive children. In their despair they climbed Mount Bromo to pray to the gods, who granted them help, but requested the last child to be sacrificed to the gods. They had 24 children, and when the 25th and last child Kesuma was born Roro Anteng refused to do the sacrifice as promised. The gods then threatened with fire and brimstone, until she finally did the sacrifice. After the child was thrown into the crater, the voice of the child ordered the local people to perform an annual ceremony on the volcano, which is not held today.

Get In:
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 Bungasih bus terminal. Then, take an express Patas air-conditioned bus for a 2-3 hours ride from Surabaya to Probolinggo.

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.

It's a fairly easy 3-km hike from Cemoro Lawang to the foot of Mount Bromo. Alternatively, you can hire a pony to do the drudge work for you, or have it even easier and do the trip by jeep. Private cars are not allowed inside the caldera. You can join the jeep package at Rp40.000 per person at the Probolinggo entrance office. On the next morning 4am, the jeep departs from hotel to catch the sunrise at Mount Batok (costs Rp40.000 per person for entering the compound). After the sunrise, go down to Mount bromo. You can hire a horse (Rp50.000) to bring you up and then You walk thru the last stair-case to reach the top of Mount Bromo.

Unfortunately, some overly-enthusiastic crowd members can be rather annoying with their loud laughters and blinding flashes. Therefore, it would be pleasant, if everyone try to maintain a certain level of decency so that the "sun-rise watch" experience becomes more enjoyable.

See and Do:
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.

- 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.

Buy: The most popular local product, at least based on the number of hawkers selling them, appears to be the Bromo hat, a colorful wooly hat with "BROMO" embroidered on it. Scarfs and extra warm clothing are also popular, and useful if you are not prepared for the cold mountain air.

Sleep: 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.

- 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 0335-541019. 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.

- 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.

Stay Healthy and Safe:
- Temperatures on Mount Bromo are refreshingly cool during the day (although sunburn is still a real danger), but outright cold at night, as temperatures can drop to zero in the summer and are rarely much above 5°C in winter. If needed, you can rent jackets and hats at Cemoro Lawang and the Penanjakan viewpoint.

- Mount Bromo really is a live volcano that erupts with disturbing regularity: in 2004, two tourists were killed and five injured when the mountain spit out molten rock as far as the temple. Keep your distance if the mountain is acting up.

- All roads into Mount Bromo are dead ends, so you'll have to go back the way you came unless you are an experienced hiker and prepared to hike across the caldera to villages on the other side.

Source: Wikipedia, Wikitravel

Bukit Lawang, Leuser National Park

Bukit Lawang is located about 90 kms by road to the North-West from Medan, the Capital of North Sumatra, Indonesia. The tourist village of Bukit Lawang is the main access point for the rain forests of the Taman Nasional Gunung Leuser (TNGL) or Mt. Leuser National Park. Gunung Leuser National Park is a large national park covering 950,000 hectares in northern Sumatra, Indonesia, straddling the border of the provinces of North Sumatra and Aceh.

A one-way bus fare on large, non air-conditioned buses from Medan to Bukit Lawang is around Rp 20,000.- (twenty thousand rupiahs) per person. You may catch the Pembangunan Semesta bus or minibus from Pinang Baris Terminal. If you get into Medan by ferry, then you'll meet many drivers offering minivans from the Belawan ferry terminal direct to Bukit Lawang.

Remember bargain hard is a must. Expect to be shifted minivan at least once (in Medan). Prices vary between Rp. 60,000 and 80,000 all the way to Bukit Lawang. The extra cost should outweigh the hassle of getting into Medan, finding the bus station, then finding a hostel in Bukit Lawang (especially if you arrive during a torrential downpour). The driver will usually recommend a family or friend's hostel.

Visitors of Bukit Lawang can see Sumatran Orangutans (Pongo pigmaeus) at the nearby rehabilitation centre and for jungle trekking. Seeing the orangutans is magical. You can usually see them near the main lodge, but it is better to do a half day hike than 3 hours if you have time. The orangutans can be seen at the feeding reserve, a 15 minute walk out of the village, but the best experience is in the jungle where there are many semi-wild and wild animals.

The wild Orangutan is difficult to spot unless you go deep into the jungle. There are also white and black gibbons that make an amazing noise calling out to each other, and Thomas Leaf monkeys. If you are lucky, you may be able to see toucans, moon snakes, monitor lizards. Since there are very few still alive, it is very improbable that either the Sumatran Tiger or the Sumatran Rhinoceros will be encountered, although footprints and droppings have been reported.

During the wet season, October to March, expect rain at least daily, towards the late afternoon and early evening. Intensity varies, but invariably the monsoonal rains always arrive. Climate is always very humid, so pack a lot of drinking water if you are trekking.

Access to the Gunung Leuser National Park is Rp. 20,000 per person - payable either in Bukit Lawang, or at the orangutan feeding ground. Permit should be included in all treks and jungle activities, but check with the guide to be sure.

Free sightings are available just by sitting across from the sanctuary and waiting patiently; orangutans that have been rehabilitated and released often come back to the sanctuary from the wild to be fed. The sanctuary charges Rp.20,000 to see a couple orangutans it has in cages (for scheduled feedings), but if you walk around the grounds before 7:30AM or after 6:00PM, you can see these caged orangutans for free.

Furthermore, if you want to walk into the jungle, they will request that you have a guide, so if you are travelling on a budget, a dry-season possibility is to hike for free along the river. You actually have a better chance of seeing monkeys and orangutans along the river that by trecking into the jungle, where sightings can't be guaranteed. However, be aware that several river crosses will be required as the river slightly shifts its course after every rainy season, so wear appropriate shoes. During the rainy season, such a trek is impossible and a boat is needed to cross over to the orangutan rehabilitation facility (rate Rp 500.- per person for a 7 meter crossing).

If you want to see wild orangutans, note that guides will sell their services to trek into the surrounding jungle for 1-2 days to search for them, often charging US$65-80 per night, besides provisions. Rates can be had for US$35 per night with hard bargaining. Although sightings of orangutans is likely, it is unknown whether they are more tame wild animals or less tame reintroduced animals. Whatever the case, a trip in the jungle to see them and the other flora and fauna is worthwhile.

Other activities include using an innertube to float down the river (called cubing in Sumatra, pronounced "choobing"). Competitive rates in were Rp 5,000.- per tube if you aggressively bargain and only go for a short (2-3 hour) trip. Remember that you have to walk back up-river with tube in tow.

Lodging: Don't expect to pay higher than Rp 30,000.- to 40,000.- for a basic room.

- Jungle Inn, directly opposite the orangutan sanctuary. Offers reasonably priced rooms, but slightly inflated prices for food by Sumatran standards. Jungle Inn has a couple of very special rooms namely 'Presidential Suite' and the 'Honeymoon Suite' priced 300,000 and 150,000 respectively.

- Nora's Homestay, approximately two kilometers by road from the river. A great kampung-style experience from 25,000rp upwards per night including self-contained shower and toilet. Nora's family have built new accommodation of 3 rooms and restaurant along the path to Jungle Inn next door to Canoopy Restaurant and called it Rain Forest.

- Garden Inn not far from Jungle Inn is another pleasant place to stay in Bukit Lawang. Bukit Lawang Cottages also known as 'Eco Lodge' (just across the river from main village at the base of the hill and where the walking tracks start) is a good option with prices starting from 80,000/night particularly good, if you arrive late in the day. It's also one of the main places to eat/drink at night and meet in the morning for treks.

- Wisma Bukit Lawang Indah is across the river next door to Yusman which is next door to Wisma Sibayak. Cheap rooms with a double and single bed go for Rp. 30,000. These three are all budget places and pleasant enough to stay in. Bukit Lawang Indah has excellent cheap food.

- New places in Bukit Lawang are Sam's, 3 rooms with prices from 80,000-150,000, next door to Jungle Inn and nearby Jungle Tribe currently 'a bar and restaurant', but with 3 rooms planned for the future.

- Hostel Indra Inn, directly at the river at your left hand side when you walk to the orangutan centre. Good healthy food for reasonable prices.

Source: Wikipedia, Wikitravel