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Itinerary

The ancient Buddhist temple of Borobudur nestled in the hills of Java is what I want to see. Apparently, Borobudur rivals Angkor, Cambodia!
After that, I'll head south to the Island of Bali and get lost in the Ubud region for a few days; biking, hiking and getting my fix of travel photography.

I'm ready to wander!

San Francisco > Taipei, Taiwan > Jakarta, Indonesia > Yogyakarta > Ubud, Bali > ? > ? > Denpasar, Bali > Jakarta, Indonesia > Taipei Taiwan > San Francisco

Posted by CirrusNine 18:01 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Jakarta

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Jakarta, Indonesia - it’s hot, humid and swelling with 9 million people. I sit here at the Jakarta domestic terminal dripping in sweat, clearly not acclimated to the change in temperature. Stepping out of the international terminal was India deja-vu – crazy traffic, honking horns, pedestrians boldly jumping in front of moving cars with merely inches to spare; drivers continuing on without care. A strange mix of foreign but yet familiar. I’m delirious from lack of sleep…It’s been 32 hours of travel with a few minutes of fragmented napping. Very happy to have most of the arrival flights behind me. Just a one-hour hop to the city of Yogyakarta and I’ll be catching some Zzzs.

Tomorrow I wake up at 4:00 am to climb to the top of the world’s largest ancient Buddhist temple to capture the sunrise.

Posted by CirrusNine 18:22 Archived in Indonesia Tagged jakarta arrival Comments (0)

Borobudur

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Selemat pagi! (good morning!)

Batteries recharged and ready to go! Sleep has never been so satisfying.
I’m staying at the wonderful Manohara Hotel that is conveniently located at the Borobudur temple site. May is a good time to visit Indonesia as there are few tourists. They migrate in around June. As result, we have a hotel with maybe 8 guests and 25 staff. The service is top notch and the food is yummy. The hotel has a special deal for guests that allows them to enter the temple at 4:30am, 1.5 hrs before the general public.

Manohara Hotel Breakfast

Manohara Hotel Breakfast

At 4:30 I walked through the temple gates with several French guests. Sarongs (cloth wraps – waist to ankle) are required attire at Borobudur. The guard let us in and that was it! 5 people exploring the temple! The structure is made from two million volcanic andesite blocks and has 10 levels. Walls are covered in 2672 intricately carved panels that depict Mahayana Buddhist history; 1) The law of karma. 2) The birth of Buddha. 3) Prince Siddhartha story (Jataka) and other legendary persons (Avadana) and, 4) Sudhana's search for the Ultimate Truth.
Borobudur Starlight

Borobudur Starlight

Early morning is magic for capturing images. It’s quiet, cool and the colors of the emerging day are stunning.

Mount Merapi Volcano

Mount Merapi Volcano


Morning Fog

Morning Fog


To get the full experience, one must start at base level and walk clockwise working your way up, navigating the walkways The story path is 2-1/2 miles. The three uppermost levels are circular and have 72 stone Buddhas, each nestled within their own bell-shaped stupa. They circle a huge main stupa at top of the monument. The circular form represents eternity without beginning and without end, a superlative, tranquil, and pure state of the formless world. Buddha was one deep-thinking dude.

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Borobudur Buddha

Borobudur Buddha


Your relentless tour guide

Your relentless tour guide


Borobudur Stupa Buddha

Borobudur Stupa Buddha


Borobudur Path

Borobudur Path


Borobudur Wall Carvings

Borobudur Wall Carvings


Borobudur Exterior

Borobudur Exterior


Borobudur Levels

Borobudur Levels


This Buddha has been watching over the rainforest for 1185 years

This Buddha has been watching over the rainforest for 1185 years

Posted by CirrusNine 23:45 Archived in Indonesia Tagged hotel borobudur manohara Comments (0)

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Posted by CirrusNine 17:30 Archived in Indonesia Comments (4)

Bali

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Arrived in Bali last night and checked into the Sri Sunari Guesthouse in the Ubud region. The guesthouse is off the main road in the middle of rice fields. Sri Sunari has 4 individual rental areas, a common swimming pool, room service and some very nicely appointed rooms. Unfortunately, I only booked two days and I have to move out tomorrow.

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Path to Sri Sunari Guesthouse

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Sri Sunari Guesthouse

Today I went for a walk and saw:

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Rice Paddies

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A local Hindu Family Preparing Offerings

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A man chopping fried eel while wearing funny shorts

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Rays of sunlight in the jungle

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A temple entry way

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Rice drying on the road

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A small waterfall

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A peaceful road lined with tall coconut palms

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Farmers harvesting rice

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Ducks looking to the left

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Ducks looking to the right

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A woman with a basket on her head

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An old temple built into a rock cliff with big stairs

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Rice Terraces

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A fire (I am not responsible for the fire)

Bye for now

Posted by CirrusNine 00:52 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali sri sunari Comments (2)

Kopi Luwak

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Selamat malam! (good evening)

Greetings from Ubud, Bali. Today I switched guesthouses and moved to the Kutuh Tirtha Arum Guesthouse located near the center of Ubud town. My adventure expert, Wayan Sumerta, drove me to see Batur Lake which is located in an active volcanic crater. We stopped at the Satria Agrowisata Plantation where I got to try many different kinds of delicious Javanese coffee. One in particular was on my bucket list – Luwak Coffee. Kopi Luwak is like no other coffee on this planet.

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It starts out as a regular java bean, innocently growing on a coffee tree…

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Then, this little critter, a Civet; cat-looking, hissing thing with sharp teeth, eats the red coffee beans, thinking they’re something really tasty…

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The beans ferment in the civet’s stomach then get pooped out. The farmers pick up the civet poop, wash it well…

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Roast it…

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Serve it, then give you a ridiculous bill

I thought it tasted like most other coffee. It was smooth but could have done without the grinds.

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Wayan playing the tingklik (bamboo xylophone) while I am coffee tasting

After leaving the coffee plantation totally wired, we made our way up the mountain to the Batur Lake lookout. Unfortunately it was raining and the view was blocked by clouds. We found a Balinese temple where I took the picture below.

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Batur Temple

On the way back to Ubud we saw a procession making their way to a local temple. The Balinese are very devout and like to dress up for stuff like this.

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Temple Procession

Wayan invited me to watch him play traditional Gamelan instruments at a special event tomorrow. The event is a Hindu teeth filing ceremony. The ceremony helps people rid themselves of the invisible forces of evil - teeth are the symbol of lust, greed, anger, insobriety, confusion and jealousy. Filing the teeth therefore renders someone both more physically and more spiritually beautiful, as well as symbolizes the rite of passage for an adolescent into adulthood. Looking forward to seeing how this goes. I will keep my mouth shut so I don’t become a filing candidate. It sounds really painful.

Posted by CirrusNine 03:25 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali Comments (0)

Raja Sewala Ceremony

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At 7:00 am Wayan and I headed to the Pura Dalem Hindu Temple for the Raja Sewala teeth cutting ceremony. 40 local teenagers and their family attended the event. The mandatory ceremony signifies the transformation of children into adults. The young men and women arrive in special costume and are expected to be brave through the painful process.

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A Hindu Brahmin lead the ceremony, assisted by Hindu priests

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The Brahmin's talisman instruments. These are similar to the one's used in India

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The Brahmin performs a multitude of different rituals using the talismans. A superstitious ruby ring is touched to the teeth to ward off evil spirits.

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Throughout the various rituals, Wayan played the gambang gangsa - metal xylophone; an obsolete Balinese instrument. He is one of only a few musicians in Bali that can play this ancient instrument and is often called upon to play for special religious occasions.

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Anxious young men and women proceed to the cutting area

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The cutting ritual begins with prayers and wishful intentions for a pure life

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The Sangging Hindu priests do the teeth cutting and filing

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Tools of the trade

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The candidates are very brave and hardly show any fear. In this picture, a chisel and hammer are used to chip the sharp end off the Canine teeth before filing. It was painful for me to watch this!

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Parents are at the foot of the table and have mirrors for the teenagers to see the progress

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The ceremony continues after the cutting with further prayers and rites of passage

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Kissing a crispy fried duck on the bill is one of the unusual rites

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Additional blessings with incense are given by the head Hindu priest

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Welcome to adulthood!

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I am very grateful to Wayan for the opportunity to witness this cultural event. I was the only "westerner" in the sea of people. Some tried to speak to me in native Indonesian and were surprised that I was from the US! They were happy to have me and didn't mind me capturing a small part of their rich heritage.

Posted by CirrusNine 01:34 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali cutting teeth Comments (3)

Food

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Indonesian food is a spicy mix of Asian and Pacific Island dishes. Like most Asian countries, rice is the main dish.

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Breakfast - fried fish with satay sauce, curried green vegetables, Nasi Goreng fried rice, sausages, coffee, guava juice, croissant and breakfast pastries.

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Babi Guling suckling pig prepared at the famous Ibu Oka restaurant in Ubud - A suckling pig is slow cooked over a fire and turned by hand for hours and hours. The cook constantly brushes coconut oil on the skin which gives it a nice brown color. The pig is turned into a variety of dishes that are tender, tasty and have a lot of spices. Travel writer and cook, Anthony Bourdain, gave this a thumbs up. Served with rice, vegetable soup and Fanta orange soda :)

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Simple breakfast - toast, butter & jam, fresh mango, papaya, pineapple, banana and coffee

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Temple lunch - rice, shredded spicy pork, steamed vegetables, pork sauce, chicken satay on a stick. This is eaten in the traditional way with hands. Getting the wet rice in your mouth is the tricky part.

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Temple snack - traditional Bali cakes made from sticky rice, coconut, sugar and wrapped in banana leaf.

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Sushi lunch!

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Balinese breakfast cakes filled with coconut goodness + bananas, mandarins, papaya & pineapple

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Balinese lunch - fish satay sticks with very spicy vegetables, steamed rice and fish ball soup

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Egg rolls from a Jakarta street vendor

Posted by CirrusNine 15:41 Archived in Indonesia Tagged food Comments (0)

Something in the ceiling

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My night was spent in fear of the unseen creature(s) living above the ceiling in my room. Every so often, it sounded like an animal the size of a cat ran across the ceiling crawlspace, skidding to a halt then repeating in the other direction. I can’t handle shit like that, especially after watching the movie Alien back in 1979. When asking staff about the noise this morning I was told it was a mouse. A common thing around here. Curiously, I held my hand out with fingers about 3” apart; he replied back with two hands about a foot and a half apart. Where I come from, that's no fucking mouse. Did I mention the ceiling is made from thin woven bamboo?

I Googled "Bali mouse" - they grow up to 5 lbs.

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Posted by CirrusNine 04:28 Archived in Indonesia Comments (2)

Today, I...

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Today, I…

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Talked with Ada & Lucas via Skype

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Heard the sound of peace

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Saw flowers from a thousand prayers

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Watched people refresh with holy water from a purifying pool

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Waved to a farmer that was knee deep in mud and smiling

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Noticed a woman walking down a dark corridor with bananas on her head

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Wandered through an old village

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Witnessed a kite’s first flight

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Watched a dance instructor teach her students the art of Balinese dancing

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Found out that kids in Bali are driving motorbikes

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Walked through a mountain temple

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Tasted fresh honey from a beehive still inhabited by bees

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Found a moss covered path by a stream

Posted by CirrusNine 01:24 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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