Arriving in Bali, instantly you can feel a laid back island vibe, much more so than Java. Ubud is known as the cultural center of Bali, and it’s a great place to spend a few days. It has a lot of yoga, total well-being type places, vegetarian and all-natural food galore, a lot of western influence in its shops and restaurants, but still brimming with Balinese culture. We were lucky enough to be there for the end of one of their bi-annual festival, tied to the predominantly Hindi religion (vs. Java, which is mostly Muslim).
Entrance to our bungalow at our hotel – the grounds were so pretty!
Market in Ubud decked out for the holiday
Bali women dressed for the holiday
Lilly at the lilly pond temple in downtown, Ubud
From Ubud we headed to Legian, which is on the same stretch of 15km sand between Kuta (BIG party scene, overrun with young Australians) and Seminyak (quiet, expensive resort filled). We cashed-in Marriott points to stay at a really nice hotel and could celebrate Jen’s birthday in style. Thanks to her special day, we were upgraded to a private “plunge pool” suite.
Our lost stop in Indonesia was a five-night stay in the Gili islands, a set of three islands off the coast of Lombok. As you can see by the pictures, we were obsessed with the crystal clear, warm, turquoise water. It was gorgeous. We snorkeled every day. Reefs were really cool, lots of fish, starfish, corral, two SEA SNAKES and a dozen or so turtles, a few of which we swam with for up to 10 minutes! Beautiful undersea wildlife and sunsets made this one of our favorite spots of the trip.
Gili Islands – amazing white sand and turquoise water
Snorkeling off the coast of the Gili Islands
We flew to Jakarta and used some hotel points at the Marriott. We were confused to arrive to metal detectors and bomb dogs at the hotel. Apparently the Marriott in Jakarta was a victim of terrorist bombing in 2009. Jon visited a few sites in town while Jen relaxed.
National Museum in Jakarta
Old colonial buildings in ruins in Jakarta, reminiscent of Yangon, Myanmar
Dutch drawbridge in Jakarta
National Monument in Jakarta
Some cool buildings in Jakarta
We flew to Borneo (Indonesian Island of Kalimintan) via Tragana Airlines – known for being late and at times taking off early! We were a few hours late, but we made it into the jungle in Tanjung Puting National Park in our klotok, a boat that glides through the jungle in Indonesia. We had the boat to ourselves, as well as a captain, assistant, cook, and guide! We visited orangutans at a rehabilitation center in the jungle. At one point, a mama orangutan grabbed our guide’s arm, hoping for food! We also saw proboscis monkeys and a gibbon! It was truly awe inspiring to see the giant mammals move about the trees and feed.
We headed to Yogjakarta to visit two ancient temples: Prambanan, Southeast Asia’s largest Hindu temple, and Bodobudur, a huge Buddhist temple, both built in the 9th century.
Volcano outside of Yogyakarta, Java. We visited the mountain village but didn’t have time for the Jeep tour that takes you right up to it.
Largest Hindu temple in SE Asia
Largest Hindu temple in SE Asia
Statue guarding the Buddhist temple in the same complex as the Hindu temple
Part of the Buddhist temple at sunset
Buddhist temple in the same complex as the Hindu one
Water Castle in Yogya, where the emperor would bathe with his 10+ wives
Underground mosque in the Water Castle complex
Yogya skaters, fun chatting with them
Band playing at an intersection – LOTS of motorbikes line up and a guy goes around collecting money for the music – it was a cool vibe here!
BIG Buddha temple Bodobudur
Hindu carving at Prambanan
Prambanan, largest Hindu temple in SE Asia
Traditional Indonesian ballet in Yogya. Main performers posing here after the show
One of the most fun rides of the trip – many were bikes, ours was a motorcycle
Bodobudur, BIG Buddhist temple
Top of Bodobudur, statues surrounded by these “bell” structures – reaching in and touching their hands is good luck
Top of Bodobudur and surrounding area is beautiful
We had planned to visit a Volcano, but fate struck, with a nasty case of conjunctivitis. (We believe picked up from a fellow traveler in Myanmar.) We named it EYE-bola, and we had to visit an Indonesian eye doctor and cancel the trip. We opted to fly to BALI instead!