Saturday, August 18, 2018

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Biz class final time

Posted by Hippobean at 11:03 PM 0 comments
Actually quite looking forward to flying biz class again. checked out the lounge at denpasar airport. Not very clean, old sofas and food was bland. but the wifi was secured and I was able to check emails. the flight to singapore was a 2 seater in biz class but still plenty of room. I got the window seat. Not quite as private as the long haul since you have another person next to you but the center armrest was wider and TV screen just as wide. Back in changi, i showed my biz class boarding pass to enter the silver KrisFlyer lounge. Good quiet dim lighting ambience, plenty of food, indian, chinese and western. however, the wifi was not secured so I couldnt gmail. Got some beef jerky at Bee Hang and Clinique Happy perfume at the duty free. The lounge in HK was dirty and dark but they did have sweet bean curd soup. One more advantage of flying biz class is the movies. The wider TV screens and better headphones allowed me to really 'watch' movies that if in coach, wouldnt have been enjoyable: the black panther (quite good), avengers infinity war (not bad), the new lara croft tomb raider (really bad, joliePitt so much better), pacific rim uprising (waste of time) and the last jedi (again). That was probably my one and only chance to enjoy biz class. I guess from now on, flying coach again would be a nightmare. why did I do that?

so this wraps up south east asia. Indonesia offered many unexpected fine surprises but also many sore disappointments. Disappointments perhaps due to my over research and therefore high expectations. What I've thought to be a well planned trip with 1 week on volcanoes and 1 week on beach resorts, it turned out it rained on the volcano and it rained on the beach. the only one time I forgot to bring my umbrella. it would have made the trip tremendously more enjoyable had I had my own umbrella. Would certainly had ventured out more to explore. But i did enjoy the tropical rain (just not while hiking a volcano or on a beach) as CA's been very dry and I did miss the rain very much.
I didn't think i'd enjoy garden hotels since there were water and trees everywhere and therefore prone to mozzies, and garden hotels usually are bungalow types. however, to my pleasant surprise, I did enjoy all the hotels as they all had a porch where I could do my evening teas and enjoy the quiet of the night, and some did have rooms on upper floors. Even the most basic ones felt comfortable. The bathrooms though were an issue. the windows couldnt be closed and thus not only mozzies could sneak in, but ants, the humidity and the heat, and no total privacy (if you could hear the people on the outside, they could hear you doing your bathroom things on the inside).
I ate so well in vietnam, the pho, the fresh seafood, the noodles. Neither Java nor Bali had any really fresh seafood, and both noodles and rice dishes were not up to par. the bebek goreng, the crispy duck at the original dirty duck diner, was actually quite tasty but very dry and with little meat. other crispy ducks were simply no good. I didnt even try the nasi goreng since I dont like fried rice anyway and didnt know where i could get the best one. Breakfast always had some sort of dry and unappetizing noodles and fried rice. The bread was always sliced, most horrible, tasted like it was made of tapioca.
For archeological monuments, Indonesia is temple galore and you'd be templed out. Prambanan was very beautiful but we got there just before sunset so the photos came out rather dark, and I did like tirta empul, with the most beautiful hindu towers, and the cave temple gunung kawi, with shrines cut into the cliff-face, much like the ones in lalibela but in a very much smaller scale, but the rest of the temples werent all that spectacular. after angkor wat, no temple could be spectacular anymore. didnt see enough buddhist temples although borobudur was quite impressive.
But it was the volcano views that were worth all the while. even without the turquoise lake and blue fire of Mtn Ijen, the smoking volcanoes and mountains were sights to remember.
Again, we traveled on all modes of transport, buses, train and boat. And Snowie, luckiest of all stuffies, was simply on top of the world, and took many photos with the volcanoes and mountains. He even made a friend, Lilephant, Kenneth's very cute and bashful stuffie . Now how much luckier can a stuffie get?

In the end, like all my trips, I've always enjoyed them but they always end too soon, and then it's always back to the grind, the stress, the worries and the anger, and the miserable daily routine.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday, August 17, 2018


Posted by Hippobean at 10:27 PM 0 comments
The beach front hotel looked inviting and I was planning on spending the day on the white sand beach followed by a massage and then shopping. But the noise of water dripping from the roof drain all night long proved that indeed it rained all night and it continued in the day. I have saved swimming in the sea for sanur because i didnt like the black sand in pemuteran. So now there would be no sea swimming. braving the downpour, Arinto took us for walk in town, navigating the wet streets, ending up at the hardy's mall. There I finally made some purchases. Quite satisfied, we taxi'd back to the hotel. I knew hotel massages were never great but since it was raining, I've decided to go for it. The bali massage again was just an oily gentle one and I've added a body rub of local herbs. the AC was at full blast and I had to ask to have it turned off. It was a freezing uncomfortable massage. Last supper was at the Hub inside a modern glass building. i chose the crispy duck and it was not crunchy nor tasty. the Hub sold coffee, tea and souvenirs. I bought some 100% arabica and lemon grass tea. It was not a good day.

Sanur a bigger city than Ubud, not quaint nor vibrant. I did not like it much. Due to the rain and the cooler temperature, there was no beach lounging nor sea swimming. Last day, disappointed.

Around 10pm, the earth shoke slightly in undulating motions. I was already in bed and did not bother getting up to inspect.

Sanur photos:

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thursday, August 16, 2018

lava field and pele might be angry

Posted by Hippobean at 11:22 PM 0 comments
I opted out of the Batur summit and went to walk the lava field instead. Batur erupted in 63, 94 and 2015 among other times. The lava field was extensive and long, some volcanic rocks very dark and heavy (unlike the ones on the big island of hawaii) and some grey-ish, from much older eruptions I guess. I picked one of the darkest ones for the rocket scientits and hope pele wont get angry with me. It's a different volcano, not her domain, so I supposed it was OK. After a brief rest with ice tea and some local delicacies that again, came wrapped in banana leafs and soft tapioca flour wraps, with palm sugar and peanuts (which I didnt like), we went for a free hot spring swimming in a local hotel resort. It had several pools with 2 facing the sea and an infinity pool. The water was just warm. I was disappointed since I thought hot spring meant pools in a natural setting, not swimming pools inside a hotel resort. but they did provide towels and showers.

the last temple on this trip was the goa lawah, set in front of the sea. it's a cave temple with lots of local inhabitants, the bats. The 10 levels tower was probably the one featured in postcards, fridge magnet (i bought one) and featured in the logos of the kintamani plantations. Quite pretty in a small setting.

Then a long drive amidst on and off rain, we reached our hotel in sanur. it turned out we're staying at the Diwangkara instead of the swastika. again i was a bit disappointed as I've wanted to tell folks back home that I'd stayed at the nazi hotel. But the Diwangkara was beach front and the swastika was a few blocks away from the beach. i was given a room on the 3rd floor which, if not for the very tall tree right in front of building, would have a direct sea view. The room was spacious, excellently appointed, with all the amenities and a front porch with chair and table, of course. The bathroom had a nice big shower stall and the water was very hot but intermittently hot and cold. The mozzies werent so crazily hungry here. I've enjoyed this comfy modern and quite clean room and specially the room and hotel location. a memorable final hotel.

Mtn Batur photos:

Goa Lawah temple photos:

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Posted by Hippobean at 9:08 PM 0 comments
Today we drove to Kintamani, the coffee area, located inside the caldera rim of Mtn Batur. First stop was to visit the Gunung Kawi temple, set amidst lush rice paddies and featured rock cut shrines, the 'candis' carved into the cliff-face. this temple was very interesting as it had both hindu and buddhist attributes. Lots of people were preparing flowers and food offerings. The surrounding rice terraces provided an awesome tranquil setting.

next we visited the most beautiful temple, the tirta empul, a hindu temple where balinese come to bathe and purify in the holy spring waters. There were many groups of local hindus waiting at the main gate, getting ready to go in to wash the bad spirits away. Tourists alike took to the baths as well. Above the spring, the temple had many intricately adorned towers, quite a feast for the eyes. I liked this temple the best.

After the temples, made a stop for coffee tasting in the Cantik Agriculture plantation in Kintamani. The tray came with small cups of coffee to be tasted by everyone around the table, with a spoon! Coconut, ginger, chocolate, ginseng, every flavor coffee, plus the Luwak, which cost us 50,000 rupias each to sample a cup. Tasted just like shitty coffee. We saw the Asian palm civet (weasel) in a cage, looking bored. The beans to make the kopi luwak came from the civet's poop. It's the partly digested coffee cherries that the civet ate and defecated. Thus shitty coffee. The world's most expensive coffee. I think they just make a big deal about it. Didnt like it at all. But did purchase small packages of coconut coffee (I liked this one the best), ginseng coffee and lemongrass tea for folks back home.

After the coffee, we drove up to the caldera rim and along the way we got views of Mt Agung, which erupted just a couple of months before but now it was quiet. we had buffet lunch at a restaurant situated on the caldera rim with spectacular views of the Mtn Batur, Agung and the Batur lake. it is probably the best view in the entire trip except for the view of smoking Mtns bromo and semeru in Java. After lunch, we drove down to our very basic hotel, the segara, located inside the caldera. Before dinner we hiked around lake Batur with direct views of the Mtn Batur double craters and Mtn Agung from afar. The hotel segara was quite lovely, with rooms around a central courtyard. We dined on local fish from the lake at the hotel open air restaurant. the fish was just so so. cooler here but mozzies still invaded us so Cheng gave me a mozzie coil which I burned all night in the bathroom.

Gunumg Kawi Temple photos:

Tirta Empul Temple photos:

Kintamani photos:

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


Posted by Hippobean at 11:54 PM 0 comments
Since we're not leaving till after lunch, while the rest of the group went snorkeling, Kenneth and I painted the small town of pemuteran. Just 1 main drag with nothing to see and nothing to buy. We went up and down the drag, mainly talking to catch up. Back at the hotel, we walked around inside the resort to photograph its many statues and different room types, and we had a small lunch at the hotel beach front restaurant. It was really nice to just sit there and feel the cool sea breeze and smell the salty sea.

The drive towards Ubud was slow as we wound up and down small hills, but the views were catching, with many balinese houses with gorgeous and interesting house temples passing by on both sides, and got to the Ulun Danu Temple just right before dusk. This water hindu shiviaite temple was located on a small jut of land on lake beratan. It would look as it's floating on the lake had we seen it in bright daylight. With the sun almost set, it just looked gloomy.

We checked in to the Sahadewa hotel at the heart of Ubud's vibrant main drag after dark, lights and people everywhere. The rooms filled 1 long lane behind the reception. the bathroom was all open to the bedroom, with no doors separating it from the rest of the room. The bathtub was enormous with just a curtain to shield it from the bedroom. There's a drain right below the tub, on the bedroom side. another entryway for mozzies. Doors again had padlock in front (locking it took some maneuvering, again) and a bar on the inside. Impossible to keep the door completely closed (again) thus allowing mozzies to freely enter the room (again). in its hay days, it might have been a very modern and sophisticated room. but now everything looked old and tired, stained and cracked. The hotel pool was just a small fountain. However, 1 block away, there's the cocomart and a bit further down the famous original dirty duck diner. That's where we went for dinner. Much anticipated since I've first learned of it from the Travel channel. the crispy duck, bebek goreng, was very dry with very little meat. but it tasted absolutely delicious with all the 'secret' spices. i really liked it and didnt mind having it again. Satisfied with experiencing the famous dirty duck, we went shopping at the cocomart. found small packages of bali coffee, robusta and arabica. grabbed some for gifts. First time we had a TV in the hotel room but no english channels. in fact, every channel was snowy, impossible to watch. didnt feel like reading, so it was an early night for me.

I spent the following day with Kenneth exploring the busy and lively town. Tons of shops selling clothing, hiking gear, souvenirs and wooden carvings. We stopped at the Palace (not much to see, only the courtyard was open to the public) and a few small temples. The major temple the puri saraswati did not allow any tourists in, so we just took a few photos of the front gates. Next we visited the puri lukisan museum which had interesting bali cloth paintings and wooden statues. In the afternoon I had a bali massage at the Sang 2 spa. I found it online and it had good reviews. After getting lost looking for it, we finally found it on a quiet back street. Before the massage, they did wash my feet but not in ginger water like in Myanmar. The bali massage was not a trigger point nor deep tissue, just a simple rub really, but it felt good. The service was so attentive, I tipped my masseuse quite well. On my way back to the hotel, I took the main drag to hit the shops but could not find the blouse I wanted for Mom. We skipped the monkey forest as well, we didnt like aggressive monkeys. Arinto took us to an expensive nearby restaurant for dinner but they had no duck. Disappointed. The restaurant decor was very nice but food was not so great. I quite liked Ubub, small vibrant town with narrow long lanes filled with shops and restaurants, but too many tourists.

Ulun Danu Temple photos:

Ubud photos:

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday, August 12, 2018

bali and beach

Posted by Hippobean at 11:27 PM 0 comments
An early morning rise again. Still raining but I felt a bit reluctant to leave since I've enjoyed the setting of this plantation hotel and the rain (even though it completely ruined our volcano hike). We caught the 11AM ferry to Gilimanuk in Bali. Due to the sea currents, instead of cruising in a straight line to Gilimanuk harbour, the boat had to first go north, then turned to head back south again, thus the crossing took almost 45 mins. I've enjoyed this ferry crossing very much. As we sat on the top open deck, we got to view the Ketapang harbour on the java side, with many boats docking and leaving, the indian ocean on the 1 side and the bali sea on the other, the bali island with its many volcanoes, and the bali harbour. Snowie also enjoyed the boat ride. he's a most lucky stuffie as he's experienced flying business class, nice garden hotels with evening teas on the porches, smoking volcano craters, a train ride and now a boat ride. He's got much to tell when he returns home.

The Pulaki hindu temple in pemuteran on the north bali coast, was infested by monkeys. a small lovely temple with a nice drum tower, the bale kukul, a stone candi bentar, the slip portal, and over decorated paduraksa gate. Our beach front hotel resort was just 5 mins away. The beach was black volcanic sand, not to my liking. nevertheless i've spent the afternoon lounging in front of the sea, feeling the cool breeze, reading Gideon Crew, the Pharaoh Key (not as great as the other preston and child's books). The hotel resort was very lovely, 2 pools, beach front open air restaurant, a small shop and spa, with individual 2 room buildings scattered in the compound, in front of the beach. The bathrooms were all open air, with sinks inside the room, full complement of toiletries and towels. The bed had mosquito net. but no TV. giant padlocks in front of the doors, with a bar on the inside. Again hard to lock and unlock. Again the doors left a crack in the middle, allowing mozzies to come in. Front porch with chairs and a table of course. Very lovely rooms. We dined at the beach front restaurant and had a free show of bali dancers and a band who played very old easy rock. We all had the local fish entree with morning greens and jasmine rice. The pineapple coconut drink was excellent. With not much else to do, I put on my headlamp and lied in bed to read my book. Such a nice hotel, wish I could stay another night.

Pulaki Temple photos:

Pemuteran photos:

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Saturday, August 11, 2018

wet miserable disappointing volcano summit

Posted by Hippobean at 10:50 PM 0 comments
It was raining in Kalibaru when we arrived at the Margo Utomo plantation. The hotel was lovely, with a big comfy reception and rooms facing a central garden behind an open air restaurant. Even though the room was big, it was sparsely furnished and the bathroom with an open window that cant be closed, and a showerhead that only dripped water and must be manipulated to get a steady stream. But the water was hot and a porch in front of each room made it ideal for evening teas and relaxation. No time to sleep this night either as we're due to start at 1AM for the 2 hrs drive to Ijen for our volcano hike.

It was still raining when we got up and it continued to rain on and off during our 2 hour jeep ride to Ijen. After a cup of tea or instant coffee at the base of the summit, we put on our plastic rain coats that came with a hood and our headlamps, and started our hike in the dark. Dunno whoss grand idea it was to hike to the Ijen summit in the rain. We'd all wanted to see the blue fire and the turquoise lake on the crater, so with this kind of weather, what were we thinking? The path started out with a gentle slope that gradually turned steep. About 3/4 ways up, the wind picked up and punished us like the idiots we were. I've never seen so many people hiking and in such a miserable weather. I guess we werent the only idiots that day. We soon lost both of our guides. I ended up hiking by myself the rest of the way. All I saw was people going down, and soon I was the only one going up. The steep slope gave way to switchbacks and then the path flattened. Around the final bend, I finally saw the sign 2799m, the Ijen summit. A big open structure with just a roof was packed with hikers. couldnt find any members of my group in this multitude. The wind was gusting and rain lashing hard. I was soaked and my boots totally ruined. sloshing in my miserably wet boots, with my muddy jeans clinging to my legs, I turned the other way, to the viewpoint. Attendants were wearing oxygen masks. probably due to the gusty wind and rain, the smell of sulphur wasnt as bad as I've anticipated. I didnt even wear my mask. foggy to the max, absolutely no view of the crater and the turquoise lake and of course no blue fire. i turned around and headed back down.

What seemed to be an eternity slowly negotiating down the slippery wet path, I finally made it back to the parking lot. peering into every jeep, finally kieran opened the door for me. shed the wet things on my body and noticed Kieran's legs were steaming. He said mine were too. Then the breakfast boxes arrived and we ate like hungry bears. Bearing another long 2 hrs, tired and absolutely sopping, we got back to the hotel. It took me almost 2 hrs to reach the summit and a little over an hour to get back down. All for nothing.

everyone hung their wet clothing and gear on the porches in front of our rooms, but with the rain still coming down in full force and 100% humidity, none of our wet things would ever get dry. I took off my totally soaked through boots and poured out the water. The rest of the day I just hung out in my room, resting and beating myself up for being such a total idiot to summit a volcano in such lousy weather. Guess the volcano goddess wasnt kind to us that day. As it was still raining, I forgo the afternoon plantation walk and missed the coffee tasting. So I bought a couple of robusta packets from the hotel. It was a miserable disappointing day. But the evenings were memorable as I sat in the front porch enjoying the cool rain (CA's been very dry and i miss the tropical rain) and the dark evening, with a cup of steaming hot tea and Snowie as companion.

Kalibaru photos:

Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday, August 10, 2018

early morning to see the smoking crater

Posted by Hippobean at 9:30 PM 0 comments

It seemed like we've spent the day in and out of transports. Leaving Batu, we first went to see the Cuban Rondo waterfall, a park infested by monkeys. After seeing Iguazu and being on top of the devil's garganta, no waterfall could be spectacular to me anymore. It was a good fall though with enough water streaming down and good spray but not too impressive. Next we drove to Malang but I skipped the local meat and bird market. seeing too many markets and they were all too crowded, dirty and no longer interesting to me. Lunch was at the Tukut posh hotel whose owner traveled the world extensively, and had all his travel memorabilia on display in his hotel, expensive dinning table and dinning sets, his family rich photos, statues he collected, and even an entire room with fake statues of angkor wat and giant faces from the temples of siem reap. the hotel staff gave us a tour and it was quite interesting. The hotel dinning menu was extensive and the food luxuriously prepared and tasty. At Sukapura, we switched to jeeps to climb up the hill to the tengger caldera. The air thinned out and it became cool and foggy. Once up on the caldera rim, it was clear as we're now above the clouds. To my disappointment, we didnt stay at the lava view hotel, but its sister hotel, the lava cafe, which was lower on the other side of the crater, with no views of the smoking volcanoes. the lava cafe was actually a hostel, with lots of backpackers but we were given the superior rooms with views of the town below. the one and only restaurant was adjacent to the hostel and the food was terrible. Nothing to do after supper, only a short sleep before our 4AM drive to the viewpoint to see the sunrise over Mtn Bromo.

Malang photos:


Up and bundled up for the summit cold, we took our jeeps again for the short ride up the caldera. Multitude of people and jeep everywhere and after a short walk, we found a spot on Mtn Pandangan for the viewing. Among the hordes of tourists, we waited 2 hrs in the cold and dark for the sun to rise. The sunrise itself wasnt spectacular but once the rays hit the cluster of the volcanoes inside the Tengger massif caldera, the smoking bromo, the smoking massive and tall Semeru, the lesser Batok and Widodaren, was a view to remember. Snowie took quite a few photos posing in front of the smoking craters. Arinto offered us hot coffee and fried bananas and tempes. We took the jeeps again to drive down to the center of the caldera and then a hike on the sea of sand, dodging horses that carried people and avoiding the horse droppings, then a gentle slope climb and then the 200 some steps up to Mtn Bromo smoking crater. Tons of people and we had to wait to get up the steps, reminiscing of the wait at the base of half dome in yosemite. Once up on the Mtn Bromo rim, we had to fight people to get a view of the smoking crater. quite a site to finally see a smoking caldera, but the crowds put me off so I didnt linger. I remember reading about sunrise over Mtn Bromo and the moonlike landscape of the sea of sands online. The author didnt enjoy the sunrise but after seeing the sea of sands, he declared the early morning rise and all the trouble of getting there worthwhile. The sea of sands was nothing spectacular. Just dust everywhere. Breakfast was at the lava view hotel. finally there, so much anticipated, but the view disappointed me. although the view of the cluster of volcanoes was there and the day was fine and brilliant, i felt sorely cheated for not spending the night there. The buffet breakfast included a chocolate pudding, much like the one made by Faty's late Mom, the pudding I loved so much but could not find anywhere. that was such an unexpected delight and so delicious, I had 3 servings. After breakfast, back on the jeeps to get down to Supakura and back on the bus for a long drive to Kalibaru for our next volcano hike.

Mtn Bromo photos:

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

train ride to Batu

Posted by Hippobean at 10:30 PM 0 comments
Left Yogya in early morning to catch the train to central java. Riding first class on comfy seats, the train was quite modern and the ride quite pleasant. Trolley came selling good instant coffee and sealed paper cups with ground coffee inside a miniature filter (never seen these before). The view through the ride wasnt spectacular, just a lot of distant volcanic scenery and rice fields. Arrived in Mojokerto, went to see the Majapahit museum, very small, with an open air display of a few interesting statues. next we visited the temple of candi bajang, just what's left over of a gate really, the paduraksa (gateway with towering roof). I had wanted to see an ancient candi bentar, the slip gate that marked the entrance to a temple or ancient building. quite unique as all ancient buildings or temples had enormous decorated split gates, and even some new buildings in java have these portals, 1 on each side of the entrance. In fact, all over Java, there's a candi bentar to mark the entrance to a region or district. Next, the candi tikus (tikus=rat), once a royal ritual bathing pool, now dry, that was taken over by rats, thus tikus. A long drive later, we arrived at the town of Batu, small but busy, with a beautiful white mosque with a javanese tower. Our hotel the Kampung Lumbung was very unique. The rooms, each unique in design and shape and all eco friendly, were scattered on a hill, connected by meandering small paths that gradually wound up and down the hill. The room doors had padlocks on the outside (quite impossible to lock and unlock) and a cross bar on the inside. Mine was at the bottom of the hill, with a tiny balcony that overlooked the infinity pool. The room had so many cracks on the walls and on the thatch roof, that even at night with the room lights off, the light from the outside could penetrate the room. Air was cooler up there. The night was quiet with only the toads croaks to break the silence. I quite liked this unique setting and really enjoyed my stay there.

Mojokerto photos:

Candi Bajang Ratu photos:

Candi Tikus photos:

Batu photos:

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

borobudur and boring village

Posted by Hippobean at 10:55 PM 0 comments
the biggest bhuddist temple ever, they said, borobudur is. influenced by Indian Gupta and post-Gupta art, it is shaped like a stepped pyramid with three major levels: a square base, a middle level of five square terraces, and an upper level of three circular terraces. total of 9 concentric vulcanic stone levels, the lowest one
with carvings of earthy desires, illustrating kama-dhatu (the realm of feeling), next up, reliefs depicting rupa-dhatu (the middle sphere and the realm of form) through the life of Gautama buddha. The upper level illustrates arupa-dhatu, the realm of formlessness, or detachment from the physical world. At center top, an enormous stupa which was almost entirely destroyed and rebuilt, surrounded by a lower level of smaller stupas. this monument was stunning. The view of the surrounding mountains as a backdrop made the entire area serene and quite beautiful.

in the afternoon, we rode in horse carts called dokars, on the small lanes of the village of Candirejo, lined with traditional houses and plantations. We've stopped to play the gamelan, the traditional indonesian music using instruments like metallophones, xylophones, drums, and gongs; and visited a local house that made cassava (tapioca) crackers. small villages by now no longer interest me as much, but the highlight for me was actually when we stopped for tea and local delectables, spring rolls, rice cakes and tapioca pastries with peanuts and palm sugar. yummy! We also spotted a banana tree with a banana flower (never seen a banana flower before), lots of jack fruit, papaya and avocado trees (the local guide called them guacamole trees), jasmine and lemon grass.

Borobudur photos:

Candirejo photos:

Monday, August 06, 2018

Monday, August 06, 2018


Posted by Hippobean at 10:16 PM 0 comments
Since the take off of Silk Air from Singapore Changi, the view of the islands below never ceased. The Sumatra shoreline was very long. Soon Java came into view. Very long and very narrow. The volcanoes were on the other side of where I was sitting (as usual), but the plane made a right turn and circled above Yogyakarta several times as if to give everyone onboard a chance to view the volcanoes. the summits of two were in plain view, above the clouds. One was of course Merapi and the other could be semeru which was spewing white smoke. Such a nice welcome view to Indonesia!

I've never heard of Yogya until I saw the trip. Our hotel, the Duta Garden, full of greenery and watery pools, was located in the old part of the city, nestled among alleyways, a micro city within a city. I quite enjoyed this hotel. the walk to the main drag where there were restaurants, shops, banks and convenient stores, was through a meander of alleys, lined on both sides with quiet single residences. I really liked this place.

java decor was not known for extravagance. The sultan palace, the Kraton, was constructed in traditional javanese architecture of simple black and white decor, nothing like the brilliant multi-color tiles and statues of, for example, thailand. I'm not sure if i prefer the toned down or the attractive eye catching colorful decorations. upon entry to the palace, everyone was first attracted to the gamelan musicians who were playing a monotonous tune that sounded very japanese. paused a moment to let the melody soothe your soul. here we've learned about the current and past sultans of Yogyakarta, the special region of Indonesia, in a museum dedicated to the last sultan. Next the Taman Sari water palace with bathing pools was also simple in decor. We climbed the narrow steep stairs to the top of the tower adjacent to the pool, but the view wasnt that great. We took the becaks, the bicycle rickshaw, to explore town. I've never enjoyed these things. They were bumpy and uncomfortable.

in late afternoon, just as the sun set behind the 9th century towers, we visited the temple compound of Prambanan, which from afar, almost resembled angkor wat. 3 main towers for the 3 main deities, Brahma, Shiva and Vishu, with their respective smaller temples in front of each, dedicated to the vahana (mount) of each god, Nandi, Garuda, and Hamsa. the hindu architecture not as stunning as the khmer ones. didnt tug my heart as much. but nonetheless still interesting and impressive.

on the second evening, we had very good laksa in one of the restaurants. It came in red, green and yellow curry. I had the yellow one, normally not my favorite, but I felt like some potatoes that evening. It was really good albeit a bit too spicy for my taste. I really liked this town.

Back at the Duta Garden hotel, took Snowie to meet Lilephant, Kenneth's stuffie. Snowie was a bit shy at the start and gingerly checked out lilephant who was much smaller, grey with grey and white ears, pale eyes and a long trunk, absolutely cute and very very bashful. But after a while they relaxed and cozied up. Cute stuffies.

Yogya photos:

Prambanan photos:

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Saturday, August 04, 2018

polaris lounge and Business class

Posted by Hippobean at 4:00 AM 0 comments
I had travelled in first class twice. once with british airways and once with turkish airlines. But singapore airlines business class proved to be the best. I've never been to an airline lounge before. the polaris lounge at SFO had comfy sofas, silent suites, very nice bathrooms with hand towels but the food was just OK. nevertheless, it's nice to just sit there away from the hustle bustles of the terminals. my window seat 12A was spacious, with nooks to put things and lighting everywhere, big screen TV, proper headphones and the seat could be completely flatten for a bed, almost to my exact height, with a thick blanket. the service was attentive and the food excellent with 3 choices for entree, always a seafood starter, dessert, followed by cheese and fruit to complete the meal. I had the entire overhead compartment all for myself. The lines to check-in and boarding were short. I looked over to the long queue for economy and I almost laughed. It was a most comfortable flight ever. I kept thinking 'i could get used to this'!


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