Windows on Indonesia


Arriving in Yogyakarta

Arriving in Adisucipto airport of Yogtyakarta. Onwards by car to Yogyakarta. In Java, just about every little piece of land is used to grow agricultural produce or taken by houses and buildings. This land has to sustain more 160.000.000 people. On busy intersections, becaks, cars and pedestrians scramble for a piece of the road. Rest of the day and night free.

City sights of Yogyakarta

This morning you will get to know Yogyakarta, a city dubbed the cradle of Javanese culture'. Top of your list is the stately Kraton, right in the center of town. It was built by venerable Sultans in the second half of the 18th century as a representation of the Javanese cosmos. Nearby Taman Sari or 'Water Castle' reminds of the whims of these former feudal rulers. This was once a splendid retreat, the playground of mighty kings. A complex of basins, bathing houses, private chambers and watch towers from where kings could observe beautiful women bathing. In the city outskirts, various handicrafts villages can be found. Up to this day, these villages remain vital cultural centers where craftsmen still pursue age old handicrafts. In Kota Gede, Yogya's silver street, a large number of shops produce the finest jewelry and silver home ware. Few batik workshops were left in the center of town. After lunch, we drive out of town. A visit to the splendid temple complex of Prambanan about 16 km east of town, will fill the afternoon. Comprising more than 200 large and smaller buildings, this place is a fantastic reminder Java's Hindu past. Right in the center of the inner walls, the 47 m high Loro Jonggrang triumphs over the nearby plains. It is the most important monument, dedicated to the god Shiva. Wonderful bass-reliefs on the inner walls depict the old Indian Ramayana story. Together with several other marvelously renovated buildings out of the same period, this is a true open air museum of Javanese antiquities.

Buddhist revelations

An intriguing history belies the world famous Borobudur temple, one of the biggest and most impressive Buddhist monuments ever erected by mankind. The backdrop of the spectacular Menoreh mountain range enhances its peaceful image. To reach the top, the pilgrim had to climb nine terraces, of which some are decorated with narrative stone carvings, telling the lives and times of the Lord Buddha. The temple is a prayer in stone. It's a magnificent illustration of the will of man to preserve the past. Once enshrined by a wild jungle, it took more than ten years and great effort to restore the monument. Return to the hotel in the early afternoon. Later you will have time to explore the endless shopping possibilities Jalan Malioboro, Yogya's main street. Observe how temporary restaurants are pulled up on the pavement, providing relief for the hungry, while being a popular hangout for students to exchange the latest gossip!

From Yogya to Bromo

An early morning flight to Surabaya covers the distance between central and east Java. After arriving in Surabaya airport, you will be driven to a village, nestled against the mighty slope of Gunung Bromo. The road has plenty of photo ops, with sights on dormant volcanoes, rice fields, picturesque Javanese villages, old sultanate towns and the never boring street sights, cluttered with thousands of vehicles and people, moving goods in beaks, bicycles, pushcarts. Arriving late afternoon, the rest of the evening is free, allowing you to prepare for a nightly excursion you will never forget.

From Bromo to Surabaya

After an early breakfast, it is off to Mount Bromo. It takes jeep riding along spectacular hanging vegetable gardens and even some horse riding to get at the foot of a volcanic cone, rising out of a sea of sand. Steep stairs lead to the peak where you can have an awesome look into the inner nucleus of a still active volcano. Standing on this lonely crater rim, you realize in full the splendor of surrounding moonlike landscape. It is back to the hotel for a hearty breakfast and then onwards to Surabaya, a stop-over between Java and Sulawesi.

from Java to Sulawesi

After an early breakfast, it is off to the airport of Surabaya where you will board a flight to Makassar, the capital of Sulawesi and the gateway to the eastern provinces of Indonesia. After arriving, you will proceed immediately upcountry. It is breathtaking 7 hour drive to the heartland of the Torajas, an absolute unique mountain people. The road leads past deep valleys and high mountains. Late afternoon you will reach Rantepao, the cultural center of the Tanah Toraja.

Exploring Toraja Land

All highlights in the area will be visited, but if some of the spectacular burial ceremonies take place, your guide will bring you to the scene of these intriguing and grandly staged events. Young women perform trance like dances, rituals from pre-Christian religions reappear. Visitors include relatives who might come from any far-flung corner of the archipelago, ritual fights between different village clans are held and numerous expensive water buffalos will be slaughtered, all to appease the animist spirits of an Unseen World. The ceremony goes on and on for days while all the attendees are sheltered in make-shift bamboo houses, built solely for this purpose of protecting the distinguished guests. All attendees must be given plenty of food. One can imagine the almost unbearable financial burden placed upon the relatives.

from Sulawesi to Bali

First thing in the morning, you'll drive back to Makassar over the same long and winding road. In Makassar you'll hop on a flight to Denpasar Bali. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel.

Bali, the ultimate island destination

Today you will be introduced to the rich cultural inheritance of the Balinese people and their remarkable architecture. After a short drive, we visit a traditional village with an unusual layout. A split candi bentar temple gate overlooks a lane on a gently descending slope. The house compounds on both sides of the street are all similar in lay-out, revealing an interesting feature of Balinese philosophy... Then on to Bangli, the location of an extraordinary Hindu temple. The gaze of a splendidly elaborated demon head above the main entrance, pierce the eyes of the visitor to this temple. One immediately senses the holy character of this dwelling. After passing through the first two terraces, the overdone and seemingly uncontrolled decorations keep on impressing even the most casual of visitors. On the next level, eleven merus point to the mountains, indicating that this is the most sacred part of the temple. One can often see women dressed in their finest attire, transferring huge offerings on their heads from the street to one of the many shrines. Then, we drive up in the mountains to have a view over Lake Batur. From a safe spot on a crater rim of a long time extinct volcano, the views over a huge caldera and the nearby lake are truly great. The central cone right in the middle of the caldera spews fume from time to time. In the afternoon we return via an alternative road back to the south. Just before Ubud, we descend into a steep valley, location of the sacred Gunung Kawi, megalithic stone remembrances to some of Bali's long forgotten God-Kings. In Ubud, you might visit a workplace of skilled craftsman, shaping tropical hardwoods into vivid mythological statues, reliving the age-old Balinese stories.

Sea Temples and lonely villages

The day starts with a visit to the famous sea-side temple of Tanah Lot which has been defying the Indian Ocean for centuries. This temple, connected with the arrival of Hinduism in Bali, is perched precariously on an eroded rocky outcrop between the sea and the beach. It is accessible only during low tide. The temple itself consisting of several shrines protected by poisonous black snakes, is fairly modest but as the tide rushes in, the islet becomes completely surrounded by water, adding to the mystery and beauty of the temple and its location. From Tanah Lot you will drive through the bustling commercial town of Tabanan towards Bali's agricultural heartland. Here lie the hot water springs of Yeh Panas, amid rice terraces clinging to the hillside like giant stairways. After lunch your guide will take you on an exclusive, easy trek amidst the lush green rice fields. Rice doesn't only supply the all-important main staple to the people of Bali but is also an important social force. The phases of rice cultivation determine the seasonal rhythm of work as well as the division of labors between men and women within the community. It is also the basis of important traditional institutions like the subak or irrigation cooperative. Leaving the roads behind, you will soon be enveloped in unsurpassable scenery. Observe the working of the complex network of man-made irrigation systems ensuring a steady supply of water to the rice crop. You'll gain a unique insight into the intricate rice-growing process, from planting and flooding to harvesting and sale. Walking over narrow dikes separating the small rice plots you will see how a strong cooperation between the members of a village community contributes to a better harvest. During the walk you will witness the busy endeavors of local farmers. Depending on the time of the year you will see men and women stooped over waterlogged paddies, planting row upon row of rice seedlings by hand or busy scything the rice into bundles before trashing the golden stalks. You will be given a detailed account of the fruits, herbs and spices available such as coffee plants, cacao, vanilla, pineapple ... all of which you actually know but might never have seen growing in their natural environment. Walking through small villages, alive with the colors and aromas of Bali, you will see how the local people build their houses according to religious tradition. This excursion will definitely introduce you to the daily life of rural Indonesian villagers.

enjoy paradise

A free day on an island blessed with a pleasant tropical climate. Time to relax, spend a day on the beach, contemplate your past days. Or indulge into some exciting shopping or do some further, optional explorations.

from Bali to Lombok

Transfer from your hotel in Bali to the airport / harbor, followed by a 20 minute flight to Lombok or a speed boat ride, crossing the Lombok Strait. After arriving in Lombok, start venturing out on this charming little island. There are several villages near the capital Mataram, worthwhile exploring. Various handicrafts are being performed, very much like in the old days. You'll probably give in to the urge to buy some big and beautiful clay pots in Penujak area, a project started by New Zealand and now creating wealth for the local people. The road back to your hotel leads past Mataram, the provincial capital with the looks rather of a big village.

a day on Lombok

A short drive to the northern coast of Lombok. No starker contrast between the fertile and green northern side and the dry and barren southern part. Stroll over an amazing local market, with hundreds of merchants scrambling for the attention of the market dwellers, while selling hot chilies, tobacco, fruits, daily households, meat and fish, cut on the spot, cloths... You name it and chances are you will be able to buy it on this traditional pasar. Maybe you stumble on a weird voodoo doctor from as far away as Sumba or Timor, trying to sell magical lotions, a potent love potion or some strange derivate able to cure whatever ailment you might be suffering from! Cross by motorized catamaran a small strait and reach one of the isolated islands just off the northwest coast of Lombok. Ample time for walking, swimming and snorkeling. The reef just outside the coast line contains the most beautiful corals and a wide variety of tropical fish. The best spot to explore the fascinating underwater world of Indonesia. Or get on a glass bottom boat to watch the giant turtles, the newest inhabitants of this marine world. Return to Lombok in the early afternoon, passing by a seaweed farm, yet another lucrative local activity. The stunning views on the Rinjani, the second highest mountain peak of Indonesia, towering almost 3.700 m above sea level, are a bonus! Overnight in Lombok.

leaving Lombok

This trip ends when you check-out of your hotel around noon time.