Blessed and Grateful…
First and foremost, I would like to thank Eli and her family for taking the time to help make my trip to Indonesia very memorable. Because of you guys I learned how to count in Indonesian, fully experienced a variety of Indonesian culture and delicious foods. Most of all, you guys reminded me of the family oriented relationship that I have forgotten. Despite not having talked in years, you, Eli, did not forget nor stop trying to contact me. On top of that, you and your family provided incredible hospitality to me, a stranger. The sincere kindness and compassion felt from your hospitality will never be forgotten. You guys have my uttermost gratitude.
“A Big Thank You to You All!”
This was one of the greatest times of my life. You guys are the kinds of people that make this world a better and enjoyable place. I am truly grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to travel and to get to know the you amazing people. Thank you for being a part of my life.
“The Amazing People”
September 24 – 30, 2014
Adventures in Bali
After arriving in Bali, my friend and I went to Tulamben where we began our first adventure: visiting the USS Liberty. To see the shipwreck, we dove into the big blue and at approximately 7 meters deep, we saw the coral covered shipwreck. It appears that fishes have made this place their home. As we approached, some fish would come out as if trying to intimidate us while others retreated into the ship, waiting for us to pass.
“Scuba Diving, Relaxation and the USS Liberty Shipwreck”
After scuba diving, we walked down the beach, enjoying the gentle breeze and the sound of tumbling waves. It was truly remarkable and soothing to be back at the beaches and away from the big city.
The next day my friends and I ventured out to Bakas for an elephant ride, and later went to Ubud for the Monkey Forest. At the forest, the wild monkeys roamed freely. These monkeys were incredibly intelligent and…thrifty. Not long after I had entered the forest, I was robbed from behind by the monkey… It had stolen my water bottle, and on top of that, it twisted off the cap and drank it like a normal human being. My friend attempted to get it back…only to be hissed at. On top of that, as my friends and I brought out the banana chips from our backpacks, we became targets for the monkeys. With eyes locked upon us, the monkeys rushed and stalked us as we walk down the trail. Some…particular the big monkeys halted us. It literally would grab our legs and stand high and mighty as if telling us “Thou shall not pass”. The monkey would not let us pass until we gave them food. When I opened my hands to reveal the banana chips, the monkey would quickly pick the food out of my hands and immediately use the other to pick up the rest. These wild monkeys definitely knew how to handle tourists, and are not afraid at all.
“Elephants at Bakas and Ape Pact”
To top it all off, we ended the day by going to the night market and enjoy amazing dinner at the “Dirty Duck Diner”. Don’t let the name mislead you, but it had one of the best roasted duck I have ever tasted as well as amazing seafood.
“Day Well Spent With These People”
At 2:00 AM my friend and I woke up to begin our next adventure: Trekking Mt. Batur. After arriving at 4:00 AM at the base of the active volcano, our journey began. We trekked up the scoria covered path to catch the sunrise from the summit of the volcano. Seeing the sunrise from that high was nothing I had done before. Just seeing the sun slowly ascend, lighting up the dark lit sky was phenomenal. I was witnessing the skies colorful transformation. At dawn, the sky was covered in different shades of orange and a hint of pink, as it lit up the dark sky. It was absolutely breathtaking.
“The Sunrise from Mt. Batur”
After watching the sunrise, our tour guide took us to the volcano’s second crater. There we cooked eggs by burying it into a hole and learned about the history of the volcano. From the crater we were able to see the lake as well as the old lava flows from the 2000 eruption.
“Enjoying Some Hard Boiled Eggs and the View from the Top”
We ended the evening with coffee and tea tasting. Bali had a variety of flavors to offer, all of which are SUPER delicious. I normally do not like coffee, but after trying the different flavors…the tables of turned. Bali is well known for its famous Lewak Coffee. It is absolutely delicious and if you go to Bali you have to try it. We ended our exhausting journey by visiting the beach by the villa that evening. On top of that we were able catch the sunset by the beach 🙂
“Coffee, Tea, and Beach”
On the 4th day in Bali, my friends and I spent the day exploring the culture. This consisted of visiting a wood crafting, paintings and the Tellegang Rice Terraces. It is absolutely amazing to see such details and craftsman ship in the wood crafting. Whether it is a carving of a Buddha, statues, animals and etc., the wood carvers did not leave out any details. Everything is spot on…down to the smallest of details. Some work can take up to years doing it!
“Wood Carving and Delicious Balinese Food”
Aside from the skilled wood carvers, Bali is also well known for its paintings. With creativity and a brush, the painters are able to visualize, capture, and depict Bali life in their paintings. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed to be taken, but I did manage to pick up 2 paintings from a market out by the Tellegang Rice Terraces. These Rice Terraces were more than just what it sounds. The environment was calm, peaceful, and had a gentle breeze that blew over the terraces.
“A Stroll in the Tellegang Rice Terrace”
The Last Day in Bali
We spent our morning exploring a temple at the sea: Tanah Lot. Here we were able to see the waves crashing into the cliff side where the temple rests upon. Although we were not allowed to going into the temple, we were able to get to the base of it where I received blessings and drank Holy Spring Water. It is interesting how the Holy Spring Water was not salty at all. Rather it tasted clean and fresh despite it being at the base of the temple and surrounded by ocean water.
“Temple by the Sea and the Holy Spring Water”
After spending our entire morning at Tanah Lot, we made our way towards the beach. There I boogie boarded. Surprisingly I was able to catch some decent size waves and ride it to the shore where I had to maneuver past other swimmers. I had many close calls! Later in the evening we journeyed to another temple: Uluwatu. There we bought tickets to the Kecak Dance (a Balinese dance and music drama). The dance consisted of 4 Acts and a constant chanting of “Kecak” throughout the dance. It is an amazing performance which portrays the rescue of Sita from Rahwana by Hanoman, the white monkey.
“Kecak Dance and Sunset at Uluwatu”
Even though I was in Bali for almost a week, there was simply NOT enough time. There’s so much to do with so little time. Even though Bali may look like a small island, rest assured there is PLENTY to do. I look forward to visiting Bali again someday.
September 30 – October 1, 2014
The people in Yogyakarta were much different compared to Bali and Jakarta (at least from my experience). It was as though the people in this part of Indonesia were much friendlier and not as harsh. Yogyakarta, Bali and Jakarta all had its differences, especially in the culture and the people. Even though I do not know Indonesian, I had no trouble traveling around Yogyakarta. People were willing to converse and understand me. It didn’t matter whether they knew English or I knew Indonesian, we both made an effort in trying to communicate one another. Furthermore people here were smiling and welcoming all the time (and not in a business sense as well). It was a very enjoyable and cultural time to be in Yogyakarta.
After landing in Yogyakarta, we made way straight to the largest buddhist temple: Borobudur. It was hand made…HAND MADE!!! It consisted of 9 levels of terraces and a main stupa at the top of the temple. In addition to that, the main stupa is rounded by dozens of other stupas which contains a meditating buddha within it. The first 6 terraces took on a square shape with the remaining 3 taking on round shapes. The walls of each level is covered in ancient inscriptions that describes human behaviors that are attached to earthly desires, partial attachment to desires and then transcendence (at the very top). Countless hours were spent touring this architectural site.
“Borobudur the Buddhist Temple”
That night we stayed in Malioboro. There I spent the night walking up and down the night market (only window shopping and people watching). It was much different than how it was in Bali. No one bothered or tried to pressure you into buying stuff. For dinner I had Gudeg (which Yogya is well known for). It consisted of delicious chicken, hard boiled eggs, tofu, rice and some sambal (hot chili paste). So DELICIOUS. On top of that some local musicians, who helped me order gudeg” played music as I had dinner. Furthermore they took song requests and started playing various songs by Bob Marley (“Three Little Birds”, “Buffalo Soldier” and more) What a happy and energetic bunch of people.
“Gudeg and the Local Musicians”
The last day in Yogyakarta we went to a black sand beach: Parangtritis. My friends and I walked along the shoreline (since the waves and current were super strong) and enjoyed a couple hours listening to the sound of the crashing waves and enjoying the gentle breeze. After the quick stay at the beach my friend and I went out to another temple: Prambanan. This giant Hindu temple consists of several towers, some towering up to 47 m high into the sky (the Shiva Temple). Within each of the temples stood statues that depicted or represented the Hindu Gods (such as Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu, and etc.). We spent the entire evening there and were able to even catch the sunset from the temple! The sky had a blend of yellow, orange, and magenta as the sun descended below the horizon.
“Soto for Lunch and the Prambanan Temple”
Later that night we walked down the street from our Hotel. Unlike Malioboro, this neighborhood was not as crowded and touristy. It had a shopping mall and lots of other luxurious hotels. Definitely a “local” area. My friend and I spent the time sitting at a street stall sipping on some ginger tea. During our time there, a local student had dropped by. We conversed with him and before parting he asked to take a picture with us tourists. It was interesting, and kind of cool to be thought of, I hope, “exotic” or valuable to have our pictures taken with the local.
October 2 – 5, 2014
The Nostalgia (Jakarta)
The last few days was spent in Jakarta. The feeling reminded me of life in Bangkok, Thailand. I could not help but feel a bit at home where most days were spent visiting relatives, enjoying massages, shopping, eating, sleeping and…in traffic. It was a familiar feeling.
On the first day there, I went to the art museum where it had a collection of modern, traditional, and Balinese art and ceramics. It was interesting to see how different artists depicted life and the influences that the Dutch, Chinese and others had on some of the artwork. Later that evening our personal tour guide, Eli, took us to Jakarta’s National Monument: Monas. Unfortunately that day we were unable to take the lift up to the top of the tower. Instead we spent our time there scooter-ing around the monument. Round and round again we went. In the evening one of my friends and I were able to receive traditional massages at the apartment. It was two hours of relaxation! Afterwards we went out to have some late night local foods: noodles and minced pork!
“The Biker Gang and Photobombed by Hello Kitty”
The next day my friend and I ventured out into the city for some shiatsu. Unlike the traditional massage, the masseuse would step and walk up and down my back. At some point during the 2 hour massage I felt like my body was going to snap in half like a twig. I remembered at some point the masseuse went on her tippy toes. At this point I was confused and had no idea what was about to happen until suddenly I felt all of her weight down on my back. Instantly I felt my back crack (in a good way) from the top of my shoulder blades down to the mid portion of my back. It was quick, painless and I felt my back loosen instantly. Later that night we went out for some delicious porridge with century egg, pork and much more. It reminded me of my childhood years…but better! The porridge was so amazing that I did not even consider taking a picture of it before devouring it. I just got right to eating…
On the second to last day, I spent the entire afternoon shopping. Originally I planned on only window shopping…but Eli insisted that I try on some clothes just to see. Boy was that a mistake. After trying on so many clothes, I could not help but WANT WANT WANT. I ended up purchasing a lot of the clothes that I would try on. Never in my life have I spent so much on clothes and a pair of WAKAIS (which I love so much) in one day. My wallet was deflated and depressed by the end of the day. On the bright side I now have more a fashionable and colorful wardrobe (which I really did need).
“Some Silly Faces to End the Adventure”
Jakarta was the perfect ending to my trip to Indonesia.
My trip to Indonesia was not just a vacation, but a very educational one as well. Aside from the exposure to Indonesia’s culture, it has shown me just how much of the world I have been overlooking. It is not always about the studies, but about the people around you. Being so caught up in school I realized I have missed out in making and developing stronger relationships with people. It takes little to no time at all to take a moment and just say ‘Hello’ and see how your friends and family. These people are truly what will make your life worth it. They bring happiness, love and meaning to your life. Take the time to make the best memories with them. Let’s face it, it should not be about money all the time or having the best job (even though the world makes it out that way). Instead, for me, it is about taking the time to do the little things and do everything I can for those I care most about. Be happy for what you have, and take the time to pay it forward. There is nothing better than sharing your happiness and opportunities with others. Just knowing that you have been a part of their life and one of those people who make their life better is one of the greatest feelings you will ever feel. It has been a blessing for me to have some time off from school and to be able to see / relive life in a different side of the world. Thank you for the reminder.