Indonesian discoveries (part 2) – nature

Indonesia is a country where you become addicted to travel. There are so many breathtaking places and so many things to explore – you just need to decide where to go. Even without a plan, you will have, for sure, amazing memories.

If you like to travel, probably, you had such feeling – when you come to a place, it’s just bewitch you? Here are some Indonesian discoveries of nature that stuck in my mind like most powerful ones (which I visited till now). I don’t know why and truly to say don’t think about it so much. For me, the main thing – at that time, when I was there, I was really happy!

Waterfall Siruwe (“Air terjun Siruwe”, Dieng Plateau, Java island)

Siruwe waterfallTo reach this waterfall we went through rice paddies, small “jungle”, no more clear path was seen. The view from a bit further already was amazing. But to go down wasn’t so easy – it was vertical way through clay that was still wet and very slippery. It took us some time to get down – but we were so happy – to be in the middle of nowhere, without anyone else, to hear the sound of falling water, to feel strong wind and the power of nature.
First time in life I try bath under the waterfall (ant it’s ~100 m high). And it was the most powerful feeling that I ever felt – for couple of minutes I couldn’t even properly breath – because of coldness, strong wind and strong water stream that was a bit painful. I stood there and didn’t want to move. I felt what it means to be in a nature ant with it. This waterfall was the most amazing thing that I saw in my life (till now :)).

Selong Belanag beach (“Pantai Selong Belanag”, Lombok island)

Selong Belanag beach When I saw this beach I was amazed. It was so big, yellow, soft, warm sand, with turquoise water color. I never before saw such color of the water. I was just standing there and watching that immense horizon. Through me passed couple beginners surfers and that’s all, no more people (only sellers in “warungs”). The beach was quite long, so I just desired to walk through it and enjoy that peaceful moment. Only later I decided to swim a bit and the water was so warm. Funny thing, in touristic books written that swimming here impossible because quite near onshore, there are many fisherman boats. But it’s not true, you can see some boats but it’s further from the beach. The beach and sea are so large, that everyone can find a place for themselves. I felt in love with this beach, so even if we didn’t plan, we came here once again, on the way back.

“Pink beach” (“Pantai Tangsi”, Lombok island)

Pink beach in LombokLocal people as well call it “heaven beach”. 10 km distance we needed to drive more than 1 hour through very rocky road. Local people say that “if you want to reach heaven (beach) you need pass hell (rocky road)”. When we came there were no people. It’s cozy, not big beach with pink color sand. You can swim there, a bit climb on the hill and see many other beaches from the top. This beach looked like from fairy tale.

Gili Meno island

Gili Meno Small island, during 1 hour you can walk around all of it. The sunrises in horizon of mount Rinjani and peaceful beaches just bewitched me. I never thought that I can stay 4 days in a beach and do nothing :). But here I manage just to do nothing and enjoy holidays.

Tanjung Puting National park (Borneo island)

Borneo orangutanFirst time I saw in this park live orangutans (like other monkeys) and their life in a nature. To meet them in a middle of forest, to see how they behavior, look at you – something unforgettable.

Sunset in Uluwatu temple (“Pura Luhur Uluwatu”, Bali island)

Uluwatu temple sunset

If you ever thought about “perfect” sunset – this place is the right one to see it. Fishing boats, temple on the cliff, Balinese “kechak” dance and going down sun – the view like a reward for all hard work.

Sidoharjo waterfall (“Air terjun Sidoharjo”, Kulon Progo, Java island)

Sidoharjo waterfallEven if the stream of this waterfall already smaller than was before, still this ~75 m high waterfall reminds me that nature is so beautiful and inspiring. More than 1 hour I was just sitting there and enjoying all surrounding.

Sunset in Parangtritis beach (“Pantai Parangtritis”, Yogyakarta, Java island)

Parangtritis beach sunset

This beach not the best in Indonesia and Yogyakarta. Rubbish, not allowed to swim, strong wind but it’s a perfect place for sunsets not far away from the city. This sunset was like a gift for my birthday – special one :).

 

Yeah, I believe that Indonesia can suggest even more beautiful places to see, to explore. But like I read somewhere, you need at least 45 years, if you want to see most of the Indonesia. I don’t have any so much time, so I try to enjoy every place that I see and every time I fall in love with Indonesia more and more.

What is your nature discoveries in Indonesia? Tell me your stories :)


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Mount Merapi defeated me

How many times you read bad or failure stories? Somehow most of the people shares only good things. In one hand it’s good – more positive thoughts – creates more positive things. But in other hand – is it real life, when everything goes just right?

I have such story – “failure” one – how mount Merapi defeated me ;). And want to show that not only sun shines in Indonesia, but sometimes comes some clouds as well (but beautiful ones) :).

Many people that I know, who comes or stays longer in Yogyakarta, wants at least once, climb up to mount Merapi and meet there the sunrise. I was one of those people. Just till now, somehow wasn’t right time to do that or people with whom to climb. By the way “Gunung Merapi” (literally “Fire mount”), the most active volcano in Indonesia and has erupted regularly since 1548 (~68 times).

But finally, some of the friends organized night trekking to mount Merapi to meet sunrise. So I wanted to join them for sure (when if not now? :)).

Day before trekking I was a bit nervous – it was my first trekking in life and as well to so high (2930 m.) and vertical mount. I didn’t know what to expect, how my body will adapt it, if I like it and it’s at night. You know, Lithuania is a “flat” country, highest point is 294 m. Also all my trips in Europe somehow wasn’t around hills :D. But at the same time I was excited.

The adventure begins!

We all (8 people) met at meeting point on the way to mount Merapi. We started our motorbike trip ~10:00 pm. Of course, which trip goes without “surprises”? After ~30 min. of driving, one of motorbike got flat tire. So we needed to find who can fix it. We were lucky, like near was one service who was still working in late evening. We wait a bit and moved on.

The road wasn’t the best – holes, not in all parts of the road was lightening, tortuous way. Going higher became colder and colder. We even stopped to dress more clothes before reach the post.

Maybe after couple of hours we were in the post of mount Merapi (from Selo village side). Surprising that in the post nobody was working. Usually, many people come at night for trekking till sunrise. But we were thinking, maybe because of Ramadhan, local people fasting, going to visit relatives and doesn’t go for such trips.

We were trying to find somebody who could park our motorbikes and as well register us that we are going up. Like couple months ago one Indonesian guy died in mount Merapi (he was making selfie in the edge of the top and slipped). After that, the rules to entering and leaving mount Merapi became stricter. As well it’s not allowed anymore to climb exactly to the top (the last point is ~500 m from the real top of mount).

Finally we found responsible people (they were already sleeping – it’s normal thing to do at midnight :D). The registration, parking took us ~40 min., because of waiting we started freeze (you know at ~1 am in high place, not so warm, even in Indonesia). We saw some other motorbikes, guy in the post told that they arrived day before and are camping in mount Merapi national park.

After all bureaucracy things, we dressed the warmest clothes, covered all naked parts and started to trek.

Already from the beginning, after the post, the road was quite sharp (in my opinion, from person who never made trekking ;)). After maybe 15 min. my lungs were almost locked. I couldn’t breathe properly. I don’t know why, maybe because of nerves, pressure or first time such activity. The rest 6 people went up and me with friend decided not to be in a rush and go slowly.

Little by little we were going up, the path was more complicated, slippery sand and not wide. I needed stop more and more times. During stops we meet couple of foreigners groups (probably they came with travel agencies that organizes trips). In my mind already was an idea to go back, but I thought maybe still little by little I would manage to go to the top.

Unfortunately, after almost 1 hour of going up, I decided to go down. Yeah, I gave up (even if it’s not common to me). Just I was a bit afraid that if I will go further up and I will feel worst then I will make problems for myself and the entire group. So I decided that better not to push myself and make problems for others. I didn’t reach even the mount Merapi national park gate (that is in ~1 km distance from post). Pity :( But at least, now I know that I need to prepare more for trekking trips. I already imagine how I would be trekking in Lombok island, mount Rinjani, when I planned to do it during my 3 weeks trip there. But at that time, park was closed because of rainy season, so need to change my plans. Now I think it was a sign :D.

The way down was even more difficult because of slippery sand and bluff way. I even couple times slipped (I had proper shoes for trekking). Going down took me the same 1 hour.

But not to go to the top of mount Merapi was the worst part :D. The most “exciting” part was when we (me and my friend) came to post and wanted to take motorbike for going back. What do you think? Everything was closed (why they should be open, if usually people return in late morning from the top?). 2 hours (truly I’m not lying) we were knocking all possible doors, windows, going around the building, even sitting in the street and hoping that some neighbor will pass and would tell us how to reach responsible people. But nothing. The weather was more and more freezing.

During our waiting for a “miracle” that somebody will open the door, one foreigner couple didn’t reach the top as well and came back. So it seems not only me can’t handle mount Merapi – I feel a bit better about it :D.

Finally! ~5 am the people in post heard us and open the door. But it was too cold to go by motorbike straight back (usually in the mornings very cold wind). So we decided to wait a bit, warm up and then go.

We started to chat with the post guy and he told us, that before Merapi eruption the way to the top was much better, but now even for him, who is trekking there almost all life – quite difficult to go. As well, he told that it’s common that people not handle go to the top (may “failure” became smaller :)). And when we told that we wanted to see sunrise, he started to laugh and told that from his house (beside the post) we can see sunrise as well. Just need to wait till ~6 am. So like it left ~45 min. we decided to stay and at least see something ;).

It was very beautiful view! (even it was totally cold). The sun came like from the sea line and colors was so clear; I could say “dramatic”. I felt relieved that at least I had amazing views: in front – sunrise, in the left mount Merbabu softly lighten by sun and twin mounts Sindoro and Sumbing, in the back small part of mount Merapi.

Beauty of mount Merapi

After 15 min. we left – tired and still freezing (I can just imagine how guys felt on the top). On the way, we saw beautiful views of Merapi, other mounts, daily people life’s, active morning market. I was surprised how many traditional Javanese houses there, still build in old way with “gedheg” (like “big tent”). And almost no rice fields – but big plantations of different vegetables. I think if you don’t want to trek but have beautiful views, it’s just enough to come to that area in early morning, before sun goes up ;).

So this is how my first mount Merapi defeated me :D. I don’t know if soon I would like to go there again, but maybe later I be ready more and will win! :).

Now in my mind thoughts how will be in mounts Bromo and Ijien that I plan to visit :D. Hope much better :D.

What is your experience in trekking in mount Merapi or other Indonesian mount? :)

PRACTICAL INFORMATION
  • If you are not trekker, I suggest at least, one week before the trip, have some more physical activities – riding bicycles every day and etc.
  • It’s not easy to see the post at night, especially when it’s closed, so here is the photo, not to miss it ;).
  • Entrance fee for locals and students – 15 000 Rp. For tourists 155 000 Rp and on holidays, weekends – 225 000 Rp.
  • It took us ~2,5 hour to get there from Yogyakarta with motorbikes.
  • We fill full back of fuel and it was enough go both ways.
  • The post guy told us, that experienced trekkers, reach the top during ~3 hours, others (depends on their condition) during ~4-6 hours. The tourist groups came ~1-2 am and sunrise is at ~6 am, so organizers probably knows that 4 hours should be enough to reach the top.
  • Take with you snacks, enough water, properly clothes (gloves, hat, socks, warm sweater, jacket, scarf, shoes suitable for trekking, flash light, if you are coming near the beginning or in the end of rainy season, take raincoat).
  • Avoid trekking in the rainy season which spans late October to early April.
  • If you want to go there by motorbike – ride north out of Yogyakarta on Jl. Magelang for ~45 min. When you reach Mungkid turn right into Jl. Bololali – Mungkad and head towards Ketep. At Ketep turn right and continue following the Jl. Bololali – Mungkad into Selo. From Selo ride up the steep road (on the right as you come into Selo).
  • There are no straight buses to go to Merapi. You can reach the sub-village by public transportation from Yogyakarta (Jambor station) to Magelang, stopping at Blabak and continued by minibus or hichkiking to Selo. Afterwards, you will need to walk through asphalt roads to the post.
  • I know that those who comes with public bus, usually comes in the early evening to the last village Selo, stay for couple of hours in the hostel (there are several – just ask people, they knows who accept guests) and then goes up.
  • More practical information here.

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Interesting facts about Indonesia

Before coming to Indonesia, I didn’t know much about this country. But after I started to search for information, I was surprised how “rich” is Indonesia :). Even some of the facts became my travel destination. I hope these interesting facts about Indonesia will be useful for you as well:

Nature:

  • The country is 2nd after Brazil with the highest level of biodiversity in the world.
  • Mount Tambora erupted in 1815, which is the world’s most powerful volcanic eruption. It affected the global climate to such an extent that it was called “year without summer”.
  • Indonesia has the smallest fish in the world named the Paedocypris petrogenetic, with a length of 7.9 mm and found in a Sumatra muddy swamp.
  • Indonesia has the world’s longest snake called the Python Reticulates, which is ~7 meters long and can be found on Sulawesi island.
  • Indonesia has the world’s smallest primate named the Tarsier Pygmy (Tarsius pumilus), also known as the Mountain Tarsier, whose length is only 10 cm. This animal looks like a monkey and lives on trees found on Sulawesi island.
  • Indonesia has the world’s largest flower called the Rafflesia Arnoldi, which has a diameter of up to 1 m during the blossom phase. Reaching 5ft high and 4ft wide, it only blooms for 3 days, and for 8 hours of these 3 days, the flower gives out the rotting flesh smell. Found in Borneo and Sumatra islands.
  • Indonesia has the only living ancient dragon, Komodo, which can be found on Komodo island. Komodo dragon, the world’s largest lizard, is an endemic species of Indonesia; the creature is also the national animal of the country.
  • Javan rhinoceros is an animal that lives only in Indonesia; in any other part of the world, you will not see this animal.
  • Indonesia has the largest mangrove forest in the world. The main benefit of mangroves is to prevent erosion by seawater.
  • Indonesia has the world’s largest amount of orchid biodiversity. There are about 6 000 species of orchids, ranging from the largest (Tiger Orchid or Grammatophyllum Speciosum) to the smallest (Taeniophyllum, which has no leaves). The collection also includes the Black Orchid, which is extremely rare and can only be found in Papua.
  • Indonesia has the largest number of shark species, which is approximately 150 species.
  • Indonesia is the world’s richest in terms of most extensive coral reefs. It has about 18% of the total coral reefs around the world.
  • With more than 450 different bird species, Java Island is a bird watcher’s paradise.
  • Sumatra is the biggest island of Indonesia, which comes under the Greater Sunda Islands. It is also the 6th largest and the fifth-highest island in the whole world.
  • If you wanted to spend one day on every single Indonesian island, you’d need more than 45 years.
  • By landmass size, Java is the world’s 13th largest island, and 5th largest Indonesian Island. It was formed mainly by volcanic eruptions and has an east-west chain of them along the island.
  • The main island of Java is as big as New York State. Java is split into four provinces: East Java, Central Java, West Java, and Banten.
  • Puncak Jaya is the highest point in Indonesia, situated in the highlands of Papua.
  • At the top of the Indonesian volcano, Kelimutu situated three lakes, each of which periodically changes color from turquoise to green, red and black. Such transformations are caused by volcanic gases, which react with a variety of minerals dissolved in the water, thereby changing the color of the lakes.
  • Certain fruits of Indonesia make foreigners curious. These fruits seem strange as they have no name in the foreigner’s language and they never knew it existed. The Durian fruit is one of them which is known to be the king of fruits. Salak (“snake fruit”) and Duku are some other examples of such “strange” fruits.

People:

  • Indonesian people take it easy and slow. Indonesia is near the bottom of the ranking in “speed of walk” among all the countries in the world. Even though people in Jakarta are as busy as other workers in other big cities of the world, their speed when walking is notably slow. If there are Japanese/Western people who also live in Jakarta and walk among us Indonesian, you would spot them immediately, because their speed stands out.
  • The most important thing in Indonesia is not really “success” or hard-work or be of use for those around them. It’s being happy and loves their life. They don’t need big money as long as their life and their family is peaceful and easy. Maybe “take it easy and enjoy the risk” are the motto. The thing is, this attitude toward life is what makes them suffer the most. Sadly, they won’t change. They won’t put big effort but because they want their life to be easy, they have a lot of demand. And granted, it’s not being fulfilled.
  • In Java island, locals can often ask you to be photographed with them. The standard phrase “Hello misterrr, photo?” Even if you the girl, they will call you the same – “Mister”. Like in their language doesn’t exist “she/he” only “dia” that’s why sometimes for Indonesians hard to remember which gender is “Mister”, which is “Miss”.
  • Rice is the main food staple in Indonesia. Indonesian at least once per day should eat rice to feel full; usually, they eat rice 3 times per day.
  • Balinese are named according to their birth order. The 1st is Wayan, the 4th is Ketut and if you are the 5th, it goes back to Wayan.
  • The small Indonesian Hindu population mostly lives on the western island of Bali. Balinese Hinduism is steeped in ancient superstitions. They never let a baby’s feet touch the ground for the first six months, to prevent the devil from entering the child. This means that babies are continually passed around like hot potatoes by relatives.
  • Almost everyone in Bali has their teeth filed down. They believe that the essence of the 6 vices (jealousy, anger, confusion, drunkenness, desire, and greed) enters the body through the top 6 teeth, so by filing away their “demonic” ends, the vices are thwarted and entry to heaven is guaranteed.
  • Most of the time, as often in Asia, Indonesian people are not used to reading maps.
  • Indonesian people do not use toilet paper, but they wash with water, always available in WC in Indonesia. Indonesian people use the left hand to wash, while they keep the right hand to shake hands and to eat. If you cannot do without toilet paper, always keep with you a package of tissues.
  • Indonesian mostly eats with their hands. Do not use your left hand, and try to use only the first three fingers (thumb, forefinger, and middle finger). Wash your hands before and after eating with the finger bowl which is put on the table. Indonesian use to eat fast and silently.

Other:

  • The name “Indonesia” was first used by the British in the mid-19th century. It comes from the Greek “nesos” (island) and Indus, the Latin name for the land beyond the Indus river, which was derived from the Sanskrit name for that river: Sindhu. Dutch colonists didn’t like “Indonesia”, preferring Dutch East Indies or Malayan Archipelago. As a result, it was adopted by the anti-colonial movement in the early 20th century.
  • The oldest hominid in the world, Pithecanthropus Erectus, is found in Indonesia. Its origin is dated way back from 1.8 million years ago.
  • Another early human being, Homo floresiensis (“Flores Man”, nicknamed “hobbit” and “Flo”) is the possible species, now extinct, in the genus Homo. The remains were discovered in 2003 on the island of Flores in Indonesia.
  • The country is so expansive in its area covered that it has 3 time zones. It is one of the countries that have not been fully explored or mapped.
  • Indonesia is a major producer of cloves and nutmeg (It’s used in cooking, as medicine, and as a hallucinogen). Nutmeg is native to Indonesia’s Banda islands and ranked first in the world in terms of production.
  • Indonesia is the largest exporter of plywood, which makes up 80% of the supply to the world.
  • In the markets and in some shops there are no price tags, it is possible to bargain and make a price lower by two-three times.
  • Usually, the shops, eating places doesn’t show their working hours, so one day they can open and close in one time, the next day in another.
  • One of the world’s unique funeral processions takes place in a Toraja, a small town on Sulawesi island. The funeral procession will take around 7 days and cost a fortune. That’s why families usually save up their money for years before they can bury their loved ones. The dead bodies they are keeping in their house.
  • Movies in cinemas and on television never duplicated in the local language. Movies are shown in the original with Indonesian subtitles.
  • “Nasi goreng” is an Indonesian fried rice dish that is the world’s 2nd most beloved food as per a CNN poll and also known as the national dish of Indonesia.
  • It is the world’s largest producer of palm oil, 40% of which is set aside for use as biofuel. It also exports 3,000 tons of frogs’ legs to France each year.
  • Green spaces are not so common in Indonesia. Some cities have the city center arranged as a park, green space for people, which is nice, but other than that, you have to search and discover your own places where you can take a rest.

The facts that you probably already know:

  • “Unity in Diversity” is the national motto of Indonesia.
  • The flag of Indonesia is similar to the flag of Monaco. Like the Indonesian flag, the flag of Monaco also has two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and white.
  • The total land area of Indonesia places it in the 15th position in the world. Flying from one end to the other, from North Sumatra to West Papua, takes over 12 hours of flying time.
  • In terms of population, Indonesia is the 4th largest country in the world (after China, India, and the United States) with over 253 million (2014) people.
  • About half the population of Indonesia lives on less than USD $2 per day and the unemployment rate here is almost 10%.
  • With a population of 143 million, Java is the home of 57% of the Indonesian population and is the most populous island on Earth.
  • In Indonesia, there are around 300 ethnic groups.
  • The Indonesian Constitution guarantees freedom of religion but the government only recognizes 6 official religions (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism). On the island of Java, more than 90% of the people are Muslims, on a broad continuum between abangan (more traditional) andsantri (more modernist). Some parts of south-central Java are strongly Roman Catholic and Buddhist communities exist in Java’s major cities.
  • Jakarta (capital city) with a population of more than 10 million is one of the world’s most densely populated cities.
  • Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) is the national language of Indonesia, used in schools and other state-run enterprises, as well as in the media. However, Indonesia has over 700 indigenous languages, meaning that many Indonesians are bilingual, speaking their indigenous language at home and Indonesian at work or school.
  • Indonesia is a very diverse country in terms of culture and around 583 languages and dialects are spoken in the country.
  • During World War II, the Japanese invaded and occupied Indonesia.
  • The Dutch kept Indonesia colonized for almost 350 years, owing to the fact that many old Indonesians speak Dutch fluently. Many Indonesian words have been derived from Dutch.
  • During the colonial periods of the 17th century, the Dutch introduced the cultivation of commercial plants in Java, including sugarcane, rubber, tea, and coffee. In the 19th and early 20th century, Javanese coffee gained global popularity. This is in fact why the name “Java” is commonly considered to be synonymous with coffee.
  • Indonesia was formerly known as the Dutch East Indies.
  • Indonesia became a member of the United Nations in the year 1950 and today it is the signatory to the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, the Cairns group, and the WTO.
  • There are around 17,500 islands in Indonesia (out of which 6,000 of these islands are inhabited) taking up almost the same space as the United States. New Guinea, Borneo (also known as Kalimantan), and Sumatra island are on the list of the top ten largest Islands in the world.
  • There are over 150 volcanoes in Indonesia. 127 of them are active. Records at least 3 earthquakes per day.
  • Indonesia is a part of “The Ring of Fire”, the volcano group. About 75% of the volcanoes of the Ring of Fire are in Indonesia.
  • Almost 60% of the country is covered with forests.
  • Indonesia sits on both sides of the equator (the line cuts across islands Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Kalimantan along with a few other small Islands in the middle of the country). Experiences tropical climate year-round and its average temperature do not fluctuate much throughout the year. The average range of the temperature remains between 26-30 degrees Celsius.
  • Indonesia has the biggest Buddhist temple in the world – Borobudur, built-in 9th century.
  • 2 sports that are the most popular among Indonesians are badminton and soccer. Illegal gambling of sports is on the rise in the country.
  • The Indonesian industry mainly imports chemicals, fuels, foodstuffs, and machinery and equipment’s while electrical appliances, rubber, plywood, oil and gas, and textile are the main export products here.
  • Tourism is the main industry of Indonesia. The country attracts hordes of tourists and nature lovers from all across the globe for its pristine tropical forest and the culture of the people.
  • 20% of liquid natural gas in the world is produced in Indonesia and the country is the largest supplier worldwide.
  • In Indonesia left-side traffic.
  • Indonesian loves spicy foods! Order a pizza or hamburger here; you will get some sambal packages.
  • The most expensive coffee in the world – Kopi Luwak is from Indonesia. Coffee beans are eaten by civets and digested before being brewed.

Here are more 5 facts about Indonesia from indahs.com

Do you know more interesting facts? Share with us :)

Information and most of the pictures used from internet sources.

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