Why do we travel?

I have been thinking about this lately.

Why do we travel? What are we running from? Why do we spend money for short term enjoyment? Why won’t we use our time, money and energy for better purposes?

You don’t need to travel just to find beauty.  You can find beauty everywhere, even from the city where you live.

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Sunset view in Jakarta, early days of 2017.

We travel to open our eyes, so we won’t prejudice other people without even trying to put ourselves in their shoes.  We travel to meet different people, so we can be grateful of our own situation and learn to appreciate of what we have.

We travel to detach ourselves from routines, so we can think clearly and see our situation from different perspective.

We travel to dream, so we can know what we want and what we wish we can get rid from ourselves.

We travel to enjoy a romantic date with ourselves. To let ourselves more free without thinking of the burden of daily life and responsibility to follow the local rules and to please and serve the people surrounded us at home.  We will know that it may not be required in some other places.

We also travel to humble ourselves, to make us closer to the Creator who made all the beautiful things in order, for us to enjoy.

And above everything else, travel makes me happy.  Maybe it does to you too. And in my opinion, it is a very important investment above any other assets you can buy.

xx,

Dewi

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Meeting Up with Mr. Komodo

Hello there, I am back!

I still owe you the story of my encounter with the only dragon that truly alive: the Komodo dragon.

Since Komodo dragons only live in several small islands in the Flores sea, it was my first encounter with the giant lizard. We visited two islands with komodos, namely the Komodo island (dang!) and Rinca island.

You have to pay certain fees to enter the national parks.  The tickets can be used in one day only, so I advise to visit both islands in the same day to save cost (we did not know this fact so we paid twice).  You need the tickets too to swim and explore the famous pink beach nearby. So pink beach can also be included to your itinerary for the day.

Please don’t shock to receive many tickets when you pay the fees.  We did complain about this matter since turned out the fees we paid actually consisted of some activities and the ticketing person did not ask whether we would like to do all of the activities or not! Both rangers who assisted us in Komodo and Rinca islands told us that it was decided by the central government (to issue you all of the tickets and force you to pay all of the activities). They argued that they too understand our frustration and had many tourists complained in the past but they did not have any authority to fix the situation. What a shame! 😦

Anyway, let’s focus on the dragons and leave the ticketing frustration behind.

I honestly have mixed feelings about meeting the dragons.. Even though I love to see them, but listening to the story about how dangerous they are made me scared to even close with them..

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say hi to Mr Komodo xx

In pulau Komodo, we found a huge Komodo nearby a ranger’s house.

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While the ranger told me to pose, I could not hide my fears being nearby this huge predator..

We also found another smaller Komodo dragon nearby, surrounded with some wild boars.  It made me thinking.. Did they put the boars there to attract the Komodos?  So we, the visitors, can see one or two Komodos even when we can’t find any in the island during our trekking?..

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Whatever the background was, it was pretty awesome (even though terrifying) to see this beast at this close.  Maybe we won’t be able to be this close if we met the Komodos in the forest, since it may take time to spot them and they may run already when we notice their presence. (just trying to be positive thinking here)

Other than Komodos and wild boars, we also found other wildlife in the island, such as deers and buffalos.  The trekking up the hill in Komodo island was also pretty nice and you will get lovely view facing the ocean from the top.

Next, Rinca island.

Similar with in Komodo island, we did not find any Komodo dragons during our trek in Rinca island, but we found some nearby the ranger’s kitchen.  Perhaps the smell of the food attracted the dragons.

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Somehow the Komodos that we found here were pretty active, much more than the ones we met in Komodo island.  They moved pretty fast and seemed to chew on something… (hope it wasn’t any of the visitors!).  At some points I was pretty sure the big one looked at me intensely.  When I asked the ranger, he said yes, the dragon is looking at you. Thank you for the soothing comment, sir.

I didn’t dare to catch his intense look clearly, but the Komodo who looked at me is the one in this video.

The ranger also said that Komodo dragons are good hunters.  They won’t attack their preys immediately, they will observe and calculate carefully, and once they attack, they never miss the target.

I tried to ignore his comments and the Komodo’s staring at me. After some minutes, finally the Komodo left me alone. huft..

It also didn’t help that the ranger only had a v-shape wooden stick with him and no other weapon.. How could I feel secure that he will be able to protect me??! I remember for example in Svalbard, the guide carried a riffle when we go outside, to prepare in case we met any polar bears.

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Seriously, Mas? Perhaps we should consider ourselves lucky we didn’t find any Komodo dragons in the forest 😀

But still, it was an amazing experience to see the dragons in person. Disney wasn’t lie afterall, dragons are real! 😀

Almost forgot! We also found one Komodo in a very weird place: a female toilet!

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When you want to pee but you have to queue with a Komodo 😀

The ranger said Komodo dragons are really sensitive with the smells of bloods.  So perhaps there was some lady who left her tampon here and this Komodo smelled it.  Komodo, the patient hunter as it is, waiting his prey to come back.  When we were back passing this toilet few hours later, we found that this Komodo is still unmoved there in the toilet! If only guys have the same patience when it comes to pursuing a lady.. :p

Till next time!

Love,
Dewi

4 day-live on board experience in the sea of Flores

I had some previous sailing experience and I always loved it! Therefore I was really excited anticipating this LOB experience especially knowing how beautiful the scenery would be!

It was the last Thursday in 2016, at 7 o’clock in the morning we already finished our breakfast in our hotel and had our bags taken out to the lobby.  Our driver came few minutes later to take us to the harbour, where our boat-guys had waited.

After purchasing some emergency food from the accrossed grocery stores, we aboard the boat with 2 crews; one was the captain, and the other one was the crew.  After 4 days on board, we just realized that we didn’t actually need the emergency food! Pak Wawan, the crew, provided us with delicious meals and snacks all the time! Many times it was too much.. But maybe we should have taken some bags of nice tea instead, because I didn’t like the taste of the tea provided in the boat 😀

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Our delicious breakfast! Happy tummy, happy me. Unfortunately I didn’t have any good photo of our other meals, but they were always great! I particularly loved the fish dishes provided in the boat! Delicious seasoning over very fresh fish! yuum!

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Our freshly-catched fish who ended in our tummy the next morning 😀 

The three of us got a cabin with bunk beds. The captain slept in his bridge and the crew slept outside on the bench (come to think again.. I feel bad for Pak Wawan, the crew! He did all hard work and cook delicious meals too, and he slept outside!.. Sorry Pak Wawan!..)

The bed was.. okay. But it was too hot inside the cabin! And the sheets could have some laundry. Luckily I brought my sleeping bag, I finally could sleep after I put my SB over the sheets. I recommend if you would like to take a boat with cabin, you’d better take the cabin with AC, otherwise it’s soo hard to sleep in such hot small room.  Or if it’s not raining and the wind is not so bad, try to open the cabin door to reduce the heat. And always bring your sleeping bag, just in case you get similar sheets like we had 😀

But other than the bed situation, everything was perfect! 🙂

We visited many beautiful and interesting spots during our 4-day trip, I can’t recall all of their names.  However, the highlights would definitely Komodo and Rinca islands where we got the chance to meet Mr Komodo himself.  But I will save Komodo story for my next post :p

As to non-komodo places, I loved Kanawa (our first stop), Gili Lawa, Padar and Kalong islands.

KANAWA

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Posing in front of Kanawa island.

The island is so pretty with white sands and clear sea water.. I couldn’t resist myself and swam around a bit, could not find so much variety of underwater life there, but I found some starfishes and sea-through fishes. So pretty!

GILI LAWA

While it is not an easy path to hike, Gili Lawa (also known as Gili Laba) provides a stunning view with fjords-like scenery to please your eyes.

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Hiking up in Gili Lawa with this view in the back.

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Beautiful pinkish sunset in Gili Lawa.

PADAR

Even with not so easier hike than Gili Lawa, Padar also gives a stunning view you should not ever miss when you are around.

P.S.: Don’t get fooled by the beautiful stairs in the first steps, the more you hike, the more steep the track.. Wear comfortable shoes!

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sweating through the hills, but the view was worth the hike! 

KELOR

I have to say that the underwater in this area is not as impressing as some other places in Indonesia that I have visited such as Derawan island.  But maybe it’s because I didn’t dive, and was just unlucky since some of my friends told me that they found a lot of beautiful underwater animals in this area.

My best experience in snorkeling in Komodo area was nearby this Kelor island.  The corals were colorful and I found many kind of fish here.  I brought a banana with me and hundreds of beautiful fish came. What a wonderful experience to have!

– Until I realized I already swam too far from the boat and other people and the strong stream did not let me swim back to the boat – luckily I could call the captain who then rescued me 😀

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Unfortunately I did not bring my gopro with me in this trip so I could not take the pictures of the underwater.  But can you see from this photo how clear the water was? And many fish and corals underneath (which actually very colorful and beautiful)

MANTA POINT

Unfortunately we didn’t take any picture but we saw some huge mantas in this place! The current, however, was pretty strong.  Even the boat crews who usually let us swim alone were very attentive to us in this place.

The strong current in the points with huge animals is pretty understandable though.. So be careful when you’re in this area.

KALONG

I didn’t swim in this place, so I can’t tell how the underwater view was.  But the sunset and sunrise here was pretty amazing (we stayed for a night in this place).  And the thousands bats went out during twilight was pretty amazing experience!

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So disappointed with myself.  What did I think by not taking any good camera with me in this trip?.. The view was actually really amazing that night. But I only had my iPhone with me.. 

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Beautiful sunrise from Kalong island..

KOMODO RESORT

It was nice to make a stop here and stayed some time in their restaurant to have nice drinks and played cards here. I think the place is pretty nice if you want to go here but don’t want to stay on board.

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Oh now I really miss my little adventure in the sea! I will stop my story here and continue next time..

Till next time,

Dewi

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A short stop over in Ruteng

What do you know about Ruteng, East Nusa Tenggara?

The small city is located just few hours from Dintor, the village nearby Wae Rebo that I told you in previous post.  We made a gas stop in Ruteng when we went back from Wae Rebo to Labuan Bajo.  We discovered that this small city has many things that you may miss from urban life when you are on your adventure in Flores.  It has gas stations (among the few in the island), stores that sell usual products you need on the way, they even have some bakso stalls and warung padang.  But don’t expect they taste the same like in Java.  Even when they put the brand “Bakso Solo” or “Bakso Ganesha”, the bakso tastes different to accommodate the local taste.  It’s not so bad but I personally prefer their local cuisine than the bakso  🙂

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Forget what I said, this friend of mine said the bakso was good (even though you can’t find chili sauce in the place)  😀

Being called the city with 1000 churches, there are literally churches in almost every road in Ruteng.  Unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore any of the churches but they look so pretty already from the outside (with lovely mountain view in the background!).

After filling the gas that felt like forever (you won’t believe how long the queue was!), we managed to make a stop in spiderweb-rice fields.  About 15 minutes from the city, you can see the famous rice fields after a short hike up from a nearby warung.  You can drink local coffee in the warung and interact with local people before / after start your hike.  The lady in the warung did not put the price for the coffee, but we need to pay small amount for the hike.  She also sold home-produce arabica coffee that smelled really good for IDR30K per 250gram.

What I like the most from this place was that they really just want to make business but not ripping of the tourists.  It really showed their good heart and my heart was really melted because of that.  I paid a bit more than I should, like really really a bit, and they gave me 1 pack of arabica coffee for free!

Back to the rice fields, unfortunately we couldn’t see the green fields we imagined because they were already cropped.  But we still can see the spiderweb-form and it looked pretty nevertheless.

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Keep posing even though the fields were not green 😀

I wish I can go back one day and explore Ruteng more (and continue the road trip to the east).  One of the highlights of Ruteng that you may want to check out when you are around is Liang Bua, or also known as the hobbit cave. I really really really wanna check this place next time! It is a prehistoric cave  where the fossils of homo florensis were found (have I told you that I am an archeolog and historian wanna be?)  😀

Other highlights include Rana Mese lake, Goro Curu, Poco Ranaka, and Poco Ngandonalu. Hope I can come back and explore all of these places and share with you guys! In the mean time I will enjoy and study the surroundings of Flores from this discounted map I bought in Jogja airport when I was heading to Labuan Bajo  😀

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Till next time! xx

Dewi

Wae Rebo: a hidden gem in Flores with so many things to offer.

I firstly heard about this village from a friend of mine who involves in a volunteering activities in this area.  She went there few times to give short classes to the kids and donate some books to the community.  I was interested with the authentic traditional housing I saw in my friend’s photos, as well as her comment on how good and kind the people of Manggarai are (Manggarai is the area where the Wae Rebo village is located).

Finally, last week I had a chance to visit this beautiful village! Me and my friends, 3 ladies, arrived in Labuan Bajo on 26th December afternoon and continued our journey to Wae Rebo by renting a car.

FLIGHTS

There are only 3 airlines that serve to Labuan Bajo, i.e. Garuda Indonesia, Wings Air and NAM Air.  From these three airlines, only Garuda Indonesia that provides direct flights from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo (return), while Wings and NAM start their flights to Labuan Bajo only from Bali.  Therefore, you will have to transit in Bali if you take these last two airlines.  Since Wings Air is a group of Lion Air and NAM Air is a member of Sriwijaya Air group, if you purchase your ticket in bundle (Jakarta-Labuan Bajo with two legs of flights Jakarta-Bali and Bali-Labuan Bajo), you may get Lion/Sriwijaya for your Jakarta-Bali flight (just fyi in case that matters to you :p).

Somehow we didn’t know until we arrived in Labuan Bajo that Wings Air offers a flight there too, so when we planned our trip, we only considered Garuda Indonesia and NAM Air.  We finally took NAM Air because it’s cheaper than Garuda Indonesia and it’s more convenient for me who started the trip from Jogja (I didn’t want to go all the way to Jakarta first just to get direct flight Jakarta-Labuan Bajo! :D)

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Garuda Indonesia airplane that arrived at similar time with us.

CAR RENTAL

To reach Wae Rebo, you must take around 8 hours drive from Labuan Bajo to this village called Dintor, then another half an hour to a village called Denge, before continuing the trip on foot to the Wae Rebo village.

Since most of the flights, if not all, arrive in Labuan Bajo in the afternoon, you may want to take a rest and stay in Labuan Bajo for one night before continuing your journey to Dintor/Denge.  However, me and my friends didn’t want to waste our time and went directly after we arrived in Labuan Bajo to go to Dintor.

We hired a car for our trip before our arrival, we bargained soo much without realizing what we will get.  For three days of our trip (first day arrival in Labuan Bajo then went directly to Dintor, stayed a night in Dintor, continue to Denge the day after, and back to Labuan Bajo on the third day), we paid for 2.5 million Rupiah (excluding tips to the driver), much cheaper than the other offers we had.

The usual price that we got for the trip is: 1 million per day for Kijang Innova car, inclusive driver and gasoline (excluding tips to the driver), BUT somehow every booking shall be added with one day fee.  So for example if you need the car for 3 days like we did, you must pay 4 million excluding tips to the driver, while actually you will only use the car for two days! (Day 1 Labuan Bajo-Dintor/Denge and 3rd day Dintor/Denge – Labuan Bajo).  I can’t understand the logic of the additional 1 day for this kind of reservation..

Ok but long story short, finally we got this 2.5 million offer and took it.  One of us had used the service of the driver from her last trip to Labuan Bajo and it was good.  So we took it. Little did we know that we got a really old Avanza with a lot of problems on the way.

FIRST, the driver who talked with us (and whose services had been used previously by one of us) couldn’t make it (or so he said), so he sent his nephew/cousin with the magic Avanza..

SECOND, the handbrake push button of the magic Avanza FELL OFF just minutes after we left the airport.. We should have thought that it’s not the only problem.

THIRD, the car needs to fill with water.  I mean, I don’t understand car mechanism very well, but how old is the car until you need water to cool it down? I bought my car in 2011 and it does not need it..

FOURTH.. the driver was changed in the middle.. We doubted the third driver at first because he looked so young, would he know how to handle this magic car?.. And we will spend night time on the road from Labuan Bajo. But what can we do.  The second driver told us that he actually has a family thing to attend and this third driver is good enough to replaced him. So we just agreed and prayed we will return alive from the trip. 😀

FIFTH.. yes the third driver did not familiar with the specialty of the car.  And how the windows and doors were hard to control. Sometimes the doors were hard to open and the windows slide down on their own and it was so hard to close them again.  But turned out the driver was good enough indeed.  He could finish the amazing road from Labuan Bajo to Dintor with such special car.  Salute to you, Rino. Because of him, we could arrive safely in Dintor in the midnight despite the meander roads,  and sometimes damaged.  I could not sleep all the way to make sure that we were alright.. Once I noticed that Rino went off the car to fix a huge and deep hole on the road so we can pass it.

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Conclusion: price don’t lie  😀 Perhaps it is okay to bargain for the illogical fourth day fee, but better to pay 3 million for 3 days than risk your life by taking 2.5 million “magic” Avanza.  You may not be lucky enough to get Rino everytime!  😀

BUT, despite the crazy night we had, somehow I loved the road trip and it was one of my favorite parts of my adventure to Flores. Apart from the amazing adventurous road trip, on the way I got to see some buffalos, cows, monkeys and other animals too! And learned Manggarai language and cultures from Rino, which quite fun.  Do you know that it is so safe in Flores that you can leave your vehicle unattended and noone will take it? Amazing, right?

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A NIGHT IN DINTOR

There is a lodge in Dintor that you could use to rest before trekking to Wae Rebo the day after.  Arriving in Dintor in the midnight, we were greeted by the owner of the lodge himself, Om Martin.  We got an ensuite room with 3 single beds.  The room and the toilet is fine, water is fine, food and view from the lodge were amazing.  Om Martin also helped us with the guide who accompanied us to Wae Rebo.

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The Lodge

TREKKING TO WAE REBO

We woke up the next day early morning, took shower and filled our belly with lovely food from the lodge. We got delicious nasi goreng with fried egg, while we noticed for foreigners, they got pancakes.  The portion of the nasi goreng and pancakes were generous, and we got coffee/tea too.  We also bought mineral water in the lodge for cheap price (IDR5000 per bottle).

Around 8pm, after breakfast and met our guide, Rino, our driver, took us the the next village, Denge to start our trek.

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There was an event in the village we passed on our way to Denge. Here in Flores, most celebration involve boars, like this one 😀

In Denge, just when we would like to start our trek, we met an ojek driver who offer a ride until Post 1 (around 4KM) for just IDR30K per person! So we agreed to save our energy and take the ojek (fyi – ojek is a motorcycle taxi widely found in Indonesia).

In Post 1, we met some locals who work on the bridge.  They rent trekking poles for only IDR10K per night! So I took one with me.

The trek was actually not so hard, but without proper sleep the nights before, I felt overwhelmed in the first hour.  We finally finished the trek and arrived safely in 3 hours (not so sure if the trek was 5 or 9kms… I guess a bit more from 5kms but less than 9kms as people said .  Our guide was not so talkactive and not so convincing either when he talked about the distance – that’s why never trust hikers when it comes to distance  :D).

The view during the trek was really nice, we passed jungles and also cliffs with lovely mountains and sea view.   On the way, we met this mother with two beautiful children who were heading to Wae Rebo too.  The children, Friska and Dede were so cute but very strong and had same walking paces with us.  They’re a family from Wae Rebo but live in Denge, they came to Wae Rebo for the christmas break.

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Me posing in Post 2 😀

ARRIVING IN WAE REBO

You cannot take any picture of the village before you meet with the Elder of the village (Ketua Adat), pay small money to him and pass a welcoming ritual with him.  Afterwards, you will be directed to the one of the traditional house that will be your hotel for the night and enjoying a local coffee from the community.

The things I love about this lovely village:

  1. The traditional house! You get to spend a night in the house with many other people and enjoy the beauty of simplicity. The round-shaped house has only one huge room with beds on the edges and multifunctional space in the middle. Everything is so traditional inside, but you still get electricity from 7pm to 10pm and there are 3 shower rooms and toilets with clear running water that you can use.8.jpg
  2. The people! So lovely, kind and welcoming. This is not, yet, a touristic place whose local people will try to rip you off. This is just a village who happy with your visit and will be over the moon to just talk to you. I remember I met many locals who said “thank you for coming” everytime I met them on the road or during our trek.
  3. And the kids.. were even more lovable and amazing!  Even if you don’t like kids, I dare you to come and not melted to the smiles and lovely stares of the kids of Wae Rebo.. Oh Dede, Friska, Messi, H&M (my nickname to her), I miss you all so much. Please, when you come here.  Take some children books with you too.  There is a library in the village that can take your donated books and let the kids read them for free. And please please please take some time to play with them.  You will be amazed how it can make you happy inside.2c61be19-d955-44db-9bd6-ed960d8e93c3.jpg
  4. The coffee! Oh my god, have I told you that Flores coffee is just the best? But I think the one in Wae Rebo even better.. And we got to taste it all the time during our stay!6
  5. The food. How could humble chayote can make really delicious meals.. I still have no idea. But I loved every meal I had in the village.
  6. No signal AT ALL in the place. What a peaceful two days surrounded with beautiful kids and mountains!
  7. I had my first good long sleep for weeks in this place! The combination of the tiring trekking, happy mood and good food perhaps the best recipe for the good rest I had that night.

LEAVING WAS THE HARDEST

It was so hard to leave the village with the lovely eyes of the kids staring at you.  I left my heart in Wae Rebo.

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TREKKING BACK WAS REALLY FUN!

With full belly and enough rest, I had a really good mood in trekking back to Denge.  It was so fun and easy, we arrived in Post 1 in less than 2 hours (compared to the 3 hours the day before).  There, our ojeks are ready to take us to Denge and meet Rino, our driver who will take us back to Labuan Bajo (with some stops in Ruteng and charchar first of course! Let me save that story for another day  ;)).

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Me and Fil, a 6th grader who walked with me to Denge. He lives in Denge but just spent christmas break in Wae Rebo.

 

VERDICT: Wae Rebo, the village itself and the adventure to get there, are gems that really fun to do! Fun road trip, great trek, good coffee and good people. What else do you want?

 

What to do in Jogja?

Last christmas I visited Jogja for the third time in 2016. I actually planned to hike Mount Sumbing for the weekend, but since the weather wasn’t great, me and friends decided to stay and explore Jogja for a change (we didn’t want to waste our tickets that had been bought weeks in advance!)

So here I am, thinking what should I write for my first post, then Jogja came up.

What to do you while you’re in Jogja:

  • If you want some adventure, you can go to gunung kidul area (1 hour away from the city). You can try caving in goa jomblang or goa pindul and body rafting in kali suci or sungai oyo. You may like sri gethuk waterfall too.
  • If you’re more a beach person, Jogja is surrounded by some beaches too. There are some beaches nearby that you can visit such as nglambor, kesirat, sadranan, etc.
  • If you want to do some trekking, try gunung api purba. Or if you have time and would like to do a more serious hike, try merbabu (via suwanting has the best view- but not easy. I can recommend a good guide if you want).  Aside from merbabu, there are also merapi, andong, sindoro and sumbing (among others) that can be hiked from villages nearby Jogja.

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View in Mount Merbabu

  • For foodies, Jogja’s food that shouldn’t be missed are mie godok (my favorite is mbah gito), gudeg (my favorite is yu jum), or try traditional food in kopi klotok with view of Merapi.  If you like mushrooms (the food :p), there’s also a place called jejamuran that sells many kind of food made from mushrooms, and you can also try fish spa for free in this restaurant!  And for a fun yet humble night with friends, try kopi joss in alun-alun and amuse yourself with decorated bicycles with colorful lights there.

1048021_10152198903152859_328946190_oThe famous Kopi Joss! yummm I miss its smell already!

  • For art lovers, I think Museum Ullen Sentalu is just so great you should not miss it when you’re in Jogja!  Its combination of art, history and culture are just something unique that you should not pass

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Museum Ullen Sentalu

  • And of course if you haven’t there already, sunrise in Borobudur temple is the best! And other main attractions such as prambanan should not be missed 🙂

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Sunrise in Borobudur

Love,
Dewi