Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In Indonesia (Feb 2013) (Bali Part 1)

So two days in Bali ARE NOT ENOUGH! I had plans to go to lots of cool places but we only had time to go to Ubud city and Kuta.

Bali is famous for cheap and good spas. We went to an awesome one called SKIN in Ubud city. Ubud is the hub for pretty much everything.
After massages and mani/pedi we went to the tourist office to buy tickets for the famous Legong dance at the Sultan's palace. Seeing a local dance performance was something I really looked forward to!
We tried looking in the Ganesha Bookshop, a store recommended by the Lonely Planet guide. Let me warn you.... NOT WORTH IT! It doesn't have that many books on Indonesia and everything's expensive!
So before the dance performance at night we went to the Sacred Monkey Forest. Monkeys there are known to be aggressive and just snatch things from people. I saw a monkey take a guy's back of chips and eat them.

We got to buy a bunch of bananas to feed them and the monkeys just swarmed on us as soon as they saw us. I was pretty jumpy around them because I know their claws and teeth are super sharp. Well... just my luck, an adult male decided he didn't like me and chased me, biting my pants three times! That was totally not cool! Must remember to bring a stick next time to scare them away.

The little ones were cute though. One tried to reach for me but I wasn't sure if he had good or bad intentions so I backed away.

Then we walked around a market selling dresses and did some hard bargaining with the locals. After that was the Legong dance! It was remarkable! I loved how eye movement and hand movement were important in the dance. They also had a creature that looked like a Chinese lion!

This was the opening music of the dance.

Look at the cool hand and eye movements!

Here's the "lion" and the ending of the show!!!!

See you on Kuta beach next entry! :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In Indonesia (Yogyakarta and Prambanan)

The next important and amazing temple to visit was Prambanan, a Hindu monument built between the 8th and 10th centuries AD. A lot of it was closed down because the area was unsteady. That's basically the reason why it wasn't as mind-blowing as Borobudur.


Look at how huge it is!
Here are some neat carvings on some of the buildings:

Look at the monkey on the far left... :X
Have to hug a tree in Indonesia!!

To get to the main building you had to wear a safety helmet!

After Prambanan we went to the main market, Pasar Beringharjo, with our driver as a guide. Indonesia is famous for batik, a method of decorating fabric by painting directly on it. Yogyakarta is the best place to buy it so I was on a mission to get something in batik. The front of the market was selling food, the middle was batik and clothes and the back was a produce section. We walked around the whole thing and the old women in the produce section made lots of comments about me because I'm white and pale. One lady said I was beautiful and Albert turned around to jokingly say, "Me?" and the lady laughed and said "NO!" Turns out since a lot of Indonesians are descendants from China, Albert was often mistaken for a local. I on the other hand got to stand out. But that's ok, I don't mind that at all!
This is the entrance. The market is called Pasar Beringharjo.

So anyways, I bought a dress and some nice batik fabric for a local price since we had our lucky driver to help us. We saw a performance of some local music out in the back of the market and it was fun to watch. Wish I could've gotten a CD of local Indonesian music!

We came back to the hotel and it was sad to say goodbye to our driver Agus. He was great and helped out a lot on the trip!!!
We checked out the awesome outdoor swimming pool at the hotel. It looked like something out of an Indiana Jones or Lara Croft movie. It poured for a bit, but we got in a lot of fun swimming time.
It was gorgeous! I was so excited!!!
Later that night we flew to Denpasar in Bali island!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

In Indonesia (Yogyakarta and Borobudur)

This next part of the trip I was especially excited about because we were going to see thousands of years old temples!!!!! This day we went to Borobudur, a huge Buddhist temple built between 750 and 850 AD. We hired a driver through the hotel to take us around for the day. Borobudur is about an hour or two from Yogyakarta city. By the way, Yogyakarta is spelled two ways and it's pronounced more like the other way to spell it: Jogjyakarta, or "Joe-ja" For short. Yogyakarta is not as commercialized as Jakarta and it is famous for its colleges. It seems much more laid-back and there's lots of nature all around.
So, back to Borobudur. It is HUGE! There are six square levels and three circular levels on top of that. It looks like a mandala when viewed from the top. There are thousands of carved panels on each level depicting different religious scenes. We didn't hire a guide and there wasn't one available in English that day so we just admired the place and didn't worry about what the pictures meant. Walking around the whole thing going up each level in total is around 5km.

I see you!!!!

Let me tell you, I really loved this site the best out of the whole trip on Java island. After walking through Borobudur I really felt the lack of a hat. The sun was really beating down! So I asked the driver to help me negotiate a good price for a sunhat. It was funny. After I put it on he said I looked just like Kate Winslet in Titanic. Haha!
Next our friendly driver took us to the bird market, or Pasar Ngasem. It was really interesting to see all the animals but also sad to see some of them mal-treated. These chicks for example were dyed green to  get people too buy them. They also had puppies, rabbits, cats, hamsters, fish, and even bats! It was way to hot for them and I felt really bad. However, I'm glad to have gone and seen what a traditional market like that looks like.

A raven!

I must've been really tired after this because after we went back to the hotel, instead of exploring the place I napped the rest of the day....

When I woke up I watched a really scary documentary about a haunted house and learned about Ghost Boxes, a device where you wire a portable radio to pick up signals that ghosts can manipulate to talk to you. Creepy!