Thursday, October 22, 2009

Julia Roberts in Ubud - Bali For Her New Movie "Eat Pray Love"

Since October 16, 2009 Ubud - Bali has become the most exposed tourist destination in Indonesia, not only because Ubud is a very beautiful place with great traditional arts, but also because since that day, Julia Roberts, an Oscar winning artist is there in Ubud at Bentuyung village to begin shooting her new movie Eat, Pray, Love.

This movie is based on a true story from a novel by Elizabeth Gilbert. It tells the story of an American writer - Elizabeth Gilbert played by Julia Roberts, who travels to many countries in search for her self tranquility until she finally came to Ubud and found a peaceful life there.

Eat, Pray, Love is produced by Brad Pitt and directed by Ryan Murphy. Beside Julia Robert this movie is also starred by an Oscar winning actor Oscar Javier Bardem and Billy Crudup. The shooting is scheduled until November 11, 2009 and the movie will be released in 2011.

Ever since the shooting starts, many domestic and international tourists visit this village to see the movie set and hoping to see their favorite Hollywood artists. Many of these tourists even cancel some of their trips just to visit Ubud to see Julia Roberts.

Bentuyung Village

At the early days of shooting, the making of this movie was protested a couple of times by the local people. These people felt that there was a mistake in the payment of compensation for the use of their customary land as the movie set, and they even blocked the access road to the set. Beside the local people in Bentuyung Village, this movie was also protested by the merchants in Ubud Market. The merchants said they lose profits as the movie crews blocked the access road to the market. But the problems now had been settled and the Balinese are no longer protesting the movie making, many of them even help the film crew by providing some security personnels.

Beside Bentuyung Village, this movie also takes place in several tourism objects like Monkey Forrest - Ubud, Jimbaran Beach, Ubud Market and also in different countries like India and Cambodia and Italy.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bukit Tinggi, A Pleasant city On The Hill

Clean, humble, fresh, quiet, and friendly, those are the impressions you'll get when you visit this pretty small city for the first time. Just like its name Bukit Tinggi which means high hill is located in the Minangkabau highland not too far away from the West Sumatran capital - Padang (about 90 km away). It takes about 2 hours journey from the airport in Padang to Bukit Tinggi, but it is guaranteed that it won't be a boring trip since you you will see some magnificent views on the way. That's because going from Padang to Bukit Tinggi you would have to pass a pretty valley called Anai Valley an then up to the Agam Plateau which have amazing sceneries before you reach Bukit Tinggi.

This city formed by many hills and valleys on 25,239 km2 area . Since Bukit Tinggi is located in a high place (930 m above sea level), it has cool climate between 16-24 degrees celcius.

Bukit Tinggi is also called "Tourism City" since it has so many tourism objects both natural and historical. Tourism is also the main income of this city, so the local government really has an attention to keep all the tourism objects reserved.

The local occupants are from Minangkabau ethnic which are very friendly and known as an ethnic that strongly hold Islamic traditions. That's why it is adviced for the foreign tourists in this city to respect the local custom by wearing descent clothing which covered the body well and not doing things that can be considered as an insult of the tradition like drinking alcoholic drinks such as beer in public places.

With its mark as a tourism city, you don't have to wory about the accomodations, Bukit Tinggi has many choices of accomodation from a nice 4 stars hotel to cozy small resorts. And at last, to give you the vision of this exciting tourism city, here are some of the best tourist attractions in Bukit Tinggi you can visit during your stay in this city.

Jam Gadang (The Big Clock)
This clock maybe not as famous as Big Ben in London, but the Minangkabau people in Bukit Tinggi are very proud of it, just like the people in Paris adore their eiffel tower. This old clock tower has also become the symbol of the city. Jam Gadang was built in 1926 by Controleur Rook Maker a dutch during dutch occupation in Bukit Tinggi with the help of local architects named Jazid and Sutan Gigih Ameh. From the top of the clock tower, you can see the fantastic scenery of the city which is surrounded by mountains, hills and valleys. One thing that's quiet unique about this clock is on the numbering method, Jam Gadang uses roman numerals, but the different is the number 4 on the clock signed with IIII instead of IV, and nobody knows the reason why it was written like that.

Sianok Valley
A beautiful green and vertile valley with winding river floats through the canyons. This valley is located in the center of the city with the length of 15 km, 100 m depth and 200 m wide. On the back of the valley we can see the view of two great mountains of Mount Singgalang, an inactive volcanoe, and Mount Merapi which is still active.

Fort De Kock
This fort was built by Captain Bouer during the Dutch occupation in 1825. Fort de Kock was named after Baron Hendrik Markus De Kock, he was the vice general governor of East indies during that time. Located on top of Jirek Hill, this fort was used as a fortification against the attack of the Minangkabau people until 1837. Around this fort we can see many old canons from the 19th century, and we can also enjoy the view of the city from this place, because a fort is always located in an ideal place for observation.

Panorama Park
A charming park with plenty of plants and a good spot to observe the beauty of Sianok Valley. In this place there are a lot of shops selling original souvenirs of Minangkabau.

Kinantan Zoo
This zoo was also built by a dutch named Controleur Strom Van Govent in 1900, at first this is just an ordinary city park until it was turned into a zoo in 1929 by Dr. J. Hock. Kinantan is the only zoo in West Sumatra and it is the oldest zoo in Indonesia. Inside this zoo you can also find a Minangkabau cultural Museum and Zoology Museum.

Limpapeh Bridge
Functioned as a liaison between Kinantan Zoo and Fort De Kock. This bridge was built by concrete construction with the roof shaped like a traditional house of Minangkabau.

Janjang Seribu (A Thousand Steps)
It's actually a long and winding stairway on built between the cracks of cliffs usually used by the local occupants to take water from Sianok Valley. Here you can find a resting area with the view of Mount Singgalang and Mount Merapi, s fishing pond, and a camping ground. we can also find lots of wild animals like monkey and some species of bird.

Japanese Cave
This "cave" is actually a bunker built by the Japanese during world war II in 1942 as a defence facility for their army. It was built by thousands of forced Minangkabau workers, many of them died during the process. this bunker is more like a tunnel with 2 m wide and about 1400 m long. Inside this tunnel you will find many rooms which was used as dining rooms, bars, interogation rooms, kitchens, and prisons. There are many entrance to enter this bunker, we can find them in Sianok Valley, Panorama Park, and Bung Hatta Palace. Inside this tunnel, the local government is planning to build a scientific History Museum by cooperating with several countries like Germany, Netherland, Australia, USA, and also with two universities from Indonesia, Bandung Technology University and Padjajaran University in West Java.

Bung Hatta Monument
Bung Hatta or Muhammad Hatta is the first vice president of Indonesia who was born in Bukit Tinggi in August 12, 1902. This monument was built to honor him as a National hero and one of the founding fathers of Indonesia.

Bung Hatta Palace
Also known as Tri Arga Building, located in the city center in front of Jam Gadang clock tower. During Japanese occupation this building used as a residence of Japanese defense commander Seiko Seikikan Kakka, but during the physical revolution erain the year of 1946 after Indonesian Independence in 1945, it becomes the residence of Indonesian first vice president Drs. Muhammad Hatta.

Those are just a few from a lot more attractions you can find in Bukit Tinggi. The best way to get to know more about this interesting city is by visiting it, and anytime you have a chance to visit this place the Minangkabau people is ready to welcome you with their typical friendly hospitality.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lake Maninjau

A trip to a beautiful lake is always a nice idea to spend a relaxing vacation, take a break from our busy days while enjoying the view, hear the water, and feel the fresh air could be the best way to forget about our daily activities for a while.

This time we'll take you to one of the most amazing lakes in Indonesia, Lake Maninjau in West Sumatra. lake Maninjau is a vulcanical lake which lies 461 m above sea level with 100m2 wide and maximum depth of 500m. The location is not far from Bukit Tinggi, a fascinating city which is also one of the main tourist destinations in Indonesia with so many point of interests you can find.

By the lake there is a village called Maninjau Village. This village is well known because it was the birth place of two famous figures in Indonesia, Buya Hamka (a fenomenal literati), and Rangkayo Rasuna Said (one of Indonesia's national hero), to honor this woman there is a street in Jakarta that named after her.

Visiting this lake, you're gonna be pompered by it's fresh air and stunning view of the lake that has clear water. But unfortunately tourists are not allowed to swim in this lake, that's because the local people here hold a very strict moslem tradition so you cannot wear a swimsuit or dresses that looks too open. But you can swim in the resorts or hotels around this lake that has swimming pool facilities though.

Beside in the lake area you can also find many good accomodations in Bukit Tinggi, this might be a good idea because by staying here the next day you can visit various tourist attractions in the city. You can also find many restaurants serving various kind of food, but usually you can only find European or other foreign food in hotel restaurants. Be careful if you would like to try traditional cuisines of this area, West Sumatra is known for its delicious but spicy food. So if you don't have a very strong stomach you better ask carefully first before you make your order. There are also many stores here selling high quality Songket which is a traditional woven of West Sumatra that is so famous around the world.

To get to this place you have to take a flight to Padang, then continue to Bukit Tinggi by land, there are a lot of public transportations that can take you from Padang to Bukit Tinggi then to Lake Maninjau.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

West Sumatra Shocked By A Strong Earthquake

September 30, 2009 at 17.16 PM local time, West Sumatra one of the most beautiful part of Indonesia which has lots of natural tourist attractions was striked by a powerful earthquake. This earthquake happened in the depth of 80km with the strength of 7.6 on richter scale which is very destructive especially in Padang - the capital of West Sumatra. The vibration of the earthquake even can be felt in Singapore and also Kuala Lumpur.

Padang sits on an area which is called by the geologists as 'the ring of fire', where the Indo-Australia plate meets the Eurasia plate. This condition causes the area oftenly shook by an earthquake.

Almost 1.000 people killed in this tragedy, thousands of people suffered minor or major injury, it also causes massive destruction to buildings and infrastructures. Many people lost their homes, and children lost their schools.

We thank all the people and organizations, local or international, that are willing to give their help and donation to ease the suffering of the victims, including the UN and friendly countries.

The people there still need our help, the easiest way to help the victims is by donating through donation accounts provided to help these people. You can transfer your donation through these accounts :

* BCA, Thamrin branch acc. no. 206.300668.8 Acc. Name Kantor Pusat PMI
* Bank Mandiri, Jakarta krakatau Steel branch Acc. 070-00-0011601-7 Acc. Name Palang Merah Indonesia
* Bank Mandiri, Jakarta Taman Kebon Jeruk Branch Acc. 117 0000 778894 Acc. Name PT. Media Televisi Indonesia
* Bank Mandiri, Puri Indah Branch Acc. 288 3333 888 Acc. Name PT. Media Televisi Indonesia
* Bank Mandiri, Jakarta Pulogadung branch Acc. 125-000-7926-793 2 Acc. Name Tv One Satu Untuk Negeri
* Bank Mandiri, Jakarta Rawamangun branch Acc. 0386-01-000-111-304 Acc. Name Tv One Satu Untuk Negeri

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Monday, October 5, 2009

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Dieng Highland, A Nirvana In The Mist

Dieng is the second highest highland in the world after Nepal, and the largest in Java. It lies 6.802 feet / 2.093 km above sea level. The average temperature in this area is 15 celcius degree, but during July - August which is the coolest period in Dieng, the temperature could drop to zero.

Administratively, this highland is divided in two large areas, Dieng Kulon (Western Dieng) in Banjarnegara district, and Dieng Wetan (Eastern Dieng) in Wonosobo district, Central Java Province.

Dieng highland is a complex of volcanoes which has 11 cones, Bisma, Seroja, Binem, Pangonan Merdada, Pagerkandang, Telogo Dringo, Pakuwaja, Kendil, Kunir, and Prambanan. There are also 9 fumarola fields, Sikidang, Kumbang, Sibanteng, Upas, Telogo Terus, Pagerkandang, Sipandu, Siglagah and Sileri.

Another name for Dieng highland is Dieng Plateau. That's because this area is actually a plateau that was created after a huge explotion of a volcano. that's why the geological condition of this area is relatively unstable and the ground is oftenly moves. We can see the trail of this geological activity through broken roads and the cracks on the ground which spray toxical gas into the air. Sometime ago, this geological activity even made a village disappear.

An a tourist destination, Dieng Plateau has everything. It has many kinds of natural tourist attractions like caves, craters, waterfalls, lakes, and don't forget the unforgetable beauty of its view with various kind of plants growing everywhere you see. It also has cultural tourist attractions like a hindunese temple complex and traditional dance called kuda lumping that frequently performed by the local people.

Here are a bit information about those tourist attractions in Dieng :

Pagerkandang Crater
If we see its morfology, it can be concluded that this was once a crater of a volcano which shaped like a cone. The body of the mountain has already collapsed because of an explotion.

Sileri Crater
This crater is a basin which filled by materials from Pagerkandang explotion in 1944.

Sikidang Crater
This crater is more like a sulfur hole, because it's always move from places and the water is always boiling.

Candradimuka Crater
Candradimuka is not a crater of a volcanoe, but it's sulfur which came out of a cracking ground. There are two cracks that still active releasing sulfur, one crack releases sulfur continously and the other one frequently.

Merdada Lake
This is once a volcanoe crater which was then filled with water from the rain. This lake then used by the occupants of Karang Tengah village as a water source for their everyday needs.

Sewiwi Lake
This pretty lake was not formed from a crater, but from the water source in the ground coming out.

Balekambang Lake
Located in Pendowo Temple complex, this lake makes the scenery around this temple complex even more beautiful.

Warna Lake and Pengilon Lake
These lakes was once merge, but since Tulis River was dammed by lava these lakes were splitted in two.

Dringo Lake
This lake was also formed from a volcanoe eruption in 1786. It's called Dringo lake because there are plenty of dringo plants (Acorus calamus Rumph) that grow wildly all around the lake. Dringo is a tuber kind of plant which has so many useful elements to cure inflammation.

Cebong Lake
cebong is abeautiful lake surrounded by hills. The water from this lake is also used by the local inhabitants from nearby village - Sembungan village, for their everyday needs.

Jimat Cave and Upas Cave
these caves were once a crater, and the wholes were used to be the place where the lava floated. these caves still continously spraying toxical gas, that's why the tourists can't go near these caves. not so far from the cave, there is a tomb of a germany (Herman Kelier) who died in 1883 because he was standing too close to the cave. Now the place where the tomb lies is set to be the save distance for the visitor to watch these caves.

Jalatunda Wail
it used to be a crater which shaped round like a wail. Sadly, nobody knows why oftenly happens an accident that people fall into that large wail. If it happens nobody can rescue the victim because the wail is too deep. The local people believe there is an unseen beast in the wail, and they also believe whoever succeeded to throw a rock from the west side to east side of the wail, he will get all his wishes.

Bima Lukar
Bima Lukar is a natural shower that has its water from the water source of Serayu River. The ocal occupants use it for their everyday needs. The people believe this water can make them stay young.

Kalianget Hot Spring
this place is formed from a crack on the ground as the cause of magma activity. The water from the ground get a reaction from the magma before it emmerges and makes it hot.

Tempuran Hot Spring
It's not formed from a magma activity but through a geothermical gradien. every 100m the temperature will increase as much as 3.3 C degree. The water came out because there a gas pressure from the ground.

Lagetang Village
As a prove that Dieng is a vulcanical area. Ground movement oftenly happens in this area.

Mangli Hot Spring

Sikarim Waterfall

Hindunese Temples
There are several temple complex in Dieng which confirmed built during Hindunese kingdoms rule. from the inscription found here, there is a year 1210 AD but it doesn't mention who built it. The architecture of these temples are different from the most hindunese temples found in Java. These temples were named after an old epical story characters of Mahabharata; Arjuna, Gatotkaca, Dwarawati, Bima, Semar, Sembadra, Srikandi, and Puntadewa. The experts believe that these names are actually not the original names of these temples, and these names given after these temples were abandoned. Inside these temples we can find the statue of Hindunese Gods; Siva, Wishnu, Agastya, Ganesha, and others.

Beside those interesting tourist attractions, Dieng has all the facilities and infrastuctures as a tourist destination, as well as plenty of accomodation we can find here.

Dieng can be easely reached from Wonosobo or Banjarnegara city, we can even take a regular public transportation to Dieng. If we travel by plane, we should land at Jogjakarta or Semarang then we continue our journey to Wonosobo or Banjarnegara through land.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Prambanan Temple

If Borobudur Temple which was one of the seven wonders of the world is a legacy of Buddhist culture, then Prambanan Temple is the greatest and the oldest hindunese legacy in Indonesia which was built during Sanjaya dynasty of Mataram kingdom after the kingdom was converted from Buddhist to Hindunese.

This amazing temple was built in the the 9th century (850 AD and finished in 856 AD) about 25 years after Borobudur temple was finish built and centuries before the famous Hindunese temple Angkor Wat in Cambodia. This is based on the inscription of Siwargrarha stated 850 AD and also a relief with the name Pikatan (name of the king who ruled Mataram Kingdom in that year). Although there are also some people who say Prambanan temple was built in the 10th century (915 AD) during the Shivaist Dynasty by king Daksha. This is because Prambanan Temple is dedicated to worship Shiva.

Prambanan is actually a complex of temples with 3 main temples located on the main ground. These temples are dedicated to Hindunese Gods, Wishnu (The creator), Brahma (The keeper), and Shiva (The destructor), These Three temples stand facing East. Each of these temples has its own smaller "companion temple" which is dedicated to each God's ride. Wishnu's ride called Garuda, Garuda is a mythological creature which described as a half-bird human with golden body, white face, red wings, with the shape of beak and wings look like an eagle. It's assumed to be the hindunese adaptation of Bennu (means 'rise' or 'shine') usually associated to Re in old egyptian mythology or phoenix in greek mythology. Many people admire this mythological creature, and it was said that Indonesia's symbol - Garuda Pancasila is actually the adaptation of this Garuda. Two other temples are Angkasa (swan) as Brahma's ride and Nandini (cow) as Shiva's ride.

Beside these 6 temples, there are still other 8 temples on the main ground, 2 Apit Temples, 4 Kelir Temples, and 4 Sudut Temples. While on the second ground we can find 224 temples.

Inside Wishnu temple we can only find one room consists of the statue of Whisnu and also inside Brahma temple consists only one room with the statue of Brahma in it, But not with the Shiva temple. Shiva Temple is the largest and tallest temple among other temples in Prambanan and located between Brahma and Wishnu temple. Shiva temple has 4 rooms, in the main room lies Shiva statue, in the other 3 rooms each consist the statue of Agastya (Shiva's Guru), Ganesha (Shiva's Son), and Durga (Shiva's Wife).

There is an interesting legend about this Durga statue, according to the legend long time ago there was a beautiful princess named Roro Jonggrang the daughter of King Bhoko. Roro Jonggrang was forced to marry Bandung Bondowoso, a prince with great magical power. Since Roro Jonggrang didn't love Bandung, so she told Bandung that she would marry him if he could build her temples with 1000 statues in one night. With his magical power and the help of his unseen geenie force, surprisingly Bandung Bondowoso was almost completed the task. By the time he was about to make the 1000th statue, Roro Jonggrang ask the villagers to mashed the paddy and make a great fire so it looks like the morning has come. The geenie troops who afraid of light were running away and left Bandung alone so that he couldn't finish the job. When Bandung Bondowoso found out what Roro Jonggrang has done, he was so furious and then he cursed Roro Jonggrang to become the 1000th statue in the temple he built. It was said that Durga statue inside Shiva Temple was actually Roro Jonggrang statue stated in this legend. That's why Prambanan Temple is also called Roro Jonggrang Temple.

we can also find the relics of a great epic story of Ramayana engraved on the temple. We can follow the story by walking around the temple. Prambanan is surrounded by beautiful green gardens which usually used as the resting place for visitors.

Prambanan is located 17 Km to the East of Jogjakarta, it's very easy to reach, you can take a charter vehicle or regular public transportations to get there.

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