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.

Read more!

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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Monday, September 28, 2009

The Legendary Mountain Tangkuban Perahu

Tangkuban perahu is one of the active volcanoes in Java island - in West Java to be exact. This is a very nice place for sightseeing tour with your family. You can watch an amazing large bubbling white crater called the Upah crater. Its fresh air and beautiful view make this place a perfect spot for a family picnic.

It's very easy to get to this place, from Bandung just take a public transportation or taxi which takes only 30 minutes journey. Or to be more comfortable you can rent a car, this way you can reach the top of mountain without much effort because there is a road leads to the top of this mountain unless of course if you're intend to do a hiking activity.

One thing that makes Mount Tangkuban perahu so popular not only in Bandung or West Java, but all over Indonesia is its remarkable legend that's been told through generations for hundreds of year and becomes one of the most popular legend in Indonesia.

It was told that in ancient time, a prince in kahyangan (nirvana) was cursed because he has done some mistakes to the Gods. The Gods sent him to the earth and transformed him into a dog. On earth, there was a beautiful princess named Dayang Sumbi. Dayang Sumbi loved to weave, one day when she was weaving one of her weaving tool slipped through the palace window and fell to the ground far below. She was calling her maids to helped her but no one showed up, feeling so disappointed she wasn't thingking so clearly. Suddenly she made an oath that she shouted out loud, "anybody who helped me carry my weaving tool back to me shall be rewarded, if she's a woman.. I shall take her as my sister, but if he's a man.. he shall have the honour to mary me" she shout. Unfortunately the dog shaped prince heard her voice, he then took the weaving tool and crried it back to the princess. Dayang Sumbi was shocked to see a male dog carrying her waiving tool, at first she was thingking to break the oath, but in order to avoid the Gods's anger her father insist her to mary the dog. That was also a lesson given by her father that an oath is not something to be played with, especially for a princess.

After the marriage, Dayang Sumbi and Tumang - the dog, chosed to live in a jungle far away from the kingdom. On one night, Tumang was transformed back to his real human shape. He then told Dayang Sumbi about his story, he said that before the curse is broken he only can transform into his real shape occasionally. From that day Dayang Sumbi wasn't so sad anymore and really treaded Tumang as a husband.

Several years went by and they had a son named Sangkuriang. One day Dayang Sumbi told Sangkuriang to hunt for a deer because she wanted to cook and eat deer liver that day. Sangkuriang then took Tumang on the hunting, but after wondering around for a long time in the jungle he couldn't a deer to hunt. Afraid to disappoint his mother, Sangkuriang then killed Tumang and took his liver to Dayang Sumbi. when Sangkuriang came back alone from the jungle bringing Tumang's liver to his mother, Dayang Sumbi felt a suspicious to his son. She then insist Sangkuriang to tell her what happened, when she found out that Sangkuriang killed his own father, Dayang Sumbi felt so angry and hit Sangkuriang until he felt down bleeding in his forehead. Dayang Sumbi then told Sangkuriang to go away and never come back to his mother anymore.

Many years passed by, now Sangkuriang had become a handsome young man who used to travel from one area to another. Someday in his journey, he met Dayang Sumbi but he didn't recognize his mother and Dayang Sumbi also didn't recognize Sangkuriang. It was said that because of some herbs in the jungle she used to drink, Dayang Sumbi has a long life and never grows old. So, when she met Sangkuriang she was still looks pretty, even more pretty than before. These mother and son then fell in love, Sangkuriang then proposed Dayang Sumbi to become his wife. feeling so lonely all these years, Dayang Sumbi accepted it but then she found a scar on Sangkuriang's forehead and asked him how he got that scar. Dayang Sumbi was very surprised facing the reality that actually the scar was made by her when she sent her son away, she realized that the man she was about to married with is actually her son. She told Sangkuriang about this and she intended to break their engagement, but Sangkuriang refuse it and he suspected Dayang SSumbi was just trying to make an excuse by making up a story.

Because Sangkuriang kept insist to mary her, Dayang Sumbi then gave Sangkuriang several conditions. She said that she would mary him if Sangkuriang can build her a giant boat and a dam in just one night before the roosters crow. Dayang Sumbi thought that Sangkuriang would fail so she wouldn't have to mary her own son, but Dayang Sumbi was shocked to see that on midnight, due to the magical power he had, Sangkuriang was almost finished his job. Dayang Sumbi then running around waking up every rooster she could find and made them crow. Sangkuriang was so furious facing the reality that he failed to mary Dayang Sumbi, so furious that he kicked the giant far away. The giant boat then fell upside down and became a mountain called Tangkuban Perahu (Sundanese language means upside down boat), and the dam became the rivers flowing all around the mountain.

there are so many accomodations you can find in Bandung. Bandung is a nice place to stay, it's a modern city only the air is fresher than Jakarta. Or if you'd like to have even more fresh air, you can choose an accomodation in Lembang - a small town near the mountain. There are also some good restaurants in Lembang serving delicious Indonesian food that's worth to try.

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Way Kambas National Park

Way Kambas National Park is representative of lowland forest ecosystem consisting of freshwater swamp forests, grasslands, and coastal forests in Sumatra. Located in Lampung - Sumatra (close to Sunda strait), This natural reservation occupies about 130.000 hectares area, and the temperature in this place is pretty hot - around 28° - 37° C.

Plant species in this national park include api-api (Avicennia marina), Sonneratia (Sonneratia sp.), Palm (Nypa fruticans), absorbed (Melaleuca leucadendron), salam (Syzygium polyanthum), mire (Glochidion borneensis), ketapan (Terminalia cattapa), sea pine (Casuarina equisetifolia), pandan (Pandanus sp.), puspa (Schima wallichii), meranti (Shorea sp.), oil (Dipterocarpus gracilis), and ramin (Gonystylus bancanus).

Way Kambas National Park has 50 species of mammals such as Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis sumatrensis), Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus), Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), tapirs (Tapirus indicus), coyote (Cuon alpinus sumatrensis), gibbon (Hylobates syndactylus syndactylus); 406 bird species including forest ducks (Cairina scutulata), storks (Ciconia episcopus stormi and Leptoptilos javanicus), Crested Fireback (Lophura ignita), Bornean Peacock (Argusianus argus argus), Pecuk snake ( Anhinga melanogaster); and also various types of reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects.

Although there are so many species we can find here, but Way Kambas is best known for its elephant. That's because there is an elephant training centre here which was built in 1985. Until this moment this training centre is still operating and it has succeeded to train and tame about 290 elephants. These elephants are trained to be riding elephants, wood transporters, plowers, and attraction performers. In this facility, you can watch the animal tamers training wild elephants, and we can also watch the elephants playing soccer game, dancing, swimming, and many other attractions.

Beside the elephant training facility, this place is also attractive for people who love safari trip or camping. You can take a ground trip with jeeps or you can take the river to observe the animals and plants in Way Kambas. There is also a rhino captivity facility with laboratoriums and observer camps that you can visit.

It's quiet easy to get to this place, from Jakarta go to merak harbour then take a ferry to bakauheni harbour then take a bus to Labuan Meringgai and then take another bus to Way Kambas. It takes about 3 hours journey from Bakauheni harbour to Way Kambas.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kuta Beach - Bali Indonesia

Kuta is probably the most famous beach in Indonesia, in fact not only in Indonesia, this beach is also famous all over the world as a fantastic beach for tourist destination. Almost every travel agents, tourism books, and travelling sites all over the world include Kuta beach as one of the great destinations.

Kuta beach played an important role in Indonesia's tourism history, since it was the first successful tourist destination that was managed professionally in Indonesia. It was started when Danish traders opened a trading agency office in this area. The business connection built between the trading agency and the natives then grew rapidly.

In 1930 (before Indonesia's Independence - 1945), a married couple from California were very impressed by the natural beauty of Kuta beach. The news about the untouched natural beauty of the beach then spreaded and people were started to come to the beach. Kuta Beach Hotel was the first hotel built in this area, but it was stop operating after the japanese soldiers attacked the island of Bali. In 1960 many tourists from Australia had to make a transit in Bali before they continued their journey to Europe, this situation made Kuta gained back its popularity. Today, Kuta beach still attracts lots of visitors not only from Australia, but from all over the world.

Kuta beach covered by soft white sand. This beach is a very ideal place for any kinds of beach activities like sunbathing, swimming, or surfing. Its location which is on a basin makes the waves on this beach is not as hard as any other beaches located on the south which directly face the Indonesian ocean. It makes Kuta beach as an ideal place for tourists who would like to learn how to surf, you can many surfing instructors in this beach. But the main attraction in this beautiful beach is the sunset, in the afternoon the beach will become more crowded by the people who want to enjoy the sunset which is a remarkable scenery.

Beside the beach, Kuta area is also known as the part of Bali that never sleeps and a good place to hang out. You can find so many shops, restaurants, hotels, clubs, cafes, souvenirs on the sideroads of Kuta all the way to the next village - Legian and Seminyak.

So many hotels and resorts you can rent here with price range from $15 - $400 / night. Kuta beach is very easy to reach since it is located only 30 minutes from the international airport in Denpasar - the capital of Bali Indonesia.

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Sanur Beach - Bali Indonesia

This beach is considered to be the second best beach in Bali after the famous Kuta Beach. Sanur beach is located in Denpasar - the capital of Bali province at sanur village on the south of Bali island which is the edge of the Indonesian ocean.

beach was introduced for the first time as a tourist attraction by a Belgium painter AJ. Le Mayeur who live in sanur with his native wife Ni Polok, he introduced this beach by making a painting exhibition in Sanur.

like Kuta beach, this beach is also covered by white sand. The sun is very hot in this area makes it a perfect place for sunbathing. in the afternoon when the sea water ebb, many tourists use this moment for canoeing. From this beach you can see the cluster of Nusa Penida Island on the southeast across the ocean, and on the east you can see the view of Bali island south beach with its mountains.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bali Indonesia, Island of The Gods

Bali is the number one tourist destination in Indonesia and one of the best in the world. Every day, this island attracts millions of tourist from all over the world to enjoy the beauty of this tropical heaven. This island is very famous as a holiday destination for the people around the world especially for those who love to travel abroad, sometimes its popularity even exceeding the popularity of the country - Indonesia. I've met some people who don't know that Bali is really a part of Indonesia and it's one of the Indonesia's provinces.

Bali Indonesia is located between Java and Lombok island. It's very easy to reach from abroad or from any other part of Indonesia since it has an international airport in its capital - Denpasar. Bali Indonesia is 5.561 km2 wide, and occupied by 4.500.000 people with ethnic - Balinese as a majority (89%). other ethnics that live in this island are Javanese (7%), Baliaga (1%) and Madura people (1%). Although Indonesia is a country with moslem majority, but in Bali Indonesia Hindu is the majority religion (92.3%) and Islam is the second big religion in Bali Indonesia. But eventhough it has several ethnic groups and different religons with Balinese and Hindunese as majorities, the people in Bali are very tolerant, almost there is no friction between these ethnic groups or between religions in Bali Indonesia.

Balinese are the people who hold their religion and culture so strongly and they implement it in their everyday lives. They have Pura (worship place) in every house and often make religious ceremonies in some occasions. They are also known as friendly people and hard workers, These aspects are could be the reason why the tourists love this island and willing to stay long or make them coming back after their last visit to Bali Indonesia.

As the main tourist destination in Indonesia, Bali has everything. Bali Indonesia has hundreds of natural touris attractions such as beaches, mountains, lakes, forests and others. It also has many historical attractions, religious places, cultural attractions, art shows, etc. Beside that Bali Indonesia also has great tourist facilities and infra structure that support tourism activity in this island.

I shall provide more information about tourist attractions in Bali in my other posts. And if you wish to visit Bali Indonesia, please go to Bali travel tips page in my previous post.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Indonesia Travel Tips

Interested to explore Indonesian beauty ? so pack those bags and book a ticket but please take a little time to read these useful travel tips to make your journey more enjoyable in Indonesia.

Travel tips for a specific area or a place you've never been to is a very important thing to look at before you make your journey, that's because every place or country in this world including Indonesia has its own characteristic, legal rules, cultures and habits. Good travel tips can really help you to understand those important things and make you prepare your journey better.

Here are some useful travel tips if you wish to spend your holiday in Indonesia :

* The best time for visiting Indonesia is between May and October during the dry season.
* Indonesia has two seasons, the dry season from June-October and the rainy season from
November-March. The general maximum temperature is 33°C (62°F) and the general
minimum temperature is 21°C (41°F) while the humidity is high at all times.
* The people use Bahasa Indonesia as their national language to communicate, it's a very easy
language to learn if you wish, but in some tourist areas English is commonly spoken.
* You can find all kinds of hotel in Indonesia from budget hotels to expensive five star hotels.
Usually in these hotels 10% service tax is added with the bill, while at the restaurants service
tax tips are given
* Banking hours are from 8.00 am to 12.00 noon Monday-Friday an 8.00 am to 11.00 on
Saturday. But the banks in hotels usually have longer banking hours.
* US Dollars and other major currencies in banknotes or travelers checks are easily
exchangeable in banks or authorized moneychangers. But be sure you always carry Rupiahs in
cash especially in outer province or small towns as you can't always find ATM machine or use
credit cards or exchange currencies in these places easily, but be sure you put your money in
safe place because pick pocketing is a common crime in this country.
* Office hours are vary, but most of them open from 8.00 am to 4.30 pm from Monday-Friday
Some close on Saturday and some open until 1.00 pm and close on Sunday.
* Dress is normally casual and it's advisable to use light clothing due to hot weather. Trousers or
slacks and shirts are considered appropriate, but jacket and tie are considered to be a very
formal dress for only formal occasions or when making office calls. It's recommended to use
sweater or jacket if you'd like to travel to mountain areas.
* Visas are required except for the nationals of 48 countries : Argentina, Australia, Austria,
Belgium, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland,
France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Hongkong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan Kuwait
Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Monaco,
Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain,
Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, UAE, USA, Venezuela, Yugoslavia
and Taiwanese holding MFA/M Passports. The Visa requirement is also waived for other
nationals from friendly countries or attending conference which has received official approval.
Visa free entry is for maximum of 60 days and is not extendable. Possession of passport is a
must to all visitors to Indonesia valid for at least six months with proof of onward passage
either return or through tickets.
* Customs allow a maximum entry of one liter of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars
or 100 grams of tobacco and a reasonable amount of perfume per adult. Cameras, Video
cameras, portable radios, cassette recorders, binoculars and sport equipments are admitted
provided they're taken out on departure, they must be declared to customs.
Prohibited are firearms, narcotics, drugs, pornography, Chinese printing and medicines,
transceivers and cordless telephones. Films, pre-recorded video tapes and laser discs must be
There's no restriction on import or export of foreign currencies and travelers checks, but the
import and export of Indonesian currencies exceeding 5 million Rupiah is prohibited. Airport
authority levies an airport tax of Rp 50.000,- for travelers on international routes and Rp
11.000,- for domestic routes.
* For transportation there are metered taxis everywhere with vary costs and hire cars also
available with differ rates. Other forms of transportation are bajaj (like in India) for two
passengers, small buses with regular routes, the man driven pedicab called becak, buses
(usually very crowded), trains (only in Java and Sumatra).
* Most hotels in big cities use 220 volts 50 cycles and a two pronged plug. However some hotels
in the provinces may still be using 110 volts, you better check first before using it.
* There are lots of supermarkets with fix prices and also small shops and traditional markets
where you can bargain.
* The Indonesian staple food is rice steamed boiled or fried. Some accompanying dishes can be
pepper hot or extremely spicy with red or green chili so you better ask before ordering. You
can find many American, European or Asian restaurants everywhere. Pork is forbidden for
moslems and beef for Balinese Hindus but they are available in many markets and restaurants.
* The Indonesian consider the right hand as a good hand, they use it to eat or to give or receive
something from other person. Crooking your finger to call someone is considered impolite.
Handshaking is customary both for men and women on introduction and greetings and smiling
is a national characteristic.
* Proper decorum should especially be observed when visiting holy places or worship since
Indonesians are very polite people.
* A large portion of the population of Indonesia smokes, so it's pretty difficult for travelers who
don't smoke.
* Last but not least, it would be better if you have a travel insurance. Having a travel insurance can guarantee that your holiday would not end up as a disaster, so better prepare yourself before bad things come.

I hope these travel tips could really help you during your trip to this beautiful and exotic country Indonesia, bon voyage.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Bali Travel Tips

Bali Indonesia is considered to be one of the most exotic islands in the world. everyday, especially in peak seasons millions of tourists from all over the world come to this tropical paradise to surf the beauty of this island.

If you love to travel, no doubt this island is the right place to visit. But before you pack your luggage, please spend a little time to read this Bali travel tips before you take off to ensure your amenities during your journey.

* Money. Rupiah is the basic unit of money, foreign currency wheter in banknotes or traveller's checks can be exchanged easily at major banks or authorised moneychangers available all across this island. It's recommended that you exchange the currency at the moneychangers as it usually has better exchange rates than the banks. Moneychangers are stay open longer transactions are quicker. Indonesian Rupiah is devided by denominations of Rp 25, Rp 50, Rp 100 and Rp 500 which are available in the form of coins, and Rp 1.000, Rp 2.000, Rp 5.000, Rp 10.000, Rp 20.000, Rp 50.000 and Rp 100.000 which are available in the form of bills. To travel around Bali Indonesia, make sure you carry a handful of Rp 100 and Rp 500 coins especially if you wish to travel to the corners of this island where you're going to need them. Don't exchange large sum of money, because , due to the volatility of the rupiah, most mid-range hotels, all top-end hotels and restaurants, and some tourist attractions, car rental agencies and tour companies list their prices in US dollar. The postal service in Bali has a type of postal traveller's check called cek pos. You can exchange your cash for these checks at a main post office and use them throughout Indonesia as traveller's checks or cash them at any post office. However, these traveller's checks cannot be accepted by individuals.

* Credit Cards. You can use credit card in almost every shop in Bali, large or small, with with a 3-5 percent added to the bill. Cash advance can be obtained in all major tourist resorts. ATM are available all over the island and most of them are also connected to international banking networks,so it is possible to look for machines that are affiliated with your own ATM network. Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are accepted by most of the bigger businesses. The amount signed for is in rupiah and the bill is then converted to your domestic currency.

* Security. Don't bring too many cash especialy when you're travelling to some remote areas without a guide. US dollars are the most negotiable currency, particularly in remote areas. It would be a practical way to change as much as you can and feel safe carrying before heading into more remote regions.
Please be careful with your belonging, leave your important documents in your hotel and you can wander around with the copies. Once again don't bring too many cash, as picking pocket is the most comon crime in every region in Indonesia.

* Health. You will be asked for an international health certificate if you enter Bali Indonesia from an area infected with smallpox, cholera and yellow fever. It is advisable to take typhoid and paratyphoid vaccinations if you intend to stay in Bali for a long time, and to reduce the risk of hepatitis it's also advisable that you take a gamma-globulin injections. don't be too worry about the famous "Bali Belly" as the simptoms can be stopped by taking Lomotil and Imodium.At the first sign of sickness (diarrhoea and cramps), drink strong, hot tea and avoid all fruits and spicy food. a medicine named Norit which is a charcoal tablet, will help alleviate the cramping. If a fever occurs with the above symptoms, go to a doctor for a course of antibiotics. Be sure to rehydrate yourself by taking mineral replacements salts such as Oralite and drinking as much liquids as possible.
Protect yourself from dengue fever which is today become a major threat in Bali by wearing long sleeves and trousers or use insect repellent to keep the Aedes mosquitoes at bay. Don't forget to bring along sunscreen and sunblock as the Bali sun is very harsh, and you may also need a wide brimmed straw hat that useful around noon when the sun is intense, remember bali lies very close to the equator so the sunlight is pretty hot.
For your own convinience, check your teeth health before you go to Bali Indonesia and make sure there's nothing wrong with them, because dentist is a very hard thing to find in Bali.while shopping or just walking around, it's acceptable to wear shorts or singlets, but when visitting friends or older people, calling on government offices, or visiting places of worship, it is advisable to wear trousers for men and dresses for women. When your visitting a Balinese Pura or Temple or any other holy places, there are certain dressing codes and attitudes that you must follow. Usually most of these places require you to wear Balinese sarong which are usualy available in these places.

* Dressing. Most of Indonesian people including Balinese believe that correct attire is the basic sign of showing respect to others.

* Weather. weather is generally calm for most of the year. Daytime temperatures are in the 80's (Fahrenheit) throughout the year with the rains traditionally falling between November and April.Bali is spared a monsoonal season and rains, when they do come, generally last only several hours, lowering the temperatures slightly and making for greener scenery all around.

* Shopping. In small shops you can bargain before buying things, except on price tagged goods. When you meet souvenirs or goods offerings in the street just ignore them and give a polite rejection, they usually sell low quality goods.

* Attitudes. Touching grow people's head is a taboo and can be consider as an offensive act to Balinese Hindus, don't enter temples during menstruation because it's highly forbidden by the Hindus. Don't use your left hand for shaking or handing over things to someone, it's consider to be a very impolite thing to do.

* Last but not least, it would be better if you have a travel insurance. Having a travel insurance can guarantee that your holiday would not end up as a disaster, so better prepare yourself before bad things come.

I hope you found these Bali travel tips useful for your journey, and to see another general tips of travelling to Indonesia that are not mention here in Bali travel tips post,please read my previous post Indonesia Travel Tips, you can find informations about customs, passport and visas, legal rules etc. Have a nice trip.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Losari Beach

Losari is a unique beach, it's located in the heart of a big city - Makasar in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. The most unique point of this beach is you can watch both sunset and sunrise in the same place you're standing, its position which lies from north to south makes you possible to do that.

Although it is located in a big city, the environment of Losari beach is quite preserved. The beach looks very clean and tidy, so it creates such unique beautiful scenery of natural beauty in a big city.

The beach which extends as far as 4 km can be easily reached through the main road. Across the road from Losari Beach you can find lots of accomodations with various classes and facilities. You can also find many good restaurants offering traditional foods of South Sulawesi, or you can try Makasar's snacks available across the beach's edge.

The best time for travellers to enjoy the beauty of Losari beach is between 15.00 pm - 21.00 pm. Many tourists come to this beach just to sit and enjoy the beauty of this clean beach and watch the sunset or to jog along the beach.

* If you wish to visit Indonesia please go to Indonesia travel tips page

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Banda Sea Garden, a Piece of Heaven

There is not much tourism promotion or comprehensive information about this tourist destination. But it still cannot wipe the beauty of this natural paradise.

Banda sea garden located around Banda island in the middle of Banda sea between Maluku and Papua island - Indonesia. Banda is a tropical island that has an untouchable natural beauty which is hard to discribed with any words, but the main attraction of this tourist destination is lying under the sea in a place called Banda sea garden.

According to the people that have experienced to dive in this spot, it is said that Banda sea garden is one of the best diving spot in the world. It is not surprising since in this diver's paradise you can find about 400 species of sea biota that you won't be able to find in any other part of the world. Even the Caribean sea which attracts divers from all over the world only have no more than 20 species of sea biota.

Banda has 52 diving spots, it shows that this sea garden consist a large area and therefore the sea biotas are also vary. the water is so clean so that the tourists can enjoy the underwater beauty from a boat.

The best time to visit Banda sea garden is during March-April or September-October every year. During these months Banda sea is so calm so that you can even see the fishes swimming on the surface of the sea water and sometimes during these months you can see wales are entering the Banda gulf creating such an unforgetable view for the visitors. It was so true that some people said that visitting this island is like being cast away in paradise.

* If you wish to visit Indonesia please go to Indonesia travel tips page

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Thousand Island

Thousand Island or Pulau Seribu consisting of almost 128 small islands. These pretty islands are located in the bay of Jakarta in the Java sea and can be reached in about 1-2 hours boat ride from the bay of Jakarta - the capital of Indonesia, so it's very easy to get there. From 128 islands, the local government chosen some islands to be developed for tourism, some of them are Ayer island, Kotok island, Pelangi island, Bidadari island, Matahari / Macan Besar island, Pantara island, Bira island, Sepa island and Putri island.

With so many coral reefs surrounding this island as a home for many species of fishes and other sea biotas make Thousand island become a perfect spot for diving, snorkelling and fishing. You can find many diving and sailing facilities in some of the islands here.

Here I will try to give descriptions about some of the best islands in Pulau Seribu :

Ayer Island
In the past this island used as a private resort for the Kings of Thousand Island and in the modern history this island also used by Indonesia's first president as a private recreational place. This island is also called "The pearl of the Thousand Island" because of its beauty compared to the other islands in Thousand Island. Ayer has a very beautiful beach with surrounding coconut trees makes it a perfect place for relaxing and sunbathing. You can find almost any kind of tourist facilities in this island, floating cottages, bungalows, water sport facilities, and even entertainment spots like night clubs.

Kotok Island
This island can be reached from Jakarta in about 90 minutes. It's a real peaceful tropical hideaway with its untouched beauty. Taking a break in the cozy cottages tucked amongst the foliage, you can only hear the wind in the trees, birdsong and the slapping waves. Kotok island is also a good spot for snorkelling and diving.

Pelangi Island
Pelangi island or "Rainbow island" is located about 70 km from the Jakarta bay. This island is covered by lush palm and pine trees with its sandy beach in the middle of clean blue water. Pelangi island is a perfect place for those who love to enjoy beach, sand, sea and the sun.

Bidadari Island
Bidadari island or "Island of Angel" is the nearest island from Jakarta, it's only about 15 km away and can be reached in about 20 minutes with a speedboat. Here you can stay in beautiful cottages whis is built among trees giving you the chance to blend with the nature. Many tour operators selling the package of Bidadari island tour including its surrounding islands such as Kahyangan island, Kelor Island and Onrust Island where there is a historical site which is the remain of the Dutch's East Indies Company from the 17th century.

Macan Besar Island
Here you can find Matahari Island Resort, it's a beautiful tropical resort with good quality sand. This resort is surrounded by beaches but the most ideal spot for beach activities are the southern and western part. The marine life is also well developed, the water is clear and the natural habitat of tropical fishes and coral are also well preserved.

West and East Pantara Island
These islands have so many good accomodations for tourists like beautiful cottages, hotels, convention hall, Japanese, chinese and Indonesian restaurants, fresh water swimming pool, snack counters, souvenir shops, a disco, tennis courts, diving and other marine sports rental shop.

Bira Island
A very nice place to spend your vacation with your family. Bira Island has a crystal clear water, white sand beach with fresh air blowing everywhere. You can do lots of activities here since there are so many tourist facilities available here such as luxury cottages, bicycle rent, jetsky rents, extra large swimming pool, club house, children playground, fishing spots with traditional and modern fishing boats, and there is also a 9-hole golf course for you who like this sport.

Sepa Island
This island has a very beautiful landscape environment which is fascinatingly combined with luxuries traditional style cottages built around this island. This pretty island with many tourist facilities is located about 90 minutes away from Jakarta bay.

Putri Island
Putri Island or "Princess Island" is known for its clear water and good coral. Putri Island is one of the best spot for snorkelling and diving in Thousand Island. This island is located about 70 km from Jakarta bay.

* If you wish to visit Indonesia please go to Indonesia travel tips page

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Tana Toraja, The Kingdom of Heaven

Tana Toraja is one of the best tourist destination in Indonesia located in south Sulawesi. This place is occupied by the natives called Toraja people which still living by the way and rule of their ancient tradition. Entering their village you'll see lines of traditional houses with unique designs and buffalo horns stack at the front side of every house. In some villages you can even find relics from the megalith era like menhir stones and other stone forms made for a ritual ceremony.

The landscape of Tana Toraja covered by savannas and hills, here you can find so many granit stones and other vulcanical stones which complete the beauty of the scenery in Tana Toraja with mountain view as the background.

The best time to visit Tana Toraja is between the end of June to September after the harvest. During this time there are so many festivals and ceremonies held by the native including the most famous and the most glorious ceremony in Toraja tradition "Rambu Solo" or the funeral ceremony.

Rambu Solo is a ritual to bring the spirit of the dead from human realm to cross to the realm of the dead. This ritual participated by all the natives there and considered to be the most expensive ceremony in Toraja tradition. This ceremony can cost hundreds of million Rupiah to the family of the dead. Therefore, usually when the family haven't got the money yet to held the ritual they will put the corp on a place called tongkanan until they have enough money to held Rambu Solo ceremony. the most unique part of Rambu Solo ceremony is, on the main part of the ceremony the body of the dead is not buried but they just put the body of the dead on a rock inside a cave on a hill.

You don't have to worry about the accommodation in Tana Toraja since this is one of the main tourist destination in Indonesia. There are plenty of hotels and restaurants with various classes. To get to this place you can take a plane to Makasar - the capital of South Sulawesi then you can take another plane or a bus to Rantepao, with a bus it's about 8 hours travel to get to Rantepao.

* If you wish to visit Indonesia, please go to Indonesia travel tips page

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