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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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mount Krakatau

For travelers who love extreme places and challenging adventure, this volcano is the right place to visit. Krakatau is one of the most active volcanoes located on Sunda strait between Java and Sumatra island. It's very easy to get there since it's located not very far from Jakarta - the capital of Indonesia. From Jakarta you can take a bus to Merak harbor on the western side of Java island then take a ferry to Bakauheni port in Sumatra, from there you should continue your journey to Canti. Canti is the nearest port to Krakatau built and used by fishermen, here you can charter a fisherman ship to take you to Krakatau bay which will take about 4 hours journey. There's no accommodation in this area but you can build a camp in a valley about 50 m from the beach.

Along the way you will see extraordinary dramatic and mysterious view of the mountain. this mountain is always covered by mystery just like the story of its first time occurrence which was full of surprise.

The story began from the eruption of Krakatau mountain on august 27th 1883. The history said that it was a tremendous eruption which shook the world. Its larva sprayed about 80 km height while the dust floated around the earth for years. During the time, the people in North America and Europe saw blue sunlight and orange moon. The eruption caused 40 m tide wave that wiped the beaches on Lampung bay and the west bay of Banten area. The victims of this disaster was said about 36.000 deaths. The sound of Krakatau explosion was said to be heard from Singapore and Australia. It also caused earthquake not only in Java and Sumatra but also in Southern Australia, Srilanka and Phillipine. After the eruption the mountain was destroyed and then formed three small islands : Sertung island, Panjang island and Krakatau Besar island.

40 years later in 1927 the fishermen was surprised by the black smoke on the sea surface on the middle of the three islands. A year later a new volcano emerged from the sea right on the spot where the fishermen saw the black smoke. The people named this new volcano "Anak Krakatau" or "The Child Of Krakatau". Everyday this mountain grows about 1 cm and it never stops erupting. It's very beautiful to see the eruption from Sebesi island which is about 8 miles away from Anak Krakatau, it's like seeing a fire work in new years eve.

Climbing Krakatau mountain could be a memory that you won't easily forget, now this mountain has two peaks ; Rakata besar (813 m) and Anak Krakatau (280 m). Not so many flora you can find in this mountain, you can only see pine and coconut trees grow in this mountain. the fauna are also very few, here you can only find a few kinds of species like biawak (Varanus salvator), green turtle (Cholonia midas), Phyton, big bat (Pteropus vampirus) Raja udang bird (Alcedo atthis), a few kinds of lizard and butterflies.

You can only climb to the spine of the mountain which is the end of the permitted safe area. Here is the area of hot black sand and the wind is very strong in this area. Truly an unforgettable experience.

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

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Borobudur Temple, A Wonderful Wonder

Borobudur is one of the biggest Buddhist Temples in the world, in fact Borobudur was the biggest Buddhist temple in the world in the 9th century when it was built, centuries before Angkor Wat in Cambodia which was built in the 12th century. Borobudur once stated as one of the 7 wonders of the world, and since 1991 it was stated as the world heritage site by UNESCO.

Borobudur was built by King Samaratungga from the Syailendra Dynasty who ruled Mataram Kingdom in Central Java - Indonesia that time. The construction began around year 824 AD and finished by the end of the 9th century when Mataram Kingdom was ruled by Queen Pramudawardhani the daughter of King Samaratungga. The architect of this magnificent building according to the ancient story is Gunadharma, now his name is used as the name of a university in Yogyakarta.

This giant building is 118 m wide on each side with 42 m height. Borobudur Temple has 10 levels, 6 levels shaped square, 3 levels with circle shape and one main stupa (place to put Buddha statue) on top. there are still another 72 stupas beside the main stupa. It was built using andesite stones taken from a river. These stones then being cut, shaped then carried to the construction sites by thousands of workers. The stones then put together according to the architect's plan without using adhesive or cement ! it was just like building a Lego. Amazingly that building survives for centuries and it's still standing until now. after all the stones being put together, the artists started to make reliefs all over the Temple's wall. The total relief that we can find here is 2670 reliefs which tell an ancient story that can be read beginning from the eastern gate.

Just like it's name "Borobudur" which means "monastery on the high place", this temple was built on the hills area surrounded by mountains. From the top of this temple you'll see a remarkable landscape with mountains, forest and wide green grass surrounding this mythical building.

Today this temple is still used by the Buddhists to do their rituals and every year this temple becomes the central place to celebrate Waisyak, the holliest day for Buddhist.

To get to the Temple you can take a plane to Yogyakarta, from there you can continue your journey to Borobudur temple by bus or chartered shuttle.

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

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nias, Exotic Island and Surfers Paradise

Nias is an exotic island located to the west of Sumatra. It has beautiful scenery with tropical forest, mountain and a clean beach view.

But the most prominent about Nias is the customs and ancient traditions which still strongly held from hundreds of generation by the natives. It's shown clearly as we enter their villages, we can see their traditional wooden houses and typical traditional society's way of life. We can also find rock formations which are the heritage of the megalithic era.

From all the villages in Nias, the most special is the one on the south of the island called Bawamataluo Village. Entering this village you'll feel like going through a time machine that takes you to the megalith era. compared to other villages in Nias, Bawomataluo is the one that preserves the genuity of their ancient traditions and this is the only villae that has the most famous attraction in Nias called "hombo batu" or stone jumping.

Hombo batu is a tradition that's been held by the people from many centuries. In the past, hombo batu is a way to train and test ancient warriors and young people in order to prepare themselves for a tribal war, but today hombo batu is held just for sport or tourist attraction. It's a little like high jump in athletic only they don't use pole and matras and the jumping technique is a bit unique. these young "warriors" must jump over a 2 meters high formation of stone shaped like a monument. The jumper runs from about 15 m away approaching the stone and then jump, while in the air before stepping his feet on the ground he will turn his body so that when he land on his feet he shall face the stone again.

Beside this attraction, you can also watch so many prehistorical artifacts from the megalithic era that some of them are still being used by the villagers in their rituals and traditional events.

As for those whose not very interested in local customs, just take your surfing board and go straight to the shore. Nias is one of the best spot to surf in Indonesia, there are several spots that you can choose to surf, some of the most famous spots for surfing are Lagundri bay and Sibaranun island. Here you will find 7-9 seconds tubes and waves that operates from 2-15 feet.

To get to Nias you can take a plane from Medan-the capital of North Sumatra straight to Nias. Nias is a perfect place if you want a complete tour with educational, cultural, attraction, sightseeing, and action packages all in one. Nias is an exotic island and surfers paradise.

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

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tanjung Puting - Orang Utan Reservation

Tanjung Puting is located in Central Kalimantan Province (Borneo Island) - Indonesia. The area covered by tropical forest with thousands species of flora and fauna live in it. It is also the home for orang utan, one of the world's endangered species.There are also so many rivers which usually used by the tourists to watch the natural beauty in this place.

Beside orangutan (which means "the jungle man" in Bahasa Indonesia), there are many other species of fauna live here such as bekantan (Nasalis Larvatus), Uwa-uwa (Hylobates sp) and horn bills.

Probably the most famous spot in this 400.000 ha reservation area is a place called "Camp Leakey", a place for orangutan's rehabilitation. This place became famous and the main destination for tourists visiting this reservation area because it's the most ideal place to observe the social behavior of orangutans,how they intimidate each others, how they eat, their exploration pattern, pregnancy, and how they're nesting.

Camp Leakey was built in 1971 by a dutch scientists DR Birutte Galdikas and her husband Rod Brindamour to study orangutan. at first they call it Camp W Silkey, but then the name changed into Camp Leakey to honor DR Galdikas's Professor Louis Leakey, a palaeontologist from Kenya.

The forest in Tanjung Puting is extraordinary since there are at least 8 kinds of forest here. Dipterocarpus forest (dry land forest), perifer mix swam forest which covers about 20% of the reservation area, peat moss swamp forest, transition forest, shorea balengaran forest on the edge of peat moss swamp, kerangas forest which grows on white sand covered land, mangrove and coastal forest, and secondary forest.

For your information, this wild life conservation area has become a biosphere conservation which was pointed by many countries in the world through a cooperation with "man and biosphere-UNESCO" program, so Tanjung Puting is one of the 400 sites of biosphere conservation in 94 countries, another important role played by the conservation beside saving orangutan.

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

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