Java:: Surabaya, city of heroes

Java, East Java, Surabaya. These ships, called Pinisi, are unique to Indonesia. This is still a common way of transport. Kalimas harbor. (Bjorn Grotting)

Surabaya. These ships, called Pinisi, are unique to Indonesia. This is still a common way of transport. Kalimas harbor. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Surabaya is East Java’s largest and Indonesia’s second largest city with a population somewhere between 2 and 3 million. Traditionally the city is one of the most important commercial port and trading centers in South East Asia. The harbor is Indonesia’s second largest after Tanjung Priok in Jakarta, protected by the Madura island just east of Surabaya.

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Baku, capital of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, Baku. Baku city view with tha harbour and the Caspian Sea in the background. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Azerbaijan, Baku. Baku city view with the harbour and the Caspian Sea in the background. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Click here to see some newly added images from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. I visited the country last year to do a job there, and had a few hours to spend in the city. Baku is probably derived from the old Persian name Bād-kube, meaning “Wind-pounded city”. It can also mean “Mount of God” from Baghkuh, which one also can compare to Baghdad.

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Maluku:: Wetar and Liran

Maluku, South East Maluku, Pulau Liran. Liran is located just north of East Timor. The larger island Wetar in the background, looking east (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Maluku, South East Maluku, Pulau Liran. Liran is located just north of East Timor. The larger island Wetar in the background, looking east (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Wetar is located just 56 km north of Timor’s northeastern coast. The island is 80 km long in east-west direction and 45 km wide in north-south direction, area about 3.600 sq. km. The interior of the island is mountainous and covered by rain forest, highest mountain is 1.412 m. The climate is in the wet season humid with lots of rain, while the rest of the year there can be long periods of drought.

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Nusa Tenggara:: Sumba island

East Nusa Tenggara, Sumba, Pulau Mangudu. Pulau Mangudu island south of Sumba (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

East Nusa Tenggara, Sumba, Pulau Mangudu. Pulau Mangudu island south of Sumba (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

South of Flores, between Sumbawa and Timor there is an island where the traditional customs are among the best preserved in Nusa Tenggara. This is Sumba, a relatively large island, 11.153 sq. km. with a population that reaches about 600.000, the name of the capital is Waingapu. Much of the island consists of a flat, elevated plateau about 600m above sea level, where the coast is mostly steep and rocky. The island is divided in two regions, west and east, along ethnical and cultural borders.

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Sumatra:: The high hills of Bukittinggi

West Sumatra, Bukittinggi. Sianok canyon (Ngarai Sianok) is a steep valley (ravine) located in Bukittinggi, about 15 km long. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

West Sumatra, Bukittinggi. Sianok canyon (Ngarai Sianok) is a steep valley (ravine) located in Bukittinggi, about 15 km long. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bukittinggi, north of Padang in the Minangkabau highlands, sits at an altitude of approx. 920 m. The name Bukittinggi means high hill or top. This is a charming city with a cooler climate than Padang, and is one of the most important cities of the Minang people, greatly influenced by their traditional culture. The name “Minangkabau” is put together by “menang” (victory) and “kerbau” (ox or water buffalo).

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Bali:: Singaraja, center of Northern Bali

Bali, Buleleng, Singaraja. A family selling durian south of Singaraja. The taste of this characteristic fruit is definitely better than its smell. (Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Buleleng, Singaraja. A family selling durian south of Singaraja. The taste of this characteristic fruit is definitely better than its smell. (Bjorn Grotting)

Singaraja was once the center of trade on Bali, as well as the capital of the island. Traders from all over Asia have arrived here since the 10th century, trading goods like weapons and opium in change of fresh water, food, cattle and slaves. Singaraja means “lion king”, while there are no lions here, the name is in remembrance of an old palace built in 1604 by the mighty king Raja Panji Sakti.

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Java:: Ujung Kulon National Park

Ujung Kulon

Ujung Kulon is offering a wide variety of landscapes with beaches, swamps, forests and corral reefs (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Ujung Kulon National Park is located on a peninsula at the extreme west part of Java, it was Indonesia’s first national park and by many still considered as the finest. Gunung Honje (620 m) is the highest point, at the center of the park there is a plateau called Telanca with an altitude of about 140 m. The rest of the park is mostly lower land and a shifting coastal landscape, in total it covers 760 square kilometers.

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Java:: Yogyakarta

Java, Yogyakarta. Kraton is the sultans old palace in the center of Yogyakarta. A guard in traditional costume. (Bjorn Grotting)

Kraton is the sultans old palace in the center of Yogyakarta. A guard in traditional costume. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Even if Yogyakarta, also known as Yogya, is a relatively young city (founded in 1755) it has a high status on Java. It is located in the middle of a region traditionally known as Mataram, the center of the first great dynasties of central Java. The now dormant Merapi volcano overlooks the city which is surrounded by one of the most fertile regions of Java. The population in the area is about 10 million, which means a density of more than 1.000 pr. square kilometer.

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Java:: Batu in the hills

Java, East Java, Batu. (Bjorn Grotting)

Java, East Java, Batu. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The small town of Batu is located about 15 km northeast of Malang, and is a popular place for vacation and recreation among the local population on East Java, at least those who can afford such a luxury. The climate up here can be very pleasant. There may not be so much to do in Batu itself, but the surrounding landscape is beautiful.

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Bali:: Gunung Kawi

Bali, Gianyar, Gunung Kawi. An 11th century temple complex close to Tampaksiring. On the eastern part there is five temples or shrines. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Gianyar, Gunung Kawi. An 11th century temple complex close to Tampaksiring. On the eastern part there is five temples or shrines. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Gunung Kawi is the largest and maybe also the most impressive of the old monuments on Bali. Like Goa Gajah this site is around 1.000 years old, probably built at the end of the 11th century. Gunung Kawi was first discovered by Europeans in 1920, even if the local population had knowledge of it a long time before that.

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