Petra, the rose red city

Petra is Jordan's most visited tourist attraction. al-Siq is the main entrance to the ancient city. Al Khazneh, The Treasury, seen from the end of the gorge. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Petra is Jordan’s most visited tourist attraction. Al Khazneh, The Treasury, seen from the end of the gorge. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Petra became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Also known as the “rose red city, half as old as time”, it is not difficult to understand why it has become Jordan’s largest tourist attraction. Some say this is partly because of Steven Spielberg’s movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” from 1986, but no doubt this site would could have become famous anyway sooner or later. It was also chosen as one of the controversial “New Seven Wonders of the World” in 2007.

Continue reading

Bali:: Gianyar, the richest district on Bali

Bali, Gianyar. Some of the many large statues in this area. Close to the center of Gianyar city. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Gianyar. Some of the many large statues in this area. Close to the center of Gianyar city. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Traditionally Gianyar has been the richest district on Bali, today about half the population here works in the tourist industry. Gianyar city is the administrative center of the district, while Ubud is the cultural capital and has the largest population. Gianyar city is located about 23 km from Denpasar, and is a junction for north and east bound traffic. Around Bedulu, between the Petanu and Pakrisan rivers, is a 10 km long belt of land known as “the land between the rivers”.

Continue reading

Sakhalin, Russias largest island

Russia, Sakhalin. Okhotskoye is a small village at the south east coast of Sakhalin, not far from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Residential buildings are mostly made of wood. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Russia, Sakhalin. Okhotskoye is a small village at the south east coast of Sakhalin, not far from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Residential buildings are mostly made of wood. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Sakhalin island, just north of Japan and off the east coast of Russia, has led to many bitter disputes between the two countries. The island is today part of Russia, and is Russia’s largest island.

I visited the island last year, and have added several images to the photo gallery.

Continue reading

Java:: Madura

Java, East Java, Madura. Small village in the Sampang regency on south Madura with traditional vessels (from helicopter) (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Java, East Java, Madura. Small village in the Sampang regency on south Madura with traditional vessels (from helicopter) (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Madura is a large island outside East Java, 5.290 square kilometers, about 160 km long and 35 km wide. It is separated from Surabaya by the narrow Madura strait, and is administered as a part of the East Java district. Main income is fishing, salt, cattle and agriculture. The local capital is Pamekasan. Number of inhabitants is about 3-4 million, and the population is considered to be an unique ethnic group like Javanese and Sundanese. Madurese is also a separate language.

Continue reading

Bali:: Goa Gajah – The Elephant Cave

Bali, Gianyar, Goa Gajah. The elephant cave. The cave entrance area. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Gianyar, Goa Gajah. The elephant cave. The cave entrance area. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The mysterious Goa Gajah (elephant cave) is one of the oldest relics on Bali. The exact time of origin is uncertain, but archeologists estimate the cave to have been built around year 1022 AD. This was long before Majapahit entered the island, and also hundreds of years before the first Europeans set foot here.

The site is a mix of Hindu- and Buddhist symbols, among them the cave with the entrance in an artistically carved cliff, a bathing pool with fountains, a statue of the Buddhist goddess Hariti, as well as several other Buddha figures.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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).

Continue reading