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”.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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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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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Java:: Through the Puncak Pass

Indonesia, Java, Puncak. Green hills covered with tea plants in the Puncak Pass. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Indonesia, Java, Puncak. Green hills covered with tea plants in the Puncak Pass. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

If you travel from Jakarta to Bandung you can pass through the scenic Puncak pass, about 90 minutes by car from the capital. The Puncak area is a very popular escape from the hot and hectic city, and along the road there is an abundance of bungalows, cottages, hotels, villas, restaurants and recreation places.

The pass is starting about 10 km from Bogor at Ciawi and continuing up through the villages of Cibogo, Cipayung and Cisarua to the Puncak pass and down on the other side to Cipanas.

To get there from Jakarta you take the Puncak & Bandung exit as the Jagowari toll way ends (not Bogor or Ciawi). From there on the road will wind through local villages before beginning to rise through a spectacular lanscape on ever increasingly steep mountain passes and gorges.

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