Bali (30 Jan 16) – East Bali Loop: Spending the Day at Pura Besakih, Mt Batur Volcano, and Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot

Bali – The Island of Gods is a mere 2 hours away from Singapore and is a good place for Singaporeans to visit for a weekend gateway. There are several flights a day from various airlines heading out to Bali from Singapore. My friends and I did a 4 day trip to Bali over a weekend in Jan 16. During our trip we wanted to do some sight seeing, and yet cater time to rest and relax. Hence, we opted to do a day trip in Bali and spend the rest of the time in Bali lazing around in the comforts of our villa. For the day trip, we hired a driver and drive us around to some of the famous spots in Bali. Our day trip starts with our driver picking us up at our villa in Seminyak and move up north towards Pura Besakih and than to a good spot to view Mt Batur Volcano and ending up in Pura Tanah Lot for sunset.
Map of the route we took for this day trip in Bali

Pura Besakih

Perching on the side of  Mt Agung at an altitude of around 1000m above sea level is the magnificent Pura Besakih. Pura Besakih is the largest hindu temple in Bali, affectionately known as the Mother Temple. This temple comprises of 23 individual temple complexes, built on 6 levels. As no cars are allowed at the base of the temple, visitors coming by their hired cars (or drivers) will arrive at the nearby carpark, which is around 1km from the temple. One is expected to dressed in Sarongs in order to visit the temple. Sarongs can be rented or purchased from the numerous stores at the carpark. Tickets to the temple is located adjacent to the carpark, however the staffs here will pester you to contribute to the temple funds by means of a donation. Although it was put across that the donations are “voluntary”, the staffs at the ticketing counter will ensure tourists contribute to their donations.  One can either walk to the base of the temple or simply hire a motorcycle taxi from the ticketing counter to the base of the temple.

At the base of the temple, visitors will be greeted by a long flight of stairways leading up to the split entrance that has been so iconic of Balinese architecture. A couple of stone statues standing guard before this stairways, as if they are there to greet visitors. Visitors touring the temple without a guide are only allowed to tour the base of the temple and only outside the gate up the long flight of stairways that leads to the second level. To be able to visit the entire temple, a local guide is required. We hired a guide (who charges us Rp25,000 per person) to take us to the various parts of Pura Besakih.

Guardian Statue at the base of Pura Besakih
The long stairways at the base of Pura Besakih leading to the second level of the temple
My friends posing with their rented sarongs at the carpark. Visitors are expected to wear sarong when visiting Pura Besakih. Sarongs are not needed in other temples in Bali.
Taking a wefie before we head up to the stairways into Pura Besakih
Statues at the base of Pura Besakih
Looking at the base of Pura Besakih from the top of the stairways
Another guardian statue in Pura Besakih. Such statues are in abundance around the temple

Up the flight of stairways in the centre of the temple complex, we arrived at level 2 of Pura Besakih. The Pura Penataran Agung is located just beyond the gates on the top of this stairways and is the largest temple structure here in Pura Besakih. This temple complex is dedicated to the Hindu Deity Shiva, the God of Destruction. Passing the split gates, we entered the grounds of Pura Penataran Agung. There is a small courtyard before another door which leads to the inner grounds of the temple. This 3-door gate has both the side doors opened and the centre door remained shut. We were told that the centre door is meant for the King to pass through, commoners would use the side doors to enter the temple. Passing one of the side doors, a large courtyard decorated with numerous Balinese style pagodas greeted us. There are some temple buildings spread across the vast courtyard. During out visit, we witnessed at a far distance, a group of locals seemingly performing some form of prayers. Our guide informed us that these people are performing a funeral ritual, where the family of the deceased hired some priests to pray to their loved ones who has passed on. Our guide then brought us to a building, raised on stilts. This building is built for Lord Shiva to consummate with his wife. It is also believed that couples seeking fertility come and pray here for a child.

The doorway that leads into the temple nested on top of the stairways. Only royalties are allowed to use this doorway. Commons are expected to enter the temple using the 2 side doors.
A pavilion in the small courtyard before the second door into the temple. Here is where the local musicians played music for festive and prayers in the temple
Such Pagodas are a common sight around Pura Besakih. These pagodas are an icon in Balinese architecture. The roof are built using straws. Each pagodas varies in the number of tiers, but they are always in odd numbers. The tallest pagoda has 11 tiers
My friends posing in front of the pagodas in Pura Penataran Agung
Pagodas in Pura Penataran Agung
This structure is built for Lord Shiva to commensurate with his wife

Exiting Pura Penatran Agung on the left side door, our guide brought us through a small road to another part of Pura Besakih. Pura Batu Madeg is located on another level, at the northern end of Pura Besakih. Compared to Pura Penataran Agung, Pura Batu Madeg is of a modest size. This temple is dedicated to the Hindi God Vishu, the God of Protection. There is also a small courtyard after passing the gates to the temple grounds and another flight of stairs built right in the middle of the courtyard. We scaled the stairs to head further into the temple. The view over the horizon from where we came from is magnificent from here. We could see as far as the coastline and the sea. As it was about to rain, our guide brought us back to the entrance of Pura Besakih via a road behind the compounds of Pura Penatran Agung. 

View of Pura Batu Madeg from Pura Penataran Agung
Pagodas in Pura Batu Madeg up close
View of the temple grounds from Pura Batu Madeg
Split entrance of Pura Batu Madeg
Pavilions for ceremonies in Pura Batu Madeg
Us at Pura Batu Madeg
Stairways leading to a higher level in Pura Batu Madeg
Stairways in Pura Batu Madeg
Guardian statue in Pura Batu Madeg
11 tiered pagoda in Pura Batu Madeg
Us on the higher level of Pura Batu Madeg (this is the highest level in Pura Besakih)
Guardian statue in Pura Batu Madeg

As we were walking on this narrow road,  there are some buildings to the left of us overlooking into Pura Penataran Agung. We were informed by our guide that this building houses the deity figurines that the locals bought and placed here. Occasionally, the owners of these figurines would make the trip up here to pay respect to the god their figurines represent. As we were walking down towards the entrance, our guide pointed out that other than gods, the locals also offer prayers to demons in a bide to pray for peace. He also pointed a part of the walls to us, informing us that this part has been part of Pura Besakih since the temple was built. No one knows how old the temple is. We headed out to meet our motorcycle drivers whom brought us to the carpark to meet our driver. We are headed to our next destination.

View of Pura Penataran Agung from the side road behind the temple
Pagodas like these are a common sight in Pura Besakih
Taking a wefie with the pagodas in Pura Besakih
Another guardian statue in Pura Besakih
Guardian statues standing guard at the entrance of the temple
Parts of this wall has been around since the construction of Pura Besakih

Mt Batur Volcano

As we wanted to catch a glimpse of a Mt Batur Volcano, our driver brought us to a restaurant located in Kintamani that offers stunning view of the volcano and Danau Batur, the crater lake next to the volcano. Mt Batur Volcano is one of the few active volcanos in Bali. The volcano is essentially situated inside a larger dead volcano, with a crescent-shaped crater lake – Lake Batur accompanying the volcano, the view here is magnificent. The cool crisp mountain climate with occasional mountain breeze took the heat that we have been experiencing in Bali away. We settled our lunch here, where the restaurant served Indonesian buffet cuisine. Sitting at the outdoor pavilion overlooking the volcano, our buffet lunch here offers views that is out of this world. We could never get sick of the view from the pavilion where we were seated. Looking out at the volcano, we spotted black soil at the base of the volcano seem to point that the volcano is dormant, as if it is gathering its strength to display its might once again. The active volcano seem asleep at the time of our visit.
Mt Batur Volcano
Mt Batur and a nearby mountain
Panoramic shot of Mt Batur and Danau Batur
Taking a wefie with Mt Batur
Taking a wefie with Mt Batur
View of Mt Batur from the restaurant
My friends taking wefie in front of Mt Batur Volcano
My friend with Mt Batur at the background
Shot of Mt Batur and Danau Batur
The nearby mountains
Enjoying the view of Mt Batur while lunching at one of the outdoor pavilions

Paulina Coffee Plantation – Kopi Luwak

Part of our itinerary we wanted to do a short stopover to view the iconic rice terrace in Bali along our way from Mt Batur Volcano to Tanah Lot. As we were driving towards Tanah Lot, we did a short stopover at one of the coffee plantations – Bali Paulina Coffee Plantation. The main star in this coffee plantation is the Luwak cat, the Asian Palm Civet, which produces the world’s most expensive coffee. The coffee beans used to brew the Kopi Luwak are produced by these Asian Palm Civet, which eats the coffee beans and poopped them out. Due to the limited amount of excremation these cats can produce, the coffee beans gathered by the farmers fetch very high value. As we were walking through the plantation, other than the Luwak Cat, there are other crops being planted such as ginger, pineapples, cocoas to name a few. At the end of the somewhat smallish plantation, we were escorted to a terrace overlooking a rice terrace. While waiting for our samples of different coffees and teas as well as the Kopi Luwak, we headed out to a lookout point built by the owners of the plantation using timber. At this lookout point we were able to catch a glimpse of the rice terrace in full view. These rice terrace that was before our eyes looked as if someone is growing rice in the middle of juggle. After sampling our beverages, we headed to the gift shop and got ourselves some of the local produces.

Pandan leaves in the plantation
Some random flowers
Cocoa trees are also found in this small plantation
Random flower in the plantation
The Asian Palm Civet in the cat. This cat produces the most expensive coffee in the world
My friends waiting for the sample of coffees and tea to come
These are the coffee and tea that we sampled
Kopi Luwak- the most expensive coffee in the world
Taking a wefie at the lookout point
The terrace looks as though someone is farming in the jungles
Walking through the plantation
My friends shopping at the gift shop

Tegalalang Rice Terrace

En-route to Pura Tanah Lot, we drove past Tegalalang Rice Terrace. Rice terrace is a method of growing rice paddies, where the farmers carved out steps on the slope of the hill to grow these paddies. By using this method, the rice farmers are able to reduce erosion and support rice paddy farming, which requires irrigation. Visiting the rice terrace is by no means free, as soon as our vehicle pulls over at the curb, a local came running towards us to collect money for the viewing of rice terrace. At the time or our visit, most of the rice paddies had already been harvested, only a small quantity is left over for harvest. We could still see the some of the farmers harvesting what is left for harvesting. Despite this, the rice terrace still presents itself as a magnificent sight to be awed. We went down to one of the rice terraces to take a closer look how the rice terrace looks like up close. What we saw is essentially a shallow waterhole with some seedlings planted onto it. We left the rice terrace after taking some pictures.

 

Rice terrace at Tegalalang
My friends at the rice terrace
Taking wefie at Tegalalang Rice Terrace
Panoramic shot of the rice terrace

Pura Tanah Lot

Our final stop for the day is Pura Tanah Lot. The drive from Tegalalang Rice Terrace to Pura Tanah Lot usually takes around 2 hours. As we told our driver that we would want to see sunset at Tanah Lot, he made completed the drive in 1 hours. We were in time for sunset! Pura Tanah Lot is a temple built on an island off the coast of Bali. The temple is dedicated for the prayers to the Sea Gods in Hinduism mythology. Coming from the carpark, we were at a path that leads to 2 temples on the left and the right. The temple on the right, nested on top of a rock formation out into the sea is Pura Tanah Lot. At this point, the receding coastline tells us that it is low tide, meaning we can walk over to the base of Pura Tanah Lot to receive blessings from the priest there. The temple itself is closed at the time of our visit. Even if it is open, we will not be allowed entry as only devotees who come here to pray dressed in the traditional Balinese prayer outfit will be allowed entry into the temple. After we got our blessings, since we were not able to head up to the temple grounds, we walked over to the rocks on the coastline to watch sunset and listened to the rhythm of the waves hitting onto the coastal rocks. The sound created by the waves is very soothing, coupled with the view of the sunset, it feels like one can stay here all day long. After sunset, we headed back to the carpark to look for our driver. Afterall it is already dark. As the darkness fell, so did the liveliness around Pura Tanah Lot. What was bustling in the day soon turned to silence as soon as the sun called it a day. We had requested our driver to drop us a Kuta, where we had our dinner. As I always tell my friends, when visiting Bali, one will always end up in Kuta, be it for food, for massage or for shopping. With the sunsetting at Pura Tanah Lot, this concludes our day trip around (mainly) East and North of the island of Gods. We spent the next 2 days lazing around in the villa and shopping in places like Seminyak and Kuta.

There is another temple by the edge of this cliff
Pura Tanah Lot from a far. The temple is only accessible during low tide
My friends with Pura Tanah Lot at the background. This is a great place to take picture of the temple
Wefie at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunsetting at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
One can receive blessings at the cave beneath Pura Tanah Lot
My friends receiving blessing by the priest
My friend cleansing herself with the spring water as part of the blessing ceremony
We got our blessings from the priest
Pura Tanah Lot at sunset, lucky it is low tide now
My friends at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
My friends at Pura Tanah Lot
Watching the sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
Pura Tanah Lot
Sunset at Pura Tanah Lot
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Bali Day 6 (20 Sep 13) – Last Day In Bali

This is our last day in Bali, we were rather reluctant to leave Bali as that means this is the day that marks the end of our vacation and back to reality. We woke up slightly early then the previous 2 days to start packing our luggages. We ordered breakfast from the reception and it was delivered within 30 mins as with the previous days. We looked forward to the delicious breakfast everyday without fail. Breakfast was delivered in the midst of our packing. We stopped briefly to enjoy our breakfast before continuing with our packing. It did not take us too long to complete our packing and soon we found ourselves checking out of the villa. Checking out was a breeze and we even got the villa to drive us back to Seminyak Square. It seemed that this is our usual hang out place in Seminyak (not by choice as this is the only square in Seminyak). We walked around the smallish square and finally settled for coffee at one of the cafes. We arranged for a Balinese spa massage for today to fill in the time from checking out to our boarding time. After our coffee, we decided to walk around and towards the spa.
Breakfast is served
Breakfast is served
Breakfast is served
View of Seminyak Square
Around Seminyak Square
Chilling in a cafe at Seminyak Square
Chilling in a cafe at Seminyak Square
Chilling in a cafe at Seminyak Square
It did not take us too long to reach our destination, although it is rather out of the way and hidden off the tracks (thanks to the staff from the villa whom brought us there the day before and we just relied on our memory). Although we were around 15 mins late, the warm staffs at the spa was patient and welcomed u with the biggest smile one can find in Bali. We took a 2 hour spa package and the massage skills of the staffs here was fantastic. They took away the aches and completely allowed our muscles to relax. 2 hours whisk past quickly and we were sadden to be leaving this wonderful massage joint with skilful staffs. We attempted to walk back to the villa where we will collect our luggage and be transported to the airport. How wrong we were as we were terribly lost , attempting to find where we were using the google map on our phone seemed to fail. We had to stop a few times to ask for directions and even attempted to hail a cab, but with no avail. Somehow we land ourselves at Seminyak Square where everything suddenly looked familiar and subsequently found ourselves back to the villa, where the staffs readied the car to transport us to the airport.
 
Time for some Balinese Spa
We booked our spa session at Venus Spa
Inside the spa
Inside the spa
Saw this interesting Guardian Statue while walking around Seminyak
Walking around Seminyak
It took us about 1 hour to reach the airport, where the staffs bid us farewell and thanked us for staying at the villa. What fantastic gesture!! We were slightly hungry at this point and wanted to grab a bite. However the eateries are outside the airport terminal. We initially wanted to check in our luggage before heading back out for food as we did not want to lug our luggage along while looking for food. When we checked with the security personnel at the entrance into the terminal building, we were told we can’t exit the terminal once we went inside (well they are not exactly the friendliest staff). My friend and I then decided to just head into the terminal and get ourselves check in, hoping to find some thing to eat in the immigration area. We soon find ourselves passing through the immigration and were looking for food. Luckily for us there were several options available. We settled for some Indonesian eatery and got our stomach filled up. By this time it is around boarding time and we hurried towards the gate for our flight where we spent the next couple of hours heading back to Singapore.
Some airport lounge food before boarding
Dinner onboard
We ordered a bottle of red wine as well
Dinner is served
Though it is a short 6 days trip, we managed to see some famous sights in Bali, tried the famous Balinese massage and even find the time to relax in the villa and return to Kuta area time and time again. This is a relaxing trip and may our next trip be as relaxing!!

 

 

Bali Day 5 (19 Sep 13) – Another Lazy Day

We woke up rather late as well today, with the intention of taking it easy on this day. Same plan as the day before, we wanted to just relax in the villa and waste our day away. As with yesterday, we woke up pretty late and ordered our breakfast with the reception. Today is rather uneventful. After breakfast and lazing around for awhile, we hit the pool and continued with our ritual of suntanning. We again tried to persist with a whole day of suntanning, however we did not have the determination to do that. After a couple of hours of suntanning and hitting the pool, our patience ran dry and decided to head out. We wanted to confirm our spa session the next day and got the driver to drive us to the spa. We managed to confirm our bookings and hailed a cab towards Kuta. We arrived in Kuta and walked around as though it has already formed part of our ritual. As the sun is about to set, my friend and I went over to the beach and took some pictures before heading back to Beachwalk mall.
I just love the in villa breakfast
In villa breakfast
Breakfast is served
Getting ready for suntanning
and a dip in the pool
A few days ago, I remember coming across a sign which provides free transfer from the mall to Bali Collection. As we have researched, Bali Collection is a shopping mall. This immediately forms the image of mega air-conditioned shopping centre that my friend and I have always fond of. We originally wanted to take the free shuttle bus from Beachwalk Mall to Bali Collection. As we checked with the timing, it is rather late. I proposed to my friend that we do not wait for the bus, fearing that the shopping mall might be closed by the time we got there. We wasted no time and hali a cab to find our way towards Bali Collection in Nusa Dua. The ride towards Nusa Dua is a mere 30 mins away.
Sunset over Kuta Beach
We were bewildered the moment we alighted from the cab. We had thought that Bali Collection is a mega shopping mall like the Discovery Mall in Kuta, but bigger. To our disappointment, Bali Collection looks more like a shopping arcade, with some shops scattered around the open air shopping arcade, a Sogo departmental store and several restaurants serving mainly western food. We walked around and explored the area a bit, but it did not take long to bore us. As it is already way past dinner time, we walked around looking for a restaurant that serves Balinese cuisine. After all, we did not managed to taste Balinese food so far. We shopped around for a suitable restaurant, and managed to find one which serves Balinese food. There are more western food than local food. The open-aired restaurant also has a live band singing and entertaining the patrons having dinner. We ordered our food and ate there. After eating, we decided to head back to the Villa as there is really nothing much that appeals to us in Bali Collection.
Bali Collection
Dinner in Bali Collection
Dinner in Bali Collection
Dinner in Bali Collection
Dinner in Bali Collection
Dinner in Bali Collection
Creating some Mooncake Festival mood

 

Bali Day 4 (18 Sep 13) – Lazing in the villa

We wake up late today with the intention of lazing around in the villa and enjoy the tranquility of our private pool. What’s the use of having a private pool villa and yet not take the time to utilise its facilities? As the sun has been kind enough for us to tan a little. We called the reception, who are forever so welcoming and attentive in taking our orders for breakfast and have it delivered to our villa. After breakfast, we watched a little TV before hitting the pools for a few laps and enjoying the sun tan.
In villa breakfast
In villa breakfast
Preparing for tanning
Private in-villa pool
At about afternoon, we felt bored just staying in the villa and wanted to go out for a walk. When we were driven to the villa on our second day in Bali, I remembering seeing a big shopping mall near Seminyak. We originally wanted to visit that, however I did not manage to see the name of the mall and started to ask the hotel staffs about it. Apparently they have no idea what I as referring to. My friend and I then decided to get the staffs to arrange for private transport to drop us off at Seminyak Square and find our way from there. Seminyak Square is indeed a small square with limited shops, and not the type of shopping mall we were so used to at home in Singapore. We walked around Seminyak area and finally gave up and hailed a cab. We told the cabby that we were looking for a big shopping mall. The cabby had misunderstood where we wanted to go and brought us to what he deem a shopping mall. This does not seem to be the mall I saw 2 days ago, moreover it reeks of touristy traps all over. My friend and I told the cabby that this is not the mall we saw. At this point, I thought it is rather pointless to go about in a wild goose chase and told the cabby to send us to Legian – a district that is between Kuta and Seminyak.
We alighted in Legian and I was feeling thirsty by now. I saw a Starbucks across the street from where we alighted and proposed to my friend to grab a cuppa from Starbucks. We chilled in Starbucks in a bit before heading out to explore Legian. Legian is just like Kuta, except there seemed to be lesser crowds, mainly due to it being early (around 4pm). We have no idea where we were heading but just walked along the streets of Legian. There are shops setup on both sides of the street, obviously aimed at making tourist dollars. After walking for a couple of hours, the scene suddenly looked familiar.
 
Streets of Legian
Afternoon Tea at Starbucks
“I think we are in Kuta Square”, I said to my friend. I remember seeing certain shops in Kuta Square. Little did we realise we were actually in Kuta Square. We welcomed the familiar scene and this time round I asked my friend if we wanted to walk towards Discovery Mall and looked for the A&W restaurant, which has extinct in Singapore for more then 10 years! This time round we managed to find it. A&W is actually inside the shopping mall. Discovery Mall is just like any typical shopping mall around the world, with an anchor department store and several other shops. We walked around the mall a bit and settled for dinner in A&W. After dinner we walked to the back part of the mall and it seemed like the mall is built between 2 coastlines.  I turned to my friend and told him this is the quieter part of Kuta. After staying for about 10 minutes, we decided to head out front and walked along the streets of Kuta. By this time, the sky has turned dark and we decided to hail a cab and head back to rest for the day.
 
The well missed A&W Root Beer
A&W mascot
Coastline behind Discovery Mall
Coastline behind Discovery Mall
Shopping around Beachwalk Shopping Mall
Shopping around Beachwalk Shopping Mall
Shopping around Beachwalk Shopping Mall
 

Bali Day 3 (17 Sep 13) – Exploring the Temples

I have always wanted to visit Pura Ulun Danu during my previous visits to Bali. However the temple is rather out of the way and I did not catered time to pay a visit to this temple. From the pictures I have seen, this place is quite scenic. During this trip, I was determined to pay a visit to this temple. Since this is the first time my friend had been to Bali, I thought to show him this temple would be quite apt. Prior to the trip, I did numerous research in how to get to this temple. This temple is in the middle of Bali, to get there one would have to get a private transport. I arranged for a guide to show us around to this temple and of course the famous Tanah Lot. Our guide, Arlan, came on time and is very friendly and knowledgable. Prior to the trip, I communicated with Arlan via email, stating that the sights I want to visit are Pura Ulun Danu, Pura Tanah Lot and the rice terraces that Bali was also famous for. Arlan spared no efforts in bringing us to a couple of sights that are along the way.
We woke up early and ordered breakfast. As there are no dining facilities in the villa grounds, breakfast (included in the stay) will be delivered to the room. I had pouched eggs again as I was unsatisfied with those I had the day before. Well at least the villa got the pouched eggs right, it was not overcooked and the bacon with the pouched eggs were tasty too. We met up with Arlan after our breakfast and soon found ourselves traveling around Bali. Along the way, we discussed with Arlan the places we want to visit, and got Arlan to propose any sights he find interesting along the way. Arlan propose to bring us to the Royal Temple in Kuta area – Pura Taman Ayun as it is nearby. We readily agreed and indeed this temple is around 30 mins drive from where we put up.
Breakfast is served in the villa

Pura Taman Ayun

As we parked our car, we saw the split entrance of the temple being built. It seems that this entrance is a later addition to the monument. The entrance is mere minutes walk from the temple. Arlan explained to us that there is a moat that surrounds this temple, a typical feature of a Hindi Temple, very similar to that of AngKor Wat that I have visited some years back. We paid for the tickets and entered temple grounds through the gate. As we passed the gates we were impressed by the well kept garden, which was a stark difference from the scenery before the gates. Perhaps this is a holy ground, moreover this is the Royal temple, more attention was paid to the upkeep of its grounds. As we were eagerly walking towards the temple to marvel at the typical Balinese architecture, Arlan pulled us one side and brought us to this huge pavilion by the side. He explains that this is a wax figurine of a typical scene of cock fighting. As cock fighting is now illegal in Indonesia (due to the involvement of gambling), the only times that cock fighting is allowed is festive periods. We did not stay long here as we were eager to see the temple.
We walked further into the temple grounds and saw some towers by the side. Arlan explained that there is a bell on top of the 2 storey high tower. The function of this bell is to notify the residents near the temple. He went on to explain that a typical Balinese temple does not only serve the purpose of prayer to the gods, it is also a gathering place for people to resolve disputes, for celebrations as well. As the inner temple is closed for public to enter, we can only marvel the sights through a low wall surrounding the temple. Arlan did a great job in explaining that the way to differentiate a temple from any other building lies with the colour of the roof. Temples are always covered with black straws, which is harvested from trees; while that of any other buildings is covered with brownish straws, which is harvested from the ground. I reckon this symbolises the holiness of the temple. We were brought to the back of the temple, where we can see towers after towers, that makes up the temple. Here is where we also saw a statue of garuda, a mythical creature that serves as a mount for one of the 3 hindu gods. The whole temple is well kept and the architecture is simply stunting. There is nothing much to see other then taking pictures with the temple, we hurried ourselves to exit the temple and head on to our next destination.
As we were about to exit the temple, we wanted very much to scale the bell tower. We asked Arlan if it is alright to do so, he gladly accommodated to our request. The bell tower has only one flight of stairways leading up to it and the way up surrounds the tower itself. I thought we would be able to get a good view of the temple and the surrounds, however the tower being not very tall, the views are limited. Despite that we do enjoy the breeze up at the tower. We stayed at the tower for a mere 5 mins before heading down and towards our next destination.
The add-on gate at the Royal Temple
View of the temple from across the moat
Entrance of the temple
A mock-up cock fighting ring
Guardian statue of the temple
Me and Arlan crossing the causeway into the temple grounds
Guardian statue around the temple
At the Royal Temple grounds
Watch Tower from afar
Entrance to the Royal Temple
Guardian statue in the temple grounds
This section of the temple is closed to visitors
Around the temple grounds
This is the area where prayers are being conducted
This is the area where prayers are being conducted
Zoomed in view of the temple
Me at the Royal temple
Balinese architecture in the temple
Garuda guarding the temple
Close up shot of Garuda
Prayer section of the temple
This is the area where prayers are being conducted
This is the area where prayers are being conducted
This is the area where prayers are being conducted
This is the area where prayers are being conducted
This is the area where prayers are being conducted
Around the Royal Temple
Watch tower up close
Ceiling of the watch tower
Me at the top of the watch tower
Around the temple grounds
Around the temple
View of the temple grounds from the watch tower
Watch Tower

Tegal Sari Coffee Plantation

Before we headed to the rice terrace plantations, another sight Bali is famous for, Arlan asked if we wanted to head to the coffee plantation, where we can taste the most expensive coffee in the world – Kopi Luwak. We readily agreed to do so. This coffee plantation is rather small and was rather inconspicuous. I had half suspected this is one of the tourist places, where they entertain tourists to earn their foreign money. Nonetheless, no harm us taking a look. As we were walking through the plantation towards a hut where we tasted some of the beverages that was being produced locally, prior to that, a staff from the plantation, seemingly the “tour guide” of the plantation, brought us along and showed us how the coffee beans of Kopi luwak is being prepared. Every process is traditionally prepared and still very manual. We then headed for the hut where the staff prepared a sample of a various types of drinks that was produced on the plantation. We had to pay IDR50,000 for a sample of Kopi Luwak, since my friend has yet to taste it before, we opted in for it. Kopi Luwak is naturally decaffed and the taste of it isn’t as bitter compared to other blends of coffee. After tasting, we were led to a shop where they sell all the drinks that we have tasted that was produced in the plantation. After shopping for awhile, we decided to head towards our next destination.
Heading towards the plantation 
Plants in the plantation
Plants in the plantation
Plants in the plantation
Plants in the plantation
This is the cat which produces the world’s most expensive coffee
Refreshment sampling
Introduction to the various coffees produced here
Kopi Luwak sampling

Rice Terrace Plantation

Our next destination is high up in the mountains. From here we can see the terrace plantations at a distant. It is not what I imagined it would be as compared to that I have seen some years ago. Nonetheless, we still managed to get a good glimpse of the rice terrace. The climate up here is rather cooling, contrasting with the humid climate in Kuta or Seminyak, mainly due to the higher altitude. We had our lunch here, where there is a restaurant serving simple Indonesian cuisine. The food served here is nothing to brag about, however the view at the restaurant is stunning, the cooling climate and the superb view, making lunching here an excellent choice. As the food served here is buffet style, we grabbed a few rounds and called it quits. After lunch we took some pictures with the rice terrace (which unfortunately was a little too far to be visible in the pictures. Arlan the embarked us on our next stop – the Pura Ulun Danu in Bedugul.
Driving towards the rice terrace view point
View of the rice terrace afar
At at the rice terrace
View of the rice terrace afar
Lunch time
Lunch time

Pura Ulun Danu

Pura Ulun Danu is situated on a lake, surrounded by mountains. This is the temple that I have always wanted to visit, but due to the location, which is rather in accessible if one does not have private transport, visitation to this temple is always cast aside in my previous stays in Bali. I was glad to have been able to make this trip this time round. As usual, once we paid for the tickets, our guide brought us through the split gates of the temple. Prior to approaching the temple gates, Arlan pointed out to us the Buddhist stupa just outside the temple grounds. He further told us that this is the only Balinese temple that features a Buddhist structure on the island. The stupa is a simple in design, however it remains a harmonious feature of the temple that blends the 2 different interpretations of Buddhism in Bali.
As we entered the temple grounds through the gate, Arlan brought our attention to a closed gate by the side. He told us that this is another temple that allows devotees to enter to pray. At this point in time, we were not too sure what he meant by that. Arlan quickly seized an opportunity to help my friend and I to take some pictures outside the temple gates (as there were hordes of visitors waiting for their turns to take their pictures here). As with the previous temples that we visited so far today, the doors into the temple remains closed. Arlan seemed to be able to tell that we were hungry to see the sight that we have set out to see here, the temple on the lake. He wasted no time in bringing us to the famous sight of Bali, the Pura Ulun Danu. The walk towards this temple is just a mere minutes, the solitary temple that rested in the claim waters of the lake was soon standing in front of us. I was awed by the sight, the settings of this temple, though with the noises produced by tons of visitors, remains peaceful. As this temple rests on the higher planes of Bali, we could feel cool air that blows across the lakes. Arlan told us that during the end of the year, the water level in this lake will be high, due to the rainy season and the location of the lake, which forms a bowl to capture all the water flowing down the surrounding mountains. After taking some pictures in front of the temple, we headed down to the lake. The cool water coupled with the surrounding cool wind is a stark difference from the humid and hot weather we experienced back at Kuta and Seminyak area. We did not stay at this temple for too long before heading to our next destination of Pura Tanah Lot.
Entrance to Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu
The lake Pura Ulun Danu is built on
Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu
Me at Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu
This is the area where prayers are being conducted
Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu
Quieter side of Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu
The lake at Pura Ulun Danu
A buddhist pagoda outside Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu
Pura Ulun Danu

Twin Lakes

Before we set off for Tanah Lot, Arlan asked if we would want to visit the view point for the twin lakes and Arlan make known to us that the drive to the view point is less then 30 mins away. We readily agreed to visit the view point. On the way towards the view point, we past by some monkeys which Arlan told us that these monkeys are the residents of the nearby forest and would usually settle by the side of the roads as they had known that passing by tourists would feed them food. Arlan pulled over to a group of monkeys for us to take some pictures before continuing our journey towards the view point. He also mentioned that these monkeys can turn violent and wanted us to stay in the car. We did just that.
As Arlan has promised, the view point is just 30 mins drive away an we found ourselves being presented with the picturesque view of the twin lakes. The views here is stunning, coupling with the cool mountain air, this is indeed a relaxing view and a mark difference from the hassles and bustles from the scene in Kuta. At the view point, we saw some tables, and some tourists enjoying lunch, ordered from a nearby restaurant. I can imagine the tranquility associated with lunching here. We spent some time absorbing the tranquil and the beautiful scenery, as though it is lifted from some paintings here before heading towards Tanah Lot.
View of the Twin Lakes
View of the Twin Lakes
View of the Twin Lakes
Rice Terrace that we drove past
View of the Twin Lakes
View of the Twin Lakes
View of the Twin Lakes

Pura Tanah Lot

The drive towards Pura Tanah Lot was a long one. It was around 5pm when we reached Pura Tanah Lot. As with the other temples we visited today, we paid for the tickets and found ourselves walking towards the split gates of the temple. What lies in front of us and beyond the split gates of Tanah Lot is the scenic coastal line where the temple overlooks the sea, coupled with the rhythm of the waves hitting the cliffs where the temple grounds are situated. From where we were, there seemed to be having 3 sections to Pura Tanah Lot. One temple to the far right, which seemed like 500m from the gate, and 2 on the left of the split gates. We were more excited about visiting the famous temple on the little island where it was built on, which is the icon of Balinese temples. We walked towards the left side of the split gates towards the island where the famous Tanah Lot temple is situated. Prior to landing on that island, we stopped by briefly on the temple that was built by the cliff overlooking the sea for some photo taking. From here we can see hordes and hordes of tourists by the coast and walking towards the island temple through an underwater pathway. As we wanted to see the sunset, and we were about 1 hour away from sunset, we made known this intention to our guide, who proposed that we can spend the next hour shopping around. However he warned that most of the stuff that was put up on sale is targeted at tourists, meaning the price would be higher then elsewhere. We browsed the market for abit before heading back to the temple grounds anticipating the sunset.
Sunsetting at Tanah Lot
View from of the coastline at Tanah Lot
Tanah Lot Temple
Zoomed in view of Tanah Lot Temple
The temple near to Tanah Lot
View of the cliff at Tanah Lot
View of the coastline
Me at Tanah Lot
Sun setting
Sunsetting
Low tide at Tanah Lot
One of the sub-temples at Tanah Lot
View of the shore from Tanah Lot
Tanah Lot Temple
Tanah Lot Temple
Guardian at Tanah Lot Temple
My friend and I soon found ourselves by the coast where most of the tourists are. We loved watching the sea hitting against the coast, the rhythm produced by the seawater is rather therapeutic. Here we can see tourists trying to take pictures of themselves with the picturesque background of the wave, which seem angry with the coast working their poweress to erode the coast, as though they are trying to expand their territory. We soon find ourselves couldn’t resist the calling of the temple. By the time, the path linking the shore and the temple is hardly visible. We ask Arlan if it is okay for us to visit the temple, whom subsequently told us we could get blessings in the cave under the temple. As we were walking towards what seemed to be an underwater path towards the temple, we saw a handful of temple staffs acting as shepherds escorting visitors towards the island temple. They seemed to know where to walk despite the invisible underwater path. We followed the footsteps of a couple of visitors being escorted by the staffs and soon found ourselves on the island. We got our blessings and went to the side of the temple, where there is a stairways leading up the temple is visible. As with the other temples in Bali, entrance to the temple is closed as well. We took some time to take some pictures of the coast from the temple. As the sun has set, we decided to head back to the coast. By this time, the tide has almost submerged the path that we came from. However the staffs saw us trying to walk towards the coat and came over to escort us. At this point in time, the seawater has reached our knee level, we walked carefully following the staffs who seemed to know where the path is without even the need to look at them. We soon found ourselves at the coast and met up with Arlan. As this is the last itinerary of the day, it is time for us to head back to our villa. As Arlan was preparing to drive us back, we requested him to drop us off Hard Rock Hotel in Kuta so we can grab a bite at Hard Rock Cafe. After dinner we walked around Hard Rock Hotel before hailing a cab back to our villa to rest for the night.

Up close to the shore
Tanah Lot Temple
Sunset at Tanah Lot Temple
Sunset at Tanah Lot Temple
Tanah Lot Temple
Sunset at Tanah Lot Temple
Tanah Lot Temple
Sunset at Tanah Lot Temple
Tanah Lot Temple
Coastline at Tanah Lot Temple

Bali Day 2 (16 Sep 13) – From Kuta to Seminyak

Kuta Beach

Today we were suppose to check out of Sheraton and head towards Seminyak, where we had booked a villa to spend the rest of our time in Bali. We woke up rather early (well early when you consider we were here for vacation) to find a rainbow casting over the seas on Kuta Beach greeting us. It has been awhile we last saw rainbows, and naturally we were rather excited about it. Looking out from the balcony, having a cup of warm coffee, enjoying the view granted by the rainbow, this is what a vacation should be. Kuta at this time of the day is very different from what we saw and had imagined at night. In the night, it is bustling with life and activities, however at this time of the day, Kuta seemed to be asleep. It seemed like the area is resting from the busy night life and is recuperating for get ready for another night’s activities. We headed out breakfast, as the hotel room we booked did not comes with breakfast. We decided to head out to grab one from a nearby eatery that we saw the night before and seemed to be rather tasty. However the shop did not open till 9am, we decided to head across to the infamous Kuta beach that tourism on Bali is believed to have started. Moreover my friend had not been to Bali before and I thought it would be good to show him what Kuta beach is about.
Rainbow over Kuta Beach from our room
We crossed the road and hit Kuta beach. There were beach chairs scattered along the beach with vendors lazily paddling their wares to us. However no such luck for them as we were only here to take a look at the bench. My friend and I snapped some pictures and headed to the pancake restaurant we saw the night before. We settled down and placed our orders. Breakfast was rather disappointing as my pouched eggs were overdone. We quickly had our breakfast and strolled towards the Beachwalk mall, that was right below Sheraton Hotel where we put up. This shopping mall featured some mid to high end boutiques. As the day was still early, most of the shops were still closed or in the process of opening up for business. After walking for awhile more, we decided to head back to the hotel and go for a dip.
Kuta Beach
Kuta Area
Beachwalk Shopping Mall under our hotel
Beachwalk Shopping Mall under our hotel
Me at the entrance to Kuta Beach
Kuta Beach
Breakfast
Overdone Pouch eggs
Breakfast platter

Heading to Seminyak

We dipped and tanned for about 1 hour. The pool in Sheraton was smallish but is great, as it is facing Kuta beach, overlooking the sea beyond the beach. The view was to die for! We tanned for awhile more before packing up and heading to our villa in Seminyak. The driver from Bali Islands Villas and Spa was slightly early to pick us to the villa. Despite being early, the driver was rather professional and did not rushed us at all. When the stipulated time was up, we received a call from the reception informing us our transport was waiting for us. It is very thoughtful of the staff from the villa to do so. After checking out, we soon find ourselves in the van heading towards Seminyak. the drive through Kuta area was uneventful as we saw how commercialised Kuta is, with shopping malls, pubs and hotels after hotels sprouting up in the area. It totally ruined the “Indonesian-ness” of the area. Kuta and Seminyak seemed to be very close to each other, we had crossed into Seminyak area without even realising we had done so.
Scooter in front of Sheraton Hotel
Time for a tan
Nice pool in Sheraton Hotel
Pool overlooking Kuta Beach
Driving towards Seminyak at Kuta Area
Driving towards Seminyak at Kuta Area
Driving towards Seminyak at Legian Area
Traditional Balinese architecture

Exploring Seminyak

The check in to the villa was fast and efficient. We soon found ourselves exploring the villa, covering every inch which was enclosed in the self-sufficient villa. We then headed out towards Seminyak Square to explore the around abit. Seminyak Square seemed to be the centre of the area and is the only shopping mall around here. There isn’t alot of shops and compared to the mega shopping malls found in most countries, one would be disappointed as the product offerings are rather limited. The whole area feels lazy with shop keepers simply did not bother to tout tourists with their wares. We soon got bored of this place and decided to walk around on foot to see where our feet would take us. My friend and I wanted to find a spa for the infamous balinese massage as well, while walking around looking for a decent spa we found ourselves heading towards a beach.
Seminyak Beach
Seminyak Beach
Seminyak Beach
Seminyak Beach

Sunset on Seminyak Beach

The beach here in Seminyak was fantastic, as it offered views and miles and miles of the beach with relatively lesser crowd as compared to Kuta. One can see people enjoying the beach more here as compared to Kuta, and the amount of vendors touting their wares is significantly lesser. This enabled one to enjoy the beach more compared to Kuta. We chanced upon the infamous Ku Te Da, where one can find visitors to this Island of the Gods chilling out with a cold drink awaiting for sunset. We walked towards the main road, trying to find out way back to Seminyak Square through Ku Te Da. At this point, my friend and I were hopelessly lost, we did not even know where we are. We continued walking, based on our instincts, hoping that we would eventually end up in Seminyak Square. We chanced upon the Seminyak Resorts and was hoping to find a spa where we can settle for a good massage. However we seemed not to have any luck with spas on this day. We ended up exploring around the hotel grounds and found ourselves settling our butts on this couch facing the sea waiting for sunset. The ambience is great and we felt relatively undisturbed. We ordered some drinks and finger food, while awaiting for the sun to call it a day. Though the day was relatively overcasted, my friend and I did enjoy the sunset and the lazing around.
Ku Te Da in Seminyak
Me at Seminyak
Balinese Guardian
Statue of Garuda
 Seminyak Beach
Seminyak Beach
Seminyak Beach at sunset
Seminyak Beach at sunset
Seminyak Beach at sunset
Enjoying Sunset with cocktail in Seminyak Beach
Seminyak Beach at sunset
Seminyak Beach at sunset
Seminyak Beach at sunset
Seminyak Beach at sunset
Seminyak Beach at sunset
Seminyak Beach at sunset
After the sun has set, we decided to continue our search for Seminyak Square. As we were walking, we realised we had hit W Hotel Bali. To access the hotel, one would either have to walk about 5 mins into the hotel ground through what seem like a bamboo forest before a huge W greeted visitors. We took a buggy into the hotel and it really looked hip and funky. We explored around the hotel grounds abit before calling it a day and wanting to hail a cab to head back to our villa to rest for the night. At this point I switched on my goggle map on my mobile phone, I realised we are just 2 blocks away from our villa. We asked around and soon found ourselves heading into our villa. At this point we realised W Hotel is really near to where we stayed. This is an important information as we would use this to guide cabbies back to our villa in the next few days. We washed up and rested for the night for our day trip around Bali the next day.

Bali Day 1 (15 Sep 13) – The Island Of Gods

Flying to Bali

Our flight to Bali leaves at 4pm Singapore time. However we went to Singapore Changi Airport very early and reached there at about 1pm. We had thought of going there with ample time to shop around and laze. Seems like my friend and I had under estimated our time. We shopped from Terminal 1 (where we checked in) to Terminal 2 and ended up in Terminal 3. As we were buying Godiva Chocolates, we heard our names being called out. Apparently we were one of the few passengers on our flight to Bali.
Getting ready to fly off to Bali
Pushing back
Flying to Bali

The flight to Bali on KLM was uneventful. The flight feels more like budget airlines with the perks of checking in our luggage and food/beverages being served onboard. There isn’t any pillow nor blankets being disturbed out to the passengers, even the amenities in the toilet is only limited to hand soap. Luckily the flight time to Bali is a mere 2 hours, plus the in-flight entertainment system served its purpose of keeping the passengers occupied. Soon we found ourselves landed in Bali.

Dinner time onboard
Almost reaching

Arrival in Bali

Immigration was a breeze, despite the numerous visitors visiting the Island of gods, we cleared immigration fairly fast. I read from the Lonely Planet guidebook, that there will be alot of touts outside the airport paddling their business to earn more from uninformed tourists, however there is a taxi counter where the prices are fixed and are alot cheaper then the touts waiting outside the airport terminal. We approached the taxi counter, however they quoted us a price that is higher then that was being written on the board. We left the counter without booking a cab and check if there is another counter at the other side of the terminal building. As my friend and I was walking, a few touts approached us and asked if we wanted taxi. All of them quoted a price that is significantly higher then that from the counter. We couldn’t find another counter and went back to get a taxi from the taxi counter.
Sheraton Resort isn’t that far from the airport. It took us about 45 mins to reach Sheraton. Sheraton is right next to Hard Rock Hotel, and there are plenty of shopping around the area. It is right in the middle of Kuta area. Beneath the hotel is a shopping mall. We checked into our hotel and left our luggages there before heading out to explore Kuta area abit. Kuta is famous for its beach and a mega shopping area. The amount of tourists flocking to this area explains why the beach is exceptionally crowded and the numerous surf shops in the area, not forgetting the amount of touts, ranging from small shop keepers trying to get tourists into their shop to buy souvenirs to the honking by the cabbies hoping to get passengers into their cab. Speaking of cabs, it is important to ensure that one asks for meter to be on prior to boarding the cab. I read on Lonely planet that one of the scams tourists will often face is ripping off from cabbies, Indeed throughout our stay in Bali, we have witnessed a few incidents whereby tourists and cabbies argued and some of them even got into a fight!! Kuta is the place where one can find more international cuisines then Balinese or Indonesia food.
Lobby of Sheraton Bali
Nice artwork in the lobby
View from our room
Walking around Kuta area
Walking around Kuta area
Walking around Kuta area
Walking around Kuta area
Walking around Kuta area

After walking for a couple of hours, we were tired and decided to return to our hotel and rest for the night. Our stay in Kuta is a mere one night as we had gotten accommodation in Seminyak area.

Borobudur Day 3 (13 May 12) – Early Flight Out

This day was rather uneventful. As our flight was at 7.35am, we had to leave the hotel at 5.30 am latest! We had woke up at 4am unwillingly as the bed in the hotel was too comfy for us to get our ass off the bed, however we dun have the luxury of doing that. After washing and packing up, we left the hotel at 5.30am as planned. At the reception while processing our check out, I had a quick chat with the staff who apparently had been working the night shift.

“How was your shift, must be tiring to be working the night shift.” I asked

“Yes, it was rather tiring” came the very polite reply by the staff despite the toll the shift has upon him.

“So what time do you knock off?” I enquired curiously

“8am” came the reply

“Ahh…. just 2 hours more to go, personally I felt 3am was the toughest time to past by” I replied

“Yes, it was tough at that hour” came the reply by the staff promptly

 After the check out procedure was over and done with, I enquired about the airport transfer that I had arranged with his colleague the day before. The staff at the reception told me after checking that there was no record of such an arrangement. I asked if it is possible for him to arrange. The staff gave me the look of why do you wanna spend that kind of money?

“You can catch a taxi, and we can call one for you if you want” Said the staff which confirmed my suspicion. I asked him how much would it cost if i catch a cab to the airport? As my very limited travel experience has shed some light in how some cabbies in some countries tried to quote through the roof prices to tourists, especially when it comes to airport trips.

“Our transfer costs 60,000Rps, and the taxi is ran by meters, will only cost you at most 50,000Rps” replied the ever polite staff. At this point I was very impress with the service that the staff rendered. He not only was polite and even spared a thought for the wallets of the guests who stayed in the hotel. True to his words, the cab fare was 30,000Rps, about half the price we would have paid should we insisted in getting the airport transfer. Wow! I turned to my friend when we reached the airport and told him what I thought of the staff who processed our checkout, he was impressed and agreed that the staff was very thoughtful.

Back at the small-ish airport terminal, checking in was a breeze. Once inside the terminal, there are a few some shops selling goods ranging from souvenirs such as Batiks, to paper puppets, to dried food stuffs. The airport has 2 waiting rooms, one for domestic and the other for international departures. We headed for the international departures through the customs, and the waiting room is just ahead. We waited for our flight to arrive for more then an hour (well to be fair, flight departed on time), the bird that took us from Yogyakarta to Singapore originates from Jakarta. Well I guess this is the business model for low cost carriers. The flight back home was uneventful. Guess we were too tired, after having to wake up at 4 am for 2 consecutive days, we spent the next 2 hours snoozing onboard the aircraft. 2 hours seem to fly past soon we found ourselves getting ready for landing…. with this marks the end of our trip and back to reality, back to work for the next day. Not too sure where my next destination will be, hope to do a longer trip at a further destination, till then time to sleep…….

Checking into our flight home
Empty waiting lounge in the airport
Walking towards our flight
Me with the aircraft on the tarmac
Preparing to take off
Jogja below us
Mt Merapi
Mt Merapi
Flying home
Flying home

Borobudur Day 2 (12 May 12) – It was well worth it: Sunrise at Borobudur

Our alarm clocks went off at 4.30am today, being awake, we are still discussing whether to go for the sunrise tour. Well since we are already awake, might as well just go for it. My friend and I quickly washed up and went to the reception at around 5.30am, just in time for the sunrise tour as we thought. At first we had the impression that there will be a huge group getting ready to go towards the temple, and that the places available are limited for the tour. However as we approach the reception area, it seemed to be very quiet there. We asked the receptionist if there are still spots for the sunrise tour, she replied there are plenty of slots. At this point we realised that the so called sunrise tour is merely the hotel sells you the tickets to gain entry into the temple before sunrise and we are pretty much on our own! After payment, the receptionist gave us our tickets, a couple of torch lights and sarongs. At this point I was telling my friend, I didn’t realise that we need to wear a sarong into the temple, as the day before we entered the temple without wearing sarongs and the staff checking our tickets did not bitch about it. We were instructed by the receptionist to wear our sarongs before heading towards the temple. Now wearing the piece of batik looking cloth seem weird, however since everyone is doing that, we did likewise. After we donned on our sarongs, the guide gathered whoever is there waiting to depart the temple, and off we go, we are on our way to the temple. The walk towards the temple at night was rather cooling, in contrast to the heat we experienced the day before when we were at Borobudur. Soon we found ourselves at the gate, got our tickets verified and standing before us is Borobudur temple. The temple looks solemn at this hour, as though a giant still in his slumber. There isn’t alot of visitors at the temple at this hour. Most of those whom were here are here for the sunrise, mostly photograph enthusiasts. As there was little light for us to explore around the temple, we made our way to the levels where the stupas are situated, patiently waiting for sunrise.

Our tickets to the sunrise tour
Borobudur at dawn
The temple at this hour looked erie
Climbing up the temple
Buddha Statues watching over the land at the wee hours of the morning

As we were waiting, we went around taking pictures of the surroundings, which was rather tranquil at this hour. As we were walking around, we chatted with some of the staffs there. We came to realised that the so called Mt Merapi that we were photographing yesterday isn’t Mt Merapi! It is actually Mt Sindoro, our guide generously pointed to us where Merapi is, and told us that the sun would rise in the direction of Merapi. Since there was some time before sun rise, we continued our photography session around the top levels of the temple. There isn’t much activities at the surroundings at this hour, even on the temple there are less then 20 visitors. I can imagine the peace and tranquility of the temple when it was first built or even prior to its rediscovery, before tourists came to know about its existence. I took the time to enjoy the peace and the unpolluted air that the temple and its surroundings offer. At this hour, visitors were either waiting patiently for the sun to shine across the lands, or busy taking photographs of the surroundings and the pre dawn scenery. Soon the first ray of the sun hits Mt Merapi, the view was stunning. With the sun ray, the surroundings are now covered with a blanket of fog, as though we were floating in the heavens! This is the time I begin to realise and appreciate the value of visiting this monument for sunrise. It totally debunked my preconception that this was a waste of time. I turned to my friend and told him luckily for his perseverance, if not we would not have been able to enjoy such a sight. All eyes are now gazing in the direction of Mt Merapi, where the sun slowly rising as though someone whom just had a late night and reluctantly waking up. All visitors spared no time wasted and quickly snapped their cameras away.  

Stupas on the top of the temple
Stupas stood solemnly watching the town awaking to another day
View of Mt Merapi at dawn
Shadows of the Stupas
Stupas at dawn
Stupas at dawn
Stupas at dawn
Buddha in the Stupa watching as the town awakens to another day
Buddha statue sitting in the stupa for centuries since the temple was first built
Borobudur solemnly welcoming another day to arrive
Borobudur and the surrounding mountains
The pinkish sky from beyond Mt Merapi
Borobudur at dawn
Panoramic view of the temple and the surroundings
Waiting for the sun to rise
Me at Borobudur at dawn
Awaiting for the sun to creep from beyond the clouds
A blanket of mist covering the ground as day breaks
Blanket of mist covering the ground
The sun is slowly rising from beyond Mt Merapi
The sun is slowly rising from beyond Mt Merapi
As the day breaks, the fog slowly disappears from the ground
The sun is slowly rising from beyond Mt Merapi
Borobudur at sunrise
The fog gives the area a sense of mysteriousness
Fog is still visible from the ground
Sunrise at Borobudur is simply stunning
Buddha statue in the stupa welcoming the arrival of another day
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Rays of the morning sun penetrating the temple
Borobudur at sunrise
Sunrise from Borobudur
Sun has cast light on the statue
Borobudur at sunrise
Me at Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Buddha inside the stupa
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Borobudur at sunrise
Close up of the Buddha Statue inside one of the stupas
Close up of the Buddha Statue inside one of the stupas

It was soon around 8am, as the gates opened for the rest of the visitors. As the first batch of visitors arrived at the temple, the peace and tranquility that we experienced just mere minutes ago was broken with hordes and hordes of visitors, ranging from tour groups to student groups. The eager visitors rushed straight to the top of the temple to marvel the surroundings, just as what we did for the past 2 days. As the top floor became rather rowdy, I ask my friend if he was done with photo taking. He too find it too noisy to stay around, and we decided to explore the bits that we have missed out. As we were moving down to the floors with carvings, all we did was to trace out the carvings from the video that we saw last night at the hotel auditorium and see if we can find something resembling the story of Buddha. We managed to spot some, but the rest were just not apparent to us. As we were scouring through the temple, we spotted some blocks which does not seemed to fit into the building structure. I turned around and told my friend that these seemed like some misfit jigsaw puzzles, where the staff just chucked them there in a fit of frustration as they can’t seemed to find the place that they belonged to. We continued taking pictures, making sure every corner and every turn was not missed. The amount of visitors grew like wild mushrooms after a season rain, it was too crowded for us to bear. I suggested that we descent to the base of the temple and perhaps walked around the base. My friend agreed and we spare no time getting to the base. Now it is rather challenging getting down as opposed to going up the temple, we found ourselves walking against the crowd, whom kept pouring into the temple. At times we even had to “fight” our way down. It was certainly a challenging 5 minutes down the temple.

The grandure of the temple never fails to astound me
Borobudur Temple

At the base, we walked around the temple and found that the back of the temple (the side that does not face the garden that visitors has to pass by to get to the temple) was rather quiet. Except of a group boys, whom appear to be students from a school excursion trip riding on the guarding statue. As my friend was interested in taking picture of the statue, he asked the boys if they could be excused from the statue. Without hesitation, the boys cooperated and even told their friends to not block my friend’s picture taking opportunity. After walking around the grounds for several more minutes, the past 2 early morning waking ups has taken a toll to me. I suggested to my friend to get back to the hotel for breakfast, rest awhile and then head off to Yogjakarta, where our next stop is. He agreed and we soon found ourselves having breakfast at the hotel grounds. The breakfast was worth mention here, not as in the food is fantastic, but the location of our table. It is as thought we were having breakfast in the gardens with Borobudur gracing her appearance, having breakfast together with us. This is indeed a memorable experience. After breakfast we retired back to our rooms and started to pack up. It did not take long for us to pack up and my friend soon find it restless. He asked if I am interested in joining him to visit the smallish hill we saw at the top of the temple. As I was rather tired, I told him I prefer to stay in the room and rest. My friend went on his own, and upon his return, he told me that I had missed much as there was a museum nearby the temple, showcasing the history and the restoration process…. Damn I should have joined him.

Borobudur Temple
The quieter side of the temple
Temple ground at ground zero
Borobudur Temple
Borobudur Temple
The gardens around the temple
Borobudur from the hotel grounds
On our way back to Yogjakarta

 We checked out of the hotel at around 12 noon and our transport towards Yogjakarta was already waiting for us. On our way back, the knowledgeable driver shared most of the sights along the way, despite his lack of knowledge in the English language, that did not deter him in sharing his local knowledge with us. We are really grateful for his generosity in sharing the information. It took us a couple of hours to reach our hotel in Yogjakarta. The rustic looking hotel looked like a museum from the outside and throughout the hotel! There are pieces of the local history scattered around the hotel. Every turn and every corner we would be able to find a piece of historic artifact. The hotel was tastefully decorated with a well balance of history and contemporary theme. Our room was equally fantastic. After settling our luggage in the room, we headed out to grab lunch. On our way towards the main entrance of the hotel, my friend pointed to something which caught my attention:

“Look at that” he exclaims

“Wow, the world’s most expensive coffee” I replied

“Shall we try it later?” He asked “It would cost at least SGD65 back home”

After I have done the maths (which comes to about SGD20), I replied “Why not? We should try this since it is 3 times cheaper here”

“On, let’s try this at night after we came back from town” came the reply from my friend

“Okie” I said

On our way back to Yogjakarta
On our way back to Yogjakarta
Ornamental trishaw of the hotel

And we were on our way out to find food. After grabbing food to fill our stomachs, we headed for the so called shopping street of Yogjakarta. I mean from our touching down to our way to Borobudur to coming back from Borobudur, I did not see any shopping malls around. When we asked the receptionist in the hotel, we were told that the shopping street is just a stone’s throw away from where we put up. We were given a map of the city by the very helpful receptionist, we followed the map heading towards the shopping street. After about 15 mins walking, we still do not see any shopping mall. At this point, my friend was wandering if we had been tricked or missed the turn towards the shopping mall. Upon closer study of the map, we realised that the map isn’t drawn to scale. As we walked further down, we spotted the train station that we are supposed to come across. This confirmed our theory that the map isn’t drawn to scale. After crossing the railway crossings, we came upon the start of the shopping district. Here is where we saw hundreds of stores lining up the road side, selling mostly souvenirs to local tourists and foreigners alike. Along the side of the road lined up horse carriages. I suppose this is for the tourists more then a mode of transportation for the locals. Along the way and back we kept getting locals asking if we wanted cab. I was a bit perturbed by this, but soon learnt to ignore them. After passing the train station, we came upon a shopping mall some 10 mins later. Though modern, we find the shopping mall does not have sell stuffs to our liking and decided to get out of it after spending some 10 mins inside.

Streets of Yogjakarta
Streets of Yogjakarta
KFC for lunch
Around Yogjakarta
One of the monuments in the middle of the road
Streets of Yogjakarta
Train Museum
Streets of Yogjakarta
Hotel at night

As we got out of the shopping mall, we thought the rest of the walking street looks more or less the same. We decided to head back to the hotel for dinner and then rest up as we were pretty worn out after 2 days of waking early, moreover we had to wake up pretty early for our morning flight back home the next day. We decided to head dine at the hotel instead, as the rest of the town seemed to be closed to us. After dinner, we headed towards the cafe for the most expensive coffee in the world. To be frank, the coffee don’t really taste that bitter unlike the other coffees. We saw this gift pack that came with the mug, which I quite like the design, bought one each. As we were buying, we chatted with the restaurant manager. We came to learnt that the hotel don’t sell the coffee a lot, as demand mostly come from tourists due to the relatively cheap pricing in Yogjakarta. The sales of the gift packs are even lower. After chatting for around 1 hour with the manager, we decided to head back to our room and rest for the night, after all we have to wake up early tomorrow morning for our flight back home.

The hotel we stayed in also doubles up as a museum
Time for dinner
Dinner time
One can find phoenixes around the hotel
Most expensive coffee in the world – Kopi Luwak
One of the displays in the hotel

 

 

Borobudur Day 1 (11 May 12) – Arrival at Borobudur

My friend and I has been talking about planning a trip to Borobudur since last October. We had the research done up and was about to go back then, however due to work, our trip did not materialise. Sometime earlier this year we begin talking about our trip to Borobudur, it finally materialised for us this time round. After months of waiting, today marks the day we finally embarked on this overdued postponed trip. We got to the airport rather early, did some shopping and soon found ourselves heading towards Yogjakarta, one of the two gateways to Borobudur. As we did not check in our luggage, we cleared immigration and met up with the driver assigned by the hotel to pick us up at the airport very quickly. The moment we cleared custom, the driver was already there waiting for us to pick us up to the hotel. Along the way he pointed out several interesting sights. One of those that caught my eyes were the ashes from Mt Merapi, which erupted 2 years ago. When this volcano displayed it’s rage, its ashes covered the whole of Borobudur, as a result the top few floors of the monument was closed to the public due to restoration works. We were informed by our driver that the top few floors were opened after the Indonesian government has done some restoration works to it.

Arrival at Yogkakarta Airport
Around Yogjakarta Airport
On our way to Borobudur
On our way to Borobudur
One of the small towns we pass by while making our way to Borobudur
On our way to Borobudur
On our way to Borobudur with Mt Merapi in the background
More padi fields

We booked a room at Manohara Hotel, which gave us the advantage of being closer to Borobudur. When I said close I mean literally close. As the hotel is situated in the compounds of Borobudur, the monument is just a stone throw away from the hotel. We headed for the restaurant in the hotel to combat our hunger pains after almost 4 hours of traveling. The restaurant overlooks Borobudur itself, it is a nice feeling munching our long overdued lunch while watching the temple absorbing numerous visitors coming to admire its grandure. We took our time having our lunch as we felt we have all the time in the world to visit the temple. Staying in this hotel gave us this advantage. After lunch we took a slow stroll around on the gardens in the hotel ground just infront of the temple, the call of the temple is just too great for us to resist (partially there was really nothing much around the hotel, they don’t even have a swimming pool!!) we decided it is time to pay a visit to the monument we have came to visit. True to what has been advertised on the hotel website and the comments left by patrons of the hotel, Borobudur is a mere 5 minutes stroll from the hotel compounds. Prior to hitting the entrance of Borobudur, which is just a guard house beyond the gates that protects the monument from visitors during its slumber at night, we walked through a garden leading to the temple. Walking through this stretch towards the temple reminds me alot of the Persian gardens that we have visited slightly more then a year ago.

Statue of Ganesha in the hotel grounds
Replica of a stupa in the hotel grounds
Statue around the hotel grounds
Face of Garuda
Model of Borobudur in the hotel grounds
The actual Borobudur afar
Selfie with Borobudur
The path that leads to Borobudur
Orientation of the temple
Borobudur

After we had our tickets checked, we breezed towards the base of the temple. Standing at the base, looking up at the temple is indeed a sight of awe. The magnificence of the temple, its grander, can only be felt when one is standing at the base. We thought there was plenty of time for us to explore the temple at our pace, we did not scale it once we were there. We took our time trying to get a good shot of the temple at the entrance side of the temple. I even have time to take pictures of the lions guarding the temple in the ancient times. After a few shoots, we decided to scale the temple. We reminded ourselves (consciously or sub-consciously) we will have alot of time to explore the temple as this is the only thing on our itinerary for this trip. After taking some photos at the base of the temple, we decided to explore the temple’s 9 storeys level by level. As we were moving towards one of the stairways leading up to the pinacle of the temple, we came across what seemed to be some form of guardian statues that seem to ward off evils. I thought this 2 statues are rather interesting and started to take some pictures on it. After that we attempted to climb to the first level of the temple. Well climbing seem not as easy as it looks, not due to the structure of the temple, neither is it due to the difficulty of the climb, it is due to the hordes of visitors coming to visit the temple. What would otherwise seem like a 1 – 2 minute climb eneded up to e around 6 mins due to the crowd. Climbing the relatively steep stairways, while battling a step on the stairways with visitors either going up the same direction with us or coming down from the temple proved to be challenging. Nonetheless, we made it, to the first level after 6 mins. We decided to walk clockwise (As the temple is square-shaped at the lower 6 levels and circular at the top 3 levels) around this level. Divorcing from the stairways, we turned to our right. At this moment, the intricacy of the carvings on the walls on the temple just overwhelms me. We are talking about 2 full panels of carvings on each side of the wall. As one walks through the corridor of each level, one would be surrounded  by these painstalking carvings on the wall. At one glance, the carvings seemed to be telling some stories, but to my uninformed eyes, they just seem to be telling the story of buddha. Most of the carvings do not seemed to make any sense to me, and seemed rather random. Given that, the carvings are very interesting and seemed very detail. Forces of nature do not seemed to take too much of a toll on the carvings, although errosion can be seen more on some carvings then the others. I would say most of the carvings are rather intact.

Borobudur Temple on ground zero
Me with Borobudur closed up
Happy to be here
Guardian Statue at the base of the temple
Guardian Statue at the base of the temple
Another shot of me at Borobudur
Borobudur and the surrounding mountains
Borobudur from ground zero
The temple is just magnificent
We started to scale the temple
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Carving of a guardian on the temple
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
The carvings are detailed
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Me on Borobudur
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddha statue on Borobudur
Me in Borobudur
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
At this point the carvings make no sense to me
Me with the carvings on Borobudur
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddhist carvings on the temple wall
Inside Borobudur
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Glad to be able to come to this temple
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
The young prince attaining Buddhahood
There must be hundreds if not thousands of carvings on the temple walls
Selfie in Borobudur
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
A Buddha Statue in Borobudur
Borobudur Temple
Inside Borobudur
Borobudur
Borobudur
The architecture is just amazing

As we were walking around, like tourists, we are looking for some picture perfect spots. Well once in awhile we get tourists standing here and there taking pictures, but other then that we thought the lower level was still relatively “free from tourists”. Perhaps people come here to visit the pinacle of the temple, the view as I read it, is quite stunning. Well more of that later. My friend and I constantly reminded ourselves how much time we have to explore the temple and given that luxury, we “budgeted” our time at each level well. We spent about 45 min on the first level of the temple, back to the same crowded stairways that we ascended the monument with, we proceeded to the second level of the temple. The same aweness just fills me with the amount of detailed carvings on the wall along the corridor of the structure. Each carving seem to tell a different story, some more visible then the others, at this point it became more apparent that the story told was about buddha and buddism. As we were strolling along the corridors, with occasional “Hi’s” and “How are you’s” from foreigners, we came across this lady with what seemed to be a Russian ascent. She requested for us to help her take some pictures, well I must say she certainly has some interesting poses up her sleeves. It seemed this Russian lady is traveling alone. At this point I was thinking, she must be really brave to have traveled alone to this rather remote site (not that I have not done that before). After snapping some pictures for her, we bidded her farewell and continued with our admiration of the temple and photo-snapping affairs. Well level 2 took us another 45 mins or so. Up we go to level 3. Halfway through level 3, our patience started to run low, as without any explanations, the carvings started to look the same to us. Half way through the level 3, we started to feel the carvings are rather repetitive. My friend and I decided to move up the next level halfway through. At this point we realised the stairways at the other side seemed to be less crowded. Boy this is one of the best decisions we have made during this trip. We did likewise for the next few levels, walking around it halfway and then proceeded up to the next level, along the way, I felt as if I was patronising the photo taking, snapping a few pictures here and there. The carvings made not much sense to me anyways, they don’t seemed to be telling a story (well maybe I hadn’t been able to appreciate the carvings at this point).

View of the surroundings
Almost reaching the top
This is the stairs that brought us to the top of the temple
Breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains
The head of the Buddha Statue is believed to be stolen
A complete Buddha Statue watching over the temple
Buddha Statue in the temple grounds
An interesting mix of Balinese and Hindi architecture
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Around the temple
The amount of carvings and statues are just countless
Close up of the headless Buddha
Another complete Buddha
Top part of the temple from afar
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
View of the surroundings from the temple
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddha statue
Lion standing guard in the temple grounds
Borobudur Temple
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
The walls depict the life of Buddha
In the temple
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Borobudur Temple
Borobudur Temple
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
View of the temple with the surrounding mountains
A couple of the many Buddha Statues in the temple
The surrounding mountains makes the temple look grander
Top of the temple
Buddhist carvings on the temple walls
Buddha sitting Solemnly on the temple watching over the land
Borobudur and the surroundings

Soon we found ourselves at the circular levels of the temple. Reaching this level sure takes the repetitive carvings after carvings mood away from me. At this level, we can see the picturesque greeneries surrounding the temple. At one side we see a mountain range, with its low clouds, certainly is a welcoming and refreshing sight for city dwellers like us. As we turned around, we saw this volcano, which seemed to be a stone’s throw away from the temple. We read about how Mt Merapi has errupted a few years ago, and as a result, the temple was covered with volcanic ashes. Immediately, we deduced that the very volcano we saw is Merapi. Sparing no lost time we send our cameras snapping the volcano away. As I was walking around the top few levels (which are relatively open), I managed to take some rather nice shoots. At this point, my patience as totally ran out of juice, I skipped a few levels and headed for the top most level. Afterall the top few levels looked the same to me with stupas springing up around like wild mushrooms after a heavy rain pour, except that the stupas are more organised. As I was walking around the top level, I found myself facing the west, looking at the sunsetting between mountains and beyond the farm fields. Wow, this sight may be common to the residents in the area, to a city dweller this sight is indeed rare and therapautic to a certain extend. As I watch the sun slowly fades away from the sky, as though it is retiring for the day, my fingers are busy working with my camera to capture the picture perfect moment.

Stupas at the top of the temple
Stupas at the top of the temple
View of the surroundings from the top of the temple
Stupas at the top of the temple
Me with the Stupas
Stupas at the top of the temple
Buddha watching over the land
View of the top of the temple
Borobudur Temple
Panoramic shot of the temple and the surroundings
Sunsetting from the land
Stupas at the top of the temple
View from the top of the temple
A Buddha inside the Stupa
Stupas at the top of the temple
Stupas at the top of the temple
Me with my friend in the background
View from the Stupa level of the temple
On the top of Borobudur
There are some carvings on the base of the Stupas
Stupas at the top of the temple
Me at the top floor of the temple
The centrepiece of the temple and it is the highest point of the temple
Shot of a Buddha inside one of the Stupas
Close up of the Buddha inside one of the Stupas
Sunsetting with the Stupas in view
Sunsetting
Awaiting Sunset from the Stupa level of the temple
Me with the sunsetting
Stupa and the sunset
On the top of the temple
Sunsetting over the mountains
Panoramic shot of the surroundings
Me watching sunset
Detailed carvings on the walls of Borobudur
Sunsetting
Sunset
Grandure of Borobudur Temple

We soon found ourselves being “Chased” out of the temple. Looking at our watches, geezzz…. it is about time for them to close. Reluctantly, we had to peel ourselves away from the temple and started to descend the temple. Well we still have the next morning to take more pictures of the temple. As we were walking out, the relantless vendors selling souvenirs at the compounds of the temple sprang to work. Seeing tourists coming down from the temple, the were quick to paddle their wares in the hope to clinch some last minute sales. I was rather interested in a minuature model of the temple. A vendor approached me and I checked out the price with him:

“100,000 rupiah” said the vendor.

I was like… what??!!

“50,000 for 2” I counter offered.

“Too low” came the reply.

“Nevermind then” I said to the vendor, and was about to walk away.

“okay 50,000 rupiah for 2 then”

I quickly choose 2 of the models and walked off after paying the vendor. Happy I was to have managed to strike a bargain. We walked around what seemed to be a bazzar in the day. Well too bad most of the shops are closing or have closed. My friend and I decided to head back to the hotel. Once returning to our room, our stomach strikes, as though demanding food. As there don’t seem to be any restaurants or eateries around the hotel, we settled our dinner in the hotel restaurant. There was a staff member playing the traditional Indonesian muscial instrument, and singing along to the music. The dinner was decent and did what it supposed to do –  to fill our stomachs. As the night is still young we decided to walk around and explore the hotel abit. We stumbled into an auditorium of some sort, the staff was kind enough to allow us to pop in and take a look what was showing inside. Once inside, the empty auditortium was show a video clip about Borobudur! The informative video explains the carvings in the temple, the stories behind the carvings and the proper way to visit the temple. At this moment, my friend and I were like “geezzz we should have seen this before hitting the temple”. It became apparent to us what the carvings meant, and our suspicion of the story of buddha was confirmed. I was thinking to myself, well at least when we visit the temple again tomorrow, we can appreciate the carvings more.

Nightfall
Around the hotel grounds at night
Dinner time
Traditional Indonesian Music Performance at dinner time
Buddhist artwork around the temple

The short clip lasted about 30 mins, soon we found ourselves roaming around the hotel. As there was nothing much (not even a swimming pool) in the hotel, we decided to retire back to our room. While in the room, we were still trying to decide if we should wake up early (we are talking about 4am!) to see sunrise at Borobudur. My contention is that there is no guide who bring us round the temple and explain to us. We paid additional money just for the chance to go into the temple before every else does to see sunrise.  My friend pointed out that since we are already here, and this was one of the things we said we wanted to do when we were planning for the trip last October. I agreed that it is a waste to have came all the way to Borobudur and not going for the sunrise tour. We set our alarm clocks and went on the retire, hoping that we can wake up in time for the sunrise tour.