We spent two plus weeks in Indonesia, visiting Bali, Kalimantan, and Java (Yogyakarta). This was a great experience for us as we enjoyed music, dance, rice fields, snorkeling, rafting, volcano climbing, art, local villages, and temples in Bali; a houseboat trip in Kalimantan where we experienced orangutans, monkeys, birds, and other wildlife, as well as amazing flowers and trees; and time in and near Yogyakarta in Java to experience Borobodur, Prambanan, and some sites in Yogyakarta.
The travel agent gets great marks for selecting amazing places for us to stay, each with fantastic service, amazing amenities (private pool or beach in each place!), and beautiful settings. I would recommend these to any visitor-- whether a couple, a family or a group. Even our houseboat in Kalimantan was special, with a great crew and an incredible cook on board.
Our travel agent spent quite a bit of time interviewing us to help plan a trip to meet our interests and I feel that she did a good job probing, listening and planning. She was also able to help us get a reservation at a restaurant in Ubud just a week or two before our trip-- not such an easy task as there was no table available at all when I tried. And, I have to add that all of our in-Indonesia travel via plane from island to island, went very smoothly and easily. Our guides had the in-Indonesia tickets for us when we arrived-- very simple and easy!
Indonesia is a complicated place and this travel experienced allowed us to enjoy its present and past. We were grateful to our guides for sharing their perspectives and lives with us throughout our stay and to the hospitality everywhere we went.
Each part of Indonesia brought special pleasures with it! We sought a combination of outdoor experiences (seeing the orangutans, snorkeling, hiking the volcano at night to see sunrise, rafting), cultural experiences (experiencing gamelan and dancing, visiting art museums, visiting temples), and everyday life (visiting local markets, seeing the uniquely cultivated rice fields in Bali, visiting local villages). All of these experiences together enriched our trip and made it special.
Knowing it was all pretty wonderful, I won't forget my time with a double ikat weaver exploring not only her weaving but fabrics that she had from other family members and friends and colleagues throughout Indonesia. I loved hearing the history of each piece of fabric and selecting some to take home. Likewise, we really enjoyed the music experiences- ranging from visiting a small village to hear the local men's gamelan to hearing professional gamelan players in Ubud.
I also won't forget our time on river and land in Kalimantan. Seeing the orangutans was a highlight but the time on the houseboat and river itself was also very special- many great monkeys, birds, flowers and trees.
In Yogyakarta, the experiences of Prambanan and Borobudur were profound. We also experienced the beginning of Ramadan while we were in Yogyakarta, which allowed us to hear not only the call to prayer but ongoing prayers as these are broadcast to the broader community throughout Ramadan.
This was all enhanced by the beautiful, special and luxurious accomodations which all featured wonderful rooms, appealing properties, and fantastic service. I only wish we had more time to have spent enjoying these.
Finally, we were able to have a full range of Indonesia food, including eating at a restaurant in Ubud (modern European meets local creative chef), enjoying warungs in which we were the only non-Indonesians present, and savoring afternoon tea at our various hotels.
As you can see, it is impossible to isolate just one or two aspects of the trip- while we had a limited time, and there is so much more of Indonesia to see, experience, and understanding-- the trip was compelling as a whole.
Not very much at all!! However, I would likely give up a day in Bali to gain a day in Yogyakarta, which has a thriving modern art/puppetry/dance scene that we were not able to experience due to our time restrictions. While in Bali, I would request some "down time" from the guide as it is very feasible to explore the temples and walking paths of Ubud on your own and the wonderful hotel that we stayed at has an easy to use car service into and out of town. These are very minor changes- and the type of thing you learn from going somewhere!
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