Tag Archives: temples

Bangkok, Thailand – Impressions

Bangkok is known in Thai as Krung Thep Mahanakhon, which means “City of the Deity”.

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After my brother headed home I travelled to Bangkok to continue my adventures. But never alone long, I met a British girl at the hostel and we spent 3 days exploring the city.

Day 1 – Getting Around In Bangkok

Cruising Chao Phraya River
The rapid growth of the city has caused major troubles with traffic congestion and pollution. While four metro train lines have been built to combat this, they do little to cover the city. Only one train stop goes near the Chao Phraya River, where commuters can transfer to express boats to move along its length. As these boats are the easiest ways to see the city, we booked tickets and headed out to see what Bangkok had to offer.

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Wat Pho – Temple of the Reclining Buddha
Named after a temple in India where the Buddha was believed to have lived, Wat Pho is a massive complex with many traditional Thai designed temples and buildings. It is also known as the home of traditional Thai Massage.

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A major building in the complex contains a massive golden buddha in a reclining position. It’s the most popular building on the site where tourists filter in one side, around the feet and out past the back of the head.

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Khao San Road
Originally a rice market, the road is now considered a backpacker ghetto and party zone. As I prefer quieter hostels, I didn’t to stay in the area. During the day there are plentiful backpackers, markets and food stalls. In the evenings, bars appear and backpackers party away the night.

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Democracy Monument
At the end of Khao San Road is the grand monument commemorating the Siamese Revolution of 1932 which led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. Unfortunately, the widening of the road to accommodate the monument and ceremonial boulevard meant mass evictions of local residents and the cutting down of hundreds of shade trees.

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Wat Saket
Known as the Golden Mountain, this Buddhist temple sits atop an artificial mountain. The temple has a rounded golden feature atop it giving it the sense of being a mountain. The roof of the temple allows great views across Bangkok.

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Wat Suthat
One of the ten first-grade temples in Bangkok. King Rama I began the construction himself in 1807. King Rama II helped to carve the doors during his reign and the temple was finally completed by King Rama III in 1847. There are 28 Chinese pagodas at the base of the temple to commemorate the 28 buddhas born on this earth.

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Day 2 – Wat? More Temples?
Bangkok is the city of temples and while we’d visited several on day one there were a couple more we wanted to see.

The Victory Monument
Our hostel was right near the monument commemorating the 59 Thais killed during the 2 month Franco-Thai war in 1941. The outcome of the war was decided by the Japanese, who didn’t want a prolonged war between two of its allies just prior to its own war of conquest in SE Asia.

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Jim Thompson House
One of the most popular tourist locations in Thailand, the house was created by a US soldier during the 1950’s and 60’s. He put together 6 Thai houses made from Teak and brought from all over Thailand. After Jim went missing in Malaysia, his nephew created the Jim Thompson Foundation and turned the site into a museum.

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The Grand Palace and The Emerald Buddha Temple
Another of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand, the Grand Palace was the home to the Kings of Siam between 1782 and 1925. The Palace compound is huge with many Temples, Halls and of course, the Palace.

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The compound is also the site of the Emerald Buddha Temple, home of a famous buddha statue. Labelled ‘emerald’ because of its green colour, it’s actually carved from Jasper. The statue has a long history, being carved in India, taken to Sri Lanka, lost on its way to Burma and ending up in Angkor Wat in Cambodia before the Siamese invaded and claimed it. Unfortunately, photos aren’t permitted within the temple.

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What Arun – Temple of Dawn
Once home to Emerald Buddha and named after a Hindu God, the Temple of Dawn is said to catch the first rays of the sun each morning, glowing with pearly iridescence.

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The main temple has very steep stairs that climb two tiers and give great views of the city.

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Day 3 – Market Day

All templed out by day 3, my British companion and I decided to explore a couple of weekend markets around the city.

Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
Bangkok has several floating markets, although the largest and most popular take over 90 minutes outside the city. We aimed for a smaller, less touristy floating market closer to central Bangkok. A floating market is a river market navigable by boat, with other boats and vendors along the sides of the river selling goods. Khlong Lat Mayom only has a small floating aspect…

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The market is mainly a food market which stretches across the river but with only the occasional boat floating by. As it was raining we were happy not to be on the water. Instead we enjoyed the local food, a spicy chicken side and some fried squid eggs in a batter. Interesting.

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Chatuchak Weekend Markets
Known as Jatujak in the Thai language, the markets are not only the largest markets in the city, but the largest markets I’ve ever been to. As the name suggests, it’s only open on the weekends, and is vastly busy during this time.

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The markets have 27 sections and 8000 stalls! Beyond seeing the markets, my major reason for going was to find and consume a fried scorpion on a stick. Unfortunately, after spending hours searching, I wasn’t able to find one so settled for a frozen banana dipped in chocolate and chopped almonds instead. While not entirely the dish I was looking for, it would have to do but my search will continue.

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Overall, Bangkok is a busy capital city with plenty to do assuming you aren’t already over temples.

Next, I catch my first sleeper train to Vientiane, capital of Laos.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

Koh Samui, Thailand – Impressions

Koh Samui is the largest of the three popular tourist islands off the east coast of Thailand, the other two being Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. These three islands plus Koh Phi Phi off the west coast make up Thailand’s main party zone.

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While tourism is the primary funding source for the islands, the region’s party reputation seems to attract mainly early twenty somethings, who drink copious amounts of alcohol and do stupid things. This party reputation stems from the monthly Full Moon parties at Haad Rin, a beach at the southern tip of Koh Phangan. 40,000 youngsters invade the beach each month to indulge in a drug and alcohol fuelled party on the beach.

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Our choice to stay at Koh Samui was because it has a somewhat better reputation and a slightly older tourist base. Unfortunately it still serves as a party zone during the week leading up to the Phangan Full Moon parties.

Sickness Strikes Again!
We booked three nights on Koh Samui over christmas as it’s near impossible to get bookings over New Years. After 8 hours of buses, ferries and local transport, we arrived at the hostel on the evening of Christmas Eve. We ate at a fairly popular local restaurant, but what seemed like a fairly standard pork schnitzel would see me throwing up for the better part of the night and on throughout Christmas Day.

It would seem that of the times I’ve been ill on this journey it’s been because of pork. While bacon seems fine, for the rest of the trip I’l be avoiding pork.

Scooters, of course.
With one of our two full days on the island spent in bed, I didn’t have much time to explore. To make the most of our time I hired a scooter and rode up the east coast to see what I could find. The bad weather that had plagued our Thailand visit continued, but thankfully I had a waterproof poncho, so I remained mostly dry.

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At the northern end of the island, I found a pair of temples dedicated to buddha with associated giant statues.

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While the Big Buddha statues were impressive, so were the temples themselves.

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Near these two temples I found an artist’s store where he builds life-sized metal statues of science fictional creatures.

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As the weather began to clear up, I rode south again to find some of the other hidden gems of the island. I stopped at Lamai beach, where the sea comes right up to the front of the resorts.

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I climbed to a lookout over Lamai Beach for a different perspective…

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And then rode to the southern-most tip of the island where I found the Laem So Pagoda.

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Cleaning Station
Throughout Thailand, I’ve seen ‘cleaning stations’ on the street at the front of massage places. These cleaning stations are large fish tanks containing many small fish which suck on your feet, cleaning off dead skin and drawing out toxins. I’ve been intrigued by this and have wanted to give them a try. On my day’s journey, I located a place with a full cleaning pool…

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Normally the fish are fairly small, perhaps 2 centimetres long and very thin. The fish in the pool were larger, perhaps 6-8 centimetres and the sucking sensation takes some getting used to. When a dozen of them suck on one heel it’s a strange feeling. When a hundred suck on each foot at the same time, it takes an effort just to keep your feet in the water. It has to be the weirdest sensation I’ve ever felt.

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Next we head back to Krabi Ao Nang, a more family friendly beach area, for New Years.

The Trail Wanderers

Singapore – Impressions

Measuring 40km by 20km, Singapore is an island city-state off the southern coast of Malaysia. While people have lived on these islands for 1800 years, Singapore was only established 200 years ago as a trading port for the English. Occupied by the Japanese in World War 2, it joined with other English Territories to form Malaysia in 1963, only to be expelled two years later. It has since grown to become one of the Four Asian Tigers, free economic states, along with South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

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After nearly 2 months in Indonesia, Singapore seems like the cleanest and most organised city in the world. The downside is that everything is more expensive.

The Central City
Singapore has spread to fill its island quickly and has begun to grow upwards. While the central city boasts many skyscrapers, large portions of the island are covered with high-rises. Singapore is a city of architecture, from the old english style of many central museums…

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…to the more modern and unusual, such as The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay buildings.

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Marina Bay Sands
Completed in 2010 and standing out on the skyline is the most expensive building in the world. At US$4.7 billion The Marina Bay Sands has three main towers, a major mall, casino and a Skypark across its top.

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Most of the Skypark, which is longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall, is only available to hotel patrons and includes a 150 metre vanishing pool.

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The rounded tip of the Skypark is a viewing platform available to the general public providing 360º views of the city and marina. Even in the rainy season the views were magnificent.

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Little India
Singapore has a large Indian contingent with their own region of the city. Little India has plentiful Indian restaurants and several temples.

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Unfortunately, we visited on a Sunday evening when half the population of continental India had popped over to visit. Sunday evening is a common time among the Indian community to go shopping. This was to such a degree that we found it difficult to move through the streets.

Tiger Breweries
Singapore has its only international recognised beer, Tiger. As it happens it was my birthday during our visit, so we headed out to the brewery for a tour.

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Unfortunately, it took us longer to get there on public transport than we’d expected and we missed half of the tour. All was not lost as we did manage to catch the end of the tour, the 45 minutes of free beverages. When my birthday was mentioned, somehow the time stretched to 90 minutes before we decided it best to head off. A good evening!

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Night Safari
Singapore has a world-class zoo with many species of animals. However, a zoo is a zoo and once you’ve seen a few they all start to look the same. Night Safari is still a zoo, but for nocturnal creatures with a tram tour through a portion of the park.

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After the main tram ride, there are several other walks available along dimly lit paths. These lead to various other enclosures, including many great cat enclosures, including two separate lion zones, and a bat enclosure. Other animals include elephants, monkeys, opossums and many other lesser known nocturnal species. With no flash photography permitted, getting good photos was near impossible but we still enjoyed the experience.

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Sentosa Island
Off the southern coast of Singapore is the resort island of Sentosa.

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This entire island is an entertainment zone with a myriad of different activities, such as a large Universal Studios theme park, 2.2 kilometres of sheltered beaches…

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… 2 golf courses, a Megazip adventure park, a Underwater World, a cable car, and many others, including the Luge, which began its life in New Zealand.

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Since I’d never actually been on the Luge in New Zealand(!), I had to do it. What crazy fun!

A lot of time and money can be spent on Sentosa island, but we had only a single afternoon among showers. Thankfully entry to the island is only S$1.

Orchard Road
With a couple of things on my shopping list, we decided to head to the main shopping area in Singapore, Orchard Road. Renown for having 30 malls along its 2.2km length, the street is Mecca for tourist shoppers.

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The start of Orchard road is the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station, which exits beneath a 7-level mall. I managed to find the items I was looking for on the first two levels of the mall, so avoided having to spend too much time on the street.

Gardens by the Sea
Behind the Marina Park Sands is a large park area called the Gardens by the Sea. Most of the gardens are free to walk around, with several lakes, bridges and many separate garden areas, including the Supertree Grove…

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Gardens by the Bay also includes a pair of domes that contain specialty areas: the Cloud Forest and Flower Domes respectively. These are pay areas and can be quite expensive, so we decided against visiting them.

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City Lights shows
Most nights of the year Singapore hosts two separate free, light and sound shows. The first is in the Gardens by the Sea where lights dance around Supertree Grove in time to seasonal music. During our visit it was a Christmas theme.

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There is a canopy walk through the Supertree Grove which gives great views of both the Gardens and the Marina Bay Sands.

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The second light show is on Marina Bay in front of the Marina Bay Sands, where plentiful seating is provided. While waiting for the show to begin, there are great views of the central city buildings.

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The main show is about 20 minutes long and is laser light displayed on three fans of water projected up from the bay. The show depicts the life-cycle of humanity. It’s an interesting and most enjoyable show.

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Four days was simply not enough, so we extended to a week and still didn’t get to see everything. But alas, it was time get back on the road. Next stop, Malaysia.

The Trail Wanderers

Jakarta, West Java, Indonesia – Impressions

With a population exceeding 10 million, the city once known as Batavia by the Dutch is one of the largest cities in South East Asia. It also has the second largest urban population, behind Tokyo, with 28 million.

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Jakarta is a crushing metropolis and like most other major cities has severe traffic issues. To help out with this, the city has implemented a busway system which works quite effectively, except at highway U-turn zones where it can bottleneck. And, as everywhere in Indonesia, there are millions of scooters.

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It’s can be difficult to see into the distance in the city as there’s often a hazy and dense cover of smog. Yet hidden away in the thin back streets are little gems just waiting to be discovered, such as this Buddhist temple.

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But beyond having an avid nightlife like most major cities, there’s little for a tourist to see in and around the central city. With vast distances to cross just to get to some of the attractions, we stayed around the Northern Jakarta suburbs to see what we could find.

Kota Tua Jakarta

Jakarta Old Town is the old Batavian city centre and is situated in the northern region of Jakarta near the port. The area has many prominent buildings in the dutch architectural style although most were sacked during the War of Independence, leaving only their shells.

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Some buildings survived the sacking intact, while others have been rebuilt or are in the process of being rebuilt. This old building, now the Jakarta History Museum, is in the process of being rebuilt. It currently has a very large sheet hanging over to make it look finished.

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Old Jakarta is now dominated by museums and eating houses, with a stretch of small markets between.

Medan Merdeka – Independence Square
Jakarta has the second largest city square in the world, measuring a square kilometre in area. At the very centre is Monas, the National Monument.

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At 132m tall, Monas is a huge obelisk with a golden torch at its top. Inside the base there are two halls, the lower is used by the National History Museum to display reliefs of periods in the nation’s history. The upper is the Hall of Independence. Above the halls is the lower observation deck, 17 metres above the ground. Then, just beneath the golden flame at 115 metres, is the upper observation deck.

Because of the heat and the great line of people waiting to get in, we decided against the wait.

Bogor Botanical Gardens
Bogor is a city 90 minutes south of Jakarta at the most southerly point of the commuter rail line. For 10,000 rupiah we caught the train to the city which is known for its botanical gardens. The Botanical Gardens contain some 15,000 different species of plants and trees, and 400 types of palms.

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The gardens are more of a grand park with many ponds across its 80 hectares.

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Some showcasing metre wide Lily Pads.

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The gardens are in Bogor’s city centre and are adjoined with the Istana Bogor, the presidential palace.

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We spent a couple of hours wandering around the cooler grounds of the gardens before heading back to Jakarta.

Next and for our final stop in Indonesia, the Island of Sumatra and the city of Padang, popular with surfers.

The Trail Wanderers

Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia – Impressions

Yogyakarta – pronounced Jojakarta – is the capital of the Yogyakarta Special Region in Central Java. The city is a centre of education where Indonesians come for higher learning. It was also the Indonesian Capital during the War of Independence.

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Jalan Malioboro
Unlike Surabaya, where we felt like the only Westerners, Yogyakarta is the second most visited tourist destination in Indonesia. Our hostel was near Jalan Malioboro (Malioboro Street), the main tourist area in the city, so not surprisingly this was where we saw most of the Westerners.

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Jalan Malioboro begins at the main train station to the north and runs south to Beringhajo Markets, near the Kraton – the Sultan’s Palace. The street has plentiful stores and street vendors selling all the typical touristic wares. Thankfully the vendors are less aggressive than in Bali, making wandering the street far more relaxing.

Kraton Ngaygyakarta Hadiningrat
The Kraton or Sultan’s Palace is just south of Jalan Malioboro and was the seat of power in the area. While it was once the house of the royal family, it’s now a popular tourist attraction and museum. The Indonesian 1,000 Rupiah bill features an image of The Keaton.

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Taman Sari Water Castle
Two kilometres south of the Kraton is Taman Sari, the Sultan’s royal gardens. It once had an artificial lake with islands, several pavilions and a bathing complex. While most of the Taman Sari lies in ruins, the bathing pools of the Sultan’s concubines are well-preserved and open to tourists.

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Candi Borobudur
Borobudur temple is the world’s largest Buddhist temple and is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world. It was built in the 9th century and abandoned in the 14th only to be rediscovered again in 1811. It contains the largest and most complete collection of Buddhist reliefs in the world.

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We took an organised tour to the site and climbed the structure via the eastern gate, the only proper entrance to the temple. The stairs climb through three large tiers to the top where there are many bell-like structures, each covering a state of Buddha.

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The site is an amazing place for photos, although getting one without tourists can be troublesome. The temple was not the only thing being photographed, Westerners tend to also be targets for photos. When first asked, I assumed they wanted me to take a photo of them with the temple but they actually wanted a photo with me.

Candi Prambanan
Prambanan temple is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia and was built around the same time as Candi Borobudur. The temple complex was once a collection of 240 individual temples, with the largest six temples at its centre dedicated to the 3 manifestations of the hindu god and the each of their steeds.

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Most of the temples are now just piles of rubble after numerous eruptions of Mount Merapi and the earthquake of 2009. The major temples have been reconstructed and stand like fingers protruding from the dirt.

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This time my brother and I hired scooters and rode out to the temple compound, which is only 17km from Jalan Malioboro. While vastly different to Borobudur, it is equal in magnificence.

Candi Sewa
There are several other temple complexes near Candi Prambana, although most are now little more than stacks of stones. One that has been rebuilt is Candi Sewa, a buddhist temple.

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Its main temple has been reinstated, but most of it’s surrounding smaller temples have not. Yet the guard statues still stand ready to defend the site.

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Mount Merapi
Mount Merapi, literally Fire Mountain, is the most active of Indonesia’s 129 volcanos, with major eruptions occurring every 10-15 years. It’s also a popular volcano to climb, usually to see the sunrise. In my adventures I’ve climbed mountains at night and had sworn never to do it again. But for some reason I forgot and climbed it anyway.

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The climb was difficult and 300 metres from the very top I made the call to go no further. I stopped at a large group of tents belonging to the wise people who had climbed the day before, camped and woken early to climb the final hour and forty minutes to the summit. The views from the camp were still awesome, although it was very cold. My brother and our Italian friend did make it to the top for similarly spectacular views, such as Mount Merbabu, Merapi’s slightly taller twin.

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While it was good climb, I stick with my decision to not climb mountains at night and will never do it again. I prefer to climb mountains when I’m rested and not after a full day. But for those who did reach the top they enjoyed the experience, although for some it was the most difficult thing they’d ever done.

Next we head further across the island of Java to the city of Bandung.

The Trail Wanderers.

Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia – Impressions

Surabaya is known as the City of Heroes for the part it played in the war of independence against the Dutch Empire. It’s also the country’s second largest city.

Surabaya isn’t a city that has embraced tourism to any great extent and because of this it doesn’t attract many travellers. This didn’t stop us from spending a couple of days checking out the attractions it does have.

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Surabaya is a major shopping destination for Indonesians with many Western style shopping malls in the central city. But just outside this area the city changes to more squalid conditions where the poor try to eke out a living.

Strangers in a Strange Land
As we walked around the city we garnered much interest from the locals, who would often stare at the two tall, bearded, foreign lads. Many times we’d hear, ‘Hello Mister’, followed by giggles, as if this was somehow funny because it was the only words in English they knew. Then unexpectedly, at another time, a local would strike up a random conversation in fairly fluent english.

For two days we felt like the only Westerners in the city until returning to the hostel we discovered a young Italian guy had moved into our room. He joined our troupe and began travelling with us.

The Bemo
While there are plentiful taxis in the city, we discovered a very cheap form of transportation known as the Bemo. A Bemo is simply of minivan converted into a taxi-bus that travels along a predetermined route through the city. Simply wave at it to stop, tell the driver where you want to go and get in the back. When you’re at your destination the driver will let you know or press the button to get him to stop.

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The cost of the trip is 4,000 Rupiah (40 cents) no matter how far you go. There are more than 40 routes, each defined by a large letter emblazoned on the front, and sometimes the back, of the vehicle. There are many Bemos on each route, so if the first one is full another will come along soon after. The entire Bemo system is reminiscent of the taxi system I discovered in southern Chile, the difference being that in Chile they use cars instead of vans.

There’s one large downfall of the Bemo system, knowing where a certain lettered Bemo goes. While there’s a list of routes online at: www.angelfire.com/on/Genhome/rutebemo.htm, there’s no map. So, unless you know the areas getting lost is easy. Having a maps app on your phone helps a lot.

Monkasel – Submarine Monument
Probably the least likely tourist attraction in the city is the Submarine Monument, dedicated to a SS-type Whisky class submarine built in Russia in 1952.

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The Monument is the full-sized submarine and is open for viewing most days of the year for the hefty price of Rp8,000 (80 cents). The submarine has seven rooms, although entry to some are through very low bulkhead doors. This height issue isn’t a problem for the locals, but at 189cm I had to crawl through them.

Tugu Pahlawan – Heroic Monument
Standing at 41 metres tall, the Tugu Pahlawan is a large monument commemorating the heroes of the war of independence. It is also the main symbol of Surabaya appearing on the city’s Seal, which also contains a shark ‘Sura’ and a crocodile ‘Baya’.

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House of Sampoerna – Clove Cigarette Museum
While I’m morally against cigarette smoking, Surabaya contains an award-winning tourist museum devoted to the history of clove cigarette manufacturing in Indonesia. While surrounded by poor areas, the grounds of the museum could be mistaken for being in central Amsterdam.

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Other Places
While there are several other places in Surabaya of interest to travellers: The Four Face Buddha; Joko Dolog, the 700 year-old statue of Buddha; or several mosques and temples, it’s not always easy to find them. Whether they are down hidden alleyways, the Bemos don’t go near them, of they just don’t stand out. Several times ended up walking at length through slums trying to find a site. Unable to ask due to the language barrier and floundering in the sticky heat, we’d eventually give up and head somewhere else. We did get lucky a couple of times and found the occasional Hindu temple.

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While walking through the myriad of slums, at no time did we feel unsafe.

Next, we head by train to the student capital of Indonesia, Yogyakarta.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

Bali, Indonesia – Scooter Excursions

Scooter Excursions
By far the most common form of transportation in Bali is the motor scooter. Which are also happily rented to tourists… “You want rent scooter?” At RP60,000 (AU$6) a day, and less for multiple days, the scooters are very cheap.

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Petrol is sold by small stores everywhere, usually in 1 litre vodka bottles that sit in racks out near the road. A bottle of petrol costs RP10,000 (AU$1) with 5 bottles filling a tank. A full tank of gas for a scooter will give a range of about 100km.

Driving in Bali
Riding a scooter in the built up areas can be a little dangerous, with cars, taxis, trucks, motorbikes and other scooters to navigate through, not to mention people and dogs. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of it though, although nothing like the locals who slip in and out of traffic at tops speeds on both sides of the road. Keeping up with them is suicidal so it’s best to just ride at your own speed and try not to crash. Not crashing is important as the bikes aren’t insured leaving you the repair bill for any damage done.

Crossing busy intersections can be a challenge and is usually done by slowly edging forward until the traffic stops and lets you go. There are traffic lights in Bali but not many and for most locals, red lights mean ‘go’ as long as there isn’t a larger vehicle in the way.

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Police Stops and Corruption
The biggest danger on country roads are the Police Stops. While they occasionally pull over locals, they always pull over tourists. To ride a scooter you’re supposed to have either an international license or a local license gained from the central police station for RP250,000 (AU$25). Most tourists don’t have them, so when a tourist is pulled over without a licence the officer takes them aside and explains the fine system. Either pay the officer RP500,000 (AU$50) or get a ticket to pay at court for RP1,000,000 (AU$100). The police, however, prefer you to pay the RP500,000 which goes straight into their pockets. With low salaries, the police try to bolster their take home pay in this way as long as there’s no paper trail.

The way around this corrupt method of fines is to demand a ticket and thus create a paper trail. The other way is to only have a small amount of money in your wallet and to let them have it. My brother and I were only pulled over only once and purposefully had only RP50,000 (AU$5) in our wallets. When the officer demanded the rest we simply shrugged and said that’s all we had…for petrol. He sighed and said, “I tell you what… I let you off this time.” He took the money and let us go.

My brother and I hired scooters for two days and made the most of the time by going on long excursions on both days…

Day 1 – To The South

Garuda Wisnu Kencanu Cultural Park
An hour south of our hotel in Kuta is a private park housing a 23-metre tall bust of the hindu god Vishnu.

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While the statue is quite prominent it’s only the beginning of the intended statue. Eventually, it’s to be 146 metres tall, gold-plated, with Vishnu on the back of Garuda, King of Birds. In another part of the park there’s the beginning of the statue of Garuda.

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The park, while small, has many interesting features, including the Lotus Pond, which is an open area with rocky sides where walkways have been carved into the rock.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu
Our second spot of the day is a water temple built in the 11th century. Pura Luhur Uluwatu is on the south-western end of the South Kuta Peninsula in southern Bali and is one of seven sea temples built to protect Bali from evil spirits.

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While the temple is situated on a clifftop it was very humid while we were there. We were also warned about the monkeys in the area as they will steal anything not bolted down. We only encountered one and he seemed content to leave everyone alone. Like all temples in Bali it is required that you wear either a sarong or a coloured sling of fabric.

Nusa Dua
On the south-eastern side of South Kuta is Nusa Dua which is a collection of 5-star hotels and calm beaches. The area was quieter than Kuta but the beaches were not as grand.

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Day 2 – To The North

Goa Gajah
Our first stop of day two after driving through the traffic heavy roads of Bali’s provincial capital, Denpasar, was the Elephant Cave, near the touristic township of Ubud.

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Built in the 9th century, the cave was used as a sanctuary. In the 1950s more of the surrounding area was excavated and a temple built around the site. Hawkers demand you buy a sarong when you arrive, but this is just a money-making scheme as sarongs are provided free at the entrance.

Gunung Kawi
Further north from Goa Gajah is the Valley of the Kings. Two sets of 5 death monuments are carved into the rock walls at this temple, which is dedicated to two different kings and their families.

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On either side of the valley are numerous tiers of rice paddies.

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Tanah Lot
Our last stop for day two is the most touristic temple in Bali, the beautiful sea temple of Tanah Lot. Tanah Lot means ‘Land in the Sea’ and is another of the temples protecting the island from evil spirits.

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The site has crumbled over the centuries and was threatening the temple itself. The Japanese government stepped in to help Bali protect the area.

After 2 long days, 194km of road, and many hours of sore bottoms, our scooter excursions proved to be some of the most fun times in Bali. Something not to missed.

After three weeks on the island of Bali, it’s time to begin the real travelling.  Next we head to the island of Java and the city of Surabaya.

The Trail Wanderers