From Bali on our way to Luang Prabang, Laos, we stopped for ten days in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Depending on the age of the literature and the spell checker, this city is also known as Jogjakarta (possibly from the Dutch phonetics). Besides hanging out in one of Indonesia’s tidiest cities, we took the opportunity to see the worlds largest Buddhist temple at Borobudur. With a combination ticket, we were able to see one of the largest Hindu temples in SE Asia at Prambanan.
Our visit was one of contrasts in weather and in timing. The first day we had partly sunny skies at Borobudur. On the second day, it alternated between light and heavy rain. We spent two nights in Borobudur while Prambanan was visited in a single afternoon.
In an attempt to capture the experience of these impressive temple complexes, this post tries to contrast views from a distance and up close. In Borobudur we saw from a far, then approached. In Prambanan, we visited the temples and then on leaving saw them from a far.
Some other views of the region around Yogyakarta
One of many street art sculptures
An Art Museum with Wayang Kulit (puppet shadow plays) exhibition
An alley off the main commercial road
After an unusually cold spring in Perth, we moved up to tropical Bali. We stayed for over two weeks, first in Ubud the Art and Meditation center, then in Semniyak the surf and shopping center. Reading the book, Indonesia ETC. by Elizabeth Pisani, during this time has heightened the contradictions. As the banner photo shows, the Mount Agung volcano became more active. Our stay played out within the predictions that there would be an eruption soon.
No great revelations occurring here. Whatever conclusions I might draw, in the end, I probably miss the point. Instead, I will post some sunrises and sunsets, and some vistas in between. The detailed photos of architecture or lush foliage or Balinese dance don’t exhibit the dynamics of the moment.
Sunrise from our front door
Our front door in the distance
This rice ready for harvest
Sunset over our house
on southern tip of Bali
Nusa Dua Waterblow
Pantai Jerman (German Beach)
Sunset over Seminyak
Right now, I am in Bali sitting at the edge of a rice paddy looking over coconut, banana, and papaya trees. This makes it difficult to think about moving on to our next destination, even finding it hard to believe it is Monday. The vivid memories of our stay in Australia blur in recollection. We spent a week in Perth and then moved down south to the suburb of Spearwood for a month. Spearwood is best experienced with a car, but we managed quite well with buses. This allowed us to explore other neighborhoods of Fremantle, Rockingham, and pop into Perth and Northbridge on the train to have lunch with Daughter. One weekend, we rented a car and drove up north to explore Stromatolites and Thrombolites of Lake Thetis near Cervantes, the Pinnacles of Nambung National Park, the white sand dunes of Lancelin, and the Australia flora and fauna at Yanchep National Park.
My dilemma as always is how to choose the pictures that best capture our adventure
Kings Park, Perth
Manning Park, Spearwood
Stromatolites (3700 million years ago, these organisms made earth livable.
Hyde Park in Northbridge.
Pinnacles stretching toward the sunset on the Indian Ocean
Sand dunes in all directions.
We were lucky enough to see Koalas, Kangaroos, and Emus all in native habitat.
Everywhere there seemed to be interesting street art along with a wonderful Art Center in Fremantle.
Ulaanbaatar is modern with the character of a Western city. It is a world apart from the rest of the country. Having said that there is not a great deal to see or do. But no one comes to Mongolia to see the cities! We spent a day exploring the city on foot. The Narantuul […]
via 17/10/17 Ulaanbaatar and North Mongolia — Why would you want to drive to Kazakhstan?
This could also be titled, Whose Counting. At the bottom of this post is my Trip Advisor map which calculates over 100 different countries visited. Not counted in this list are:
Clicking on the links provides the Wikipedia explanation.
On the other hand, when I started traveling, a number of countries on the list did not exist. The Baltic countries and the Balkans only became individual countries again in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
This post marks a reflection not only on how we travel but also why I blog. All places have some touristic value. Each country competes to win more of the tourist trade. What is interesting to me is how the day-to-day life works in the places we visit. The open air market is always a fun visit as a tourist, but negotiating daily food purchases in an unknown language offers subtle insights.
I have experimented with travel tips and tricks posts. The tone of those seemed too didactic and not much fun. What I am discovering is that I want this blog to encourage you to have adventures, to try new foods, to find unique experiences. International travel is an easy way, but not the only way. Raising a child or visiting grandkids is also an adventure.
If you want to get my take on some of the places I visit, you can see my reviews on Tripadvisor.
There are many amazing memories but only a few photographs. Sometimes I had no camera. Other times, photos were misplaced in moving. Mostly, they document we were there, but do not capture the emotion.
Hummingbirds in the highlands of Ecuador
Old town of Siguida, Latvia
Overlooking Trieste, Italy
Here is the Map
After six weeks in Central Asia, we moved on to Kuala Lumpur, or KL as it is known by all. Handling family matters has brought us to Malaysia several times in the past twelve months. This time, Daughter accompanied us, which provided a change of focus to our activities.
Malaysia in general, and Kuala Lumpur in particular are easy to navigate. There are lots of interesting experiences and sights for tourists and travelers. Feeling like I had exhausted the list of the places I was interested in, I looked for some unique views and experiences. Even in this, it is hard to get away from the temples, food, and street scenes.
On this trip, I signed up on the new share bicycle service, obike. This was the first service I have used where bicycles can be left at any public location. All other services I have experimented with in Asia, Europe, and Mexico, located the bicycles in fixed stands. The ride that made me proud took me on a 5 km route through the central area that could not be duplicated by car or by walking.
QR code on bike is validated through a smart phone app
Not many bicycle paths
Bicycles parked outside a bank.
Magically, a bike path appeared that allowed me to connect through Mid Valley
In previous posts, I have featured photos of the KL skyline, famous for Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Tower. Some different perspectives provide a contrast to the usual tourist brochure.
From Wangsa Maju
From Dato Keramat LRT
Along the LRT Line
I visited some of my favorite temples and found some new ones too.
A Taoist Temple
The ornate roof reflected the protecting glass of the Sensual Godess
Just along the pathway
A Buddhist Temple
Even after so many meals in Malaysia, there were some new adventures.
Bak Ku Teh, a pork everything soup
Old Chinese Coffee Shop
Bamboo Ash Layer Cake in a Korean Restaurant
Roti Tisu, like a vertical crepe
We left Central Asia for Kuala Lumpur two weeks ago. In my World History classes in the ’60s, mention was made of the Soviet city of Alma Ata. Only on arrival in Kazakhstan, did it dawn on me that Alma Ata is now Almaty. This occurred back in the 1990’s on gaining independence from Russia. Another little piece of trivia is that the Almaty area was the first domestication of apples. Current research suggests that the wild local apple (Malus sieversii) is ancestor of the common domestic apples found in Minnesota, Washington State, and everywhere else in the world. Almaty’s name may originate in the Kazakh word meaning “full of apples.” Alma Ata means “father of apples.”
When we were packing up in Almaty, I felt a little sad to be leaving Central Asia. I’m missing:
1. Walking the boulevards of Almaty. It is a city with lots of green, channels rushing with mountain run off, and some interesting monuments along with street art.
Statue commemorating women soldiers
Fountain with the Kazakh Zodiac (includes a snail and a squirrel)
2. The Tian Shan mountains standing at a distance.
3, The Almaty Metro.
4. The fresh apricots, walnuts, and melons direct from farms to the street stalls. Restaurant menus offering horse steak.
The only real downside was that Almaty has undertaken massive street repairs. Sometimes the sidewalk just disappears. Here is the main shopping thoroughfare.
In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan I am reading The Horse That Leaps Through Clouds by Eric Enno Tamm after finishing Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron. Both provide modern impressions and historical references about the trade routes between China and the West. Although Bishkek was on one of the routes used through the Tian Shan mountains, it appears that other passes were more popular. Neither Tamm nor Thubron passed this way. Their observations on the region provided an understanding to our daily interactions.
Kyrgyzstan feels the most communist of all the ex-communist countries we have visited. The independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 came reluctantly rather than through any focused struggle. Bishkek still has monuments with the hammer and sickle along with memorials to Russian soldiers. Mosaics on buildings give way to street art. There is no McDonalds. KFC (replacing Kyrgyzstan Fried Chicken, now BFC for Bishkek) recently opened with long lines. Although Russian is understood more than English, we met friendly people who were helpful.
Tian Shan mountains to the South
Kazakhstan plains to the North
Concrete Soviet Era Structures
Off the main boulevards, a village atmosphere
The natural beauty in the mountains is still spectacular. We took a day trip with a driver to Lake Issyk-Kul (meaning warm lake).
Horses roam free
Some fermented mare’s milk for refreshment
Issyk-Kul 2nd largest mountain lake, 2nd larges saline lake.
Some interesting notes:
- Bishkek was called Frunze from 1926 to 1991 after the Bolshevik leader who was born here. The abbreviation for Manas International Airport is FRU.
- Stalin and his advisors divided up the Central Asia Republics so that there were no single ethnic group in any one country.
- Driving is on the right side as in most European countries, but many Japanese cars are imported directly with the steering on the right side too. Drivers tend to hug the middle line.
- Even though Issyk-Kul is fed by snow run off, it is saline. Issyk-Kul is second to Lake Titicaca as largest mountain lake, second to the Caspian Sea as largest saline lake. It is tenth largest in the world by volume.
I thought about sharing some of the lessons learned from our travels. One direction on this path involves what we carry. This is a theme I have touched on before. It is interesting to me to experience how the artifacts both physical and electronic define the modern self and its relationship to its environment. No tips and tricks here except to keep experimenting and be observant.
Our rain jackets are essential for any trip. Beyond keeping dry and warm, they offer freedom to explore even during bad weather. This has led us to many interesting discoveries and appreciations of the neighborhoods we visit.
My simple jacket folds itself neatly into a zippered pouch which I store in an outside compartment of my bag for easy access (see below). Sometimes, it stays stowed for a month. Here I remember Malta, Kuala Lumpur and Cape Town. At the other extreme, I wore it every day in Vancouver.
Nice to have hooks for coats at the front door
Folds and fits neatly into bag
My photos provide more of a documentary experience than an artistic one. Over the past seventeen years, this raincoat became a central theme of my travels and showed up in way too many photos.
Posted in blogging, memory, Travel, Bosnia, Republic of Georgia, Armenia, China, Germany, Romania, Ukraine, United Kingdom, living, artifact
Tagged Travel, raincoat
A little diversion from my usual posting. Rest assured, I am not starting a food blog. I am thinking about tips for the trip type postings.
This started with an expedition to our local MegaImage grocery store looking for tea. There I found a line of teas produced in Romania so I randomly chose one called Coada-Soricelului. On returning home, Master Google informed me that it was Yarrow Tea well known for analgesic qualities. Perfect, as I have been nursing soreness in the knees since Mexico.
When Daughter came out, I told her about my discovery of Yarrow Tea. She responded, “Oh you mean, Achillea millefolium, used by Achilles warriors to staunch wounds?”
“Umm, yes,” trying to hide my ignorance and sneaking a look farther down the Google page. For her, the story begins in the summer of 2008 in the back seat of our Honda Accord as we drove around the Eastern US. She bought an herb dictionary about three inches thick from a bookstore at the University of Purdue, in West Lafayette, Indiana. Alphabetically Achillea was one of the first entries. I can only guess how many times she read through that book entry by entry.
Looking back at all our photos from that trip, I see none from Purdue nor with her book. The best I found was the banner photo on the border of Maine. For now, we are doing well as we finish up in Bucharest drinking Yarrow tea, St. Johns Wort tea (Sunatoare – hyperici herba) and Peppermint tea (Ceai de Menta – Menthae Herba).