Gunung Kawi

Gunung Kawi is located in Tampak Siring in Bali. It is famous with the ancient relics including old temple that looks like a tombstone, Hindu Temple and an ancient miniature of old Balinese living concept made from the stones. The complex is surrounded with scenic rice terraces. The green panoramic views of rice field with the breeze of tropical atmosphere are the additional perks why this became a tourist destination. This place is visited by tourists every day despite its location far enough from the parking area passing through the stairs surrounded by the beautiful rice terraces.

We arrived to Tampak Siring after a 20 minutes drive from Ubud. It was already late afternoon – one of the best times to go there and also ideal for taking pictures and sinking in the astonishing scenery. The entrance fee to Gunung Kawi is around 6000 Rp and the friendly lady at the entrance booth will lead you to the caretaker to lend you a sarong and a temple scarf. Then it’s time for some exercise.

From the entrance, you have to descend some stairs alongside with souvenir shops that will lead you to the temple complex. Quite a long walk down!

Gunung Kawi is where the Kacak dance in the film Baraka took place. The complex comprises 10 rock-cut candi (shrines) carved into the face of the cliff. Gunung Kawi really feels ancient. Something almost primal about the way the rock is carved.

The tombs were carved out of the walls and are dedicated to members of the royal family. Nobody knows exactly which members but there are some theories.

This is without doubt the most beautiful temple setting of central Bali with stunning rice fields and palm trees which seem to be dancing on the sounds of the gushing river below.

Parangtritis Peak and Goa Langse

We escaped from the city for a while and take the short moped ride from Yogya to the mystical Parangtritis beach where dramatic jagged cliffs meet a shiny volcanic black sand beach. Parangtritis is located around 28 km from Yogya this is the ideal distance to come for a day trip to take a break out of the city and soak up the roar of the waves and the astounding atmosphere. Here you’ll see some incredibly green hills set against the backdrop of a raging ocean. This whole region is filled with beaches, caves, lakes, paths and gravesites, each with their own mystical story.

Goa Langse Cave is located on the foot of the Parangtritis Peak, it is famous for its pilgrimage. It is situated 3km eastward from the beach. We didn’t expect what awaits for us there, it must be worthwhile – we walked around 800m from where we parked our moped, we reached this signboard and after filling in the guest book, a caretaker led us on the way to the cave.

The trip to get to Goa Langse is extremely tiring. But from the “what it seems to be the end point” one can enjoy the view of the Southern Sea of Java. But this point is not where the trip to cave ends! That cliff end was the beginning of utter physical and – include – mental and spiritually challenge trip. Read this: I was wearing a tiny summer dress and rubber slippers. We never thought we’d be free-climbing.

We then descended – with the help of our guide – the vertical cliff with 300 m high from the sea level to reach the cave. In few parts, there are oxidized iron stairs, but the rest are cliff steps, tree roots as hand rails, bamboo branches attached on the cliff.  After reaching 30m above sea level, we finally saw the cave’s entrance.

This cave is 30m long and 10m wide, 20m in height, and there are hanging stalactites.

We got back home around sunset and it has been a very tiring day for us. Our legs ache so bad because of climbing up and down the cliffs.

Our Home in Jogjakarta

Once in Jogja, Vale picked me up from the Fajar Utama station. Now, the dilemma is how to fit on the moped with my 70 cu. liter backpack. Well, we did. We managed to fit everything together, 2 medium sized backpacks and my monumental baggage – don’t ask how. We were experts on fitting ourselves in very tiny spaces. One time, we sat with chickens and sacks of rice for 16 hours.

Vale has been in Jogja for a week already and has found a host from Couchsurfing who’s willing to accommodate me too. He said he’s staying in a very big house with 8 bedrooms, with whimsical artworks on the wall, a huge garden with hammocks and… a playful feline.

We reached our host’s place after going through a maze of traffic jam. It’s scary driving on the left side of the road – but I trust Valerio given he’s an Italian who’s used to driving mopeds – I’m just not sure about driving on the left side though!

Our host’s place was situated in a very quite neighborhood, nearby the Taman Sari (The Water Temple), a Mosque and numerous food stalls on the street.

I went inside the house and was welcomed by Gato, the house cat. Our host isn’t around during that time but she’s nice enough to leave us a spare key to get in. The house is huge! It was a pure organized chaos. I fell in love with it. It was a home  a sanctuary for travelers, for artists.

The Couchsurfers’ Freedom Wall

The makeshift bar.

Meet Gato.

..and my favorite part of the house, is this: (below)

the outdoor shower area!


Jakarta to Jogjakarta Train Ride

It was around 12 midnight when the plane landed in Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta Airport. It’s actually too early for me to be there. I have to wait 5 hours more to get that Damri bus that will take me to Gambir train station to get to Jogja for 10 hours. I was warned that I might not be able to get a train ticket as it requires a some days in advance reservation. But well, I was kind of assuming that I might get lucky, who knows?

6 am and I reached Gambir Station. It was crowded! I fall in one of the shorter queues to “maybe” get a ticket – then a local told me that there is no train available for Jogja that day. There is another train station nearby, the Pasar Senen, and again I was warned that it is not safe to ride, it’s an economy train and according to him, quite not too safe for foreigners!

I took a cab to get to Pasar Senen Station – and try to conjure this: if Gambir station is crowded, guess what? Pasar Senen is triple the times crowded! They were telling me that their trains are too crowded that some passengers just sleep and sit on the train floors!

Still, on the back of my mind, I wanted to ride this. I wanted to see what is life like inside these economy trains! (I haven’t experience riding one from my own country) And I know there’s going to be some interesting images waiting for me to take. So, I took their “eksekutif” class ticket, just to spare myself a little “luxury” (which everyone tells me it’s the same thing as “ekonomi”) which I paid 165,000 Rp and as opposed to what the others said earlier – the train is not crowded, it has a proper ventilation, a cushioned seat,  and people selling stuff every time we stop on a station, and always someone selling instant coffee!

So, this almost 11 hours train ride from Jakarta to Jogja is well worth it, with the sceneries along the way, but cannot avoid people staring at you because you look like an excited dog with its head bobbing in and out of the train windows. No complains.

Oh they also have the pillows that look like dishwashing sponges to rent out for you to be extra comfier!