Indonesia, Java, Yogyakarta

Joooogjaa …  Jogja !!!

Borobudur Buddhist Temple from northwest


Prambanan Hindu Temple from afar


Misty morning at Borodbudur… I like that photo.

Visiting the famous temples – UNESCO world heritage since 1991 – is only one of the highlights of my stay in Yogyakarta or, as the locals love to call it, Jogja 😉 I find the price gap between locals and foreigners exaggerated. Locals pay IDR40,000 while foreigners pay IDR520,000 to visit two temples. I struggle at first, but in the end I accept it. Tourism is a market, and as such its game rules of Supply & Demand simply have to be acknowledged.

At Prambanan Temple (originally built in 9th century CE, like Borobudur) there is a museum with artefacts, statues, photographs, and also a film to watch about history, architecture and the epic story named Ramayana (part of Bhagavad-Gīta).


Borobudur, at the base


My friend Dhika and me

Candi Borobudur is impressive. There has been a lot of work involved in the restoration and conservation of this temple. Its construction presumably took place between 800 and 900 CE. Original purpose unknown. Much folklore and mystery revolve around abandoned Borobudur until part of it was restored in 1911 by Theodoor Van Erp. Another period of renovation took place between 1975-82 by the Government of Indonesia and UNESCO. Today it is part of UNESCO World Heritage and used for annual ceremonies like Vesakh and as a tourist attraction with must-see status. (Be aware, don’t let anyone tell you what you have to see or what you mustn’t miss out on! Remember you can always practice JOMO)


Great to walk around on a sunshiny day in the Prambanan temple park


My Homebase

I am very lucky to find such hospitable, generous and thoughtful hosts here in Jogja. Dhika picks me up from the bus station. Having arrived at his newly created home he shows me my room. I am tired after ten hours night bus ride from Malang. So he lets me sleep in a big bed for a couple of hours. When I wake up, food is served by his amazing sister Dini.

When I arrive I intend to stay for 2 nights. It all turns out otherwise. In the end, I stay for more than a week and skip volunteering in the north of Jogja.

We cook together. Eat together. We visit temples and go to the beach. i also get the chance to give Ohashiatsu treatments and learn some more Bahasa Indonesia with them. Whenever I mention what I would like they always find a way to make me happy! Sometimes even to the point where it’s almost uncomfortable for me because it seems they change their own plans and practice renunciation only to make my life easier.

I am so grateful to have friends like you who treat me like family. You are mosdef three reasons to come back and visit Jogja again. I will check the sixpack, Dhika, and we go up Mount Merapi, finally!

So … what’s the most important tourist attraction of Indonesia?



My wonderful hosts Ndi, Dini and Dhika cared for me in Jogja at 3DI Backpacker’s Guesthouse. Together we go to the traditional market, to the beach, to an Indian Restaurant, to the temples…


Indonesia, Java, Sharing

Hiking the Fire Mountains


No need for a package tour. No need for a guide.

One night at 1 a.m. I started from my guesthouse Gandrung Payungan Inn in the village Karang Asem with a scooter (IDR 75,000/day) and turned back because after a while it was raining too hard. It was around 2 a.m. when I decided that it’s not worth it. The road had become a waterfall with me going upstream on a steep & uneven road in dark fog. I pushed on. Reminded myself “Dude you have no proper shoes.” My rain poncho was still the same one I had torn up in Bali and makeshift-fixed with a safety pin. Looking back, it was wise to turn back and give it another try the next day.

And that’s what I did. Next day I found some hiking shoes my size – that is, finally!… after having checked more than a dozen shops in Banyuwangi and surroundings in vain. I was so glad to find this adventure/hiking equipment store that I also exchanged my flippers for a pair of trekking sandals. Evening I prepared myself, went to bed early. Got up at 1 a.m. and went up northwest, following the signs indicating ‘Kawah Ijen’. Ohhhh, the scooter ride is so much better without rain! Even so, dear adventurous reader, be sure to get a good scooter – sometimes the road is quite steep and rough, with pits here and potholes there!

When I was almost at the entrance (thank you GPS!) I noticed that I am running out of gas. I made it there but the marker was on ‘E’ (empty). Well it was about 3 a.m. or so and I could worry about going back later, so no reason to do that now ;-P

Within one hour I was on top of the hill. A guide called Tao was joining me up the whole time. I told him “Thank you but the path is obvious, Tao” but he said he don’t mind joining me and it’s for free. There were so many people going up there! I overtook most of them and was at the summit in an hour. There are three steep ascents with plateaus in between so it’s not a real hike, rather a nice morning walk.

Walking up? Walking down?

At the top Tao asked for IDR150,000 to go down to see the blue flames: “It’s very dangerous, very dangerous” down there. Yeah right. I said goodbye and joined an American photographer named Jason and his Malay friend. As we go down, I meet the workers I know from Glawogger’s movie Workingman’s Death. It’s an entire different thing to watch it with your own eyes, to smell the sulfur, to have to crouch down in order to avoid burning eyes. These people carry loads of sulphur uphill every day, and they are paid per kilo. I do not buy a turtle or any other ornament made of sulphuric rock to ease their lot – but I want to give something. So two of them get my last pieces of chocolate.

For pictures or videos of the blue flames, please consult the internet, e.g. Wikipedia. There are great records of that phenomenon… far better than what I could ever achieve with my tablet camera.


Wokers on Kawah Ijen carrying bringing up loads of sulphuric rocks from the place tourists go to see whooohooo the ‘blue fire!’


Sunrise at the edge of Ijen Volcano (2,800m above sea level)



Sulphuric acid lake at Mount Ijen. In the morning I was down there (top right corner of the lake) together with hundreds of other people



I meet Jakob at the guesthouse in Karang Asem. Together we walk up and down Mount Semeru in around 26 hours. It is one fast hike. The last part is quite heavy and we almost do not start the climb in the early morning because of heavy rain – again, like on my first eve at Kawah Ijen. At 4 a.m. the rain stops and at 5 a.m. we start to hike the last section. Rolling gravel has gotten lumped together by the recent rainfall. That makes the ascent somewhat easier. It takes us around 2hrs30 from Kalimati to the Volcano peak (3676m).


Are we fit enough?? … Before starting the hike, we need to get a document confirming our health



After the ride from Ranupani Base we pose for a photo before we have a 30min briefing in Indonesian language and start the hike up to Lake Kumbolo (4hrs) and Base Kalimati (2hrs)


Up there at the summit – it’s hard to describe. The volcano spits out ashes every 15-20 minutes. It is loud. It is spectacular. It is immense, gigantic! I have never seen anything like it. Very impressive. Certainly unforgettable.  


At Ranupani Base Camp after ½hr intro talk in Indonesian

Misty Jungle Hike


Lake Kumbolo Base Camp. We decide not to stay but venture forth to reach Kalimati


Someother bloggers described this ascent as challenging, and yes, it is quite challenging. But if you’re not fixated on being there at sh rise, have proper shoes and a good walking stick to prevent you from sliding back down, it can be done in around 2.5 hours. Especially if you have a friend carrying the backpack with camera, water and peanuts – Thank you, Jakob!!

The summit 🙂




Every 15-20 it goes WHOOOOSHHHhhh !!!! and the volcano erupts, spewing out ashes hundreds of metres high




Thank you, dear Jakob, for embarking on that beautiful hiking trip to Mount Semeru with me. We made it… in 26 hours, man!!

Sitting in the night bus to Yogyakarta. I skipped the hitchhiking I had planned because of Eid Al-Fitr, the muslim festival in June. Prices of accommodation are raised five times as high as normal. Traffic is gridlocked (kemacetan) because people from Bali go west to visit their parents in Java. On the other hand, people from central Java go east to Bali and west to Jakarta, and Jakartanesians go everywhere to spend some time with their relatives. To put it in simple terms: it’s all a huge car salad!

Indonesia, Java

Bardo states

Again, a day or two when I simply rest. Not do anything special. Read. Eat. Sleep. Meditate. Recover. Digesting impressions of Kawah Ijen and preparing the hike of Gunung Semeru.


One of the most beautiful guesthouses and friendliest hosts I have come across during my travels this year: Mango Moon, Pemuteran, Bali. The owner of this guesthouse, Kadek, is a diving instructor, ouhhyeahh 🙂


While I am at Doddy’s place in Surabaya, nothing much happens. Still, in retrosprct, these two days have been filled with events. He showed me around Malang, Batu, and Sidoarjo – There was a mud flow here which people call Lumpur Lapindo 2006!


Travelling these days feels really great! Accepting that things do not turn out the way I thought. Almost always, plans don’t hold when confrontwith reality. Whenever there is an agenda, there is lack of flow. And I just love the flow of koving with what comes along. And I also feel the magick of staying somewhere for some days or weeks 🙂

It’s a good mix, indeed: Beaches, Hikes, National Parks, Retreats. And from time to time a temple, a shopping spree, a day of relaxing with  good book.


Balinese Buddhist Art

Bali, Denpasar, Indonesia, Sharing, Ubud

First impressions of Bali


Gib mir Mut mich zu verändern
Und dabei ich zu bleiben
Auch in schlechten Zeiten zu akzeptieren
Mal nichts zu schreiben
Lieber der Feder weichen
Um am Ende zu begreifen
Dass es sinnlos is Texte zu schreiben
Die nie Qualität erreichen



Having refrained from documenting my activities and travel itineraries for about a month, I am finally in the mood to write something again. There was a lot going on and most of it extraordinary and beautiful. Some of it was ordinary and not worth reporting. Now that I am in Sri Lanka at an animal shelter with 160 dogs and around 60 cats I take the time to let you all know how I experienced my travels through Indonesia.


Landed in Bali Denpasar and checked in at Eco-Living Hostel. It’s a nice, quiet and tidy place with a budget dormitory. I met a French guy there who I found extremely well prepared. His name is Robin. I find it amazing how organised he seems to be. he has 9 months to travel. When I met him downstairs at the lobby he told me that he is currently planning the upcoming two months, checking routes and accommodation on his way to Mount Rinjani. Later on I learn he brought along water purification pills (Hydroclonazone). In the evening he skypes his parents. He gets information about the places he will go to, checks internet forums and websites, keeps a balance sheet of how much he has spent for what (app: ‘Handtrip’). Really an inspiration, that guy. Check out his blog.

From Denpasar I moved on. Went up north to Ubud. First time for me. It was quite an experience. Also, I felt a bit lonely there to be honest. So many couples! So much to buy. Babylon Babylon who gonna chant down Babylon?! I went there by scooter and could not relax, could not take it Bali pace that day. Too much going on.


I went back to Denpasar to Szabrian hostel – the couple who owns the place: very lovely and hospitable. She is a Hungarian named Betty so i could practice my language skills a bit 😉 She is married to Ryan, a Balinese man. They have two little children. During my way back it started to rain. My rain poncho got torn apart cuz I tried to cover myself and my small backpack as well. Fixed it with a safety pin. Got some salad and hot chocolate for IDR100,000 at a fancy vegan organic restaurant called ‘Sage’. Great food, great service but it comes at a price which for Ubud is normal, for Indonesia in general is sky-high and certainly unaffordable for locals.

Anyway, I went back. It seemed a lot faster to go back.

Anyone knows why that is? How come it always seems faster to return from somewhere than to go there in the first place?

Ubud feels like Pai³. Or rather, Paiⁿ. I just haven’t discovered the entire scope of it yet. It’s huge. I went around and around. It’s so crowded. I had a pumpkin soup at Lotus cafe and chilld at the lake near Lotus temple. all the time drizzle, rainy.

So.. that same day I went back to Denpasar. When I went to bed my nose was running, my eyes were burning, and a slight headache caught my attention. The next day as well – only worse. So I gave back the scooter to Eco-Living Hostel, said thanks to Sinda and Gede. Walked back some kilometres. Bad idea. Half-way my face was melting away, I sweated like crazy. Still, I kept going. Got some curry puffs and bananas on the way. Also, some ‘maskers’, facial masks. I put one of them over my nose and mouth… ahhh, that’s better. It was not a snotty wet blur any more. I entered the hostel and slept three hours. Got up. Got food. Talked to the other hostel guests there, sitting outside, sharing stories, chilling. Went back to bed soon. Drank turmeric juice and moringa tea. Next day, all good!!!

Some days later I joined my new friend Quino to Ubud. Here are some pictures I took while I was there with him and a German guy, Alex.






Coming up: How my trip on Bali continued… Meeting a Javanese friend, visiting Bedugul, going for SCUBA diving in northwest area, and participating in a traditional Balinese Buddhist ceremony.