Indonesia: Pura Taman Ayun Temple; Bali

Our next stop for a couple of nights was to be Ubud. On the way, we stopped at Pura Taman Ayan Temple in the village of Mengwi which is about 17km northwest of Denpasar. This temple complex was built around 1634 by the then ruler of the Mengwi Kingdom, Tjokerda Sakti Blambangan. It was significantly restored in 1937.

As well as some wonderful traditional architecture, we were to find expansive garden landscapes that included lotus and fish ponds… plenty of photograph opportunities.


A small covered pavilion near the entrance.


A guardian, suitably decorated, at one of the temple entrances.


One of the decorative ponds that surround the temples.


The locals leave daily offerings at strategic places dotted around the complex.


Various traditional building styles are seen within the complex.  The terracotta coloured bricks contrast well with the grey stone carvings.


Detail of a demon guarding the corner of a building.


The public are not permitted to enter this sacred area. However, a high vantage point overlooks the complex giving a good idea of its extent.


Another demon god, this time “protecting” a shop selling tourist trinkets.


Another gate and ornate bridge over a surrounding canal.


Towering tiers of thatched temple shrines make up most of the profile of Taman Ayun. This area was closed to the public but there were good views from outside the walls.


This shiny mahogany-coloured beetle was attempting to get a little closer but…


…there were steps and walls impeding its progress.


Another view down the central axis of the complex.


Yet another view…


…and another.


Detail of the intricate stone carving…


…and some more newly restored carving.



Another guardian.  Interesting but the symbolism of the detailed carving is lost me!


The gardens are not only protected by traditional guardian stone sculptures… I think you’ll agree that the spiny stems of this palm in the gardens are not very welcoming.


The garden surrounding the whole complex were very well maintained.  This clump of tall bamboo still retained the sheaths that protected the new emerging shoots.


A bright yellow Heliconia stood out against its green leaves.


Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata), is a tropical tree that originates in the Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines.  The green flowers slowly mature to a deep yellow with a red throat.


Cananga odorata is valued for the essential oil that is extracted from its flowers to be used in perfumes and in aromatherapy.  This oil is credited with relieving high blood pressure, easing skin problems and is also considered to be an aphrodisiac. It’s often blended with other floral, fruit and wood scents to produce perfumes such as Chanel No. 5.

Here, in Indonesia, the flowers are traditionally spread on the bed of a newlywed couple. In the Philippines, its flowers are strung into necklaces worn by women. These strings of flowers are also used to adorn religious images.

The plant produces clusters of black fruit which are an important food item for birds, thus serving as an effective seed disperser.

This temple complex had proved to be an interesting visit on our way to our destination for the night at a resort in Ubud, Bali.  More of that anon.


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Indonesia: Petirtaan Jolotundo Dewasa; East Java

At the conclusion of our tour of the Resort’s extensive gardens, there was time for a quick sortie out into the nearby rice paddies and a walk to a village.


It was just a 15 minute walk along a very narrow path to get to the village. We needed to tread carefully as the path was along the top of an irrigation ditch.


Even here, beside the path, there were interesting plants and insects to find.


Unknown but obviously enjoyed the damp.


The various paddies contained rice at different stages of growth.  Some had not long been planted, while other paddies were nearly ready for harvest.


This crop was only days away from harvest…


…a fact that this hungry locust was more than aware of!


There were some attractive flowers of Mimosa pudica growing alongside the path.  It is a creeping annual or perennial herb belonging the pea family.  Its common name is Sensitive Plant because when touched or disturbed the finely divided leaves close up by folding together, thereby defending themselves from harm.  They re-open a few minutes later.  The plant is native to South and Central America, but is now a pan-tropical weed.


The small village was paved and very clean and neat.  The narrow roadways were lined with well looked after gardens.


A covered verandah sported a couple of tables made out of slabs of tree trunks supported by some old tree roots.  Nothing is wasted here!


Still unsheathed corn cobs, neatly woven into bunches, hanging up to dry.


Freshly cut and stacked bamboo, prior to being used for building purposes.


I guess this house belonged to a fisherman.


Interesting patterns and colours created by roof tiles…


…and stacked flat roof tiles…


…and split bamboo.


Bright yellow cosmos with their heads pointed to the sun.


Bi-coloured balsam… very attractive.


A couple of the younger members of the village were obviously interested us.


…and so was an older lady.


The whole area was rather wet as can be seen by the plant growth and water damage to the wall of this house.


Moss and ferns, another indicator of moist conditions.


Speckled flowers of the Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia wulfenii).


A busy wasp looking for moist mud to build its nest.


These lovely orange speckled flowers seemed to be common in the gardens we saw.


Another plant I don’t know… also enjoying the moist conditions.


The petals of this waterlily are still expanding after opening for the first time.


On our walk back to the resort for lunch, four of us decided there was time to continue on to a nearby Temple, Petirtaan Jolotundo Dewasa.It lies on the slopes of the 1653m Mount Penanggungan, a perfect cone that stands sentinel between the coastal plains and the volcanic hinterland.


 Along the way, we passed this abandoned shelter… the plants beginning to take over.


Jolotundo Temple is a centuries old Hindu shrine. It was built in 997AD for Udayara, a Balinese King, when he married a Javanese princess.


Nearby was a mosque.

Over many centuries and under successive dynasties, Jolotundo Temple has been a sacred place. Its still a place of spiritual power even today, long after Hindu-Buddhist Java gave way to Islam. The idea of bathing at this special bathing temple still brings pilgrims.


The temple precinct contains a series of stone pools filled with ‘holy’ water. These are filled with spring water which constantly runs and so replenishes any lost water. Many devotees travel quite some distance to bathe in the two separate pools, one for the ladies and the other for men. The spring water is supposed to possess ‘healing’ and ‘cleansing’ powers, so, after bathing, many pilgrims take containers of water away for later use.


A little boy and his dad at the men’s pool.


In the daytime these pools can appear to be a perfect family picnic spot. But, we were told, as darkness falls and the noise of the crickets rises, pilgrims arrive to burn incense, toss flower petals into the waters and bathe in prayer for healing, energy and good life. They come from many faiths… Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and those who still have ties to ancestor-worship and animism. But, unfortunately, we couldn’t stay until night fell… we still had many miles to cover on this day.


By the time we made it back to the resort, we were really ready for lunch… delicious.


 Before we left the resort we watched a demonstration on how to make red ginger tea. After that, we left the resort at 15.00 for the next part of our journey, a nearly four drive to Yoschi’s Hotel near Mt Bromo.

The last part of that drive was in the pitch dark as we climbed up a very, very twisty road to our hotel. It was probably just as well that we couldn’t see much of the scenery that we were driving through… very steep sides to a very narrow road!  But we made it safely, had dinner and fell into bed… we had a wake-up call booked 03.00. The mini bus would leave at 03.30 for us to be in time to watch the sunrise over Mt Bromo… and we certainly didn’t want to miss that! More anon.


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Indonesia: Seloliman Nature Reserve; East Java

After breakfast at Minggu, we left our cabins to begin a two and a half hour walk around the Nature Reserve guided by the head guy. I was more than happy to have extra time in this delightful area, time to photograph more of the plants. As I don’t live in the tropics, many of the plants and their flowers were new to me… all rather exotic. Any help with the identity of those marked as ‘unknown’ is welcome?


A sleepy volcano created a wonderful backdrop to the resort.


Some of the plants were quite common in the gardens that we visited, like this one, the Peacock Flower, (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)… here in close up, a single flower.


Also in close up, in all its crinkly beauty, is the previously seen Crepe or Malay Ginger (Costus speciosus) with its ballerina like tutu petals.


This dragonfly was flirting around a small ornamental pond.  Thankfully, it settled long enough for this photo. What a beauty it is!


Perhaps, the dragonfly wanted to take a longer look at this waterlily, as did I.


Bleeding Heart (Clerodendrum thomsoniae) comes from Central Western Africa but is grown in many parts of the tropics.


Droplets of water clinging to a waxy leaf.


Unknown. Just one of the many that I hadn’t seen before.


A well camouflaged caterpillar eating its way through the leaves of its food plant. It was close to 10 cm. (4 ins.) in length.


An unknown member of the ginger family.


A whorl of spiralled leaves.


More raindrops on a waxy leaf.


This leaf has delightful symmetry and texture.  However, some chewing insect decided to upset the balance.


A large, female spider sits on her silky web while her diminutive suitors look over her larder.  They, no doubt, had other things on their mind, but we know what happens then!


Unknown… but superb don’t you think?.


Another unknown but delightful flower.


The deeply fringed petals of this (Hibiscus schizopetalus) lead to its name.  The species name translates to “cut petals”.  It originates in tropical eastern Africa.


The trellis supports a vine producing very large passion fruit.


Unknown to me… but it must have a common name referring to a leopard!


And yet another plant unknown to me.


A St Joseph’s spider showing its knobbly yellow ‘knees’.


I don’t think this spider bites but it looks as though it would at the first opportunity.


At the conclusion of the tour around the grounds of the resort, we crossed a road and headed off along some paddy bunds to a nearby village… but more of that anon.


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Indonesia: Seloliman Resort; Minggu; East Java

Our ‘home away from home’ for the next couple of days was Seloliman Resort, an eco styled place with accommodation made up of cabins in a large garden.


After settling into our cabin, my travelling mate Brian and I went for a bit of a wander around the garden, listening to the cicadas and watching multi-coloured butterflies flit from one brilliantly coloured flower to the next. The only down side was that the area also seems to be a Mecca for motocross bike riding. Their noisy exhausts echoed around the hillsides completely destroying the other-wise very peaceful atmosphere of the place. Never mind… there was much in the garden to enjoy and photograph.


The front entrance of Seloliman Resort appeared to be nothing special, but…


… it was a very unusual entrance….through a longish tunnel that had this amazing root growth dangling down from a plant growing above on the roof.


The older roots were beige / white while the new growth was a brilliant pink.


The gardens where the chalets were situated were large and laid out in a very natural way. Grassy and earthen paths wound their way through the lush growth.


Large St Joseph’s spiders spin their webs within the foliage.


The smaller spider is a male. He’s dicing with death as the larger female will devour him after mating! But what has to be done, has to be done, I guess!


Butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea) has a form relating to its Latin name!  It’s an herbaceous perennial found growing in tropical equatorial Asia.  It’s been introduced into Africa, Australia and America where it’s grown as an ornamental. It’s also used as a revegetation species in coal mines in Australia.  It’s a legume, so it enriches the soil with nitrogen.


This vivid blue flower is the commonly seen colour, compared to the one above.  There are also white forms.


Parts of the garden were a tangle of cucurbit vines growing through the vegetation…


A closer look at this delightful flower and it’s pollinator.


This plant could well have a name referring to ‘fairy floss’, but I don’t know what it is.


Heliconia sp., members of the genus are often referred to as Lobster-claw. They are closely related to the banana and are widely grown in the tropics as an ornamental.


Another Heliconia species.


A Hibiscus flower.  One of many thousands of horticultural forms bred around the world.


And another one… I really couldn’t decide which one to delete.


I was not familiar with this flower, so…


I photographed the name on the plaque beside it… always a good idea.

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I checked it out on the web when I got home and found it named just as the plaque said, Jatropha podagrica hook. The site, ‘World of Succulents”, gave these notes as an addition to their photograph (left): “a tropical, frost-sensitive, succulent shrub, up to 8 feet (2.4 m) tall (usually up to 3 feet / 90 cm). It has a swollen and knobby, grey-skinned stem (large bottle-like caudex) and green, smooth, waxy leaves, up 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. The flowers are small, coral-like and bright red in colour.”

English common names for this plant include, wait for it…Buddha Belly (the most common name), Petit Baobab, Bottle Plant Shrub, Gouty-stalked Jatropha, Purging-nut, Guatemalan Rhubarb, Goutystalk Nettlespurge, White Rhubarb, Physicnut, Podagrica, Bali Gout Plant, Tartogo nut, Gouty Foot,  Gout plant, Gout Stick, Gout Stalk and last but not least, Coral Plant! So, I’m very thankful that it has but one scientific name.


Selaginella sp.; moss.


Allamanda cathartica, bursting with the colour of sunshine. It’s most common name is Golden Trumpet but it also known as Yellow Alamanda and Alamanda Canario!  All parts are poisonous if eaten; its sap causes skin and eye irritation.


 A horticultural variety of Anthurium.


A colourful millipede.


A dragon fly taking a rest on a twig. Just look at those wings! So delicate.


Peacock Flower (Caesalpinia pulcherrima), a tree widely grown in the tropics.



This brown frog jumped across my path and sat still long enough to be photographed… and I caught the gleam in its eye! The brown ‘patch’ behind the eye is a thin tympanic membrane, or eardrum, that protects the inner ear cavity and helps to transmit sound vibrations… sounds that are essential for the frog’s survival.


Crepe or Malay ginger (Costus speciosus) occurs throughout Southeast Asia. The name of ‘crepe’ refers to the amazing crinkled crepe effect of the petals.


Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia versicolor) is an evergreen tree growing to about 4m in height. Endemic to Ecuador, it belongs to the Solanaceae family and is often found in tropical gardens. However, I’m not too sure why it’s so popular. It’s known that the flowers, leaves, and seeds of Brugmansia are very toxic and even the perfume can cause hallucinations as well as increasing blood pressure, a dry mouth, muscle weakness and paralysis. Since March 2014, this plant has been listed as Extinct in the Wild … so the only place to see it now is in gardens… and it is attractive.


A young tree of Maniltoa sp. that we had seen before at another garden. Finding this tree was a delightful end to a very pleasant walk.  More anon.


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Indonesia: Cycling Around the Countryside… Brick Making

Another place we visited on our bike ride around the countryside was a cultural centre and museum where some old artefacts were on display.


Gongs, drums and old, finely carved furniture were on display.


Detail of drums, gongs and wooden xylophones in the collection.


This screen was once the pride and joy of a wealthy merchant.


More gongs.


A few of us had a red ginger tea which was absolutely wonderful. It was made from slices of fresh root ginger, cloves, cinnamon and some bark from a Caesalpinia tree which gave the drink a lovely red colour.

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There was still more to come as next we stopped at a place where a guy was making mud bricks. He dug the soil from the field and mixed it with water to a smooth mud which he then put into a gang of moulds.

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Six bricks were made at a time… 

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…and smoothed off.

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 The mould is then carefully lifted off.  Brian just had to ‘sign’ a brick…

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…so we all had a go. These are our signed bricks. I wonder where they will end up?


The maker also signs his bricks.  Once formed bricks are left to dry…


… before being stacked on their sides to dry further. 


After a certain water level is reached, the bricks are moved and stacked into a large pile where they wait to be fired. It takes a few weeks for the guy to make enough bricks to make firing worthwhile.  A fire will be lit under the bricks to fire them.


Another fellow was trimming partially dried bricks of their rough edges before they became too dry and hard to clean. They were laid out on the ground to dry further.


When enough moisture had evaporated from the bricks for them to be handled without them deforming, these bricks were stacked off the ground for even quicker drying.


And, of course, what would a ride through the countryside be for me unless I found some plants and interest in nature to photograph!  How good is this unfurling leaf?


Senna was growing by the roadside.


Those who looked closely saw this grasshopper inspecting a pea flower.


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…and this colourful individual was having a quiet time trying to hide in some old leaves.

And so ended a delightful day out in the countryside of Central Java. I did have a rather sore ‘seat’ but it was all very worthwhile. I hope you have enjoyed the ride.


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Indonesia: Visit to Village Puppeteer

It was very pleasant, if hot, to wander in this small west Javan village… with several more nature photographs to share with you all.


Rain lily (Zephyranthes rosea).






St Joseph’s spider


Gelatinous fungus.


White bracket fungus


Goatweed, (Ageratum conyzoides) is an introduced weed from South America.


In this same village we made a visit to the home of a puppeteer.


The man of the house carved and painted the puppet’s heads.


Careful work.


Part-finished puppet head.


Other members of his family made the puppet’s costumes.


The workroom was a bit of a jumble.


Hundreds of puppets were ‘in storage’ awaiting their next public performance.


And here are some close ups of some of the puppet faces he has made.  Some were gruesome, others were frightening and others were happy individuals.


Can you imagine the nightmares some young children may have after attending a show?


Some of them not so pretty!


a supercilious fellow


I wonder what the joke was?


The man who carved the heads was also the main performer.


Up to 13 other family members make up an orchestra of drums, gongs…


… and wooden xylophones.


It had been a fascinating visit to this place of unusual craft and local cultural entertainment. And we had a rather special farewell from a shy little boy… ta ta!


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