Indonesia: Artini 2 Cottages; Ubud; Bali

Our home away from home in Ubud, in Bali, was at the “Artini 2 Cottages” resort. It was a delightful place to spend the last couple of days of my Asian adventure before I headed for home after a month of fascinating exploring.


Artini 2 Cottages was our home in Ubud.  Each bungalow had a terrace and sitting area. There was a wonderful outdoor pool that was just the right temperature.  It served an a la carte breakfast but no other meals.  I noticed that the ‘Group breakfast’ people didn’t have as many options as the ‘full paying guests’ were offered. Nonetheless, it was more than adequate and it gave us an excuse to try something different in restaurants in the town.


These carved figures guarded the entrance to the resort.


Our room was large and airy.  It had a fan and an air-conditioner, but that was extra!  My sharing a room mate, Brian, and I managed quite well with just the fan.


This was the view from our balcony.  The rice paddies were in great condition.


Long bamboo poles supported flags of various colours, presumably to act as Asian scarecrows.  I think the birds would have been used to the flags by the time these rice plants produced their grain heads!


Looking sideways from our balcony, the pool was a great temptation after a day walking the town in the steamy, tropical conditions.


The view down onto the courtyard from our room.


Our resort faced this street.  It was usually full of people, cars and motor bikes.


An obvious sign.


How true of many of the current generation!!!!


Anybody for a lampshade?


This mural decorated one restaurant we visited. As there were the same number of monkeys as people in our group, it was hard not to match up images with group members!


Fried chicken, rice and a salad made even better with a Bintang.  What a way to finish the day.


Next day… a walk around the area…


Many residences had quite magnificent entrance gates.



Alleyways were always full of interest, what lay at their end?


Another grand entrance.


An entrance to a temple, a place to leave offerings to the gods.


A Buddha with lei of marigolds and offering receptacles.


A wander around Ubud inevitably brings one into an art and crafts precinct.  Ubud is known as a great place to find all kinds of crafts on sale from the mundane to expensive silver jewellery. In between are paintings, carvings, traditional clothing and all those things that look good in situ but you wonder whatever possessed you to buy them when you get home!  Perhaps, to make matters worse, many items don’t have price tags, so bargaining is a must.


Umbrellas are up for sun protection and to protect against the threatening afternoon showers.


Tables and trestles crammed with merchandise.


Pot-grown Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia wulfenii) adorn this section of footpath.


Everybody is finished with the pool for the day, not a ripple left.

Time for bed. More anon.


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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: to Shankari Bali Retreat

Today was another travel day, around seven hours of travel in all.  It took three hours to get to the jetty where we were to catch a ferry across Java Strait to the island of Bali.  We were on the ferry for around an hour and then there was still another three hours drive to our overnight accommodation.


We waited on the jetty for our ship to berth.


This ferry was berthed beside us and while we waited to cast off. It was taking on board all manner of cargo, including this truck loaded with new motor bikes.  Everybody seems to have a motor bike in this part of the world.


We passed this traditional craft while on our rather circuitous trip across Java Strait, we could see where we were going but we headed away from it to use up time due to crowding at our arrival point.  Eventually we berthed on the island of Bali.


It was way past sunset by the time we arrived at the Shankari Resort.


Next morning there was time to look around.  There were a couple of ornamental pools.


These sculptural leaves belong to a species of  Alocasia, a genus of broad-leaved rhizomatous or tuberous perennials. There are 79 species native to tropical and subtropical Asia to Eastern Australia.  Understandably, they are widely cultivated as an ornamental in the tropics and as a house plant.

The above plant is one of those 79 species…   Alocasia x amazonica. The stem, which is a corm, is edible, but contains crystals of Calcium oxalate along with other irritants that can numb and swell the tongue.  The lower parts contain even more of the poison.  Prolonged boiling before serving or processing may reduce the risks.


There were lovely plaques and other surprises around the complex.


Small niches provided a place to make offerings to the gods.


This floor mosaic of an eagle graced the small courtyard outside our room…


…and this pair of eagles was on our bathroom floor…


…and this semi-circle of coloured stones acted as a ‘mat’ at the bottom of a step.


A talisman made from a palm leaf hung on a section of protected wall.


One of the reasons that we stayed at the Shankari Resort was that it was within walking distance of Balian Beach, a well known place for surfing.  The above sign was nailed to a palm tree.  We passed quite a few vacant properties on the walk to the grey sand beach. The whole area had a somewhat ‘wanting’ air about it, due perhaps to the downturn in tourist numbers.


Do I need to say more?


The beach.


There was a very small surf running during our stay at the beach.


The weather was fine, as was the food and beer.



An ornate gateway.


Chickens, caged in their split bamboo cloches.  Not much room to move but I guess the cloches are moved to grassy areas on occasions.


Back at the resort it was time for a swim in the large pool.  It was much cleaner than the beach and you didn’t leave the water with a costume full of grey sand.


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Indonesia: Margo Utomo Agro Resort; Kalibaru

Located on the edge of Kalibaru town, the Margo Utomo Agro Resort was just a 5-minute walk from the Kalibaru Train Station. It has traditional-designed Javanese rooms that are surrounded by tropical gardens.


A large green swathe of grass separated the two rows of rooms.  The pagoda-like structures were lights and the red, yellow and green (hidden) bins were exactly that.  Different colours for different types of rubbish.  I can’t remember what the frogs were for.


These environmentally-friendly bins had lids made from old tyres.


Brian and I shared the room on the right.


The bright red bracts of this bromeliad contrast strongly with the white and yellow flowers and green leaves.


Galphimia gracilis is better known as Spray of Gold.  It originates from Mexico and Guatemala.


Water-droplets balanced precariously on leaves in the early morning light.


Pigeon Berry (Duranta repens).


Pagoda Flower (Clerodendrum paniculatum) comes from China, Southeast Asia and Malaysia was growing particularly well in the gardens.



Detail of above.


Shrimp Plant, (Beloperone sp.).




Heliconia sp..


The above bud opens to release these flowers.


An upright Heliconia.


Mandevillea (horticultural form).


The buds of Mandevillea have a waxy sheen.




An old lady looking after the grounds.


The Resort has a lovely outdoor swimming pool and a spa.


The resort’s restaurant, aptly named “Heliconia”.


The entrance and Reception area consisted of a number of rooms, all furnished in traditional style.


I don’t think anybody would dare sit on this lounge.


Three modern Javanese vases.




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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: Borobudur Buddhist Temple

We were about to climb the steps to enter Borobudur Buddhist Temple, a UNESCO world heritage site, the world’s largest Buddhist Temple. It is both a shrine to Buddha and a place of pilgrimage. Certainly it attracts a huge number of tourists every year and we needed to get moving before buses arrived and people swarmed all over the place.


A map of such a huge place is always helpful! The Temple has nine platforms, stacked one on top of the other… six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. The base is approximately 118 metres (387 ft) on each side. We would enter from the east, with the newly risen sun at our backs, and exit from the north.


One of the amazing things about this massive ancient 9th Century shrine is that it was lost for many centuries, the stuff of myths and legends.


It was, in fact, buried under ash from the nearby volcanoes… Sundoro-Sumbing and Merbabu-Merapi. Over the following centuries, the jungle took over and the shrine was totally lost to sight. There were many folk stories and beliefs associated with this mythical temple… all telling of bad luck and misery. I guess that any volcanic eruptions that spewed enough ash to cover this enormous shrine must indeed have caused much misery and loss of life in the area, and so given credence to these stories and legends.

The Temple didn’t come to light again until 1814, when some natives told Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, about its existence. There have been several periods of restoration, the most comprehensive being from 1975 to 1982.

An eruption of Mount Merapi in 2010 also had an affect on the Temple, covering it with a layer of ash up to 2.5cm (1 inch) thick. It was cleaned off fairly quickly but it was feared that the acidic ash might damage the historic site. But, once again it has survived.


Originally, every one of those niches contained a statue of Buddha… 504 in all. But they’re certainly not all there now. Many pieces were stolen or ‘souveniered’.


Some of the original pieces were given away with permission from the British Colonial authorities. And some of those can be seen today in the National Museum of Bangkok. Apparently, in 1896, the then King of Siam, was given permission to take back to Bangkok eight cartloads of sculptures… five Buddha images, two lions, thirty pieces of relief panels, one gargoyle, several motifs from the stairs and gateways, and a guardian statue.

There was even talk of completely taking down the Temple and dividing up the important pieces between museums around the world. However, an archeologist, named Groenveldt, recommended that the Temple be left intact… and for it to be restored. And so it was.


Our verbose guide told us about each Buddha, what it’s pose meant and so on until it all became a blur. I wandered a little away to do some independent photography. After all, I knew that I could learn as much as I needed to about the Temple on the web when I got home where I could concentrate a little bit more on the task at hand. I did not wish to stand around for an hour in the heat being bombarded with information that, quite frankly, under those circumstances goes in one ear and out the other! So, I wandered off, to see what might be worth a photograph in this ancient complex. And here they are!


No mortar is used between the stones of this building.


Many more steps to climb.  The main groups of steps have been encased in a metal framework which in turn supports wooden treads, thereby protecting the stone underneath.


It’s amazing how well the stone sculptures and reliefs have been preserved.  This group of figures are this colour because they were ‘cleaned’.  The cleaning agent discoloured the stone.


Detail of the above photo.


Detail of some of the hundreds of faces carved from stone.


All the friezes tell a story – far beyond my comprehension.


Another frieze, another story.


Yet another intricately carved stupa.


One of the stone heads of Buddha that survived the pillaging.


Not all carving depicted stories or were of Buddha.  Intricate borders were included on most levels.


Although restored to prevent further damage, water is obviously a problem here.


Finally, almost up to the top.


A view of one of the volcanoes that caused the Temple to be lost for so long.


On the upper platform there are seventy-two small bell shaped stupas surrounding one large central stupa. Each stupa is pierced by numerous decorative openings and in each opening sits a statue of Buddha. This section is quite impressive.


And then it was time to go back down all of those steps… this time by the northern steps. And yes, we had beaten the hordes of visitors… not one of them in sight. The process of “in by the eastern steps and out by the northern” was working. First in, first out!

As you climb up and descend these steps, it’s rather obvious that the authorities face a growing problem from the high volume of visitors causing severe wear to the stairs. I guess we all added something to that problem.

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After the 40km bus ride back to the city, most of the group decided to get off the bus at one end of the major tourist street, Malioboro Street. Here there are many shops and stall holders all tempting the shoppers amongst us to purchase their wares.


Malioboro Street is also famous for it’s horse-drawn carriages and tri-shaws.


Snooze time for a tri-shaw driver!

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A mobile duster and mat stall in the busy street.

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It was a hive of activity. One stall holder did manage to sell me a tee shirt for the princely sum of IDR 30,000, just a tad over AUD 3… another one for my travel tee collection!


I just had to try a tri-shaw! A fun way to get back to the hotel.

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Other tri-shaws were powered by small motors.

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The streets were abuzz with the noise of motor bikes… the favoured form of transport in this area. They whizz by the tri-shaws, but everyone seems to know their space!

Safely back at the hotel, and after a shower to wash of the sweat of the day, I caught a taxi across town for a massage. It cost me AUD 8 plus a two dollar tip! It was a good massage, administered by a male, but he did give my calves a real work over. I was quite sure I’d never walk again! However, they actually felt better some hours later after I’d had a bit of a wallow in the pool back at the hotel.  And that was that for me for the day.

More anon


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Indonesia: to Borobudur Buddhist Temple

We had all enjoyed the sight of sunrise over the rice paddies. But if we didn’t get a move on, the tourist hordes would descend upon us… for Borobudur Temple is a UNESCO world heritage centre, one of the most visited sites in the whole of Indonesia.


We drove on, leaving the twin volcanoes of Mt Merbabu (3145m), which last erupted in 1797, and Mt Merapi (2911m), smouldering in the morning mist.

Arriving at Borobudur, a local guide joined us to take us around and interpret for us what we were to see. However, I became a little doubtful about what he was telling us when he stopped at a Melaleuca or paperbark tree and told us that it was a Eucalyptus. And no… he didn’t believe me when I said it wasn’t a Eucalyptus. Certainly, the two plants belong to the same botanical family (Myrtaceae) and they do have similar volatile oils in their leaves. BUT, you can’t tell an Aussie that a paperbark is a gum tree! And since horticulture and Australian plants have been my career for many years… Oh, well.

DSC04164.JPGAll that aside, we walked on towards the temple, amazed as we had our first sighting of  the various terraces that make up the giant structure. On the way to it, we walked through the gardens where there were many plants to enjoy and photograph.


One was an intriguing tree I’d never seen before (Maniltoa sp.).


The new leaves are pale as they are yet to start producing chlorophyll.


A tiny mushroom struggled to stay upright in the dewy grass.


…and just because I can’t resist, here’s another photo, same mushroom. This time it looks a little like a worker in the rice paddies with a cone hat!


Arachis sp. is a dense ground cover plant with striking yellow flowers.  The peanuts we eat belong to the same genus.


A well maintained fountain in the well maintained grounds.


One of the gardeners with his barrow and broom.


We were getting closer, but the Temple was still quite a walk away.


A long path with a central garden lead the eye to the main stupa.


The list of “Don’ts” was quite long but very necessary due to the number of visitors.


Having read the rules, our next task was to venture up all those steps to explore this immense structure and discover why it attracts so many visitors every year. More anon.


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Indonesia: A village in West Java (a)

After our family visit, it was back into the mini-bus to drive to a village where we began an interesting walk.


 The fields were full of people cutting and threshing the rice harvest.


This rice crop had already been harvested and was regrowing.


When we arrived in the village, we saw rice spread out to dry.

In the village we also we saw palm sugar being made, that dark brown sweet and distinctively flavoured sweetener used extensively in Asian cooking. The palm sap is cooked for 3-4 hours before it becomes palm sugar. I didn’t take any photos of this process, it’s a bit uninteresting looking at a slowly bubbling cauldron of dark goo, but I took plenty of other photos as we walked around the village. I’ve added a few of those.


What a peaceful life – the morning chores done – now it’s time to sit and watch the world go by. And on this day, there were some interesting looking foreigners to watch.


We were also the centre of interest for these two little boys. Cute, aren’t they?


A lovely portrait.


Sculptural bracket fungus were growing on a fallen tree branch.


More fungi, this time growing out of the cut end of a tree branch.


Oh what a tangled web! But effective. The hunter watches over its larder.


Who would have thought a spider could be such a work of art!


A mother and her brood.


A big fat snail, something the duck was no doubt looking for.


The outside kitchen of a village house.  I can’t imaging how uncomfortable that chair must be to sit in.


The washing up area of another house.


Perhaps this is a wok full of palm syrup in the early stages of heating to turn it into palm sugar. I hate to think what it might be if it isn’t!


What a wonderful face.  How many stories are there behind those eyes?


Seems every boy makes mud pies, no matter what their heritage is.


A pigeon coop – I could almost smell the pigeon curry! And I could small the poop!


A beautiful bird one day, curry the next!


We were all quite surprised when a pet fruit bat was produced. This friendly bat, called Michael, hung around lapping up the attention…


… and sweat from various peoples hands and foreheads… but not mine!   Although I’ve never been so close to a bat before, and I did have plenty of sweat on my forehead, Michael didn’t get any of it! They are quite remarkable creatures, particularly this friendly fellow.

After this unexpected experience, we continued our walk through the village on our way to visit a family of puppeteers. More of that anon.


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Indonesia: Jakarta

Our night out in Singapore was the end of the first leg of my Asian tour and so it was time to bid farewell to most of my fellow passengers. However, six were to continue on with me and, for us, a good night out was to be followed by a long, boring day of transferring by plane from Singapore to Jakarta in Indonesia.

There was no time for exploration on the day of arrival in Jakarta but I did have time to do some reading about this teeming, chaotic city of over 9.6 million people. It’s the Capital of the Republic of Indonesia, a country with a population of something like 240 million!

The rapidly expanding province of Jakarta is located on the north coast of the island of Java. Over the years, village after village has been absorbed in to this sprawling city which is built on a delta of 13 rivers that meander through the city! Fronting the city is the Bay of Jakarta which is known for its many islands, the “Thousand Islands” or “Pulau Seribu. To the south rise two volcanoes, Gede and Pangrango.

We only had time to see a little of this city; Chinatown, markets, a temple or two and then onto the old quarter of Jakarta, Batavia. That was the name of the city when these islands were under control of the Dutch East India Company. One of their ships, ‘Batavia‘, was built in Amsterdam in 1628. Armed with 24 cast iron cannons and a number of bronze guns, it was the pride and joy of the company. However, it was shipwrecked on its maiden voyage and that was followed by a subsequent mutiny and massacre!

The city of Batavia was the centre of a large trading network. The Dutch East Indies Company had monopolies on the lucrative trade of spices such as nutmeg, cloves, black pepper, and cinnamon as well as coffee, tea, cacao, tobacco, rubber, sugar and opium.

Batavia was a colonial city for about 320 years until 1942 when these islands fell into the hands of Japan in World War II. After that, the city’s name was changed to Jakarta.

We had lunch in the Batavia Cafe, a wonderful old Jakartan institution in the old quarter. Old world ambiance was recreated with leather chairs, dark wood paneling and lots of wall space covered in period photos of long passed away film stars etc.  One thing that didn’t really fit in with this ambience was the urinal in the male toilet. It was set into a mirror wall so one could observe one’s performance – a little disconcerting.

I concentrated my photography on the market area where I had time to wander and enjoy the sights and smells and do a little people watching as well. So let’s wander there.


A hand or bunch of bananas, anyone?  The narrow lane-ways were crowded with people, and traffic!


The stalls here were full of tempting fruits and vegetables. Beautiful golden pumpkins…


pomeloes, a large, thick-skinned grapefruit-like member of the citrus family…


mangosteens, no relation to the true mango…


snake fruit, named aptly …




fantastic guava…




papaya, a thin wedge removed to show the magnificent colour of the flesh inside…


and colourful lotus buds.


Bundles of Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)… to brighten up home or office.


Shiny stainless cooking bowls.


An old lady sat at a gate… people watching; as was I.


A quiet little fellow, sitting on a sheet of old plywood, no doubt waiting for his Mum.

DSC03865 - Version 2.JPGA couple of ladies, obviously from different parts of the country, but nonetheless enjoying each other’s company.


Having chosen my fruits and veg, it was now time for some protein. Snails? Maybe not.


Trussed up crabs… still very much alive.


Any one for fresh fish?  And they were very fresh.


A frog cum toad was still alive…  but for how long!


Smaller frogs …skinned, ‘butterflied’, ready for the wok. Look like can-can dancers!


Peanuts, still grubby with the soil they were grown in, firmly attached to their shells.


Strange, aren’t they? Nuts of some sort but I don’t know what they are.


At the end of the market, a stationer.. waiting, waiting, waiting for a customer.


Bundles of brooms…brightly coloured synthetic and the more traditional variety.


It was all very interesting… but I looked forward to getting out of the big city and back into the countryside… and that was the plan for the next day. More of that anon.


All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

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Melaka to Singapore

Today we moved on from Melaka to Singapore. Breakfast was at 07.00, same old story as before… boring. Our bus left the hotel for the central bus station at 08.00.


Our intercity coach, 2×2 seating throughout, left at 09.00. This bus had a very noisy diff which whined with a very disturbing scream all the way along the highway. But it was getting us ever closer to our destination and that was the main thing.

It seemed to me that most of Malaysia is covered in palm oil plantations. We travelled for miles and miles with nothing else to be seen from the bus. Some of the edges of the highway are planted with teak which looks like a good idea as teak has been virtually stripped from the forests. These trees will become a valuable resource in the years ahead. 

The crossing from Malaysia into Singapore had Alif, our guide, worried about possible delay.  But we managed to navigate the whole experience of leaving Malaysia and getting through the customs and immigration for Singapore in 30 mins.  We arrived at our hotel at 13.00, but were out again 20 mins later.  No rest for the wicked!


Our time in Singapore was very short but long enough for a ride on SIN’s transit system.


We were on our way to Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the well known three-tier building which is linked across the top of the three tiers by an infinity pool.  Alif, knows somebody who works there, so he was able to get us into a restricted area/bar – the Skybar.


It’s actually above the pool, so very much on the top of the building on the 57th floor. Fantastic views of Singapore, but, as might be expected, the beer was very pricey.  One was enough with a small Tiger beer costing AUD18.85. I made it last a long time!

That aside, the views from the top were fabulous. So… let’s look down on SIN city.


Marina Bay with the Art Science Museum at lower right.  It was designed by Moshe Safdie to represent the 10 petals of a waterlily. Stunning architecture.


The massive skyline of Singapore city.


The Merlin fountain, half fish, half lion, is the island’s mascot.


Another view from the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel – the Singapore Sports Hub, at centre left.  The National Stadium boasts having the largest free-spanning dome structure ever built. The dome stretches 310m (1017ft) and can accommodate 55,000 spectators.


From the vantage point of the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, I looked down on the ‘Gardens by the Bay’ nature park.  This massive undertaking covers 101 hectares (250 acres) of reclaimed land.

First mooted in 2005, an international design competition was held just one year later which attracted more than 70 entries by 170 firms from 24 countries.  The whole venture has proved very popular with 6.4 million visitors in 2014.  In November 2015, the Gardens by the Bay welcomed its 20 millionth visitor.

Two outstanding features of these gardens are the Conservatories, (the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest) and the SuperTree Grove. The two conservatories have been designed to be environmentally friendly while the “trees” act as intake and exhaust vents as well as structures on which all sorts of plants are grown, and as viewing platforms.


Another view of the ‘Gardens by the Bay’ complex.


The SuperTrees.


Up at the Sky Bar on top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the girls in our group certainly enjoyed their cocktails. Goodness knows what they cost! But as we know, all good things come to an end and so we had to go back to our hotel.

We were warned that, unlike this super duper hotel, our hotel for the night was a ‘coffin’ hotel.  Many of the rooms had no windows. But, Madam Luck was on my side… it was my turn to have a room to myself AND I scored an outside room with no less than 4 windows, so the room was very bright. Yes, it was small, but perfectly adequate. And I had a really good night’s sleep. Just as well. I had a travelling day in front of me as I transferred to Jakarta, Indonesia. More anon.


All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

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