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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Thailand: Walk Near Morning Mist Resort

After our wander in the garden that surrounded Morning Mist Resort, Brian and I decided to go out into the nearby area for a bit of a look see.


Out on the road we crossed a small stream.  I’m sure it turns into a raging torrent during the monsoon season. Now it was just a string of placid pools.


Bougainvilleas were at their flamboyant best outside a local restaurant.


…a paler pink one.  Bougainvilleas come in so many different colours.  Originally they come from South America – from Brazil west to Peru and south to southern Argentina.  The colourful parts of the flower are NOT petals but coloured bracts.  The actual flowers are surrounded by the bracts and are usually white.  The sap can cause serious skin rashes.

The plant is named after the French Naval admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville who circumnavigated the earth in the late 1700’s.  A botanist, Philibert Commerçon, who travelled with de Bougainville was the first person to describe the plant but was not necessarily the first European to see the plant.  The story goes that Commerçon’s lover accompanied him on the voyage but, as women were not allowed on board ship, she disguised herself as a man in order to make the journey.  This would make her the first woman to have circumnavigated the globe!


The Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) is native to Madagascar.  It is thought that it was introduced into the Middle East in ancient times.  The common name alludes to the fact that it is suspected of having been the plant that was used to create Christ’s crown of thorns.


A close-up of a Euphorbia milii flower.  As with the Bougainvillea above, the colourful parts of the flower are NOT petals, but bracts.  The flowers are actually the minute structures at the centre of the surrounding bracts.


A colour variant of the Crown of Thorns.


Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is a native of Japan, Korea, southern China and Vietnam.  A valuable perfume oil can be extracted from the very fragrant flowers.  This is used in high end perfumery.  Heavily diluted it is much used in Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai incenses.


unknown fruits.


an open pod of an unknown fruit.


Water Fern or Giant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta) is a native of south-eastern Brazil.  It is a free-floating fern that has the ability to multiply very rapidly.  It smothers and chokes slow moving bodies of water such as lakes and the like.  Although grown as an ornamental plant it often escapes and becomes an environmental weed.  It has been declared a noxious weed in many places.


unknown, but quite attractive, water weed.


A red Hibiscus.


A palm oil (Elaeis sp.) plantation.


Hanging Lobster Claw (Heliconia rostrata).

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This Pink Banana (Musa velutina) produces fruit that can be eaten but each of these bananas contains hard seeds.


Thunbergia grandiflora and a large pollinating bee with luminous wings!


A fan palm.

After this short exploration in the area, we wandered back to the resort for a meal and to get ready for a night walk in the National Park. More of that anon.


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India : Assam : Along the Brahmaputra # 3

One morning, we left the MV Mahabaahu before dawn for a jeep drive to the Kaziranga National Park.  Apart from a track accident on the road which slowed us down, the trip in the dark was uneventful – in fact most of the occupants in my vehicle dozed some/most of the way.  Not far from our destination the dawn broke, so the drive became a little more interesting as we could see the landscape and villages we were passing.

P1010316  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010316 © DY of jtdytravels

We eventually stopped by the roadside, seemingly nowhere.  But before long, some elephants came lumbering down the road.  The excitement levels began to rise.  We climbed back into our vehicles and drove a short distance along a levee to a staging point.  Some staging point !  It turned out to be just a wash-away surrounding a culvert, but at least it provided a place where we could get onto our elephant – elephant in the culvert, passengers on top of the culvert.  All very simple but very effective!


P1010318  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010318 © DY of jtdytravels

Love those eyelashes – no mascara needed.


P1010324  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010324 © DY of jtdytravels

We were already on our elephants by the time the sun peeped above the horizon.

 A ground fog hung around creating an eerie atmosphere.


P1010325  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010325 © DY of jtdytravels

The elephants walked along interconnecting levees at their slow lumbering pace while their passengers, perched high on their backs, were pitched from side to side .  The mahouts needed to do little.  These elephants had walked this track many times before and more than knew the way.


P1010331  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010331 © DY of jtdytravels

As the sun rose slowly, nearby vegetation was silhouetted against the fog.


P1010355  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010355 © DY of jtdytravels

After the elephant ride, we stopped at a resort type place in the park for our breakfast. Here, in the grounds, I saw a Spice Finch or Scaley-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata) hanging on the roots of an epiphytic orchid.  These birds are endemic to Asia and live in flocks.  They generally like open grasslands where they eat seeds, fruits and small insects.  They build their dome-shaped nests in grass clumps and bamboo thickets.


P1010357  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010357 © DY of jtdytravels

A brilliant red hibiscus contrasted against a blue, blue Indian sky.


P1010358  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010358 DY of jtdytravels

A small spider, the same colour as the petals of this flower, hid in its centre.


P1010362  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010362 © DY of jtdytravels

These ridiculously tall coconut trunks appear to be far too thin to support their leafy tops.  I’ll bet they whip around in a high wind, but obviously survive as they have grown so tall.


P1010365  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010365 © DY of jtdytravels

As we drove back out of the park, I was able to take photos from the bus window.

A newspaper seller squatted on a shop verandah preparing papers for sale.


P1010367  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010367 © DY of jtdytravels

Water lily flowers sitting above the water surface.  The level of the water must have dropped as water lilies usually float on the surface.  Lotus flowers are held high above the surface.


P1010402  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010402 © DY of jtdytravels

Three down, one to go!


P1010410  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010410 © DY of jtdytravels

Thre was great excitement when we spotted an Indian rhinocerus (Rhinoceros unicornis). These lumbering animals once roamed over the whole of the Indo-Gangetic Plain.  Numbers of rhinos have been drastically reduced by hunting.  They have also been very much affected by dwindling habitat due to increasing agriculture and forestry needs.  Today only an estimated 3000 individuals exist in the wild, 2000 of those in Assam. The rest are in the Terai in lowland Nepal.


P1010411  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010411 © DY of jtdytravels

The single horn of the Indian rhinoceros is found on both males and females.  The warty lumps and bumps typical of this species of rhinoceros can be seen on the front legs and neck.  They are even more pronounced on the hind legs.  A fully grown male can weigh as much as 4000kg (8818lb).


P1010423  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010423 © DY of jtdytravels

A water buffalo made a good photographic subject amongst some water hyacinths. There are two extant types of water buffalo recognised – the river buffalo of the Indian sub-Continent and the swamp buffalo found in Assam through to SE Asia.  It has been suggested that the Swamp buffalo may have originated in China and was domesticated some 4000 years ago while the River buffalo originated in India and was domesticated 5000 years ago.  It is estimated that there are 130 million domesticated water buffalo and that more human beings depend on them than any other domesticated animal.

Swamp buffalo are heavy bodied.  They have a short body and large belly and have 48 chromosomes whereas the River buffalo has 50 chromosomes.  Fertile offspring between the two have occurred but are not common.  A large male can weigh as much as 1000kg (2200lb).


P1010434  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010434 © DY of jtdytravels

Back again on the river, one of our boatmen skilfully manoeuvred the lighter around, over, across and through the numerous and ever-changing sand bars of the Brahmaputra River.


P1010440  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010440 © DY of jtdytravels

The MV Mahabaahu.  She was purpose built in India for plying the Brahmaputra River.  She is 55m. (180½ft.) long and 10.25m. (33½ft.) wide.  She can accommodate 46 passengers, all in outside cabins, and has a crew of 34.


P1010443  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010443 © DY of jtdytravels

We had started the day with the sun rising and we finished the day with it setting.


P1010447  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010447 © DY of jtdytravels

Still lower with  a clump of water hyacinth silhouetted against the fading rays of the sun.


P1010456  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1010456 © DY of jtdytravels

The last of another wonderful day on the Brahmaputra River.


more anon


Photography copyright ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

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Burma / Myanmar #7; Heho to Pindaya

Leaving Yangon behind, we looked forward to experiencing some of the Shan State countryside, a very different experience from a large, busy city. It was quite exciting to look down and see our first farms.

First view of Shan State countryside (P1020257 © DY of jtdytravels)

These small farms and ploughed fields looked good to us after the big city.

Farms and a village near Heho (P1020261 © DY of jtdytravels)

As we flew lower towards Heho, the patchwork of farms became more obvious and it was also obvious how farms are set up around small villages. There are no houses on farms. Farmers live in communities.

Monastery and Pagodas in the fields   (P1020266 © DY of jtdytravels)

A large monastery complex below reminded us just how important Buddhism is throughout the country.

Regional map of Burma / Myanmar

Now that we have landed in Heho and are waiting for our bags, it’s probably a good time to have a look at a map of this large, stretched out country and realise just what a small part of it we were actually able to visit.  The country covers an area of 677,000 square kms (261,228 square miles). At its widest point it’s 936 kms (581 miles) from east to west and at its longest, 2,051 kms (1,275 miles) from north to south. To the north, east and west there are mountain ranges that form a giant ‘horseshoe’ around the flat lands of the Chindwin, Ayeyarwaddy and Sittaung River valleys. It’s in those fertile valleys of agricultural land that most of the population is concentrated.

Our total journey of fourteen days took us first to Yangon; then a flight to Heho (near Taunggyi in the blue coloured Shan State) where we explored 47 kms north west to Pindaya (not marked) and 36 miles south to Inle Lake;  another flight took us to Mandalay (at the top of the buff coloured state) followed by an 80km cruise down the river to Bagan and back again.  That’s a very small part of a big country; there is so much more to explore. But most of this fascinating country is still not open to tourists, partly because of ethnic problems in various districts but mainly because of the state of roads and the lack of suitable tourist hotels and eating places.

So,for now, let’s enjoy what we were able to see and experience – and what we did see, we really enjoyed.

Google road map to Pindaya from Heho

When we plan a road journey in Australia, and in many other countries, we tend to check out Google maps and have some faith in the times given for the length of a journey. That is not a good idea here. The journey length to Pindaya from Heho airport is 47 kms. The time Google gives is 44 minutes! NOT SO! 120 minutes is closer to the mark… and that’s without stopping along the way to take photos of farming activities, or visit a toilet, or have a snack, or visit a market. We did none of those things as we were already late for lunch in Pindaya.

The following photos were taken from the bus as we bounced our way over a rutted, narrow dirt road. As David had the window seat, they are mostly his photos with a few of mine taken through the front window. So, settle in and enjoy the scenery, places and people we saw along the way.

A Eucalyptus plantation! (P1020274 © DY of jtdytravels)

Amazingly, one of the first things we saw, was a plantation of Eucalyptus. Is there anywhere in the world that doesn’t have the good old Australian gum tree somewhere in its landscape? A reminder of home!

Women with their hoes in the fields (P1020291  © DY of jtdytravels)

Women work together to hoe and weed the fields. It’s a real community effort, and, I would guess, a sociable way to get the work done.

We think they were heading back to their village  (P1020295  © DY of jtdytravels)

It’s likely that these women had finished their hoeing for the day and were heading on the long walk back to their village to have lunch and do jobs at home. It’s best to work in the morning in this hot humid climate.

Others rested from their work. (P1020302  © DY of jtdytravels)

Umbrellas are a very important part of a farmer’s kit here – both for shade and for rain. These are lacquered to make them shower proof. We would visit the local umbrella makers next day to watch how they are made.

Water buffalo and farmer – a good team  (P1020307  © DY of jtdytravels)

Farmers here use water buffalo and oxen to do much of the work on the farm. Each farmer and his animal become a team, good mates that rely on each other. The animals are well cared for and, we were told, farmers rarely eat beef because of this special relationship.  The farmer’s umbrella stands at the ready in the field!

The soil looks extremely rich and fertile. (P1020311  © DY of jtdytravels)

A variety of crops are grown in the area but the most productive here are cabbages and cauliflowers.

Carts and baskets are much used by farmers. (P1020304  © DY of jtdytravels)

We had arrived at harvest time for both cauliflowers and cabbages. We saw the farmers working together to harvest the crops. The bamboo baskets are filled and then transferred to a wooden wheeled cart. This one is waiting for another load.

A cart load waiting at the pick-up point (P1090980  © DY of jtdytravels)

When full,  the cart is hitched to an oxen and taken to one of the various pick up points along the road. There, the farmers await a truck which comes along to collect all of the vegetables to take the crop to market.

Loading a truck with cabbages (P1020310  © DY of jtdytravels)

Each village group of farmers who work together decide on the price they want for the crop. That’s the price they ask of the ‘middle man’ on the truck and, if he agrees, the crop is loaded onto the trucks to be taken to the markets in the bigger towns and cities. It seems to be a fair system.

Taking a breather after a hard day’s work! (P1020312  © DY of jtdytravels)

After emptying the carts, the farmer’s can take a bit of a breather. But there are lots more vegetables to pick!

Our lunch restaurant (P1090992  © JT of jtdytravels)

Finally we arrived at the delightfully rustic ‘Green Tea Restaurant’ beside the lake in the village of Pindaya.  We felt sure that cabbage and / or cauliflower would feature on the menu!  But, it seems, the locals are so sick of the sight of this two vegetables by the end of a day of harvest, that they gladly send them all off to market!  I was glad, too. They are not my favourites!  

And then the rain came tumbling down (P1100001 © JT of jtdytravels)

The food, our first delicious Shan meal, and the setting, on the verandah beside a lovely lake, were perfect – until the heavens opened and heavy rain began to fall. The verandah is not quite the place to be in rain. Fortunately, there were plenty of other tables to move to.

We hoped the farm ladies had made it home before they had a drenching. Not even good umbrellas would keep one dry in this tropical downpour. As with most such downpours in the tropics, it didn’t last long.

The view across the lake   (P1100006  © JT of jtdytravels)

As the rain lifted, we could once more see the view of golden stupas and pagodas across the other side of the lake from the restaurant. Our hotel was over there somewhere too. It was time to be reunited with our bags!

Our cottage at the rustic Inle Inn Hotel   (P1100018  © JT of jtdytravels)

We had been warned that our accommodation in Pindaya would be ‘comfortable but far from elaborate’. To us, the Inle Inn Hotel was delightful. We ‘d been travelling through a gentle time warp all day and this was more than we had expected. I’m sure the farmers didn’t have such comforts as we had. Many of them didn’t even have electricity let alone hot and cold running water, showers, and a comfy bed – and a flower garden at the door. We were astonished when we heard some of our group grumbling about the rooms. Where were we?  Why travel to such destinations if you expect the same luxuries you may have at home?

Our large, rustic bedroom (P1100017  © JT of jtdytravels)

This was our bedroom – larger than some farmer’s cottages!  It was lined with teak and traditional bamboo weavings and the decoration was a piece of local weaving hung over a hand carved railing. Real Burma.

A hand crafted marionette wall hanging  (P1100016  © JT of jtdytravels)

Marionette puppets are a favourite with Burmese people and are often used as room decorations.

The bed looked inviting for a bit of a ‘nana nap’  after a long day of travelling; and David had booked in for a massage; but we hadn’t finished our exploring just yet. The rain was clearing and time was getting away on us to fit in a visit to the famous Pindaya Caves, home to over 8,000 Buddhas. So we ventured back out to walk through the garden and back to the waiting bus.

Down the garden path  (P1100110  © JT of jtdytravels)

Frangipani line the garden path along with many plants familiar to those who live in the tropics.

Pink Crucifix Orchid; Epidendrum sp.  (P1020377 © DY of jtdytravels)

After the rain, there were drops of water to enhance the flowers like this lovely orchid.

Crown of Thorns; Euphorbia milii cultivar   (P1100121  © JT of jtdytravels)

A beautiful flower but with rather nasty spines along the stem.

Lovely red Anthurium (P1100127  © JT of jtdytravels)


Another dash of red; Hibiscus (P1100119  © JT of jtdytravels)


Satellite dishes in the garden (P1100114 © JT of jtdytravels)

And for those who could not possibly do without their fix of TV every day, there was even satellite coverage!  To me that was pretty amazing, not that we even turned our TV on. There was too much else to do!

Hand painted hotel sign (P1100128

While we waited for the bus to take us on the short trip up a steep hill to the Pindaya Caves, we noticed the hotel sign – not done with a stencil, but each one hand painted. This graphic design represented the famous boat rowers on Inle Lake  – we’d see them in reality next day. But now, we were off to the caves and I’ll write about that amazing experience in our next journal entry.

Jennie and David

Photography  © DY and JT of jtdytravels