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Pulau Samosir (Samosir Island)

Samosir Island lies in the gigantic volcanic Lake Toba. Samosir Island is administratively a regency. It is 245,714 Ha, consists of  an island and lake.

Samosir Island can be reached from Medan by 4-5 hours driving to Parapat and then cross to Tuktuk wehere there are  most of hotels and homestays can be found.

Samosir temperature ranges from 17-29 Ded Centigrade, and humiditi rate: 85,04%. The indigenous people of Samosir Island is Batak tribe consists of Batak Toba, Batak Karo, Batak Simalungun.  Samosir is considered as the origin of all Batak ethnics. There are numerous of historical sites in Samosir Island.

  • King Sidabutar Grave, known as the first person living in the island. To enter the grave area , one must wear ulos, weaving from Samosir. 
  • Ambarita Village, where there are old  traditional Batak houses can still be seen. And there is a megalithic remains, a big court table made of rock which is locally known as Batu Persidangan.

Samosir has abundant of interesting places such as:

  • Pusuk Buhit Mountain, the highest peak in Samosir Island
  • Sampuran Efrata Waterfall
  • Lumban Suhi Suhi Village, the village of Ulon weaving maker
  • Aek Rangat Hotspring
  • Sigale Gale effigies
  • Parbaba Beach
  • Museum Hutabolon Simanindo
  • Museum Batak Tomok
  • Tele Tower View Point
  • Aek Natonang Lake
  • Aek Sipitu Dai Spring
  • Batu Hobon Site
  • Sidihoni Lake



Tanjung Puting National Park, Borneo: Home of Orang Utan

Tanjung Puting National Park and Biosphere Reserve is located  in Central Kalimantan, in Kalimantan Island or also known as Borneo Island. The indigenous population is Dayak tribe which is still faithful with animist belief. 

Tanjung means a peninsula, administratively is part of Kotawaringin Timur with its office in Sampit and Kotawaringin Barat with its office in Pangkalan Bun.

The Park covers swampy alluvial peninsular between Kumai and Serunyan River and Sekonyer River in the north . And since 1978 the southern boundary has been extended until Serimbang River to Segintung Luar River.

The Park has various vegetation types, such as dry land where species like Shorea spp, Mysristica, iron wood can be found and the swamp forest, mangrove and coastal forest.  And the most famous fauna live here are Orang Utan (Pongo pygmaeus) and probiscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus). Both primates were discovered during Dutch colonial era in the 1930s.  Both live in the swampy and dry land.  Other primates live here are: agile gibbon (Hylobates agilis), long tailes macaque (Macaca fascicularis) , ppig tailes macaque (Macaca nemestrina), red leaf eating monkey (Presbytis rubicunda) , silver leaf eating monkey (Presbytis cristata). Deers, civet, leopard, squirrel can also be found here. The most significant bird here is storm’s stork (Ciconia stormii), and there are other bird species that are most of them are endangered.

Visitors usually visit to see Orang Utan in its habitat and centered around orang utan rehabilitation center by cruising through Sekonyer river.  Below are the interesting spot in Tanjung Puting National Park:

  1. Tanjung Harapan which has information center, orang utan feeding, Orchid,  Herb, and trekking route to from Tanjung Harapan-Pesalat-Pondik Tangguy.
  2. Pesalat, reforestation area
    Pesalat is the second camp which can be visited by visitors or researchers. Activities can be done here : camping, trekking, herb garden and planting trees. 
  3. Pondok Tangguy
    This third camp visitors can see orang utan feeding, short trekking trail and long trekking from Pondok Tangguy-Pesalat-Tanjung Harapan.
  4. Pondok Ambung
    This third camp usually visited to observe wildlife, night trekking and tower.
  5. Camp Leakey is the last station for visitors in Sikonyer river route, This is a must-visit camp in Tanjung Puting National Park. Visitors can see orang utan feeding, trekking and information center is available here.
  6. Camp Leakey
  7. This is a must-visit camp in Tanjung Puting National Park. Visitors can see orang utan feeding, trekking and information center is available here. 
Now Buluh Besar river is also developed for tourism, is part of Tanjung Puting National Park located at Teluk Pulai Resort, here visitors wil sail the natural forest along the river, deer sanctuary, wildlife observation along the river.
Arut Tebal is another river in the national park located in Sungai Cabang Resort, which has white sandy beach, turtle conservation and release baby turtle.

Japanese Graveyard in Surabaya

Working in tourism industry, i have encounter various tourist with special interests. Sometimes their motivation of travel is more serious, like pilgrimage.

As an old city, Surabaya has witnessed historical events, struggle, change and development. The evidence of the historical event can still be seen today, such a graveyard of the Dutch and Japanese.

Last week, i favor Japanese groups to visit the Japanese Graveyard.
Below are the pictures.

Sukawati Kingdom

In the outset Ubud was one of regions of Sukawati Kingdom which was ruled by its first king Dewa Agung Mayun (1710-1745). The second king of Sukawati, Dewa Agung Gede (1745-1770) and his queen Ni Gusti Agung Mengwi was the relative of I Gusti Agung Putu Agung Mengwi.

When Dewa Agung Mayun reigned, Sukawati was safe and prosperous. He, then retired and his son succeeded him, and he made a resting house at Patemon village, located about 15 km Northeast of Sukawati Palace. His two sons, Dewa Agung Gede and Dewa Agung Made has fight often that it made him sad.

Dewa Manggis Api of Beng village served Dewa Agung Gede Mayun, and always kept him entertained. When the king felt his death was near, he called his both sons, but due to the conflict, they did not attend, until the king died.

Dewa Agung Made wanted Sukawati to be devided into two, yet his brother did not agree. The people were also divided. Meanwhile, in Ubud which was region of Sukawati, there was two big families, I Gusti Padang tegal and I Gusti Taman. Both had different opinion about what was happening at the kingdom. I Gusti padang Tegal was on the side of Dewa Agung Gede to replaced his father, yet his brother did not agree as Dewa Agung Gede was too clumsy and ignored people aspiration, and he believed that Dewa Agung Made was wiser. Both than prepared their own army. I Gusti Padang Tegal assumed that Sukawati army was on Taman’s army, while Taman’s army thought the opposite that both worried and escaped to cross Ayung river and stayed there. The village resided by Taman’s people now called as Taman Village, while village resided by Padang tegal is now called as Punggul Village. To avoid same conflict in other areas, Dewa Agung Gede then secured other villages such as Peliatam, Ubud, Petulu and Gentong. And there was no other conflict happened in Sukawati.

Campuhan Hill, Ubud, Bali

If you stay overnight in Ubud area and would like to do something physical whether it is cycling, jogging or just walking. It is located just nearby the main  street, located about 100 meters from Campuhan River, if you visit Blanco Museum maybe you can walk to Campuhan Hill.

You can follow the route from Villa Ibah leading to Campuhan Hill. The route is not so far, perhaps just about 45 minutes if you walk slow. The path is developed with concrete for 1.5 meters. It is an easy path and definitely not steep either. The air is fresh, the scenery is green, the atmosphere is quiet. Not just foreigners, you will meet locals walking along this hill as well, especially on weekend.

Best time to walk here is during the morning or in the afternoon for sunset. Or if you stay in Ubud area  you can come everyday for jogging. There are some restaurants and villa along the way.

The highest peak has rice beautiful rice terraces. When i visited there the rice paddy was already yellowish, perhaps it took only 30 days until harvest. Unfortunately i did not take picture of the path of Campuhan Hill as usually seen on the internet. I think it is okay, i am thinking it is the memory not the picture.


Museum of Masks and Puppets, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

A friend i met, recommended this Museum few months ago, located nearby her house, in Ubud, Bali.  She said it is a great museum set in a Javanese traditional houses. And i loved it there.

Indonesia is rich or arts, including mask. Each area has its own characteristic. Some areas have very raw carved of mask, which are my favorite.

Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets is located in Jalan Tegal Bingin, Mas, Ubud, Kemenuh, Gianyar, Bali. I find it a little bit hidden. Yet it is worth the effort, the museum is very quiet and set in a beautiful area and the entrance is free.

The main buildings are 3 joglo buildings, Javanese wooden traditional house. The houses were old houses transported from Java to house the masks and puppet collections. There are about 6,900 masks and puppets collections displayed here.

There are masks from various parts of Indonesia, also from overseas such as from Japan, Africa, China and Korea. From Indonesia, we can see the collections from Madura, Bali, Jember, Ponorogo, Yogyakarta, Cirebon, Wonosobo, Papua, Sumatera Island and Kalimantan. You may have been very familiar with some of the masks, but there are some that will be new to you.  For me masks from Papua are very interesting, also from Sumatera and Borneo, similar to that of Africa.

The museum has open stage overlooking rice terraces. And visitors can site and enjoy the coconut trees view from the restaurant which offers various menus.

Even though the entrance is free, you can also support the museum by giving donation.

by Wid Saija




The Blanco Museum, Ubud, Bali

Blanco Museum is located in Campuhan area of Ubud, located just by the main street of Ubud, overlooking Campuhan River. The entrance has a gate with Antonio Blanco name on it.

Mario Antonio Blanco is a spanish maestro who was born in on September 15th 1912 in Manila, The Philippines. He came to Bali in 1952 and married Balinese dancer, Ni Ronji. They lived in Campuhan house which land was given by Ubud king for the maestro. Both happily married and had 4 children and one of the children, Mario follows his father step doing painting.
The gate to the main building is very eye-catching, delineates the signature of Antonio Blanco.

There are bout 300 artistic authentic paintings displayed in the museum. Most of the paintings showing the maestro admiration for women body, whether its his wife or women around him. It is said that eventhough Blanco was a women admirer, he was a faithful husband. Whenever he painted a model, he asked Ni Ronji to accompany him.

His romantic impressionist works are displayed in the main building. It  has Renaissance style of pillars mixed with Balinese style. The floor is concrete which are finished with red color, some of the cracks creating more beautiful aging style. It is not allowed to take a picture inside the museum.
For Antonio Blanco, frame of a painting is part of the painting itself. There are some strangely creative frame material used such as, soaps, bottle, Balinese door, and woods. And it turns out that Blanco was not only a painter but also a poet. There are his short or longer poem displayed in various unique way . Next to the main building, some of the works for Blanco’s son, Mario, are displayed as well.
Welcome Drink at Rondji Restaurant
Entrance fee to this museum is IDR 30,000 for Indonesian and IDR 50,000 for foreigner. This also includes welcome drink at Rondji Restaurant.

Contributor: Wid Saija

How to Care for Ikat Weaving

I purchased ikat weaving from East Nusa Tenggara few months ago. It has nice yellow color decorated with hand made embroider of various contrast color. It is so soft and warm for cold time. Most of all, i really appreciate and admire the intricacies and the patience of the weaver which might take to 7 days to make such an intricacies pattern.

After several times i wore it to the cinema, to hang out and other several occasions, i thought i would like to wash it. And honestly, i did not even check the correct way to wash it. I think i forgot the the lady who sold it told me not to wash it with detergent but something softer like softener or klerak. So yes, i washed it with detergent and soaked it for few minutes. Ha, wrong big time.

Once i checked to wash the decoration color badly dyed the main color of the weaving. Devastated, i think what i did wrong. I tried to remove the dye by rubbing it using my both hands, but it did not work. I searched online for the solution and could not find one similar case.  Some online cases are dye on one color fabric, usually white. I kept on reading though and figured it out myself from the references.

Finally i could remove the dye though, even the whole color is not as good as new. It is much better than letting the weaving decorated by unwanted dye. People usually do not notice, i removed 90 percent of the dye, it is very subtle now, people would not even think it was a disaster.

This is what i did. I  boiled water, pour on a container and put 2 teaspoon of acid crystal, and then soaked  the weaving for few minutes. I repeated this stage 2 times and then washed with detergent manually also using hot / warm water. The dye was already removed after this. And then i use softener. A friend of mine suggested that this kind of colorful weaving must not be dried by hanging, yet by laid on the ground, to avoid the color to dye worse. In this case i laid the weaving between two chair and tied the four corner ends to the chair. To make it dry quickly, i blow hairdryer over for some 30 minutes. After i was sure it was not wet and dye, i hang nearby air-condition exhaust , to make it dry quickly without hairdryer.  And viola, within 2 hours later it was dry and looks good, ready to accompany me for a stroll at night.

Below is the suggestion to care  weaving that might be helpful for you.

  • Wash it manually, do not machine wash. If the weaving is using natural dyes, you can use lerak to wash it. A friend from East Nusa Tenggara suggest to wash using softener or shampoo , Not detergent, as it is more soft and will not damage the color and the texture.
  • Do not dry it by hanging but drying by laying it on the ground or just hang it horizontally that the color will not dye to the main color. I think it will be problem for bright color weaving, for dark one is not really a problem.
  • Do not keep it fold in closet, better hung or rolled. If rolled put an onionskin  to the weaving will not rub against each other. And you can put cloves, kapulaga or cinnamon or fragrant roots to neutralize the aroma.
  • And this is also an information from a friend from East Nusa Tenggara that they do not wash the weaving often, usually after worn to neutralize the aroma, and kill bacteria, they dry under the sun. Yet when washed only using shampoo.







Trunyan Cemetery : Where Dead Body (literaly) Laid Under the Shades of Magic Tree

Trunyan Village is located remotely across Batur Lake. It takes about 3 hours drive from Denpasar or 2 hours drive from Ubud. As some other mountain tribes in some parts of Indonesia, they still preserve their indigenous tradition. For Trunyanese, they have distinctive belief, custom, tradition than other areas in Bali, especially on how to treat dead bodies.

Road from Lake Batur rim to Trunyan Village is winding, some steep and narrow, when i went there the road uncountable potholes. Arrival at the village, you will sense the different life than Kuta Area or Ubud area. The electricity has already light the village, it has also phone signal and internet. Trunyanese are farmers, they grow vegetables, like cabbage, chilly, garlic, onion and bean. They also do fishing at Batur Lake and some work in tourism as boat crew taking tourist to Trunyan Cemetery. Yet, there are only small amount of visitors visiting Trunyan Area compared to other popular tourist destination on the island.

Cock fighting is very common activity in Trunyan. In the afternoon some cocks in the cage in front of the houses. Kintamani dogs roam nearby the lake. Metal roof houses of Trunyanese are not fully decorated like Balinese house. Trunyan has been inhabited since the 10th Century, as written on Trunyan Inscription date back 833 Saka (0r 911 AD), that reveals permit to erect a seven levels temple to worship Batara Da Tonta, or after Hinduization, called as Ratu Sakti Pancering Jagat. And the village has been there even longer. Trunyanese are Bali Mula, or the oldest community living in Bali, and still preserves their neolithic customs (pre-Hindu custom). They are not primitive tribe at all, they are just conservative and avoid having outsiders or new values. Even though Trunyan is a tourist destination , locals do not prepare lodging, homestay or restaurant. You can only find small stalls selling mineral water nearby the lake.

From Trunyan harbor, you will need to ride boat to the cemetery. The boat has no engine, 2 people rowed the boat. This boat also used by locals going to cemetery and temple next to the cemetery. Visitors will be given life vest for this boat ride. I enjoy this 15 minutes non-engine boat ride, as i feel the quietness of the lake and moving slowly on a paddle pace give me time to enjoy the vista more and imagining how local do it for their funeral. I saw some visitors using speedboat which are very noisy.

The cemetery area is not a big area, it is located right on the edge of the lake under the shades. When i went there the boat man informed us that we can take pictures or videos, and it is not allowed to take anything from the cemetery. He also mentioned that there were 3 new dead bodies laid there. Trunyan Tree looks like Banyan tree (genus : ficus) . This tree (is believed to) absorbs the bad odor. Trunyan derives from Taru means tree and Menyan means fragrant. According to the legend, in the past unlike now, Taru Menyan was so fragrant across the island that might attract outsider to find the tree, the village leader asked his people to not bury the corpse, but just laid under the tree, to neutralize the fragrance.

Under the tree there are skulls placed on shrine. And about 10 meters from the shrine are some bodies covered by clothes and then caged by bamboo, to prevent animals attacking the body. When i arrived there i saw 3 monkeys sitting on those cage. The cemetery looks dirty with various goods, such as flip flops, plate, spoon, mat, and other household items, which are dedicated by the family to the dead for their life after death.

All in all visiting Trunyan was an amazing experience, even though it was organized poorly still. Enhancing the life of Trunyanese by education can be like contradiction, which can also endanger the local unique traditional value and custom with modern value on the other end.

And beware of insects when you visiting the cemetery, though  the insects are not dangerous and leave a tiny red bump, it will be more convenient if those insects do not bite you. A friend of mine got bitten by an insects that we do not know the name is, it just flied to him, and made two bites (or probably stings) that made him panic as it was like  electric shock.





Hotel Options in the Heart of Surabaya

Are you staying in Surabaya , for some days or just for a short visit, and want to f eel the ambience  of the city? Below options if you want to stay right in the heart of it, nearby the most popular shopping mall in Surabaya, Tunjungan Plaza.  Sure these hotel options have an added benefit if you love shopping.

    -Majapahit Hotel
    If you love colonial architecture, this hotel is on your first list. This historical hotel is a 5 star hotel located right in the middle of the city. If you want to visit Tunjungan Plaza, it is just within 2 minutes walk or so. Its vast green weell-nurtured garden created the atmosphere of oasis in the midst of Surabaya.

    -JW Mariott Hotel
    Located about 7 minutes walk from Tunjungan Plaza, this 5 star hotel has marvelous facilities and large rooms. The price can be different on weekend and weekdays.

    -Sheraton Surabaya
    A 5 star hotel located in the same complex as Tunjungan Plaza, very convenience location.

    -Four Points by Sheraton.
    Located right in the new complex of Tunjungan Plaza, managed by Sheraton hotels. This luxury business hotel offer spacious room with modern design.

    -Bumi Surabaya
    This hotel called itself a city resort. The garden is green and spacious and rejuvenating after your busy activities. The contemporary designed rooms completed with spacious bathroom. The hotel is just within walking distance to Tunjungan Plaza.

    -Swiss Belinn Tunjungan
    This 3 star hotel is located the opposite of Tunjungan Plaza, yet very easy to cross the street, there is a bridge over the street. It is very convenient to walk from the hotel to Grahadi Building, Surabaya Tourist Information Center Office, Surabaya City Hall.

    -Varna Culture Surabaya
    Varna culture offers deluxe rooms suitable for leisure or business travelers. Locaed at Jl. Tunjungan, that it is just within walking distance Tunjungan Plaza, Majapahit Hotel and Pasar Genteng where you can buy Surabaya snacks and cookies.