Category Archives: Indonesia Blog

Ende, Sasak Tribe Traditional Village: Lombok Island, Indonesia

Lombok is known for its beautiful beaches, diving sites, island hopping and Mount Rinjani hiking. Another good place to visit when you are visiting Lombok Island is its traditional village, Ende Village. 

Ende village is located about 2 hours from Senggigi beach area. Villagers here still preserve their tradition, from their daily activities of making the weavings, farming, and even its indigenous house. 

The house which is called as Bale Tani is usually small, about 10-15 sqm, made of wood, bamboo and grass roof. What is really interesting the the smell of cattle dung in the village. It turns out that they use to dung for flooring, as a glue of the soil. Usually after some months, the soil floor will crack and that is when the dung must be applied on the floor to make it smooth. The philosophy of this practice is to remain that as human which is embodied on the soil floor, they will return to mother Earth and as farmer they work hard which is embodied in the dung use. Usually man or husband sleeps outside, while inside the house is from woman and children. 

When the house is damages, it will be repaired by the community, and they work together hand in hand. One thing i find very interesting is the way the man of the village court a girl, not by proposing to the parents like most of the custom in Indonesia but by kidnapping the girl first. 

Sasak tribe are mostly farmer, they grow rice, corn and other vegetables. Currently only few villages still maintain the traditional house. Even though Sasak tribe are moslem, they still also practice their indigenous belief and tradition.


Kampong Maspati : Feel The Soul of Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia

Often i pass this neighborhood and i notice that this kampung is special by the sign in front of the passageway. It says “Kampung Lawas Maspati” or can be translated as “Classical Kampong”. And only few weeks ago i get the opportunity to visit this kampong.

It is located nearby Heroes Monument (Tugu Pahlawan), and yes, it is located in the middle of metropolitan city of Surabaya. According to Mr. Sabar, the kampong headman and initiator of tourism activity here, says that the idea to name it with Kampong Lawas was due to the existence of the kampung since centuries ago. Roving along the passageway of the kampong we will find  some old houses and graves of Mbak Buyut Suruh and  Raden Karyo Sentono and wife. Mbah Buyut Suruh is the founder of  the kampong. The old age of the kampung can also be recognized from some old buildings fused among other new buildings, some of the old houses are abandoned and some still inhabited.

One of the old house here was a Tweede Inlandsce School, or elementary  school during Dutch colonial period, this school was established in villages to eradicate illiteracy. Some other old buildings here are: house of Raden Sumomiharjo and Asri Inn.

Kampong Maspati passageway is not only clean, yet it is also green of potted herb plants and some other plants. They plant: jelly plant, chilly, mahkota dewa, aloe vera  and many more. We approached a plant that we did not know, and the house owner came out and explain to us voluntarily. The locals are very friendly.

The kampong implements waste water management, the water from the process is used to water the plants.

And like other kampongs in Surabaya, you can enjoy sitting , we call it cangkruk, at Warkop (cafeteria) in the passageway. And if you want to try the jelly drink made from their garden produce is also available. It is convenient and feeling laid back sitting at the warkop there as passerby may not ride on their scooter ,  therefore must be pushed when entering the passage way of the kampong.

Rice Terrace, Temple and Mountain Day Tour from Surabaya

This day tour is not an adventure type. It is a one day rejuvenating odyssey and mingle in the local tradition like bathing at one of the oldest bathing place in Indonesia and as well relish the natural beauty of slope of Mount Penanggungan. And also roam at some historical sites (temple) among more than hundred found scattered on its slope.

Jolotundo Bathing Place

Pick up at your hotel in Surabaya in the morning (08.00 AM) and then drive about 2  hours, to  slope of Mount Penanggungan to visit:  Jedong Temple,a temple which was built in the 14th Century, made of andesite , functioned as gate to free-tax area (Javanese: Sima or Perdikan) which has already existed since Old Mataram Kingdom in the 9th Century. Afterwards drive further to Candi Belahan, a bathing place built for King Airlangga of Kahuripan Kingdom with statue of Sri and Laksmi who cup her breast where the water sprout out.
Walk to a rice field located nearby the temple and then drive to PPLH Seloliman for lunch. Proceed Jolotundo Bathing Place, which was built in the 11th Century and its water believed to have virtue and scientifically the water has very high quality. Visit rice field nearby Jolotundo and stop by where you can see Mount Penanggungan and Mount Arjuna-Welirang line up. Return to Surabaya. ETA Surabaya: 17.00.

– Private Vehicle, Driver, Gasoline
– English Speaking Guide
– Entrance tickets and donation
– Lunch
– Mineral Water
– Parking/Toll
– Batik cloth (if you want to bath at the bathing place)

– Tipping
– Travel Insurance

What to bring:
– Towel

Rice Terrace

Belahan Bathing Place

Rice Terrace on slope of Mt Penanggungan

Even though as a child i was used to play in the middle of rice field or helping my parents planting and nurturing rice fields, i always get mesmerized by rice terrace vista, especially when the terraces create curvy shapes on a high elevation. It is rejuvenating seeing the view.

If you are in Surabaya and would like to see something rice terraces, just travel to slope of Mt Penanggungan. It is located  about 65 KM or about 2 hours drive. The mountain slope is not only rich of remnants of past period but also rich of mesmerizing mountainous panorama. 

Located not far from Jolotundo Bathing Place, you can stop by nearby the road to be amazed by  Mount Penanggungan and Mount Arjuna Welirang. Often Mount Welirang smoked out fume soaring in to the sky.

And at some other place, from the road, you can enjoy the rice terrace.  You can also visit this rice terrace from another angle for photography purpose. Sometimes you will meet locals riding scooter with ball of haystack.

Another rice beautiful rice terrace i saw is located nearby Sumber Tetek Bathing Place, it is just within the walking distance from the bathing place.

All in all, in my opinion that visiting area is worth it. If you have visited Mount Bromo or Malang or Batu as weekend getaway, visiting slope of Mount Penanggungan can be a very good option for a day trip or even weekend getaway.


Candi Jedong: Paduraksan Gate in Ngoro, Mojokerto, East Java, Indonesia

Jedong Temple is a gate temple, in the shape of Paduraksan, a type of gate which its roof merged.  The gates were made of andesite while the wall which connects both gates made of brick. And on the both upper gate are engraved with kala as the characteristic of other classical building in Java. This temple is located not far from Ngoro Industrial Area, Mojokerto and geographically nestles on the northern slope of Mount Gajah Mungkur, one of peaks of Mount Penanggungan.

Local people call the two gates as Gapura Lanang (Male’s Gate)  for Candi Jedong I and Gapura Wadon (Female’s Gate) for Candi Jedong 2. 

One of the Gate is bigger, and a date is carved at the temple wall, 1307 Saka or 1385. The smaller gate is not dated, yet there was an andesit dated 1378 Saka or1456.  The function of the temple is assumed as gate to a  free-tax area or known as Perdikan (Sima). There is an assumption that this area has existed for thousand years.

From various literature, 12 inscriptions were found here, and named as Jedong  I- XII. The inscriptions are primary source for history data as the  they contain accuracy.

Jedong I, Tulangan inscription was made on bronze and written in old Javanese script in Jedong Area, which has already been existed since 832 Saka or 910 AD and in that period the area had been a free-tax region or locally known as Perdikan (Sima) Tulangan. Tulangan is the first term of Jedong. This period, is concurrent with the reign of King Balitung (898-913 AD) who ruled Old Mataram Kingdom in Central Java.

Jedong II (Kambang Sri), is date back 848 Saka (929 AD), explaining about King Rakai Layah Dyah Tolodong who reigned Old Mataram Kingdom in Central Java 920-928 AD and in this period Jedong name altered to Kambang Sri.

Jedong III (Kambang Sri II) is made of andesite stone in old Javanese script dated back 850 Saka (928 AD) (Verbeek 1891). This period was when King Sendok reigned from 929-948 AD in Old Mataram Kingdom East Java.

The conclusion is there are 2 periods: King Tulodong reigned Old Mataram Kingdom in Central Java and King Sendok ruled Old Mataram Kingdom in East Java, and the site was still named as Kambang Sri. Since Old Mataram King, Candi Jedong had been a  Sima known as Tulangan area, and then later became Kambang Sri. Three inscriptions above are long inscriptions, while others from Jedong IIIa-XII are short inscriptions, which only written a date. The newest inscription was dated back 1378 Saka or 1456 AD.  According to those findings, Jedong as fee-tax region had been existed since Old Mataram Kingdom until Majapahit Kingdom. period.

(Various source)

Candi (Temple) Belahan or Sumber Tetek Temple : King Airlangga’s Bathing Place

This temple  is located on the eastern slope of Mt Penanggungan, overlooking lush forest and not far from a beautiful rice terraces. The temple is constructed of red brick, and andesite with the main feature is two goddesses  and Garuda Wisnu in the middle of both goddesses.  Laksmi dan Sri are the wife or Sakti of  Wisnu. And it has been a long tradition in East Java that a king is dietified for prestide and legitimacy.  In Belahan Temple, King Airlangga is deitified as Wisnu. The Garuda Wisnu is not in the temple anymore but now displayed in Trowulan Museum. The queen, is the one wearing prabha, she was the daughter of King Dharmawangsa and  the other one is king’s second wife.

Airlangga was the king of Kahuripan. When he was 16 years old, King Dharmawangsa, his father in law was overthrown, and  Airlangga and his guardian, Narotama,  could escaped to forest. In the future he could defeat his enemies and then built a kingdom, Kahuripan Kingdom.

The size of the bathing place is 6.14 M X 6,14 M, the water sprouting from the bare breast of Laksmi. Laksmi and Sri are the symbol of fertility and prosperity. Both beautiful goddess standing on a lotus, bare breasted, wearing crowns and elaborate jewellery and draped clothing.

Because of the good quality of water, locals use the water in this temple for drinking water. You can sometimes meet locals carrying water jar.

Javanese come to this place for some ritual, the water also believed to have virtue. And it is never dry or lessen in dry season,


Han Family Altar House, Surabaya, East Java, Indonesa

Han Family Altar House

Surabaya is indeed has been a magnet for immigrant or traders from overseas in the past, either from Europe, Asia, India and Arab countries. Today there are some evidence can still be seen, especially at the northern part of Surabaya, as the old town of Surabaya.
One of the evidence is Han family altar house located in the Chinatown of Surabaya. This establishment was built in the 1876 by Han Sie Lok, and it was known as Han Sie lok Hian Tjok Biauw. The architecture is very interesting as it adopts Indische Empire style and Chinese style as exterior. Han family initially arrived in Lasem and in China this family was a rich merchant. The descendants moved to Surabaya and involved in business of sugar cane plantation, sugar factory, and weed. Pilars inside the house were imported from Glasgow, the floor is made of marble.

The house has never been renovated. And it is still in good state. Inside the house you can find the original chairs and table and glass. The ceiling is high and open. The doors are made of teak wood, very solid and thick, especially the main door.

Batak House at Samosir Island

There are still some traditional house of Batak exist until today. Not so many left anymore in some areas in North Sumatera. The house has two kinds: Ruma and Sopo. Ruma is a dwelling while Sopo is an establishment without wall which is used as barn or as living room.

The house has 3 major section, the lower, middle and upper. The lower section is the foundation and pillar which support the house and used for livestock. The middle is used as dwelling and the upper to keep weapons.

Ruma and Sopo have steep roof made of grass. The house usually decorated with carving, known as gorga. Gorga is usually made of soft wood which is sunlight and water resistant, such as Ungil wood. The Gorga has three colors: white, red and black. White color is made out of lime stone, red color made out of a red stone and black color is made of plants.

In front of the house there is a stair as entrance. It is a pride for Batak people when the stair is worn out as it is an indication that the house has welcomed many guests and that the owner is friendly.

The door if the house is low, that when one is entering the house must bow which has meaning guest must respect the house owner.

River Cruising at Tanjung Puting National Park

I always love seeing the lush green forest, and river. And i think Tanjung Puting National Park is a very lovely place to visit. Not just to getaway from my mundane environment but also to understand more of the flora, fauna, wildlife and environment.

It is thrilling to enter this park, as it is one of the so called lung of the earth. Cruising through the Sikonyer river, passing nipah trees, pandan trees and some vegetation can be seen from the river. In the afternoon, those proboscis monkey or locally known as bekantan can be seen enjoying afternoon from tree branches. Not only that, macaque sometimes busy eating nipah’s fruit and birds roaming.

Orangutan which attract mainly visitors to come can be seen at feeding area. Usually the tour will include visiting the 3 feeding area, at Tanjung Harapan, Pondok Tangguy and Camp Leaky. Those orangutan can be seen there are semi wild, which once was rehabilitated and then released to the jungle. As the orang utan from rehabilitation is different and automatically could not compete with wild orangutan, feeding is still ongoing.  Beside this will make any disease that maybe will be spreaded through contact from semi-wild to the wild ones. 

The feeding station just located about 1 KM from the camp located at the river bank, which can be reached by about 30-45 minutes walk.  It is such a privilege watching this big apes in their habitat  from close distance. They swing from branch to another and especially when seeing how attached the young orangutan is very clingy to their mother.

The very informative station of Camp Leaky is very interesting. That it can take a while for me to read carefully to learn and understand more about orangutan,  other wildlife, the forest, the research. Camp Leaky was established in 1971 by Dr Birute Galdikas and her former spouse Rod Brindamour and it was named after legendary paleo-anthropologist, Louis Leaky, the mentor and inspiration for Dr. Galdikas.

Other memorable experience at Tanjung Puting National Park was the night we dock the boat nearby nipah tree was were full of fireflies. The whole night was magical with the twinkling bugs. I could not remember when was the last time i saw fireflies, maybe twenty years ago.  According to the guide, few years back, the fireflies was along the river every night. And now, only they are only in some Nipah trees, due to firest and the carbon of the fire affect the fireflies.

Sekonyer River was clear black in color all along. Now the down stream is brown, and it is said to be the effect of mining activities. But upstream is still well preserved. I love the color of the river, so clear and black. The black color was due to the acid from the leaves of the jungle.



Aek Natonang Lake: A Lake on A Lake

This 100 hectares lake is located in Samosir Island, this can be called as lake on a lake. Located about 1 hours drive from Tuk Tuk or Tomok, this lake has small number of visitors.

The road is winding and can be foggy, in the morning or noon or afternoon, especially in rainy season. You can rent scooter to get here. For your information, there is no public toilet in the location.

Aek Natonang Lake  is surrounded by forest, and on the edge is grass where bulls grassing. Along the ride to the lake, you will pass scarcely inhabited area, and also  pond to wash bull.