Singapore, Siem Reap, Yogyakarta and Bali 29 March until 21 April 2018
A roundtrip from Singapore to Seam Reap, Cambodia, Yogykarta and Bali, Indonesia
Singapore (30 March-2 April)
Thursday 29 March we (Jeanette and Ben) left Amsterdam heading for Singapore, the first stop of our round trip with Martin. Martin had to come from the USA, so he already started on 28 March. Because of the delay of Martin’s flight, we already went to our hotel, ParkRoyal at Beach Road, with a magnificent view of Marina Bay Sands and the Flyer (Friday 30 March).
Not tired at all, after Martin’s arrival we immediately started to explore the city, the first impressions of a city where old and new meets. Opposite of our hotel was Kampong Glam, the old port were Chinese workers entered the city, nowadays home of music bars, small restaurants and shops. In 1822, Sir Stamford Raffles allocated the area to the Malay, Arab and Bugis communities. The Sultan Mosque and the Malay Heritage Centre are located in this area.
We spend 3 nights in Singapore – the first time after about 20 years – to see the interesting changes the city underwent. We visited the main attractions, Gardens at the Bay, the bar of Hotel Marina Bay Sands, with a great view, Chinatown (Pagodastreet with the Chinese Heritage Centre), and Thian Hock Keng temple (just in time for a small Chinese opera performance). It was rather crowded, the shops selling dried tokehs (kind of salamander) and sea dragons.
In Foodstreet/ Sagostreet we had diner at Hi Joyful: kangkung sambal, Sze Chuan chicken, steamed garlic scallop, ikan bilis, Singapore noodles, and beer.
We visited the National museum in district Bras Basah, walked through the park around Fort Canning and had lunch (accidentally) at a Michelin 1 star restaurant, Lei Yard: excellent and delicious dimsum. By chance we witnessed a marriage proposal to miss Qingyun Liang (with tears and laughter).
After visiting the Peranakon museum we walked to the Singapore river where the old city meets the new, along the Parliament, the Supreme Court, the museum of Asian civilisation, the National Gallery, Victoria Theatre and Esplanade Park.
Finally we came to one of our main goals, the Raffles Hotel. Too bad the Raffles hotel was under renovation. The pop-up Long Bar nevertheless was open for all those people who came there for the famous Singapore Sling cocktail.
For more information about Singapore
Siem Reap, Cambodia (2 April-8 April)
Monday 2 April we took a flight from Singapore to Siem Reap in Cambodia. We stayed (not for the first time) in Somadevi Angkor hotel & Spa, a good hotel and very well situated in Siem Reap. On 2 April we planned to have dinner at Tangram, where we had been twice before. But, it doesn’t exist anymore. The new owner recommend a restaurant nearby, Genevieve’s, lovely service, excellent food. We ate to much off course, beef in betel leaf, squid with Kampot pepper, beef salad, beef lok lak, soup with ginger, accompanied with beer and coconut water. We surely can recommend Genevieve’s.
Cambodia 2013, on another page on this website, gives you more information about most of the sites we visited again this time.
This year we arranged a program with Mr. Pilu from the company Affinity Angkor, www.affinityangkor.com a guide organisation to recommend. With Mr. Yanos, our guide for most days, and Mr. Lung, our driver, we went to several sites. During the trips Mr. Lung provided us with wet, cold towels perfumed with lemon grass to refresh after each walk/climb, really great. The last day Mr. Pilu acted as a guide for the trip to Beng Melea and Koh Ker.
On 3 April we visited the following sites.
Pre Rup (10th century, built by king Rajendravarman II at the centre of the East Mebon, east of Ta Phrom). Kbal Spean (11th century) in the forest of the Kulen National Park. The site was discovered only in 1968, because it is located at the top of a plateau. Several sections of the river bed have been carved in the shape of linga’s, and also a relief of Vishnu lying on the snake Ananta, with Lakshmi holding the god’s legs. Another relief of Brahma sitting on a lotus flower.
After lunch we visited Bantaey Srei (late 12th century), with small but very beautiful Buddhist reliefs and two tall trees.
Bantaey Samre (mid 12e century) is with Angkor Wat the most interesting temple with beautiful reliefs of mythological scenes, e.g. the battle of Lanka, the fight between the monkeys and the “Churning of the Ocean of Milk“. The high platform and the shape of the central tower resembles Angkor Wat.
We had dinner at restaurant Indochine opposite of the hotel, a nice, clean and relaxed place with good food, deserts and drinks.
On Wednesday 4 April we continued with visiting Angkor Thom, Bayon (with the famous smiling Buddha faces), Baphuon, the terrace of the lepra king, Prea Khan with beautiful reliefs of Apsara’s, the Elephant terrace and Phimeanakas (the old royal palace).
Dinner at Mie’s Café, lot of wines, stew of red ants, Tonlé Sap fish and traditional Cambodian Amok from chicken.
5 April, the second time at Angkor Wat. Now we saw the impressive “Churning of the Ocean of Milk” and so many more details of the temple and reliefs thanks to Mr. Yanos. Lunch at a nice restaurant at the country side: Khmer curry, mango salad, Kokor soup and Angkor beer.
After lunch to Ta Nei (late 12th century and a rather isolated temple) and Ta Prohm, in the middle of the jungle and surrounded by strangling spung trees, dated 1186 and built by king Jayavarman VII. Dedicated to the king’s mother. Of course known from the movie Tomb Raider. Times have changed and Ta Prohm is now undergoing a restoration after which the romantic view will vanish.
We finished our tour with a visit to Bantaey Kadei (late 12th century), a Buddhist temple.
As real tourists we went to a very expensive souvenir shop (someone bought something) and then we went back to the hotel and said goodbye to Mr. Yanos. We had a very relaxing time with him and were very pleased with all the information provided and the fun we had.
The last day of our program, Friday 6 April, we went with Mr. Pilu to some other interesting places: Beng Mealea, about 40 km South East of Angkor Wat, and Koh Ker, where the last land mines were removed around 2005 (but don’t leave the path), situated about 130 km North East of Siem Reap. A long trip, but very pleasant and interesting. Mr. Pilu ((BBC Radio accent, nickname Indeed) gave us a lot of information and was very entertaining and good humored. Some interesting extra stops, e.g. at a place where special Cambodian specialty Krolan, (rice, coconut, black beans smoked in bamboo) was made.
Beng Mealea is a not (yet) reconstructed temple and one of the largest temples of the Angkor period. Situated in a jungle decor it is from the mid-12th century and a mix of Buddhism and Hinduism. Normally the temple is partly flooded and access to the sanctuary only possible by a walkway.
For more information about Beng Mealea
Koh Ker, from the 10th century and the capital of the Khmer Kingdom from 928 to 944. Prang is a pyramid temple, west of Prasat Thom, 36 m high and the tallest temple ever built by the Khmers. The linga that once stood at the top was 4 m around and ½ m high. At the top a big damaged Garuda and a nice view of the surroundings. Prasat Kraham at Koh Ker is one of the largest brick sanctuaries ever built. 2 of the 5 towers are covered by the roots of spung trees.
For more information about Koh Ker
Lunch at SomRun Kearing: shrimps with tofu, chicken with ginger, iced Cambodian coffee.
On our way back to the hotel we visited (extra on special request) a village with traditional stelt-houses, Kampung Kleangh, which during the raining season is completely flooded.
Dinner again in restaurant Indochine: spring rolls, Amok from fish, fried rice with pork, crab salad, meat with Kampot pepper, beer and ice cream.
Saturday 7 April. On our last day in Siem Reap we visited the old market for some shopping. Then we took the tuktuk to the museum and to the international hospital to meet nurse Mrs. Soknai Ly. 4 years ago, 9 February 2014, she acted expertly when I experienced serious heart problems. Very special to meet again nurse Soknai and dr. Rarak, doctor on duty at that time.
No lunch today, but a nice dinner at Malis: sausages, green mango & smoked fish salad, roasted duck, Mekong lobster, sticky rice, coconut ice, pumpkin. A grand finale of our stay in Siem Reap.
For more information about the city Siem Reap
pictures Siem Reap
Yogyakarta, Indonesia (8 April-15 April)
Sunday 8 April, we took a flight from Siem Reap to Yogyakarta via Singapore. In Yogyakarta Mrs. Yuni (Lillintour@gmail.com) and our driver for the next days, her son Levi, picked us up from the airport. In Yogyakarta we stayed in hotel Rumah Mertua Boutique Hotel & Restaurant, rather far from the centre and rather quiet (can be worse with all the mosques early in the morning), a relaxed and good location to start of for our trips. Less good for a trip to the town centre because of all the traffic jams (takes about 1½ hour for 10 km). Too many cars and motorbikes and no possibility to increase the capacity of the roads.
During our stay we visited the main attractions of Yogyakarta: the Kraton (royal palace), the main shopping road in Yogyakarta, Malioboro road, the old city Kota Gede (mosque with the tomb of the Mataram royalty and silver shops).
Tuesday 10 April, we visit one of the great attractions, Borobudur, a Mahayana Buddhisttemple and the world's largest Buddhist temple. The temple consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. It is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa.
Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty, the temple design follows Javanese Buddhist architecture, the Indonesian indigenous cult of ancestor worship and the Buddhist concept of attaining Nirvana. The journey begins at the base of the monument and follows a path around the monument, ascending to the top through three levels symbolic of Buddhist cosmology: Kāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (of forms) and Arupadhatu (of formlessness).
Evidence suggests the Borobudur was constructed in the 9th century and abandoned following the 14th-century decline of Hindu kingdoms in Java and the Javanese conversion to Islam. Worldwide knowledge of its existence was due to Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians in 1814. The Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations and the largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, after the monument's listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Together with Pagan in Myanmar and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Borobudur belongs to the greatest Buddhist archaeological sites of Asia.
For more information about Borobudur
On the same day we also visited Bukit Remah, a combined praying place for all religions, in the shape of a chicken. Candi Pawon (dedicated to the god of richness Kubera) and Candi Mendut (reliefs with old Buddhist Jataka stories and a room with 3 monolithic statues, of Buddha, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani) were the last temples to visit on this busy day.
Excellent dinner in our hotel: urap, tempé and tahu goreng, sate ayam, gado-gado, soto ayam and delicious drinks: Bir Bintang and avocado juice with chocolate sauce.
Every day Mrs. Yuni provided us with a snack box, even with so many snacks, that we decide to cut down on our breakfast. On 11 April we visited the Kraton, the royal palace, where Hamenku Buwono X still resides. The Kraton is situated in the old town surrounded by white walls and was built between 1755 and 1792. A Wayang Golek performance with typical Gamelan music and singing, was the attraction of the day.
After the Kraton we visited Taman Sari (water castle), the bathing place of the king Hamenku Buwono I (1761), with a nice view from the tower for the king to pick the favorite wife of the day. It was rebuilt after a large earthquake in 1867.
Near the palace we drink the famous but very expensive Luwak coffee, special made from coffee beans eaten and defecated by a Civet cat.
After visiting the interesting museum Sonobudoyo with a very good guide, we went to Fort Vredeburgh, on a distance of just one canon shot away from the Kraton, built in 1765 by the Dutch to keep control of the Kraton.
Mrs. Yuni took us for dinner to a very big and famous restaurant, Sekar Kledhaton: fixed menu, very expensive but delicious, sop ayam, kakap bakar, sambal mata, beef with potato, cap cay with chicken, roasted chicken, acar, krupuk, dawet and several fruits.
Thursday 12 April to Solo (or Surakarta) to visit the Kraton of Mangunegoro, because the Kraton of Pakubuwono was closed due to ceremonies. Rather small and less interesting, but still worth visiting. From there to tea plantation and lunchroom Ngoro Donker. The white tea was rather nice, the “bitterballen” less.
We finished this day with a visit to Candi Sukuh, a temple we visited before in 1995. Nowadays a cultivated place where lot of reliefs were removed, and the earlier mystic ambiance lost.
Dinner at the hotel: rendang, cap cai with chicken, cumi cumi in oyster sauce and nasi goreng magelang, finishing with avocado juice with chocolate sauce (yes) and ice cream.
Friday 13 April to the Prambanan, or Rara Jonggrang (popular Java legend), which is a 9th-century Hindu temple compound, 17 km North East of Yogyakarta, dedicated to the Trimürti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Transformer (Shiva). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. Characterised by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hinduism, and by the towering 47 m high central building inside the large complex of individual temples.
Originally there were a total of 240 temples. The Prambanan Temple Compound consists of:
3 Trimurti temples: three main temples dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma
3 Vahana temples: three temples in front of Trimurti temples dedicated to the vahana (vehicle) of each god; Nandi, Garuda, and Hamsa
2 Apit temples: two temples located between the rows of Trimurti and Vahana temples on north and south side
4 Kelir temples: four small shrines located on 4 cardinal directions right beyond the 4 main gates of inner zone
4 Patok temples: four small shrines located on 4 corners of inner zone
224 Pervara temples: hundreds of temples arranged in 4 concentric square rows.
Today, all 8 main temples and 8 small shrines in the inner zone are reconstructed, but only 2 out of the original 224 Pervara temples; what is left are only many scattered stones. The original function of the Prambanan is unknown but possibly it was a sacred park, or priests' boarding school (ashram).
For more information about Prambanan
After Prambanan we visited Candi Sewu (8th century, 1,000 temples), Candi Plaosan Lor (combination of Hindu and Buddhist elements, clock stupa’s and a gallery with 24 Buddha’s the position of the body of which symbolizes the state of the Buddha).
Imogiri, the royal graves of the houses of Yogakarta and Surakarta, was our last destination. At Imogiri we had to change in traditional outfit to visit the mausoleum of the 1st sultan Agung of Mataram, 1645. The tomb of the reigning sultan Hamankubuwono X is already prepared. We concluded our visit of Yogyakarta with a buffet (gift from Lillintour) and a performance of Ramayana dances. A nice end of a great trip in Yogyakarta.
After returning to the hotel with Mrs. Yuni, Levi and some durians in the car, we said goodbye to Levi.
Saturday 14 April was a relaxing day, although Martin wanted to buy a t-shirt. So we went with Mrs. Yuni to Malioboro road, but not before we eat the famous Bakso in the best Bakso restaurant in Yogyakarta with Mrs. Yuni. Because of the trafficjam and our strange taxidriver we returned at 7 pm in the hotel. Had diner and packed our suitcases.
Mrs. Yuni took us to the airport the next morning, Saturday 14 April, after Martin found Bens passport in the wallet of Martin (hmmm).
For more information about Yogyakarta
Bali, Indonesia (15April-20 April)
For Martin it was the first time to visit Bali. Early in the morning, 8.25 am, we had our flight from the small airport of Yogyakarta, Adisutjipto. It was a short flight to Ngurah Rai on Bali with a rather empty plane from Garuda Indonesia. Probably the reason why the overweight of our suitcases was no problem. Our friend Putu Rimbawa was present to bring us to The Munut Balinese Resort, a nice hotel, big room, balcony with view over rice fields and well situated in Ubud. The only minor drawback is the road from the hotel to the main street Jalan Raya Ubud, rather dangerous for walking, but a taxi is very cheap.
In this information of our trip only new parts are described, because most of it is already described on several other pages on this website.
Sunday 15 April, after check-in we had some (not very special) lunch and walked to museum Puri Lukisan (The heritage of Balinese art, since 1936) The museum is home to the finest collection of modern traditional Balinese painting an wood carving, a beautiful collection and a rather nice garden. We bought tickets for dance performances at the royal palace. Dinner at a small, busy, kind of tapas restaurant, bregedel kentang, bregedel tempé with kemangi, sate babi (without any taste), lawar babi and ayam, sambal mata, babi kecap, kankung and klepon as desert.
The dance performance, the legong of Mahabrata Epic, Ancak Saji Ubud Palace court yard (16th century), was very beautiful (warrior dance, bird of paradise, topeng).
For the 4 days at Bali we asked our friend Wayan Rai to be our driver. So on Monday 16 April he was present for the first trip. Tegallalang, the famous rice terraces (more or less becoming a theme park), Tirta Empul, rather crowded but always nice to visit, and Gunung Kawi. The trip is becoming every year more tiring we notice, especially the way up.
After lunch in a small warung near Yeh Pullu we visit the site, less interesting then the first time and a spoiled guide who asked for more tip.
Goa Gajah is the last place to visit. Also busy and warm. A new cap is bought and the old one is given away to surprised little ladies.
At Monkey Forest we drink some delicious ice coffee and bubble tea. As a surprise for us, Martin buys a songket cloth, beautiful and he learns to tawar (negotiate) a bit. We have diner at restaurant Ibu Rai, good service and nice food, Mie Kuah, Ikan bakar with sambal mata, semur tahu with mushroom in coconut sauce.
The next day, 17 April, we visit Jatihluwi, nowadays World Heritage Unesco. A paved road is ready to bring the tourist into the rice fields. They have several distances (walking time 1–2½ hours), so we were a bit surprised and just made a small walk to get an impression. Next time we will see.
Tanah Lot is the next visit, busy and hot, where we had lunch with Bakso ayam and Saté ayam, mango juice and avocado juice with choc.
Next stop is Batubulan is on the program. We are 1 hour to early so we visit a very beautiful temple nearby, Pura Puseh, with marvelous stone-carving, where Batubulan is very famous of.
But we are there because of the Kecak dance which is famous and recommended in Batubulan. Along with making hand and arm movements, the performers are responsible for playing their own music and singing a capella (cak cak), too. It will be the first time for us to see.
The Kecak dance is an old Balinese incantation ritual, monkey dance from the Ramayana epic. And two trances dances due to the prayers of a priest. First, Sanghyang Dedari (nymph dance), in which two young girls without dancing experience get in trance and perform the Legong dance. And second, a man on a “horse”, behaving as a horse, dancing and jumping in a stack of burning coconut shells, Sanghyang Jaran (fire dance) are great. The impressions on the faces of the dancers are fantastic. The spectacular performance all guided by the cak cak of the man present, ends without (?) pain, afterwards smiling for the pictures.
Dinner was late at the hotel, gago-gado and kara ayam with a cool bear.
Wednesday 18 April. On our way to Pura Ulun Danau Batur, also World Heritage Unesco. This time we had a great view on lake Batur (10x14 km) and the volcano (1.717 m high). The temple is very beautiful and busy with ceremonies, very colorful because of the ceremonies. It looks like the temple is still build, they use concrete for some parts of the complex, that now exists of 9 temples.
Next stop is Besakih, mother temple, crowded with people busy with the ceremonies. Once a year for a period of 3 weeks there is this big ceremony. Colors red (Brahma, fire), black/dark blue (Vishnu, water) and white/yellow (Shiwa, incarnation) are more than normal present. The gunung Agung is quiet but watching.
Entrance fee for Besakih is fixed price including a guide and motor trip from the ticket office to the temple. The guide is good, has a lot of information, but finally asked in spite of our tip still more money. Too bad, we thought this situation was banned.
We had lunch at restaurant Lereng Agung, with a beautiful view on the rice fields. Although many times recommended by friends and family it is our first time here. The gunung Agung is, almost as usual if we want to make pictures of it, (partly) in the clouds. The food is not special, a buffet, but the view is great and at the exit/entrance we meet a Kalong (flying dog).
Back in the hotel for a short relax and dinner, soto ayam, gado-gado, sate ayam, fried fish and lots of beer.
It is Thursday 19 April. Our last full day of this great trip. Although full of impressions of the last weeks we use also this last day to visit all kind of things, direction Bugbug. With Wayan we visit early in the morning pura Lempuyang, the white temple in the East of Bali. We learn from our guide that in every direction there is a main temple (North - pura Ulun Danau Batur, West – pura Luhur Batukaru, South – pura Luhur Uluwatu) and one in the middle, the mother temple pura Besakih. At the entrance we were welcomed by a group of enthusiastic young people from the community and our guide was very helpful and had a lot of information about the temple, the community and Balinese faith and culture. We entered using the left gate and left using the right gate (cycle of life & reincarnation). The middle main gate is only used for ceremonies. The complex exists of 7 temples, more and more high, less and less easy to visit. We just stick to level 1 the most beautiful and when the weather is bright you can have a magnificent view on the gunung Agung, but . . too bad, too much clouds.
From pura Lempuyang we went to Bugbug to visit our friends Kadek and Komang, via Candidasa where we made some pictures at the lotus pond near the sea, where the flowers had completely opened. A beautiful view. In the warung of Kadek we also met Krisna, Arianti and grandsun Govi. Kadek made a more then delicious lunch (as usual) with sambal goreng tempé, ayam bakar, and lumpia.
Our last visit this day was Tenganan Village, one of the Bali Aga (original Balinese) communities in Bali and famous for its well-preserved village layout and the ongoing survival of its traditional crafts, like the very expensive double ikat cloth (which take about 5-10 years weaving) and lontar, copying old Balinese texts on the lontar palm leaves. This last art and craftsmanship is about to become extinct. Martin was and still is very interested in this lontar art and we had the opportunity to meet the most famous person practicing the lontar art, I Wayan Mutidadhara (87 years old and educated by professor Hooykaas in Leiden, Netherlands). Mr. Wayan still speaks some Dutch and was very pleased to meet us. Beside the lontar writing (carving in the leave and then with a mix of ash and oil made black), he also is a experienced gamelan and wayang gulit player which he is very pleased to show us. He tells he finished writing and turns over the craftsmanship to his daughter, so we don't need to worry about extinction of this great art and craftsmanship.
With this very nice and interesting meeting we end this exiting day. We had dinner in restaurant Legend café, but beside the dessert the taste of the food was a bit disappointing, ikan pepesan, beef rending, ikan bakar, sambal mata, dadar gulung and bubur inten and off course some bir Bintang.
Friday 20 April was a relaxing day, packed the suitcases and checked-out. Putu brings us to the airport where Martin had to leave more early for his flight back to the States via Hong Kong. So we had some time at the airport to relax and think about this beautiful, but exhausting trip, before we took our flight home via Singapore to Amsterdam, where we – after a relaxed flight - landed at 7.10 am on Saturday 21 April.